Thursday, April 19, 2012


Last week we took a look at houses I've occupied. There were many. But HOME is the focus today and I've only known two, the Tippetts' and Hendersons'. Perhaps moving often in the Navy gave the Tippetts a clear picture of what made our home, well. . .homey. Whether we lived in snowy Rhode Island or sunny Florida, home was the same, simply relocated.

Robert Frost said, "Home is the place where. . .they have to take you in." What made our home?
Daddy would often precede us to the new city when Uncle Sam transferred him. He might try to describe the house to us but until we arrived there, it was just the house, not home. A Chinese proverb puts it this way,
"A hundred men may make an encampment,
but it takes a woman to make a home."

These are the things, not really things at all, that filled our house. . .intangibles, that made each house our HOME.

Faith was first on my somewhat alliterated list because family security came in knowing Christ was the head of our home. Dad led us in family altar but also by example in living out his faith. That strong Christian influence filled our house. Prayer, Bible reading, finding a church were priorities and assured us of Who was ultimately in control. Before I was born, during Dad's absence in World War II, this was not only important but vital. Those prayers bonded family across the seas literally. Doug and I established that same Head of our Home pattern.

"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain."

Charles H. Parkhurst wrote,
"Home interprets Heaven.
Home is Heaven for beginners."

Family filling the rooms transformed every dwelling into home. Raucous laughter, brotherly wrestling, sibling squabbles, the smell of baking, Mama clearing her throat three times, my piano ramblings, the smell of saw dust from Doug's wood shop, "Mama! I'm home!" greeting both generations from the '50s through the 90's.

Familiarity also helped whether it was in belongings or life habits. Sometimes it took awhile for our furniture to arrive. Until then the house felt less like our home. But once my own bed arrived and I nestled into the familiar, it became home. Food tasted better on our own dishes than on paper plates.

Woven into the familiar things around us were the routines within us. Schedules, family rituals, our patterns of doing things together all established our home. Even such a mundane routine as homework helped because it was homework. There we felt appreciated, accepted, affirmed.

"Good hit, Ricky!"
"Slow down, Kathy!" I loved to practice piano at warp speed.
"Kent, brush your teeth."
"Kimberly, turn off the light. You've read long enough. Bedtime!"
"Time for devotions, kids."

Finding friends took a bit longer than unpacking the boxes but we learned to waste no time doing so. Military brats are all on that restricted time away from extended family so we learn to reach out to others as soon as the curtains are hung. That carried over when I became a minister's wife. I never waited on others but initiated friendships. Church often provided that opportunity but so did my neighborhood. My first next door neighbor taught me everything from picking and canning corn to cooking collards and pickling cucumbers. Giving, rather than taking, is the key here.

"I went outside to FIND a friend and could not find one there.
I went outside to BE a friend and friends were everywhere!"

All of this took time but combined with effort, house became home.

"We shape our dwellings and afterwards,
our dwellings shape us."
Winston Churchill

Once I wrote a magazine article on friendships in the ministry. I interviewed many pastors' wives. More than one teared up in loneliness as she admitted to having no close friends, often afraid to make them. False notions about her biblical role or life-in-the-fishbowl fears robbed many of forging rich friendship. Many wives lived in isolated loneliness. Christ had 12 close friends among others, three of whom were especially dear but He described John as the beloved.

Like dominoes encircling me, faith, family, familiar routines and friends all support to make me feel at home wherever the house may be.

One day heaven will surround me with the same. They'll take me in and I'll be home! Again. But this time, forever.

JOY of My HEART: August 3, 2011facebook_16 twitter_16

The Home of Your Dreams

"I am making everything new!"Revelation 21:5, NIV
We all have dreams of what home should be like. . . .

Do you dream of a home with love and laughter and loyalty, with family and fun and freedom? Do you dream of a home where you are accepted, encouraged, and challenged, forgiven, understood, and comforted?

There is hope! The home you've always wanted, the home you continue to long for with all your heart, is the home God is preparing for you! As John gazed at a vision of the glory of Jesus Christ . . . , he stood in awed wonder of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1, NIV). What he saw was confirmed by the words of One Who was seated on the throne: "I am making everything new!"

Imagine it: One day, in the dream home of My Father's House, everything will be brand-new and you will live in the home of your dreams!
Anne Graham Lotz
AnGeL Ministries Websi

Friday, April 13, 2012


(Warning: this post and next week's may be a bit girlie for you men who read my blog. However, you're also invited to peek into our house. They do have a name for you though. . .but I'll not call you a voyeur! Welcome!)

Home. One word with so many varied feelings and images, depending on who you are.

When I started this blog it was to throw back the curtains of our home and let you in. Another purpose was to capture family history for our own clan. Today's blog is a glimpse of some of our houses over the years. Next week you'll also get a peek inside to see what makes our house a home. Along with pictures, I'll share my heart because


Growing up in a military family meant moving every two years. Then marrying into a ministry life also meant moving from time to time. While my history has many houses, home was one thing.

Maya Angelou captures it well:
"Home is refuge, not only from the world but a refuge from my worries, my terrible concerns. . .I like beautiful things around me, I like to be beautiful, because it delights my eyes and my soul is lifted up. . . Home is a location but it is also a destination. . . for wherever we go we take everything we've ever known with us, whether we know it or not."

But this blog focuses on the house part. Next week I'll share my thoughts on home. Both are important but not the same thing.


Growing up, we lived in everything from old New England homes renovated into apartments, actual military apartments, Mayberry-type houses with huge trees in the front yard to Florida-style homes in both Florida and Cuba, overlooking the aqua Caribbean.

As an adult, I began life in a converted garage. Doug and I moved in right behind our good friends, Bobby and Phyllis Parker. We lived in duplexes, parsonages and built 3 houses. We owned 2 others. Some of these are pictured here. I vow not to move again until God relocates me to heaven. He's preparing that house!
Duplex we rented as newlyweds in Kinston, NC

English tudor (Raleigh, NC) was the 2nd house we built

Our 3rd construction in Carrollton, VA

It sounds noble to say, "Oh the house doesn't matter, just so we're all together as a family, it's home." While there's some truth there, any woman with a nesting instinct knows that the house does matter. Even if we rent, there's a settling-in that decorates the space and reflects who we are that makes the house home. Until that happens we may not feel secure with that sense of belonging.

Mama knew how to throw up the curtains quickly, unpack our boxes and restore that sense of family life to every new space.

Henry David Thoreau put it this way,
"I had three chairs in my house;
one for solitude,
two for friends,
and three for society."

Mom and Dad also modeled how to make friends quickly by offering hospitality within that space. She never waited for it to look perfect, never tried to impress folks with her style or stuff. She baked chocolate chip cookies and invited new neighbors, kids, church folks or lonely military sailors, "Come on over!"

Those lessons gave me a clear pattern for making our houses an open invitation to others. We may have only had budget for brownies and the dust may have decorated the furniture. People didn't seem to notice. I'd still hear, "It's good to be in your home." Welcoming was about making people comfortable. The gift of hospitality is not so much about the place and space. It's a heart that say, "You're welcomed here! I like being with you. We're open." (Last week's blog explored that.)

I believe our house should reflect our personalities, histories and life. I'm not one to cookie-cutter what others have or a magazine shows. That's just a collection of stuff. Infuse yourself into your house and it feels like you! Mine tells my story. Acquiring things over time, rather than decorating per se personalizes the space in which we live. Memories are in every room.

I had to learn to edit. Without that ability, clutter happens without me even realizing it. Less is more. So I can rotate things in and out of rooms, rather than ALL at ONCE! Think hoarders! It begins without editing.

BEFORE: Bathroom needing editing . . . AFTER decluttering and painting

Our history and personality combine to create our tastes.Living in Guantanamo Bay launched a lifetime love for the color turquoise. Our view was over that aqua Caribbean. So my bathroom reflects that place of rejuvenation even today.

We visited Haiti back then so my bedroom even has a reminder of that time. Doug's paintings reflect him in several rooms. His woodwork is everywhere. Years ago one of our pastors, Randy Cox, told him, "Doug, if you die first, Kathy can't remarry. There's too much of you in this house for any other man!"

Grandma Tippett sitting on our front porch swing in Raleigh

Grandma Tippett's green thumb and lush flower bed gave me an appreciation for the outdoors so I bring it in with perpetual spring in my living room.
I never promised you a rose garden, nevertheless. . .

Informal entertaining passed on by generations of women made my style comfortable, practical in furniture. I want it to say, "Sit. Relax. Put your feet up." So folks do!

The purpose of a room determines many of my choices like color or furnishings. Notice the cool, calm colors above for relaxing in our family room. However, our dining room is a place of laughter, fun and celebration. So I chose a very energetic color to reflect that feeling.
Two rooms in our house are multi-functional. When Doug and I use the family room, the sofa table serves for both eating or as a small office area.

I designed and he built a large hassock on rollers. It too can be a desk, a foot rest or extra seating.
The music studio becomes a spare bedroom sometimes. So the futon opens into a queen bed. The window can be darkened for napping babies (or adults!)

Economy drives my budget so learning to decorate on a shoestring made me a bargain hunter. Number one rule is always live below your means. Even America is finally learning that you can't spend more than you have! That taught me to shop yard sales, flea markets and consignment shops. I have radar for discount aisles in stores and I start at 50% off but love the 80-90% rows! People always ask, "How do you find these prices?" It's not rocket science. Just a few tricks of the marketing trade:
  • Buy off season.
  • Shop the backs and corners of stores, especially the round racks.
  • Work your way through junk stores to find the quality piece.
  • Ask for discounts on anything! Managers have that power.
  • Online shopping has discounts and coupons available.
  • Buy damaged, used or floor models.
  • Decide when quality matters and when it doesn't. Mattresses matter. Waste baskets may not.
Next week we'll take a look at what makes a house into a home.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Daddy retired from the Navy in 1964 and we moved to Greenville, NC. Ricky and I were teens when he discovered southern hospitality from our new back yard. Poking his nose over the neighbors' fence, he saw them grilling steaks. Introductions and welcoming conversation flowed, ending with, "Well, time for supper, Ricky. Ya'll come over and join us!"

(Ricky was a few years younger here)

Not recognizing a gesture to be merely a friendly gesture, he rushed into our house, announcing, "Hey everybody! We're invited next door for steaks!"

Mama sat down and taught Ricky about southern hospitality.

"So they just lied, Mom?"

"No-oooo. . .not exactly." The lesson continued into phase two.

About 20 years and three kids later, I began to unwrap my own gift of hospitality.

"You have a spiritual gift, probably more than one. What is yours?" the preacher asked.

That question launched a quest to discover mine. There are classes and surveys to help navigate that path. As I learned about myself, I began to see how God made me and gave me certain abilities to help others and glorify Him. Eventually I taught others how to figure out who they are and their purpose.

The music ministry in worship was a more obvious part of me. Hospitality was a secondary process of understanding myself and that gift. I learned it is NOT:
  • about a beautiful or clean house
  • about food (Good thing because I'm not a great cook!)
  • an event centered on where you live
  • elaborate preparation (It's more about open-heart over open house.)
Hospitality is a gift within me that makes people feel comfortable, welcomed, loved in my presence. That gift can be shared at church, on the street, at the grocery store or over a fence, even without grilled steaks!

Ever have someone shake your hand and greet you, "Hello. It's good to have you with us today," but you felt no warmth nor connection? Then another person comes up, "Good morning! So glad to see you. . ." and you instantly connect, feel truly welcomed and appreciated. Chances are, the second person has the gift of hospitality. It's not a right way vs. wrong way thing. It's who we are in Christ!

As I learned about being hospitable, I realized it IS:
  • loving people, as a people-person does quite naturally
  • conversing comfortably (ebb and flow, not dominating in monolog)
  • truly being open and welcoming, whether into your home or your life (being real)
  • accepting folks for who they are, allowing them to be at ease in that
Yes, it involves opening our home at times but it may happen with just popcorn and a Coke, not a seven course meal. It means the baseboards do not necessarily get dusted, and my pride is not a factor. As I relaxed in this endeavor, others could too. Being with people in the moment, eye to eye, heart to heart trumped hors d'oeuvres.

A little less Martha, a little more Mary.

A few simple principles helped me feel comfortable with the gift of hospitality.

* Decluttering both my house and my schedule opened space for others to feel comfortable, relaxed and at home.

I focus more on keeping things picked up rather than cleaned up. Tidy passes for both and welcomes people.

Messy space creates stress, whether it's a too full closet, desk, room or schedule. It repels folks.

* Less is more. Simple meal, simple agenda, unhurried evenings invite folks to enjoy. Rush kills hospitality.

* Don't try to impress, with my home or my conversation.
Listening is more important than name dropping or show-casing.

* Don't be impressed. This sounds strange but often uncomfortable people try to win you by impressing you. The range is anywhere from who they know, where they've been to how much they own. It sometimes masks the real person. Free them up from their performance trap. Let them know you like them for who they are, not who they know, what they do nor how much they earn. Love people!

* Don't be busy or distracted. Be there. Ever try to talk with someone and you see their eyes darting over your shoulder? You know they are not truly engaged in the conversation. The gift of hospitality brings you fully into the moment, not rushing ahead to the next. Multitasking kills true fellowship.

* Be organized before guests arrive. Do as much ahead as possible, so you are free to be in the moment.

* With whatever needs to be done last minute, enlist your guests' help as needed, rather than wait on them. I ask for help then whether it's a Bible study or supperclub in my home. Nothing makes people feel at home more than stepping into your kitchen. They feel needed and useful too. Plus you enjoy their company while working.

Recently we had friends over and I tried a new omelet roll recipe. I knew it would be a tricky last minute thing so I asked one of the ladies, "Would you please help me with this?" She did! We did! Ask for help when you need it.

Our lives are happiest, most relaxed and fulfilled when we know who we are in Christ. Being yourself blesses others and Him! Enjoy the journey to that discovery.

Just being me,