Josh and I first started talking about it a few years back.
Making our home a sanctuary for ourselves and for our kids.
One place is this chaotic, demanding, sometimes hurtful world where we know we can consistently find love, support, and grace.
One place in the world where everyone has your back.
Where everyone is for you.
Some days we fall short of this goal and some days we nail it.
Some days all you hear is "I love you" echoing through this house, and other days it's the echo of words that speak quite the opposite.
Some days this house feels like a prison and some days it feels like a sanctuary.
Some days there's no other place we'd rather be and some days we'd rather be anywhere else.
Some days, it feels like we are totally for each other and some days it feels like everyone is in it for themselves.
But Josh and I just keep coming back to this same idea.
Make it a sanctuary.
Josh has been out of town a lot lately and after a particularly hard day a couple weeks back, I sat down with the kids over dinner with plans of talking it all out.
I asked them if they'd each be willing to share one thing they feel like was going right in this house, followed by one thing they felt was going wrong, and what they personally were willing to do to fix the problem rather than pointing fingers and expecting someone else to fix it.
I went first.
I shared with the kids that I felt like there was a lot of physical and verbal affection amongst us. Lots of I-love-you's, lots of hugs, lots of thank-you's and other kind words, lots of leaning on each other's shoulder, lots of back tickling, head rubs, and snuggling.
But then I shared how I felt like everyone in this house (myself included) acted like life was all about themselves. Like each of us were playing the star role in a movie and expecting everyone else to be standbys. Like life was a singular endeavor all about ourselves. Like each of us were the most important person in the world. Like everyone wanted to be the the main character in a book and wanted to write the roles for everyone else, instead of asking God how each of us could be a part of His story.
And then I went on to tell them I was going to commit to less yelling and not allowing someone else's mood dictate my own mood anymore.
Cole went next.
He shared how he felt like everyone in the house was really quick to forgive each other. That we all were really good at apologizing and accepting one another's apologies.
But then he shared how he felt like there were times when our house was filled with nothing but anger, and because of that, he found himself wanting to distance himself from everyone.
And then he went on to tell us he wanted to quit allowing angry thoughts to run rampant in his mind about our decisions as parents and to quit getting mad over insignificant things with the girls.
Courtney Lee was up next.
She shared how much she appreciates all of the things we do together as a family; sitting around the table for dinner (almost) every night, going Christmas Tree Hunting, our crazy Spring-Break trips, driving three hours for Burgers, etc.
But then she shared that after a day of feeling alone at school how sometimes she came home and felt like she was alone here too and that sometimes, she wished all of us were more excited about the things she felt excited about.
And then she went on to tell us she would commit to feeling joy when she was excited about something without depending on someone else's response.
Yans was up last.
She immediately broke into tears while telling us she agreed with everyone and everything we talked about, but that she couldn't go on living like this with everyone in the house (except for she & I) hating Deedle.
And then she went on to tell us she would commit to not shoving Deedle in Cole or Courtney's faces anymore and that she wouldn't sit him on their chairs (where he often leaves rat droppings) either.
And then Cole & Courtney agreed to never utter an unkind word about Deedle in return.
A few days later (when Josh was back home), I told him about the talk I had with the kids, and then we went on to talk (once again) about making this house a sanctuary for ourselves and for our kids.
One place in the world where everyone is for you.
And you know what? I think we've all been doing it. Not perfectly. Not consistently. Not effortlessly. But we're doing it.
I can see it on their faces.
I can hear it in my tone of voice.
I can feel it in our interactions.
And this morning when Cole fell back asleep after I woke him up and his dad offered to wake him up again (without yelling) and Cole came running down the stairs on the way to the shower with a towel around his waist and a smile on his face, saying, "Thanks for waking me up Dad!", as I diced up bell peppers in my pajamas for tonight's crockpot chili and delighted in (and showed everyone) how magical the mix of yellow, orange, and red peppers looked, while Annie ate her banana without complaint while simultaneously asking if I would make Paleo Pancakes tomorrow, and I (without yelling) reminded her for the fifth time to take her pills & powder (for all of her stomach troubles), while Courtney Lee texted "Hey lover!" from her mom's house to say good morning, and while Josh and Cole did Algebra homework on the chalkboard, I felt thankful.
Thankful for this morning.
Thankful for these people that I get to do life with.
Thankful for what (sometimes) feels like a sanctuary.
And I know there are more moments, and days, and weeks ahead when this place isn't going to feel quite so sanctuary-esque.
But it's a goal.
A goal that requires progress rather than perfection.
A goal that provides us with an endless supply of fresh starts.
And a goal brimming with the promise of grace and growth.