Of course, when we think of home improvement, we generally think of things like refinishing the kitchen cabinets, adding new blinds to the bedroom windows, or building a cover over the back patio.
We do have several projects like that waiting in the wings, but there are some more important home improvement projects that I want to accomplish as soon as possible.
(1) I want to speak to my children respectfully--100% of the time.
I've noticed that sometimes my voice sounds pretty frustrated. Sometimes it's because my children are a challenge, but other times it's simply because I'm focused on other worries, and the noise of my family feels like too much.
When I was growing up, my parents never treated me as an annoyance. They were so loving and patient with me, and I never went to bed wondering where I stood with them.
Many times, I would walk into my mom's room and find her kneeling at the side of her bed in prayer. She would immediately stop, look up at me, and hold out her arms so I would come give her a hug and tell her what I needed.
One day I asked, "Mom, what do you tell God when I interrupt your prayer?"
She replied, "I just say that my child needs me, and I'll be right back."
My parents didn't take us to Europe or buy us cars when we turned 16. We didn't have a pool or a game room. And we didn't have a cabin in the mountains or memberships to country clubs.
But none of that mattered. We knew we mattered.
(2) I want to reciprocate the love my children show to me.
Alia and Grace "heart attacked" the office the other night (when I thought they were in bed). They stuck notes on the window,
sprinkled cut-out hearts all over the desk,
The following morning at 6:30, I was working on my laptop in my bedroom when they came in and asked excitedly, "Did you SEE it?"
"Oh no, I haven't been in there yet. I'm just working on a couple of things before I come down to breakfast. I'll check it in a minute."
I should have jumped right up and ran into the office. But I just wanted to finish "one more thing" (I can't even remember what it was now).
They waited by me patiently, and then we did go into the office together, and I "oohed" and "ahhed" over all the darling love notes they wrote, but looking back on it now, my gratitude didn't match the gift. Alia even told me she'd had a dream that I walked into the office, saw their handiwork, and got SO excited.
I'm going to go "heart attack" them back as soon as I finish this post. (Fortunately, I'm realizing where I'm lacking before my children grow up and leave the house.)
Grace also brought me breakfast twice in the past week.
Both times she forgot to make breakfast for herself because she was so excited to serve me--and then later those mornings, she wondered why she was so hungry.
I haven't made her breakfast in bed for months. That's going to change.
My children are so thoughtful. I don't want to overlook their kindnesses and regret the way I spent my time.
So that's Home Improvement Project #2.
(3) I want to laugh more.
Some moms are so good at relaxing and having fun with their families. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being best, I think I'm a 5.
Home Improvement Project #3 is to become a 9+.
It doesn't take that much, really, to smile and laugh during our meals or bedtime. If I spelled out all the things I'm worried about right now, I bet you'd tell me that I have every right to be serious and/or worried instead of light and happy.
But I keep thinking about the words to one of my new favorite songs, "Little Wonders."
Our lives are made in these small hours,
These little wonders, these twists & turns of fate.
Time falls away, but these small hours, these small hours still remain.
Our lives are made in these small hours.
I also think of this image a friend shared on Facebook recently:
I love this, but I don't want to just "hold it together." I want to soar. I want our family to genuinely feel the power that's available to us.
I want my children to think their home is the safest, happiest, most wonderful place to be. Not because the house is incredibly large or gorgeous, but because they know the people who live here are absolutely crazy about them.
It's not a simple job. But it's my job. And that's the most important way that I'm going to improve my home.
What do YOU do to improve your homes?