The intention to cultivate space for Heaven on Earth is becoming increasingly important to me. Chaos and uncertainty in the world continue to intensify.
Like cultivating an environment suitable for crops to grow, we can prepare our homes and our lives for the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can grow in us an impression of and longing for Heaven. I recently re-read a favorite BYU Devotional Speech by Douglas L. Callister entitled Your Refined Heavenly Home. I love this speech. It both inspires me to do more and validates my current homemaking and homeschooling efforts, however small.
“The nearer we get to God, the more easily our spirits are touched by refined and beautiful things.”
I also believe the opposite is true.
The more our spirits are touched by refined and beautiful things, the nearer we get to God. I love how he imagines the refinement of Heaven and what it might be like to live there. He states, “You are children of an exalted being […] You will live in a home and environment of infinite refinement and beauty, as reflected in the language, literature, art, music, and order of heaven.”
I believe that exposure to refinement and beauty plays a part in keeping a person’s heart open and receptive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Refinement does not have to mean extravagance, and beauty does not have to mean expensive. True appreciation for beauty in the small and simple things will help a person grow closer to God.
I want to provide my children experiences that will increase their perception of the beauty, familiarity, and comfort of Heaven.
I hope their capacity to feel and respond to the Holy Spirit will grow. In our homeschool, I try to surround us with the best the world has to offer in the form of truth, goodness, and beauty. My efforts may only be a small drop in the bucket. But I like to think that small drops over time can build into something lasting and meaningful.
I’m also reminded of some of my favorite quotes from Sally Clarkson’s book, The Life Giving Home. She states,
“To make a home right in the midst of the fallen world is to craft out a space of human flesh and existence in which eternity rises up in time, in which the kingdom comes, in which we may taste and see the goodness of God.”
Along the same lines, she also states, “Beauty is about picturing God’s unchanging goodness and daring to bring it into my own small, dusty days.”
Here are seven practical steps you can take to begin to cultivate space for Heaven on Earth:
1.Consistently participate in family prayer and scripture study
This can seem daunting in many stages of life. Maybe all of your kids are little. Their attention spans combined with your exhaustion can make you want to give up. Maybe all of your kids are teenagers with outside jobs, activities, classes, and commitments. This can make it hard to find a time that works for everyone.
Keep it simple and search out what works for you. Though the challenges are many,
once you find your groove and settle into a routine it makes all the difference.
Your family will draw closer to each other and to God, and the feeling in your home will be noticeably improved.
During the school year, we find morning time is perfect for this practice because it happens every day. We also try to read scriptures and pray at the dinner table when hubby and big sister are more likely to be there. This also makes it possible to succeed at least once a day, even if we miss morning or evening.
2.Strive for Order
This is a consistent battle for me. Mostly because a lot of kids live here and they all lead very creative and messy lives (ha ha). But I do think there is something to the phrase, “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
It doesn’t mean you have to keep a spotless house. Heaven knows I don’t. But doing a little each day to maintain order and teach kids good habits goes a long way. Everyone’s threshold is different. However, it’s easier to feel at peace in your space when a certain level of order is maintained.
We regularly have what we call “blessing time.” This is where everyone participates in tidying up and doing chores. It’s called “blessing time” because it blesses the family and our home.
3.Enjoy Uplifting Media
I feel that the music and movies we choose to consume can affect the feeling in the home. It can also affect the things we tend to dwell on in our minds and hearts.
Technology makes it easy to find material to watch or listen to with the click of a button. In an instant, we can be witness to some of the greatest music, theater, and movies of all time. With a simple internet connection, we can experience great orchestras, opera singers, inspiring or thought provoking plays, ballet, or cultural performances. The sky is the limit.
Not everything we consume is top notch. But I do try to expose my family to a wide variety of what is considered “best” in between the “candy.”
4.Share Inspiring Stories
A well written story has the potential to instruct the soul better than any lecture containing the same themes. We have regular read aloud times in our home. Everyone enjoys having this shared experience.
I like to look for tried and true classics as well as new books recommended by trusted sources. There’s no need for pages of reading comprehension worksheets or forced discussion. Enjoy the stories and let discussion happen naturally.
You may even be privileged to see kids using elements of the stories in their play. I have loved watching my kids play with meaningful themes from books like The Boxcar Children, Bridge to Terabithia, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Peter Pan.
5.Provide Visual Cues
I recently put this arrangement in my front room. My kids will see it all day, multiple times a day. It was quick, easy, and inexpensive. It is literally cheap clipboards and whiteboards stuck to the wall with those Velcro strips. If you don’t have the funds for fancy art, this does the trick. And I love it because I can easily swap out what’s on display for variety and interest.
I think what we choose to display prominently in our home sends a message. This shows a scripture with fine art, a hymn, a painting depicting motherhood, and a fun poem. I try to swap it out about once a month so it coordinates with what we’re learning. I hope my family will ponder on these things more while they’re in plain sight rather than tucked in a notebook somewhere. These visual cues can remind them of what our family values.
I believe the family is the first and best place to learn how to serve others in the broader community. If you’re in a season with lots of young children, it may not be practical to engage in larger community service projects together. But we can teach our families to show love and concern through service to the family.
Teach them to cheer someone up when they’re having a bad day, take care of those who are sick, be polite and considerate, and support the family by working together. These little things can add up over time to build character and a kinship and love of God.
7.Focus on Family Relationships
Learning to serve each other can help build family relationships, but so can playing together. Part of loving our neighbor means spending quality time with them and getting to know them. And our very closest neighbors live with us in the form of family.
Learn what your family enjoys doing together and intentionally set aside time for it. This may take trial and error and experimenting with new games and activities. But it will be well worth it in the long run. You will have shared memories of togetherness and love to last a life time. You will desire to support and encourage each other as you grow. There will be a little bit of Heaven on Earth.
Thanks for listening, friend.