10 Life Lessons on Being a Homeowner




One morning as I woke up, a thought welcomed me, “what have I learned on being a homeowner?” Besides my parents’ home and my husband’s parents’, I have lived in 4 rented homes and two homes which I called our own. All homes varied in sizes from two rooms to many rooms. I have stayed in the homes of family and friends as well.
I offer the top ten lessons to you as a source of inspiration to search and see what you have learned. This does not mean I have learned everything and finished learning. I hope to be still learning. But for right now, these are what I have. For this one I searched my heart to see which ten I would include. For right now, enjoy reading and pass it on to others.

1. It is not the designing or decorations that make the house beautiful but the people who invest their lives in each other through love, trust, and honesty.

2. Do not worry about how spectacular our house is as we invite friends and family, may our hearts reach out to them in sincerity and serenity.

3. It is not in the rich cuisine you serve that your friends are satisfied but the warmth they feel in their spirits.

4. Our home can become a home for others only if we are thoughtful.

5. Love all our neighbours but draw clear boundaries.

6. As we open our home for others, never allow our own to always feel ignored.

7. The chinaware or the expensive dishes are not just for special guests but also for us to enjoy with kith and kin.

8. If bricks and wood were to testify let them echo stories of forgiveness more than strife.

9. There is nothing called the dream house. Every house big or small will eventually be our dream home as lives are weaved together through times of joy and tears.

10. Never get our hearts fixed on any home; see it just as a temporary shelter as we will move on to our eternal home sooner or later.

Please share lessons you have learned in the comments.

 
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10 Life Lessons on Being Human
Here is my list of Life Lessons. They are lessons learned from various experiences. I offer them to you as a source of inspiration to search to see what life has taught you.

This does not mean I have learned everything and finished learning. I hope to be still learning. My top ten will change as I grow older. But for right now, these are what I have. Do not think I had a heart breaking search to write these. Not at all. It just flowed as I began to scribble in my note book. Enjoy reading and think of what life has taught you. 

  • Rejoice with all your heart when others rejoice.
  • Stay close to those who suffer even if you have no words of comfort to offer. It is not the time to dig out the past to discover all whys and what ifs. 

  • Life is not meant to be lonely. There are many who enjoy your company.
  • Once you’ve  helped someone, learn to walk away. They do not owe you anything.

  • Those who have helped you, learn to be thankful regardless flaws you may discover later.

  • Life is not a rat race; so enjoy the smile of a baby, smell of jasmine, touch of loved ones.

  • You do not have to get ahead of everyone all the time in life. Stand back and watch how others enjoy when they achieve something important.

  • No need to always explain why you are misunderstood. If it is to be settled it will otherwise it will develop resilience in you.

  • Blessings in your life are never to be hoarded. Sharing gives you an opportunity to witness others enjoy their lives.

  • You will often find yourselves in dead-end but that is not the end of your life. 
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Perspectives…Empty Nesters

This year is a significant year in our life as husband and wife. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We are still dreaming for many more years together. Another important event was our daughter leaving home for college which created an empty nest for us.

So often people ask “how is life now?” “Are you sad as no children are home?” “Do you miss them?” “Do you cry?” Yes we miss them. Life is different without kids. But often I have mixed emotions. Sad at the same time happy! Sad that they are not home. But happy that they are where God wants them to be and they can manage their lives without the constant supervision of parents. I know they will come back home but still they are adult children steering their own lives with little direction from us compared to their childhood.

This is the dream of any parent. Children trailing their way to move forward in the path they see as theirs.  Moving from dependence on parents to interdependence is indeed an adventurous task for any young adult. It becomes a risky phase if the child was not prepared for this transition.

For parents too it can be a difficult task if they are not preparing themselves for this phase in life. Even though the sense of loss is normal, some parents feel a great sense of loss when the last child leaves home to the extent that it affects the sense of purpose and life.  For others it is a constant feeling of regret.  (Here I am not taking about elderly parents but middle aged parents. Of course the aged need constant support and care of children.)

How can middle aged parents live without losing their sense of direction and purpose when children leave home? It has to do with certain perspectives of marriage, parenthood, and life. The perspective of marriage is that husband and wife do not live for children or anything else or anybody else but for each other. In the bond as husband and wife, next to their relationship with God comes their relationship with each other. They become best friends and companions as they invest their time and resources to grow in these terms.  So when children leave home their friendship still grows.

Second is the perspective of parenthood. Parents need to see themselves as stewards of children not owners.  They have been entrusted in our care to their wholesome development. In this process we want to give them space, resources and freedom to grow into the design set by the creator God. Here, dreams of children and their parents about their lives are only secondary to that of their creator.
Third is the perspective of life. Of course parenting is a fulfilling experience. But there are also other meaningful experiences in life which can bring joy to us and to many in our community. This may not be a full time 9 to 5 job, yet being available to others in their time of need.  Here the involvement not at all suggests ignoring your family but using the time, energy, talent and resources appropriately to enrich others. Today people generally do this through employment which also produces a monetary reward. Yet the focus here is not money but leading a fulfilling life to bring smile to others who may not be our kin or kith. Then life presents a bigger role than being parents and couples.

When does the preparation for this phase begin? Is it after kids are born? Or after they become teenagers? I think the preparation begin from the day of marriage. On that day begins the commitment to be best friends, enriching children’s lives to fit into the design of their creator, and to encourage each other to have an other- focused life. Thus even after children leave home, there is still opportunity to enrich each other, children, and many others as well. 

 Young couples begin the process now and empty nesters there is more to it than being empty.
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Honoring Our Family Members

As my daughter and my husband were returning home after securing admission for her, I cleaned her room, made her bed with clean sheets. There is nothing new in doing these. But this time I did so being conscious of doing this with a spirit of honoring her. I experienced a new sense of delight and pleasure not the attitude of doing my mundane chores.

It is quiet easy to honor and even overlook an offense if the person is our guest or a person of honor. We may go an extra mile to honor such people. It is important to practice the biblical principle of being hospitable.

Yet, how often we have the same attitude towards our family members, our acquaintances, and those whom we see all the time. As my mother died during my mid-teen years, I have learned not to take our dear ones for granted. I learned to cherish my time with my family and extended family.  I made sincere efforts to let my children meet their extended family.

Still honoring is different from not taking someone for granted.  How is it different? To take someone for granted means to appreciate the ways by which a person enhances and contributes to the quality of your life and the relationship. Honoring also involves appreciation but it is to value the person not just valuing the person for his/her contributions.

As I began to think more about this after listening to last week’s sermon of the visiting pastor, I realized that it is a perspectival shift which leads to practice shift. I am able to appreciate my dear ones as those whom God gave me to cherish and love not just because of their contributions. This naturally leads to not to take them for granted. But the starting point is honoring not the other way.

Imagine extending this perspective to all whom we come across. What a solace we would experience and smile we are able to bring in the hearts of those we meet! But let us begin this in our family.  

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Setting Godly Boundaries for Your Marriage

Boundaries are well-defined and clearly identified in land deals. This helps owners to know their limits of ownership. Respecting the limits allows neighbors not to encroach into other’s space. In any organization, job descriptions, rules and regulations have the same effect. Effectiveness and productivity of the organization rest upon respecting each other’s boundaries of space and work.

If respect of the other is the basis of functioning within the set boundaries in the above instances, growing in love with each other is the basis for setting boundaries in marriage. Or to develop oneness in spirit, mind, and body is the goal rather than controlling each other or to force the other into your mold. 

In the first stage of marriage, namely romance, even when boundaries are not well defined, this stage will care for itself as the newness the couple enjoy, may cause them to focus on loving each other. Here the couple ignores each other’s faults thus getting along and pleasing each other become their priorities. Brain also comes in our aid as it releases chemicals like Oxytocin, Phenylethylamine and Dopamine which set one’s heart thumping thus feeling similar to being “high on drugs.”


However, it is necessary to set boundaries in Romance stage itself. Just like all other stones in a foundation will be set in reference to the cornerstone in a foundation, some key patterns of words and deeds set during this stage will further guide couple’s life. Setting of boundaries may not naturally evolve. It needs deliberateness from both partners but either of the two can take the initiative. Thus it is neither an autocratic process nor just the interest of one person. Even in the midst of enjoying each other’s company both husband and wife can create a list of boundaries to steer their life together. This may not be an exhaustive list but surely it is the cornerstone.

As there is an urge in pleasing each other during Romance stage, the couple may be willing to do anything for each other. This is the stage in which they have certain high ideals about one’s marriage. Thus it is easier to set boundaries during this stage. One limitation may come from the fact that couple sees each other only through the beautiful, rose coloured glass which can create fuzzy vision. Yet with little effort realities can be brought to one’s perception. Besides this is just the initial attempt, the beginning of listing boundaries of their married life.

Boundaries can be set during any stage in marriage. Yet newlyweds have an added advantage. From the beginning itself they can avoid causing damage to their relationship and others. Yet for others who have been married for some time, it is better late than never. If the couple has the intention of creating oneness, let a new chapter emerge in life with clearly defined boundaries. While past issues are to be resolved they can avoid creating further damage in and through them.

What are some common boundaries that couples usually set? Family will pray together twice/once a day. Settle all disagreements before sleep. Always sleep in the same bed even when there is disagreement. Discuss disagreements not in anger. Not to use words like “divorce” and “suicide” in family discussion. Not to hit each other or use foul language. Not to discipline children in anger. Family will have at least one meal together. The family will visit their parents once a week/month/year. Never tease each other before others.  Never to place one in a vulnerable situation where one is mentally/emotionally/physically attracted or attached to someone else other than one’s spouse. Take money from each other’s purse only with mutual understanding.
The list can go on. It is to be tailored according to context of one’s family but with the aim of growing in oneness in spirit, mind, and body. One life to live, why don’t we live life to the fullest and enable others to do so!

photo courtesy  www.ladiesflight.com
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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home,
Where I was a child, where my siblings and I, laughed, played and argued
Where we cried and laughed together
Whose walls echoed our shouting, rooms witnessed our deeds.

As the needle moved
My second home appeared where my husband and I,
made our home,
Where our children were born,
We share our joys and sorrows,
Where our kids laugh, play and argue
Whose walls have their fingerprints and rooms have stories to recite.
As the needle moves they will move to their own homes
And they and we, joined with many others will go to our eternal home-
Our home with Jesus where others and us,
Will laugh, play, and sing
Where the walls will echo our praises and rooms behold His Glory
We never have to switch the home again
Home, sweet home

Photo courtesy: http://www.pinktruth.com
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Taking Risk to Build Our Home

Hannah is a a unique woman in the Bible. She was dearly loved by her husband Elkanah. Yet she also lived with his other wife who provoked her to irritate her. This misery intensified during the family visit to the house of the Lord. The reason was her childlessness. Her response to this dilemma was not quarrel, jealousy, retaliation, or gossip but just tears. Her husband tried to comfort her through words and action. Yet none of these could not pacify her. This scenario went on for years.
Hannah could have been content by her husband’s love, yet she turned to God who could meet her need. I do not know why Hannah waited for many years before she decided to bring this issue before God. During one of their visits to the house of the Lord, she did something which made a difference in her life. In the midst of her weeping and prayer with bitterness of soul, she made a vow to the Lord: she would give her firstborn son to the Lord for all the days for his life. This was a risky decision as no mothers have done this before. Also she did not know whether she will have other children or if God would accept her son.
Hannah’s prayer was first of this kind! Samuel was God’s reply for her prayer and rest is history! She bore other children as well. She is a woman who was not willing to be buried in her misfortune and tears. She built her home with her trust in God. Besides, by giving her son to the house of the Lord, she decided to build God’s house with her gift. She transformed her bitterness to bless the entire Israel from Dan to Beersheba. And all Israel recognized Samuel as the prophet of God.
Many mothers want a son like Samuel, but only to a Hannah a Samuel will be born. Only in Hannah’s home Samuel can be raised. Only a mother who makes risky decisions on behalf of their children can build God’s house.
What is special about Hannah and her home? Hannah’s was not a perfect happy home that one dreams of. Hannah had a resident rival in her home who would cause irritation and tears. Yet this did not result in fight neither with her husband nor her rival. Besides, this was not a hindrance to her to express her devotion and trust in God. Also she could have tried to forget her misery in her husband’s love. Yet, she decided to end her misfortune by turning towards God-a bold step towards building her home. Thus the key to unlock the door towards the answer to her problem was in Hannah’s hands and not in anybody else.
What are somethings that bother us about our home? Are we trying to live with it thinking that it would never change? Are we waiting for some others to take a step towards the change? If change is needed, what can we do towards it?
One cannot build home alone. God is the One who builds, yet he gives us an opportunity to partner with him in building our home which necessities us to take risks with prayer, courage, wisdom, and perseverance.
Photo Courtesy: http://www.unhcr.org

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