Sunday, June 30, 2013

Your oasis

A garden gnome is the staple of their quaint English cottage.
A plastic, pink flamingo is a dead give away that it is a tropical paradise.
The matching lions flanking each side of the driveway entrance are a grand welcome to their castle.
A few stone fairies are always present in a fantasy land that is reminiscent of a story book tale.
The rooster on the weathervane isn't just there for go-to directional assistance, it also signifies that despite any livestock, this abode is farm through and through.
A few rocking chairs on the front porch and you know you are at grandma's house.
An assortment of plastic cars, fake houses and slides and you know that children reside here.
A big, old, clunky, dirty couch on the front porch and there is a good chance a bachelor can be found inside.

Home becomes a haven for whoever lives inside. The decor of each home can vary as greatly as the personality of the people who decorated them. No two places are the same just like no two people are the same. Each person creates their own unique place and each finds it to be the most comfortable, desirable and appealing place of all. We each get the chance to make our own mini-castle, whether or not we choose to include lions at the entrance. Isn't this a beautiful aspect of freedom and individuality? We all don't have to love the same things and look the same way. The garden gnome in your neighbor's yard might be the epitome of tacky to you but to that neighbor the gnome, with the red hat and green cloak that resides by the front steps, is the best purchase she ever made when it comes to home decorating. That gnome brings a smile to her face each time she ascends up the stairs onto her porch. She thinks he is charming and cute. And who is to say she's wrong?
Each person gets to carve out their own little slice of paradise right here on earth. Some people never take the opportunity to do so. They lament where they live or the home they can afford. They spend their days thinking that the grass on the other side of the fence, or on the other side of town, is of a whole different caliber and color then their own. They can't see the beauty of what they have and the possibilities that can be tapped into if only they will use their imagination. These people miss a grand opportunity to create a haven of their own.
In life we run into this tendency of envy in more then just home but in a multitude of ways. We look at the finances, social life, job, physical figure, marriage, car, or "luck" (even though I don't believe in that) of other people and jealously follows. We want what they have. We start to resent our own life circumstances. This is a nasty little trap of satan. He wants us to be looking anywhere but up. If the in-ground pool in our neighbor's yard will cause envy to grow in your heart then great, he'll use that no problem. If the new car that just pulled up down the street catches your eye and makes you complain about the old car with the faulty transmission that you are stuck driving, then satan will use that to divert your attentions away from what is truly important. He'll stir up envy and jealousy anywhere he see's an opening.
God wants you to make the most of what blessings you have been given, no matter what your bank account or decorating taste. If you don't live in the biggest house on the block he doesn't want you to care. He wants you to love the home you have and make it into an oasis. He wants you to be a good steward of the things he has given you: your body, your finances, your home, your kids, your social life...

Home is a stunning picture of the possibilities to turn humble circumstances into something amazing: a personal paradise. As I drive around the neighborhoods in my home town I am struck by the care so many people take to make their small little homes, on their little cut out of land, into something special. Most of the homes here aren't anything grand. Most of the neighborhoods have homes that all look a lot alike.  Many are small brick ranch style with less then a quarter of an acre of land. Most have only a single car garage. Many don't even have a porch that could hold more then a single rocking chair. In-ground pools are rare. But, thankfully, garden gnomes are not. People here love their homes, no matter what kind of counter tops they have or how high the ceilings measure in at. They take pride in maintaining a well kept yard and orderly home. The taste of most people in this town does not match my own. In fact, I used to roll my eyes at some of the crazy garden accessories people would put out in my neighborhood. The black, wood cutout of a farmer smoking a pipe will always go down in my mind as the most ridiculous of yard decor. But that person kept their lawn clipped to a T and weeds were never to be found. They loved their home and their pipe-smoking guy in the front yard.
You don't need to have anything fancy to have it all. You don't need to be the envy of the neighborhood to have a home sweet home. In life, you just need to embrace where you are and what you have been given. God hasn't made a mistake in his blessings. He hasn't missed you or forgotten to give you your "fair share". He has blessed you abundantly. The question is, are you recognizing the blessings, embracing them and making this life into your own personal paradise?

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