I recently ordered my fall scented hand soaps from the Bath & Body sale. I love to get seasonal fragrances, especially at this time of year. When I opened the Amazon box, I sniffed all the scents I had ordered. Mmmm! One of my favorites that I love to buy is Sweater Weather. It makes me think of the smell of smoke and vanilla. Although it is still late summer and school has just started, I am ready for fall. I’m ready for Friday night football games, autumn leaves, a crisp chill in the air, and a fire in the fireplace.
What is it about a fire in the fireplace? It warms not only the hands, but the heart, while its glow illumines the entire room in the best possible light – people can see, yet the imperfections are softened in the golden hues of the fire. A fire not only warms and glows, it creates an atmosphere. It sets the stage for comfortable conversations with family and friends and draws one in for a cozy evening of steaming mugs, soft blankets, and quiet reflection.
At the end of winter a few years back I lamented how few times we’d enjoyed a fire that season. It was a busy time of young adult kids growing up and moving on, a time that took us away from the fireplace more often than not. As I contemplated it I knew we had lost some things that would never be within our grasp again. I was sad. As I examined my heart I realized that I, too often, let life carry me along, only to look in the rearview mirror and see wonderful things along the roadside that I never stopped to enjoy. I determined that I would be more intentional to keep the home fires burning and to slow down my pace and spend more of the fleeting moments of life with those I cherish.
How are you doing at keeping the fires burning at home? Do you, too, find yourself in a meeting, at a store, running between commitments, kid’s activities and such, yet longing to be in loungewear by the fire with some of your favorite people?
This year has been hard. The unknowns, virus outbreaks, bleak newscasts, masks and vaccines all set nerves on edge and created an atmosphere where depression and fear could grow. But it has also given us a hidden gift – the gift of home. Lockdowns, while hard on the economy and psyche, have kept us home and given us an opportunity if we will make use of it.
What if we get those home fires burning again? What if we gather around the fireplace and spend some time conversing, laughing, savoring the moments of togetherness with those dear to our heart? What if we use those moments as gifts from God to strengthen our families and our children’s faith?
In Old Testament times God gave the Israelites the following instructions:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.Deuteronomy 6:4-9
I can almost see them sitting around their campfires in the wilderness waiting to enter the Promised Land, sharing the stories of Joseph, Abraham and Jacob, discussing the Great Flood and how God protected Noah, reminiscing with their children and asking their neighbors about where they were and what happened at their house when the plagues came in Egypt. My mind’s eye can see the flickering flames and dying embers as they shared stories to strengthen their faith and build that faith into their descendants just as God commanded.
And so it is with us. Gathering together around those mysterious flickering flames with our children allows time for those deep conversations, for unexpected moments that will bear fruit for years to come. What if we gather ’round the fireplace rather than the TV, communicating our memories, our convictions and what Jesus has done in our lives? And what if we focus on the hearth rather than the handheld devices allowing our focus to be inner contemplation and sharing wisdom rather than being bombarded with constant folly? And what if we look into our children’s faces and hearts and really see them and listen to them and show them our love and God’s gracious love in these quiet times? What a difference could keeping the home fires burning, both physciallly and spiritually, make in their hearts a year or two or a decade from now?
All the difference. It will make all the difference.
Find a way to reignite your relationships and share your spiritual life. Be intentional. Be creative. Let the home fires burn strong.
Ideas to keep the fires burning with people you love:
~ Listen to music around the fire. Relax. Soak in the moment. Dance.
~ Play a conversation game like the “Ungame” or “Do You Really Know Your Family?”
~ Read a book together. Then talk about it. The Bible, The Westing Game, or The Chronicles of Narnia.
~ Listen! To the fire. To each other. To hurts and joys.
~ Pray together. Prayer bonds our hearts together, as we each grow closer to God we will grow closer to each other.
~ Unplug, sit in the floor, sip cocoa, and make S’mores! Even if you have to use the fireplace on the TV and not toast your marshmallows.