What My Mother’s Decorating Taught Me About God

Our house was always the coziest house I knew. My mother loved to decorate and it was evident when you walked in the door.

At Christmas time, the rustic stone fireplace that my dad built was piled high with luscious greenery, berries, lights, candles, seasonal books, and figurines. We’d stare at its beauty.

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I noticed as a child that not all homes were this way.

We would drive up the road in our station wagon and my mother would comment about the lady in that house that has all white rugs and doesn’t allow any children in for fear they’ll spoil her rug. My sisters and I would lock eyes on the house as we drove by, and I imagined that the windows were its eyes and that they had a sad look in them, and I felt sad for the house that didn’t welcome children.

Everyone loved coming to our house, but oftentimes, I wouldn’t like visiting other places. Sometimes they’d feel cold and sterile, painfully clean, sparse, or like nobody cared what the place looked like.

I learned later that many Christians feel that decorating is superfluous. In some circles it’s looked upon as unholy to spend money on nick-nacks and pretty things. Indulgent, even. My mom pointed out this misguided view to us several times in our childhood, and I remember her feeling badly for women who held this view, as though they and their families were missing out on so much.

I wonder, do our homes reflect our views of God?

Is our view of God sterile and basic? All business and no happiness? Cold?

Is your view of God one that denies you of all basic happiness?

Is our view of God beautiful, generous, abundant, creative, good, welcoming, hospitable?

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When God gave instruction to have the temple built in 2 Chronicles 2, one thing you note is that the temple was purposefully beautiful and abundant, full of engravings and tapestries.

For those of you who’ve been given the desire to create and design and beautify your homes, I want to reaffirm what you already know: God is not the author of blah and ho-hum. Whatever God creates is gorgeous and abundant and orderly.

Creating an orderly, wonderfully stimulating atmosphere in your home is a good thing. It’s a reflection of the nature of God.

My mother’s decorating taught me that God was the author of order and loveliness. That attention to detail made all the difference in making someone else feel loved. My mom’s efforts in her home were a ministry to others. My mom’s kitchen table was always full, with teens, new families from church, hurting women and those in need. It was not about impressing the Joneses, but lavishing good on the underdog. I watched as women were encouraged, treated, advised, counseled and befriended. It was and is a healing place to visit.

Since when did we get the idea that following God means that our lives would be free from beauty? That following God meant the worst things: dullness, and want and the bare minimum just to get by as though God was somehow a stingy Father.

Within your means, I believe your creative efforts in your home can reflect your view of God. God made us in His image and when we reflect his love for beauty, and goodness, and generosity, we reflect His attributes.

I’m not talking about spending beyond your means.

I’m not talking about expensive things. I’m not saying that you can be covetous at heart over things, or that you must be ruled by the latest Pinterest craze.

Not at all. Creating beauty is oftentimes more a mindset than anything and is inexpensive to attain: Cleanliness, order, music, blazing fall branches brought inside for a centerpiece for the dinner table, candles lit, paintings created and hung, yard sale finds or

furniture taken from the trash and lovingly, beautifully restored into something attractive and useful. (Oh, the symbolism there!)

It’s not frivolous, or sinful, or shallow.  If God gives you those desires, dear friend, embrace it as a good gift and use it for His glory. You can decorate for His glory. You can reflect Him in your home. Those who live there will be thankful. Those who visit will be refreshed.

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Ps 145:7

14 comments

  1. Kim Shay says:

    I am not a fan of decorating simply because it’s costly, and we have never lived on more than one income. To me, adorning my home also involves books, good food, quiet, comfort. Decorating our homes with lovely fall branches and candles is a luxury. One of the homes I feel most “welcomed,” is very plain, but it’s beautiful because of the fellowship there. I understand what you’re saying, and I agree that creativity is part of being made in the image of God, but it’s very sad that decorating can be the means whereby women feel inadequate, especially those of us who don’t have the funds to do it well.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Oh, yes, the Pinterest phenomenon. I know what you mean, and like I said, that’s not what I’m talking about. I have been in simple houses that were thoughtfully arranged and cared for and you could tell. I love decorating with books, too!
      This post is really a corrective to the idea that as Christians we must only focus on the eternal to the detriment of the material and physical. :)

  2. Homemanager says:

    Thanks for this reminder Sarah! I know that in my quest to “simplify” I may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Your post is stirring up the desire to look more at what I have in my home and how to arrange it to be warm and inviting. You are so right about the Lord not being ho-hum. I have often thought about how He could have made everything black and white with no color, but everything that we see is actually a reflection of Who He is. Color and texture and beauty are all part of His character. Thanks so much for encouraging me! I need it especially at this time. <3

  3. Homemanager says:

    Another thought…I remember that Corrie TenBoom shared that her sister actually “decorated” their small cell in the concentration camp with different things that they had such as a red scarf. That really struck me. It doesn’t take much to make things a little nicer and it ministers to our souls…

  4. Tim says:

    “Since when did we get the idea that following God means that our lives would be free from beauty?”

    Great point, Sarah. Life with God is beautiful and joyful and many-things-ful that people might not expect.

  5. Erin Roneree says:

    Wow this post evokes so many things within me. What an original thing to post about. I have been reading your blogs for a good amount of time now and feel I understand your heart behind most of the things you say. Love that. This is my favorite blog to read. You write: “I learned later that many Christians feel that decorating is superfluous. In some circles it’s looked upon as unholy to spend money on nick-nacks and pretty things. Indulgent, even. ” – as I read this I was like this is me. Wow this is me. And it’s not even a conviction per se – it’s guilt that I’ve carried. I feel like because others in the world have so little that I feel guilty being an American that has so much. That I shouldn’t be worried about all that stuff. And there is something to say for being simple and not overindulging – but your post makes a whole bunch of amazing points that this isn’t about spending money or keeping up the the Joneses. It’s about being ok with having beauty displayed in your home and not thinking that God is hum drum and wants us to be minimal-ests. Your example about the temple says it all – He didn’t not lavishly decorate His temple because there were poor out there – he poured HIs beauty into it. Of course I don’t have the money or the desire to decorate – as the idea of restoring an old piece of furniture or collecting fall branches evokes dread in me and not joy so I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon. But I sure do like to go into a home that has done those things! There is truly something to say for aesthetics. It really warms and brings peace and joy to a soul. They were created by God. All of this being said, I really feel like the Lord through your post has brought peace to my soul on this matter – that I need not feel guilt. But enjoy what He’s given me, always seeking to bless others with what I’ve been blessed with – ministering in His name. Amen Sarah. Thank you.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Oh, Erin, thank you for sharing your heart. I am so glad that it ministered to your beautiful soul. Your note was such an encouragement to me…as beautiful words can minister healing as well as pretty china tea cups. Thank you!

      • Erin Roneree says:

        You’re welcome! I love that I can have fellowship with another believer even on a blog!! Thank you for all your exhortation and encouragement. God has truly gifted you and uses you for His glory. Means so much to this mommy of 2 going on 3 really little ones.

  6. KimP says:

    This was really unique to read and even comforting to my heart :) I am not a decorator – not because I don’t want to be but because I don’t really have an “eye” for things and never really learned (my mom did a little decorating but not much) :( So I’m slowly learning. But I loved all you wrote about beauty and God and how He adorns His world with beauty. I need to try to pick one area and spruce it up or try something different. Thanks for your wisdom, Sarah! :)

  7. Ariana W says:

    I stumbled upon this old post and really appreciate it. I’ve fallen in the trap of thinking such things as decorating are frivolous and worldly. In recent months I’ve realized the error in such thinking and boy, do I like my home so much more now that I care! I’ve pondered decorating and come to the conclusion that what makes a home nice and inviting is when the woman of the house simply cares for it and the people that enter it. She makes an attempt to make it nice – regardless of her funds. Too many women think it takes money to decorate. Often I just put a handful of dandelions in a juice glass on my table with a simple cloth napkin as a “runner”. My children just love it. Thank you for the post!

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Yes! This is a topic I am passionate about! We are not simply spirits, we are physical beings and God has wired us to love beauty. I know that in our culture, we can go overboard but there’s nothing wrong with making your life and surroundings beautiful! Thanks for stopping by!