I shall never forget that day. It was early in the morning and I was walking down the stairs and out of the corner of my eye I saw a menacing shadow. I paused midstep with my foot hanging in the air and looked down. There was a scorpion. If I had taken one more step, I would have likely been stung. Needless to say, the scorpion was dispatched outside rather quickly. Scorpions creep me out.
Another day we came home from a short vacation to find our kitchen teeming with ants. It had been a hot summer and they had gotten inside and discovered our pantry. The place was a sea of black lines. It took a lot of effort to get them out of the house.
These two experiences teach us a lot about the environment in our homes. Day in and day out our families live in our homes. It is the center of our families. It is our sanctuary.
We are the architects of our environment. We can create a home of peace, quiet, order, and beauty or we can create a home of contention, noise, and chaos. It is up to us, as parents, to create the best environment for our children and our families. We must be vigilant in what we allow to creep into our home environments that could be dangerous or overtake our families.
Here are some ideas to help each of us create a great home for our families. First, let’s focus on what we want to keep IN our homes:
- Safety – we want our homes to be a sanctuary – that safe place where our children know we will protect them from the boogie man. This means, too, that we treat them with safety. They know that we are on their side. They know that their name, their reputation, their tender heart is all safe within the walls of our home. Are our homes a safe place for our children?
- Peace – We raised four sons. As you can imagine, the house was not always peaceful! We taught them constantly to avoid contention and to get along with each other. We didn’t raise our voices. We didn’t argue in front of the kids. We tried to keep feelings of peace in our home as much as possible. Not an easy task but one well worth the effort! Do we try to keep a feeling of peace in our homes?
- Order – Have you ever walked into a kitchen that was a complete mess? Do you feel like eating? Creating? Sitting together? The mess just overwhelms our senses. Creating a home of order requires nonstop effort. First, everything needs to have a place. Gather everything that doesn’t and decide either where it will live or let it go. Second, cut down on clutter. It just takes one viewing of the hoarding TV show to realize what that clutter looks like and feels like. Be ruthless!! Donate it or toss it! Go in every room and eliminate half of what’s there until it feels in order. Third, regular clean-ups are a must. Have the family clean-up every day before suppertime. We put on Motown music to run around the house straightening. To this day, my children feel like cleaning when they hear that music! Do our homes feel calm and orderly?
- Beauty – Have you ever stood in a beautiful building—perhaps a church or a museum – and just soaked in the beauty? It makes your heart sing! We can make our homes beautiful and it doesn’t cost much money. Look at each room and ask what is beautiful. Is there color, texture, design, or meaning in what is there? Have your children help! Frame their artwork and hang it on the walls. Make beautiful things. Is there beauty in our homes?
Finally, we must make sure we eliminate the scorpions and ants out of our homes. Ask, what is in our home that makes it feel NOT peaceful or NOT safe or NOT beautiful or orderly. Look at the video games – “M” doesn’t just stand for “mature”, it stands for menacing! It does NOT belong in a safe home! Get rid of any pornography or soft pornography (most ladies magazines fall in this category!) Eliminate immodest clothing, offensive books, or anything else that is in your home that doesn’t belong in the life of a child.
We can have lovely sanctuaries for our families with vigilance and effort. Our homes can be filled with love and fun and beauty and peace. That is the kind of home we can offer to our children and our grandchildren. This is where they can snuggle and say, “There’s no place like home . . . . “
Merrilee Boyack received her degree in Business Management at Brigham Young University and her law degree at Santa Clara University. She is married with four sons and has established her own estate planning law practice, working part-time from her home. Merrilee speaks and writes of her experiences, combining humor, memorable stories, and tender emotion. Her first best-selling book, “The Parenting Breakthrough”, contains all the practical advice she has learned through raising her four sons, while “Strangling Your Husband Is NOT an Option” combines her humor with lessons learned in her marriage.
Merrilee speaks to thousands all over the country. She is a very popular speaker at Time Out for Women and BYU’s Education Week and speaks to all kinds of groups. She continues to write – “52 Weeks of Fun Family Service,” “Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy,” and “In Trying Times Just Keep Trying” which chronicles Merrilee’s experience with breast cancer. Merrilee has added life coaching to her portfolio career and helps clients move forward with their lives.
Boyack has been politically involved and currently serves as a councilmember in the City of Poway. She has created a number of community programs for community leadership development, care for the homeless, and city-wide emergency preparedness.
Merrilee is truly a renaissance woman – wife, mother, grandmother, lawyer, speaker, author, life coach and community leader. She is truly a loving teacher who inspires and motivates others to do good and be good and is committed to the rebirth of others.