I just finished a reading a book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, “For the Family’s Sake: The Value of Home in Everyone’s Life.” The book is interesting in that it deals with an obvious topic, that homes are important to *everyone*. Well, of course. But as someone who is *gasp* shall I say it, a homemaker, I found the book incredibly encouraging.

I think the reason I love it so much is because I needed the encouragement. That it is important to do the same thing again and again, and that really that is what life is all about. That is security. That it is important to sit at the kitchen table with your kids while they dawdle over a snack. That it is worth the effort to thoughtfully plan your routines & meals, clean your house, and decorate your home. But that it’s not all that important to have the biggest, nicest, newest. I truly think we all know these things, but it is so easy to get caught up in the desires of the heart rather than embracing the reality of our everyday life.

This morning I was looking through the junk mail we got and noticed an ad from Panera Bread, one of *my* favorite places to eat with the family. That was the location of my “last meal” before my first child was born (French Onion soup in a bread bowl, shortly before checking into the hospital for my induction…)

On the front of the ad it says, “Breakfast, lunch, dinner.” You open it inside and it says “Or sanctuary, refuge, haven?” Three pictures on the other page are of a mom cuddled with her daughter in a big comfy chair, a roaring fireplace, and someone sitting at a table working and drinking coffee. My initial thought was, “Yeah, Panera knows that home is important! They are trying to sell themselves as a home away from home… very smart move.” But at the same time, it is sad. Why are people drawn to Panera? I have a big comfy chair, a fireplace and a very nice kitchen table at my home. I am a decent cook and I could probably produce food & sandwiches of the order that Panera does. Why would I even chose to go and spend money at Panera, when I can have the same thing at my own home? (I’m not sure, honestly!)

And even more challenging, why can’t my home be as appealing as Panera to my friends and family? I think we’re starting to get there. One thing that I have enjoyed since we moved back to NC is having my family (Dad, brother & SIL) over fairly frequently. We’ve enjoyed family meals and hanging out a great deal. But I would really love to figure out how to go beyond my close family, how to open up my home to others in the spirit of L’Abri and the Schaeffers. To me, part of the challenge is how do I find people to invite into my home? I am doing my best to get connected with mommy groups, to find a church home, to become active in LLL in hopes that I will meet people.

However, I do confess to a certain amount of insecurity about my home and its appeal. As I get to know people and want to spend more time with them, will I be brave enough to invite them into my home? Or will I cop out and say, “I’d love to meet you at Panera one day…”