Someone mentioned to me once that a woman is like a thermostat: She sets the degree of warmth — the tone — of her home. I’ve been learning how true that is ever since: I get stressed and hurried, they get stressed and hurried. I’m fun and playful, they’re fun and playful.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s my out-of-whack emotions, my exhaustion, my frustration with the kids, or my hormones that are making things a wee bit chilly around here. Instead of setting a gracious atmosphere, where I speak to my kids calmly and in a way I’d want them to speak to other people, I’m curt; brusque; calculating; even yelling. I notice that everybody starts going downhill, and that if I tried, I could stop it. And if I don’t, they won’t. Or I’ll notice my kids responding toward me and each other in ways I find appalling — and realize that I’m responding in kind: just plain icy. Brrrr.

Had to ask myself: Is that how I’m wanting God to speak to me?! Is that the atmosphere I’m wanting my kids’ homes to have? And here’s the kicker: Wouldn’t I be acting differently if guest were here?

There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred” (17:1). Now, my kids don’t feel hatred from me (though there might be more ill will between them and the vegetables). But the principle’s the same. I can equip my kids with a lot of things that they need for life and try to work tirelessly for their benefit: A clean house with a mom involved in every activity who has flashcards in one back pocket and an AWANA book in the other. But if I’m setting a tone like the one I have lately, void of graciousness, focused on a to-do list, and leaving zero room for failure, I’m back to the principle of 1 Corinthians 13: If I have not love, I am nothing.

I don’t know that I’ve been loving the way that chapter describes: Patient. Kind. Slow to anger.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me as you read this, because I need supernatural strength to alter some of these patterns in my home. May God give you the grace for a truly warm home this winter!