As someone in my twenties, it had never occurred to me to make such a bold request as to pray for my dream home while looking to purchase my first house. I mean, who gets their dream house that young? It especially never occurred to me that I would come across something that far surpassed my wildest dreams and actually fell within my price range. I longed for somewhere I could find rest, solace, and comfort; a haven where I could sit and soak in God’s provision in my life – a provision I had struggled to accept yet yearned to believe.

The gravel driveway wound around to the back of the house. The crackle of tiny rocks as my car eased up the driveway immediately connected me to fond memories of driving along the gravel road to my grandparents’ farm in Louisiana. As my eyes traveled quickly over each and every curve and whimsical detail of this sweet house, I felt immediately romanced and pursued. I was awestruck as I stepped out of my car and started taking in all the love notes – I’m referring to things that shout “I see you” and “I know you better than you know yourself.” Examples of such things were innumerable so much so that even I got it. God did a number on me with this one.  Lavish is the word that comes to mind when I think of this gift.

The deepest desire of my heart – to really be seen and known – was met a hundred times over as I took in each detail of the home. Over the past few years I had struggled to be seen by my own husband. I was heartbroken when it became clear that he had little interest in me. Sitting on a figurative pile of rubble from the devastation of an ended marriage, I was overwhelmed with feelings of rejection and inadequacy. I brought my shattered dreams and broken heart before God and longed for healing and renewed hope for my future. As I stared at this cottage nestled on an acre of beautiful land, there was undeniable proof that someone saw me! Someone was pursuing me. This someone was not just anyone, but the Creator of the Universe. God had not left me during my deepest moments of pain and He would not leave me. This cottage stood as a symbol of God’s compassion and steadfast love. It was a reminder that I could look to the future with hope as I entrusted it to Him.

This charming historic home sits humbly on an acre of lush Alabama land and has been completely upgraded and renovated. It has high ceilings, original wood floors, a nostalgic fireplace, proud windows to let in plenty of natural light, a charming claw foot tub, and the most amazing open kitchen. The yard has one of the largest hydrangea bushes I’ve ever seen, and mature trees as old as the home itself. You know, the types of trees you can’t even wrap your arms around? To top it all off, there’s a charming wooden swing installed on the deep front porch.

Why God chose to bless me with a gift I do not deserve, I cannot say. I will forever see this home as a tangible reminder of His lavish grace. With so much sentiment attached to this gift, it seemed only natural that I should name this beautiful dwelling space. If you’d be so kind as to humor me, we will refer to it as Grace Haven from here on out. Welcome, sweet friend!

I’ve always known I would want my home to be a haven not only for me, but for all who set foot in it. A place to relax, feel safe, extend mercy, sympathize, nourish, and ultimately love my friends and family. Add some creativity and attention to detail and a home can tell a unique story about those who inhabit it. Which currently consist of are me and my 5 furry pets! Even greater, our homes can be a tool for communicating God’s love to our guests. Here is a list of simple touches that I’m incorporating little by little:

Furniture meant for livingSturdy antiques and distressed yard sale treasures invite others to use it without fear of leaving behind fingerprints or scratches.  My hand-me-down sofa and loveseat don’t match, but now look great with slipcovers that can be tossed in the wash after an accidental wine spill or a pair of overzealous puppies with muddy paws.

Bring outside inside.  In the fall, add pinecones to apothecary jars and display branches in large clear vases.  The addition of houseplants, a neatly kept terrarium or a flourishing windowsill herb garden, are a nice touch to creating the inviting space I desire. Also, don’t forget burn orange and garnet mums to sprinkle on the front steps.

Nostalgic comforts.  Nestle textured pillows, mix matched quilts, and crocheted blankets onto chairs and sofas. No spot in the house is out-of-reach to a cozy throw! Old books from thrift stores, children’s books from my past, and wildly colorful coffee table books invite guests to dive in and momentarily get lost in the pages.

Sensory Overload.  Fall presents some ideal weather to open up the windows and let in fresh air.  Bake a few tablespoons of vanilla in the oven on its lowest setting or cook something aromatic to share. Fall is the perfect time of year to bring out the crock pot for some mulled apple cider, slow roast a pot of chili, cook some fresh pumpkin bread, or bake snicker doodle cookies to share. Let what is created in your home, pour out.