The Words in our Home ~ Jen

When I was in 10th grade, I read the first aphorism—or proverb—that changed my life. It was hanging out right in the middle of Act I of Shakepeare’s Julius Caesar. Cassius says to Brutus “Men at some times are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings” (Act 1, Scene 2, 140-143).

Yeah, I know what Cassius and Brutus went on to do, and I know that in the tenth circle of hell, Satan is chewing on Brutus for eternity. But that’s not the point.

The point is that my 15 year old self was rocked by the divine literary affirmation of what my parents had been telling me: my life was mine, every triumph, mistake and consequence. All mine to make or break. Intoxicating. Empowering.

As a teacher I put aphorisms around my classroom, in print that was big enough to read from across the room, but only if you really focused. I never called attention to them. Aphorisms need to be mulled over a few times. I waited for the students to ask me. And in drips and dribbles, over the course of the year, kids would come to me and say “Can I ask you what this means?” To which I always answered “First, tell me what you think it means”.

I’ve done the same thing in our home. Only Gabriel can read, and he’s probably too young for Ben Franklin, but I want the words to be a fixture in our home, familiar, like old friends. I want the words to be there for the day they lose a game, or get a D, or fight with their friend. Something to mull over. To help them figure it all out.

Because sometimes the answers to life’s questions can be tied up in one tidy, historically, philosophically or spiritually significant saying.

Here they are!*

This was the first sign Shea and I got when we married. It was a gift from my sister-in-laws parents and had hung in our kitchen since the day we moved in.

This was the first sign Shea and I got when we married. It was a gift from my sister-in-law’s parents and has hung in our kitchen since the day we moved in.

This hangs in our guest bathroom. Gotta love Mr. Franklin!

This hangs in our guest bathroom. Gotta love Mr. Franklin!

This sign hung over the window in the nursery for all three babies. From "Guess How Much I Love You". I never want my kids to doubt!

This sign hung over the window in the nursery for all three babies. From “Guess How Much I Love You”. I never want my kids to doubt!

We put this in the living room, along with the S, which is our family initial. We are proud to be children of God.

We put this in the living room, along with the S, which is our family initial. We are proud to be children of God.

I've had this one in my home in some form or fashion for almost twenty years. This MOVES me.

I’ve had this one in my home in some form or fashion for almost twenty years. This MOVES me.

I bought these as favors for Anne's baby shower. There have never been sisters in my family before, and I wanted to let the important women in my life know that I learned about sisterhood from them.  This is who we try to be.

I bought these as favors for Anne’s baby shower. There have never been sisters in my family before, and I wanted to let the important women in my life know that I learned about sisterhood from them. This is who we try to be.

This one kind of speaks for itself. But we want our kids to know we have faith in them.

This one kind of speaks for itself. But we want our kids to know we have faith in them.

I got this one at Kohls. Gabriel quotes it at Kate sometimes, which makes me smile.

I got this one at Kohls. Gabriel quotes it at Kate sometimes, which makes me smile.

This one is going upstairs between the kids' bedrooms. Simple.

This one is going upstairs between the kids’ bedrooms. Simple.

This is our newest sign, purchased from Shutterfly for Shea for Father's Day. Love it!

This is our newest sign, purchased from Shutterfly for Father’s Day. Love it!

Of course, the most important words in our home are contained in our family Bible, which normally lives on our hutch, right within easy reach. But since we are currently short a hutch, it’s in the cupboard next to the phonebook, which is pretty appropriate if you think about it.

I am sure as the years go on, I will add or switch some of the hanging words in our home. Maybe (dream of dreams) the kids will add some of their own eventually. Either way, I hope we are always a family of words, spoken and hanging.

*The wooden signs were made for us by my sister-in-law’s mother, Karen Shoemaker. Her work can be found at www.shabbyshoesigns.com.

2 thoughts on “The Words in our Home ~ Jen

  1. I have to say that you and Dana are such wonderful writers!!! God has given both of a beautiful gift. Thank you!!!

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