Artists & Influencers :: they’re teaching me about home

Last Monday, I introduced a series inspired by this question: What do you know for sure?

I tried to come up with a response to that question, but instead of a list of answers coming to mind, I kept seeing a list of people.

And so I bring you week 2 of Artists & Influencers.

For the next several weeks I will continue to share with you some people who are helping me uncover and affirm those things I know for sure about a variety of topics and challenge you to identify and celebrate who those people are in your own life.

Last week we talked about writing.

Today, let’s talk about home.

The other day I was watching The Brady Bunch with my kids. It was the one where Greg is a man now that he is a freshman in high school so he totally needs his own space.

After much sweet talking from Mrs. Brady, Mr. Brady reluctantly agrees to give up his den where he does all his architecting so that Greg can have his precious space.

“Now don’t go and do anything drastic,” Mr. Brady warns his man-child Greg, “No nail holes or paint on the wall.”

Oh Mr. Brady. How much you have to learn about home.

Tim Keller says this about home in his book, The Prodigal God.

“Home, then, is a powerful but elusive concept. The strong feelings that surround it reveal some deep longing within us for a place that absolutely fits and suits us, where we can be, or perhaps find, our true selves.”

Home is a powerful concept, one that is hard to define in a way. Is it a house? A family? God alone?

Still, here we are. Living fully on this earth, within these walls painted Sea Salt and Svelte Sage, among these people who look like us but who are also other than us. I’ve been thinking about home this week, about what it is an what it isn’t.

Here are some artists and influencers who are teaching me about home:

1. My sister.

I used to be like Mr. Brady, thinking drastic meant a tiny hole in the wall. I cried real tears once trying to hang a picture and realized it was crooked so I had to hammer a *shudder* nother nail in the wall so the picture would be straight.

Real tears, I tell you. For the love.

my sister’s living room

My sister has always influenced how I think about my home, but since she started her blog, her encouragement has become even more bold. Not only does she remind me that paint and nail holes are the least risky thing you could do in your life, but she also consistently reminds me that the imperfections in my home may actually serve a greater purpose.

“I’ve decided not to wait until my house is perfect to share it, use it and love it.  I regret those years where I spent my time wishing my home was something more and not enjoying what I had.” – The Nester

She is the home evangelist for real people and she’s teaching me about home – she’s teaching me that it’s okay to want to make your space beautiful, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be so.

2. Shannan Martin.

I don’t know what it is about this girl. I read her blog for a long time and then I met her in real life and we hung out until the wee hours. And then when I read posts like this one, about The Golden Globes mixed in with words about poverty and about how she is embracing them both?

from Shannan’s house

I feel like I’m home. Every time I read her.

I can’t explain it, but aren’t some people just like that? Shannan is one of those people. She puts into words things I didn’t even know I needed to say.

She asks bold questions about home and family that she doesn’t always have the answers for. But she is brave enough to work on living the answers instead, no matter the cost.

I’m learning from Shannan about home because she has a lot to teach about it, though I’m not sure she knows.

3. Edie.

I still remember the day we found out Edie’s house had burned to the ground. It was December of 2010, right before Christmas.

Edie had already been such an encouragement to me (and so many others) through her blog, Life in Grace. We had all read about their adventure of buying this beautiful home on the lake and designing and decorating it to reflect the personality of their family.

So when that house burned down, it was hard to get my head around. I remember scrolling through her blog at old photos of her home thinking, those drapes burned. That kitchen sink, that owl on her bookshelf, all of her beloved books.

Edie’s house

But they rebuilt, both home and heart. Here is a peek, in her own words:

“While we worked hard to rebuild the bricks and mortar, He went to work on our stone hearts. The truth is, we don’t have to lose everything to feel our poverty.  We sense it in the depths of our souls.

It’s all just rubble.  And our card houses teeter on disaster. We’re all a mess, house fire or not. We know we need  someone—someone who knows us and loves us in spite of ourselves.

That is the hospitality of scripture.”

Don’t you want to read more from her? Me too. She has a new e-book that releases today: 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality.

There is often a real struggle within me – a longing to fill my home with beautiful things mixed with a desire to live more simply. These three women are teaching me that those two desires don’t have to be mutually exclusive.


I have more I want to say on this topic, but it’s already Tuesday and seeing how this is a Monday series, I’m going to go ahead and post it. For now, I leave you with the obvious theme song for today’s post:

These are some of the artists and influencers who are helping me uncover what I know for sure about home. What about you? Who are the people in this season of life who are teaching you about home? What are they saying?

So far we’ve talked about writing and home. I have an idea where I’m headed next, but do you have any requests for the series? Is there a topic you would like to explore?


  1. says

    Oh, OH, you called me the Home Evangelist? Biggest compliment EVER.

    Edie and Shannon are both on my list of home influencers. Angela from TPH blog teaches me about taking risks in my home and enjoying decorating as an art form:

    and Ashley from The Handmade Home: is just amazing, she shares what she’s thinking and how she makes decisions and recently purged her home and it was/is such a great read

  2. says

    also, purely for your entertainment, on New Year’s Eve (caps? why?) we played a game where you had to guess celebrities from clues. Chad’s clue was “he won American Idol year” his second clue, “his first name and last are almost identical” my husband eagerly and confidently yelled “MICHAEL MICHAELS!!”


  3. says

    One thing I treasure about the military lifestyle is how it throws us into an environment that encourages throwing open doors and welcoming others into completely and totally imperfect homes. {hello base housing!} And if my boxes aren’t unpacked? Well then, just look at all the seating there is for everyone!

    Your people here are some of my favorites, too. Just. Like. You.

    I love you.

  4. says

    Oh girl, I am right there with you. Love all 3 you mentioned. I know your sister’s blog is a homey/decorating kinda one, but her words have done more heart and soul change in me than paint color and fabric choice kinda change. And, oh that Shannan, I so LOVE her — definitely a super favorite of mine!!

    As for future topics? Maybe friendship? I think I need to learn more about being a better friend.

  5. amanda says

    oh dear. I clicked through the links (already knew your sister’s blog but the others were knew to me). I could see me sitting here for quite some time reading. such good words.

    my two youngest have taught me so much about home this year. actually, this post’s theme song is a family favorite. we adopted twins this year and they sing along with the chorus of that song and I belt out the verses (think :: joyful noise) and somehow God creates this beauty. and I am so grateful for the home He has made.

    loving this series. if a topic pops into my mind, I will surely let you know. I am enjoying following along where He is leading you.

  6. says

    I love this series. And Home is such a good word to focus on. My family’s home also burnt to the ground just before Christmas (in 2004) and so those words leapt off the page at me. Good, good stuff.

    And I love your sister’s blog. Both of you are beautifully inspiring. =)

  7. says

    I checked out these blogs and marked them. Thank you for sharing. I have been thinking about home a lot too. 4 months ago my daughter’s husband left her and I moved in with her to become childcare. That meant leaving my home three hours away. There have been a lot of lessons to learn about home through this experience.

  8. says

    Home is a changing thing for me these days… I have moved away from my childhood home twice now, and as I…ahem… grow older, I find that home isn’t what I thought it was. As a wife and mother of two teen girls, I try to make sure we have a safe place to be ourselves and let down, but I think about home as a place that is yet to come. (I had better stop or I will write a small book here!) I know and visit the people you shared, and you are all so encouraging! Thank you! :)

  9. says

    My mom and grandma have taught me so much about home and how to open your life up to others. Grandma always had extra food on the stove in case someone happened to stop by. She showed me what hospitality is all about. Mom taught me how to listen intentionally and offer a safe place for whomever you’re interacting with. I’m pretty lucky to hail from such amazing women.

  10. says

    What a shame to lose her home like that! There must have been something to learn…I don’t know what it is, but God must have had something in mind.

  11. says

    Thank you for including Shannan. I just got to meet Shannan this year when she moved to my town and she’s already become a dear friend. She’s incredible and so wise. She has a gift with words and reducing some of the clutter in faith so you can really just SEE God. She’s amazing.

  12. says

    This post is so warm and inviting…I LOVE this series! You and your sister’s blogs are regular and daily reads for me. (I met your sister at Allume this past fall, my normally extroverted self was ridiculously tongue-tied! She is so inspiring!) I also love Shannan’s blog–I think I discovered it through your blog as well. You perfectly describe the way her words feel… Have just gotten married almost a few years ago, I am learning to experience the ‘place of home’ as something wonderful, after years of nomad living (touring, etc) and a family without roots. This topic means so much to my heart and soul-thank you so much for your words! :)

  13. says

    I am really loving this series. It’s so thought-provoking. I’m going to find time later tonight to read through some of those links you shared. (And oh, my goodness, I remember when I found out you and the Nester were sisters, I just about fell off my chair thinking your family has TOO MUCH cool in one clan :)
    Home is really on my mind a lot right now–because we’re in the throes of packing boxes, purging what we can’t take, and a lot of saying goodbyes. We’re heading for an across-country, intercontinental move of gigantic sorts–that we’ve been waiting for, for literally 7 years. It feels sad to leave this home that we love (and it’ but we’re excited.
    And also? Why wasn’t I more purge-y when we lived here and would have had appreciated that extra space. Drastic measures.
    Sarah M

  14. says

    As I clicked over to read this my son is watching The Brady Bunch (the one where Jan gets glasses and ruins the anniversary portrait). :) I read the blogs you listed and they all touch my heart in some deep way.

  15. says

    Early this morning during the rush-around I sat down and opened up a brand new file (whoa) just so I could copy down my favorite line in an over-due library book. “Will realized that he agreed with Pen: there were people he could live with anywhere and have that place be home.” – Falling Together, Marisa de los Santos

    I saw your post hours later and man, you just make me feel kinda weepy. I want you to keep me up again ’til the wee hours. I want to talk to you about life and changes and get your reading. (Not in a tarot cards sort of way.)

    Why am I still talking?

    Oh, because I also wanted to tell you that tonight I went to see Silver Linings Play Book but on my way there I had to call home. It’s in my phone as “home”. Duh. But I noticed that the # for our rental house is still in there too, only it’s listed as “house”. I feel like I could spend the next 20 hours breaking down the psychology of all of that… And yes, I realize that my anecdote just contradicted the quote from the book.

    Such is my life.

  16. says

    You picked 3 of my favorite homegirls in this one.

    After reading your sister’s blog all of these years, I can’t do anything in my home –move furniture, pound in nail holes, or hot glue curtains–without hearing her reassuring voice in my head reminding me to just try and see…it doesn’t have to be perfect.

  17. says

    Oh, I so agree about your sister, Edie….and each morning I wake up and excitedly read Shannan.

    I read a lot of blogs – and many of them are on home decor / home.

    For me, I would add:
    Donna at Funky Junk – – with her sense of quirkiness, love of vintage, eye for out-of-the-box uses, and her wonderful sense of humor and JOY!

    Karah at The Space Between – – for her rootedness. (Is that a word?) This gal and her hubby just moved from a Caribbean island to key West…but that doesn’t matter. She’s ROOTED. Deeply. Her home is simple, interesting, upcycled…but more importantly her blog…and her writer’s voice is so welcoming.

    Emily, thank you for making me truly think about why I am drawn to these 5 women.
    ~ Dana

  18. says

    i am so out of my league in this list.
    you and that precious sister of yours were my ‘baptism’ into blogging. and oh the ways my life has changed.
    and then after reading your dad’s blog, i have one question. can y’all adopt me? i won’t be any trouble.
    except that i do like to karaoke at family gatherings. mostly tammy wynette.
    i’d try my best to behave though and there’s my tendency to always be bringing something with buttercream—which might make up for singing. and that shannan? i’m completely blown away by her writing and can’t figure out for the life of me why her words aren’t staring back at me from barnes and noble. i think it’s just a matter of time.
    i love you all dearly and thank my lucky stars everyday that God brought us together to share our hearts and struggles.
    thank you, for every kindness, dear friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *