Just a Vase of Flowers: Looking Through the Window at Family Life

You might know her. She lives in a world of chaos and disorder. Drama and domestic violence are her everyday surroundings. She shares a sparsely-furnished low-income apartment with various people who come and go. She’s never known anything different because she was born into this world of neglect and poverty, with distorted relationships and TV commercials as education.

She’s hoping to marry soon. When asked about what kind of home she would like to have, she paused. Wistfully, she slowly replied, “A Christian home. Where we eat dinner together at a table with chairs, with nothing but the food on the table. And a vase of silk flowers in the middle.” That was her vision of a beautiful home life. It made me weep.

In our modern-day society of too many fragmented families, neglected children and homes-as-motels, people have a vague sense of something missing and a wish for whatever it is. Of course the problems run much deeper than a quick fix with a vase of flowers, but this young woman’s desire for some order and beauty in her sad life are a clue.

The human soul longs for beauty even in stark circumstances. In the moving book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom shares how her sister Betsie brought beauty to the stark surroundings of a prison in Nazi-occupied Holland. She describes how,

unbelievably, against all logic, this cell was charming….The straw pallets were rolled instead of piled in a heap, standing like little pillars along the walls, each with a lady’s hat atop it….Even the coats hanging on their hooks were part of the welcome of that room, each sleeve draped over the shoulder of the coat next to it like a row of dancing children…

Of course, spectacular mansions can be occupied by unhappy, lonely people. Appearance and possessions alone don’t create a warm home life. But for the average family living an average life, a little more attention to detail and going the second mile can set the stage for a more pleasant and memorable life. Someone wistfully standing on tiptoe outside the window of your family life is watching.

No matter how stressed and busy you are, there is someone, somewhere in the world, who would love to trade places with you and do what you are doing.

You never know how you are inspiring and encouraging someone while you are living your everyday life. The startling realization that someone would love to have your life is a good antidote to self-pity. Fresh perspective is a good shot in the attitude.

I hope that young woman gets her table and chairs. And a vase of flowers.


  1. Lisa McEachron says:

    Tell me where to deliver the food, table and flowers! May we all have the attitude to give and share the abundance that we have with others and not just ignore needs that are placed right before us. Let us not be guilty “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:15-17)

    1. Anonymous says:

      These needs will be met, as this person receives extensive counseling and practical help through a church.  Just wanted to share her anonymous story as a reminder and eye-opener.

      1. What a great quote from you!  The part about the startling realization . . . the attitude of gratitude!  Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a sobering post.  I tend to get so caught up in my daily ‘to-do’ list that I forget to stop and appreciate my many blessings.  Life is more about what is and isn’t completed on one’s to-do list.  A vase of flowers on the table may be the perfect reminder for me.  Thank you.

  3. Wow…this post hit me right in the heart!  Thank you for bringing together two worlds that often feel so far apart–poverty and chaos and our own tendency to worry & self-pity.  You so gently refocused us our own need to create grace in our homes regardless of how we may be struggling day to day.  Thank  you! Exactly what I needed to hear today!

  4. Oh-h-h-h!!!  It makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time.  It always surprises me and gives me a chuckle to see how God shows me He knows what I am thinking.  I was just having a pity party yesterday because I didn’t get much of a vacation this summer.  This is like a little slap upside the head, telling me to straighten up and think right.  I am so blessed and have so much to be thankful for!  (Not saying it wasn’t gentle, like Elise said… a gentle slap, you might say. 🙂   I am thankful to read below that there is hope of that woman achieving her goal.  God knows her heart and needs, too.   Isn’t He amazing?   🙂

  5. Ksullivan1259 says:

    beautiful – a really important reminder about how blessed we really are. thank you!

  6. Debtor2mercy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story.  When we were in our first few years of marriage, new parents, and my husband in the beginning of his apprenticeship we lived in a humble little 1968 single wide in a park.  One day two little girls came over, their own family circumstances pretty rough. They walked through the door, looking around (paneled walls painted white, misc. clutter on the floor) and sighed “Ohhhh, your house is soooo beautiful!”
    I was struck with the contrast of their perspective and my own discontentment…really eye opening.   The peace of Jesus is the most beautiful.
    “You never know how you are inspiring and encouraging someone while you are living your everyday life.” This is a good reminder for me as a Mom to my own children as well.

  7. Adamnholly830 says:

    I’ve had that experience too, being military transplants living off base in a very poor neighborhood.  A little girl who often came over brought her friend with her for the first time, and she just stood in my rediculously tiny livingroom (a hallway really)- but made as sweet and homey as I could, repeating, “I just love this house.  Wow, this house is sooo pretty, I just love this house!”  And her jaw was practically on the floor.  We take the kindness and order and loveliness (which often feels to young moms more like chaos and stress) of our regular lives.  Thank you for reminding me of that.

  8. Adamnholly830 says:

    That is, we take the loveliness for granted.  Seems like I always goof on these posts!

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