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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
176 pages
Aug 2004
Moody Publishers

Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces

by Sharon HanbyRobie & Deb Strubel

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt




“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

When I think about “home sweet home,” images from my childhood come to mind—fluffy feather pillows, the wooden toy chest, the tire swing in the backyard. We adults still want our homes to feel carefree, peaceful, and safe. We want them to be full of hugs and laughter.

What feelings come to mind when you think about your home today?

It’s wonderful to have a beautifully decorated home as long as you are not a slave to it. A beautiful home is only a blessing if it meets your needs, rather than you having to slave to meet its needs.

Too often our dream of an ideal home is unrealistic. What should matter the most is having a home that gives you, your family, and your friends the freedom to be yourselves. It should meet the needs of the family.

As an interior designer, I (Sharon) have spent my life working with real people and real families in their most personal and cherished spaces—their homes. Our homes should be the places where we have the freedom to relax and express ourselves. At the same time, as Christian women we know that God wants us to have a positive influence on those around us. We want to use our homes to nurture our families and friendships, new and old. We want a home that looks beautiful, is easy to maintain, and meets our needs.

Finding balance between the spiritual and the physical needs within the home is key to creating an atmosphere of love. Creating a nurturing environment for our children and visitors is important. A home is where we “come from.” It is our foundation. Our homes are the first worlds that our children know. Here they gain their first impressions of what to expect from the world. Our homes determine how they look at and treat outsiders and will influence the rest of their lives. As Florence Littauer said, “It’s not the surroundings but the spirit that makes for genu-ine hospitality.”1

We must nurture our spiritual centers since the Spirit is such an important part of us and of our homes. That’s why Deb and I have taken a unique approach in this book. We’ve integrated spiritual insights and questions with solid design advice.

You may use this book anyway you like, but here’s one idea. On Sunday, or the day you have the most time, read the opening Scripture and the sentence under “Day 1.” Each day of that week reread the verse and read the next day’s thought or question. The sentence meditations will focus your first thoughts, but it will be amazing to see how God leads your mind. If you miss a day, don’t worry. You can easily read several meditations at once. We made them short because we know you are busy.

Anytime during the week, read the accompanying design lesson. Be sure to catch the practical design tips at the end of each unit. Then enjoy implementing the spiritual insights and design tips into your life and home as you nurture yourself and your loved ones.



1.      Florence Littauer, It Takes So Little To Be Above Average (Eugene,      Oreg.: Harvest House, 1996).

 Meditations on Firm Foundations



“He (God) will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”


Day 1

Thank You, God, for Your promise of a sure foundation even though sometimes I feel shaky.

Day 2

What are the “rich stores” on which my life and my home are built?

Day 3

Thank You for granting me salvation and wisdom and knowledge.

Day 4

How can I properly fear You?

Day 5

Teach me how to anchor my home on Your foundation.

Day 6

Grant my loved ones and me a renewed sense of our treasure in You.


Firm Foundations

A home is an earthly foundation. As children, it is the first environment we know, and from it we learn what to expect from family and outsiders. Our home lives will determine how we look at and approach the rest of the world and the rest of our lives.

In her book Your Life, Nancy Carmichael said: “It is one thing to have a wonderfully decorated and furnished house; but is the house for you, or do you exist for the house? We have real fellowship when we feel safe with one another, when there is earned trust in the relationship. Fellowship is for us, the real   people with real needs. There is nothing sweeter than authentic relationships.”



All aspects of our lives are touched and affected by the atmosphere of our homes. One of the most important things that we can do is to establish a home that is joyful, comfortable, and encouraging to those who dwell there.

Home life shapes families and societies. Architecturally, a well-designed and well-constructed home is one of the finer accomplishments of humankind. But a home is more than bricks and mortar. It is a place where family members can receive physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive.”

Our homes should not only reflect our personal tastes but also express the personalities of all those who live there. Personal mementos and heirlooms passed down through the family can make a house feel like a home.

Most people stop short of finishing their homes. They get the major pieces of furniture and maybe an accessory or two. But that is just the foundation. It is the little things—color, texture, pattern, wallcoverings, area rugs, pillows, a soft throw, plants, artwork, and treasures collected throughout your life—that truly make the difference.



One of the most frequent questions I (Sharon) hear is “Where do I begin?”

Start with something you love. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a rug, a lamp, a chair, or even a piece of wallpaper, it doesn’t matter as long as you love it. Then build the space around that treasured item. Learn to collect things. The objects we collect tell stories and hold memories. Finding and living with objects that we love can bring joy.

The secret is to make choices that are right for you and your family. Arrange or rearrange in a way that makes life simpler and easier. If your children hear the words “no” and “don’t” every time they enter or use a room, it means your home rules are overruling practical living, and there is something wrong with the choices you have made. As Carole Mayhall says, “Being a keeper of the home is a big task, but it won’t be overwhelming if you keep trying to simplify your home as well as your life.”1


Here are some tips for improving the foundation of your home life:

  • Allow your home to be a living home that adapts to meet the changing needs and lifestyles.
  • Evaluate your space and needs. Prioritize the tasks that need to be addressed in each room. If you expect children to do homework in the family room, then provide them with a table or desk.
  • Don’t let the fashion of the moment dictate your spaces, because you will end up sacrificing function and personal taste, which will directly impact your   enjoyment of life.
  •  Make room for fun. Create safe spaces where children can be themselves.
  • Be respectful of each family member’s privacy and personal possessions.
  • Designate a place or room as the “listening space.” As a child, my family’s spot was the kitchen table. We gathered there to express our feelings, converse with each other, and gain acceptance and recognition.