A Heritage of Creativity ~ Emilie Barnes


The book “Spirit of Loveliness” by Emilie Barnes has inspired me through the years to keep our homes lovely and homey for our families! Little feminine touches mean a lot and warm the hearts within our homes.

We love to grace our table with flowers and candles. We decorate for the seasons. These little, seemingly insignificant efforts show our family and friends that we care and that our home is the center of our lives. Everyone has their own style, their own individual tastes so the “touches” will express this individuality.

Take time out today to add a special little “something” to your home. Light a candle, pick some flowers or buy some at the grocery store, make a centerpiece on your table with a statue you already have, etc…… It will be appreciated, especially by you!

Gin’s Centerpiece

from The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes


I’ve heard it a million times-expressed with admiration and usually a little envy: “Oh, she’s so creative.”

Usually these words describe an “artsy” kind of person – someone who paints or writes or makes pottery.

Such creative pursuits can bring great joy to those who do them and to those who enjoy the results. But you really don’t have to be an artist to infuse your home and life with the benefits of creativity.

Creativity is a God-given ability to take something ordinary and make it into something special. It is an openness to doing old things in new ways and a willingness to adapt other people’s good ideas to suit our personal needs.

And creativity is an ability we all possess, although many of us keep it hidden in the deep corners of our lives. Every single human being is creative. The creative spirit is part of our heritage as children of the One who created all things. And nurturing our creativity is part of our responsibility as stewards of God’s good gifts.

Creative Seeing

Creativity is so much more than “arts and crafts.” It is a way of seeing, a willingness to see wonderful possibilities in something unformed or ordinary or even ugly.

The first year Bob and I moved to Riverside, California, we went to an auction in an old building near Mount Rubidoux. It was fun to see the various “treasures” that were up for sale-everything from armoires to yarn caddies-and to listen as the auctioneer shouted the calls.Picture4Then an old, greasy market scale went up-and Bob shouted a bid. I nearly died on the spot. Whatever did he think we would do with that? We won the bid and paid $32 for that ugly old scale.

When we went to pick it up, I looked at it doubtfully, but Bob was sure he had bought a treasure. He was right!

We stripped the old scale clean, shined and polished it until it almost looked new, and put it on a table. That was more than 20 years ago, and we are still enjoying Bob’s imaginative purchase. It graces the narrow table behind our sofa with fruit in the tray – or sometimes a pot of flowers, a bowl of potpourri, or a Boston fern.

Over the years, as we continue to shop for antiques, we often see scales not nearly as nice as ours that cost hundreds of dollars. I am so grateful to Bob for his creative input into our home.

One day Bob brought me another treasure from one of his antique sprees.Picture5It was a large, wooden, hand-carved, rectangular bowl – another of those “What will I ever do with that thing?” items. But how I enjoy that bowl as it sits on our butcher block island in the center of our kitchen! I keep it full of potatoes, onions, avocados, oranges, lemons, apples, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. It’s not only beautiful, but very practical – another example of Bob’s “creative seeing.”

A Heritage of Creativity

Picture6The kind of vision that brings the special out of the ordinary has long been part of the American tradition. Even in the tiniest frontier cabin, pioneer women found ways to express their creative urges and to add touches of loveliness to their environment.

In great-grandma’s day, quilting was a wonderfully creative pursuit for women in many areas of the country. When women married or had a baby, friends and families gathered together to make the quilts they needed to keep warm.

They used old, discarded clothing, cut up and patched together into colorful designs and then carefully padded and stitched to make warm coverings. The women worked, talked, and exchanged recipes; they solved garden, food, husband, and children problems all while their hardworking fingers sewed.

These quilts were truly labors of love – practical coverings transformed from simple materials and a basic household need into a work of art. The “More Hours in My Day” seminars that Bob and I conduct have taken us several times to the state of Ohio, the home of many Mennonite and Amish people.

Amish women still gather daily to quilt and to visit, and they have gorgeous, bright coverlets to show for their work.The spirit of creativity flourishes in their simple, homespun tradition.


Quilts are priceless examples of folk art and a beautiful testimony to the creativity of our American heritage. Where I live, they are making a huge comeback. Even the million-dollar homes in our area are decorating their beds and sofas with quilts. And each of the high, old-fashioned beds in our own home proudly displays a hand-stitched Amish quilt. (Other quilts drape an antique quilt rack or are stacked under a table.)

When I look at them, I am filled with a sense of reverence for the gift of creativity they represent.

We cannot make something where nothing existed – whether it be a poem, a house, or a painting – without breathing life into it so that it may itself breathe.

But the “quilt revival” is far more than a decorating trend; it is a living art. Many women are not only buying quilts, but rediscovering the joy of making them.

Right here in our state of California there are numberless quilting classes, quilting groups, and quilting guilds. People are rediscovering the fulfilled and homey wholesomeness of the days when women gathered to pool their creativity and beautify their homes with warmth and comfort.



Creativity and making our homes a welcoming place takes a caring and willing spirit – a determination to think beyond bare-bones necessities and to make room in our lives and schedules and budgets for what pleases the senses and enriches the soul. Most of all, it requires an “I can” attitude, a confidence that we have something to share and the ability to share it.


True beauty comes from within. If that beauty is lacking, no exercise program, eating plan, or wardrobe update can put it there. No interior decorating scheme can give it to me. “The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit… is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4 – Emilie Barnes

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