Compassionate Complementarianism: Or Who Should Take out the Trash?

Male female graphicAs Christians, we want to embrace biblical truth and make it “look right” in our homes, friendship and workplaces.  But what happens when gender roles become the focus rather than compassionate, humble love?

Over at Redeemer Church we’re starting a new blog series today that talks about stuff like this.  You can read my first post here.

Enjoy your day!


All Play and No Work

It was the winter of 1986 when Benny and I got into the van after a sonogram. Back then they were only done when a problem was suspected. The problem had been found. My doctor told me the only thing I could do to prevent what he thought was a pending miscarriage was complete red rest. If I didn’t lose the baby in a week he would see me again.

I closed the van door and cried. How in the world was I going to stay in bed for the next week?!? I had four children ranging from 18 months to not quite eight years. My mother and sister lived nearby but had full time jobs. I knew Benny would be helpful but he had to work. All I knew was I needed to do my part to protect my unborn baby — but I was scared.

Who would occupy Joey who was getting into everything? Oh, and potty training with Jesse would have to be delayed…again! Our home schooling schedule would certainly have to change since the only time a bed-trapped teacher could work with her first and third graders was when little brothers were napping. And what about all the other household work of a large family? I realized pretty quickly that a week of Benny trying to keep up with towels and underwear wasn’t so bad.

When we got home we sat Josh and Jaime down to talk.  At nearly 8 and 6 1/2 we knew they would want to chip in. They were excited about mommy having another baby and a week really wasn’t that long. Gratefully, I had been working with them to learn the discipline of daily and weekly chores for a couple of years. But this was a tall order for my young kids.

The hoped-for week of bed rest turned into five long weeks. Friends brought meals twice a week and Benny rolled up his sleeves to help each evening. But the majority of the work fell onto Josh and Jaime to prevent Benny from having to do it all. They decided Jesse really didn’t need to wait until he was three to be potty trained and Jaime was a second mommy to Joey anyway. They made pbnj’s and boxed mac and cheese and carted all their homeschool books to my bedroom each afternoon after they put their brothers down for a nap. They vacuumed; made beds; brought laundry to my bed to be folded; straightened bathrooms; took phone messages (no cell phones back then and the phone was tied to the kitchen wall with a cord!); rejoiced over little-brother-potty successes; loaded and unloaded the dishwasher using a chair to climb up on counters to reach cabinets; and made sure Mommy had food and drinks throughout the day.

The day I finally came home with a sono picture of their baby brother or sister alive and well was a special one for Benny and me. Not only had God spared our baby’s life, but we were also able to thank Josh and Jaime for their hard work and sacrifice. That fall Janelle Marie was born to a very excited older brother and sister.

And Jesse was indeed potty trained.

Teaching kids to work in the home has many benefits. You may never need your school age kids to take care of you because you’re bed ridden. And it may take years before you see the fruit of your training. The honest fact is this: teaching kids to serve and work in the home is hard work for Mom! It’s much easier to make beds and clean bathrooms yourself. And dealing with their attitudes when they don’t want to help makes doing it yourself easier. Moms who train their children to serve around the house double the work for awhile. We do our work — and oversee theirs.

But believe me, the longterm fruit is worth it. All but one of my kids went through the messy teen years when I wondered if they forgot everything they were taught about neatness and I often elected to just keep their doors closed. At times I had to also remove junk from the passenger side of their vehicle to make enough room to ride with them. But I watched them endure from work being fun because they got to spray windex on the sliding glass door to work being rewarding because neighbors noticed them mowing our yard and asked to pay them to mow theirs. They worked through conflicts and bitterness when it their Saturday morning chore list was longer than their siblings. They sang Disney songs while they cleaned up after dinner — and sometimes still do. They celebrated when their older brother’s business became profitable enough to fulfill his dream of hiring family members (and others). And now they’re working together side by side at Redeemer Church to take the gospel to a new area in Central Florida. (More on that from Joey tomorrow…and yes, it’s hard work.)

Moms, teach your children to work. To pick up their toys rather than developing an entitlement attitude that expects others to clean up after them. To help set the table, knowing the silverware will be cockeyed. To make their bed even though you’ll be tempted to go back and straighten it later. And to rake leaves and pull weeds and mow grass and “wash” windows — and then congratulate them for a job well done despite the imperfections.

Last night my dining room table had several people sitting around it, including four in our family. It started with taking their plates to the kitchen when they were too short to reach the sink. Now they’re brainstorming about company finances and praying through how to grow ProVisionIT to provide provision for more families in the future.

Jesse was right; all play and no work isn’t a good road to the future for your kids.

And the future will be here before you know it.

When Life Gets Boring

I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to find life to be boring.

My “boring” duties are this beautiful???

When there’s something “meaningful” or new or exciting to do, it’s so much easier to find purpose in my days. But what about those days when all that’s on my plate is to vacuum, exercise the dog, make a grocery run and do some laundry?


Like yesterday. I knew when I went to bed the night before that I had a full day coming: taking a friend to a doctor’s appointment, a pastoral meeting with Benny, and dinner with a dear couple in our church. I woke up with a prayer on my heart: “Lord, help me today. I want to be a vessel of grace to those I come in contact with. Help me to communicate care and love for Liz. I need your wisdom in the meeting Benny and I have. And help us to be an encouragement to David and Julie over dinner. Thank you for this day and all that lies ahead. I want to honor You today, Lord.”

How different than the day before when my task list was normal every day stuff that moms and homemakers do.  I don’t remember if I even asked for God’s help. So I probably didn’t.  After all, I’ve been doing floors and laundry for decades!

Today I came across a quote in my journal that has spoken to me several times over the years:

“The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life” (Faber).

Yep, much of what I do is pretty unpoetic. The question is this: Is serving Jesus out of love the reason why I do unpoetic things?

Hmm….I need to think about that.

My Computer Doesn’t Give Hugs

Yesterday I mentioned a helpful blog where my friend found some great homemaking tips. I enjoys blogs, and am obviously a blogger. Yet I have some musings about all this…

Technology has advanced more rapidly than I can keep up with — even though I work for my son who owns a technology company! The internet, skype, cell phones, facebook, twitter and email have made information and people accessible to everyone.  When google showed up on the scene it made instant information about any subject available 24/7. There, I can find an answer (not always a good one) to any question and find tips on any subject.

There are aspects of this I love!  Facebook allows me to connect with friends in meaningful ways and see and share family pictures; I can text family or friends with a quick question or “I’m praying for you”; and I can do a quick internet search to order flowers to send to a friend.

But relationships weren’t designed to be done by computer.

The interdependence by which God designed His people to live can certainly be supplemented by an encouraging email or thoughtful text. But when we spend more time in front of a computer or holding a cell phone than in face to face interaction with others something is amiss.

I’m glad my friend, Liz, found such good ideas on a homemaking blog. But believe me, she is the last person to depend on technology to connect with people. She would much rather chat over coffee than type on a keyboard.

I’m not anti-technology. I use my cell phone and iPad regularly  and often spend more time on my computer than is wise. There’s more safety, ease, quickness and self-protection in asking for prayer with a facebook status than stopping to call a friend. After all, she is probably too busy to answer my call anyway — and what if she asks the kinds of questions about why I need prayer that results in a lengthy, risky or humbling phone call? What if she picks up on the sinful attitudes I’m having? Or…hmmm…at times she can be a little quick to give (good!) advice rather than just patiently hearing me out and I just need someone to listen right now. Oh, and I really don’t have time to get into it all over the phone..and let’s see…it’ll be a week from tomorrow before we could meet for coffee.

Yep, I’ll just do the quick and safe facebook route…or should I send her an email?

So when it’s time for help or tips on homemaking, powering up the computer is a good option. But the impartation that happens when women sit face to face and share heart to heart is something a computer can’t provide.

A few days ago a first-time dad texted me with some breastfeeding questions for his exhausted wife concerning their just-born daughter. We had a phone chat and two days later the challenges continued. The baby was losing more than an average amount of weight and her new parents (and their pediatrician) were concerned. Technology had served its purpose but it was time for this new Mommy to get a hug and some help from a few experienced mothers.

I called one of my daughters-in-law who also had some very challenging issues with nursing her newborn just over a year ago, and she contacted a dear friend who is a lactation specialist. This compassionate friend had supported Lauren through weeks of painful breastfeeding, calling and stopping by regularly to offer practical advice and encouragement — resulting in Lauren having to wean her baby girl over a year later.

Within hours Jaime, Lauren, Heather and I visited this new mommy and her beautiful baby girl, armed with Heather’s “cadillac” breast pump, hugs, prayers and encouragement.  When she took her baby into the pediatrician just over a day later she had gained over one-half pound and was peeing and pooping constantly. Her exhuasted parents are nevertheless relieved and happy.

Cell phones coordinated all of this — but skin to skin, face to face contact is what made the difference.  Heather wasn’t content to talk to Stacey over the phone. She wanted to see what was happening; patiently coach her; and give eye to eye encouragement. It’s not about whether Stacey continues breastfeeding or decides to use formula to grow her daughter. It’s about women caring for other women one hug and word of encouragement at a time.

So let’s use technology for the blessing it can be. But let’s not substitute it for the kind of life-giving face to face ministry that humbly says, “I need help. Can we talk?”

I texted the new parents earlier to see how their night went. Hmm….I’m gonna call them and see when I can stop by.

Waking up to a Clean Sink

I interrupted the series on homemaking to share some personal stuff and now want to return to and complete that series.  So here we go..

Last week I was spending time with a dear and longtime friend who is battling cancer. As we sat together while she was receiving her chemo treatment I was yet again inspired by how seemingly effortlessly she thinks of others before herself. This time, she was talking about a blog she was reading recently to get homemaking tips.

Homemaking tips? When you’re struggling with a life threatening disease? Battling chronic fatigue and the side affects of toxic drugs? Struggling with understandable fears about your future?

Liz’s heart for her home still comes through. She was telling me how the blog encourages homemakers to pick one project a day to tackle. It could be as simple as reorganizing a junk drawer or making it a point to make your bed first thing in the morning. She read a tip there that suggested that she clean out and wipe down her sink each night. Even if the dishes are just rinsed and put on the counter to load into an already-full dishwasher the next day, she talked about how good it felt to have a clean sink to wake up to.

I  am often inspired by how my friend is navigating the turbulent waters in which she finds herself, and this day was no exception. Her heart to care for her home came through even as the chemo drugs were flowing through her veins.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation since then. While I believe it’s critically important to put the horse of heart attitudes about homemaking before the cart of practical ways to make our homes the priority the Bible teaches (see more about that here), the fact is this: being a passionate and effective homemaker requires both planning and work.

Liz can’t do heavy cleaning anymore. But she can usually rinse her dishes and wipe out her sink. She found something she could do regularly, rather than reaching for something too ambitious. You may not have a chronic or terminal disease, but there are other providential limitations that prevent you from keeping a sparkling house everyday. (Do you know anyone who can? I don’t!)

I am finding help in what I’m calling the Project/Habit approach to homemaking these days. Before I go to sleep each night I choose one project to do the next day that will take no more than 15- 30 minutes:

  • Clean the ceiling fans (I have some really dusty ones in my house!)
  • Move the couches and vacuum under them
  • Reorganize the linen closet
  • Straighten the pantry
  • Clean the windows (living in a one-story house makes this possible in less than 30 minutes)
  • Dust all the pictures on my walls
  • Organize the drawers and under-the-sink area in a bathroom
  • Scrub the shower doors

I’ve also picked one habit to focus on weekly. Here are some suggestions that I’ve found helpful over the years to get your own thoughts moving:

  • Reminding myself of the “don’t put it down, put it back” rule a friend taught me years ago. This means I can always find the scissors, kitchen clean up is much

    easier, and the dog leash is hanging right where it’s supposed to. (Something I continue to work on to this day!)

  • Making my bed right away each morning. (Even if my dresser isn’t tidy and there are other things in our room that need to be put away, having a made bed helps me get my day started off well.)
  • Tidying up the living area before I go to bed. (When I wake up to a mess it’s demotivating and discouraging.) One lady I know calls this “putting your house to bed each night.”

Do you have things going on in your life that tempt you to feel that homemaking is something you just can’t focus on at this time? Then maybe you can remember my friend, Liz.

Caring for our homes is possible in even the most challenging, busy or stressful seasons of life. Liz is a wonderful example that homemaking begins in the heart. And sometimes it’s just expressed by waking up to a clean sink.

Heart Roaches…yuk!

Mom had a great sense of humor and she hated bugs. Especially cock roaches. She refused to admit God created them. Rather, she said, they “crawl right of of hell.”

I inherited her hatred of these nasty critters. In fact, when Benny mentioned our possible move to Orlando 13 years ago my first response was, “Hmmmm…only if you promise we’ll have a monthly bug killing service.”  I heard the roaches in Florida could carry off small children, and wanted nothing to do with them! (Interestingly enough, I saw far more roaches in Virginia than in Florida. Whew.)

So when I walked into the garage last Thursday to find one of these child-snatching beasts scurrying around, I screamed for Benny. Mom convinced we that if you could see one, “all his relatives were hiding behind the walls.” I was imagining an army of just-crawled-out-of-hell creatures infesting my home.

It’s kinda the same way with sin. What is obvious and visible can be just the tip of the iceberg. My recent angry outburst at my husband was fueled by a family of subtle and “hidden” sins of self-pity, discontentment and self-righteousness. Behind the “walls” of my heart were the relatives of the anger scurrying around our bedroom that night.

Indwelling sin is the enemy of our souls. As believers, we are forgiven of every past, present and future sin…thank God! We have been declared not guilty and will never have to pay for our sins. But as long as we live, sin will crouch at the door of our hearts. And the only way to get rid of it is to put it to death like Benny took care of that cockroach!

Our sin nature taints everything, even our commitment to provide a warm, hospitable home for our family and friends. Our homemaking responsibilities – including cooking, cleaning, organizing, beautifying and managing – are affected by our sins of selfishness, laziness, self-pity, procrastination, anger, greed or other hidden sins of the heart.

Take it from me: Sin doesn’t “go away” as we get older; rather, it grows and becomes more ingrained and insidious.  (Consider the mold in your shower; what would happen if you just hoped it would go away?) My battles with procrastination and selfishness have not disappeared, even though my family is smaller and I have more discretionary time on my hands!

Sure wish there was a SINcesticide to apply to my heart!

Our commitment must be to embrace God’s will no matter what the cost. And the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ includes humbly inviting Him to search our hearts for patterns that hinder us from making progress as faithful and diligent homemakers.

God’s will is the ultimate joy and fulfillment of our lives. There is peace in knowing “I am in the middle of God’s will! In the case of our roles in the home, the Bible is not unclear.  It is clearly His will for us to be homemakers. What security!

I’ve been reminding myself that any sacrifice to obey the clear commands of scripture will be met with grace. When my sin results in not being responsible in my home, God is eager to forgive and help me. Whether it’s been days or years of sinful attitudes or actions our part, God is ready to forgive and grant fresh vision for our homemaking role.

Is the Holy Spirit lovingly exposing any sinful hindrances in your heart to being an effective homemaker? Me, too! I am loving having a clean conscience, the wonderful fruit of confession and repentance.

Next week I will be chatting about some practical steps to change. On a foundation of knowing the love and acceptance of God — and that our identity is not in what we do but in who we are as His beloved children — we can start the fun process of investigating helpful ideas to growing as homemakers.

That is, after an update from my weekend. My youngest graduates high school tomorrow!

It’s True…I’m Officially Old

All this talk on homemaking has me doing quite a bit of thinking. I’ve been looking through old notes (some of teachings I’ve done over the years…smile) and have enjoyed re-learning some precious principles from God’s word. According to t Titus 2:-3-5, as an officially older woman I have the mandate to teach younger women to love their homes (among other things). I’ve heard it said, “More is caught than taught.” I want to be the kind of woman whose passion for my home is “caught” by the younger women in my life.

Up until this point, my blog has been more conversational than instructional. It will stay that way. But I wanted to share some “teaching” I’ve shared in years past in case these timeless truths from scripture will encourage your heart as they have mine. I’m hope this isn’t too long and boring for you.  🙂

My review of this important passage is reminding me of 5 things:

1.  Homemaking is a Divine Assignment

  • This assignment carries with it all the blessings of obedience and the consequences of neglect.
  • This is not an option to consider but a God-given mandate to intentionally and actively pursue.  (Paul didn’t say, “Find out who in the church would like to be a homemaker and then provide some help for them to do this.”)
  • Our created design as women is to be a “home maker” in every season of life.
  • This passage isn’t written exclusively to married women:  being a keeper at home is the responsibility of women in every season of life and we do well as mothers to help our daughters to embrace their unique contribution to helping keep our homes.
2.  Homemaking must be taught.
  • Though some are more naturally gifted in domesticity (cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating a home) this passage is saying all must be taught.
  • This “teaching” should begin with the heart not the practical process.
  • A God-centered homemaker must be taught to place biblical value on what you are doing; to esteem working busily at home; and to grow in your affection for this divine assignment.
3.  Women learn about homemaking from other women.
  • In our media-saturated culture the temptation is to “learn” from books, magazines and television.
  • These are not always bad – but if our steady diet of “teaching” about homemaking comes from Martha Stewart or Good Housekeeping or even blogs we are opening ourselves up to greed, comparisons with others, discontent, and an impress-others approach to our homes. Nothing can replace the face-t0-face fellowship of women helping women.
  • Notice:  Paul puts the responsibility of teaching onto the older women in the church but he does not give them the sole responsibility of initiative.  Younger woman are responsible to seek out counsel, mentoring and teaching about being a homemaker.  Don’t passively wait for a church “program” or for an older woman to come to you.
4.  The home is the place of feminine management.
  • Keeping a home requires skill.
  • The wise woman who desires to glorify God by actively embracing her role as a homemaker will not settle for “getting by” but will seek to grow.
  • No wonder skillful homemaking and management must be taught by experienced and wise women.
5.  Ineffective homemaking has potentially serious consequences.
  • The most important consequence: God’s word is reviled (maligned) when we do not embrace the mandate for biblical womanhood found in Titus 2. We “render ineffective” the very word of God by our disobedience, giving the world around us cause to resist the gospel due to our poor example.
  • A secondary consequence:  Robbing the next generation of the legacy of biblical womanhood. If each generation even subtly resists a joyful, skillful approach to homemaking the next generation is affected.
  • The potential for godly influence is great!  We have the privilege of imparting to our daughters, sisters, neighbors and friends a biblical vision for womanhood and homemaking.  Your influence could be THE difference in whether or not your daughters and granddaughters actually love and care for their homes. And the potential for influencing saved and unsaved relatives and friends is significant!
  • The world is watching!
Remember, we can only fulfill our responsibility to be skilled homemakers with God’s help. No requirements of scripture can be achieved in our own strength! What wonderful news it is to know that those of us who are believers have been graced and empowered by Him to do all He has called us to.
Is there an older woman in your life to whom you can turn for prayer and help with homemaking? I have an older friend I am going to email right now to see when we can talk. Even at my age, I know how important it is to have older, godly women in my  life whose wisdom and example inspires me.


My Home: My Ministry

Yesterday I introduced you to Barbara.  She taught us the importance of having a biblically informed vision for our homemaking before we rush into all the practical ways to take care of our homes.

The home is the perfect place for planned times of fellowship and ministry.

Something the Lord has been reminding me of lately is that my home is a place of ministry. It’s not just where my family sleeps, eats and showers. The Christian home is the context where the love and presence of God can be experienced on a regular basis.  A place where the gospel is lived out in tangible and life changing ways.

So many women see ministry as that which happens outside of the home. I am tempted to do that, too! When our church’s small group meeting ends and sweet fellowship transpired, I feel blessed to have witnessed such personal and Spirit-led ministry. During worship on Sunday morning when people are cared and prayed for, I am filled with joy at the ministry that took place.

My son-in-law honoring my daughter on Mother’s Day. Such a sweet time of ministry.

I’m re-learning that some of the most effective ministry that happens in my world is in my day-in-day-out life as a homemaker.

Ministry is what happens with God visits His children with His empowering, comforting, hopeful, convicting, instructing presence. What more regular place can this happen than in the warmth of our own homes?

Being a homemaker is the call to make a home where Jesus Christ is welcomed, honored and given free reign to pour out His love and presence! Whether the home we are making is a college dorm room or a large five bedroom house, we have the awesome opportunity to create a pleasing and pleasant environment where the Spirit of God is free to move; friends and family are served; forgiveness, patience and hope is experienced; and the distractions of unnecessary clutter or the embarrassment of disorder don’t prevent us from opening our homes to whoever the Lord brings. Beginning with our own family.

Celebrating milestones = wonderful ministry opportunities!

This is the kind of vision that has recaptivated my heart.

Having a ministry minded vision for homemaking didn’t come easily for me. During the early years of marriage I saw homemaking as a list of chores to get done so I wouldn’t be ashamed if someone showed up at our house unexpectedly. I enjoyed an orderly environment, but as a pastor’s wife I valued ministry outside the home as the “really important” stuff that happened in our lives.

Over time and with the help and example of godly women in my life, I began to see that the primary goal of effective home management was not to get more done, but to get the right things done. I learned that having a ministry mindset to my homemaking duties gave me inward motivation to create a culture of love and service to my family and friends. I learned that busyness doesn’t equal ministry. I can be busy all day doing things that don’t contribute to the culture I longed to create.

Hospitality are special times of ministry.

And I learned that while my vision for homemaking needs to remain constant, my season of life requires flexibility. During various seasons of my life (pregnancy, up night after night nursing a newborn, caring for sick children or relatives, special projects that required an unusual amount of time or energy, difficulty sleeping, etc) I simply couldn’t/can’t keep up…and I’ve needed to be ok with that!

But when my vision is in tact, I am able to bounce back from these “off” seasons to a renewed commitment to embrace the joy and privilege of being a woman called to make a home for my family and friends..saved and unsaved.

Unplanned moments can happen when ministry is the focus of our efforts.

Being a godly homemaker requires a lifetime of sacrifice. We cannot do this on our own. Yet the One who laid down His life for the sake of others can give us the strength to do the same. Living a life laid down is no easy thing. But as Christians, we have access to a throne of grace where we can run to find mercy and help in our time of need (see Hebrews 4:16 ).

I have been running to that throne quite a bit recently. And I’m getting lots of help.  I love it.

Meet Barbara

When I started my little blog, I had no idea who would visit here. Over the months, I’ve been blessed to hear from a wide variety of readers: grandmothers, singles, moms with kids of varying ages, and even some guys (married and single). I especially appreciate the humble men who visit here! I pray that God will use what you read here to increase your appetite for godly womanhood in your wife or future wife. The lady in your life (or who will be in your life) is blessed to have you!

Godly womanhood is the noble pursuit of all, even guys who want to encourage biblical values in your daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister, or the gals in your church or small group.  And it’s not something that just happens! Ladies can be raised in the home of a godly and devoted wife, mom and homemaker and still not have the training and skills to manage a home.

copyright: Perfect Plan Resources

Like my friend, Barbara (not her real name). She grew up in a home where her stay-at-home mom and hard working dad sought to raise their children to love the Lord. They were actively involved in their local church and regularly had people in their home. Barbara learned at an early age to help out with dishes and other household chores, and was happy to help entertain her younger siblings. While she was eager to attend college with hopes of becoming a physical therapist, her greatest desire was to be a wife and mother.

During her teen years, though, Barbara’s life became busy with school, youth group, babysitting, hanging out with friends, and sports. Family meal times often happened without her and household responsibilities increasingly fell to Mom and the younger siblings. When asked to help out with cleaning or helping with her siblings, Barbara apologized for not letting her parents know about the test she was studying for, the birthday party she was attending or the extra practice the coach scheduled.

Then came Jason. Her parents were happy to see their relationship blossom and saw him as a good choice for their daughter. In time, they were married and Mom was excited about watching her daughter become a wife and homemaker. The early months were fun and exciting. Even though she was working full time, Barbara used wedding gift cards to decorate their small apartment and enjoyed cooking several nights a week.

Before long, though, the apartment was regularly messy and meals consisted of drive-thru take out or microwaved frozen dinners. Jason wasn’t complaining, so Barbara figured he either didn’t really care or understood that she was busier than either of them had anticipated prior to the wedding. Plus, they had agreed that he would help out so he didn’t mind ironing his shirts or pitching in with cleaning.

Barbara’s busyness was not the issue: it was what she was busy doing. During a book study with some ladies in her church, Barbara was encouraged to start keeping track of how she was using her time. She didn’t realize the number of hours every week she was spending on her computer, watching television, and splitting errands up throughout the week that could have been combined into one outing. When she evaluated their food budget, she was surprised at the number of nights per month they weren’t eating at home and realized that even home cooked meals were thrown together without much thought.

In talking with her mom about what the Lord was doing in her heart, it hit them both that Barbara just didn’t have the practice or skills to manage a home. Barbara asked her mom to help her learn how to plan meals, stop overspending on their food budget and devise a cleaning schedule. She was excited about how these new initiatives would help her become a more organized and devoted homemaker!

Yet months later she was discouraged. The plans they made together just weren’t working. Being more organized was much harder than she anticipated.

Barbara’s understandable discouragement came because she started at the wrong place. Her desire to respond to the inward stirrings to be a more responsible homemaker were an evidence of her humility. And her urge to do something in response was the correct one.

But the changes needed to begin not with meal planning or a cleaning schedule but deep in her heart. With the help of others, Barbara started asking herself questions like:

  • Why does the Bible elevate homemaking as the worthy pursuit of the godly woman?
  • Why is it important enough to be listed as one of the main things younger women need to learn from older women? Hmmm…isn’t it just supposed to come naturally?
  • How does responsible, skillful homemaking glorify God? Is it really that big of a deal as long as things look nice when people come over?
  • Does diligent homemaking have to look the same in every family? Why or why not?
  • What did the use of her time say about what she valued and prized as important?
  • If he knew she wouldn’t react defensively, what would Jason say are the things he would like to see changed in how she cared for their home?
With the Holy Spirit’s help and after careful study of the scriptures, Barbara caught a vision for homemaking for the first time. She repented of some sinful attitudes and patterns of laziness (as defined by “doing what I want instead of what I ought” according to a pastor friend of ours) and began to find hope in God’s power to change her heart. Consequentlyher former temptation to give up when she lacked motivation was replaced by hopeful trust that God was doing a work that He (not she!) would complete.
Like Barbara, perhaps you have struggled with putting the cart of new ideas and “I’ll try this” attempts to be an effective homemaker before the horse of having a grace-informed vision for seeing your home as a place for ministry that glorifies God.
Proverbs 29:18 warns that “without a vision the people wander aimlessly.” While homemaking certainly isn’t the context for this warning, the principle is helpful: without understanding the value and purpose of being hard working “keepers” of our homes, we will wander from one idea to the next — and likely give up when sin patterns, lack of training or discouragement set in.

Deprived of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Mom liked having one day per week when the house was tidy all at the same time. So while my friends were enjoying Saturday morning cartoons, my siblings and I were cleaning. I remember telling myself that my children would spend Saturday mornings leisurely sleeping in and then watching cartoons like the rest of the kid world.

They didn’t. “Saturday morning chores” are still pretty typical, even though only two of them are left at home. While things sometimes happen that prevent us from working together in the house on Saturday mornings, I love hearing the sound of the yard being mowed while the smells of pine sol and furniture polish fill the house on Saturdays.

It’s Mom’s fault.

One of the concerns I have for young women today is the number of distractions available to them that take them “away” from home. As a young mom, our only car went with Benny to his office each day and I didn’t have the internet (including email, facebook, pinterest, blogs, online shopping, etc) to pull me away from working in my home. I’m not suggesting that these things are wrong at all.  I enjoy all these things myself and am tempted to spend too much time on my own computer. If I had these options as a young mother I would certainly have been tempted to “leave” home through my computer, too!

At least my messy kitchen is brightened by homemade Mother’s Day flowers from my little people. 🙂

You don’t have to set aside Saturday mornings for chores to be a hard working homemaker. Perhaps your routine involves splitting up chores throughout the week or you have the financial ability to hire someone to help keep your home in order. The question is more related to the heart:

Do we believe Martin Luther when he says that what we do in our homes is of eternal value? Or are our responsibilities at home the things we “have” to do so we can get to the things we “love” to do?

I don’t love cleaning toilets and dusting ceiling fans and removing science experiments from the frig. I have friends who actually love these kinds of chores. Not me. I would much rather read blogs, meet a friend for lunch, cook, or take pictures of my grandkids. I’m just as tempted as the next person to put off the laundry or wait till next week to scrub down the shower.

The question isn’t how clean our homes are, but how devoted we are to the scriptural mandate to be hard working homemakers. Whether you are single or married, work outside and in the home or are a stay-at-home mom, live alone or have a large family, we ladies all have something in common: we have been called and graced by God to manage our home for His glory. As a college student your “home” may be a dorm room or your bedroom at home. You may have a small apartment or a large multi-bedroom house. And being a godly homemaker involves much more than cleaning and organizing, but includes creating a warm and inviting place where love is on display to all who enter your dwelling. But making a home does mean we have to work to keep it presentable, welcoming, peaceful and orderly.

Those of you who have been frequenting my blog know the Lord has been exposing some areas of drift in my life. If you regularly visit my home you know that it is typically tidy. After all, four pretty-much-adults are all that live here now. So the drift isn’t that I’ve been neglecting my home or haven’t cleaned my kitchen floor in months. The drift has been in my heart. Slowly and subtly, caring for my home became too much of a “chore” and less of a joy. In recent weeks I’m finding a fresh breeze of grace blowing through my heart, reminding me that the faithful stewardship of my home is first and foremost a response to the commands of scripture and then a way to imitate the One who came to serve rather than be served.

This quote from Charles Spurgeon speaking of the Titus 2 passage for older women to teach younger women is stirring my heart:

“There were some women [in Crete] who supposed that, the moment they became Christians, they were to run about everywhere. “No,” says the apostle, “let them keep at home.” There is no gain to the Christian Church when the love, and the industry, and the zeal, which ought to make a happy home, are squandered upon something else.”

I’m grateful for the relationships and opportunities that enrich my life — and they often require me to leave my home to make them happen. Yet there is a growing return to the joy of homemaking due to the work the Holy Spirit is doing in my life. His work is requiring that I say no to some things I really want to do so I can invest the “love, and the industry, and the zeal” that being a diligent and joyful homemaker requires.

Off to start the laundry and get a bedroom ready for overnight guests.  Yay!