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!

Finding Worth in Daily Life

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Here’s one of my Mother’s Day gifts, given to me by my Jesse and Rebekah. I love the quote from Martin Luther:

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God.”

When I opened it, tears brimmed in my eyes. I wasn’t sure why, but I’ve had time to think about it and I think it touched me so much because:

  • It’s true.
  • It’s an affirmation of what God called me to do with my life the past four decades of being married to Benny, mothering our 7 children and seeking to make our home a place where love abounds – with lots of sinning and repenting along the way.
  • It reminded me of my Mom’s love for her family and the legacy she left me, her granddaughters and great-granddaughters.
  • It put into words the longing I have in my heart for the big and little ladies in my family to find worth, dignity and joy in living lives laid down for their families and future families.

Loving our homes and families looks differently from woman to woman. My devotion to mine included having lots of kids and being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. My friend, Stacy’s, love for her children involves having a smaller family, working outside the home and having kids in public school. Yet, as I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve observed the same warmth and devotion to her family as I have for mine.  We’re both Christian women who love God and our families, but have chosen different paths, anticipating the day when we will both hear “Well done.”

Biblical womanhood has many faces. When we look at the Proverbs 31 woman we don’t find a lady who rarely left home and always baked her own bread. Rather, we see a woman who is industrious, out in the community finding bargains, bringing income into her home, managing her home with the help of hired servants, and making warm and beautiful garments to protect her family during cold winters.  She is competent, energetic and loving. And exhausted at times, I’m sure!

Whatever we do outside our homes, the question is this: Are those activities, interests and decisions home-oriented? Is the motive for the time we spend away from our home and family to bring new provision, ideas and energy back to our home and family? Or do we expend ourselves and then come home too tired or spent to work hard serving those God has placed in our lives to receive the best of us?

Over 30 years ago I was 24 and sitting with my feet in a kiddie pool in my friend’s back yard up north. My friend and I were talking about our firstborn sons, who were about a year old. I was expecting my second (sooner than we anticipated!) and we were having one of our regular conversations about training toddlers, keeping house and balancing motherhood and marriage. Hours passed all too quickly and I was headed home from Maryland to Virginia, thanking God for the joy of having a sweet friendship: someone with whom I could share struggles and ideas, temptations and funny stories. For me and my friends, there was a freshness about embracing the call to godly womanhood during a season when “I am Woman, Hear me Roar (in numbers too big to ignore)” was the call of feminism to women our age. That call remains to this day.

“I am strong. I am invincible. I am Woman!”  It even had a catchy tune that is ringing through my head right now.

The truth is I am strong because of the power of Christ in me – but His strength is given to embrace the call to die to myself, not make a name for myself. To energetically fulfill my responsibilities in my home and not to run from them.

I am not invincible, but He is! I don’t have the wisdom or the strength to persevere through the challenges of godly womanhood, but He does! Because of his death and resurrection I am promised all I need for life and godliness. My weaknesses, sins and failures are no match for His strength, forgiveness and perfect obedience.

Seriously…is what I do in my home really “worth as much as if I did it up in heaven for my Lord God?”

Yes. But not because Martin Luther says so. Someone else far wiser than he says so.

More about that in future posts.