Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blog Party Post: Day 4: Keeping the Home

Can you believe it is already day 4 of the Titus 2 blog party?? I don't know about you, but I have enjoyed it immensely! It has encouraged me to dig deep and write some meaty blog posts, and I have enjoyed visiting the blogs of many other like-minded ladies! I want to welcome all of you who have been dropping by. Thanks for visiting and leaving so many encouraging comments!!! :) It has been so much fun to read new comments each day!

Today's topic is Keeping the Home. If you thought I had trouble condensing my thoughts on Being a Godly Wife and on Motherhood, then we're both in trouble today! I have so much I want to share about Keeping the Home!! And believe me, after the extra emphasis on blogging this week, my house needs some real time application!!!! ;)

Really, this topic is so complex, because keeping the home encompasses home management, organization, decorating, and cleaning/decluttering -- all on one side of the equation, but equally important, on the other side of the equation is the mood or atmosphere we create in our homes. Nancy Campbell has so many lovely articles on this topic on her website and in her magazine Above Rubies. Check out this article on Changing the Mood of the Home or this one on Being the Queen of Your Home just for starters!

When it comes to cleaning, organizing, and managing the home, I've read just about every book I could find on this topic!!!! Managing a large family is a challenge that few of us were prepared for, and it is no easy task!!! I've gleaned a lot of ideas from a lot of different sources and then put together what seemed to work for me. I used to give a talk on Ten Steps to an Orderly Home, and although, I don't feel qualified to speak to this topic because of my own failures and shortcomings, I may post this article down the road. It did seem to help others at the time.

Here are some of my favorite resources on keeping the home:

I've also been very much influenced and encouraged by the Time and Home Management Seminar that Julie McKim, mother of 13, used to present, plus, in more recent years, a tape set on Prioritizing, Organizing and Scheduling Your Life, School and Home by Donna Reish. I've nearly worn this tape set out from listening to it over and over!

What I've found is that the challenge of keeping your home changes through the years as your family grows and changes.

Managing a home with young children, babies and toddlers is a huge challenge, because you don't have much real help, yet, and there is just so much that has to be done, plus you are so exhausted and overwhelmed!!! You must learn to Simplify wherever you can!! I remember those days vividly and how tough they were and how many times I just sat down and cried, because I didn't even know where to start in conquering the mess! Fortunately, my precious mother helped when she could in those early years, even to the detriment of her own fragile health. *IF* you know of another homeschooling family with a pre-teen or teen-aged daughter who has been well-trained and has a heart to serve, try to arrange some help from her a couple afternoons a week. This is a great opportunity for her to perfect her homemaking skills and learn to serve, while throwing you a life ring to keep you from going under!! If you can arrange such a situation, Thank God, and PRAY for all the moms who don't have a mother or a mother's helper who can lend them a hand!! If you don't have such a situation, Thank God for all the character he is forming in you and PRAY that He will enable you to do all that must be done with a joyful heart!!!

Either way, remember that it gets easier as your children get older, IF you train them to help you. However, remember that your oldest children are still children -- and don't dump all of your work on their slender shoulders!! Learn to work together as a team, always remembering the golden rule -- do unto them as you would want done to you. That means, don't make them do all of your housework while you sit at the computer blogging!!! However, it also means, that Mom shouldn't be working, working, working, while they children are always playing, playing, playing. I have been guilty of both excesses at times, but I strive to keep a good balance in this area. While it is true that a lot of children mean a lot of messes, it is also true that, "Many hands make light work." So, divide up the work and tackle it as a team!

Now, I am in a totally different season of life, with many older children, and I find that it is just as hard, if not harder, to keep up with the housework!!! That's because my extremely proficient older daughters (23 and 21) are now either working full time or in school full time (in another state!) and my older boys (18, 16, and 15) are extremely busy going to school, participating in athletics, and working. Unfortunately, those boys are probably the biggest mess makers right now, too, with all of their book bags, gym bags, athletic uniforms and shoes, stinky laundry, etc. So, that really leaves me and the younger five children to do the bulk of the housework and laundry during the day. Plus, we are on the go a lot more, attending sporting events and other activities that we just didn't do ten and fifteen years ago! So, I've learned to be flexible and to remember that each season has its challenges . . . and its rewards.

No matter what season you are in with your family, it is imperative that you learn to tackle your responsibilities with Joy. I just love how Sally Clarkson speaks to this in her book, Seasons of a Mother's Heart. She truly touches my heart with her words:

"I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether they are large or small. He wants me to celebrate life . . . the life he has given to me." p. 6

"The joy-filled life is not found by trying to diminish my God-given responsibilities as a woman, wife and mother, nor can I find joy merely by refusing to face the hard realities of life in a fallen world. There is a tension that God is asking me to acknowledge and accept -- the tension between ideals and realities. True joy is found by living somewhere between the 'ideal life' and 'daily realities.' That is where Jesus meets me, where His Holy Spirit empowers, and where I learn how to live the Christian life with supernatural joy." p. 6

"It all comes down to this -- joy is the result of the choices that you make. If you are choosing to be thankful and learning to be content, then you are opening your heart to that joy. . . . . My joy isn't dependent upon getting my house as orderly as I would like, or upon getting the things we don't yet have in it, or upon getting all the schooling done, or anything else on my To Do list. My joy is dependent upon my relationship with my Lord, and our celebration together of this life he has given to me." p. 12-13

I can't tell you how much I love these passages! They speak to me every time I read them! They also reveal the secret to being a successful mother, homeschooler and keeper at home -- it is our attitude! We must learn to practice being thankful, content and joyful -- regardless of our circumstances!!!! That's what Paul was talking about in Philippians:

"Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straightened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me. (I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me: I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency.)" -- Philippians 4:11-13, Amplified version

Well, it looks like this is turning into another mega-post! (I gave you fair warning!!) So, I want to wrap up this post with some quotes from a wonderful "new" book -- Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. In writing my Titus 2 posts this week, I've come to realize that most of my favorite books are very OLD! :) When I looked them up on so I could include a link, I discovered that most of the books that are still in print have been given a "face lift" with new, updated covers! I wish I could do that (get a new, updated cover!), so I guess it is true -- what my hair stylist told me recently -- "We are both a product of the eighties!" :) So, I'm pleased to be able to offer these inspiring, up-to-date quotes from a book that was published in 2007!!

"Ladies, we have a great and glorious work before us. Keeping the home has been entrusted to us by God. Under the leadership of our husbands, we are to train up our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6); we are to create beauty and comfort within our homes (Proverbs 31:22); and the work of our hands should reflect industry and productivity (Proverbs 31:13-21). We are to worship alongside our children, teaching them the laws of God (Proverbs 6:20) night and day (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). We are commanded to practice hospitality to strangers and friends alike (1 Peter 4:8-9) -- sacrificing in love a portion of ourselves (1 John 3:16)to those who enter our homes. . . . . We need not be desperate! With joy in our hearts (Psalm 19:8, 119:11) and purpose in our steps (Psalm 37:23), we can walk confidently in the role that God ordained for us since the beginning of time." p. 35.

"Every home has a culture -- either good or bad, whether by design or by default. The culture of each home reflects the priorities and spiritual temperature of the household. Whether these priorities are deliberately thought out and explained (or merely assumed), they impact each member of the family, permeating the atmosphere of the home and beyond.

Though the husband is the leader in setting the direction of the home, it is his wife who is called to transcribe his wishes onto the family canvas. Whether it is the way she adorns the walls and furniture, creates pockets of beauty throughout each room, speaks words of kindness to her little ones, or fills the air with glorious music -- day by day, a woman helps form the aesthetics and character of the home through the fruit of her labors.

Building a rich and vibrant family culture takes time. It takes initiative and perseverance. There will be seasons when a wife's 'culture-building' activities will be dominated by a steady stream of diapers and dirty laundry. Yet we must not miss the significance of these menial tasks -- for they can be compared to the broad brush strokes upon a grand masterpiece.

The home is a place where memories are made, meals are shared, truths are learned, stories are told, and lives are formed and defined. It is a place of industry and usefulness; a place where thousands of cultural expressions are conveyed and where a family's unique flavor and character are cultivated." p. 45

"Christian women must reject any distorted view of the modern housewife -- whether it be the miserable household drudge; the fanatical, sock-matching wonder-woman; the child-centered, worn out soccer mom; or the deceptive, apron-wearing vixen. When we consistently renew our minds by absorbing Scripture and by passionately embracing the sacred calling God has truly given us as women, we will refute the perverted image of the desperate housewife by believing His promises and showing the world there is something better for which we can truly be passionate!" p. 47.

May the Lord use this post, as well as the excellent posts from other ladies this week, to help give you a Vision for your role as keeper of the home and may He help you fulfill that vision with Passion and Love and Joy!!!!!


Buildeth Her House said...

Thank you so much for all the resources posted. I really need to stock up on my books that teach such skills. I'm planning on starting a garden this spring and I haven't a clue how to start one. But God willing I will try.

Jules said...

Thank you Elizabeth. I have to be honest and admit that I'm struggling at the moment in this area. I realise it's because there have been changes in our household, yet I've been ignorantly (perhaps even arrogantly?) trying to make it work the way it did before the changes. I need to realise that this is just another season in my life as a wife and mother and make the necessary adjustments (and close my eyes to the mess!). Blessings, Jules

busymomof10 said...


I understand perfectly! Actually, I hope I didn't paint too rosy of a picture or anything -- but I really struggle with this area, too. That is why I'm always reading and trying to learn better ways of managing my home. I don't think I've fully recovered the ground I lost when my big boys went to school and "messed up my systems." The problem is that everyone is always growing and changing and getting different schedules . . .

Also, I am going to be totally transparent and admit that I rarely go into the boys room upstairs! There are 6 boys in one small bedroom, with a TINY closet, and it is impossible to keep it all clean and orderly. It just discourages me to go into their room!! I've pretty much given up on having it neat.

Just wanted you to know that I struggle too!!


Muthering Heights said...

This post is very encouraging! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and resources!

Lainie said...

Congrats on winning yesterday's drawing! You've had some wonderful posts this week!

pinkcamojeep said...

I'm reading this book with a few friends. We meet on Monday mornings for a Bible study and discuss this book, our lives and His word. Fun!!

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