I believe very strongly that a married woman’s first ministry is to her home and family, even if she’s working outside the home. The older women are instructed in Titus 2:4-5 to teach younger women “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” I Timothy 5:13-14 says younger widows “learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” It’s interesting to note the negative consequences of neglecting these responsibilities: God’s word can be blasphemed and the adversary has an opportunity for reproach.
The world in general devalues homemaking. Though books and magazines abound with housekeeping and organizing tips, the idea seems to be to spend as little time on it as possible so you can get to the important stuff. Believe me, I am all for streamlining my tasks as well. But those held up for admiration are often those who are doing something else. Homemaking is seen as drudgery.
And I have to admit, though I am where I want to be by choice, desire, and belief system, sometimes it feels like drudgery: when the laundry baskets are overflowing again two days after I got the laundry caught up, when I spend hours on a nice dinner that is consumed in less than 20 minutes and then have to spend more time cleaning up afterward, when nothing stays done, but the dusting and dirty floors and grocery shopping all have to be taken care of again and again. When I am doing something for our ladies’ ministry or something else that seems more “spiritual” in nature, I can get irritated that I have to stop and take time from the “important” stuff to stop and make dinner.
But all of those things are important. Someone has to do them, and everyone is ministered to when they are done well. Have you ever stayed in a hotel where there is pink stuff growing in the corners of the shower? Have you ever been to a restaurant where the waitress acts as though she’d rather be anywhere than serving you, and the baked potato is hard, the lettuce is limp and brown-edged, the meat unidentifiable by appearance and taste? When neither the process nor the recipients are valued, homemaking details devolve into chaos. What different results there are when people care.
I hadn’t intended to write an essay: I meant to just write a little prelude to some quotes I wanted to share that I will will encourage other homemakers as much as they have me. Though I kept note of the author of each quote, I failed to keep track of where I found the quotes.
One of the reasons that women writing about homemaking a century ago were so self-possessed is that neither they nor their readers were conflicted about the importance of their subject. A Victorian woman’s home was her eminent domain, and she ruled over it with as much confidence as Queen Victoria ruled the world.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach, Romancing the Ordinary: A Year of Simple Splendor
Why do we love certain houses, and why do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings.
~ T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings
The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.
~ Thomas Moore
Homemaking—being a full-time wife and mother—is not a destructive drought of usefulness but an overflowing oasis of opportunity; it is not a dreary cell to contain one’s talents and skills but a brilliant catalyst to channel creativity and energies into meaningful work; it is not a rope for binding one’s productivity in the marketplace, but reins for guiding one’s posterity in the home; it is not oppressive restraint of intellectual prowess for the community, but a release of wise instruction to your own household; it is not the bitter assignment of inferiority to your person, but the bright assurance of the ingenuity of God’s plan for the complementarity of the sexes, especially as worked out in God’s plan for marriage; it is neither limitation of gifts available nor stinginess in distributing the benefits of those gifts, but rather the multiplication of a mother’s legacy to the generations to come and the generous bestowal of all God meant a mother to give to those He entrusted to her care.”
No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night. She may have to get up night after night to take care of a sick child, and yet must by day continue to do all her household duties well; and if the family means are scant she must usually enjoy even her rare holidays taking her whole brood of children with her. The birth pangs make all men the debtors of all women. Above all our sympathy and regard are due to the struggling wives among those whom Abraham Lincoln called the plain people, and whom he so loved and trusted; for the lives of these women are often led on the lonely heights of quiet, self-sacrificing heroism.
~ Teddy Roosevelt, 1905
But housekeeping is fun……It is one job where you enjoy the results right along as you work. You may work all day washing and ironing, but at night you have the delicious feeling of sunny clean sheets and airy pillows to lie on. If you clean, you sit down at nightfall with the house shining and faintly smelling of wax, all yours to enjoy right then and there. And if you cook—that creation you lift from the oven goes right to the table. ~Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Seasons
I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.
Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.
“Family dinners should be planned with as much thought and care as company dinners.”
~ Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, 1946
It is wholly impossible to live according to Divine order, and to make a proper application of heavenly principles, as long as the necessary duties which each day brings seem only like a burden grievous to be borne. Not till we are ready to throw our very life’s love into the troublesome little things can we be really faithful in that which is least and faithful also in much. Every day that dawns brings something to do, which can never be done as well again. We should, therefore, try to do it ungrudgingly and cheerfully. It is the Lord’s own work, which He has given us as surely as He gives us daily bread. We should thank Him for it with all our hearts, as much as for any other gift. It was designed to be our life, our happiness. Instead of shirking it or hurrying over it, we should put our whole heart and soul into it.
~ James Reed
Charles Spurgeon describes the excellent wife: “She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger, or how another’s judgment may approve her conduct; let her beloved be content and she is glad.”
Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. ~ Booker T. Washington
Great thoughts go best with common duties. Whatever therefore may be your office regard it as a fragment in an immeasurable ministry of love. ~ Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott, b. 1825
The human being who lives only for himself finally reaps nothing but unhappiness. Selfishness corrodes. Unselfishness ennobles, satisfies. Don’t put off the joy derivable from doing helpful, kindly things for others. ~ B.C. Forbes
The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.
~ John Keble
What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.
~ Martin Luther
IN little things of common life,
There lies the Christian’s noblest strife,
When he does conscience make
Of every thought and throb within;
And words and looks of self and sin
Crushes for Jesus’ sake.
J. B. S. MONSELL
Wheresoever we be, whatsoever we are doing, in all our work, in our busy daily life, in all schemes and undertakings, in public trusts, and in private retreats, He is with us, and all we do is spread before Him. Do it, then, as to the Lord. Let the thought of His eye unseen be the motive of your acts and words. Do nothing you would not have Him see. Say nothing which you would not have said before His visible presence. This is to do all in His name.
~ Henry Edward Manning
The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
(Since I have 13+ quotes, I am linking this to the Thursday Thirteen site.)