Encouragement for homemakers

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.”
~Dorothy Patterson

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.
~Helen Keller

The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.

~Dione Lucas

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.
~Craig Claiborne

“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

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(Since I have 13+ quotes, I am linking this to the Thursday Thirteen site.)

37 thoughts on “Encouragement for homemakers

  1. And blessed is the homemaker whose partner appreciates all that she does.

    There was a time early in our marriage when I felt inferior because I stayed home. It seemed whenever we were with other couples, the first thing asked was “what do you do?” They were asking what sort of career one had. Once told that I was a Homemaker, it seemed my worth deminshed and I had no more to contribute to the conversation. Hopefully that has changed since more women are choosing to stay home to not only keep house, raise children but to homeschool those children as well.

    Our homemaking is certainly much easier than in our mother and grandmother’s day but it is a worthy calling.

    Whenever I see a sign that says, “Home for Sale.” I have to comment that, homes are not sold they are created by ones who live in them. Houses are sold.

  2. I especially enjoyed the quote by Dorothy Patterson. I love being a homemaker. I have been blessed to be able to be a SAHM. Even when times are tough financially the Lord has opened up other doors to enable me to still be able to stay home. I thank God for that.
    Thanks for sharing these quotes!

  3. Thank you for this. I have been feeling a little bit of spring fever about my household chores and not wanting to give them the attention they need. I really needed this encouragement — now I have dishes and laundry to do!

  4. Sometimes the housework gets me down. It never seems to end, but ….

    For 10 years I lived alone, I cooked my meals alone and I lived in my perpetually clean, empty house alone. Now I have OC, I cook more, I do tons more laundry (what does the man do to dirty all those clothes?!) and more dishes, and I’m forever finding things where they ought not to be, BUT I am never lonely.

    When the house work starts to irritate me I ask myself, usually aloud, “So, you want to go back to life alone?” And the answer is NO! I love OC and the life we have now, even if two people does seems to translate into three times more work.

  5. Oh my! If I planned all my family dinners the same way I plan company dinners, we wouldn’t be able to afford to eat! (financially or calorically!) LOL! Some of these are really good though! I do like the attitude of Gladys Taber — though I can’t ever see it being mine! I really should TRY to enjoy it more. *sigh*

  6. What a thought provoking collection of quotes. Thank you so much for posting this. I believe that the younger generation of house wives (like myself) particularly struggle with the worlds view of how a woman should live her life. Even my own mother badgers me about when I will get a “job”.

  7. What a wonderful post! And great timing for me- Thank you for the encouragement it brought. I am printing it out for future reminding when I am feeling like my job of homemaking and mothering is a thankless job. I love it but there can be days!🙂

    God bless~
    Gail

  8. So as I sit tonight in a hotel room with nice furnishings, but picked from a catalogue and purchased in mass; and having eaten a nice dinner prepared without concern for me as a person, I am reminded that I would rather eat the tuna casserole made with love and smile at the toy dinasour eating at the flower decoration on the knicknack shelf. To decorate transforms a house into a home. To cook feeds the soul and the heart much more than the body. To clean creates the warmth of the room, of the sheets, and of the towels. And shame on me for not telling the author of this note how much I miss these whenever I am gone away. Thank you, I miss you and home.

    Love Jim

  9. This is beautiful – thank you so much.
    I feel that it is my place to make our home a sanctuary, a place of respite from the outside world. I don’t always succeed in blocking intrusions, but I do try to create “peace for all who enter here.”

  10. This was wonderful, Barbara! The quote by Helen Keller is one of my all-time favorites; I have it written down in one of my notebooks, but I need to print it out and hang it on the wall, I think. I loved reading your husband’s comment, a great testimony to your loving care of your family and home! This was very encouraging in my life tonight – thank you.

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  12. Thanks so much for sharing this today. God has given us a wonderful ministry in our home and family. For it is a ministry, and as we care for our family we honor the Lord. Many of us work out side of the home, and we should honor the Lord in our jobs as well. Our hearts are always with our home though even when at work.

    Blessings,
    Nickie

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  14. Thanks for the encouragement. The hardest part for me ( I have four children 9,7,3, and 18 months and another one due in March) is that I have no support. We just moved back to the area and haven’t established any relationships yet. AT my age I feel that everyone alreayd has their set friends and family. I have been in my new house trying to make it a home and yet I have no one who has called and wanted to come over and see it because I have no friends or family. Anyhow, I think I need to start a blog or something because writing helps me get my thoughts down.

    • I was just looking over the quotes in this post again when I noticed your comment. I hope you’ve made friends and found some support by now. Housekeeping with little ones at home is such a challenge, and some days, for me, it was a matter of barely keeping things sanitary when ours were small. Some day they will grow up — and even be able to help!🙂

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  16. Thank you… That is the best way to put it. These quotes put a smile on my face, and reminded me that I have a grand sisterhood in faith and also in (SAHM) ministry. Thank you for reminding us of that. I loved many of the quotes, but I must say… Your husband’s made me tear up a bit. His words were as poignant as your own. You complimented each other beautifully. Blessings on you and your families!! You, the writer, and each of you, the commentors.

    And, since this post is older, I thought you might appreciate this verse for moments of challenge… Read Exodus 14:14.. It has been a daily reminder.. a needed one.

    May the Lord continue to use your words for His glory, fill your home with peace and joy, and minister to your hearts with His love and tender ways.

    Yours truly, Celita

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  19. Dear Barbara,

    May God bless you for advocating the most important role of a woman – to attend to her home and family first and foremost. I appreciate you calling
    taking care of our home and our family a woman’s “first ministry.” I never
    thought of my passion to become a stay at home as a ministry! But I believe that you’re right. Being a stay at home mom for me was a calling from God.

    I wholeheartedly gave up a very lucrative job as a corporate paralegal to become a full time stay at home mom to my son. Despite protests and discouragement from others, I never regret my choice to resign from my job in order to devote my time to becoming a homemaker. I’ve never been so happy and fulfilled (although more exhausted than ever) to take care of my family and home exclusively. My husband and I had to make a lot of sacrifices and downsizing (for ex: we moved into a studio and share only one car), in order to meet our top priority of having me be the primary caretaker of our son.

    Although as you said, being a homemaker can sometimes “feel like drudgery”, it is certainly pleasing to know that I nurture my home and family with my own two hands.

    Thank you again for your much needed encouragement. I hope you don’t
    mind, I am posting a link to your blog on my website called MAMABEARMATTERS.COM, a community blog that is dedicated to celebrating and connecting stay at home mothers.

    I just recently started my site – I feel that God was calling me to reach out to other happy-to-be and proud-to-be stay at home mothers.

    I believe your collection of quotes would add such great value to all of my site’s readers.

    Your efforts are a blessing and I certainly hope that your writings become more recognized.

    God Bless You and Yours,
    Khristine Anne,
    Founder of Mama Bear Matters: Celebrating Stay at Home Mothers

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  21. What a beautifully written testimony for wives and mothers. I had been struggling with feeling peaceful about downsizing my business to focus on my husband, toddler and home when a friend sent me a link to this blog post. It was timely indeed.
    Your husband’s comments were amazing, what a blessing to be loved and honored so publicly!
    And I especially thank you for your honesty about “barely keeping things sanitary” during the young child season of life! Keeping perspective with a toddler and two dogs is imperative!!! lol

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