We’ve been lovin’ all the home-talk, but now we’re going to leave home—only for two weeks!—for our annual family vacation. Sunday, the Mahaney clan will head for the hills of Tennessee and we hope you’ll come along via the blog. As in years past, we’ll post a picture a day so you can keep up with all the fun.
Meanwhile, you’ve sent us a lot of great questions about homemaking and we’ll try to prepare some answers for when we return.
As a parting gift we offer the Friday Funnies….actually, you have girltalk reader Tammy to thank for this one.
Nicole for the girltalkers
Rhonda wrote in with a question:
I have always loved the art of homemaking. I am a single woman in my 30’s and work a full-time job.I am able to live out my passion by slowly learning creative and inexpensive ways to show hospitality to others. I have searched for books on homemaking, but have only found home-decorating books. Would you be able to suggest any books on homemaking?
We so respect your commitment to homemaking, Rhonda! And yes, we can recommend some great resources on the topic. We aren’t aware of one book that contains all you need to know to be a homemaker (wouldn’t that be nice?!), but there are numerous books on specific aspects of homemaking—cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc. Honestly, though, we’ve found the best practical help from other homemakers. There is a wealth of wisdom in those who are doing it well and so along with the books listed below, we recommend a lifestyle of learning from other homemakers.
Having said that, the following list is comprised of books focused on a biblical understanding of a woman’s role in the home, but many of them get very practical as well. We hope they inspire you and everyone else in your role as homemaker….
“The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective” by Dorothy Patterson is a chapter in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and a great place to begin for single and married women.
Edith Schaeffer’s classic The Hidden Art of Homemaking is both beautiful and inspiring.
Anything by Elisabeth Elliot is going to encourage a woman in the home, but her memoir, The Shaping of a Christian Family, will give you a vision for the fruit a godly home can produce by the grace of God.
In Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock (a single woman and a married woman, by the way) cover both a biblical perspective and practical help for homemakers (it even includes a budget form and meal plans!).
Susan Hunt devotes a chapter of her book, The True Woman, to “Domesticity.”
Married women will learn right along with the single women in Carolyn McCulley’s Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Part three of her book, “Finding a Guide For Daily Life in the Proverbs 31 Woman” shows how to make the home a place of mission and hospitality.
In Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood we devoted two chapters to a young woman’s training as a homemaker.
And finally, last, but certainly not least, my personal favorite is still chapter six of Feminine Appeal: “The Honor of Working at Home”
Happy Home Reading, Rhonda!
This email from a girltalk reader spans three generations and highlights the enduring influence of a godly mother’s example in the home, the importance of intentional homemaker training, and the redeeming grace of God in using our efforts—however incomplete we think they may be—for His glory.
May we all be provoked by this woman’s humble example and may she be encouraged by the fruit of her faithfulness in the lives of her daughters.
Thank you so much for your recent posts on homemaking. Although I was raised in a “traditional” Christian home with a mother who was very skilled in her homemaking abilities, very little of that was passed down to her daughters in an intentional manner or with a background of the Biblical foundation of homemaking. When I married, I could bake and cook with ease but found the daily tasks of homemaking to be tedious. Over the years God graciously worked in my life and I began to discover that there were Biblical reasons for caring for my home in a precise manner. Sadly, although my own attitudes were changing and caring for my home became more of a joy, I did not do a good job in passing that on to my own two daughters.
Both of them are now married and are establishing their own homes. I see them struggle in certain areas of homemaking and know that I could have saved them much heartache and frustration if I had done my job as a mother properly. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with both of them and have confessed my sins of neglect and asked for their forgiveness. In addition, I try to help them learn to manage their homes now by cheerfully answering any questions they call me with, offering suggestions as they approach new seasons or responsibilities, and recommending books, web sites, and blogs that can help train and encourage them~ especially in the spiritual aspect of homemaking, not just the physical skills.
So, thank you again for all of the encouragement that you have brought to our family. If it were not for the hope of the Gospel, I could become very discouraged over my failures to train my daughters properly. Instead, I rejoice in God’s gracious work in all of our lives and try to offer encouragement to any young homemaker that God brings across my path. I know that my daughters will do a much better job of training their daughters and thus another generation will be prepared to honor and serve God in the home.
The girltalk conversation has been all about homemaking lately. So many of you have written to tell us of your delight in and commitment to homemaking. Your example is inspiring!
But in addition to our example, we must also provide specific and intentional training to the next generation of homemakers. For in Titus 2, Paul urges the older women not only to “do what is good” but also to “train the younger women” to be (among other things) “busy at home.”
Sadly, while there are many women who are godly examples of homemaking—both single and married alike, I fear that many young women are not being trained to be busy at home.
Although written many years ago, this woman’s concern is more relevant than ever:
“The fact is, our girls have no home education. When quite young they are sent to school where no feminine employment, no domestic habits, can be learned….After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have either leisure or taste for the inelegant, everyday duties of life. Thus prepared, they enter upon matrimony, Those early habits, which would have made domestic care a light and easy task, have never been taught, for fear it would interrupt their happiness; and the result is, that when cares come, as come they must, they find them misery. I am convinced that indifference and dislike between husband and wife are more frequently occasioned by this great error in education, than by any other cause.”
Moms of daughters—this challenge is first and foremost to us. Are we more concerned with our daughter’s present happiness or her future usefulness as a homemaker? Are we taking seriously our responsibility for their “home education”?
My prayer is that God would help us to be faithful to pass on the legacy of biblical womanhood to our daughters so that they would eagerly embrace our Savior’s call to what G.K. Chesterton calls, this “generous, dangerous, and romantic trade” of homemaking.
Here are two more excerpts on motherhood and domesticity from G.K. Chesterton. Simply superb.
“[Woman is surrounded] with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t….”
“[W]hen people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge [at his work]. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean…. I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
Thanks to my friend Monique for this funny top-ten…
Have a great weekend!
Nicole for the girltalkers
Top Ten Things Only Women Understand
10. Cats’ facial expressions.
9. The need for the same style of shoes in different colors.
8. Why bean sprouts aren’t just weeds.
7. Fat clothes.
6. Taking a car trip without trying to beat your best time.
5. The difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white, and eggshell.
4. Cutting your hair to make it grow.
3. Eyelash curlers.
2. The inaccuracy of every bathroom scale ever made.
And, the Number One thing only women understand:
Several years ago we three girls joined Mom for a few hours conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss on her radio show “Revive Our Hearts.” We talked about marriage, motherhood and homemaking, and of course, enjoyed spending time with Nancy. This week, ROH re-aired three episodes from that discussion. You can read transcripts or listen online.
http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9954” target=“_blank”>A Mother’s Example
The girltalk conversation begins with the four of us, but we love it when you jump in! Tina sent us the following excerpt from Noel Piper’s inspiring book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God that fits and expands perfectly on the G.K. Chesterton quote Mom shared yesterday. This quote comes at the conclusion of Mrs. Piper’s profile of the missionary doctor to Africa, Helen Roseveare:
“Perhaps the deepest underlying personal factor in Helen’s tension was the need she felt to do her very best and, if possible, to be the very best. God called her to Africa where that was not possible. There were continuing lessons for her: learning to treat malaria by symptoms rather than with prescribed lab tests, having to operate without having been trained as a surgeon, needing to make bricks rather than spending the day with patients.
Perhaps that is an issue for some of us—struggling with the reality that God has called us to do less than we want to do or less than what we believe is best. That can happen in any setting. For me, it’s been especially true in my years with small children - ‘I got a college degree for this?’ Maybe the problem is the way we see ourselves. Maybe we think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
If anyone was too good to die, it was Jesus. If anyone should have done greater things than walking dusty roads and talking with people too dense to understand him, it was Jesus. In Philippians 3 . . . is the verse, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (verse 10). When God called Helen to less than she expected, he was helping her become like Christ, rather than like the best doctor or missionary she knew of. Who is it we want to be like?” (p. 172)
As homemakers, we can be keenly, and somewhat painfully aware of our lack of specialized skill. Many of us trained for a specific field of work only to leave it behind to come home with our baby; and then the field left us behind as we raised our children. We may see our husband excelling at his career, and observe other women who seem to be “the best” at something, and because we haven’t distinguished ourselves in some way (we’ve been too busy cleaning toilets, running errands, reading children’s books and pouring bowls of cereal), we wonder if we are really good at anything.
Twentieth century British author G.K. Chesterton has liberating insight for all homemakers who feel pressure to excel in something besides homemaking. In an essay entitled “The Emancipation of Domesticity” he observed that woman is a “general overseer” in the home, and as such, she must be able to do many things well—she shouldn’t have to worry about being “the best” at something.
“In other words, there must be in every center of humanity one human being upon a larger plan; one who does not “give her best,” but gives her all…..
The woman is expected to cook: not to excel in cooking, but to cook; to cook better than her husband who is earning [a living] by lecturing on botany or breaking stones….the woman is expected to tell tales to the children, not original and artistic tales, but tales—better tales than would probably be told by a first-class cook.
But she cannot be expected to endure anything like this universal duty if she is also to endure the direct cruelty of competitive or bureaucratic toil. Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests.
This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad” (emphasis mine).
My fellow homemakers, let’s embrace the “larger plan” ordained by our Creator. Let’s not worry about being the best, but eagerly give our all to the broad calling of serving in the home.