Dear Woman, Your Work at Home Matters This Year

Busy, tired woman, hang in there! You’re doing good eternal work in your home. God sees. And His presence with you is quietly building meaning and value, even if your days feel hidden.

How do I know and how can you be sure?

“Mommy, I like going to Miss Kitty’s house,” my young son shared from his car seat on the ride home. When I asked why he answered confidently, “Because it’s warm.”

I was surprised by his answer.

Miss Kitty was a dear friend, a classy energetic woman in our small church who was widowed at age 58. I expected my 4-year-old to explain, “…because she’s nice,” or, “I like her cookies.” Instead, this profound answer from my little one told me he sensed something intangible, something eternal or transcendent in this woman’s home.

My little Benjamin felt and understood this single woman’s warm welcome, her kind acceptance of rambunctious kids, her engaging interest in our family, her heart of kindness and love for anyone who crossed her threshold.  My child helped me see in that moment the value of making the right kind of home. How our home felt was more important than how it looked.

Like a novice air traffic controller thrust into duty at the world’s busiest airport, I often felt stressed and inadequate for the unceasing needs of my children, and sometimes my husband, too.  Needs swirled around me like a thousand incoming airplanes from babyhood through teen years. I never had all the answers. How could the chaos of our home be creating meaning and value? I often wondered. 

Titus 2:4-5 describes one of the duties for wives as a worker at home, which means in Greek, “to fulfill one’s household duties.” One of those duties is the constant work of creating order out of chaos. The futility of this endless duty doesn’t mean God isn’t present and at work.

Most of Jesus’ life was spent in obscurity, which tells us those years were not insignificant. God was present and working even though nothing was recorded for us. Therefore, our obscurity at home as women is not without value for the Creator.

This phrase means Christian wives “should fulfill their duties at home; they shouldn’t avoid working at home.”* You are the air traffic controller of your home, ordering the chaos, establishing the routines of eating, sleeping, togetherness, all of which mimic God the Creator’s work on earth.

You don’t have to do all the work personally. If you can afford a cleaning service, a food service like Blue Apron, or regular babysitters, go for it. This verse is not against help for wives and mothers! But what you shouldn’t delegate is what makes your house a home. That is the building and development of relationships with God and with one another.

The woman-wife-mother of Proverbs 31 gives us a glimpse into what a worker at home looks like. And because it’s a chapter in the inerrant Word of God, it’s more than just a nice story. It is approved by God Himself.

This woman’s story is the summary of her work:

-growing little people into adults who love God and understand His authority in their lives;

-cultivating a marriage that reflected the Trinity,

-celebrating the joy of God’s plan for husbands and wives, and

-modeling for all who watched the pattern that works for a lifetime.

Hers is the making of a house into a home and a home into an embassy that welcomes family, friends, and strangers over the years to learn more about who Jesus is. This kind of home is what my little son described as warm. This is the kind of home that will ensure that your family, your people, are loved well, too.

Running a business, tending and/or supervising gardens or a farm, working or leading a local charity for the poor are just three of the jobs in this Proverbs 31 woman’s resume. Yet it is clear from the entire passage–which begins with a description of her marriage and ends with another description of her children and husband–that all her outside jobs, missions, and responsibilities are in the context of her first priorities: her marriage and family. This woman’s life and all its radiating rings of influence begin at home.

Part of her epitaph reads, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her.” I can tell you with certainty: children and husbands do not praise a mother and wife who did not devote the best of her life, her love, her prayers, her energies to these people God gave her to love. This love, in cooperation with His love, develops her husband and children into more Christ likeness little by little, day by day.

So how did this woman do everything listed about her?

First, she acknowledged true ownership of her homestead. Ownership implies control.  My house belongs to my husband, Dennis, and me. We bought it and have paid for it over the 35 years we have lived within these walls on this little piece of land. As owners, we can do with this structure as we please. If we want the exterior painted fire engine red, we can paint it. If we desire to do nothing to improve it: repair broken windows, replace missing shingles, or pull weeds that grow aggressively, that too is our choice.

Beyond maintenance and upkeep, however, is a more important choice I have as a homeowner. Do I recognize God as the provider of my home? Did He, in His great kindness, give us this place to live? If “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father…” then the answer is yes. Therefore, as His followers and His servants, we have given our house back to Him.

This is how the woman in Proverbs 31 rightly prioritized the multitude of her daily tasks. The real secret to this woman’s virtue, success, prosperity, and praise is found in the benediction. Proverbs 30:30, “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

This woman had her heart in the right place and kept it there for decades. She is a photograph of Psalm 1. “Blessed is the person who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but her delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law she meditates day and night. She is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that she does she prospers.”

There is a vintage term that is out of favor today. It’s been frowned upon as inferior. Disdained for its old-fashioned hints of Victorian prudishness. Kicked out of our everyday lexicon. Even I fell under this modern way of thinking until I started working on this post.

The term is homemaking. And homemaking is the art of making a house a home. 

Homemaking is the worker-at-home skill that turns a house into an incubator that feeds a family and others with eternal food. It is the art of creating beauty in relationships. It explains why meticulously professionally decorated residences often feel cold. They are void of the Spirit of Beauty.

The key to developing the skill of homemaking is giving your heart, home, and daily tasks to Jesus every single day.  Ask Him to make your heart like His. Our widowed friend, Miss Kitty, lived a life surrendered to Jesus. It was His presence in her that greeted us every time we went to visit. She was a woman who feared the Lord.

God’s intention for a woman’s work in the home is that within the physical structure He has provided she learns to walk out her Christian life, her faith in the daily duties, disciplines, and feeding of bodies and souls. Day in, day out. Bedtime story after bedtime story.  In sickness and in health. Home is where she learns to walk in the power and obedience of the Holy Spirit. Home is where she sees God at work and becomes His friend. Home is where she learns to trust His good order.

Here she serves and guards her piece of Eden well.

May you embrace this small phrase of biblical definition–worker at home–with a prayer of thanksgiving to God. And may you fear the Lord your God all of your days, for then you will become like the exalted Proverbs woman in God’s eyes.

And may you remember your home is not your own. If you belong to Jesus He wants ownership of your home as well. I hope you like me you want Him present in your home, His home. I want to steward this place for what He desires to accomplish here.  I want my home to be His embassy, His residence in this land.

In truth we belong to another time, another place, another king. This earth is not our home. Just like the American Embassy waves the flag to declare safety and comfort within, we need signs and sounds and traditions and attitudes that declare our home is an Embassy of the King.

Will God look at your home and say, It is MINE?

Will you give your home to Him, invite His Holy Spirit who lives within you to make your home His home?

 

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16 thoughts on “Dear Woman, Your Work at Home Matters This Year”

  1. WOW!! Bless you Barbara, the Lord truly spoke this message through you to validate , encourage and lift us up. I was entrepreneur for 17 years and just 3 years ago decide to come home and focus on the family God gave me. I struggled and still do with doubts , confusion and incomptenence . Just recently my doctor said I had very high levels of stress , due to the chaos , busyness etc of the Home, but after randomly reading this (I believe God lead me to this) everything’s come into perspective , I see it in a new light. Thank you so much and please continue to write for us Home makers , we need this . More than you’ll know .
    Bless you and your family.
    In Him,
    Veruska

  2. Colleen schneider

    Dear Barbara, I too have been a homemaker for my 6 children for the past 30 years. My youngest is now 16 and I feel blessed to still have the privilege of parenting her. We had to hold the bar in the lives of our young adult children when they still lived home. It was difficult but necessary. Now four live on their own and one is in college. We dont regret for one minute making our home one that honored God, even in the face of young adults who at times wanted to watch programs that we felt were compromising. At times they felt we were over reacting, but at the same time we sent the message that God would always be first in our lives, even if it meant disagreeing with them. I believe they respected us more for it.

    I felt so validated by your article! As my busy mothering season is coming to a close, I struggle with wondering what my purpose will be in the future. I treasure these years I’ve had raising our children and part of me grieves that this season is almost over. Your article encouraged me to keep on keeping on; my adult children love to come over and usually they bring 3 or 4 friends with them! Our home will continue to be a sanctuary for our family as well as friends and hopefully to those looking for God! Thank you for affirming homemaking in my life! The Lord truly used you to encourage me and so many others.

  3. Thanks Barbara – It’s tough being a ‘homemaker’ in today’s culture that suggests job titles and paychecks are the ways to determine success. I quit my job last year to stay home with my three boys and am thankful for your reminders of the eternally significant work I am now doing.

  4. I love the ORDER out of CHAOS…thank you for refreshing me in His calling for my life ! I will be praying that the Father helps me enjoy that part more.

  5. Barbara, thanks for this great challenge, especially she home-making is so rare now-a-days! I have very few friends in this “field”and my days seem odd in comparison to those with careers in the working world. And your words were an encouragement to “keep on keeping on” in the middle of it all (my husband of 16 1/2 years and my 8 children ages 15 down to 1 are my primary focus at the moment)! Thanks for your example and enlightenment – looking forward to more of it in the future! God bless you for teaching us “younger women” so we can do the same as we become the “older women”! ;)

  6. I don’t feel this message is just for stay-at-home moms. I feel it addressed women in general & so enjoyed it. One of our three daughters has no choice but to work full time & she along with her two sisters (one at home full time, the other a nurse who works part time) fit the description(s) given. I will be forwarding this article to all three of them. Thank you!😍🙏

  7. Thanks for the reminder, I am blessed to stay home and be a homemaker! I have made my house a home but what do you do when your 17 yr old and young adults watch shows that you don’t approve of? I want the Lord to feel welcomed and invited…

    1. Dear Carolyn,
      Your home is your sanctuary, and must be guarded. If someone is bringing something into it that does not honor Christ, you have every right to disallow it, especially for those who are still under your care, even at 17. I speak from experience in that I did NOT do this as much as I should have when my children were younger, and I saw the fruit of this in their lives and in my home. They may not appreciate it now, but later in life they will remember that you stood for Jesus and tried to protect them. It is so difficult for young people in today’s culture so we need to show them that the culture does not set our standard; God’s word does. I wish you strength in the Lord for this difficult task, but I think the Holy Spirit is already prompting you in this direction. Be blessed!

    2. If it is your home your rules, that’s what I say, I have a 17yo strong willed near adult thinking when he turns 18 he does what he wants and I made sure he understands he still lives by our rules while we continue to take care of him financially, I pray that he will still seek our guidance beyond that but realize he will have to make his own choices and mistakes and some of those will be sinful until he finds his way, but I do believe the Holy Spirit will take over and trust that I taught him enough to help him make good choices and seek good counsel. Parenting never stops it just changes, we never stop loving or guiding but we can’t be responsible once they leave the nest, as hard as that is to swallow!!

  8. Thank you SO much! Just what I needed to hear. This is a great reminder for all homemakers regardless of where they are in life. The best reminder for me was that I don’t have to take on all the jobs personally…they can be delegated to others. Making my house a home is about sharing Jesus with others within anyone who walks through our door! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  9. This is beautiful. I agree on every point and am so glad you wrote about this subject, and especially love the way you painted the picture of Jesus being the one who is welcoming our guests when He is center in our lives. The guest feels it and many times doesn’t even know what that “feeling” is!
    My husband and I have devotions every morning in two recliners in our living room, and I happen to believe that the guests who sit in those chairs are absorbing the residual affects of our prayers unknowingly!
    People come and go all the time and I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is loving on people here because He lives here, too.

  10. Thank you for this reminder! It can seem like such a large task to make your house a home while maintaining the needs of life. I have a woman in my life whose home is like the woman you described and that is how I want my home to be – warm and allowing the love of God to be felt.

  11. Oh, Barbara. This is wonderful. It is a balm to my soul. I was not able to have children and was a professional woman all my adult life, with a lot of work that spilled over into my evenings and weekends, until I retired in July. When I was working, I rushed through trying to make my house our home. Now I am getting to do it for real. Your descriptions here are so inspiring.

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