Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Home Manager ~ Responsiblity & Accountability

Being a homemaker means that we are given the responsibility to guide our homes. 1 Timothy 5:13-14 tells us that the young women of Timothy's church were "idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not." Their behavior let others outside of the church to speak poorly of Christians. Mrs. George writes, "Obviously, having a home to manage would contribute positively to these women's lives by, at the very least, eliminating the opportunity for these negative behaviors."

I knew a woman such as this. Every day, after she dropped her kids off to school, she spent the majority of her day running around town to shop, eat out, and drop by to chat with other women of our church. Her speech wasn't edifying to others. She was almost prideful of the fact that she couldn't cook or didn't like to do housework. Most of her time was spent away from her home. How sad that she had bought into the lie that being a homemaker was something to avoid!

Guiding our home means to preside over it or to be the mistress of it. Please do not mistake this as the woman being the head of the home. Our husband is. Instead, we manage the home ~ we are the house~holder.

Just as in the familiar parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we will someday give an accounting of how well we've managed all that our Master has placed in our care!

3 Tips to Remember:

1. Home management is God's best for us. We don't have to like it or feel like managing our homes, but God calls us to do it.

2. Decide to take home management seriously.

3. Live as though you'll be held accountable for the condition of your home and the use of your time because you will! How will the Lord and my family rate my service, my meals and my management?

Simply Chicken Pot Pie

Preheat oven to 375.

2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
olive oil

Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Roast at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until juices run clear. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and pull meat from the bone, cut into bite-sized chunks.

1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 T butter

In a medium saucepan, saute onion & celery in the butter until softened. Remove from pan & set aside.

4 T (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
Bag of frozen mixed veggies

In same saucepan, melt the butter. Add in flour to make a roux. Add in milk, stirring until thickened. Add in mixed veggies, onion/celery mixture, and chicken. Mix well and remove from heat.

2 pie crusts (refrigerated or homemade)

Place 1 pie crust in bottom of a pie pan. Fill with chicken mixture. Top with remaining crust ~ carefully tuck in around the sides and crimp edges. Brush with cream and dust with salt and pepper. Cut slits on top to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 375 for an hour. If the top seems to be getting too brown, cover with foil. Serve with a salad and have jello for dessert. Yummy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Clean Kitchen

Sorry about the lateness of this post. Life certainly got busy for the past few days! As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to share some ideas for keeping a clean kitchen.

In my August 27th "This & That" post, I talked about how there were certain blogs that intimidated me with their high standards of how to do things "right". All kinds of cleaning schedules, from master schedules to daily and sometimes hourly schedules set my brain spinning! That's certainly not my intention for this post. I won't even begin to pretend that I'm setting "the" standard for being a Christian homemaker!

"This is the way, walk ye in it" is not my intention for this post ~ I just want to share some ideas I've read about and applied to my life for the past 20 years.

1. The Kitchen Sink Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, the kitchen sink can be one of the filthiest places in your home! When you're ready to close shop for the night, put an inch or so of hot water & 1/4 cup bleach in your sink for 5 minutes. Then, take a soft scrubbing pad or brush to really scour out your sink. Drain & rinse with hot water. If it floats your boat, dry it out & buff the faucet & knobs with the damp towel. The result? A sanitized, sparkly sink! (Try to say that 5 times fast!) If you have a garbage disposal, a great way to keep it clean is to dump some baking soda down the drain with a slosh of white vinegar. Yes, I know what I said earlier about white vinegar ~ pickle smell. Bear with me for a sec. First of all, it's cool because it bubbles up violently! When it has calmed down, I then turn on the hot water and the disposal. I tear off about a 2-inch square piece of aluminum foil and toss it in. The foil keeps the blades sharp. Also, to make it smell good, you can toss in an orange or lemon rind as the disposal does its thing.

2. The Kitchen Floor Ah, the kitchen floor! The place that gets all the action ~ from muddy shoes and doggie paws to dropped food and spilled milk. Like I mentioned earlier, I absolutely love my Swiffer cleaning tools! I personally believe that the Swiffer Vac and the Wet-Jet are 2 of the most amazing products on the earth! The vac has enough suction to pick up everything from cheerios to dried grass clippings. The little duster pads lift up dust, crumbs, and dog hair. The Wet-Jet is great for spills as well as a quick mop. For deep cleaning, though, I do the old-fashioned Mr. Clean with a gallon of hot water, sponge mop and scrub brush. I do that about once a month. The kiddos take turns with the Vac after the evening meals ~ and, if it really needs it, I do a quick mop afterwards. I usually Wet-Jet my floors around 3 times a week.

3. The Counter tops Counter tops can also carry germs. I keep them wiped off (usually with a soapy dishrag) as much as possible. When I really clean them ~ about once a week ~ I remove everything and use my good old Mr. Clean mixed with water I keep in a spray bottle. If any raw egg or meat has come in contact with my counters, I use my Mr. Clean. Formula 409 is good, too.

4. The Stove I absolutely despised my old stove with the electric burner coils! One boil over, and the reflector pan was trashed! I hated to clean them, but I didn't like putting foil over them, either. I was so ecstatic when the hubs bought me my dream stove ~ a smooth top, with a convection oven! Boil overs aren't quite so dramatic now. They are easy to clean up, but you have to have a special cleaner for the smooth top. I clean my stove top every day with the cleaner and a soft-scrubbing pad. I did try a cheaper one that came with pre-moistened pads, but it didn't do as well as the cleaner I got with my stove.

5. The Oven Okay, I'll be honest. The oven is the most neglected space I clean. Even though I have a self-cleaning oven, I don't do it nearly enough. It seems as soon as I clean it, something spills over! However, I've found that the inside glass doesn't get cleaned very thoroughly with the self-cleaning function. I still have to use Easy-Off for that. Hate those fumes, too ~ I think that's the real reason I put it off like I do!

6. The Refrigerator Also one of the most neglected spaces. How often do those well intended leftovers get shoved to the back of the fridge? You notice them a few days later, growing a science experiment on top! Bottles of salad dressing, mayo, ketchup & mustard with just a squirt or two left sit in the door. Spills coagulate on the shelves. The bottom of the veggie bin littered with tiny onion skins, a sadly wrinkled carrot or molding fruit. I try (note the keyword) to wipe out the shelves weekly with my Mr. Clean concoction. If any leftovers haven't been consumed within 3 days, I toss. I don't let stuff accumulate on the door, either. Any condiments are tossed if there's only a squirt left. I also don't put my eggs on the door. I heard that the best place for eggs is the carton they're sold in, on a shelf in the fridge.

7. The Dishwasher I do clean out my dishwasher once a month. In the past, I've used the regular dishwasher soap, set it on the highest temperature and ran it empty. I do like the new cleaning products, however. They really refresh the dishwasher. If you're a non-rinser like I am, sometimes food can accumulate at the bottom. I clean it weekly.

8. The Microwave I try to wipe up spills as they occur. I've read that if you've really got serious, stuck-on food, soak a regular sponge with water and place in the center of the microwave. Nuke it for 45 seconds or so. Apparently, the water in the sponge turns to steam and softens the gunk. Clean it with 409 or Mr. Clean solution.

9. The Backsplash, Cabinet Doors, Dusty Chandeliers, and the Top of the Refrigerator Are you like me and notice them only when they're absolutely gross? My cabinets and backsplashes are white, but I don't seem to notice the spill dribbling down the front. I totally forget about the top of the fridge and the chandelier over the kitchen table. I notice when it looks like it's growing fur! These are 4 areas I really need to work on!

10. Organization Try to put things in the cabinets and drawers that are kept handy as you work in the kitchen. Try to store silverware, glasses and place settings in cabinets and drawers that are nearest to your table. Create a baking station by storing mixing bowls, measuring spoons and cups near your flour & sugar canisters. Have pots & pan near the stove, as well as spatulas, wooden spoons, etc. This will save you a lot of extra steps as you work. I keep all my cooking utensils in a big ceramic jar. My measuring stuff, apple corer, veggie peeler, etc. are kept in different little tray compartments in a big drawer. (You can buy several of these for a dollar at Walmart.) Make your kitchen efficient for you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cleaning Tips

Like I mentioned yesterday, I love it when my house is clean! In my humble opinion, nothing smells better to me than a fresh, yummy-smelling house! I had a friend who loved the smell of fresh laundry. In fact, laundry was her favorite thing to do. Good thing, because she did around 3 loads a day! She said the scent of clean laundry made her happy.

On a trip to the mall, I found my way into a popular candle store. There was an entire shelf laden with every size of candle dedicated to the scent of fresh laundry. In fact, the label showed clothes blowing on a clothesline! I found a cute little tin about the size of a silver dollar that was a mini candle in that scent. I jokingly gave it to her, declaring that if she ever needed a pick-me-up, to give the candle a whiff!

The first step in cleaning is decluttering, a.k.a. de-junking! I just went through this process yesterday with my girls. My oldest inherited the pack-rat gene from me. She keeps every little card and note any friend has ever given her. She spends hours creating animals out of pipe cleaners that are only an inch or so wide and tall. She also carefully and lovingly cuts out a million or so heart shapes no bigger than the tip of your pinkie, coloring them every shade of the rainbow. She then stacks them into a folded piece of paper. These are all very important to her, even though they've fallen behind the dresser or under the bed.

My youngest is just plain messy! She could care less if her toys are under the bed or piled in corners. I've tried to be creative with different boxes for her to put stuff in, but it doesn't bother her to have her toy dishes mixed in with her Barbies. There are some days when I can't even look in the room because if I did, my blood pressure would go off the charts!

Yesterday I decided to take a deep breath and go for it. The girls & I began making piles of stuff that littered the floor. I'll admit that I just about lost it when I pulled out a sock from under the dresser and found an entire stockpile of missing socks that had been shoved under it instead of being placed in the hamper. Also in the arsenal were candy wrappers, scraps of paper, Barbie shoes, play food, and safety pins. The Lord was with me, and I didn't loose my cool.

In no time at all, we had divided the junk ~ I mean stuff ~ into 4 piles ~ Tweenager's Pile, Preschooler's Pile, Doesn't Belong In Our Room Pile, and the Trash! Tweenager & Preschooler tackled their piles and put everything in its place. Bubby took out the trash, and all 3 put the Doesn't Belong In Our Room things away where they belonged. Tweenager then vacuumed. Today is Bubby's turn. He's not so thrilled, but knows it has to be done! Pray for me!

After de-junking, it's time to clean! I'm not so particular about using chemicals. I have some friends who make their own all-natural products, but the thought of cleaning with white vinegar and baking soda makes me think my house will smell like pickles. (I believe this because when my mom & mother-in-law clean out their coffee pots with white vinegar, their house smells like pickles!) However, I say if that's important to you, go for it! They make tons of natural cleaners now, but I must confess, I love the old stand-bys: Pledge, Windex, 409, Mr. Clean, (Febreeze scented!) CLR, Lysol Cling, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Tilex.

I do suggest in investing in a high-quality vacuum cleaner. The expense is well worth it! The hubs bought me a Dyson a couple of years ago, and I can't say enough good things about this vacuum! It really sucks the crud out of the carpet! Before I used it for the 1st time, I vacuumed the entire house with my old vac. Then came the test. Dyson's suction literally lifted the carpet fibers, and after one trip around my house, the dust canister was completely full!
Gross! I also like the 15 foot extension hose that has the different attachments. It's now a breeze to clean those pesky ceiling fans and spider threads that hang down! I just pop on the soft brush attachment, pull up, and the hose lifts right out. When I'm done, the hose slides right back into place. Love, love, LOVE this machine!

Another investment I believe to be worthwhile are the products by Swiffer. I have a Swiffer Wet-Jet and a Swiffer Vac. I use the Wet-Jet to clean the floors between regular moppings. It's also great to absorb up a liquid spill, like milk or soda. One pad soaks up the entire mess, a fresh one cleans it. The Swiffer Vac is great to clean up crumbs, dog hair, and crud the kiddos bring in from outside. I also like using the dusting pads, too. They really pick up dust from lampshades, and are great for under/around hard-to-get areas, like electronics.

I'm interested in Hoover's new scrubbing mop + vacuum. I like the idea of having the 2-in-1 They're around $75-$80, but there's not the extra expense of cleaning solution, mop pads, dust cloths or filters. I'm not sure how good it works, so I'll study up on it before/if I buy it.

For thorough cleanings, I have a Bissel ProDry Steam Vac we got through a great deal on Shop NBC. For my floors, I think that nothing beats the old-fashioned way ~ sponge mop, scrub brush, and bucket!

The dirtiest room in your house is, in fact, the kitchen. They've done tests and studies that show that you're better off eating an apple that's fallen into the toilet than one that's fallen into the kitchen sink! Okay, is anyone as repulsed as I am right now?

If your kitchen is anything like mine, it's actually the hub of the house. Our tiny dining space is right next to it. The only way out to the back yard is via the kitchen. My washer & dryer are on the far wall. Bella's (our sweet little mini Schnauzer) house is in a corner of the kitchen by the back door. Kiddos tramp though with muddy feet. Spills occur. Meat is thawed in the sink. A trash can is usually lurking nearby. Health is the most important reason our kitchens should be clean & free from clutter!

Tomorrow, I'll post some ways to help keep that kitchen fresh, clean, and sparkling!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cleaning 101

Yesterday's post touched on the importance of a clean & organized home. I believe that's it's incredibly important to have a house that's healthy and comfortable as well as a place that you're not embarrassed to show if unexpected company happens to drop by.

When my hubs comes in after a long day of work, the last thing he needs is to trip over shoes left by the front door, try to clear off a place for his lunch cooler & thermos, and move items off the couch so he can sit down!

When it's time to cook a meal, nothing's more frustrating than needing a pot to cook with ~ then realizing it's still in the sink from the night before with dried, crusting food sticking to it!

When it's time to do the laundry, nothing's more gross (or stinky!) than opening the lid to the washer and finding last week's wet towels you forgot to transfer to the dryer molding in the washing machine!

I'm in no way perfect with my housekeeping. I definately slip up from time to time ~ in fact, the above examples are from first hand experience! I'll be completely transparent with you and share that at this very moment, the floor in my closet has clothes piled on it, and I have wet clothes from last night still in the washer, waiting to be put in the dryer.

My mother was a fastideous housekeeper and ran a tight ship when it came to having a clean house. My brothers & I learned early on to keep our rooms neat and clean if we didn't want Mom upset. Clutter upset my mother horribly. Unfortunately, I was a bit of a pack-rat and didn't always meet her high standards. On more than one occasion, things would get unpleasant. The end result that I became like my mother ~ just as fastideous ~ just as demanding.

When I was a single woman, my apartment was always as neat as a pin, everything organized to perfection and scrubbed until it shown! Then, the hubs moved in. He's pretty organized, too, but we had to find room to add all of his stuff. One of the toughest things to fit was his huge metal desk. Did I mention it was ugly? There wasn't any extra space in the small bedroom or living room ~ I had already given up valuable wall space for his bookshelves! With no extra place for this horrific desk my new husband wasn't about to part with ~ no matter how many tears I shed ~ I soon realized that I had to get creative.

Fortunately, our apartment's floor plan had a large closet just off of the tiny dining area. On the bottom floors of the apartment complex, this area served as washer/dryer hookups. The second floors didn't have this option, but we had the space. Thankfully, after we cleaned out the closet, my husband's beloved, ugly desk fit right in, snug as a bug. We removed the closet doors, and I made a valance that matched my dining room to hide the ugly stack of boxes that was on the top shelf. I aptly named it "Hubby's Study Cove".

All in all, the hubs was pretty neat & clean, but he had this annoying habit that absolutely drove me nuts! Every evening, as soon as I had cleaned up the kitchen for the day ~ dishes whirling away in the dishwasher ~ he would take out a new glass, fill it an inch or so with water, drink it, and set it next to my sparkling sink. All I could think of was that my mother would've never allowed such blasphemy! Huffing and puffing, I washed the glass by hand, and put it away none too gently.

An hour or so later, he sweetly asked, "Honey, where's my glass?"
"I washed it and put it away," I replied through clenched teeth.
"Oh. I wanted another drink," he'd say nonchallantly, as he took out the glass and filled it up another inch before he'd drink it. Back by the sink it would go.

It took me a couple of years, but I learned to let it go. I realized that the hubs would always leave his glass by the sink, no matter what. Even after 14 years, his ritual is to get a glass out each night, and fill it an inch or two with water, drink it, and put it by the sink for a drink in the morning. I can honestly say that it doesn't bother me too much anymore, even though he's recently changed his "spot". The glass now goes next to/in front of the coffee pot.

With the addition of each child, I had more to keep clean and more clutter to keep up with. As I mentioned above, I had become a stickler for cleanliness, and sadly, my oldest daughter bore the brunt of my impossible standards. She was almost afraid to get her toys out and play, lest she make a mess and upset Mommy.

Thankfully, during a shameful Mommy meltdown, I caught a glimpse of my uncontrolled, unreasonable anger in a closet mirror. When I looked at my daughter's frightened face, I saw my own. I remembered my own childhood fears of my mother's anger. That was my turning point. Dropping to my knees, I asked my little girl to forgive me. Asking for her forgiveness was the first step to my own healing. Yes, I've slipped from time to time over the years, but the scripture "Be angry and sin not", comes to my mind, compelling me to ask for my children's forgiveness.

When my youngest came along, I began to lack the energy or motivation to do anything. I really began to slide, but I was too tired to care. Everything was becoming too much for me to handle. I used to be able to clean the house top to bottom within a few hours, now it took me days, and then it would just get messed up again! I felt overwhelmed and hopeless.

I've now learned that I can't do it all by myself. My 2 oldest are more than capable to make their beds, clean their rooms, lug in their hampers on wash day, and then put their laundry away. They can vaccuum/dust their own rooms as well. They also clear off the table after meals, and put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher each day. My youngest knows she has to put her toys away, but it can become a battle. I'm trying to learn creative ways to get her to do her jobs without me loosing my cool. She's learning how to put her clothes away, and she brings in her hamper as well.

Yes, a clean home is important, but we must find a balance between being uncaringly neglectful and fastideously controlling. Tomorrow, I'll be sharing some of my cleaning tips with you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Home Manager ~ Watching & Working

Today's post is about our role as being the manager of our home. "She watches over the ways of her household..." Proverbs 31:27 states.

In Biblical times, watchmen were appointed to stand guard on the city's walls to watch for hostile action or suspicious activity. As home managers, we are given the same responsibility to be on the alert to watch over our households. As the one keeping watch, the woman turns her head, looking everywhere so that she doesn't miss a single detail.

She doesn't give a cursory glance over things. This godly woman oversees everything that pertains to her home with an intent gaze that studies everything closely. She knows what's going on under her roof.

Again, this lady carefully notices the patterns of her home life ~ the "ways" of her household ~ such as the general comings & goings, the habits and activities of the people at home.

Her "household" ~ her immediate family ~ is her main concern. A wise woman who carefully manages her home sees to it that her family is cared for spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Part of this caring is praying faithfully for your husband and children. To do, however, we have to look at our own walk with God and deal with any and all sin in our own lives before we can intercede for our beloved family.

With your family properly cared for, we can now turn our attention to our house ~ the place we work. I personally believe it's extremely important to have a house that is clean as well as organized! I also feel that making meals from scratch ~ using fresh foods is more healthy than buying frozen, processed foods or eating out too much.

All too often, even those of us who are stay-at-home-moms fail to recognize the importance of a clean home by just letting stuff "slide" for a while. We also fall into the convenience trap. I know in my own life, it's usually a result of poor use of my time or just plain laziness (eating the bread of idleness).

Tomorrow's post will be about the importance of cleaning and decluttering your home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"I Love You" Day

There are many ways we show our families how much we love them ~ keeping the house clean, folding their laundry, and fixing them meals comes to mind! However, last week, my preschooler's memory verse was from 1 John 3:18 ~ "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." Our theme song was "Let us love in action, let us love in truth." Those words convicted and challenged me to try to think of more creative ways to show my family how much I love them.

Since Valentine's Day being is today, I decided it was the perfect time to put my love into action!

I had planned on making our annual lasagna, salad & garlic bread for dinner, along with a red velvet heart-shaped cake. So, I asked myself, how could I be more creative? I had to go to Walmart anyway, so I braved the seasonal section and picked up a cute (cheap & reusable!) Valentine tablecloth, plastic (again, cheap and reusable!) Valentine cups, as well as paper plates, napkins, and Valentine cards. A quick trip to the dollar store gave me some cute decorations to hang from our light and on the patio door.

I got up a little earlier and surprised the kiddos with their favorite breakfast ~ pancakes, scrambled eggs & bacon. (I usually only make "special breakfasts" on the weekends.) To make it a little extra special, I tinted the pancake batter pink & made heart-shaped pancakes as well as their initial to put on top.

My oldest came in first, excited to smell pancakes cooking. When she saw the table, she was ecstatic! She ran back to wake up her brother & sister, exclaiming, "Hurry and come see! Mom made heart pancakes and we have decorations!"

The other two came scrambling in, excited and eager. My son said, "I knew you'd do something like this, Mom! I just knew it!" Youngest just looked around and then breathed, "Oh, Mommy, this is beautiful!"

It touched my heart to see how much my little acts of love ~ that didn't take much extra time and effort or added expense ~ thrilled them! They truly appreciated it!
My three little Valentines!

For dinner, I did make lasagna, but in cupcake form! I got the idea from another website ~ You just take 2 noodles, cross them, put in a layer of filling & sauce, and then fold one of the flaps over to cover the filling. You continue to layer until last flap is covered with sauce & cheese. It was pretty tasty, if I say so myself!
Lasagna Cupcake

We also had salad, and our favorite garlic bread. I made 12 red velvet cupcakes with heart sprinkles for the kids, and with the left over batter, made my hubs a heart-shaped cake. Dinner was rated 4 thumbs up!
Kiddos & the Hubs

Of course, I tell my children & husband how much I love them ~ every day, several times, in fact. But Preschooler's verse continued to come to mind: "Don't love just in word, but in deed." I wanted to put my love into action to bless my family, but I was blessed in return! Truly, it is more blessed to give than receive!"

My favorite pic of the day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Avoiding the Negatives

We've studied ways how to build our home, but let's not ignore the last half of our verse from Proverbs 14:1 ~ "the foolish [woman] pulls it down with her hands".

When I think of pulling a house down, my mind goes to the TV series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". You know where I'm going with this. Bulldozers, wrecking balls, and zealous people eagerly smash, rip, and tear down what used to be a house. Do you notice it doesn't take long to ruin it? One bash of wrecking ball, and the house is no longer a place of shelter. It's open to the elements, unstable, and unfit to live in.

So how can a woman destroy her own home? "First, a woman can cause great damage actively: by working destruction." Mrs. George writes. This is usually uncontrolled anger. "It throws, it slams, it tears, and it rips. It also breaks things as well as rules." Doing these things is destructive enough, but "anger out of control also speaks words that break, destroy, ruin, and kill."

Not only can a woman destroy her home actively, but by being too passive ~ simply failing to work. Failing to follow through with our duties as homemakers erodes the foundation of our home. Laziness, neglect, forgetfulness, putting things off, and not spending enough time at home tears our homes down brick by brick. Also included in this is ignoring our duties while we are at home by watching extended times of TV, surfing the Internet for hours at a time, reading "just one more chapter", and spending too much time on the phone.

Let me continue with the parallel I wrote earlier. Remember the wrecking ball? With one whack, a house is suddenly unfit for people to dwell there. Just like that house, the woman who tears down her home with active or passive destruction is leaving her family at risk ~ exposed to the elements (a sinful world) in a home that is unstable (by either her neglect or uncontrolled anger) and unfit to live in (a stressful, uncomfortable place).

I must confess that I've been convicted with this post. All too often, I tear down what I spend so much time trying to build ~ with my impatience or selfishness! Mrs. George gives three steps to remember when building a home:

1. Avoid any attitude or act that doesn't build your home. (In other words, self-control!)
2. Decide to begin building. It's never too late!
3. Each day, do one thing to build your home. (Outwardly, like cleaning up clutter or inwardly, like giving a soft answer.)

She concludes with this thought, "Search your heart and your home. Which of these two women is most like you? Where are you placing your focus and investing your energy? Look beneath the cleaning and cooking to your heart."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Building a Refuge

Webster's defines refuge as a "shelter (a.k.a. something that covers, protects or defends) or protection from danger or difficulty". Other definitions include "a person or thing that gives shelter, help, or comfort" and "a place of safety; shelter; safe retreat". I was amazed as I thought about this! Part of my job as homemaker is to create a place my family feels secure, safe, and comfortable.

The old saying of "It's a jungle out there!" just about sums it up. It's harried and busy, and sometimes harsh and unkind. Our family needs a place to recuperate from a long day, and that place is home.

On a particular stressful day, my husband staggered in the front door, saying, "I knew if I could just get home, everything would be all right." Our home became that place of refuge for him. He needed the restful, calming atmosphere to unwind and refresh himself.

Even though we are a homeschooling family and my children are at home most of the time, I still need to create a place of refuge for them. A counselor reported that "a secure home life tends to reduce frustration and uneasiness in a child's life, and it gives them the ability to cope with pressures more effectively".

Oh, to build a home that strengthen/renews my family ~ to set up a place where hearts are renewed and souls are refreshed! What an amazing opportunity we're given as homemakers!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making a House a Home ~ Creating an Atmosphere

We all know this verse in Proverbs ~ "Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her hands." Have you ever wondered ~ like me ~ what does it mean, exactly?

The verb "to build" actually means to make and to set up a house. This doesn't just imply the physical structure and upkeep of the house, but also to the family. That got me to thinking ~ how much more do I spend my time building (the upkeep) my house instead of building (nurturing) my family?

"Although the Hebrew word for "house" and "home" is the same, "home" is the preferred word here. This verse... speaks of home building; the knitting together of family and the day-by-day routine of creating a happy and comfortable place for a family to live." (Robert Alden)

I am the one who sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere inside my home. To be wise, like the verse above challenges, I have to diligently and purposefully create that atmosphere. I can't just hope it will happen on its own.

In her book "A Woman After God's Own Heart", Elizabeth George states that creating the atmosphere in our home is like using your thermostat to regulate the temperature inside your home. As the home manager, we are that thermostat, and we have the responsibility to set the ideal, comfortable temperature for our family.

Do I want the atmosphere to be warm, cheerful, loving, positive, and constructive? Then I must get my heart temperature right first! How can I possibly give away what I don't possess? Choosing to get up earlier to spend time alone with the Lord will help me to cultivate a heart like His.

Now, I have to "go to work to maintain the comfort in my home." Mrs. George writes, "If things start to get hot (hot words, hot tempers, hot emotions), I {must} set about to bring in cooling, soothing words ("a soft answer turns away wrath" ~ Proverbs 15:1) and words of peace ("the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" ~ James 3:18).

Likewise, if things start to cool off (cold hearts, cold feet, cold shoulders), I {must} go to work giving a good word which makes hearts glad (Proverbs 12:25), remembering that "a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: (Proverbs 15:13) and that "he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast" (Proverbs 15:15)."

Even through life's many challenges, my prayer is that God will give me the heart, wisdom and the words to create a healthy atmosphere in my home!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What is a Homemaker?

I've not posted in a while, because, quite frankly, I haven't really had the desire to. It was just one more thing on my never-ending "to do" list. Besides, I felt as if I'd gotten away from the main idea of this blog, which was to encourage my fellow sisters who are homemakers.

That got me thinking ~ what exactly is a homemaker, anyway? A homemaker is more than just a stay-at-home mom or the wife who takes care of her house by keeping it clean and organized. Yes, those things obviously come into play, but it's so much more than that. I want to not only make my house a home, but I want to love it and those I care for.

Beginning tomorrow, I want to share practical as well as spiritual ideas for homemaking.

Also, since I homeschool my three kiddos, I've decided to begin a new blog devoted to their schooling. It's called The Homeschooler's Haven. The link is in my sidebar under "Places I Visit". Feel free to stop by sometime!