Joyful Mothering - 6 - Joyful Homemaking

Joyful Homemaking

Part Six: A Heavenly Perspective On Daily Tasks

by Leslie Ludy

My son Hudson loves to host elaborate birthday parties. Last year, he chose a Lego theme. Somehow he got the idea of making Lego mini-figure costumes that all his party guests could wear. A bit intimidated, I scoured the internet for ideas of how in the world to make these life-sized costumes, which quickly plunged me into the daunting world of Pinterest dazzle and creativity. As I browsed through hundreds of amazing pictures of homemade Lego birthday cakes, personalized Lego decorations, innovative Lego-themed food, and yes, some incredible homemade Lego mini figure costumes, two things became abundantly clear in my mind. First, I realized that moms today are far more talented than I ever would have guessed. And second, I realized that I am far less talented than I ever would have guessed. Especially when it comes to homemade or handmade anything.

Yes, I know how to tastefully organize and decorate my home. I can set a nice table and put together a simple, tasty meal for my family. I even know how to plan unique birthday parties and family time activities for my kids. I have always considered myself a relatively creative and capable person—until I stumbled upon Pinterest. Pinterest takes homemaking creativity and talent to another stratosphere. And to be honest, I become completely paralyzed, like a deer-in-headlights, when I study all those amazing accomplishments in crafting, sewing, baking, gift-making, cake decorating, and costume-creating! My feeble attempts in these areas through the years would work quite well on the comedic “Pinterest-flops” websites that are now cropping up online.

But back to the Lego costume…after about ten hours of serious strategy and effort, we figured out a way to make a semblance of a Lego mini-figure costume that all the kids at the party could take turns wearing. We used cardboard boxes, a few random items from Home Depot and some red and yellow spray paint. I say “we” because I had to recruit some help. I realized that if I was left to my own devices, I would end up with something that resembled a sagging, graffiti-laden building instead of a little plastic Lego person! In the end it was Daddy who ended up doing most of the creative work!

Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to impress a nine-year-old. Hudson was thrilled with how it turned out and didn’t seem to notice that it paled in comparison to the spectacular homemade costumes we had seen online. Whew.

As a young mom, I have noticed that there are two schools of thought today about homemaking—both of which, at least for me, quickly rob the joy from running a home, serving my family, and managing daily household tasks.

The first mindset is the Pinterest-perfection style of homemaking—where everything you cook, bake, sew, and create at home must be done at blue-ribbon level, and then photographed and displayed on your blog and personal Pinterest page, followed by an avalanche of “wow!” comments from your awe-struck followers. Don’t get me wrong—I love to get fun online inspiration for daily homemaking tasks. But I have learned I must be guarded in how often I turn to these mediums for ideas.

Why? Because in wading through all that online “inspiration,” it’s easy to start feeling the pressure of home-making perfectionism, believing that I won’t truly be a good mom until I finally learn how to make award-winning birthday cakes from scratch, sew professional-grade costumes for their parties, and decorate their rooms to look exactly like Pottery Barn Kids. Nothing can rob my “homemaking joy” faster than feeling like I never measure up in anything I do.

The second mindset takes a swing in the opposite direction—when moms throw up their hands in defeat and accept chaos and disarray in their homes as the norm, believing that raising kids and slobbish living must go hand-in-hand. Raising children is inevitably messy, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we should just resign ourselves to living in one huge mess until our kids turn eighteen and leave home. But I have learned that homemaking quickly goes from joyful to miserable when I’m simply trying to “survive in the mess” from day to day.

I’ve come to realize that neither of these mentalities—the Pinterest perfection approach or the “accept-the-mess” style of home management—truly reflects God’s pattern for homemaking and motherhood.

As I’ve studied His Word and asked Him to show me His design for my role as a “keeper of the home,” He has pointed me to two key principles that lead to joyful, Christ-centered homemaking. These are principles that can be applied in any home—regardless of whether you are a domestic diva or you are frequent dinnertime buddies with Chef Boyardee.

Do All Things Unto Christ

A friend of mine once worked in a nursing home. One of her many jobs was to change the bedsheets and make beds for the elderly patients. She had a lot of beds to make, and was in a hurry most of the time. There was a constant temptation to cut corners and make the beds hurriedly, not taking time to tuck the corners in tightly or smooth the wrinkles out of the sheets. She knew that most of the elderly patients wouldn’t notice whether she made the bed perfectly or not. But one day her heart was challenged with a gentle question, “If it were Jesus in the bed, would you take time to smooth the sheets and tuck in the corners? If you were doing it for Jesus, would you do your very best?”

Immediately she knew the answer: “If I were making Jesus’ bed, I would do my very best, every time.” So from that point on, she endeavored to make each bed in that nursing home as if she were making a bed for Jesus—whether the patients ever appreciated it or not.

As busy moms with endless household tasks on our plates, it’s easy to get caught up in the “nobody ever appreciates all the work I do around here!” or “I hope so-and-so notices this beautifully organized pantry!” mindsets. But when we do our homemaking tasks in order to gain appreciation from our families or impress others with our skills, we are missing the true purpose of being a Christ-centered “keeper of the home.”

Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” I have learned from experience that if I do my household work first and foremost for Jesus Christ, I will always have joy, no matter how mundane the task. But if I do my household work merely out of obligation, or to be noticed and appreciated by others, I will usually end up unsatisfied and frustrated. When I’m doing my tasks for His smile alone, I find delight in doing even the most tedious of chores—because I realize that I have the amazing privilege of serving the King of all kings with every load of laundry that I fold or toy that I pick up.

If I do my household work first and foremost for Jesus Christ, I will always have joy.

Doing my tasks unto Jesus Christ motivates me to do everything with excellence, yet keeps me from taking the bait of Pinterest perfectionism. On the one hand, when I remember that I am serving the King by serving my family, I realize that settling for chaos and disarray is not fitting for the high calling that I have received as a “keeper of the home.” Just like my friend took delight in going the extra mile and making each nursing home bed with diligence, I find joy in doing my tasks with excellence and not sloppiness when I remember Who I am truly serving.

But by the same token, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ keeps me from jumping on the “everything must look like a magazine cover” bandwagon. As I said in Set Apart Motherhood, the spiritual atmosphere and heart attitudes in our homes are far more important than the physical state of things. If I spend all my time and energy trying to making things picture-perfect so I can impress others or somehow “prove” that I’m a good mom, I’ll quickly lose sight of God’s highest priority for my home and family—cultivating our relationship with Him.

Long and short, doing all things unto Him not only keeps my homemaking healthy and balanced (i.e. done with excellence, not Pinterest-perfectionism) but also brings delight and energy to each and every task I do. Even cleaning bathrooms can become a privilege when I do it out of love, gratitude, and obedience to the One who gave everything to rescue me!

Keep An Eternal Focus

Everywhere we go—whether online or in stores—we are bombarded by all of the cooking, decorating, crafting, and hobby trends that are flooding our culture today. Because so many of these trends are fun and interesting, it’s all too easy to let them swallow up the majority of our time and energy, while losing sight of God’s higher priorities for us and our families. I love making healthy food for my family, decorating and organizing our home with fresh creativity, and doing fun activities with my kids, but I have realized how important it is to keep an eternal focus to our home and family life. How easy it is to get caught up in the “foodie trend” or the “knitting trend” or the many other trendy domestic pastimes of our culture, while losing sight of what really matters in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with spending time on any of these things as long as they serve a higher purpose than just being a diverting activity.

For example, preparing a special meal can be a way to express love to your family members or serve someone in need. But becoming a “foodie” and building your entire week around shopping for food, thinking about food, preparing food, and enjoying food will quickly pull your focus away from Heavenly priorities and onto earthly ones.

As you go about your daily and weekly homemaking activities, prayerfully examine the motives behind why you spend time doing the things that you do. When evaluating any activity, ask yourself these questions: Am I doing this for selfish reasons, or Christ-honoring ones? Is this activity frivolous, or does it serve a higher purpose?

Here are some ways you can tell whether something has eternal value:

Here are some ways you can tell whether something has eternal value:

  • It causes you to draw closer to Jesus Christ and/or learn more about Him.
  • It builds meaningful relationships with people God has put in your life.
  • It helps you bless others and assists you in sharing the love of Christ with them.
  • It helps you become better equipped for the things God has called you to.
  • It leaves you peacefully refreshed instead of agitated and distracted.
  • It bears “good fruit” instead of “bad fruit” in your life (see Galatians 5:19-26).

The Bible says that even the small areas of our lives, like eating and drinking, should be done for His glory and not our own selfish pleasure (1 Corinthians 10:31). When we allow our daily activities to serve God’s purposes rather than our own, we will begin to gain an eternal focus in everything we do—including our domestic tasks!

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Becoming a joyful, excellent “keeper of the home” doesn’t require a special set of talents or a certain kind of natural creativity. Rather, joyful homemaking comes when we make Jesus Christ the Guest of Honor in our homes and do everything for His glory alone. What a privilege to use our daily tasks to serve the One who became the Servant of all!

A quote from Leslie's Book, Set Apart Motherhood

As keepers of our homes, we have a choice to make about the atmosphere we create for our families. We can either build a lifestyle that reflects heaven’s beauty and order or one that showcases this world’s selfish, chaotic frenzy.

-Set Apart Motherhood, Chapter 4