The Steadfast, Home-Centered Woman

The Steadfast, Home-Centered Woman

Written in the New Harvest Homestead Newsletter in 2005

What is a “homestead woman?” Literally speaking, the word homestead means to be steadfast at home.

I have been a Christian for 26 years, a wife for 25 years and a mother for 20. As the mother of six, I have experienced firsthand a particular dilemma in the lives of Christian women. We want to do the right thing. So, we volunteer, join, raise our hands and sign up, until our plates are beyond full. The end result is so many moms find themselves constantly on the go.

But, the secret desire of many of these women is just to be able to stay home more. These are not lazy women. They have lots of projects they want to work on. Start a fruit and vegetable garden; try their hand at quilting or other fiber arts; raise a few rabbits, goats or chickens; do some writing; putter in their kitchen; play with their kids; work on crafting projects and quietly mind their own home. They want the homestead life.

There have been several surveys taken among young, married women over the course of the last decade or so that have revealed unexpected longings in the hearts of 21st century wives and mothers. When asked to choose what would be their ideal existence, the majority of these ladies said they would prefer the lifestyle of the 1950’s or a “country life.”

Ah…I knew it. I am not alone. I am not some kind of freakish throwback to another era. Turns out, I’m in the majority. I am most content when I am busy about the affairs of my own home, hanging out with my family, or working in my garden or kitchen. But, the difference between me and a lot of those ladies is I know that this lifestyle is possible. It’s not just a fantasy that can never be realized.

If this describes you, then the New Harvest Homestead newsletter is here to encourage and support you.

Being Home-Centered is Biblical

It’s okay to want to stay home more. I believe the women in those surveys, especially Christian women, are acknowledging a truth in the core of their being; a design drawn on our very souls by the Creator Himself. If we have the courage to take an open-hearted, honest look at the portrait the Bible paints of a truly fulfilled, biblical woman, we will find some startling long-neglected truths.

Let’s try not to color these verses with our American cultural brush but simply let them say what they say. I’m not going to talk about a Christian woman’s inward, spiritual qualities because we’ve all been through those bible studies and I’m sure I can’t do better than any of them.

No, I am talking about what a biblical woman actually did with her time on an average, everyday basis. I am going to try to summarize verses from Psalm 128:3, Proverbs 14:1, Proverbs 31, 1 Timothy 5:9-10 and Titus 2:5. A praiseworthy biblical woman:

• Gives her husband children, if she is able, and makes their home a pleasant place.
• Puts her time and energy into the betterment of her own household.
• Takes joy in her daily tasks, as doing them unto the Lord; working with her hands to enhance her home and family.
• Puts a lot of thought and planning into how she can provide the healthiest food to her family for the best price, even if it means going some distance to obtain it.
• Takes extra time and care to prepare good, nutritious food for her household.
• Finds a “bit of earth” where she can grow good things for her household and others around her.
• Enjoys being creative and making beautiful things.
• Always keeps in mind those who are in need, sharing what she can with them. Is concerned for her neighbors.
• Does what she can with her own two hands instead of depending on others to provide.
• Finds creative ways to work from home to bring in a little extra income.
• Takes the management of her household seriously, trying her best to be prepared for the unexpected and make sure her family will not be in need.
• Watchful over her children, concerned with every aspect of their well-being.
• Opens her home to visitors.
• Welcomes believers into her home for fellowship.
• Available when someone might need her.
• Is the guardian, watcher, and gatekeeper of her home.

What do we truthfully see portrayed here? This is a home-centered lady who does what she does everyday first and foremost for the benefit of her husband, her children, and her home. She works with her hands, grows a garden, prepares good food. This is how it has been for the majority of women for thousands of years. It is only within the relatively recent past that there has even been a choice regarding whether or not a woman would do these things. They were necessary for the very existence of her family.

It Will Take Commitment

I know Proverbs 31 can seem somewhat unrealistic to a lot of us, but do you know why I think that is? Not because it is impossible to fulfill, but because we as a culture have gone so far a field from the traditional/biblical model of family life that we just don’t recognize it anymore.

What we have come to accept as “normal” is living in our SUV with a day planner, breathlessly running from meeting to meeting, activity to activity. This is a relatively recent phenomenon for women – ask your grandmother! And, I’m not even talking about working women. These are stay-at-home mothers who don’t really stay at home very much!

Therefore, since most women nowadays do not fill the majority of their time with domestic pursuits, these verses come off as some kind of unattainable ideal.
Well, sisters, I am here to tell you that this is definitely not an outdated, old-fashioned way of life. In fact, I have come to believe with my whole heart that taking God at His Word and pursuing this home-centered path results in greater peace and contentment than you may ever have known, both for you and your family. It is an abundant life.

A woman whose heart is firmly anchored in her home can from that center point stretch herself out in many different directions. Her home can become a hub of creative activity and ministry. She has the freedom to listen for the voice of the Spirit and blow in whatever direction He may lead on any given day. Always, her first priority is her husband, her children, and her home.

If you find yourself aching for this less complicated and more restful existence, you can have it. But, you are going to have the really commit yourself to this goal. The enemy of our souls does not want you to have peace, rest, and joy and he will try many different tactics to steer you off of this path. You have to want this and let nothing deter you from getting there.

Where Did the Time Go?

One of the first things we need to do is step back and honestly evaluate where we might be giving away too much of our time and energy. If the various activities and commitments in your life are leaving you too worn out to meet the needs of your husband, children and home, then something has got to go. Obviously, it’s not going to be the husband, children, and home! 😊

Take a good look at your calendar. How many hours will you be away from your home in a typical week? Can you remember the last time you spent at least two consecutive days at home? Are you cheerful every time you pack up the kids, walk out the door, and head off to the next meeting, lesson, outing, appointment, practice, etc? Are your kids happy? Or, do you look at your busy calendar with dread and are your kids crabby and cranky when you are out so much? Do you manage to keep your house in a reasonable state of order? Does your family sit together around the dinner table more than two times a year? Does your husband get enough of your time and attention?

These are all questions I stopped to ask myself many years ago because I was burned out and frustrated and I needed answers. I decided to take a really hard look at what the Bible teaches about women. What I found was a portrait of quiet, humble commitment to excellence in domestic life. I finally admitted to myself, my God, and my peers that I really didn’t enjoy involving myself in dozens of outside activities. I realized that I needed to be home most of the time if I wanted to aspire to that biblical ideal.

Surprised by Joy

And so, I began to disconnect from the activity-filled lifestyle which was modeled all around me. I had no idea up until that point the depth of satisfaction waiting for me in the daily work of the “homestead” life.

I have experienced real joy in the simple act of baking an apple pie or gazing at a row of canning jars filled with vary-colored jams. I have heard the voice of the Spirit whisper in my heart while I did nothing more than quietly hang a load of laundry on a warm spring morning. There is a deep sense of purpose and contentment in this humble work which can be found nowhere else.

In his book “The Pursuit of God” A.W. Tozer had this to say:

“The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activity which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.”

This easily describes the majority of Christian women I have known at one time or another, including myself. We seem to be prone to the “Martha Syndrome,” always busily rushing about trying to live up to the expectations of others or those we load on ourselves. Truth be told, many of us are just wiped out.

Jesus held out Martha’s sister, Mary, as an example for all of us. If we could just slow down and get quiet, like her, we too, might hear the still small voice of the Savior saying, “Be still. Sit at my feet. I am all you really need.”

This is not a life of servitude or drudgery. Nor is it about having the perfectly appointed home. If joyfully embraced, this home-centered life will lead to freedom, peace and fulfillment. We will become the wife and mother we were created to be.

I am certainly not advocating we isolate ourselves and our children. The paradox here is that when we learn to say no to a lot of outside commitments and focus on our domestic life, we can actually become more useful to the Lord, as we are available to follow HIS timetable and leading instead of someone else’s. The Lord will begin to bring before us a myriad of different ministry opportunities, some of them right in our own neighborhood or family, which we couldn’t see before because we were too busy elsewhere.

Leaving a Legacy

Peggy Noonan, the former speech writer for President Reagan and Bush 1, wrote a book called “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the book, she recounts a conversation with her brother-in-law in which she asked him what the best thing was about his mother when he was growing up.

“And, immediately he said, ‘That she was there.’

‘There for you,’ I said.

‘No,’ he said, ‘actually there. In the kitchen. For twenty years she stood in the kitchen stirring the gravy. Every day I came home from school, she was there. When I came home with a broken arm or blood coming out of my lip, she was at the door. That’s a big change. Kids have no one home now. I don’t mean one-parent families. I mean two parents and both are out. And we’ll never go back to the old way again, ever.’” (1)

I wish I could tell that man that he’s wrong. The “old ways” are not gone; they’ve just been out of sight for a while. These ways are written on the pages of scripture for anyone who has a heart to seek and heed them. These ways exist within the soul of every woman who quietly devotes herself to hearth and home, hidden away from the popular culture, but shining forth in the kingdom of her Father in heaven.

Let’s be the ones of whom our sons and daughters will be able to say one day, “My mother was always there.” Give your whole heart to your family and home and you will find a treasure rarely enjoyed in our times. You will leave a blessing with your family that will last a lifetime and beyond.

(1) From Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Peggy Noonan, Adams Publishing, 1994

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