Here we are again for another installment of The Excellent Wife. We have reached Chapter 8, “Home: The Wife’s Domain.” It is divided into two parts: 1) A Worker at Home, and 2) Creating a Godly Atmosphere in the Home. Before I get into a summary and sharing my thoughts on this chapter, I want to share something else.
Yesterday, as I was folding our sheets and towels, I listened to a very encouraging Mother’s Day message from Josh Harris (HT: JT). You can download it free . I have heard many-a-mother’s day sermon over the years. This is the best one I’ve heard. Harris is not heavy on the nostalgic, emotional aspects of motherhood. He uses Psalm 127 & 128 to actually speak to mothers, rather than just talking about motherhood. By the time he finished I felt a new sense of purpose and peace about my calling as a mother. Download it and listen and be encouraged.
OK, chapter 8.
Summary and My Thoughts
Part 1 is about the importance of a wife being a “worker at home.” Peace tackles a very unpopular topic, saying, “A godly wife is organized and works hard to operate her home with the least possible chaos. She also creates an optimistic, joyful atmosphere for her family. God has always intended for the home to be the wife’s domain.” Peace does not mince words (I should know this by now). She believes wives should stay at home, even if circumstances make a wife feel like she needs to work.
If a wife is working or is thinking of returning to work, she should examine her motives. What is it she really wants? What is her heart set on? Is it to avoid becoming a “non-person?” Is it more material things? Is it wanting to be out from under the demands of child care? Is it to relieve her husband from his responsibility to work? None of these motives are for the glory of God. They are self-serving and sinful.
I bristled at this at first. My MIL has to work, and it’s not so my FIL can be lazy. In fact, he may even say he’s being more productive in ministry since he lost his big-paying, secular job. So, I reread page 75, and saw that Peace is speaking specifically to young women with families to care for. Once again, I thought of my MIL. She and FIL sacrificed quite a lot in their younger days so that she could stay home when their children were young. She could have worked or gone back to school, but she obeyed the Lord, learned contentment in plenty and want, and trusted that God would care for them. He did, and He still does.
I used to go back and forth in my mind about finding some kind of job that I could do that wouldn’t take me away from home too much. My husband would always ask me, “Why?” And when he challenged me to consider my motives, I had to face the fact that they had nothing to do with following God and everything to do with my selfish desires.
Peace goes on to contrast the lazy wife and the self-disciplined wife. This is the part that got me:
A wife should make it her business to find out how to keep an orderly and clean home and stay organized with her grocery shopping and meals….And if this area in her life is out of control, she should seek the resources to change.
I started sweating because I thought that meant I was going to have to go back to being a perfectionist. [Backstory: I was very much a type A, neat-freak through high school and college. Then, I married Karl, started having babies, and had to learn to relax. My relaxation has gone too far. And a lot of times I justify it with homeschooling three children. Homeschooling does take up a tremendous amount of my day, but that doesn’t excuse me from doing a good job cleaning and organizing our home.] Even though our kids have chores they do every day, the whole house is never cleaned up at the same time. Something somewhere is messy. I think the key is balance and making sure that I am making the most of my time as one who is working for the Lord. Peace writes, “If you are intent on keeping the perfect house or you are lazy and not fulfilling your responsibilities at home, you are sinning.” We all have to check our hearts, try to discern our motives for doing what we do, and repent if they are less than God-honoring.
Part 2: Creating a godly atmosphere in the home
In this section, Peace emphasizes that the wife is the one who sets the tone of the home. Wife/Mommy gets to determine the atmosphere. Is your home a happy place where God is praised? Or is your home more a negative, harsh, unhappy place? I found these questions helpful to moving my heart to reflection: “If your family were called upon to describe you, what would they say? Would they report that you are a godly, Christian woman who loves life and loves her Lord? Or would they report that you are an unhappy, complaining, bitter woman?”
Those questions made me consider the impact my attitude has on my daughters’ attitudes regarding homemaking. What if my demeanor at home is making them dislike the idea of being homemakers? That would not be good.
Peace then offers ways to move the atmosphere of your home from a negative one to a more positive, God-honoring one.
1) Meditate on scriptures that focus on praising God.
2) Memorize scriptures that focus on thanksgiving.
3) Memorize and sing favorite praise songs and hymns.
5) Share with other family members good things that God has done that day.
6) Be righteously optimistic.
7) Be aware of your hormones and schedule a nap if you need one.
8) Put others first.
9) Take an interest in others.
10) Kiss and hug the husband and kids.
11) Make an effort to tell your children (individually), “I love you. You give me joy!”
12) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
13) Be patient and kind.
14) Be aware of your sinful thoughts and replace them with biblical ones.
15) Practice gentleness and meekness.
It is so much easier to type all that than to do it. However, I know that God gives grace and strength to the humble and weak. I know that He will answer my prayers for His grace to help me obey him and do what I need to do to make a happy, God-exalting home.
I am finding that Peace’s straight-forward presentation is spurring me on to work harder every day. I have been praying that God would give me joy in my work as a wife and mother.
I look forward to reading your posts and comments!
Here are links to women who’ve already written about this chapter:
Keep reading! Click for Chapter 9.