Commonsensical Wisdom for Christian Women by Nancy Wilson
Building her House by Nancy Wilson is a collection of thought-provoking essays for wives and mothers. Originally written for her column in the newsletter Credenda Agenda these essays read like letters from a thoughtful and wise friend. Paul instructed Titus to encourage the older women to teach the younger and reading this book feels like that: like having an older, wiser, woman to help open my eyes to the subtle ways that I build and tear down my own house.
The essays in Building Her House are organized around four headings: Service, Family Relationships, Marriage, Mothering, and Attitudes. Wilson writes that it is in the little things, “these seemingly ‘insignificant’ duties,” that God blesses us, our families and communities. “It is my prayer that God might use these little essays to encourage faithfulness and joyfulness in the women who read them.”
Wilson emphasizes all the ways a woman can build her home through loving acts of service and labor. It’s hard work, house keeping and preparing meals, but it is also rewarding work, work that God honors, work that honors God. Mrs. Wilson shares a few things that she has done for her family over the years that have proven to be real blessings for them. Perhaps because she wanted to avoid setting herself and her family up as the standard to imitate, Wilson does not use a lot of anecdotes. A few times she offers a glimpse into her home, but most essays are straight-forward and to-the-point.
Wilson encourages women to be good mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. She also offers helpful instruction for being a parent for children who are courting. I’m several years away from supervising a courtship or being a mother-in-law, but Wilson gives practical encouragement and advice that I need to be considering before my daughters and sons are ready for courtship and marriage.
These essays include instruction for young wives adjusting to marriage. Wilson includes an essay on submission: what it is, what it is not, and why it’s so important in Christian marriage. She gently addresses the Christian woman who finds herself married to an ungodly man.
Making up the bulk of the book, Wilson has much instruction and encouragement to offer regarding mothering. She shares how the reading aloud of books and stories has been a great blessing to her family. She also has wisdom for the woman who is preparing for childbirth and mothering her infant. Babies grow into children, so Wilson provides several important truths to remember when mothering sons and mothering daughters. Much of what she has to say is refreshingly contrary to popular opinion. She includes her thinking regarding sons and daughters involvement in sports — something I have not seen addressed in many Christian parenting books.
In this little section, Wilson addresses the many things that can affect a woman’s attitude. She offers instruction regarding feminine clothing and modesty. She tackles a woman’s tendency to compare her husband to the leading man in her favorite romantic film and warns against investing too much thought and attention to movies, especially those emotional ones that may lead a wife to sin in her thoughts for her husband. Another difficult topic to address with women is gossip, but Wilson does so forthrightly and biblically. Our attitudes can even be affected by the weather. Wilson offers a few tips for mothers regarding what we can do to keep the weather inside the home sunny and bright.
The only criticism I have is that Mrs. Wilson does not address a woman’s addiction to pornography. She mentions how women can be addicted to emotional porn: romance novels, movies, and such. Perhaps it’s because of the time of publishing or perhaps it’s because no one needs to be told that looking at nude photos is wrong, but she does not address the growing number of women who have abandoned the Harlequin romance novel for on-demand internet pornography.
I enjoyed each essay in Building Her House. Each one is just a few pages long and can be read in a few minutes. Wilson dives right into the subject and gets to the point. But she does so in a way that is not off-putting to the reader. She is firm when the topic calls for strong words, but overall, she strikes an encouraging and joyful tone. With plenty of wisdom to glean, this is a book I can see myself returning to in the future.