At Home And Loving It

IMG_5674As full-time stay-at-home mothers, we don’t have the most glamorous careers. It’s behind the scenes, mundane, and sometimes hard to enjoy. A book I was reading had an example of how hard it was to be a stay-at-home mother: “It’s so boring!” the woman said. Boring? Tiring, I get. Frustrating, challenging, occasionally menial and repetitive, but boring? If you’re a stay-at-home mother and find yourself bored, invite your pastor’s family over for a 5 course dinner on Saturday. It will make Thursday and Friday interesting. If chronic boredom is a struggle, start a business, buy a puppy, or begin homeschooling.

But boredom isn’t what most stay-at-home moms struggle with. Continue reading

A Mother’s Work

Ernst_Lindenbauer,_1936 Wanting to be a horse was probably a mommy low point. Not just any horse, mind you. One of my kids was studying the Lipizzaners in Vienna’s Spanish Riding School; as I helped with some research, I found myself envying the horses. Not only do they live in a historic building in a European capital, but they also do nothing beyond go for long walks and occasionally jump to live orchestral music. They are taken care of. Totally. “I could live off of apples and oats,” I told myself. When my husband came home from work, I announced my new career plan. The pressure of constantly caring for everyone else’s needs made me lose focus.

Mothers need breaks now and then. But even more than that, we need perspective. And that’s easy to lose when the dishes are piled up and the baby won’t stop crying and the toddler refuses to be toilet trained. Continue reading

Authenticity, Honesty, and the Stay-At-Home-Mother

clean-up At the Gospel Coalition, Brett McCracken takes on authenticity as an evangelical substitute for holiness. He asks, “by focusing on brokenness as proof of our ‘realness’ and ‘authenticity,’ have evangelicals turned ‘being screwed up’ into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness?” Yup. And perhaps few are as guilty as us wives and mothers.

The mommy wars have made great advances in battling the false fronts of picture-perfect blog posts, where dinners always look fabulous, children are always beautifully dressed, and husbands always come home with roses. But we’ve replaced those filtered versions of our lives with other versions: Continue reading

It Happens At The Table

newhouse 1The table in my dining room is creaky and needs a refinishing. The legs have scrapes from dozens of moves and there are a few scratches from dog feet here and there. A professional designer would probably recommend that we look for something a little less vintage, perhaps something that matches the dining room better. But that table isn’t going anywhere.

It was a wedding present to my great-grandmother, who moved from Glasgow to Canada a few years before she met and married my great-grandfather. A local craftsman made it with a built-in leaf so that it could expand with their family. Their two children, one boy, one girl, were born on that table. When my great-grandmother, then a widow, moved to a retirement home, the table was passed along in the family. I grew up eating every meal at it, unless we had so much company that the children were relegated to the kitchen or porch. Continue reading

Men and Hospitality?

230px-Schweizerhaus18 Last week I reviewed a book on hospitality for someone. It was good, but like most books on hospitality, it seemed to be directed at women. That’s not all bad; we need help! But Scripture’s command to practice hospitality is not merely to women. In fact, when we look at Scripture, it is almost always the men – the husbands – who are directing the hospitality. This is true from Abraham (Gen. 18:6-7) to Manoah (Judges 13:15)  to Boaz (Ruth 2:14) to Gaius (Rom. 16:23), with a few notable exceptions, such as Abigail’s husband, the harsh and unkind Nabal (1 Sam. 25:3). Women like Lydia (Acts 16:15) stand out as examples of women leading their families in this area.

And yet today in the church, we treat hospitality as though it’s largely the woman’s job–unless the man happens to love cooking. Perhaps part of this is because, unlike thousands of years ago, men today work outside the home; very few guys are on hand to slaughter fattened calves hours before a dinner party. But perhaps another part of it is be an unhealthy mix of unthinking abdication on the man’s part, and unthinking dominance on the woman’s.

Regardless of a husband’s working hours, cooking abilities, or social preferences, there are things that husbands can do to lead in showing hospitality. Continue reading

Stay-at-Home Martyr?

saint-at-homeHave you ever asked a married woman what she does only to get a wearied, saintly look and hear, “I’m a stay at home mom.” I know that I have given that answer, with that look on my face. With rising recognition that work in the home is legitimate and challenging, a too-common attitude has arisen among evangelical mothers: we have the hardest job in the world (especially if we home school). Good job we realize that it’s the most important job as well, or we’d drop dead of exhaustion.

But it just isn’t so. Don’t get me wrong–staying at home and caring for children is hard work! Continue reading

Home for the Holidays

porch lightsIf you are a university student, this is probably your first week of holiday bliss: your own room, real food, and your laundry magically cleans itself. One of my professors told the class in early December that we looked dreadfully grey; we were to go home, sleep a lot and eat our greens for two weeks solid. Good advice for any hard working student.

But while you’re eating your veggies before an early bedtime (or your whole wheat toast after waking up late), it might be good to remember a few things. Continue reading

Two Kinds of Grief at Christmas

laneRecently, I listened to a talk on Mary Winslow. She suffered much in her life, burying several children and losing her husband after she had sailed from England to America with her ten children. Those kinds of loses are deep, dark valleys. They come because we live in a Genesis 3 world – cursed because of original sin.

But as I thought about Mary Winslow and other past saints who suffered similar griefs from death and illness, I wondered if in our lives, our griefs often come in the form of consequences directly related to specific sins. Continue reading