This week we continue our Women Living Well series with a focus on finding joy in your home.
The cookie jar is empty.
The laundry, piled six loads high on the dryer and the boys won’t sit through homeschool. I didn’t sleep well last night and I haven’t had my coffee and all I can think about is needing to make those cookies. Because what kind of mother doesn’t have cookies in her cookie jar?
I am constantly failing Pinterest’s Martha Stewart standards. I don’t have a chalkboard with tonight’s menu on it — goodness, I don’t even have meat thawing, and it’s day-old Chinese for lunch. Again.
I’m rushing the boys, yelling, taking my pent-up mother-guilt on them, forgetting, as Courtney Joseph tells me in her beautiful book, Women Living Well, that home is not a casserole or color-coded towels or clean toilets.
Home is mommy’s arms, is Daddy wrestling with his sons on the floor, is a stack of board books piled precarious on the coffee table because your two-year-old is addicted to building towers.
“God does not base your worthiness of His love on the cleanliness of your home,” Joseph writes. “But I want to encourage you, do not grow weary in your mundane tasks. Mundane tasks are the hidden treasure to creating a home that is a haven.”
In the pages of her bestselling book, Joseph gives me a hug, tells me I can breathe—that first of all, it’s good to be a stay-at-home mom, and second of all, I don’t have to be a great housewife in order to make a home. It’s not about my casseroles or my manicured lawns, says Joseph; it’s about my state of heart, and unless I am filled with peace and joy, my home will feel distant and cold.
“The woman of the home is content,” Joseph writes. “She knows that no home, husband, child, church or neighborhood is perfect. So she chooses to be content with what God has given her for today.”
Home is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and pulling your boys to you with tears in your eyes and begging them to forgive you for getting stressed out over an empty cookie jar.
Because your life is beautifully full.
And you sit there for a while, a tangle of arms and hearts.
It’s taken me 33 years to find this place with the broken doorbell and the dirty door mat. I traveled the globe searching for it. Because we’re all, deep down, searching for our Father’s house—our eternal dwelling.
Home is a place for the broken to break bread. And in my traveling I learned the comfort of a cooked meal, of a welcome mat at the door, of family’s open arms, and when my Mum got sick with brain cancer I returned to take care of her and found God at her bedside. In the eyes of a woman who homeschooled me, who baked bread every week, who made home for me.
My life is not Pinnable. It’s messy, with peanut-butter fingerprints and toy cars and runny noses. And you know what? To me, it’s perfect.
As Joseph writes, “Being a devoted homemaker is hard work. The daily grind … (is) exhausting. God sees you. He knows your babies are sick today, your dryer broke, or your husband just lost his job. Do not be discouraged and downcast… Your work is significant!”
Because in the end, it’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the newly-released memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.