The Undomesticated Housewife

I have been a housewife/domestic engineer/stay-at-home-mom for over ten years, and I cherish and appreciate the blessing of being able to be with my kids full time. I know not everyone has the opportunity to do it, and not everyone wants to. As for me, I will always be grateful for these years spent with my children as they grew from newborns to toddlers and toddlers to school agers. But…

Let’s be real: I hate cleaning my house.

While I am at it, here are some more confessions: If my kids want to stay in their pajamas all day, I entertain the notion far too often, and sometimes even join them. I almost always have clean laundry in my room or sitting on my couch, and I use it as validation for Netflix binging—I rarely even attempt folding unless I can combine the two. One more: It is a dream of mine that once the kids are in school I will go back to work just so I can hire someone else to clean my house. I still haven’t quite convinced my husband of how fantastic an idea this is, but I am working on it.

I love to have friends in my home, but preparing to receive them is the furthest thing from my list of joys. I know the popular things these days is not to worry about the mess, and don’t apologize for it. But the truth is, I am not apologizing because I am afraid it isn’t good enough, or because I won’t meet some unknown standard. I apologize because I honestly could have done a little (or… a lot) better, but I chose to do something else instead. It might have been important, and it might mean I was reading a really good chapter in whatever book I am currently reading. Please accept my heartfelt apology for inviting you into my squalor; but hey, I’m glad you’re here.

The longer I am at home, the more I have to search for the why of homemaking. Is it important? Absolutely. Is there worth in it? Definitely. Do I love walking into other people’s beautiful homes? LOVE IT. Do I want to have the same? Sort of…well, yes, yes I do. But many of the reasons still escape me. One does not. This is how I serve my people and my God.

Scripture says:

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. -Proverbs 14:1 (This can be applied to attitude as well, but we should also actually care for the homes we have been given)

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.-Proverbs 31:27 (My paraphrase: She pays attention to the hearts and welfare of those around her, puts down her phone, and chooses not to tell Netflix she is still watching.)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.- Titus 2:3-5(That one, I’m just gonna leave right there.)

I have advantageously learned to weave through loopholes and manufacture justification for why I can get away with my favorite indulgences. However, carefully crafting my own demise slowly strips away what I truly care about. I have told myself the cluttered corner means little looking through the lens of eternity, but caring for, loving well, and providing a place of rest for my family means more than I realize.

The home can be a dark and troubling place as well. What happens in a household can make bitterness take root, it can be where unspeakable abuses are inflicted, and it may act as an anxiety breeding ground when people strive after unrealistic dreams of perfection. The nightly news tells us quaint neighborhood dwellings can also become the crime scene, the drug den, or the house of hidden terrors.

By the grace of God, I will build my house, fight for justice within my walls, and model sacrificial love. So there will be prayers prayed, truths taught, and the gospel preached. If it also means bending down to wash little feet, slay allergy-inducing dust bunnies, and aggressively cleansing dried food off an infinite cascade of dishes. So be it. May the Lord arm us for whatever battle lays ahead of us this day, and may His mercies meet us in the morning. Time to go, I’ve got work to do.
~~~
Readers,
We know not everyone has this struggle, but we are sure you have your own places that scripture convicts and reminds that there is a better way to love. How will you choose to show love to those closest to you today?

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Hope for Gardening

I sat, kneeled, and squatted until my muscles ached and burned from fatigue. My nails, even when covered with gloves, became encrusted with earth. The sun beat on my back. Sweat trickled down my neck. I, the greenthumb’s daughter, was gardening for the second weekend in a row. Let’s be real: I never voluntarily garden.

What overcame and motivated me the previous Saturday remains a mystery. As I labored through the repetition of digging, shaking off excess dirt, and throwing weeds into the wheelbarrow, I began to slowly enjoy the process. I started at one end of the raised bed, infested with weeds, and painstakingly worked my way to the other end.

The first weekend I spent close to 4 hours weeding—figuring out what process worked the most efficiently and fastest. It was arduous work. About two hours into the job, I hit a groove. I began to see the clearing of the pesky growth. It motivated me further. I didn’t seem to care how long it was going to take me to clear the whole bed, by golly, I was going to do it. And at last, after 4 hours, I finished. The bed was cleared of that which hindered true growth.

The following weekend, I again engaged the task and tackled the second raised bed. This time the process came with ease. To my surprise, I was gardening, and I liked it.

When I visited my beautifully cleared beds this past weekend, God whispered into my heart and reminded me of the passage of Scripture in Matthew 13:3-8 that shares about sowing.

 

A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The ground in my family’s garden had been choked up. It took a gardener’s concerned and dutiful hands to clean up the mess and produce good soil. After tending to the beds, the apple trees began to blossom. They had desperately needed help in order to bloom and flourish.

God, much like a gardener, tends to the mess choking our hearts. He lovingly and painstakingly will weed away the sin, even the sin that is deeply rooted. He will continually do so each and every time we come to Him and ask. No questions asked. He meets us with His spirit and gets to work pulling out the sin and junk that hinders us. He cleanses the deep rooted lies, beliefs, and sins so that we may display His beauty. We stand eyes fixed upon Him and we thrive. Instead of being drained by entangling sin, life begins to flow in us, and from us as we serve Him and His people.

Let’s be real: We need to come to God with our messy hearts and rubbish. He is the one who can do the work of cleaning up our lives. Will we be willing to let Him take His time in doing so?

Readers, What might God be trying to remove from your life right now, so that you may grow?

Sarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.

Donuts and Leaky Ceilings

Let’s be real: In the kingdom of God there are no second class citizens, but is that actually the mindset you and I live from week in and week out?

One way God taught me about the equality of His kingdom was through a series of events I couldn’t have orchestrated. Picture this,  a group of teenagers in matching puke orange shirts pull up in a 15 passenger van. We’ve traveled 4 hours and slept on floors for days. Our mission:  Help out at the homeless shelter by serving lunch and talking to the chronically homeless men. As a 16 year old who honestly wouldn’t know where to find drugs if I tried, I sat down and started an awkward conversation.  I don’t remember much, if we prayed for anyone, gave out Bibles, or felt we were “Effective” that day.  I do remember the giant man who was a participant in their recovery program at the time.  We washed dishes and chatted together.  When he found out that the country hicks in the pumpkin t-shirts hadn’t ever tried Krispy Kreme Donuts he showed us how to microwave the donated day-old delicacies until they were perfectly melted.  He didn’t care that we really had nothing in common, or that we would have never crossed paths, except for Jesus.  Our Savior was all we had in common.

Fast forward ten plus years.  I’m a Bible school graduate, who has mostly worked at churches, and took a job working at a local homeless shelter helping women get their GED.  A few weeks in the ceiling in my work space was leaking ; when the towering maintenance worker walked in I realized it was the same man I had met years earlier.  While our lives had been incredibly different, we were now on the same team with the same purpose.  All of our differences paled in comparison to the common goal.

Diversity is one of the things I’ve come to prize among followers of Christ.  Every  Tribe. Every Nation. Every Tongue.  And may I add, Every Background.  There is no place, choice, or story that is too far for God to make new.  I know Christians who have lived through horrible things and made destructive choices.  Jesus saved them and changed them.  It’s usually pretty dramatic.  I know Christians who lived a boring, but self-righteous life.  Jesus saved them, too.  This is what God’s people look like. Unity doesn’t mean we’re the same, it usually means the different together working for the same purpose.

But, on the first day, it’s awkward.  You may meet someone at church who is incredibly different from you.  Perhaps the  group that  always gets together struggles to be inclusive. Maybe, inviting in opinions different than your own pops your comfort bubble. But what if instead of fear we sought out those God has sought already.  I wonder what it would be like if we looked at our communities as made for diversity.  Why don’t we look for who is being left on the sidelines?  Will we seek out who needs to be welcomed? Let’s ask in our churches, neighborhoods, and communities, “Is there an age range, race, or stage of life that has been excluded?” Then let’s draw them in, and see how beautifully God enriches the lives of us all. God didn’t leave me out, I’m not about to pretend I have the right to decide who is “in”.

~~~
Readers, What do you think are the biggest challenges to being welcoming and hospitable to those different than you, and how do you overcome them?


ff717-holly2bsquareYou can find more from Holly at her blog Called to Restore, and see all her posts on Anchored Voices under the tag Holly.

Hope After the Psych Ward

Author: Sarah L. Sanderson

A few hours after my discharge from the psychiatric ward of our local hospital, I walked over to my daughter’s elementary school to pick her up from first grade. It was the end of October, and the trees bore fewer leaves than when I’d last seen them, four days before. As the leaves crunched under my feet, I anticipated my little girl’s excitement when she saw me, for she did not yet know I’d come home. But then I came around the corner onto the playground and remembered that my daughter would not be the first person I would encounter here.

The smiles of the two other mothers pulled me towards them before I thought better of it. “Sarah!” they exclaimed. “How are you?”

“I’m doing better now,” I replied thoughtlessly. “I was just let out of the psych ward this morning.”

I watched their faces contort with confusion and horror, and I realized too late the ridiculous awkwardness of what I’d just said.

“I… I mean… I was… diagnosed with postpartum depression,” I lied. Suddenly the truth seemed utterly unfit for public consumption. “But they gave me medication, so I’m doing better now,” I sputtered.

“How awful!” One friend finally found her words. “But… I thought antidepressants took a long time to take effect?”

Did they? I didn’t know that. I felt no choice but to edge back toward the truth. “Oh … well… I’m not actually on antidepressants. They gave me… anti-psychotics?”

The other woman erupted into nervous giggles. “Anti-psychotics! You don’t mean you were delusional?”

She stared at me with derision. I stared back, shocked into silence. How was I to explain what had just happened to me when I didn’t understand it myself?

I get her laughter, now. I know that mental illness is the accepted butt of many a cultural joke. We laugh at what we fear. But the sad truth is that I was silenced by that other mother’s laughter for a long time. It would be months, after that encounter, before I could speak my truth honestly to anyone outside my closest circle.

We do not all face mental illness, but we all know brokenness. Your brokenness may be chronic illness or addiction or marital difficulty or financial struggle or something else altogether, but I know it’s there.

Jesus knows something about brokenness, too. And He who was broken to the utmost for our sakes tells us that we too must “take up our cross.” Does He mean that we need to heap more suffering onto our already broken lives? I don’t think so. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross, I wonder if he’s really just telling us to own the brokenness that’s already present in our stories. Take it up. Own it. Be real.

The story of how I let go of my fear of sharing what really happened to me in October 2011 is bigger than this space will allow. In a nutshell, it boils down to this: Perfect Love casts out fear. The perfect love of Jesus allowed me to let go of my defenses and share my real story with the world.

After all, this is the particular brokenness God has seen fit to allow me to carry. I can’t hide it any longer, so I am speaking the truth: I was hospitalized for postpartum psychosis. Now I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. You don’t need to laugh. You don’t need to be afraid. Let’s just be real.

Will you join me in taking up your cross? Can we be honest together about our own private battles? Can we show our scars to the world? It is difficult, yes; but oh, so liberating. Only when we share our truth can we draw strength and courage from one another’s stories.

~~~

Readers, What do you need to be real about today?

Sarah Sanderson is currently working on a memoir about God’s presence throughout her psychiatric hospitalization and subsequent healing journey. She is in the process of transitioning from a blog, confessionsofahumanmom.blogspot.com, to a personal website,www.sarahlsanderson.com. Sarah lives in the Portland, Oregon area with her husband and four children.