Don’t Forget To Add Love

I have a confession. My husband makes better chocolate chip cookies than I do. “It’s the dough,” he tells me. My cookie dough is always over worked, and my cookies are flat as pancakes. “You shouldn’t use that “thing,” he says. By that “thing,” he means my Kitchen Aid mixer. He calls it the “machine.” And gives me a look when I turn it on.

He turns it off.

“Cookies need love,” he tells me. “You need to get your hands in the dough.” He takes the metal bowl from the mixer, and takes an old-school wooden spoon and mixes the dough. “It’s too hard for me to mix that way,” I tell him. He looks up with his green eyes, sets the spoon down, puts his bare hands into the dough to make sure it’s mixed well. But not over worked.

He pops some into his mouth, “Perfect,” he says with a smile.

I sit at the counter and watch, like a student.

“See Bekah,” he says, “You need to add love,” he tells me. I push my Pampered Chef cookie dough scooper across the counter towards him. He purposefully ignores it. Instead, he takes two metal spoons from the drawer. “Why don’t you just use my scooper?” I ask. He gives me a look, shakes his head. Continues gently scooping with his two metal spoons. Until each one is carefully set on the tray.

And somehow, eight minutes later…his cookies turn out perfect. Every time.

“It’s because I add love,” he tells me. I can’t help but laugh. “Okay,” I say.

But I’ve been thinking about my husband’s cookies lately. I think about them when I’m making chili, adding in the spices, or cutting the tops off the strawberries. I think about them when I’m making the cookie dough. I hear his tender voice in my mind, “Don’t forget to add love.”

So, I do. I shut off the “machine” mode my mind automatically kicks into. And I add love. It’s those moments I stir just a little softer. I put my hands in the dough. I remember who I’m cutting the strawberries for. My daughter who squeals with delight like it’s Christmas morning when I hand her a bowl of them. My husband who will enjoy this dinner tonight, and needs a wife who will laugh across the table from him–and not frown, because she’s so busy doing all the “things.” And I think of my own mama body, that needs this food, these nutrients–to make milk for my baby boy, and energy, to care for this family, and myself–with joy.  And to do these things, finding pleasure in them. Because there is this secret, hidden pleasure you feel…when you add love.

And there’s a lump in my throat. Because I know he’s right.

You need to add love. It makes it taste better. 

It’s so easy to do it. To get caught in the routine, in the machine.

And sometimes you just get lost in it. The hustle. Like the dough whirling around in the Kitchen Aid mixer, beating hard against it’s metal sides. Because there’s always meals to plan, and food to buy, and cook, and clean off plates, and clothes, that need washed. Going round and round and round–in the machine. Like a carousel you can’t jump off of.

And sometimes you need a strong hand to reach over, and shut the machine off. And remind you to set all your gadgets down. And stick your bare hands in the dough. And…

Remember to add love. 

When you are cutting up the apples, and cheese, and turkey for lunch,

don’t forget to add love. 

When you are cooking dinner, and stirring the sauce, adding the spices,

don’t forget to add love. 

When you are filling the washer with dirty clothes, and pouring in the detergent and softener,

 don’t forget to add love. 

It’s the smallest thing, and yet the biggest thing. It is the most subtle and the most powerful thing you can do. And it somehow changes the world–their world, and yours.

And maybe that’s why God reminded us to “love” in 1 Corinthians 13…because He knew we’d forget. And He said…it’s not about how “spiritual” you are, it’s not about how much you can “accomplish,” or “do,” it’s not even about how much of your “self” you can give away–to your home, to your kids, or to other people. It’s about doing it with love.

“Love is patient and kind…it is not irritable or resentful…Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things…”

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

It’s a small thing. But it’s the biggest thing.

The smile, the gentle touch, the laugh at their joke.

The way you stroke their hair.

They won’t ask for it,

But they will taste it when it’s there.

And so will you.

So roll your sleeves up, mama. Stick your bare hands in the dough. Let the flour fly like confetti. Sweep it up with a smile. Because this is your life, and theirs.

And it all tastes so much better when you,

remember to add love.

What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?

homemaking

Do you ever feel angry while doing the dishes? Maybe you bang and clang the pots and pans around extra loud after dinner as you’re filling the sink, or slam the kitchen cupboards a little extra hard? Maybe as the family relaxes after dinner you want to shout, rather sarcastically, “Don’t worry about me! I’ll be right here! In the kitchen! Cleaning up the dinner I just made you! Hope you’re all having LOTS of fun out there!!!” 

This was me last summer. (Not that I don’t still struggle..I do.) But it felt like all of my dreams, passions, and desires were constantly budding heads with one thing…housework, chores, and cooking. And they never ended.

I just couldn’t see the purpose in homemaking. I couldn’t find the joy in it. I didn’t even know how.

***

“I hate cooking,” I remember telling my mom when she came up for a visit last summer.  “But you’re a great cook!” she said. “Well, I still hate it.”

Somehow, about a month after that conversation, “Taste of Home Magazine,” began mysteriously appearing in my mailbox. (Thanks, Mom.)

I realized a couple of things last summer. One of them was that I really loved to write. The other, was that I really hated to cook, (and pretty much do all household chores.) I went through this phase where I walked around saying, “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.”

It felt good to admit that. I was sick of pretending to like something I didn’t like at all. And part of me felt like I was discovering “myself”–what I was really passionate about, and what I was made to do. But as I felt more passionate about what I “loved,” I began to feel more contempt for what I hated. (Chores, cleaning, cooking, etc.)

Needless to say, that summer my homemaking skills really languished. The laundry piled up. The bathtub changed colors. And we ate lots of frozen pizza. So much that I started buying the big value 3-packs. (Sorry, Mom.)

I was stuck.

I knew I should care more about homemaking, and cooking, and cleaning. But I just didn’t.

Have you ever been in this place—where you just hate “homemaking?” Where you just feel like you were made for something more…than dishes, and laundry, and casseroles? And it all feels a lot more like a big burden, than a blessing?

What I didn’t understand that summer, but would learn later that year, was that there was a bigger purpose in homemaking that I couldn’t see yet.

It had to do with loving my husband and daughter. It had to do with “laying my life down” and “considering others better than myself.” It had to do with engaging with God in all things (not just in writing, but while I did the dishes, too.) It had to do with serving a larger goal than what my eyes could see in the pile of laundry, or the sticky kitchen floor. But what was it? This question kept coming back to me, and still does many days:

“What is the goal of homemaking? What is the purpose in it? Why do we do it?”

I desperately needed to see it with new eyes. I needed to see the purpose in it. Because, as a free-spirit, when I don’t see the meaning in something I’m doing, I struggle to do it with the right heart. (Or to do it at all.)

Perhaps you are in a place like I was, and you really don’t see the purpose in “housework.” If so, I encourage you to be very honest and bring those burdens to the Lord. Because God doesn’t want you to show Him the pretend you, He wants you to show Him the real you. Because when you are honest with Him about what you love, what you hate, your dreams, your passions, your heart cries–He hears you. And He can speak directly into your heart, to give you the vision for what He loves, what He hates, what His dreams, and passions, and heart cries are. And those are something worth living for.

Here Is The Purpose Of Homemaking

thriving

I asked my friend Rachel from Thriving Home to help answer a few questions for us about the “heart” behind homemaking for us. (She will be sharing more of the “how” in a later post.) But I think if you explore her and Polly’s beautiful Thriving Home Blog, (where I learned how to make freezer meals) you will want to pick her brain a little yourself. But here are a few of Rachel’s insights that helped me see “the bigger picture,” and the purpose behind it all.

Q: Rachel, what makes a “thriving” home? And what is the “goal” of homemaking?

A: First and foremost, a thriving home starts with making a relationship with God the center of the home. And from this relationship will flow thriving relationships within our home—marriage, parent-child, and sibling relationships. We see this principle in the Greatest Commandment that Jesus taught in Matthew 27:37-39: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches us, just as the Old Testament laws and prophets did (vs. 40), the principle of the greater to the lesser. If we love God, it only makes sense that our love will also flow to those God created and put into our lives.
So, are you and your husband making time to go to church, read your Bible and pray, and teach your children about the gospel? Are you trying to live out your faith authentically (yet imperfectly) in front of your children, friends and neighbors? Relationship with God and our family (whoever that is for you) are the cornerstones of a thriving home.

But relationships in a home without some order and work around the house do suffer. That’s where homemaking skills like organizing, cleaning, cooking, decorating, etc. come in. The purpose of homemaking is to serve and enhance the relationships in the home. This is a really important concept to “get,” so let’s flesh out this idea for a moment:

When I have a dinner plan in advance, I can start on it in the morning and/or avoid a last minute trip to the store…and I have more relational time with my kids after school.

When our home is relatively clean, organized, and decorated…my husband feels more relaxed at home and we are more likely to want to invite friends and family over.

When dinner is around the table most nights…we put our phones away, pray together and talk to one another (in a sometimes kid-chaotic way that is).

You get the idea, right? Organization, cleanliness, and eating well aren’t the ultimate goal. But, they do serve the ultimate goal of building close, lasting relationships that honor God.

Q: What hope would give to the women who feels her home is chaotic?

A: One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that NO ONE has it all together at home. Homemaking is a messy process because we live in a messy, broken world. A perfect home is just not possible, nor is it healthy to strive for one. Because, being perfect is not the point and it’s not what God asks of us. Instead, the goal of homemaking is to ultimately glorify God and bless your family and others. And that will look different for all of us, depending on our specific skills set, family needs, and values.

Q: How does your role as a homemaker honor God? How do you feel you are showing love to your family through making your home thrive?

A: Abraham Kuyper, a famous Dutch theologian, aptly said, “There is not one square inch in the entire creation about which Jesus does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’” Jesus generously gives us our homes, our relationships, and this work at home. There is no job that is beneath him or that he doesn’t care about. All of creation is from him, through him, and for him (Romans 11:36). So every time we move a laundry load along again or we swish a toilet again or we work at spending our money wisely or we take extra time making our child’s favorite breakfast, we are being good stewards of what He has given us. We are bringing Him glory and loving our families well.


I love Rachel’s answer on this, and I’m adopting it as my own. The bottom line is:

The ultimate goal is not “order, healthy meals, and cleanliness.” Those things serve the ultimate goal: which is to love and worship God, and to build close God-honoring relationships with each other.

It’s not about loving your “house” more. (If that’s the case, your house can turn into an idol real quick.) It’s about loving your family and cherishing those relationships more, and creating an environment where they can thrive.

As Rachel said, when there is some order in the home, dinner is on the table, we naturally engage with each other more. And want to invite friends over more. Perhaps we may even feel more inclined to sit down with a cup of coffee and read our Bibles, or write or, worship.

I still have days where I bang the dishes around and slam the cupboard doors. But when I do, it’s usually because I’m forgetting the ultimate goal. And the goal is God. I want to love Him, and know His love. And I want to show His love my husband and daughter. I want to create an atmosphere where He can be glorified, engaged with, and worshiped.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phillipians 2:3-4

Questions:

Where are you at with homemaking currently? Do you enjoy it? Hate it? Is it easy or hard to see the purpose (or “ultimate goal”) in it? Feel free to share in the comment section!


Learn more about the “heart” and the “how” behind homemaking by following this September series “The Free-Spirit Homemaker: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul.”  Go to Barren to Beautiful’s Facebook page and “like” it in order to have new posts pop up right in your newsfeed! Or enter your email address on my blog and have posts delivered straight to your inbox!