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.

When Housework Gets The Best of You

houseworkNo one saw me do it. But yesterday, in my bedroom, I rolled up a pair of my husband’s khaki work pants, belt still in the belt loops, and chucked them against the wall.

I was angry.

Not at him. I was angry at all this housework.

It just kept coming.

At that moment, in my bedroom, I had already folded one basket of clothes, and two more baskets lay in a giant heap on our bed, waiting to be folded. (The socks are still in a basket up there right now, as we speak.)

But for some reason, yesterday, I felt like the housework was never-ending.

We had just gotten back from a trip, so there was a lot more laundry than usual.

But, have you ever had that feeling you are running around from room to room trying to pick everything up, and make it look clean–but somehow, even though you do this all day long–your house still looks messy?!

I was trying hard.

But I was losing it.

I cleaned the bathroom, I cleaned the kitchen, I picked up all the toys down-stairs, and ran them upstairs. Somehow, the toys kept coming back downstairs. (This happened about 5 times.) I made a good dinner for my family. I cleaned up from the dinner. I loaded and unloaded, and reloaded the dishwasher. And then there was the laundry–which by that point, I was chucking clothes at the wall…like a crazy person.

And I did it all with a big, stinky attitude, that cried, “Look at what I’m doing!” “Look at how much I’m serving you!”

Sometimes, housework gets the best me.

But this morning, in the quiet of the house, (my semi-clean, semi-messy) house, I felt the Spirit’s gentle prompting:

“If you can’t serve your husband, or your daughter, who are seen, how can you serve God, who is unseen?”

I quickly remembered throwing the pants at the wall. And my heart was pierced.

I turned to the Scripture that spoke about this. And read, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20

I want to know God’s will. I want to share the gospel. I want to do ministry for the Kingdom of God. I want to change my community. I want to do all these great things. But then the Spirit whispers,

“But what about this?

What about this very small thing?

For the ones who you do see? Right in front of you?”

I forget what a priviledge it is to even be physically able enough–to do a few household chores. To get to make my home a refuge and a safe place, for a husband that faces the world each day, and provides so much for me, and a fragile daughter who needs my love and protection.

Who needs me to clean the tub, and fold her freshly washed, Snuggle-scented little 3T-size shirts. And the crumbs swept off the kitchen floor. And clean sippy cups.

And a husband who needs my hands to make meals, vaccuum the carpets, and open the windows, and let some air in this place. And make the bed, so he can fall into it after a long day at work. And who also needs my arms open wide, ready to embrace him. To love him.

(And not throw his pants at the wall.)

I don’t need a housekeeper. Or a nanny. 

I need a new heart.

I need to exchange this heart of stone, for one of flesh. I need Christ to come lead me, come show me how to be tender, and kind, and willing to bend lower and lower still.

When I start feeling like, “Look at how much I am serving my family!” It’s usually because I’ve lost sight of how much my family serves me–all the time. I become blind to all the rich provisions and sacrifice my husband makes for me–daily and constantly–and without complaint. I forget how much joy and life and laughter my daughter brings to me. I forget what life would be like without her, or him in it.

Maybe my attitude needs to change from, “Look how much I am serving them!” To, “Look how much they are serving me!”

Because they are, all the time.

On our better days, my daughter and I play “Cinderella.” (Since we’re both obsessed with the new movie.) And she becomes my little helper with the chores. I call her “Gus Gus,” (like the mouse,) and she calls me, “Cinderellie.”

She stands on a stool next to the washer, and I hand her the dirty clothes, which she puts in, piece by piece. Sock by sock. (It takes awhile.) Then, I let her dump in the cups of detergent, and the creamy blue Snuggle. And with shaky hands, and huge smile, she does it. She’s so happy to get to do it. 

She’s so happy just to help me do something. 

And she begs me–to let her pull the warm dry clothes out of the dryer. And when I do, she looks at me and says, “Thanks Cinderellie!” Which I can’t help but smile at.

When I bring the baskets of clothes upstairs, and dump them on the living room floor. She runs and jumps in them like they are a big pile of leaves–and she laughs, rolling around in them. And I can’t help but laugh with her.

And I’m happy. Here. Doing just this simple thing.

With her. And for her.

She’s teaching me–what joy looks like.

She’s teaching me that serving someone can be fun.

Housekeeping doesn’t have to get the better of us.

It can instead, bring out the better in us. It can bring out Christ in us.

If we choose to let it.

 

It can bring out moments of joy, because your daughter is jumping in the clothes like a pile of leaves, and calling you “Cinderellie,” and giggling the whole time, like it’s the best place on earth. Because to her, it is the best place.

Or, you can do it all by yourself. With a bad attitude. You can run around from room to room and try to make it look like no one lives in your house. And you can chuck clothes at the wall. And think about how much you’re serving everyone. And forget how much they are serving you and loving you. All the time.

You can say about your chores, “I have to do this.”

Or, “I get to do this.”

If I can’t love and serve these ones here with me, who are seen, how can I love and serve God, who is unseen?

Don’t let housework get the best of you. Don’t let it steal your soul. Or your tenderness.

Be like Christ. Who joyfully lays Himself low, to serve and to love. And this laying low and  serving and loving–gives life to people.

 

Don’t let housework get the best of you.

But do let your family get the best of you. 

The part that laughs. That scoops up the crushed Cheerios off the carpet. That lets the kids jump into the pile of clothes. And who asks God for help when she feels she can’t give any more. And who asks God for help when she forgets how much she’s been given. 

And who asks God for help when she struggles to love and serve her family–who is seen.

For the God who is unseen, sees you. And loves you. 

And He sees it all. He is gracious, and kind, and tender. He pours out His love for you, He lays Himself low for you.

And no one can love, truly love, without Him leading the way.

And He will teach you to love the ones who are seen. As He shows you the love, of the One who is unseen.

“For we love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I pray you know His love. I pray I know it. Because without it–we have nothing. Just clanging gongs and cymbals. Just rolled up pants smacking against the wall. But with it–with His love–we have the power to give life in our homes, to move mountains, to part seas, and to make a way–for God to come through. In our living rooms, and kitchens, and bedrooms.

For the One who is unseen, can be quietly seen, in us.

When we 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!