Proverbs 9:1-2 – Carving the Weekly Pillars

“Wisdom has built herself a house; she has carved her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1-2).

When my children were young, I read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  One of the books describes Ma’s weekly activities.  She would wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, churn on Thursday, clean on Friday, bake on Saturday, rest on Sunday.  As a child, I remember my mom also outlined her week with washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, shopping on Wednesday, cleaning bedrooms on Thursday, cleaning the main part of the house on Friday, baking on Saturday, and resting on Sunday.

As I considered these two women, Ma Ingalls and my own mother, I saw that they had created a pattern for accomplishing their work and then resting.  In their own way, they had “carved out their seven pillars.”  Although both of these women rested on Sunday and not the seventh-day Sabbath as commanded, it was an illustration for me to begin to carve out my own seven pillars.

 The Crown of a Home is Godliness

“Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should …. They should teach what is good, thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands.  In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace” (Titus 2:3-5).

Along with honoring our husbands and teaching our children to be self-controlled, “to take good care of their homes” is part of a young woman’s way of keeping God’s name from being blasphemed; the Word of God from being maligned.   A keeper of the home keeps the home neat, orderly, clean.  It is one of the foundations of a godly home.

To be a ‘keeper of the home’ means the ‘home’ becomes the center of the woman’s world.  Friends are wonderful assets to our lives, but after God created Adam and Eve, He didn’t give them friends; He gave them children.  Too often outside activities  become the focus of un-family life and then the family and the home become lost in the activities and turmoil and an unkempt home becomes the norm.  This is seen in our modern-day culture with everything from school to sports to church activities taking the place of the family focus, table fellowship and the Tabernacle of the home where the father is the ‘priest.’

The Life of a Home is Contentment

My most important daily goal was to have all of the chores for the day completed before my husband came home from work.  Family time in the evening was important for eating together, sharing about the day’s events, reading books out loud, and preparing our children for bed.   There would be no cleaning, shopping, schooling, extra-curricular activities after 4:30 p.m. in order that we could spend quality family time together with daddy.

We had no television, but when we did, we only watched pre-chosen shows by my husband or I.  As the age of technology advanced, our children had one hour of computer time each day – one hour.  They did not have cell phones until they were driving and had jobs as we lived far away from any town and we felt they needed to be able to get in touch with us if something happened.   We never used technology or television to be a ‘babysitter.’

With small children at home and home schooling, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to accomplish a lot in one day.  I decided to break down the weekly goals into daily activities that I, along with my children, could do every day as part of their training in the home.  By the end of the week, we could look back with contentment and  see that we had completed another weekly cycle that concluded with the well-deserved finale of rest.

I once saw a painting that had four descriptions to a home’s beauty, joy, dignity, and hospitality.  I have used these characteristics to describe by 6-days of work until the Sabbath.

The Beauty of a Home is Orderliness

One of my Mom’s quaint sayings came from Matthew 6:34,  “Don’t worry about tomorrow – tomorrow will worry about itself! Today has enough trouble already!”   She always made sure the house was ‘in order’ before she went to bed so she didn’t have to deal with today’s messes tomorrow.  I have followed her example and taught my children a similar viewpoint.  Every day all toys were cleaned up before lunch, before  afternoon quiet/nap time, before dinner and before bed.  Bedrooms were neat and tidy and all dirty clothes were put in baskets before climbing in between those cozy sheets and snoozing off to sleep,

My children were trained from a young age to clean up after themselves.  I read a book, To Train Up A Child, by Michael and Debby Pearl and they postulated that if a child could get something out, they were quite capable of putting it away.  It works for a child of any age.  Even a baby who can only sit and dump something out of a bucket can put it back in.  You turn the bucket over and show them how to pick up the objects and drop them in the bucket.    It becomes a game.  I tried it; it was true.  From that day forward there were no excuses for not putting something away; I never had a ‘trashed out’ toy room, living room, family room, or child’s bedroom.

I have been blessed with a dishwasher and my children were trained to clear their dishes from the table and put them into it.   If I had not had a dishwasher, they would have been trained to wash their dishes and put them in the drainer.  Too short to reach the sink?  Stools and ladders are great inventions.   There is no reason for dirty dishes stacked to the ceiling, an unkempt kitchen or dining room table, except a lack of child training.

Children will rise to the standard you set and they are more than willing to help so that they feel part of the family.   Too often I’ve visited homes with small children only to  hear the mother apologize for the condition of her home.  Hearing those words always grieved my heart because as a woman of God, she is called to be the ‘keeper’ not the ‘excuse maker.’  She is also called to teach and train her children and excuses are nothing more than abdicating her responsibility and handicapping her children for life.

I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania near the Amish country.  Our family had Amish friends with numerous children.  I have never visited an Amish home where there was a mess that needed to be explained away.  Amish mothers trained their dozen or more children to be neat and orderly and to help take care of the home – inside and out.   Everyone had chores and everyone did their chores even if it was little Miss three-year-old shaking the front door rug every morning.

Textbooks were also put away after we finished school every day.  I have heard people say ‘well, home is where they’re learning’.  This is true of home education, but also part of that learning is ‘cleaning up’.  When I make dinner, I do not leave a mess for someone else to clean up.  When I sew, I do not leave all my pins and scraps of fabric laying around.  If I’m painting, I wash my brushes and put my paint away.   I don’t leave messes on the counters or floors or furniture just because it’s my home and I can.  Because it IS my home, there is order before I head off to my cozy sheets, too.

One of my favorite verses for encouraging my children in orderliness has been “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).  As I look at creation, everything is in order.  We are created in God’s image and we can choose order or disorder.  We can choose to live in chaos and malign the Word of God or glorify Him through a lifestyle of orderliness.

The Joy of a Home is Dignity

Because there can be a tendency in home schooling to allow children to just ‘hang out’ all day in their pajamas,  I always made it a point to have them dressed nicely, have their hair combed and faces washed to be ready for the day.    This taught them to have self-respect and gave them joyful smiles and light in their eyes.

My children woke up, dressed and made their beds before ever leaving their rooms.  In this way, there was no need to go back to their bedrooms.  They would eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and begin their morning chores: emptying the dishwasher, feeding cats, dogs, horses, fish, shaking rugs, or gathering their laundry.   This started a routine that now, as adults, they are disciplined and faithful to their jobs and employers as well as having the ability to maintain orderly homes.  Each of them, have at one time or another, thanked me for teaching them to clean because they have lived with roommates who have had no clue, no training.

I never allowed my children to choose their own outfits until they were an appropriate age.    My reason was not to stifle their creativity; art class, playing outside in dress ups or making roads in dirt was their creative expression.  I wanted my children to have dignity in public (and private) and look like they had a mother!   This meant clothes matched, clothes were clean and were just clothes in general.

My children were not allowed to take their clothing off and run around naked.  It didn’t matter if it was the sweltering heat of summer.    My children never removed their clothes except to take baths or change into sleepwear.  I knew people who thought it was just fine to allow their children to express themselves in this manner – even removing dirty diapers wherever they happened to be at that moment in time.

For one family who rationalized this type of behavior,  clothing removal and naked children went well until they went to the movie theater.  During the film, two of the children removed their clothing and ran up and down the aisle naked.   The father was completely mortified and should have been.   Adults don’t run around naked; children should not either.  It is our responsibility as parents, especially mothers,  to train our children to live in the world in a dignified manner teaching them to honor their own bodies as the ‘tent of the Holy Spirit’.

The Blessing of a Home is Rest

As our family began growing spiritually and we learned about the Biblical Sabbath and the reason for this holy day, my lifestyle and seven pillars were carved around preparing for the Sabbath day.   It was important that all my weekly work was completed in order to enter into the same rest as my Father.

“So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God’s people.  For the one who has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his.  Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-10).

My Daily Pillars

Pillar One. The first day of the week, Sunday, became my day to organize the  upcoming week’s homeschooling activities.  I would make copies of lessons that I needed, prepare tests, collect supplies for science experiments or art projects.   I would update all of my records for each of my children to keep them current with state requirements.  I would make sure I was ready to enter the week of school prepared so there would not be  a lot of confusion and stress because I was not ready.

As the Scriptures indicate, money was dealt with on the first day of the week. I designated that Sunday would be the time, at my husband’s request, to budget our finances: give to ministries and pay bills.

Sometimes,  no matter how prepared, the schedule or plan would change and I had to learn to go with the flow.  Sickness, a sudden revelation during Bible study that became an all-day teaching time, hubby needing me to attend to something he could not, a surprise visit or phone call, or just realizing we all needed a sunshine or snow day, could change daily plans into a new and different direction.  Most times, I came to see that the LORD had a plan that wasn’t mine and His was so much better.  Still, there was a plan, and had I not followed it most of the time, I would never have ‘kept my home’, nor would I have educated children.

Pillar Two.  As with both Ma and my mom, Monday became wash day.  From the time my children were young, they helped with their own laundry.  First, they each had their own personal laundry basket and were taught how to throw their clothes in it.  They started by watching Mommy do it when I undressed them and then Mommy had them do it.  For my son, I made a basketball hoop over his laundry basket to make it fun.  Dirty clothes strewn around their bedrooms never occurred in my home and socks, for some strange reason, always had partners.

Sorting clothes for a toddler is a great way to teach colors and organization.  Even folding clothes for a toddler can become an hour long (or more) busy activity.  As my children got older, they were responsible for learning how to use the washing machine, the dryer, folding their own clothes and putting them away.

My oldest son remembers using a little ladder to climb up to the washing machine to remove his clothes.  He would lay across the top of the dryer and reach into the washing machine for his clothes.  He would throw them in a basket on the floor and then climb down.  He would open the dryer and then throw the clothes in the dryer and climb back up the ladder to turn on the dryer.  The best part was that he taught his little sister the system too!    When I had older and younger children, they were paired together: one older with one younger, and they helped each another do their laundry.  (Side note: My children never played in the dryer.  It is an appliance. Just as I would not let them play in the washer, the oven or dishwasher.  The dryer and the life-threatening hazards it presents made it off limits!)

I had a friend with eight children who told me that laundry was the biggest headache in her life.  I suggested she pair an older child with a younger child and give each pair a day in the week for doing their laundry together.  After about two months, she called me and said that her home had been revolutionized.  There were no more mountains of laundry and everyone was learning how to take care of their own clothes. She also saw special relationships building between siblings.

Pillar Three.  I do not iron.  So, Tuesday is NOT ironing day for me.  For those who like to iron, Tuesday is a GREAT day to iron.   When I had babies, Tuesday was another laundry day – diapers.

Because I mill my own grains, Tuesday was also the day for filling up canisters of grain, flour, and maybe even baking cookies.  It became my  kitchen organization, clean up day.  It was also the day that I planned meals and made my two-week grocery lists so I would be ready for “Pillar Four.”

Pillar Four.  Wednesday was my grocery shopping day.  Since I have been married, I have lived a minimum of 30 minutes from any town where I could just run to grab a gallon of milk or a head of lettuce.  Thus, planning has always been an important part of grocery shopping.   My mother made lists for two weeks at a time and so I followed her example.  I made meal lists for two weeks and developed my grocery lists for everything I needed including toiletries and other home/children necessities.   Once I had a computer, budgeting for food and non-food items became simple.  I made a database with everything that I bought in each different store in the order it was in the store.  Every item had a price and after sorting lists, I also had a ‘grand total’ of what I was going to spend.

As our family learned more and more about healthy eating, I felt many times like the Proverbs woman who “is like those merchant vessels, bringing her food from far away” (Proverbs 31:14).  From joining co-ops to shopping at different store warehouses for different products, or traveling to an egg, chicken or grain farm, my shopping took a full day to accomplish.  Living outside and away from big cities, I also learned how to set aside time and money to shop when those opportunities arrived and we were in a big city for a day or two.

As I was home educating my children, they would go with me to the grocery store or wherever I needed to go.  They went to dairy farms, chicken farms and produce farms.   I don’t remember ever leaving any child at home when I shopped or picked up orders.   Though I can say that it wasn’t always easy, my children learned shopping etiquette and manners through all sorts of experiences. In the grocery store, they learned to hold onto the cart so they wouldn’t get separated from me.  They learned self-control; they were not allowed to ask for anything that was not on my list – most especially the items that were on shelves at their eye level for the very purpose of challenging weak-willed parents.    As they grew older and could read, I would break some of my lists in parts and allow them to shop along with me.  Eventually, in their young adult years, they would go off and do half of my shopping.  As adults, they are frugal shoppers and know how to buy the best and healthiest food for their money.

Pillar Five.  As I have always had more than one bathroom, cleaning them became the Thursday event.  Whatever bathroom you used, you learned to clean.  Tubs were sprayed down.  Toilets were stirred.  Sinks were scrubbed.  Mirrors once again became mirrors.  Towels were washed and replaced on the racks.

Pillar Six. There was no school on Friday.  It became the ‘day of preparation’ for the Sabbath.

My children would make sure their desks, their dresser drawers, their closets, their shoes were in order.  Then, they would vacuum their carpets as the finishing touch.  Once a month during the ‘new moon’ week,  bedding was washed and their bedroom dusted.

One of the most incredible things that happened as each of my children turned 12 or shortly after their Bar/Bat Mitzvah was the sudden realization that IF they kept their bedrooms in order every day, they wouldn’t have to do it on Friday.  Friday became a FREE day – the reward for being good stewards of the things they had been given –  a blessing for me from years of training, reminding, training, reminding, training.

I cleaned my house on Fridays.  Anything that had been laying around during the week was put away.  All floors were vacuumed, swept, or mopped.  All kitchen towels, napkins, and place mats were washed.  Trash cans were emptied  and all garbage removed from the house.  Animal pens that needed to be cleaned were cleaned and feeders filled if necessary.  New Moon Friday, I would dust my house.

My two daughters’ preparation activities involved setting the Sabbath table.  This meant putting a white table cloth on our family table along with golden candle sticks with white candles, our best dishes, silverware, napkins, and wine glasses. They learned how to set a beautiful formal table as our guest of honor was always Yeshua, our Bridegroom.

I would bake a challah bread, make a special dinner, and dessert.  Everyone would bathe and dress to bring in the sunset and peace of the Sabbath.  The week’s work would have been completed by sundown – laundry, school, shopping, cleaning, sewing, organizing, vacuuming.    As a family, we would enter the Father’s Sabbath rest with lit candles, homemade challah bread, glasses of wine/grape juice, blessings over the wife, children and family, and singing.

We would rest from all our work on the Sabbath.  This enabled us to have time as a family to study the Word of God.  As parents, we were able to teach our children about God’s  commands and how to live them out in their everyday lives.  We had the time to read about the life of Yeshua and how he is our example in living out the Scriptures.  We had the time to pull out tambourines, guitars, flutes, recorders, and dance.  We were able to worship the Creator of the Universe in our home with our children.

The Glory of a Home is Hospitality

One of the greatest blessings of carving our weekly pillars around Sabbath was the freedom to invite others to share in the joy.  I always knew my home would be in order, my food would be ready, and our hearts full of hospitality.  Many of these times of hospitality became opportunities to lead others – Jews and non-Jews –   to understand the Father’s physical rest from his creative works  along with the joy of our salvation and spiritual rest in Messiah.  When the Sabbath was complete and the afternoon sun began to set,  we were refreshed, recharged, and read to begin our weekly pillar cycle again.

“[Wisdom] has prepared her food, spiced her wine, and she has set her table.  She calls from the heights of the city … ‘Come and eat my food!  Drink the wine I have mixed!  Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding” (Proverbs 9:3-6).

©2009 Tentstake Ministries

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