“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 taking “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. To ‘take good care of the home’ means to keep the home neat, orderly, and clean, 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 blessings, 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 life, and the family and the home become lost in the activities. Turmoil and an unkempt home becomes the consequence. In our modern-day culture, everything from school to sports to church activities take the place of the family focus, table fellowship, and the home tabernacle where the father becomes ‘priest.’
The Life of a Home is Contentment
As I raised my children, my most important daily goal was to complete all the day’s chores before my husband came home from work. Evening family time was set apart for eating together, sharing about the day’s events, reading books, and preparing our children for bed. I did not clean, shop, school or extra-curricular activities after 4:30 p.m. so we could spend quality family time together with Daddy.
We had no satellite television so our children could only watch shows pre-approved by me or my husband. As the age of technology advanced, our children had one hour of computer time each day –– one hour. They did not receive a cell phone until they were driving and had jobs. We lived miles from any town they needed to be able to get in touch with us if something happened. We never used technology or television as 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 broke down weekly goals into daily activities that I, along with my children, could do each day as part of their ‘training.’ By the end of each week, we could look back with contentment and see that we had completed another weekly cycle that ended with some well-deserved rest.
A friend had a painting that described a home’s beauty, joy, dignity, and hospitality.
The Beauty of a Home is Orderliness
One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was “Don’t worry about tomorrow – tomorrow will worry about itself! Today has enough trouble already!” (Matthew 6:34). She always made sure our house was ‘in order’ before she went to bed so she didn’t have today’s messes tomorrow. I followed her example and taught my children a similarly. 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 laundry baskets before climbing in between those cozy sheets and snoozing off to sleep.
I trained my children from a young age to clean up after themselves. I read 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 pick it up and put it back in. You turn the bucket over and show them how to pick up the objects and drop them into the bucket. It becomes a game. I tried their idea; it worked. From that day forward, there could be 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 I trained my children to clear their dishes from the table and put them into it. If I had not had a dishwasher, I would have trained them 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 to have dirty dishes stacked to the ceiling, an unkempt kitchen or dining room table, except for a lack of child training.
Children will rise to the standard you set. They are more than willing to help so that they feel part of the family. Too often I have 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 commanded to teach and train her children. Excuses are nothing more than abdicating her responsibility and handicapping her children for life.
I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania near the Amish country where families have many, many children. I have never visited an Amish home where there was a mess that needed to be justified. Amish mothers train their dozen or more children to be neat, orderly, and to help take care of the home –– inside and out. Each person had chores and everyone did their chores, even if it was little Miss two-year-old shaking the front door rug every morning.
Every day after we finished school, textbooks were put back on the bookshelves. I have heard people make the excuse for school projects cluttering the home: “Home is where they’re learning.” This is true of home schooling, but also part of homse 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, 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). Look at creation; everything is in order. We are created in God’s image and we can choose order or disorder in our lives. We can choose to live in chaos or the beauty of orderliness.
The Joy of a Home is Dignity
My children were always dressed nicely, had their hair combed, and faces washed. Though it’s easy to just ‘hang out’ in pajamas or ignore a child’s messiness, I taught them to have self-respect and dignity which gave them joyful smiles and light in their eyes.
My children woke up, dressed, and made their beds before ever leaving their rooms. 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 and have the ability to maintain orderly homes. Each of them have thanked me for teaching them to clean because they have lived with roommates who 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 clean clothes, clothes matched, 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 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 justified the removal of clothing and naked children, they had a ‘wake up call’ at a movie theater. During the film, two of the children removed their clothing and started running up and down the center aisle naked. The father was completely mortified and should have been. Adults don’t run around naked; children shouldn’t either. Parents, especially mothers, are given the high responsibility to train our children to live in the world in a dignified manner, teaching them to honor their own bodies with the joy of dignity.
The Blessing of a Home is Rest
“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).
As our family began growing spiritually, we learned about the Biblical Sabbath. I carved my ‘seven pillars around preparing for the Shabbat. I wanted my weekly work completed so I could enter into the same Sabbath rest as my heavenly Father.
My Daily Pillars
Pillar One. Prepare wisely for the week ahead.
The first day of the week, Sunday, became my day to organize the upcoming week’s homeschooling activities. I would make copies of lessons, prepare tests, collect supplies for science experiments or art projects. I would update my records for each child to keep them current with state requirements. I would make sure I was ready to enter the week prepared so there would not be confusion and stress because ‘the teacher’ was not ready.
As the Scriptures teach, money was dealt with on the first day of the week. At my husband’s request, Sunday was designated to deal with finances: pay bills and give to ministries.
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, my husband needing me to attend to something he could not, a surprise visit, a phone call or just realizing we all needed a sunshine or snow day, could change daily plans. Most times, I came to see that Yeshua 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 my children.
Pillar Two. Attacking the mountains of clothes.
As with both Ma and my mom, Monday became wash day. From the time my children were young, they helped with the laundry. First, they each had their own personal laundry basket and were trained to throw their clothes in it. They started by watching me do it when I undressed them and then I had them do it. For my first 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 fun 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 using 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 the ladder. He would open the dryer and 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 helping 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 and told me that her home had been revolutionized. There were no more mountains of laundry and each child was learning how to take care of their own clothes. She also began to see special relationships building between siblings.
Pillar Three. Free day to iron out other details.
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.
I mill my own grains so Tuesday became the day for filling up canisters of grain, flour, and maybe even baking cookies. Tuesday became my kitchen organization day. I also planned meals and prepared my two-week grocery list so I would be ready for ‘Pillar Four.’
Pillar Four. Merchant vessel goes afar for food (Proverbs 31:14)
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. Planning has always been an important part of grocery shopping. My mother made lists for two weeks at a time and I followed her example. I made meal lists for two weeks and developed my grocery lists for everything including toiletries and other home/children necessities. Once I had a computer, budgeting for food and non-food items became easier. I made a database with everything that I bought in each different store and the aisle order in the store. Every item had a price, and after sorting the lists, I had a ‘grand total’ of what I was going to spend.
As our family delved more into 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 traveling to store warehouses for different products, or driving to an egg, chicken or grain farm, my shopping took a full day to accomplish. Living away from big cities, I learned how to set aside time and money to shop when those opportunities arrived and we were in a big city for a day.
As I was home schooling my children, they would go with me wherever I needed to go. They went to dairy farms, chicken farms, and produce farms. I never left 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 each experience. 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 experienced shoppers and know how to buy the best and healthiest food for their money.
Pillar Five. Good hygiene for the home
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 stirred. Sinks scrubbed. Mirrors once again became mirrors. Towels were washed and replaced on the towel rack.
Pillar Six. Sabbath preparation day.
I did not teach school on Friday. It is the ‘day of preparation’ for the Sabbath.
My children would order their desks, their dresser drawers, their closets, and their shoes. They would vacuum the bedoroom carpets as the finishing touch. Once a month during the ‘new moon’ week, bedding was washed and bedrooms dusted.
One of the most incredible things that happened as each of my children turned 12 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 –– a blessing for me from years of training, reminding, training, reminding, and training.
I cleaned my home every Friday. New Moon Friday, I would dust. Anything that needed to be put away was put away. All floors were vacuumed, swept, and 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.
My two daughters’ preparation activities involved setting the Sabbath table. This meant putting a white table cloth on our dining room table along with golden candle sticks with white candles, our best dishes, silverware, napkins, and wine glasses. They learned how to set a formal table as our guest of honor was Yeshua.
I would bake bread, make a special dinner, and dessert. Everyone would bathe and dress to bring in the sunset to start 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 holy Sabbath 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 weekly work on the Sabbath. We had time as a family to read and study the Word of God. My husband and I taught our children about God’s commands and how to live them out in their everyday lives. We had time to read about the life of Yeshua and how he is our example in living out the Scriptures. We had time to pull out tambourines, guitars, flutes, recorders –– and dance. We were able to worship the Creator of the Sabbath in our home with our children.
The Glory of a Home is Hospitality
Pillar Seven. The Sabbath.
One of the greatest blessings of ‘carving our weekly pillars’ around Sabbath was the freedom to invite others to share in the fellowship. I always knew my home would be in order, food would be prepared, and our hearts ready for guests. These times of hospitality became opportunities to teach others about the Father’s physical rest from his creative works and the joy of our spiritual rest in Yeshua. When the Sabbath was complete the next afternoon and the sun began to set, we were refreshed, recharged, and ready 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).
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