The dedication page in this book says it all: “This book is for everyone out there who needs to know that being a “good” homemaker has less to do with having a clean home and more to do with loving others well.”
I wrestled with this beast a few years ago and have arrived at a decent balance in my own homemaking. Could it be better? Of course. But life has seasons, and some seasons are less inclined to facilitate the kind of clean house I truly desire. (For me, that season is called “the school year”.) And at the end of the day, what really matters is how I use our home to love others through hospitality and fellowship.
Having a Martha Home the Mary Way by Sarah Mae is a 31-day devotional. I’m not sure I knew this when I opted to review it, but that’s okay. It was what I needed, and clearly the Lord knew that. The book opens with a forward, followed by an introduction that is completely worth reading. I admit to being an introduction-skipper most of the time; I just want to get to the meat! But the author gives her own story in it, and I think it’s helpful to have a grasp on her perspective before diving into the experience the book offers. (She seems to start from a point of chaos; the house is out of control, and the overwhelm has created a mode of analysis paralysis.)
Each day is structured as such:
- a short devotional (usually a page or so in length)
- a “Mary Challenge” (Scripture reading with reflection questions)
- a “Martha Challenge” (a cleaning/organizing goal for the day)
In my opinion, this book is like Whole30, but for your house. It’s devoting 31 days to examining your own heart—Why do I want a clean house? And how will I utilize it for the Lord once I’ve completed this journey?—and moving methodically through your home to purge and reorganize and deep clean. It sounds overwhelming, and if you work outside the home (like I do), it would likely be too much for one month, unless you clear a couple of your Saturdays and involve the whole family in the Martha Challenges (which she encourages). But I think the book could easily be adapted for each person’s lifestyle and still accomplish the main goal, which, as the subtitle states, is taking “31 days to a clean house and a satisfied soul.” I think the author does a good job of pointing the reader’s eyes to Jesus (thus the satisfied soul).
My main takeaway from Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is this: If you don’t have a theological basis and vision for your homemaking, this book will help you create one. Having worked through this in the past, I can say that having a vision for how the Lord would want me to use our home—instead of simply how I want to use it—helps me to stay motivated in homemaking. Sarah lists her homemaking vision in the book, but mine is really two-fold:
- Create a warm, comfortable, safe space to serve as a place of rest and rejuvenation for my family.
- Keep that space tidy and organized such that we can offer hospitality at a moment’s notice.
Everything stems from that. Notice I didn’t say perfect; no lived-in space will ever be perfect all the time because, well, you’re living in it! I appreciate that Sarah Mae differentiates between a comfortable, livable space, and the unattainable perfect one.
Even if you’re a naturally organized person who loves a good purge one a quarter—I’m raising my hand here!—Having a Martha Home the Mary Way still offers good reminders and ideas to reignite your passion for a good purge. Speaking of, I’ve got a capsule wardrobe to assemble. 🙂
Soli Deo gloria,
*In exchange for my honest opinion, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.
Merry Christmas from Louisville!
I stared at the black, blinking cursor for five minutes before I began to type this update. My heart wanted to write beautiful words about how sparkly our Christmas has been, but the truth of the matter is that I am exhausted. This break is quite timely, and we intend to squeeze out of it as much rest as is possible, Lord willing.
Lately I have struggled with the balance between slothfulness and resting to maintain my health. I’ve had issues with this before; sometimes it is difficult to gauge what rest is necessary and what rest is sinful and indulgent. The past two weeks I have barely been able to stay awake. In the morning I had plenty of energy — for about five minutes. My adrenals were the lowest they have ever been, which made accomplishing anything at all a mighty task.
It is by God’s grace that I speak of this in the past tense. I prayed for Him to direct my thoughts because, due to an unknown (at the time!) cause, thinking felt like swimming upstream in a river of molasses. But on Monday night, the Lord granted me clarity to see that my symptoms had gradually increased since changing two of my supplement dosages in November. On Tuesday morning I reverted to my prior dosages and presto! Within 24 hours I was balanced, able to think, and, best of all, able to stay awake. Praise the Lord.
But the fact that it took me almost three weeks to realize this indicates a bigger problem: I am not paying attention to the details of our life. It is impossible to count the number of times Evan has asked, “What’s for dinner tonight, babe?” only to hear, “I have no idea,” in response. As one who had a very solid structure of meal planning prior to the move to Kentucky, it frustrates me that I have yet to find a balance and structure that works for our new season of life. Here is another point of finding balance: Where is the line between giving myself grace in transition and forcing myself to get my act together? I have found that I lack a plan in most areas of our life and, therefore, chaos ensues.
If I’m completely candid, I’ll admit that the root problem is sporadic and shallow time in God’s Word: a verse here, a paragraph there, and rarely do I spend quiet time at the feet of Jesus. This must change, as nothing else will improve until this does. I have attempted reading plans before — the kind designed to read the entire Bible in a year — but they end up feeling rote and contrived, and I simply don’t have the time to read five chapters a day anymore. So I am opting to read the Pauline epistles over the course of 2014. The small plan I developed entails reading two or three chapters per week, a goal much more manageable than five chapters per day. I have slotted my quiet time for 4:15 in the afternoon, immediately after I get home from school.
Just having a plan, the intention to nestle into the Word every day, calms my soul a bit.
As for feeding my husband, I’m returning to my old method of meal planning once a month. I realized that it is a major stressor to me to meal plan every week, so that activity has to change. I think this will make the biggest difference in how I manage my weeks.
Finally, I have become overwhelmed by the 1,000 small tasks that happen daily. I have made plans to streamline as much as I can. Some things I will do en masse on Sundays; others I am eliminating altogether.
These things — the menial tasks of living life every day — were a tool at the disposal of the deceiver. Because I haven’t been walking closely with the Lord, I’ve believed the lies of Satan. Forgive me, Lord, for neglecting your tender care over me. Forgive me for rejecting your grace and pursuing my own ways. I am exhausted because I fail to rest in You, Lord. I am exhausted because of my unbelief in the power of Your Spirit to energize me. Thank you, Father, for washing me anew with Your living water and giving me rest — both now and for eternity.
Hungry, I come to You
For I know You satisfy
I am empty but I know
Your love does not run dry
Broken, I run to You
For Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know
Your touch restores my life
I pray that your time in the Word has been fruitful, and that you are using it as the offensive tool that it is! If not, I pray you’ll join me in recommitting to a healthy, close walk with the Lord. Much love to you, friends!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Lyrics from Hungry (Falling on My Knees) by Kathryn Scott