My parents have lived in a suburban Boston town for 25 years; over the past decade it’s become among the area’s wealthier towns. When my kids and I visited my family last week I observed a crop of newly erected McMansions since we were last there a year earlier- palatial houses that occupied nearly every square inch of their lots. Huge houses like these have been on the rise for years but this batch was the most outrageous I’ve seen. Some were perhaps 8000 square feet – yet likely housed a family with the average 2.5 kids. Illogical.
I think the reason the McMansions so struck me is that I’ve been pondering home life since my recent diligence revelation last month; what, I’ve been wondering, is “home” really all about? For the past year God’s been working hard on me about the crucial importance of parenting intentionally every day; I’ve been focusing intently on all facets of childrearing ever since. (It’s why I started this blog.) And I fully relate to Elizabeth Krueger (of Raising Gody Tomatoes)’s viewpoint when she wrote, “I set my mind diligently and consistently on training my children. I continued with the normal mandatory tasks of life such as basic housekeeping, laundry, and cooking, but ever as I did those things, I kept in mind that my children were my top priority, not a fancy dinner or a spotless house.” Kids more important than household issues: check. I’ve called this to mind a number of times. But recently it occurred to me that attending well to childrearing is really not an excuse for a disastrous house or subpar cooking.
In my “part-time working mom reflections” post, I wrote: “We live in a society that values the marketplace far above the home. But which does the Bible prioritize as more important for humans? The home. The home is where hearts are nourished, where character issues are most fully played out, where central relationships – including those with God – are primarily built. For adults and children alike.”
A home that honors Christ, as I now reflect on it, has two key components: a) godly, intentional childrearing and b) basic household order and operational harmony. Item A I am and have been focused on, but item B’s a kicker for me. That’s the reality thought; it’s a two-part deal. Home is the central space in the daily life of our family, so how it looks and functions must matter. Its appearance and systems – or lack thereof – profoundly affect every family member. Perfectionism isn’t the goal or point in housekeeping and meal prep, attentiveness and earnest effort should be. As Jennie Chancey says, “Home is too important to be left to itself; it is something precious to be tended, cared for, kept, and guarded.”
I have lacked this vision of home, seeing it more functionally as just the place we eat and sleep and hang out in, but thankfully God’s been giving me a vision for what our home could be that is pulling me forward. “The Lord blesses the home of the righteous” (Prov 3:33), and now I’m praying for His bless not just our home but also my efforts to make it, in Chancy’s words, “a balm that holds out refreshment and encouragement without pretension.”