Monday, February 12, 2018

The House Comes First

Library of Congress:  Mr. and Mrs. John Herlihy at home, 1942 Montana 

I have been thinking lately about how empty many neighborhoods are these days.  There are all kinds of houses and apartments that are left without a keeper for most of the day.  It is hard to imagine driving through a lovely neighborhood, on a weekday, and seeing no children playing, nobody taking laundry off the clothesline, no families on the front porch, and nobody tending the front walkway. 

What is causing all these houses to be empty?  Could there be a loss of love and appreciation for home?  

I love this quote by G.K. Chesterton: 

“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place ...”

Empty homes seem to be the modern way of life for our culture.  Babies and children are in daycare and parents are at work.  Grandparents do not commonly live with their grown children anymore like they did in the past (particularly in Italian homes). Can you imagine what a help it would be if grandmother lived at home and could help care for the children and tend the house?  It would be a blessing to her as well as to the family.

The Christian Home, a godly home, has tremendous value to our well-being.  It is to be a restful, pleasant place.  It must be cultivated by someone.  Someone must be the keeper, the one who "keeps the home fires burning."   Someone ought to be home.  Mother is the ideal (and Biblically appointed) keeper.  

Home can almost be like a hobby. It is where we spend our time decorating, cleaning, dusting, and greeting visitors.  It is a place to provide wholesome, nourishing meals, clean laundry, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep.  It is a place to rest and spend time with the family. It is a place of security and contentment.  There is much to do in order to keep it happy.  Some people spend a great deal of time on hobbies.  These hobbies are times of entertainment and recreation.  If a large portion of that time was spent in the care and love of home, it would be an enjoyable place to be.

We need a priority of home. The House must come first. What we do there each day builds memories we will cling to in later life.  Let them be good memories.

Here are some practical ideas to bring life back into our neighborhoods by tending our homes:

1. Arrange your schedule so you can be home more often. 

I sometimes see teenagers roaming the streets looking for mischief.  I wonder if it is because nobody is there to make a real home for them.

2. Make a list of daily chores and do them.

We are constantly tempted by distractions to do many things. The television, computer, telephone, invitations out, craft projects, and reading are enjoyable but must have their slot of time.  The chores have to be completed before we have the fun.  (dishes, laundry, sweeping, meal preparation, etc.)  

3.  Simplify your possessions.

We will always need to sort clutter.  Things come in each day and we must discard what is not necessary.  It is a tremendous waste of time and energy to have too many things in our houses that we do not use or need.

4. Avoid spending money.

The greatest trouble in the home is the lack of careful use of money.  In our culture we are constantly tempted to buy, to shop, to spend. Do not yield to this temptation. Do not give in.  Learn to spend money carefully and as little as possible.  It is better to have money saved "for a rainy day" than to have a financial calamity hit and cause you to fear the loss of a comfortable home. 

5.  Don't leave home until you make your bed. 

I know this sounds simplistic, but the simple act of making your bed will help inspire a clean and orderly home.  I do not want to go out on an errand or to an appointment, unless I know I have done my work at home. This starts with making my bed.  

6.  Evaluate how you are spending your time.

If you are busy with too many outside commitments, this will often cause you to neglect your house. You will be stressed out and anxious.  If we do not have the time or energy to maintain a happy, neat home, we must stop all the extra activities that take us away from our main work at home. This will help make us sweet with a gentleness of spirit. 

7. Enjoy your labors.

Decorating and cleaning the living room and then sitting down to admire your hard work is a blessing.  When you are outside tending the laundry on the clothesline, enjoy the serenity of the fresh air, the retreat - like feeling of doing wholesome work in a lovely setting.  Find happiness and joy in the work of keeping the home.  

8. Do pretty things.

We ought to present meals in an attractive way.  Set the table with silverware, napkins, real dishes, and present the food in pretty serving bowls.  This will invite the family to want to come to the table and enjoy eating together.  Make the work look pretty. Make the home look pretty. Do you hair nicely and wear a lovely apron.  Make home a pretty place.

9.  Make it look like a Christian House.

There are paintings and wall art full of Scripture and quotes from great ministers of the past. These types of decorations will inspire you and your guests.  At the very least, each Christian home ought to have the 10 commandments posted by the door. (You can type these up directly from Scripture.)  We have them there as a rule of life, something that we love and find joy in observing.  

10.  Keep Love Strong.

A house of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, charity, and love will be a happy home. These are daily acts that must constantly be in service.

11. Keep dust off the Bible.

The foundation of a godly home is the Lord.  The Most important part of good housekeeping is daily Bible reading.  This ought to be done alone and with the family.  It does not have to be formal, but just picking up the Bible and happily reading will bring a great blessing on the home. 

This is all "housework" and it is wonderful work that we can enjoy.  When home is our priority we find joy in our daily lives.  This provides a happy place for our children and families.  A great deal of our recreation and entertainment can come just by keeping house.  If more mothers could do this at home, wouldn't we have lively, pleasant neighborhoods?

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

We Must Learn  - To Earn and Not to Spend.

This is What many of us Crave - An Ordinary Life at Home.

The Greatest Use of a Mother's Time - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.


Frugal in the USA said...

I couldn't agree more. Very well said.

Andrea said...

I can't thank you enough for your blog. I often feel like an outsider because I am very happy to be a homemaker and to raise and homeschool my own children. Around me, there seems to be no one else that shares my outlook and in fact, even family members have looked down on what I do. Visiting here makes me feel like I'm chatting with a friend. I've actually spent the last few weeks reading through your archives as I get a break here and there and I always come away refreshed and inspired. Today's post was lovely. Thank you again!

lorie said...

Beautiful post!

Amelia said...

Oh my goodness. I *love* this article! So well put...I echo these thoughts. I do hope and pray women would return to the quiet heart of home where God is glorified in a beautiful way.

Please take care now, so very wonderful and encouraging to see this beautiful article today. Love, Amelia

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

Excellent advice. I must leave home every morning now for radiation treatments in the nearby city. It has caused me to have a different type of routine. I long to be able to be home. One day, I hope I appreciate it more and work more readily than I have been since I was diagnosed with cancer. Praise God, I am in remission! Unfortunately, I still have many more months of treatments to prevent its return and surgery to repair damages.

God bless!
Laura Lane

Hartslove said...

Thanks Mrs. White. Your articles are making a difference for me in the way I look at my touches in the home and my mindset as I enjoy the perpetual tasks. Also, I have recently ordered the book you wrote, For the Love of Christian Homemaking, which I am enjoying as I visit and revisit the essays in random order. Now when I have a sink full of dishes to wash, I sometimes plug in my almond fragrance and turn on my praise and hymn playlist. I had not heard of Roy Scuff, so thanks to you I went on a little path of discovery
Have a lovely week!

P.S. I am writing during my lunch break, as I work outside of home in downtown D.C.

Lydia said...

Well done. Thank you and God bless you.

Deborah Montgomery said...

What a wonderful list. I'm going back to re-read it. Thank you. xo Deborah

Billie Jo said...

I love this post.
I agree with your thoughts, and am comforted by them as well.
I appreciate knowing that someone, somewhere out there, is enjoying her vocation of motherhood as much as I am.
Have a cozy evening. : )

Paula Alexandra Santos said...

I loved to read your post and agree with everything. Unfortunatelly, here in Europe, neighborhoods are empty during the day, also.
We only see older people and some children with their grandmothers, but most mothers are working all day.
Have a wonderfu week!

Mountain Housewife said...

Great article. As a empty nest housewife, I look around at the desolate neighborhood during the day and I wonder if the Rapture occurred...and I was left behind! It's not too bad though because I always stay busy and have projects going. But I feel badly for the wonderful home life that so many families are missing out on

Anonymous said...

I'm just like Andrea and feel so alone as a true keeper at home. You always comfort and inspire. It's hard living in this culture that rejects this traditional way of life. I think I would have fit right in 100 years ago but definitely not today. Thank you Mrs White for this excellent writing!
Rebecca in KS

Willemien said...


Lana said...

What a lovely post. We are home most everyday taking care of our home and I am so thankful we can do that. Our neighborhood is unusual in that there are several families home during the day and home school families whose children play outside along with 2 families whose grandparents live with them. We have thought a lot about moving to a smaller house but we would really miss this neighborhood where neighbors visit when they are out walking and children's voices can be heard. Since there are only two of us I usually make our plates in the kitchen but we eat in the dining room by candle light in the winter and it is so cozy. My husband reads the Bible every morning at breakfast and we pray together at bedtime every night so our day begins and ends with the Lord. Thank you for the reminder of how very blessed we are here.

Anonymous said...

Those who feel alone or unsupported in their role as wives and mothers, might enjoy 'Keepers at Home' magazine. I just discovered it, and have enjoyed each issue ( I have no connection to the magazine, except that I subscribed).


Deanna said...

Great post. I always enjoy reading your blog.

happyathome said...

I had read your blog for quite a long time and then life took over and I "lost" you. How pleased I was to "find" you once more and feel the peace that comes over me when I read your writings. Peace is so important to me these days after losing our son, my husband being diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease at 47 ( though I saw symptoms since he was 35) our deceased sons best friend being killed in an accident that he was the victim, my husband losing his licence because of his illness and then our employer saying he was giving up farming. At the end of May this year we have no job/ income or home to live in and no prospects because even though my husband can still work just fine the minute you are honest and tell them of his diagnosis the door shuts on a job. BUT still I look to God my Father as I know he will not leave nor forsake us . I feel like Job of the Bible. As I said-- peace is all to important these days. God bless you.

living from glory to glory said...

I feel the same way!! The neighborhoods look sad and depressed! Empty homes and bare hearts, when no one is ever home. It makes me sad! Your list is a good one and being home is my most favorite place and I love to think of others home cleaning and cooking and enjoying their palace...
I have missed the fact that so many are away from home and do not even care!
I still think we will see a return of the hearts coming home!
Always, Roxy

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. White, I thoroughly enjoy reading your wonderfully informative blog. Whenever I get a little overwhelmed with my housewifely duties I just have a read of your latest post and get inspired so I can enjoy and give thanks for my role in life. This post "The House Comes First" is such an inspiration. It is really housekeeping 101 and should be a reference article for young homemakers. A common thread through most of your posts is dress appropriately for the day, which in my case includes a comfortable dress and an apron. As all my dresses are calf length or longer, a full length apron is my choice. Keep up the good work. Blessings, Grace.

LeighSabey said...

What a lovely list of reminders. I especially appreciate your point that homemaking can be a delightful hobby or entertainment. I used to believe that our family needed to spend Saturdays "out", doing something wholesome together like visiting a zoo or museum. Now I find that we all love spending the day at home. We clean, do yardwork, play games, take a walk, work on home improvements, cook and bake, do creative projects like sewing, read, and I usually take a nap. The day feels long and we end up refreshed and with a nicer home, instead of drained and poorer from spending a day "out".

Jenny Lamb said...

❤️ You are such an inspiration to me - thank you for sharing. Praying for you 🙏🏻