Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If you want to learn a skill, you have to practice, right? Have you ever considered obeying God’s Word as practice? Here’s Pat Ennis.

Dr. Pat Ennis: God’s Word doesn’t offer a cafeteria plan for obedience—that if you tend to have the aptitude for it, then you do it. He tells us, “These are some specific things that please Me.” And that is going to mean that sometimes we have to practice. We’re going to fall, and we need to pick ourselves up with His strength and keep moving on, so that we do become proficient.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, July 28.

An important part of our mission here at Revive Our Hearts is helping women experience the fullness of God’s purpose for our lives. And, Nancy, this week’s programs are no exception.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This week we want to talk about one aspect of biblical womanhood that, for some of our listeners, is going to sound like we’re talking about something very old-fashioned. In fact, let me use a word that maybe you haven’t heard for a while. It’s the term homemaking: the making of a home. God’s call to us as women—whether married or single—is, in different senses, to be homemakers. It’s such an important part of His mission and His vision for our lives.

The first part of this week, to help us with that subject, we’re going to be talking with two women who have co-authored a couple of books that help us understand God’s perspective on this subject of homemaking.

Dr. Pat Ennis and Dr. Lisa Tatlock both teach at The Master’s College, which you may be familiar with, in southern California. Pat and Lisa have also co-authored two books, the first called Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God and the second Designing a Lifestyle That Pleases God.

Pat and Lisa, thank you so much for joining us on Revive Our Hearts.

Dr. Lisa Tatlock: Thank you for having us.

Pat: We are privileged to be here. Thank you for inviting us.

Nancy: It’s been fun for me to get to know you two women and to sense your heart and read what you’ve written about a subject that, for a lot of women, is not even on their radar screen: this whole subject of homemaking. You are so into this subject! Pat, you actually started the Home Economics department at The Master’s College. Lisa, you teach in the Home Economics department. So this is something that you women really have a heart for.

Now, when I say Home Ec.—Home Economics—to some people that sounds like we’re talking about dinosaurs or something that isn’t even heard of anymore. Pat, how did you even get interested in this subject of Home Economics?

Pat: Well, I actually started as a seventh grader always wanting to be a teacher. And my seventh-grade Home Ec. teacher really lit the fire so that I wanted to be a Home Economics teacher. All of my college counselors tried to discourage that, because I was too academically prepared to just "waste my time" in being a Home Ec. major.

But I found, as I went to college and I studied the discipline, that it was food science; it was chemistry; it was biology that backed up all of the concepts that made the house a home.

I actually learned homemaking from my mother. My mother was a gracious southern woman who learned many things from practical experience. She had an opportunity to practice her skills many years before I was brought into the family.

As an elderly woman with a little child underfoot, she was very patient to allow me to learn how to roll out bread dough and cookie dough and pie crust. And I had a very supportive father who, though he loved my mother’s cooking, would be very affirming of the things that were my creations. That was a great blessing because I very much wanted to please my father.

When I went to college, then, I majored in Home Economics with the focus of being a teacher. And I was, until my pastor started Christian Heritage College and decided that they needed Home Ec. from a Christian perspective and a character perspective.

His whole focus was that we needed to deal with the character issues first—because if a woman’s heart is not centered on God’s instructions and on what pleases Him, then it really doesn’t make any difference what skills we have.

It was a very sobering thought to realize, as I studied Titus 2, that all of the things that are there are not just to train us to be skill-oriented, but so that God’s Word will not be discredited.

So that has been my heart and my passion for almost 30 years now. I’ve had the privilege of starting two Home Economics programs.

Nancy: First at Christian Heritage College, and then at The Master’s College.

Pat: That’s correct.

Nancy: We want to talk this week about that issue of the heart behind homemaking. But before we get into all that, Lisa, how did you come into the picture? You’re a little younger, kind of the next generation. And you were actually a student . . .

Lisa: I was. Like Pat, I also had a very godly mother. And I can say that those foundational principles—and the love of home and the things that are represented in the discipline of Home Economics—were actually started in my home also.

I chose Home Ec., frankly, because I loved it. I thought all the things that were in the Home Ec. content were fun. For someone like me who had a lot of different interests—loved people, had a father who was in the ministry and grew up with a lot of people around the home—it seemed to be a good fit.

I originally knew Pat in the context of her being my instructor at Christian Heritage College, and then we went forward from there. I went on and got a Master’s degree and ended up being Pat’s fellow faculty member at The Master’s College a few years later.

Nancy: So now you both are training younger women according to Titus 2 principles, in these very practical principles of making a home.

Now, I look at the two of you and hear your story that you always wanted to be Home Ec. majors. So this fulfilled something that was a real desire in your hearts. But I think so many women in our culture, in our day, have never really had that desire or felt they had any aptitude to be homemakers or any practical skills that relate to their homes. So now we’ve got a generation of women who have been encouraged to be much more oriented around work outside their home than inside their home.

How do we help give woman a vision for the value, the purpose, and the importance of being homemakers—whether they’re working outside their home or not—making their home a place that brings glory to God? Why is homemaking such an important thing for women to learn and understand today?

Lisa: I would probably respond to that by saying that homemaking is important because it’s important to God, and we see it in His Word. I think, when I sit down with someone who doesn’t understand the priority of the home, that’s a good place to start. Oftentimes they either haven’t taken the time or haven’t been taught, if they’re a new believer yet, about the priority of the home.

So I think a good place to start is to sit down and say, “Let’s just take a look and see what God says about this subject, this topic,” as you would any subject or any other topic. Hopefully, if they are sensitive to God’s Word and God’s work in their heart and are sensitive to being a woman who wants to please God, they will make that a priority in their life.

Pat: Incredibly important, along those lines, is the fact that it’s a skill that has to be developed. So we’re not always going to be perfect the very first time we do it. We live in such an instant society that says, “I want to do it fast, and I want to do it well, and I don’t want to practice.”

And homemaking is something that regardless of your natural aptitude is . . . Lisa and I would both affirm that we have some natural abilities in those areas—in management, in finances, in food preparation. But God’s Word doesn’t offer a cafeteria plan for obedience—that if you tend to have the aptitude for it, then you do it.

He tells us, “These are some specific things that please Me.” And that is going to mean that sometimes we have to practice. We’re going to fall, and we need to pick ourselves up with His strength and keep moving on, so that we do become proficient—again, so that, as Titus says, God’s Word will not be discredited (2:5).

In so much of our Christian culture now, we are theologically sound, and we’re practically inept because we haven’t focused on creating the skills so that home is a prepared place for the people that belong there, that it is a place where other people are welcomed. Whether it is extended family or whether it’s strangers, as Hebrews talks about (see 13:2), we are opening our homes and using them as the basis for ministry.

Nancy: We say that a woman developing those skills helps her to be pleasing to the Lord. Why does God care if a woman has homemaking skills?

Pat: Because the home was the first institution that was created by God. And except for the local church, it is the second most important institution that there is. Statistics tell us that the home is falling apart. And with that, society is falling apart.

So in order to get the pattern back into order, we have to have the skills, and we have to have the knowledge base that makes the home a comfortable place and a nurturing place. It’s the perpetuation of the next generation. And our next generations are learning some very bad habits from our current home environments.

Nancy: I got an email recently from a woman who said, “I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for two years now, but I have felt unfulfilled because I’m not making money anymore.”

I think that reflects the way a lot of women feel today: that being in the home—our culture has told them this—is not as important; it’s not as valuable as making a financial contribution to the family outside the home.

But you believe, Lisa, that for a woman to be a homemaker is really fulfilling a huge part of God’s purpose for her life.

Lisa: I do believe that. And that email is probably not uncommon about how women feel. There’s a sense of equating fulfillment with making money. That’s a very common response, I think.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s a biblical way to think about being a fulfilled woman. If I were sitting down to have a cup of coffee with this woman, I would probably step back and say, “Let’s talk about that for a minute. How are you defining fulfilled? What are you looking for in fulfillment?”

Are you looking for a fat paycheck? Why would that bring you more fulfillment than looking into what Scripture says—about being a keeper of the home, about loving your husband and loving your children, about being the most important discipler of your children, about being able to plant a seed so that someday their little souls and their little hearts might be ready to listen and hear what God says about their sin and their need for a Savior?

Which is greater fulfillment: a paycheck or to someday see your child come to know the Lord and Savior?

Now, I think some women say, “Well, I can see that. I understand investing in my child, and it’s more important than money. But keeping my home—how does that equate?”

I think you could answer that several ways. But what might be important is for them to see that the way they keep their home—and the way they give it their attention and their best effort and their skill—is a reflection of, first, their obedience to God’s Word. Am I just going to obey “sort of, kind of”? Or am I going to wholeheartedly obey?

Secondly, it’s a way that I’m a steward of my gifts and abilities. So if I’m going to manage my home, I’m going to manage it with excellence as unto the Lord.

And then, thirdly, I think it’s a way that I demonstrate my love for my family. It’s the Philippians 2 principle to be selfless, to consider the needs of others above my own (see verses 1-11). As I vacuum my carpets, clean my toilets, go grocery shopping, and make sure that there’s meals on the table, what more selfless acts can you think of for a woman to embrace?

Now, granted, they might not always, at the end of the day, feel like they have accomplished as much as they would in an office. But in light of eternity and in light of what Scripture calls us to, it is far more fulfilling than that fat paycheck.

Nancy: It’s interesting that the woman who wrote that email concluded by saying,

Thank you so much to Revive Our Hearts for letting me see that being a homemaker is something lovely and purposeful, not demeaning and slave-worthy. I see now that there’s a purpose for keeping up.

Lisa, what are some of the practical skills that need to be taught—that haven’t been passed down from one generation to the next—that you think are important for women in their homes?

Lisa: I think it perhaps boils down to just some basic organizational skills. I probably would suggest four areas for starters. I think it’s important here, if we’re feeling overwhelmed and feeling like everything is out of order, perhaps just to step back and start with one area at a time.

As we go over this list, I can hear myself thinking in times past, “I can’t do all that.” And you’re right. We can’t do it all at once. So take one area and start working on it.

And some of the areas that I would suggest would be:

  • Get your family calendar organized. You’ve got to start by knowing what are your obligations, where everybody needs to be, what you need to do.
  • Organize your meals and menu plans.
  • Organize your household cleaning.
  • Organize your finances.

Nancy: OK, let’s take one of those areas—my least favorite on that list: housecleaning. Pat, whether you’re married or single—and both of us happen to be single, while Lisa is married—we all keep homes. And housecleaning—what does that have to do with living a life that pleases the Lord? Why should it matter, Pat, that we keep our homes clean?

Pat: It’s a reflection of our relationship with our heavenly Father, in reality. When you think of the story of creation, the Lord had an orderly pattern for putting the world in order. He didn’t have a whole ark full of animals before He had a place to put them.

And our homes need to be places that we belong to, that are clean, that are orderly, that are places that we want to return to. As a single woman, one of the things that draws me back to my place at night is that I can visualize that it didn’t look like a disaster area when I departed from it in the morning.

But since our God is a God of decency and order, we are able to reflect His character by the way our homes look.

It also, then, gives me the freedom to feel that at any time I can invite someone to come home with me. It’s not like, “Oh, I’ve invited someone to come home with me from church for coffee or for dessert, but oh, my goodness, can they get through the front door? Can it be a place where they’re welcome and there’s a place for them to sit?”

So I always reflect on the fact that since the Lord Jesus is my unseen guest all of the time, it needs to be a place that is a proper place for Him—and then, of course, whoever else that He brings into my life.

I happen to have a roommate, and we do share the same standards on cleanliness. So that’s very helpful. But for both of us, we have the freedom to then have our home as a place that gives an opportunity to minister without fear of embarrassment or intimidation.

Nancy: Okay, you women sound to me like you’re maybe just really natural at this. And I’m sure you’ve had to learn a lot of these things. But I can envision some of us who might be what one author called “messies,” and it just doesn’t come as naturally.

Some women really have not been taught how to keep a home, how to keep it orderly, how to keep it neat, and they’re feeling handicapped. They don’t know how to do it themselves. They don’t know how to teach their daughters. Where do they start?

Lisa: Well, I think they start by identifying what it means to clean. There are two kinds of approaches to that.

First of all, I really like the idea of learning from someone else. So find someone—an older woman who has an orderly home, a well-kept home—and just ask her, “Can you train me? Can you teach me? Can you show me how to keep my home organized and clean and orderly?”

Secondly, you can learn by reading a lot of resources. Even in the books that we have written we have “how-to’s.” You can also go on the Internet and find lots of good resources on how to clean.

Household cleaning is only hard if you don’t do it. It’s really not that bad if you keep up with it and you have a strategy and a plan of attack, so to speak.

So make yourself a list of all the things that you need to do. Make a weekly list. Perhaps for some of us it needs to be a daily list. I know my kitchen floor—if I let it go more than just a day, it looks like a disaster zone because of my little ones with the food and all the different toys and things.

So make a plan of attack for daily. Make a list for weekly and make a list for those monthly or seasonal issues that you have to do. And then start following it.

Nancy: What are some of the practical, home-related skills that mothers should make sure their daughters have before those daughters leave the home? What will stand them in good stead down the road?

Pat: One of the key areas that we often deal with at the college level is the students who appear at college and have no clue how to do laundry. The clothes that they have brought to college with them all of a sudden are dirty, and Mom is not there to wash them. All of a sudden they have to pay money to have the clothes washed because the washer is not free. So they just cram everything that will fit into one washer load to see if they can’t be economical in their resources.

Nancy: It may not come out the same color as they put it in.

Pat: That’s right. They have a red sweatshirt that colors everything a nice shade of pink.

So learning basic skills like:

  • sorting laundry
  • how to do stain removal
  • how to deal with garments that maybe need specialized cleaning.

Those are things that you start with children when they’re very young. Help them to put their clothes in the dirty clothes basket instead of under their bed—those kinds of things.

Starting small is really the key to management. If you do a small thing orderly over and over again, pretty soon it will become a habit that is a good habit. So laundry would be one thing. Also, learning how to cook basic, nutritional food that is edible.

Nancy: And what’s the value of learning to cook, as opposed to the modern-day lifestyle of just eating out all the time, eating convenience foods all the time? Why does that make a difference?

Pat: Well, one is simply the ambience of having your home smell good when someone else enters the home. There’s not anything that smells nicer than baking bread or a stew that’s been simmering all day long. So it creates a prepared place for those that belong in the environment.

The second is that nutritionally it’s much sounder. So it’s protecting our health. And again, it goes back to our bodies being the temples of the Holy Spirit. So it’s not being fit and trim just to be fit and trim, but because it’s a biblical mandate to maintain your body.

The other reason that we cook is because it gives us a management choice rather than a management mandate. We can choose to use the pre-prepared foods. Lisa and I both do it at times. But we have a choice rather than it being an obligation that we have to have the choices.

And a key reason is that it’s usually less expensive. So again, you’re being a good steward of the Lord’s resources.

Lisa: I like to cook for my family because I’m creating memories too. I’m creating things in my little men’s hearts that they’ll remember, hopefully, all through life. They’ll remember that they had a mom who was at home that cooked for them.

Secondly, not only do they have those memories of Mom cooking, but they also have those memories of, “We sat down together as a family.” The conversation that occurs is priceless, and the time taken from our hectic, busy lives.

If you cook at home and you eat at home, there is at least a 15- or 20-minute—maybe longer—window of time where you all can just sit down for a minute, and you can talk and say, “Tell me about your day, Sweetie. What happened at school today?” Or it’s a time where Dad can ask, “What’s going on with my boys?” Or we can start talking about issues.

It’s a training time for etiquette and manners. It goes beyond the practical aspects of nutrition and finances too. There are character issues about being a mom who cooks at home and feeds her family at home.

Nancy: I’m the oldest of seven children. And our family, as I was growing up, was extremely busy. My dad was a very busy businessman. My parents were actively involved in a lot of kinds of ministry. Our house was always a hub of tons of activity.

But one thing that I think is so important about our growing-up experience is that we sat down together as a family for breakfast and dinner virtually every day of the week.

Now, as siblings, we look back on that growing-up experience and say that eating together, being together, even struggling together as a family was such an important thing that shaped our hearts and our character. That’s where a lot of conversation took place about spiritual matters, about relational issues and training in wisdom.

And it wasn’t like we sat down and had a lecture or anything. But just in the course of conversation around the meal table, so much of our heart for the Lord was shaped.

So I want to encourage moms. You may not be at a season in life or a place right now where you can have your family together for breakfast or for dinner every day. But I want to encourage you to make an effort to make your home more of a priority than it has been.

There are “how-to’s” that can be learned and need to be learned. And I’m so thankful, Lisa and Pat, that you’ve written these books to help women get a handle on some of the “how-to’s”.

But when it comes down to it, to be the wife, the mom, the woman, the homemaker that God intended us to be—it takes the grace of God. The power of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire and the power not just to have a neat house—a non-believer can do that—but to have a house that really draws those that we love and others that come into our home to want to know and love God better. That’s the motive for homemaking.

Leslie: As Nancy Leigh DeMoss just mentioned, our guests have written very practical guides on the subject of homemaking. Dr. Pat Ennis and Dr. Lisa Tatlock have co-authored Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God. In this book, they’ll offer helpful advice on everything from creating well-balanced meals to establishing a budget. More importantly, this book will help you understand how to make your home with a loving heart.

I hope you’ll ask for Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. Call toll free, 1-800-569-5959. When you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts and help us keep the program on in your area, we’ll say thanks by sending the book to you.

Again, ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959. You can also find out more about Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God or make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you have to be a master decorator or a gourmet chef in order to show hospitality? Get some practical perspective tomorrow when we continue this series, Homemaking Is Not a Dirty Word. I hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries

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