Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home:
Thou art not my friend, and I’m not thine.
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I’ve been tossed like the driven foam;
But now, proud world! I’m going home.

Good-bye to Flattery’s fawning face;
To Grandeur with his wise grimace;
To upstart Wealth’s averted eye;
To supple Office, low and high;
To crowded halls, to court and street;
To frozen hearts and hasting feet;
To those who go, and those who come;
Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home.

I am going to my own hearth-stone,
Bosomed in yon green hills alone, —
A secret nook in pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned;
Where arches green, the livelong day,
Echo the blackbird’s roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.

– Excerpt from “Good-Bye” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mr. Emerson speaks of a place that is so special, so set-apart, so sacred, that he would gladly give up the flattery, grandeur, wealth, and office of the world just to get there: his hallowed hearth. “Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home” is his happy cry as he travels homeward to find sweet solitude within his own four walls.

Hearth and Home, symbols once regarded with awe and reverence, have become insignificant and obsolete to many in our culture. In a world that values over-sharing, over-stimulus, and being on the go all the time, those who lead quiet and simple home-based lives are regarded as “backwards homebodies”. But does God share this negative view towards a lady of hearth and home?

Proverbs 27:8 notes that: Like a bird that wanders from its nest, so is a person who wanders from his home. (think: exposed, vulnerable, endangered)

Proverbs 7:11b describes a wicked woman in this way: “Her feet do not remain at home.*

(*Contrast this with the Proverbs 31 woman who “watches over the activities of her household” (v. 27), or the Titus 2 woman who is a “worker at home” (v. 5).)

In 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul urged young widows to get married so that they would focus on “keeping house” instead of gallivanting around town as a busybody, like so many are wont to do!

Though contrary to “worldly wisdom”, the homefront is exactly where God intends for women to spend the majority of their time. If you are a housewife, or a woman who spends much of her time at home, chances are that at one point or another you will be put down or even ridiculed for your humble lifestyle. Most modern-day people, (even some in the church), fail to see the value of the “homely” woman – they think she’s not being enough…she’s not doing enough…that frankly, she’s not enough. But take heart, your God-ordained task of keeping the home is worth more than gold. Today, I want to share with you three ways that women positively impact themselves and others by simply cultivating and maintaining a Hallowed Hearth. First up is by…

The virtue of the soul does not consist in flying high, but in walking orderly.

– Montaigne, “Of Repentance,” Essays (1580-88)

Many women, though capable housewives, bemoan the drudgery of housework. “Aren’t I made for more?” one might ask herself. “I want to do something important! All I do is cook and clean all day. Where’s the spiritual meaning in that?” Others, in laziness, let their homes deteriorate into general disarray and filth, believing that the state of their living space has no real significance in the grand scheme of life. Still others go on to pursue careers or outside activities to fill their time, regarding these things to be a nobler calling than keeping the home.

Each of these three types of women have a faulty perspective in regard to the role of housewifery. They have not appreciated the value of The Ordered Room.

What if I told you that the state of your home is in direct correspondence to the state of your heart? Would you believe me if I said that imagining decor and imaging Deity are closely linked? Is it possible to fathom that following your recipe and following your Redeemer are both sacred acts?

Before you label me as a fruit loop or a heretic, hear me out on this. Have you ever considered that the God who loves propriety and order (1 Corinthians 14:40) just might be interested in rearing children who love propriety and order? In Genesis 1:26, God said, “let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness“. We see that God is a Father who wants to train up children after his nature. What is this nature? Here are a few aspects that He mentions: “be fruitful and multiply“, “fill the earth and subdue it“, and “rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). In layman’s terms, He said, “train some kids” (the spouse was already accounted for), “tackle some chores”, and “tend some animals”. You might be saying, “What?! I thought imaging God was doing some great feat!” Lest we be like Naaman, who balked at the simplicity of the task before him (2 Kings 5:10-14), we should rejoice that the Lord allows us to mirror Him in such simple ways.

Our God is a god of order. We can see His orderliness in all creation…from a simple bacteria, to the intricate human body, to the vast solar system. When we transform chaos into order and arrangement, we delight our Father by being His mini image-bearers. Child-rearing, cooking, tidying the house, conquering new skills, tending the garden, etc. are all fine examples of multiplying, subduing, and ruling in our little plot of earth. Far from being meaningless routine, homemaking is a sacred task. So order your room!

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. – Proverbs 24:3-4

The Ordered Room is a vital aspect of a Hallowed Hearth. The second way that ladies of hearth and home can positively impact themselves and others is by…

The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.

– Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. However, there is a common misconception that service only counts when it adds mileage to your vehicle. What happened to the golden days of yore when it was oft said, “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world”? Less than a century ago, our ancestors believed that a woman’s sphere of influence was in the home, and not out of it. Nearly all women (up until World War I) were working behind the scenes, serving their families. Fast forward to today, and serving one’s family is considered of lesser value to outside pursuits…almost primitive.

We pondered in our previous point that imaging God doesn’t have to be some grand feat, but can take place even in the simplest of tasks – such as bringing order to a room. In much the same way, do we not image God’s Son when we offer our hand to serve our family on a daily basis? Is not the Messiah, who washed feet (John 13:12-15), well-pleased when we fold our husband’s laundry, serve our kids lunch, or groom the family pet? When we come before our families to serve rather than be served, we are being Christlike. (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45)

We are deceived when we buy into the narrative that service must be flashy, extravagant, and public. Offering a hand doesn’t have to mean being an ambassador to some far-away nation. Rather, the way a woman is called to serve is in humble fashion, among the household, making her husband’s home a haven. Jesus didn’t consider washing feet too “insignificant” a service to perform, nor should we hold this attitude towards housework. Serving can look like wiping a counter, sweeping a floor, preparing a meal, scrubbing a bathroom, and the like. If love for husband and children does not compel you, remember that your work is service to the Lord. (Colossians 3:23-24) Offering our hand to others in loving service is performing Kingdom work. So offer your hand!

Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. – Proverbs 31:31

The Offered Hand is a vital aspect of a Hallowed Hearth. The third way that ladies of hearth and home can positively impact themselves and others is by…

Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire
To pause from toil and trim their evening fire;
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,
And every stranger finds a ready chair.

– Oliver Goldsmith

The Ordered Room and The Offered Hand open the door to, wellThe Opened Door. (I am told my puns are groan-inducing – oops.) When one combines a clean, orderly environment with a caring, serving heart, hospitality is made reachable. Let’s face it; no one wants to invite guests to a pigsty (nor does anyone want to be invited to a pigsty), and no one wants to invite guests to an uncharitable family setting (nor does anyone want to be invited into an uncharitable family setting). While some may boast that they offer the unedited, raw version of themselves to others – “this is who I am, take it or leave it” – such forward crudeness is inconsiderate, unladylike, and reveals a lack of character. We should honor our guests with the decency of a pleasant environment, in appearance and attitude alike. Give a little extra oomph to your tidying, and put a smile on your face. These actions will go a long way in making people feel welcome.

Women who work away from hearth and home are at a stark disadvantage in the hospitality department. For one thing, finding a time to invite people over is a very real challenge. Not to mention finding a time to ready the house for guests, or to feel capable of expending energy that has been sorely depleted in the workplace. Guests may even be a frustrating hindrance to the limited time she has to invest in her own family. This is just one of many reasons that I strongly encourage women (if their husbands allow them) to step out of the workforce and into full-time homemaking. A housewife has freedom of time and attentive focus that career women lack – two gifts that will greatly aid her in her ability to be a good hostess.

It’s worth pointing out that “hospitality”, though often used broadly to mean all manner of entertaining (mostly focused on family and friends), derives from the Greek word philoxenos: “the love of strangers”. While inviting family and friends over is a kind gesture and not without merit, the Bible primarily uses the idea of “hospitality” to address how we treat those who are not related or otherwise in our inner circle. There should be a special attention given to those who are “outsiders”…for example, inviting the visitor in worship service out to lunch, welcoming the new neighbor into your home for a cup of tea, or simply showing patience and understanding to the immigrant who is struggling to learn English. In the Old Testament, God’s people were commanded to treat strangers as one of their own, loving them as if they were one of their own (Leviticus 19:34), show justice towards strangers (Deuteronomy 27:19), and share of their food with them (Leviticus 19:10). The New Testament says that how we treat strangers is how we treat Jesus. (Matthew 25:35) Hospitality is imperative in our walk as Christians. So open your door!

A widow is to be put on the list only if she…has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. – 1 Timothy 9a,10b

The Opened Door is a vital aspect of a Hallowed Hearth.

In conclusion…

A Hallowed Hearth consists of The Ordered Room, The Offered Hand, and The Opened Door. These three components will transform a humble house into a happy home, such as this beautiful quote encapsulates:

A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world’s perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded. Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men. Far more than we know, do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home, into the world’s strife, temptation, struggle, and duty, is strong-inspired for noble and victorious living.

– J.R. Miller

May your hearth be hallowed, homemaker.

For God’s glory,
Mrs. Dustin Bolks

Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.