Monday, March 20, 2006

Doing Your Best

If you are new at homemaking, you don't have to think that everything has to be done perfectly. However, it should be done the very best you can.

An example of this matter being confused, is the following:

A young woman who accepted an invitation to a Tea, enjoyed it so much, that she asked how she could do it, even though she didn't have the experience or the expertise.

In order to put her mind at ease and encourage her to practice hospitality, her hostess told her she didn't have to go to all that trouble, and that just a muffin and a beverage would suffice.

When others attended her luncheon, they were awfully disappointed. Why? Because this woman herself was capable of so much better. She had not bothered to do her very best or to reach for the highest possible point of achievement that she could. She was getting by with as little as she could, and taking the easy way out.

And, why do you suppose people thought she could have done more?

1. She had attended a lot of lunches hosted by others, and had plenty of time to observe.
2.She had the facility of a nice home, and the space and kitchen to do work in.
3.She had other interests which she spent a lot of money on, and knew how to do well.
4.She was of a certain age, beyond childhood, and was not helpless, nor penniless.
5.Her very best was not offered.

The hostess that advised her, certainly did not intend for her to do a lackadaisical job. She was only trying to give her some beginning steps. So, in all that we do, let us do it well and to the best of our ability, using our creative talents.

It is one thing to offer up something when you really have nothing, but if you truly are able to a little more than the basics, a little more than just to get by, or a little more than "necessary," then you should.

In judging your own housekeeping, just do as well as you can in your circumstances. There is no use getting by with a swipe and a sweep at the house, unless you have special problems. We can each put our whole heart and soul into what we do. We are generally much happier when we know we have done our best, and put our full talent into something. People who just do what they can get by with, in anything, will never be completely happy or fulfilled.

That is why I say, when you are homemaking, that you should not just clean something, you should beautify it. Your finished job should send a message. It should say "I love my family enough to provide a place for them that is lovely and comfortable."

It is the same way with what we wear. Intentionally or not, it sends a message.

One of the reasons for good housekeeping is to win others over to your side, and to your way of life. It is a way of speaking without words.

I don't want to imply that housekeeping is the main reason for being at home, or that doing a poor job is a result of laziness, but that our attitude can be detected through the evidence of our work. As stated in a previous article, there will be times when it is impossible to pay attention to details of housekeeping. What I'm saying here is that when you are able, you should do your best. You'll one day be called to account for it, and you are creating memories for your family. You might be surprised years on down the road when someone says they were influenced by your attitude toward your responsibilities.


Unknown said...

Oh well said Lady Lydia! I was taught as a child, that if I was going to do a job, to put in the very best effort I could - that advice was given to me for use in the workforce, but I apply it to all I do. Whether it be keeping my home, sewing a cushion or playing sport.
A wonderful, practical piece of advice.

Paula said...

This was very convicting and encouraging! Thank you so much for sharing! I have never heard to not just clean it, but beautify it. I am going to print that up, frame it, and hang it where I can be reminded of it everyday! Thank you again for sharing all that you do in your blog!

Lydia said...

What I was getting at, was the idea that we can just make do with some things, just so long as it looks like we are doing it. You can detect rebellion and resentment in those who don't do a good job, or their best according to their knowledge, or even try to learn to do things well. You can tell when someone wants to go the second mile.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Lady Lydia for the prick at my soul today! I will go the extra mile today, not just to complete the errands that my Beloved has left for me but to try and think creatively to pelase him in some special way today.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the post, I found it very uplifting. I grew up in a household that was all or nothing. After I started my own family I could do nothing right. My mother always found something wrong. It's nice to know that as long as I'm trying to do my best, then maybe I'm not failing, even if it isn't perfect everytime.
Thank you.
PS I'm a single mother working full time and raising 4 precious children. Nothing is ever perfect in our home.

Magistra Mommy said...

What an excellent reminder! I know how encouraging it is to receive a heartfelt gift from a friend. How much more encouraging it must be to our families when we care enough to create warm, cozy homes with loving atmospheres daily! You are absolutely correct, Lady Lydia. Our finished jobs should send a message. Thank you for sharing with us.

Creativehomemaker said...

I enjoyed your post about showing pride in what you do, and trying hard no matter what it is your doing. Very inspirational, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post and several of the previous ones. I emailed an excerpt from the "Living on One Income" post to my parents and in-laws and said "THANK YOU" for supporting me in my desire to stay at home and cheerfully helping us out when times have been hard!!! I think something that we constantly need to be reminded of in our ministry of homemaking is that it is a ministry . . . first, to our husbands, and then our family and to everyone else. Sometimes I get discouraged when I think about all the controversies over women wanting to stay-at-home and be homemakers, but every now and then God reminds me, "Wait a minute, why are you doing this?" It's not for me! It's for my husband - to creatively and intelligently minister to him more than anyone else - the best I can - for God's glory!!! It's good to sit back and remember the main reason we see this is a "calling ---" to bless our wonderful husbands!!! :)

Shannon said...

Lady Lydia - You always manage to convict me in the sweetest way:) You are so right - it isn't just "did we do enough?," we should be concerned about using the abilities and talents the Lord gave us to their fullest in whatever we do. If we must swish toilets, let us swish them with style:)

Kathleen in Illinois said...

Lady Lydia, I always loved to "do it in style". I well remember a wedding tea my coworkers and I put on for one of "us". She married at the local courthouse during working hours, and we invited her, her family,and guests for coffee and doughnuts. Needless to say, when she, her groom, family, and friends arrived, we OVERWHELMED them with a floral archway, floral arrangements, three cakes, tea sandwiches, other tasty tidbits, tea, punch - and oh yes, coffee and doughnuts.......The room itself was beautiful...all of us had brought in our favorite table covers and accessories and "made up" each table....this was truly an example of a ladies' tea done in a grand style......I should add she cried, and even her groom had a suspicous mistiness to his eyes. Their families and friends were all delighted at the nice surprise. This memory brings a real smile even now......

Let me say that nothing we did individually cost a lot of money, and the group efforts (the floral archway, floral table decorations, etc.) were very minimal in cost for each person. So a beautiful effect CAN be achieved on a budget.

Kathleen in IL

Anonymous said...

God is surely using you! I have felt a 'nudge' from God to 'do my job' to the best of my ability as a wife and mother - even if I'm not feeling like it. You know what? When the house is clean, I 'feel like' cleaning it! When the house is clean and my family cared for, I feel better about myself, my family and my outlook in general, and I am better able to serve them. One small act can steamroll into a whole new life! Now I find myself looking for ways to 'serve' my husband - taking off his shoes when he comes home, etc.

Thank you for the inspiration!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
I'd like to ask your opinion - when you have health issues and your best does not measure up to other healthy women, how does one handle that? It may come across as if it's not your best, when in reality it is. For me there are projects and piles that need to be tended to, but I don't have the energy, nor the ability to get inside or outside help. When you are not healthy, it is hard to keep up your "best" and to not feel guilty or discouraged. Any ideas that you think might help? Thank you kindly.

Anonymous said...

I thought you guys might like this :


Anonymous said...

And this....,0,5753747.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Anonymous said...

Doing our best to create a lovely home for our loved ones, what a beautiful task! I´ve recently seen a wonderful example of this kind of housekeeping in the film "Ladies in Lavender", starring Maggie Smith and Judie Dench. Two real old-fashioned ladies so inspiring in their elegance, in the sweetness of their speech - so British -, in the little things of everyday life - the absolutely beautiful china they use for tea of for dinner, the decorations of their stone house by the Cornwall coast, the elegant and simple dresses they wear -. It´s a living example of how a lady looked like in those years, and how true beauty can be found in every little thing. And the story is so tender and feminine I couldn´t help crying with emotions. I recommend it to any women with good taste and good feelings.

Greetings from Spain,


Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
I was awfully disappointed that my previous comments & question was not posted on this thread. I think you are doing a great disservice to not address the many readers out there who are "doing their best" but have health issues. One must remember that June Cleaver was a t.v. character and not a real person in life. I am someone who is seeking help and guidance in wanting to do my best for my family and home. Please don't post just the "non-struggling homemaker posts" Although I think you have wonderful things to say, I feel let down and discouraged. I apologize for posting here, but I don't know how to email you privately. Sincerely, Lyn

Lydia said...

If you will scroll up the thread you will see that it was posted.

Lydia said...

yes, it was posted.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
My deepest apologies - I could have sworn that I checked it prior and did not see it posted before today.

Might you have any suggestions to my 1st post and question?

Thank you kindly, Lyn

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I enjoyed your article. I am very disabled and have difficulty in standing and walking. What I am going to say may help your other disabled writer.

I learnt from (a lovely christian lady) how to do anything for 15 minutes at a time. I cannot stand from more than two minutes, but I work for those two minutes then rest, then start again. By adapting flylady's routines, I have nearly returned my house to its calm, clean orderly state. My self esteem has improved and my family is happier. I don't have a specially adapted house or tools, just a willingness to do a little each weekday.

Best wishes Helen

Lydia said...

Sometimes the blogger company takes awhile to make the post stick. Sometimes even after it is posted, it won't show up for awhile. That is why people post the same message over and over, thinking it didn't work.

I've been ill a lot while a young homemaker and my technique was to have a place to rest, which I retreated to often. After about 15 minutes, I found myself laying there thinking of interesting things to be done in the home, and could get up and putter around a bit.

I would do a few things and then would lay down some more. I could get through the day and actually get more done and have more stamina than I did if I was on my feet all day.

I think the resting actually built up strength and immunity, so that I eventually got to where I was able to function quite normally. However at the first sign of a cold, a headache or feeling of fatique, I immediately seek rest.

There is still a lot you can do even while resting: sort through papers and books, make lists, hand sewing, or bring things to your resting area to do.

Sitting in a chair with your feet propped up on a footstool, you can peel potatoes or apples or mix a batter of some sort.

You can bring your mirror and brush and combs and fix your hair and apply some scented lotion. You can catch up on correspondence while lying down or resting in a chair.

You can get up and put the kettle to boil for a cup of chamomile tea, or some kind of herbal tea which empowers your health. Lie down til you hear the whistle, and then get the tea fixed. Bring it to your bed or couch and lie down while it steeps, then sip it at your liesure. You'll find that in just a few minutes you are actually wanting to do something.

It won't hurt to get up periodically and wash a few dishes or put something in the oven for dinner.

Wherever you are resting, you can reach over to the nearest table and straighten it or wipe it clean.

These are just a few suggestions of things you can do. Of course, if you are seriously ill, just go to bed and don't try to do too much.

If you are chronically ill or maybe the climate is affecting you, I found that a hot tub is really healthful, but in lieu of that, hot baths are wonderful throughout the day for health, so don't be afraid to indulge in them.

Soothing music and good smells are part of the revival process, too. Avoid junk food, and just eat home cooked food. It doesn't have as much salt or additives in it which can add to your malaise.

Keeping yourself free from heated topics or heavy issues can also increase your health. Just dwell on whatever is beautiful and lovely.

I hope this helps. Maybe others have ideas of what to do if you aren't in the best of health but still have the home to look after.

Lydia said...

Speaking of bringing things to do to your resting place, if you have boxes of things in storage that need to be sorted, or clothing from the dryer that needs to be folded, this is a perfect time to do it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,
Thank you for taking the time to post and to share your life. I appreciate your sweet kindness in doing so and my good thoughts are with you.

Dear Lady Lydia,
I very much appreciate the practicals, they are exactly what I need, thank you so much.

Yes, I do have chronic health issues & have had them for a long time. I am able to do the basics of homekeeping - some weekly cleaning, dishes, laundry and homecooked meals. However, the most challenging is not having the energy to do decluttering or other home projects like spring cleaning, etc. I definitely try to use a timer and take breaks in between - it does help, but I get discouraged a bit because it seems as if I am doing home cleaning, etc. all day long with not much time for fun. Any thoughts on that perhaps? Thank you again for everything. Sincerely, Lyn

Kelli said...

Thank you Lady Lydia, your posts are very inspiring, I love to do my best in the home. Doing your best however can sometimes have negative consequences. I love to cook and entertain at home, however many ladies are intimidated by my dinner parties. I don't like people to feel this way so now, I often don't do my best (saving that for my family).

Kelleigh :(

Country Victorian said...

Dear Lyn,

I have had health problems in the past especially at the end of my daughters illness and during pregnancy "Pre-term labor" in which I was bedridden for almost 6 months. Do you have any children that could help you? Is your husband willing to pitch in? If it wasn't for my families assistance during that time, I would have been overwhelmed.

Are there any ladies from your church that would be willing to assist you in decluttering as a ministry? I found that as I simplify my home, I have more energy. Too many things or unnecessary things are energy drainers. The simpler I made my home the easier it was to take care of it. I had a girlfriend that kept her home beautifully and I remember how she got rid of so many things including beautiful pictures. I asked her what she was doing-she told me that she just could take care of them all and was letting go of everything that was unnecessary.

She simplified her home to a point that she was able to keep it up and left her energy. Years later her simplified home made it possible for her daughters to take over, care of younger siblings as my friend was travel frequently to help a very sick dying parent.

There are many books to glean from that you could possibly read while you are resting and prepare you for your plan of attack for tackling your home.

These are not Christian authors but very good materials to glean home organizing from.

I love the book "It's your Time" by
Joe Cirillo for it's simple effective method. If you don't want a complicated time consuming book to read especially if you have brain fog which used to plague me-you'll find this an excellent source. I am using his ideas for my home as I am re-organizing and Spring cleaning. If you need a good laugh(which is good for the immune system)-you might read "Clutters Last Stand" by Don Aslett (sp?) or some of his other books. Years ago -he helped me gain control of my home and laugh along the way. There are many resources out there I am sure but I can only recommend the ones that have worked for me.

My daughter Seanna is currently writing blog articles from a book she is reading on brain types for organizing. Although I am a bit more simplified in how I want to organize -it is right up her intellectual alley. What she has read so far is very interesting and she has pegged my husband and I very acurately in the way and reason we organize the way we do. It is her intention to help us all coordinate our different styles to understand and work our home/business more efficiently. She is explaining it on her blog at

Lydia-we can get a good laugh together for I always thought we were kindred in the method of our "beautification" of our homes and projects (i.e. "Garments of Praise". Seanna pegged our brain types the same in this particular area. This book describe that each brain type is only different in utilizing a particular approach and part of the brain. One type is not better than another.

Again-I don't go for a lot of this form of reading or way of processing but as we know~we were not all cut out from the same cookie cutter.

Seanna is definately got her own personality and enjoys analyzing data more then I do.

Hope it helps or gives you a good laugh:>)

Rhonda in Chile said...

I know this is a bit after the fact, but I am new to blogging and when I have the time, I like to look at the archived blogs.

Thanks for the encouragement to do our best. I have done OK, but not my best, as my best will not be that good. But at least I should strive for the best, for the good of others,

lynn said...

Lady Lydia's words,to "not just clean something, beautify it" are wondeful for a plaque to view daily in our homes. This could be a nice craft project to make.