Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Eden of Home

Country Cottage, by Joshua Fisher

An interesting  way to make anything worthwhile and beautiful, is to think back to the beginning of time; to the Creation. There are several lessons that can be taught about the Garden of Eden, and taking care of the home is one of them.

The first two chapters of the book of Genesis record the creation of the very first home and family. The description of the beautiful garden, and the couple who lived there, can be an example in creating our own homes, for a number of reasons: It had everything the man and woman needed for living, and to make a living. We assume by its description of the rivers, the precious gems and the flora, that it was also a lovely, pleasant place.

Stephen Darbishire

If God saw fit to create such a lovely place for Adam and Eve, we can, in our limited way, provide a place of beauty and happiness for our own families.  The work of the house can be approached as though it were a special Eden, a reflection of that first home.

Log Cabin Covered Porch, by Sung Kim

 Like the Garden of Eden, the home will  have to be cared for and maintained. Not all of the work will be completely pleasant, and that is why homemakers enjoy the little extras in the home. That is why homemakers are interested in the special touches, from fresh foods and special napkins for the table, to bright cushions and scenic pictures for the living areas. Not all housekeeping will be easy. That is why women are interested in choosing good working tools and cleaning products. Straw brooms, polishes, detergents and storage containers of a certain quality and appearance, become very important in making housekeeping meaningful and uplifting. These little touches create a nice atmosphere in which to work.

Making work worthwhile means that you have to have some kind of vision beyond the current job. You will not just be cleaning up the kitchen or doing the laundry. You will be making life more pleasant for yourself by having this work done. In the short-term scheme of things, you are making life easier for yourself by being able to find things, but in the long term, you will be building a life for yourself that your own generations will one day refer to when they talk about the things you did to make the home more comfortable. If you have children, your attitude will influence them one way or another. These are among the future results of homemaking with thoughtfulness.

On the first day of the Creation, God made the lights. Light is an important factor in homemaking. Choosing curtains that let in soft light, or having a flickering candle on a mantelpiece, is better than working in a gloomy, unlit room. When photographs are made for house magazines, light is the first thing that is prepared, so that the home will be shown at its best.  Small lamps, chosen for their style or sentimental value, positioned in corners and on furniture side pieces can make housekeeping enjoyable.

The second day of creation, the heavens and the waters were separated. Some things belong in one place, and others in another place.  If the earth were all jumbled up in a big mess, we could not function as human beings. Consider the home as a type of creation in the making. You may have to separate things and  create places for them,  to make order.  In a huge mess, begin by placing things that are alike, together in piles and finding a place for them. Books, clothes, toys, and papers, all need to have their own places. This is part of creating order, and making home living enjoyable. 

Arranging Flowers, by Leonard Zorn

 The third day, the dry land, called the earth, appeared, and was separated from all the great bodies of water. On top of that ground, God added green grass and herbs and fruit-bearing trees. The concept of interior home design must have come  from the Creation, because designers  usually take care of the big things first, like the floors, the walls, and the drapery. Then, like the plants added to the earth,  they add the furniture, and lastly, the accessory items of pictures, lamps and other useful or decorative items.

The fourth day, all the different kinds of lights were placed in the heavens--some for day time and some for night time. There are such nice choices for your private Eden of the home: humble curtains that let in light as the morning appears, and pretty lamps with special shades for extra evening light. Soothing, scented candles light the home with memories of simpler times. My favorite scented votive is called birthday cake, which makes a wonderful aroma for the house when stored in decorative containers and left unlit.

Sunshine in the Country, by George Turner

The fifth day, all the living things that could fly or swim, were created. A friend of mine has an old painting of a farm home. In the scene, are animals, with a little creek flowing through the land. Children are playing outside on a home made swing. There are clouds in a blue sky, and daffodils in a flower garden. Although she does not live in the country, this lady's  picture is a reminder of the relationship of the home to the creation. I think it is very good for home makers to remind their families of where life began, by having pictures on their walls, with scenes of the birds of the air and other living things. A small plant or container of flowers brings in fresh scent and gives you a close-up view of nature. If you have things growing outside, try a handful of spearmint stalks, mixed with the humble forget-me-not, which brightens the center of a table and scents the home.

Summer Evening, by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

The sixth day, after creating animals, God created man and woman.  The home was prepared, and now, it was time to put someone in it to care for it. These two people were told to have dominion over the creation. In a similar way, we must have control over the house, so that it can provide the place we need in order to think, to pray and to work. Most people do not have the luxury of outside help from maids and gardeners. That is why it is so important to develop the habit of caring for the home and keeping it orderly. It takes daily attention. There will be interruptions and sick days, but if you have the idea of Eden in your mind, you can always get back on track. 

If you keep in your mind a vision of the reputation you are building for yourself in the future, and the many reasons you want to be a good homemaker, the work does not seem like mere housekeeping. It becomes fulfillment. If you work carefully and enjoy it, rather than rushing around doing it in a hectic manner, it becomes less of a race and more of a gentle walk through your own Eden.

Grandmother's Doorway, by Abbot Fuller Graves

On the seventh day, God rested. Keeping house and doing it enthusiastically can give the homemaker more free time and more opportunities to put her feet up and rest. When everything is in order, there is more time to  seek special creative interests. I often put simple crafts, art projects and sewing on this weblog to show how just a few minutes of creating something special with your hands can lift the mood and result in something beautiful. This same concept can be used in keeping house. You can treat it as a creative work art. These are some of the perks of homemaking. They do not detract from our work, and they enhance the job at  home.

A homemaker wants to make the daily housekeeping a little more interesting.  That is why some of them use motivational things like interesting aprons to protect their clothing, with pockets for lists and found items, special table cloths and table settings, pictures of nature on the walls, floral prints on fabrics used for pillows or blankets, and all the lovely extras that make life at home so enjoyable. Most people are familiar with the film, "The Quiet Man," in which the young woman tells her prospective husband that she must have her things around her, in her house: the household furnishings that belonged to her mother and her grandmother: her table cloths, candlesticks, pictures for the walls, and her dishes.  This is what we still need, today, to make housekeeping enjoyable. If it is just a matter of sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathroom, it cannot be as appealing. When we are surrounded by the small comforts of a hand made blanket and a favorite cup, housekeeping has a different meaning: we are taking care of our own things.

The Family Album, 1869, by Charles Edouard Frere, French (1837-1894)

 We are the caretakers of the family history. We are the ones who keep the photograph albums and make the scrapbooks to record family events. We are the ones who create the special moments for the family. Keeping house so that these things can occur, makes good sense.  Women of the past used to say something like, "Let us get our work done early, and then we can go somewhere," or "Let's get the housework finished and then we can work on our favorite things."

To make housekeeping more enjoyable, try the following things:

Preparing for the next day, by leaving the kitchen clean at night before you retire. It might be possible to try this at least one night a week.
Dressing like a lady the first thing in the morning, and wearing an apron.
Putting a centerpiece on the table, after you have cleared it.
Putting away the dishes after they are washed, and making the kitchen streamlined and clean, as bare of clutter as possible.
Using a matching canister set to store often-used ingredients such as baking supplies or dried soup supplies.
Putting a tea set on display, ready to serve  impromptu visitors.
Folding things to fit the spaces they have to go in.
Laying a special folded towel across the edge of the tub, with a fresh bar of a special hand made soap on it.
Adding a pretty quilt to the top of your couch.
Buy scented candles and place them around the house, especially the laundry room, bathroom and kitchen. Without being lit, they make a wonderful scent for the home when placed in a decorative container and set on a shelf.  
Giving your home and yourself rewards: making a new garment to wear at home, having friends over for a fancy tea, ordering something special for the home, starting a new knitting project you have been wanting to do for years, or working on your photograph album or family memento scrapbook.
Not just cleaning house, but beautifying your living spaces, and thinking about, not just the near future, but the further future of your family.

While these things do take a little extra time, that is one of the purposes of a woman staying home. She has time for things that make her house feel homey and cared for. These are those extra things that calm the spirit and make life at home satisfying and fulfilling.

Due to some setting on this blog that prevents clicking and saving, you might find it difficult to print this article. To print this, highlight and paste on another page, then click print. It may still be possible to download.

For further reading on other homemaking subjects, you might find this site helpful.


Lindsay said...

Wow! Your use of Genesis to explain the importance of keeping house is wonderful! The next time I feel like slacking, I'll remember the way God made a beautiful home for His creation, and how I need to do the same for my family. Good motivator!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog!!!! it inspires me to do my housework with a right attitude, and not look at it as just the same-old-same-,day ina and day out but you are so right we're doing this all for the betterment of our husbands and our precious children and when i think about it our husbands I'm sure have a lot of those same-old-same days but they keep going because they are providing what is needed to keep the familys needs met and we too as homemakers may be doin a lot of those same daily routines but its making things comfortable and stable for those we love. Thanks for all the encourageing blogging about homemaking, you make me look at it at a much brighter perspective, i no longer dread my day to day routines, thanks for sharing... Netta in TN.

Lydia said...

Welcome Tennessee and other Southern ladies. You can help us restore the right culture of the family, as it should be, by the way you live, and by blogging. Frome the east to the west, women are waking up and taking a stand for homemaking. The only way to restore the culture is to teach the next generation by living it in front of them and by training them that the home is more important than anything.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Fabulous post!

One of the best you have ever written (and that is saying a lot). :)

Anonymous said...

I have never read a homemaking book that can beat any of your posts! :) Your writing is so inspirational and meaningful. I really do hope you can write a book and combine as many of your posts on its many topics as possible. To be able to have them bound in a copy to pass down to our children would be a true treasure! I can't thank you enough for helping me be a better homemaker. Sarah

Anonymous said...


Fantastic!! This is a beautiful post, and as Brenda has already stated, at least equal best with the cream of your writings here!

It is inspirational!! You are correct in suggesting that women are waking up everywhere... from 'Anglican Plain's latest posts concerning the need to return to home cookery for health, vitality and happiness (along with the subversive strategies employed by the fast food giants), her take on the home as a place of activity and industry that nourishes, nurtures and uplifts family, to this very interesting post regarding the need to reestablish community and self sufficiency, the importance of place and family in any coming crisis, be it ecconomic or environmental, we women especially are recognising the follies we have swallowed and the need to refocus. Post modern, individualistic, mass urban 'oil based' ecconomy cannot last. Remember, folks, we've done it successfully without the oil ecconomy for all time until the past 100 years, and oil based tech (be it plastics, dies etc) has only been widely utilized since the 1930's. We need to rediscover classical culture - classical culture was destroyed outright during and post ww1, replaced with mostly ugly alternatives from art to music to attire, with but few exceptions (mid late 1930's, 1950's and mid 1980's-1990-s that seem to have been utterly forgotten this past decade. We can control what goes on inside our own domaine, even if we cannot do much about the rot outside. Home as Eden? Yes!! that the spirits may be lifted and hearts set aright.

Anonymous said...

This was really beautiful. I think your detractors secretly like your posts, that's what I think. Why else would they keep reading them?

Anonymous said...


~ Ann

Anonymous said...

What a great encouragement. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into explaining the why's behind purposeful home making. This instruction has been sadly lacking in the last couple of generations, mine included.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mrs Sherman for adding the labels at the end of your current posts. I have gone on them and so had a further understanding of these subjects. Thank you so much. I do not see any archive listing the years and months to click on you have been writing. That used to make it easier to go back and find things. Now we have had to go on each page and click 'back' on the bottom to get to the next older post page. I am thankful though, that the posts are there somewhere to reread. The new labels help to find some.

Emmarinda said...

Thank you for such a unique perspective and a well-thought-out post. May I just add that as Satan infiltrated Eden, so he also tries to do with our homes, so we must be on guard for him there, especially. When wrong attitudes such as self-pity, ingratitude, covetousness or laziness appear, you can be certain that the enemy is successfully planting seeds in people's minds at home. And I am speaking to myself here, first and foremost. Another way the enemy can harass us at home is during those extended times of work or "service" away from home. When we are too busy out in the world we begin to neglect our homes and small issues left to fester become big ones rather quickly. Case in point: after about two months of having to be away from home most of time, I went to get something out from the cabinet under one of the bathroom sinks. I felt a little bit of moisture on the item, so I began to pull things out of the cabinet. The more I touched, the wetter everything got until I discovered the cabinet full of water, and mold forming all over the back of it. I turned the faucet on to see where the leak was, and water gushed out like a fountain where two of the sections of pipe are joined together under there. Who knows how long this was going on? I got right to work drying everything, cleaning and eradicating the mold. After that, my husband began to work on the pipes and it has been no small feat to get this repaired! All I can say is that I was so thankful to once again have the "leisure" to be home and back on the job of caring for and guarding my home. I can only speak for myself, but it is possible to work full time and get the bare minimum done at home in order to keep everyone functioning, but the home, just like children, needs quantity time as well as quality time in order to do justice to it.

Lydia said...


Guarding the home just cannot be done as effectively when a woman goes to work. For one thing, work outside the home seems to exhaust the mind to the extent that even if you are thinking about all the things you want to do when you go home at night, you are usually exhausted before you get a chance to do it all. The working woman also is distracted by business and so the home really suffers. At work, she listens to the people around her and their small talk and it can really drain the mind. It is harder to think of the generational impact of the work at home, if you are out working for someone else. And, once you start working away from home, it is very hard to quit, for a number of reasons.

Anonymous said...


Upon re-reading this entry and comments, I've been inspired to take the bul by the horns and straighten everything up...finding joy in the rhythm of the tasks at hand; from floors to kitchen, to bathrooms, bedroom, laundry and dishes (not that it was badly out of order , but insomnia can take the shine of one's motivation... even down to putting on a nice skirt, blouse and vest set, buying a lovely bunch of flowers and sorting those odds and ends that need sorting... it lifted my spirits, and now my heart is so much lighter.

Over at my father and step mother's for dinner with my husband last night; once again,the question of job and that horrid word that should be struck from the English language, 'career' raised its head; you would think that seeing as I am married and pushing 40 they'd have worked it out by now, only for my husband to step in and with a smile in his voice remark that looking after him is my career... They naturally thought he was joking, doubtless, but he was and is dead serious about it. he understands and has mentioned that if he wanted a career woman, he'd have settled for one...

Oh I love my husband!!

With a smile and finally not looking for approval for family, not giving a tinker's about what anybody else thinks about how I'm living my life, wasting my talents etc, I think this may in a twist of irony, be part of the answer...

We need to pray for one another, especially for those of us who are alone in our families and church's re our calling as guards of our domestic domaine. This enables us to do so much more for those we love, to find strength and joy in the rhythms of home, viewing each act as an offering to our Heavenly Father, and allows us to give to our communities in all manner of ways.

Keep on speaking the truth!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. I have printed it out for my Homemakers Journal and shall keep a copy for my dear daughter when she is a little older.

Anneatheart said...

I really needed this! I've been slacking on my attitude about housework majorly. I've been dressing in stretchy t-shirts and capris, a ponytail and working like a slave it feels like! (I have 4 little girls, one is a crawler) It's not fun at all and is drudgery, where it used to be fulfilling. I guess I need to change some things...

Lydia said...

Dress up for your children, and make home living a delight for them. It is a good influence on them and they will develop their tastes for clothes and home things, from their mother.It is so important not to lose a moment because they grow up so fast, and one day you might wish you had done so.

Lisa G. said...

This is very nice - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Lady Lydia an incredible post on the home and our "rightful" place. With anticipation I look forward to seeing your blog. There is always an encouraging word !!

I think that the women who disagree with you are strongly convicted by the word of God that their view is wrong . Since they can't email God they say horrible things about you. Thank you for speaking/writing the truth !

I would like to see an article on women whose(christian) husband's insist that they work outside the home. So many Christian blogs say obey him even though the word says to be Keepers at home.I would really like to know how to deal with this one. So many churches and Christians encourage this.

If you could include Genesis and the curse it would be appreciated.So many women are doing the man's job and their job. One women said her husband told her to work while he was looking for a job . He took care of the new born(!) and she came home and did the cooking, cleaning, washing etc. I was floored. She said they were waiting for GOd to provide the husband a job and he hadn't yet. I was amazed to say the least. How did people deal with this before 'working outside the house ' women ?

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear Lydia for this wonderful post. It was marvellous and the ladies comments were much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Oh this is so lovely, wonderful...thank you Lydia for giving me (us) good things to think about and do in our homes.

How creative to compare home to Genesis.

Lynn M

Anonymous said...

Our homes are the Genesis for our children too as they start out there and are taught God's love and laws there and the many lessons they will need in life. Thank you for the lesson bridging it to the Genesis story! I will never think of it the same again! :)

Jennifer C. Valerie said...

This post was very inspiring. It lifted me to a greater vision of what my home can be as I keep working on it. Thank you so very much.

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you soooo much for this post!! I left a comment a few posts ago wishing for you to write an article regarding how to change one's attitude towards the work of mine was not have certainly outdone yourself with this one, and I am completely and newly inspired!! I have a new vision for expressing my creativity in our home, and I know my honey and my little girl will benefit (as well as myself.) Many, many thanks with hugggs and kisses thrown in! :)