Monday, July 18, 2011


1. A house, especially a farmhouse, with adjoining buildings and land.
2. Law Property designated by a householder as the householder's home and protected by law from forced sale to meet debts.
3. Land claimed by a settler or squatter, especially under the Homestead Act.
4. The place where one's home is.

If you are at all like me, the word homestead evokes images of Laura Ingalls sashaying through the prairie, her bonnet trailing behind while tied around her neck, her braided pig tails waving in the wind as she carries her lunch pail and arm full of books tied together with a belt on her way home from the one room schoolhouse.  

I have come to realize, however, that the word homestead really does have a positive and comforting connotation, aside from the lofty images of days past.  A number of years ago I came across an article that I have since referred to often.  It was refreshing and encouraging at a point when our oldest child was perhaps about preschool age.  The premise of the article, taken from a newsletter I'd stumbled upon called The New Harvest Homestead, was about staying home more.  This article had a great impact on me because I was being hit with the pressures every mom is bombarded with regarding what "opportunities" they will provide for their child as the child moves from toddlerhood to childhood.  

My first reaction to the article was one of caution.  My husband, though not a city lover, is not a farmer either.  We were renting a small condo at the time and "homesteading" as I'd thought of it was not for us.  As I processed the article in the weeks following my first reading of it, I realized that it really did speak of a better way.  Dan and I knew we did not want to follow the crowd.  We didn't do things in our own life because it was the 'thing to do', so why would we do for our children what others said was the 'thing to do'.  We also were bound by financial constraints that did not allow for us to send our children to the fancy preschool, private swim and music lessons.  In hindsight, I'm thankful.  I'm thankful that we were bound by financial constraints because our decisions were simplified, and thankful to have stumbled upon this particular article.  

The author of the article - I'm not sure of her name and the newsletter appears to not be published any longer- spoke of the importance of being home.  She spoke of being a manager and keeper of the home.  I most remember thinking "How can you keep a home if you're not home!"  It made perfect sense.  The article validated my feelings that being home with my kids was OK.  That learning, fun, relationship, growth and service could all take place at home and it could be done together - as a family!  Without the rat race!  

I have learned that keeping a home is not just about having laundry all caught up and a freshly mopped floor.  Homesteading really refers to all the things that are done at home.  Child training, cooking, gardening... anything that requires keeping our hands busy at home to benefit the home and those who live in it.  The care of our children is care for home as well!  Home has as much to do with the people who live in it as it does the building and environment.

Although we have signed our kids up for community things here and there through the years, we have not typically found them to be worth the time or the money!  The relationships Isaiah built through playing teen-led, unorganized community flag football were nothing more than acquaintances.  That's fine, but he didn't really learn to play a new sport, most children are not expected to behave and listen to instruction and he wasn't able to speak long enough with any of the children to build a lasting friendship.  On the other hand, we have taken advantage of the lake in our community.  It's free for residents to get a parking pass and we have enjoyed the beach as a family numerous times this summer.  The time the boys have spent playing and splashing together - having fun while taking a few informal lessons from me- has given them far more swimming instruction than the expensive lessons they took at the town pool a number of years ago.  

Opportunity?  Sure!  They swim with other kids now for free at the lake.  They enjoy each others company and their time is not wasted with one hand on the pool edge waiting for their turn to kick with a kickboard and return to the edge to wait again.  We come and go as our schedule allows.  We don't have to go on rainy days when reading an extra book sounds more appealing than heading off to a swimming pool.  There is no stress or panic to be on time.  There is no rush, no "hurry we're late"!  It really does make me think of a trip to the swimming hole, much like Laura Inglalls may have taken. ;)

A great friend of mine, whom I shared the article with a while back, said recently that it had impact on her too.  She was at the time convinced that she had to take her young son out somewhere each day because "that's what he needed".  Now, three more children later, she realizes that it was not what he "needed" but what made life easier for her.  Away from home, there was less opportunity for training.  There was built in entertainment and stimulation.  Her son did not need to learn to play by himself or sit quietly while others rested.  She learned, in time as did I, that children do not need to be entertained all day.  They need to be trained in matters such as self control and patience.  With such training comes much joy and peace!  

I challenge you.  What can you do to be home more?  Is the pace of your life overwhelming?  Does the way in which you spend your time reflect your priorities?  Are you the 'taxi driver' bringing each child here, there and everywhere?  The parallel is often joked about, but is it really funny?  Is it necessary?  How is a hurried lifestyle effecting your relationships with those you care for most?  It's OK to be home.  It's OK not to entertain your children.  It's OK not to rush through each day meeting deadline after deadline.  It's OK to be still.  It's OK to be quiet.  In a fast paced world, filled with noise, it's easy to forget....

1O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
   too great and too marvelous for me.
2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.  

Psalm 131:1-2

1 comment:

Yvonne Hazell said...

Very true, Lisa. I've been contemplating the simplicity of life this summer as well and trying to ease the burdens I impose on myself. Well said.:)


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