In her new book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, Sarah Mae gives you tips, encouragement and a lot of grace as you spend 31 days achieving a “clean house and a satisfied soul.” As Sarah Mae puts it, this isn’t a book about ‘good housekeeping;’ it’s about “‘gentle homemaking’, which is the ability to be gentle and kind with ourselves in the process of making and keeping a home while being gentle and kind to those around us.” Her dedication is also beautiful: “This book is for everyone out there who needs to know that being a ‘good’ homemaker has less to do with having a clean home and more to do with loving others well.”
One of the things that set this book apart for me was Sarah Mae’s confession that she isn’t naturally great at cleaning! Since she doesn’t like cleaning herself, she isn’t looking down on the reader. She’s coming alongside the readers and cheering us on. The tone of the book, as a result, is so full of humor and grace. She’s not lecturing; she’s encouraging. She’s honest about her own struggles and constantly offers room for mistakes and learning and differences in personality and style.
The other things that sets this book apart is the beautiful balance of Mary and Martha, spiritual and practical, emotional and physical. I’ve seen blog posts that preach the organization/cleanliness gospel with rigid expectations. So many of us jump into plans and programs and then fail because there’s no grace or flexibility. At the same time, I’ve seen blog posts touting the benefits of a messy and even dirty house because that means you love your kids and spend time with them. Neither extreme is actually healthy!
Instead of camping out in either extreme, Sarah Mae is encouraging us to spend time with Jesus, to love our family well, and to keep our homes comfortably clean and cozy. Each day’s entry includes a brief devotional/inspirational reading and then includes two challenges: A Mary Challenge, and a Martha Challenge. The Mary Challenges typically involve a short Scripture reading, responding to a thoughtful question or maybe a simple assignment that connects cleaning our house with the state of our own hearts. Each Mary Challenge also includes the space you need to write answers or journal thoughts right there within the book itself instead of needing a separate journal.
The Martha Challenges begin super-simple: Wash the dishes. Fold all the laundry. They expand from there, though, into organizing junk drawers, cleaning out the fridge, sorting through papers, and more. The goal is to take on one project a day so that you’ll have a cleaner, more organized home by the end of 31 days.
Here’s where the flexibility comes in. You can adapt the plan based on the size of your family and the size of your home. I think you could also easily adapt it to your schedule. Are you a working mom who can only do project on the weekends? Then do two days each week. Or, maybe you have three days a week where you can work on projects. Do that! Obviously, there’s something powerful about the momentum and focus on doing projects for 31 days straight, but if you can’t, then just adjust the plan to something you can do.
Sarah Mae includes plenty of opportunities for you to get your kids involved in the cleaning process. She also adds in extra tips and suggestions such as “5 ways to create a sense of ‘Welcome! Put Your Feet Up” and other elements of hospitality from “don’t make everything perfect. Let your house be lived in….” to “be a listener.” She writes, “The goal of homemaking isn’t to have perfectly decorated, perfectly clean homes. The whole point is to have a place that is welcoming, and you know where that begins? In your own heart. Your home is a reflection of who you are. If you are warm and welcoming, your home will be. The cleaning? That’s just the cherry on top, you know, so no one trips on the way to your couch!”
One of the beautiful take-aways for me is the reminder that caring for my home doesn’t need to be mundane or insignificant. She talks about creating beauty, peace, and safe places. I can make my home a refuge for my family, a place of gentleness and calm.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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