The Joyful Life Magazine
A quarterly lifestyle print publication. Heart & Home Inspiration for Christian Women seeking the JOY found by inviting JESUS into our everyday lives.
The Joyful Life News
Sign up to receive Joyful Life Community news, weekly blog post updates, shop announcements, and exclusive offers for our subscribers.

For nearly two decades, my family lived in a house—not a home. What’s the difference? A house is a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in, and the necessities of a toilet and shower. But a home? It’s a warm blanket wrapping around you with love and warmth, a place of refuge and a safety net from the swirling world around us. A Christian home provides another all-important layer of comfort—it beckons you inside and envelopes you in Christ’s loving arms, His peace, and His truth.

Growing up, I despised weekly housework. I loved school, and from my perspective, my household chores interfered with reading and extracurricular activities. To me, housework was boring and mundane, and it wasn’t unusual for me to be found reading instead of doing my fair share. At a young age, I vowed I’d never do housework when I was living on my own. Unfortunately, I carried that foolish mindset into my adult life and my marriage. As I focused on my career, I used it as an excuse to always find something more important to do than tend house.

I stubbornly held onto that mindset, persuaded I was right by the prevailing media perspective of my formative years: the women’s liberation movement of the 70’s. The rallying cry of “I am woman, hear me roar” rang in my mind and convinced me that focusing on the home was demeaning and limiting. Yes, a woman is strong, has much to offer, and rightfully deserves to be treated equally in the workforce. But I chased that at the expense of building my home—I chose Glamour magazine over the Bible—and it cost me.

If only my younger self understood what my older self knows now: “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1).

A WISE WOMAN BUILDS HER HOME CENTERED ON CHRIST

Long before the popularity of “Fixer Upper,” my husband and I remodeled a small farmhouse originally built by my husband’s father, uncles, and grandfather around 1929. It’s a modest two-story home with the charm of dormer windows, but with the challenges of small rooms and limited storage. When our only child was 5, we chose to make this her childhood home. I loved the idea of building our home on the legacy and history of family. I spent hours drawing rooms to scale, meeting with contractors, budgeting, and making certain we avoided falling into a money pit. The remodel was successful, and the house proved to be adequate for providing a roof over our heads and a safe place to sleep, but in all the hours spent on remodeling, I forgot the primary ingredient in building a home: Jesus Christ.

My little family of three attended church weekly. We filled a pew, but my husband and I didn’t choose to fill our minds with the Word of God. Attending church was a checklist item, not a heart choice.

If my younger self knew what my older self knows now, I would have chosen the Bible over Glamour magazine. I would’ve known that every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4)—and a house built without the foundation of Christ is like the house Jesus taught about in Matthew 7:25:

“…everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

That’s exactly what happened when the floods of life struck us. The fall was great, and a pall of darkness cloaked our house for nearly two decades. As our marriage was hit with an onslaught of medical emergencies, challenging farm years, and struggling finances, the hope of our newly remodeled house succumbed to the prison of hopelessness.

For 23 years that farmhouse was just a house. Our daughter never experienced growing up in the home I had longed to give her. But now, the trajectory of my life, and my family’s life, has changed direction. God swept us up from the swirling floodwaters onto the solid rock of Jesus Christ. We’re now in our empty nest years, but we’ve chosen Christ as the center of our marriage—the foolish mindset of my younger years has been replaced with the wisdom of God—and with this change, our adult daughter now experiences respite in the home she never had as a child.

With God, it’s never too late to start rebuilding.

BUILDING A HOME, NOT A HOUSE

My young, foolish heart chose a career. My God-filled heart longs for home.

What was the catalyst for this heart change? 72 hours with God on a weekend retreat over eight years ago. In those hours, God ignited a fire within me for more. I craved Him, so I opened His Word. In doing so, I was convicted by the words in Joshua 24:15: “Choose this day whom you will serve.” I decided to choose the Lord.

This is the first and most critical step in building a home, instead of a house—choosing Christ as the foundation. That’s the pivotal difference between the two. I learned the hard way what the psalmist declares in Psalm 127:1: My labor is in vain unless the Lord builds the house (paraphrased). But by the grace of God, I’ve also been able to experience the beauty of a home with Christ at its center.

 
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME

A Wise Woman Focuses on God’s Word

A wise woman does not labor in vain. She seeks God’s wisdom and exemplifies her choice of Christ as the foundation of her home to all who live within or enter in. Her husband, her children, friends, and guests witness her choice in her daily actions. She is an example of choosing Christ and seeking the wisdom of God’s Word. As she soaks in His promises, Christ becomes the center of her heart and emanates to every heart in the home. Priorities change and wisdom and understanding of Christ’s ways are heightened. A wise woman prioritizes serving the Lord, filling her home with the wisdom of His Word and thereby arming her loved ones with the sword of truth. She understands and lives out the commandment established by God so many years ago: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

A Wise Woman Chooses Forgiveness

I’ve learned it’s impossible to build a Christ-centered home without forgiveness—another intentional choice. A foolish woman chooses pride; a wise woman chooses forgiveness. I sat in a dark chapel wrestling with this very choice on my retreat. Could I forgive the scars and hurts that were carved into my heart over the past two decades? On the front side of forgiveness, I agonized. On the back side of forgiveness, I found freedom.

Like the closets in our homes stuffed with unworn clothing, toys, and memorabilia of the past—leaving no room for our present needs—we must let go of the scars and baggage of our past. Forgiveness cleanses our heart and allows room for the good things of God.

I chose to forgive eight years ago, but my house remained dysfunctional and debilitated by rooms, boxes, and closets filled with the past. Why? Forgiveness is not simply a one-time choice; it’s a daily choice to exemplify God’s love for us. Within my home, we’re learning to say, “I’m sorry,” and to forgive the small acts of hurts and disobedience that can build deep scars and clutter a home with offense. The cleaning spree has been fulfilling—both in the function of our home and in our hearts.

A Wise Woman Prioritizes Love

A house is built with lumber and nails. It protects our physical bodies, but a home protects our hearts. How? With love. Within a home, we nurture love. The apostle Paul teaches that just as God has forgiven us, we also must forgive, putting on love “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossian 3:13-14). God’s love for us is the overarching theme of the Bible and Paul rightfully prioritizes such love in speaking to the people of Colossae. He again elevates love in 1 Corinthians 13:13, emphasizing “the greatest of these is love.”

Love is the warm blanket that covers all who reside within our walls and greets those who enter through our doors. When the love of Christ abides in our hearts, it creates harmony within our homes.

A Wise Woman Prays Faithfully

Choosing Christ as the foundation of our home, filling our minds with God’s Word, forgiving, and loving others are daily endeavors as we build and maintain our home. At times, that may be taxing and overwhelming even to the wisest and strongest woman. How does a wise woman stay faithful to the task? She stays tethered to God in prayer. Individually, we communicate with God as we go about our tasks throughout the day. We seek God’s guidance and His presence as the morning greets us, at mealtimes, and amid the challenges of the day. It’s important to pray both individually and corporately. Within our home, we lead by example. I especially love joining hands together in prayer. It is in those moments I feel the unity of my family—and the presence of God.

***

I spent my daughter’s childhood hiding the imperfections of our family and our house from others. The world encourages comparison and materialism, and I pursued those instead of Christ. Our house couldn’t match the grandeur of others, so I closed the doors to guests and foolishly continued in my disdain for housework. Eventually, my husband, daughter, and I became captives within its walls because of those choices.

But, since the time my husband and I chose Christ as our foundation, He has transformed our hearts and our home. Ridding our house of clutter is no longer a chore for me; instead it is freeing. And though our house is still old and imperfect, and financial limitations hinder upgrades and remodeling, I now find my heart longing to throw open the doors. I’ve impressed this truth on our daughter as she’s made her way in the adult world: we may not have a lot of money and material things to offer, but we do have love to offer—the love of Christ.

The decision to build a Christ-centered home is a continual work in process. Every day is an opportunity to choose Christ first in our homes and reflect the glory of God in our lives. Whether your home is an empty nest like mine, or filled with the pitter-patter of little feet, the Bible urges us to build our home intentionally, one day at a time, for “by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4).

It’s never too late to build a home centered on Christ and filled with the rare and beautiful treasures of His peace, joy, hope, and love.

Encourage other women by sharing this post.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
15 comments
  1. Monica, thank you for sharing this beautiful message. I have known you all my life and I have always considered you a valuable role model. Your family is a Blessing to my family. All of us struggle with the constant , repetitive daily chores in life. As Christians, God shows us how to find joy in caring for our home. What a Blessing!

    1. Thank you, Shirley! Your family has been a lifelong blessing to me in so many ways. I learned a lot from watching your mom & dad. Kindness, gentleness & love—the beautiful traits I observe & feel every minute I spend with y’all. I love you & you family!

    1. Thank you, Christi! Your encouragement is a sweet reminder of God’s goodness! Praying you feel His love & strength.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! I almost didn’t submit this for fear of revealing my shame & my failures, but God coaxed me otherwise. It warms my heart to know they were helpful to you, and your sweet words of encouragement remind me of the peace found in trusting God! God’s blessings!

  2. Monica, your message is beautiful! Your words touched my heart. You are a true inspiration for me. Thank you!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful message Monica!! I can fully appreciate every single word of this message, as I too have lived as a prisoner in my own home, a roof over our head, but also walls built of hopelessness and despair. Our family is currently at a crossroads, and this message couldn’t have come across my page at a better time.

    You have a true gift of sharing wisdom and the Word. You bring comfort and peace to so many. I look forward to reading and sharing your messages for many years to come!! I love you, sis. So very proud of you!!!

  4. Monica:
    Thank you for sharing, this is surreal and definitely hit home. It answers so many questions I have been having recently in my own career and choices for our home. What a blessing it was to come across this tonight. Gods timing is always perfect. He has a divine plan and this really did just answer some of my questions.

  5. Thank you Monica. I live on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand in a small town called Westport. Your words have travelled far and ministered to me tonight. While we are in this time of lockdown I have felt God challenging me (again!) about the clutter in our home. Thank you so much for your honesty. Every blessing from me to you.

  6. I love this!!! This is so true for so many of us. Your article hit home for me and opened my eyes to my own life and home. God is at work but I don’t want to hinder Him by not allowing Him to show me and guide me each step of the way. It is so easy to do it “my” way. This is my first time to read something you wrote. I know your daughter Meredith from Watermark. She is a ray of sunshine. You did a great job raising her in your home. Congratulations on now adding a son-in-law to your beautiful home.

  7. Monica, these are such beautifully written words. Your struggles are all of our struggles and your truths are so important for all of us to discover. Learning to put Jesus first is a life long endeavor. Thank you for sharing with us…..

  8. Monica, what an inspiring message. You truly have a way with words. Thank you for using your God-given talent for writing to glorify Him. I know that many people will see themselves in your story. Thanks for listening to God’s nudgings. Love you, dear friend.

  9. Monica, your words are beautifully written. They put a lump in my throat because just this very day I wrote a post about how much I loved reading magazines when I was a young mom (including Glamour :)) and how one day I made the excruciating decision to give them up so I’d have time to read my Bible. I totally relate to the struggle, and to the transforming power of God’s Word once we make the decision to choose Him over everything else. Blessings to you. I can’t wait to read more of your writings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *