My grandmother passed away last year. Born in the 1920’s, her life spanned nine decades.
A person can do a lot in ninety-three years—and she did. Her son was gave a ten-minute snapshot of her ninety-three years at the funeral. He spoke of all the jobs she worked over the course of her life and of the difficulty her children had in deciding which one to list as her occupation. She did too many things to choose just one. However, they finally decided on the one thing she did consistently and passionately throughout every stage. She was, above all else, a homemaker.
Grandma’s mother died after giving birth so, at the age of thirteen, grandma found herself raising her nine siblings. She had to stop school after the eighth grade to bake bread, change diapers, and manage a household. She went on to have seven children of her own and twenty-five grandchildren, many of whom she had a large part in raising. She did all the things it takes to raise a large family– the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and working to bring home an income. All her life she was making a home for her family.
But anyone who knew grandma knows she didn’t just make a home for the people living in her house. She was a homemaker for neighbors, friends, in-laws, and anyone else who ended up around her kitchen table or on her porch. Her funeral was full of the faces of people who found a home at grandma’s. It didn’t matter if you shared bloodlines, you shared the mashed potatoes and gravy and you were a part of it all. Her home had a way of putting arms around people and telling them they mattered.
Grandma knew that’s what home is. It is more than just a building. Home is a space where you are family. A space where it’s safe to figure life out, make mistakes, and experience forgiveness. A space which puts a roof over your head and a sturdy foundation under your feet. A space that says no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done or how you ended up here, you still belong. And when life is hard, you get to come home where people care about you and hold you up. Because you matter.
Homemakers are the ones who create that space. While that word may have gone out of style, the message it carries never will. Homemaking is more than a bygone generation with aprons on. It is an art as relevant today as ever, but it goes far beyond aprons and chocolate chip cookies. Above all else, homemakers are the ones who carry the message of home.They are the ones willing to do what it takes for people to feel safe, let their guard down, and flourish. They are the ones willing to put in the work with intentionality and sacrifice. They are the ones who decide a home is worth it because people are worth it.
Every single person should experience home. It’s God’s heart for us. Deep down we all know that. There is a truth in our hearts about family and belonging that is at the core of who we are, because it is at the core of our creator. Home was his idea. He is, after all, the original homemaker—from all the way back in the garden where we were created to flourish and our home was pure beauty. Our creator himself was family. Belonging and worth come straight from his heart—they always have.
Maybe he is inviting us to join him–not just for our own families but also for those in need of a home. He is inviting us to be homemakers in the truest sense of the word. Homemakers who refuse to stand by while anyone has the word homelessness attached to their circumstances. Homemakers who decide that homelessness just won’t do–not here, not now, not for anybody. Homemakers who extend home beyond our own four walls and recognize that although the housing is temporary, the message is eternal. When we take the time to make a meal, hang-out, sleep on a cot, or give our resources for someone experiencing homelessness, we deliver a message. We are saying, “You matter. Your children matter. It doesn’t matter what circumstances you’ve found yourself in. It doesn’t matter how you got here. I will do what I can to help create a space for you that feels like home. Right here, right now, you matter to me. You are worth my time, my energy, and my resources.” That is the message of home. That is a message I want to carry.
This world could use a few more good homemakers–maybe a whole heap more. Homemakers who recognize that home is a gift from God–a gift everyone should have. Just maybe he’s inviting us to help deliver that gift to those experiencing homelessness. Because at its core, homemaking is the art of giving; and we can all give something. In my grandma’s case, homemaking looked like mashed potatoes and gravy–but felt a lot like love.
Ann Lorenzo, Family Promise Volunteer