As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 17 ~ Set the Tone

The woman (wife and/or mother) has the power to set the tone in the home.

I have never liked the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Not because I doubt the truth of the statement, but because it is usually said in a flip manner by someone who thinks that that is funny. The image is that of a family cowering because Mama is displeased. Funny? Not really.

I believe that a woman has tremendous power to influence the attitudes of those in her home.

I am not denying the headship of the man; I believe wholeheartedly that the husband/father is the authority in the home. He is responsible to lead, to teach, to protect, and to love.

But...if I am frazzled, or angry, or blue...
if I am ungrateful, or discontent, or grumpy...
then I can see the effect that those attitudes have on my husband and children.  

And that is sobering.  

But...if I am encouraging, and hopeful, and worshipful,
if I am faithful, and patient, and meek,
then I can also see the effects of those attitudes ripple through my home. 

Yes, I believe that a mama sets the tone for her household.

A while back, I blogged about a book that we were reading, and how a particular passage impacted me: 

We have been reading The Yearling, written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in 1938. In this coming of age story, the Baxter family—Penny, Ora, and twelve-year-old Jody—live a hard life in the Florida scrub region at the turn of the century.

It is November, and the first frost has come to the scrub. The Baxters are in the “front room”, enjoying the first hearth-fire of the year, Penny smoking his pipe, Ora sewing, Jody lying on the floor in front of the fire, daydreaming.

Ma Baxter said, “Now throw a stick on the fire. I cain’t quite see to foller my seams.”

She had cut down a pair of Penny’s winter breeches for Jody.

She said, “Now take another notion to grow like you done this spring, and I’ll be cuttin’ down your breeches to fit your daddy.”

Jody laughed out loud and Penny pretended to be offended. Then his eyes twinkled in the firelight and his thin shoulders shook. Ma Baxter rocked complacently. They were all pleased whenever she made a joke. Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening.

If you are familiar with this story, you know that Ora is a hard woman, who fusses, criticizes, and has a sharp tongue. Life has been hard for hershe has lost six children before Jody is born, the family is always on the edge of having enough to get by on, they work extremely hard and have constant set-backsand she has been hardened by it.  In the passage that I quoted above, however, Ora is in an unusually good humor, and that is why her family is so much enjoying the evening spent in front of the fire.  Their spirits are lightened because "Mama is happy."

"Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening."

The first time I visited my dear friend Debbie at no spring chicken, I was struck by this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder that Debbie has in her blog header: 
"Let's be cheerful!  We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger.  Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant and happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture and the furniture comfortable and beautiful!"

Most of us would be horrified at the thought of stealing the purse of a stranger, but are we ever guilty of stealing the brightness out of the day for our families? 

I must insert here that I am not saying that we should not be "real".  There is a right time for sorrow and grief, for sadness and tears.  I am not suggesting that we waltz about with our insincere smiles, pretending that everything is great when it isn't.  It is neither real, nor truthful, nor helpful to do such a thing. 

What I am saying is that our attitudes should reflect His grace, and when they do not, then we are robbing our families of brightness.  Even in sorrow, there can be the brightness of hope.  In tears, there can be brightness of encouragement.  In need, there can be the brightness of reassurance.  In everything, there can be a heart of thankfulness.

I do not write this post from the perspective of a woman who has mastered this, this gift and this responsibility of setting the tone.  I am afraid that I am not always that gentle heart and encouraging presence that is my ideal.  Sometimes I get annoyed.  Sometimes I have a chip on my shoulder, or an offended spirit. 

But I write about this concept because I believe it to be true.  A woman sets the tone in her home. 

So how do I go about setting the proper tone, or being that gentle, edifying presence?

Hear the wise words of my daughter-in-law, Sarah:
I find that it does no good to simply 'resolve' to be more pleasant and full of grace. It's the Lord's grace that allows me to be gracious to my family and His mercy that keeps me from my self.
I believe that is the answer!  Accepting the Lord's grace for us, and extending that to the members of my family. 

This week, will you join me in extending His great grace to our husbands and children?  Will you allow Him to help you set the tone in your home? 

Setting the proper tone can make your house a home!


  1. Yes I will! One of my most often stated reminders to my children is, "attitude is everything." And I believe that with all of my heart. I've learned that an attitude of thanksgiving changes every negative to a positive. EVERY one! I love your beautiful heart Cheryl. I love how you strive to please the Lord in your family and home. And every day that you get further into this series, I am more and more convinced of your wisdom...

    *And of course it's your dad's birthday!! ;)

    Blessings, Debbie

  2. Thank you for your wonderful series, Cheryl! Like Debbie says, your wisdom comes through with each post. You are so right that we can only practice this in the Lord's strength. Just knowing that we belong to Him SHOULD keep us in great spirits all the time, and yet.... I appreciate your encouragement! And Happy Birthday to your dad! (Dads are such blessings!!!)

  3. Incredible post, Cheryl! I think I read once in Karey Swan's Hearth and Home that the mother is the thermostat in the home. Very sobering to think how our attitude can affect the entire mood of the home!

  4. I believe this too, and have seen the difference in my home when I am careful with my attitudes and my tongue....

    The first thing I noticed about Debbie's blog was that quote!

    If you don't mind, I'd like to link to this post, soon.


  5. I came across your blog while browsing the list of fellow 31 Day-ers. Thanks so much for this post, I love it! (As well as day 16!!) I think we women hold more power to influence the lives of those closest to us than we think. Praying that God will show us exactly when and how we need to adjust our mannerisms and attitudes to be able to show His heart.

  6. I was just reading through your past several posts. Such good thoughts and well-written words of wisdom. And I want to say how honored I am to be a part of Day 17: setting a good tone...such an important and necessary characteristic of a homey house!

  7. So true! And a perfect accompaniment to the chapter we'll be studying in Bible study this morning out of Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free...(the chapter: Lies Women believe about Emotions).

    I'm a slow learner, but definitely getting the message loud and clear :)

  8. Looking for the verse on google brought me here. My daughter and I just moved into another apartment so it's the perfect time to start this wonderful home-setting-plan!! Thank you so much!!!! :))
    Ceci from Japan :)


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