I Love Doing Dishes, But That’s Not What Makes Me a Home Maker

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It’s true.

The year we lived without a dishwasher converted me. Not to say I don’t use the one we have now. I do. And it’s glorious.

But there’s something wonderfully cathartic about using hot water and soap and hands to transform what’s dirty to what’s clean. There is work and progress and it never ends but it’s oddly satisfying.

I feel the same about cleaning bathrooms. How you can always see what you’ve improved and know you’ve made your world a safer, more enjoyable place for everyone to live.

But these have nothing to do with why I stay home, why I make home.

Sure, it helps that I’m not one who dreads every shred of housework, though I do have my Everests, like ironing and floors.

But what’s really worth making is not a house, but home. Not a physical space except where the physical fosters the growth of the relational.

The further I get into this home making life, I’m finding that home is all about people, relationships, belonging.

Home started in a Garden where man and woman walked in perfect togetherness with God, and Home ends in a City where God makes His very own home with His Bride.

So what I do in and for and through my life in the in-between? Make home.

Because what is Home, really? It’s where Jesus rules and reigns in joy unending and we are fully known and fully loved and fully embraced.

So making home means making space for the people around me to find in Jesus the only true Home for their souls.

Most days this includes laundry and dishes and bottom-wiping, yes.

But every day it requires centering my own soul on the Home for which I’m truly longing, and looking for ways by which I might invite the souls around me to come nearer to Jesus.

Suddenly, being a home maker is less about the intersection of maid and childcare worker and chef and chauffeur, and so much more about the intersection of woman and spiritual mother and friend and counselor and hospitality executive.

Making home is centered on relationships, not to do lists.

Making home is a high calling, not a settlement for the less qualified.

Making home requires excellence, not primarily in menial housekeeping, but in soul searching, keeping, growing.

Sure, I want a house where all the stuff of dust and dishes and dirty clothes is cared for so that people are the real focus. I want meals that nourish bodies so that souls inhabit able flesh. I want all that’s physical to serve the spiritual, relational, eternal purposes of pointing my people toward Home.

That my heart and house might echo the invitation of Jesus to belong with Him forever.

May our entire lives be given to making a foretaste of our forever Home.

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what a fork can tell you about the meaning of the universe

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You laugh, and it’s the truest thing I’ve ever heard.

Oh my son, your soul reverberates with grandeur, every move you make a wonder of cosmic proportions.

You learn to use a fork and my mind near breaks to fathom every miracle that had to pave the way to this marvel. Conception from generations past, the grandparents of your grandparents. Cells multiplying over millennia. Your eyes, your ears, your salivary glands. Every neuron and responsive fiber of muscle.

You learn to use a fork and I know to the deepest part of me: you’re no mere creature simply eating on a rock that orbits a star.

You’re a player in a cosmic story.

You laugh and I know I have to find my life inside your joy. My whole chest heaves to know the place from which your happiness heralds, the place I’m from but have never seen, the place I’m destined to.

I lean in close. Nose to nose. As though I could touch the miracle, flutter along the glory with my eyelashes. Like it’s fragile and I’ll break it and I do.

The fullness escapes me when you catch your breath.

But son, you are the whisper of a life yet to be lived, the promise of utopia that is yet to be had.

Innocence lost but re-promised. Beauty tasted but not yet perfected.

I look into your laugh and I know as clearly as the sun still shines that you are Someone’s grand idea.

And just when I’m tempted to clutch you forever as my own, to suck the life and joy for selfish pleasure, the Giver breathes His life through yours, the lungs of my soul filled deeper and wider than ever before with the surety of His goodness and the worthiness of His call.

I will give up everything for the God who laughs.

Yes, the God who plants eternity in the laughter of a child is the same who planted His divinity in the flesh of a child to rescue and redeem all who would become like a helpless child and return to Him.

I lift my nose from yours, I open my eyes, kiss yours night night, and then run, soul flailing, to the God who would love so lavishly.

Somehow, in this radical love, He has bent His head to mine and found delight in my one undeserved life on this rock that orbits a star.

And I give Him this life. Again and again.

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the only advice you absolutely MUST follow for your baby’s first year

People keep congratulating me on a year of motherhood. Even veteran moms are celebratory and act like I’ve weathered the wonderful storm and earned a few patches for my mom-vest along the way.

I tend to disagree, but in the event that it’s true, I’ll take my place among the ranks of moms-to-kids-even-barely-older-than-one and turn around and offer my best advice. Because now, apparently, I’m a pro.

So, to the mom with a child ages 0-1 (and to myself on a daily basis):

My best advice is two-fold, really, and unlike the litany of shouty MUSTS you can find anywhere else on the internet, these things are not primarily about you and your baby. These are about the priorities we have to maintain as women, wives, and mothers in order to operate in our highest calling as image bearers of Jesus, the Son of God.

First, and foremost, the singular thing baby needs more than anything else is this.

For your soul to be right with the God who created you both,
who made you a mother,
who gave you a child,
and who, alone, will sustain you to the end.

By God’s grace, set your heart daily on the ultimate end of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. There are zero things baby needs more than this, to include breastmilk, a pacifier, velcro swaddles, skin-to-skin, tummy time, and all organic homemade baby food. Zeeeeeeeeroooooooo. None.

Why?

Because there are zero things baby needs more than to grow to know his or her own need and delight in Jesus. And as Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

And second, the very next best thing for your darling, blissful child, is this.

For your husband to maintain his place as your number one human being on the planet.

This is also non-negotiable. And even as you and your man both learn to care and sacrifice for the precious life entrusted to you, you must continue to ask Jesus to give you grace to learn how to care and sacrifice for one another at the same time.

But I say these things are non-negotiable because when these priorities are in place, you find freedom and direction and wisdom for every other decision you have to make about your baby’s care.

Why?

Because, despite the opinionated opinions of mommy blogs everywhere, there are no other aspects of your child’s upbringing that so clearly influence their wellness and development.

When your heart is grounded in the Truth of the person of Jesus, your love for your child is an overflow of His love for you.

And when your very next priority is maintaining the health of your marriage, your child is given the greatest gift of security.

Love and security. Isn’t everything else tertiary?

These foundations cut through the emotional chaos and the world wide web of confusion. They slow us down, help us know when to simply hold and enjoy, and show us the deepest needs we’re aiming to tend as mothers.

Opinions will abound regardless, but these principles can set you free to do what is truly best and biblical for your child. These priorities can be the filter for analyzing all the wisdom this world has to offer, holding fast to the good, and letting go of the bad.

In our home, that’s meant moving baby to his own room at three weeks old, being pacifier and swaddle advocates, implementing schedules and early bedtimes, and weaning on his first birthday.

In your home, it will be different, and that is a wonderful thing. Your own relationship with your Maker, your marriage, and your child are incomparable to those of others.

But my prayer is that the mothers of our generation might recover our primary God-given priorities, even when they’re the ones whispering quietly beyond the sea of shouty mommy blogs. I pray we give our babies the gift of lovingly not deifying their existence or our mothering.

May we be mothers who delight in our children by demonstrating to them the incomparable delightfulness of Jesus above all things.

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why having a one-year-old could make me cry every day

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Many have asked and I haven’t known how to answer. What it’s like to have a one-year-old? Well, how much time do you have? And let me find my water-proof mascara.

Because it’s like I birthed my whole lump-sum heart and he takes up more space in the world every day.

Like I so eagerly wanted to meet him outside of me, but every time I hold him I know he’ll always belong inside, always be mine.

And I’ve never known so wide a stretch in my soul before motherhood. I think that’s why it hurts.

Because there’s a physical pain that comes with putting him down for one more nap, getting him up for one more morning, singing him droopy-eyed one more time.

Somewhere between my ribcage and my belly-button, but further back and all-consuming, there’s an actual ache because I love him too much and not enough and he’s perfect but time refuses to slow even by a millisecond.

How can a woman feel so rent in two and so whole and so full but so empty all at once? How did this cavern that is my soul become so wide and deep and high? And how does this one tiny-but-growing human at once stretch me to the max yet leave me desperate for more?

More. There has to be more.

Because I know just as deep down that if he’d let me hold him close and kiss his nose and smell his hair all day, every day, for all the rest of the days, it would not be enough.

And I know just as surely that brothers and sisters are not the right kind of “more.” They’ll likely only stretch me out further, heart, soul, mind, body, and grocery list.

In a way, I always feared a child would take up the throne inside my heart, ousting Jesus in one fell swoop. Little did I know how wrong I was.

Rather, it’s like this tiny man runs around inside my heart, blissfully beating on every wall I thought was stretched far enough. With every laugh, every tear, every guttural utterance of unintelligible glory, James is beaming soul-expanding Truth that changes me.

Look, Mom! I’m too good to be all there is!

He’s not making my heart overflow
so much as he’s making it overgrow.

A gift too perfect to be the end, a treasure too priceless to not come from a greater wealth. He’s not taking up all the room, but he’s turning on the lights in rooms I never knew were there and rolling out the welcome mat for my Maker and all the others He loves.

And so it is that the pain of his passing baby days is really the throne where King Jesus sits. And as soon as I realize that motherhood aches because Jesus aches so much more for me, that’s when I love them both to the deepest, truest parts of me.

What’s it like to have a one-year-old? It’s the most beautiful, perfectly unsatisfying thing I’ve ever known.

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yes, i’m a home maker. no need to make it awkward.

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The roster was published several weeks ago, those of us participating in a program for grad students on how to integrate faith and work and shape culture through vocation.

And clearly I’m in on Stephen’s coattails as I’m not a graduate student and am unlikely to be one at any point in the future.

But the roster was circulated, and I eagerly opened it to find out who we’ll be spending the year with and what fields they represent.

Name. Program/Occupation. Email Address.

The chart was full except for one glaring vacancy next to one woman’s name.

Katie Kump. Blank. Blank.*

Surrounded on every side by Masters and PhD students, what can you say of a woman who stays home with a child?

Someone who spends days analyzing stool samples and measuring liquid intake.

Who’s constantly monitoring the ring around the toilet.

Who’s read “Little Blue Truck” until she’s blue in the face and has to rap her way through one. more. time.

Who’s busy all day but has an unfinished to-do list to show for having maintained the existence of a tiny human for 24 more hours. And managed to remember deodorant. Who put that on the list after the fact.

What can I possibly say of myself?

I’m a stay-at-home-mom. But it’s a lot more than staying.

I’m a full-time-mom. But it’s not like the working moms aren’t still moms when they’re at work.

I’m not exactly a work-at-home-mom. There’s no paying job I’m doing here during naps.

So call me crazy, but I’m going with Home Maker.

Except I’ve got these wild and wide ideas about how a woman might think about “home.”

And I think the “making” of a home has a lot more to do with a life-consuming art style than any kind of crafts.

Yeah, we ought to be offended if womanhood is made out to be laundry and Pinterest and diapers and dumbed-down anything. We ought to be outraged, we who bear the image of God and are called to reflect His creating goodness.

But what if a woman is called to foster eternal home no matter her age or stage or occupation?

And what if every aspect of creating home is purposed with the intent of revealing the Truth about the God who died and rose to make an eternal home for His Bride?

What if? What if home is a promise and making is a foretaste? What if home is a heart and making the art?

Then Home-Making would be the art of building and nurturing relationships and environments that draw people into the forever love of Jesus.

And maybe every woman would own her holy calling.

I’m going to.

Katie Kump. Home Maker.

***

*This was clearly an innocent oversight because the roster was delivered electronically, not by messenger pigeon, and I received an apologetic email from the horrified sender just a few days later, but here we are because I needed to be here anyway. So, Sender, if you happen to read this, thank you. The Spirit was moving in all the ways. It’s going to be a great year.

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when getting old just feels really good

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I’m 29 today. And it’s awesome.

Kicking off the last year of my twenties and everybody’s asking if I feel old and sending grandma emojis in happy birthday wishing texts.

“So after this it’s just the annual celebration of your 29th birthday, right?” someone asked last week.

My answer may have shocked.

“Nope, I’ll be ready for 30 when it comes!”

In a world that thinks “adulting” is a boring, hard, semi-optional item on a to-do list, why would one embrace it wholeheartedly?

But this week I’ve faced my kid self a lot. I’ve looked through yearbooks and perused old bookshelves, walked down memory lane more times than I wanted to, relived mistakes made and revisited baggage carried and praised God for not being the little girl I used to be.

Where cultures past celebrated the advent of adulthood, us Peter Pans are weirdly loathe to grow up. But not me. Not anymore, anyway.

And, Christian, not you either.

Because the same way that the point of my motherhood is to raise up a man rather than coddle a baby, the point of my life is to function as a full-grown woman out in the world.

And it’s time to go.

Whether I’m ready or not, this is the aim of redemption.

To look more and more like Jesus with every moment that passes, and He’s not a little kid or a wild-and-free teen or a young professional “kidult.”

Jesus?

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 11:3)

This. THIS is what I’m invited into every day of my growing up life. And I’m tired of acting like I’m not there yet, like doing legitimate, hard, earth-shaking things is not up for grabs right now, is not the expectation of my Father today.

But it is. Jesus said, “Follow Me,” and I want to be there, right where He is, doing what He’s doing with all the energy and effectiveness He’ll give me for doing it.

And if I can cut the crap while I’m cutting birthday cake? Jesus isn’t Netflixing while He’s spinning the world around in His peripheral vision.

He’s living out the ultimate Story through the lives of His people. He’s intimately acquainted with the real hurt and hang-ups on planet Earth, and He’s at work to bring healing and wholeness through His Spirit in His Church.

Yeah. Jesus is a grown-up. And yeah, growing up and taking responsibility for the world is hard.

But it’s so good.

So today I’m celebrating the grace of the God who has rescued me from who I was last year and ten years ago and who will grow me out of my 29-year-old-childishness too. It has nothing to do with being married or having a child of my own or my occupation or knowing more things than I used to know, and everything to do with having a soul that aches to grow older and wiser and more mature because these are the glimpses of the glory of the Savior.

Honestly, I think this is where I’ll be all year: exploring the intersection of growing up and being a woman and falling more in love with Jesus in all these entail.

So here’s an invitation for you to jump into my birthday with me and we’ll both grow up a little more today. I seem to be granting lots of permission here lately, so here’s a little more.

Permission granted to be old and love it.

Let’s embrace Jesus and adulthood together.

Yep. 29 today. I’m not who I once was. And I’m not yet what I will be. Glory to God.

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permission to be thankful for a body that says “mom”

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Summer can be quite rude to a body, you know?

Sun burns and magazine covers and swimsuits and comparison and so much sweating.

It’s my first summer in my brand-new mom bod, and I’m humbled to say it’s throwing me for a loop. But it is.

And so I’ll keep it short and sweet, I think, for this new mom and moms in summer everywhere.

Permission granted to not be fully recovered from the holy trauma of birthing a human being.

Permission granted to look like the moms we are.

Permission granted to have a body that never really goes back, that has softened to never truly harden again.

Permission granted to order that slimming swimsuit from Walmart and never look back. (Yep, permission granted to be my twinsie.)

Permission granted to face our bodies in the mirror without eye-rolling, hushed grumbling, frustration.

Permission granted to look at these curves and say, “Thank you.”

Thank you to our bodies. To the skin that stretched and the muscles that gave way. To the feet willing to stand, legs willing to walk, hands willing to work all throughout the day. To the hair willing to be dirty, face willing to go barely-made, ears always listening for the next moment of need.

And doesn’t gratitude change a life? Change a self-image?

This body has sacrificed. This body has stretched and broken and bled and rebuilt for the sake of multiplied life. This body keeps moving and making and minding busyness day in and day out.

It deserves more than the eye-rolling, self-loathing, why-can’t-you-be-more-like-her nagging than I’ve given these last few months.

These pounds made life possible.
This stretch made room for his soul.
This is what it means to look like a mom.

And I will be thankful.

Yeah, my body is not my masterpiece, it’s my paintbrush. So I thank it and we keep making this art called home.

And it’s not that I lack self-worth, but that I lack awe at He who created me. So I thank my body and the Designer who saw fit to stretch me out to make room for life.

And gratitude changes me. My waist may not shrink any smaller, my hips may never be the same, and my arms may never hint to the watching world how many 23-lbs reps I do each day.

But the shape of my heart grows less fixated on my body and more like the heart of the Man who gave His own body to be crushed for my soul. And His is all the true beauty I want to enjoy.

So I’ll be here, by His good pleasure, cutting criticism instead of calories, upping commendation instead of cardio, using my body for the good work of real life.

Yeah, we women, we were made to make art. Lots of it. And wouldn’t the enemy of our souls love to watch us standstill trying desperately hard to be art? We are art because of He who made us. We are artists because He made us to be like Him.

To thank our bodies.

To gaze upon the God whose design they are.

To use them to make real art out in the broken world.

Permission granted.

 

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i’m not the guest at this party

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The honest truth is that a lot of times already being a mom feels like being automatically left out.

We hosted a dinner gathering somewhere other than our home tonight. Set an early start time so JB and I could be there, at least for a while. But then everyone was late. So late that we had to leave before eating.

And I’m sitting here on the couch now rehearsing the one line that got me home without getting me mad.

I’m not the guest at this party.

Whether I’m actually in attendance now or not, I was a host, a c0-servant with Stephen, who is now free to stay and to serve for us both. Embracing this role makes the quiet walk home, the leftover stir-fry, the chaos of creating hospitality to-go all okay. More than that, makes my missing out good and right and abundant life.

It strikes me as I’m cleaning up bath time: I am not the guest at this party that is my life.

Could I remember this in all my days and dealings? Because it’s surely my desire to be pampered and praised that gets me into so many pits in this new thing called motherhood. And in the older thing called marriage. And in the whole of life.

And Jesus, even when He was the guest of honor, was found breaking the bread, bending the knees, using His very own fingertips to rub dirt and dung off the tired feet of the ones He loved. And don’t you know His feet had to be the most tired of all?

The Lord of Hosts hosts a party so He can hold feet.

The Bread of Life invites me in so He can break in my place.

And He says if I am truly His, I won’t expect more prestige or appreciation than He did. I won’t follow any other pattern of hospitality than to love the guests by laying down my life.

Isn’t all of life a practice of hospitality for the ones who follow Jesus?

Every conversation. I’m not the guest at this party.

Every situation. I’m not the guest at this party.

Every room I enter. I’m not the guest at this party.

Every new person I meet. I’m not the guest at this party.

And if this is the truest thing about me, to live is Christ and He’s the ultimate Servant, then isn’t the friction of being left out or overlooked much more to do with my resistance to Jesus than it is everyone else’s snub to me?

Yeah, I think the pain of losing my life is in the fight against it, the refusal to do what He did so willingly–to make myself nothing. And I’m so good at fighting.

But tonight, by God’s grace, I won’t. Maybe in five minutes I will. Some straw will break this servant’s back and I’ll buckle, hoping husband never even finds these words. But for this moment I’ll choose to rejoice in the privilege of serving like my Creator did.

I cannot be more than Jesus. I’ll stop killing myself trying to be.

So if you, like me, might find yourself alone or missing out tonight, I’m praying we both embrace the fullness of life found at the feet of others. What we do for the least of them, we do for Jesus. Say it with me?

I’m not the guest at this party.

But Jesus is the King, and if I’m down here with the feet, then I’m right next to Him. What an honor.

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