Thursday, October 17, 2013

Keeping House: A Giveaway

I recently discovered Margaret Kim Peterson's book Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life.  I borrowed it from our library, and then proceeded to purchase a copy for myself, send a copy to a good friend for her birthday, loan out my newly purchased copy to another friend, and recommend it to at least 4's that good.  I love this book because it beautifully puts into words something that I felt deep within me, but had trouble articulating (and, honestly, trouble remembering some days) - that the work of caring for a home, and more importantly, for the people who live there and visit there, is not just a nice ideal, but something that is vitally important.

Take, for instance, one of my favorite quotes:

"There is a tendency, I think [...] to imagine that the needy people to whom Jesus refers in Matthew 25 are people we don't know--the sort of people who are served at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, at which we ought therefore to volunteer at least occasionally.  But housework is all about feeding and clothing and sheltering people who, in the absence of that daily work, would otherwise be hungry and ill-clad and ill-housed.

There is undoubtedly more to the merciful service that Jesus describes in Matthew 25 than caring for the daily needs of our own households.  Housework is a beginning, not an end.  But it is a beginning - not a sidetrack, not a distraction, but a beginning, and an essential one at that - in the properly Christian work of, among other things, meeting the everyday needs of others, whether those others be our fellow household members, our near neighbors, or people more sociologically or geographically distant from ourselves."

In looking at housework from a Christian perspective, it has deep theological observations, but has an approachable, very readable style.  It is also full of astute cultural observations and some historical background that explains our society's complex relationship with the idea of home and of caring for (or, in frequent reality, of not caring for it).

While the book is perhaps most appreciated by a full-time homemaker like myself, I think it is a valuable read for anyone, whether a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom - or someone without children - who in any way takes part in the homemaking tasks (cooking, cleaning, laundry) that can easily feel mundane and pointless.  While valuing emphatically the work of keeping house, the author is careful not to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach in how that housekeeping "should" play out in daily life (she values someone who is able to dedicate full-time to the tasks, but doesn't do so in such a way that judges those who - by choice or necessity - have responsibilities outside of the home as well).  It's simply a reflection on the intrinsic importance of the work, and encouragement for whoever is doing these jobs, whether full-time or not (because, as Colleen says, they don't magically get done - or become less necessary - just because you're at work all day).

"Keeping house can be a very mundane activity.  It is certainly repetitive, and the kinds of work that it involves are varied enough that few people enjoy all of them equally.  But at the very same time, housekeeping is about practicing sacred disciplines and creating sacred space, for the sake of Christ as we encounter him in our fellow household members and in neighbors, strangers, and guests."

This book has provided such significant encouragement for me that I want to share it with as many people as possible.  I wish I could do that Oprah style and have one for everybody.  But since that's clearly not in the budget, I decided to purchase one more (gently used, because that's how I roll) and give it away to a reader here on the blog.  This is not sponsored by (or in any way affiliated with) the author, the publisher, or any other entity - it's just something I'm doing because I liked the book that much and because I value the family and friends (real and electronic!) who take the time to stop by and hear what I have to say.

You can enter the contest using the Rafflecopter below.  This is my first time doing a giveaway, so if there are problems, let me know.  You get one "free" entry, and can earn a bonus entry if you leave a comment on this post with suggestion(s) of other books I should read (bonus entry AND a gold star if it's a book that's as encouraging as this one!)  The giveaway will close 10/25, and I will ship the book to the winner the following week.  Good luck!


  1. "What Color is Your Parachute?" has an appendix about finding your Mission in life and serving God. Unexpected perk to a solid book!

  2. Meg Meeker's 10 Habits of Happy Mothers is a really good one - I need to go back and re-read it, it's been a couple years...

  3. Hey Emily! Great post! Sounds like a very interesting book. I don't get a ton of time to read (ever!) these days but I do have a recommendation. I haven't gotten very far in it yet but what I Have read is very good and I should read it more as each section is very short. It's "A book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for your heart, mind, body and soul" by Lisa M Hendey. It has a bit about a saint for each week, some reflections and even suggestions to bring the family into knowing about the saint for the week! Again I have yet to finish it (It was Christmas gift last year) but its a good one!

  4. This book looks great! Right now I'm working on Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe.