Part 2: On Being Present

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There’s a difference between being present physically and being present relationally and emotionally in your home.

While both are important, it’s the latter that truly meets needs.

Not the present-but-cranky, distant or distracted parent and wife I have often been, but the one that engages, sees, and builds up those in her home.

Through intentionally choosing to be fully present, we are able to nurture our families in ways that would not happen otherwise.

If we’re not careful, the busyness of life will distract us, and we’ll miss the importance of being available now, not tomorrow.

What does it mean to be present at home in practical terms? Here are some ideas for wives and moms.

How to be Present in Your Home

1. Do life together

As a mom

Involve your children in what you’re already doing. If you run a business out of your home, include them. If you’re remodeling or redecorating, bring them alongside you to participate and learn. If you’re baking, exercising, writing, spending time with Jesus… invite them in. In these ways, do life with your children.


And while you’re at it, talk to them. Find out about their hopes, dreams, thoughts and insights. Share yours too.

As a wife

Maybe your husband is not going to join you in doing the dishes each night after dinner, but maybe you can serve him with your presence by joining in with his projects or hobbies.

After the kids are in bed, I like to go out and sit in my husband’s shop, to talk with him while he works. As time goes by, he’ll ask me to assist in some small way. It becomes a fun, relaxed, meaningful time together. I get to see and be involved in what he’s doing.


2. Meet emotional needs

As a mom

Dr. John Perkins  defines a child’s three most basic needs as the following:

1. To be loved and feel belonging

2. To be affirmed and considered significant

3. His own space, a place which is no one else’s and the sense of assurance no one is going to take it away.

I love the little grin I get out of my 4-year-old daughter (my oldest) when I say things like, “You are so much fun to be around! I love hanging out with you. You’re my little buddy. I’m so glad God gave you to me!”

She makes no effort to conceal her delight in the fact that she is enjoyed and valued.

These little phrases take so little effort, yet do much to let our children know how we feel about them– that we see them, that we like them, that we want them. Yet how often do we fail to tell them, due to simple lack of awareness of their needs?

And, what’s more, how often do our actions, tone or even our words convey a much different message. One that says, “You’re annoying me. I don’t want you to talk. You’re not important. I’m “busy” (on Facebook). Go away.”

I’ve been guilty of this tone more than I care to admit in my moody pregnant state. It’s no excuse.

Also, a child’s need for personal, safe space is often overlooked in the name of making them share… or the desire for the younger ones to stop whining. Reflecting on this as a basic emotional need has helped me to respect my kids personal space in new ways.

As a wife

In the same way, our husbands have emotional needs (as do we of course). These vary from one to another, but in a recent marriage class at church we read a chapter from Willard F. Harley Jr.’s Fall in Love Stay in Love where we learned about various possible emotional needs and filled out a questionnaire to discover our own and our husbands.

If you’d like to do the same, Dr. Harley has made all this information available online. You can find it here.

I found it a fun and enlightening process. Knowing each other’s top emotional needs has improved our marriage and allows me to be more present in the ways that matter most to my husband.



3. Give the gift of delight

God models this for us so well. As a good Father, He delights in His children! What a gift for us to relish in as Christ-followers!

Has the full force of that settled into your life? If not, spend some time looking at and thinking about these scriptures.

Psalm 149:4, Psalm 18:19, Proverbs 3:12, Zephaniah 3:17

Let this truth change you. Your ability to give the gift of delight in your home will overflow from a right understanding of God’s delight in you!

As a mom

When we know God’s delight in us, it’s easy to see how life-giving this is. Delight is something I can say my parents did very well for my siblings and me. They thought we were fun, that our jokes were witty, and spending time with us was clearly pretty great to them.

When was the last time you sat back and watched your child be silly or do a performance and just visibly and totally delighted in them. It’s powerful.

As a wife

Our husbands notice if we like them. They notice if we desire them. If we enjoy their company. Each of these factors greatly impact how

I hope you like your husband. I do. But for me, life circumstance, hormones, unrelated emotional turmoil or stress can cause me to target my innocent husband with grouchiness rather than enjoy him as the blessing and gift from God that he is.

Our task is to overcome what we feel in that moment and instead intentional choose gratitude and delight in our few short years on this planet.


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Do yours know that? Do mine?

Let’s take time this week to do just that.

What would it mean for you to be more present at home?


The ideas in this post are adapted from Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund.

This is Part 2 of 10 in a Series on
Establishing a Strong, Simple and Settled Home: Exploring the Deeper Aspects of Homemaking

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  1. Janelle Esker says:

    Beautiful post and so well written!

  2. Michelle says:

    I know this was written 2 years ago but I just came across this and wanted to tell you it was a prayer answered. After reading this I had a day filled with intentional parenting. It was so refreshing and the home was full of joy. I am a mom of 7 so at times the demands of having such a large family can be overwhelming thank you again for the wonderful reminders of being present and intentional with my family.

    • Michelle, that is so exciting and encouraging to here! I love that you are soft-hearted and seeking to let God refreshing you. I pray that He continues to bless you and your family as you seek Him!

  3. Linda says:

    “Doing life together” — that comes hard. I found it easier with my last child who was much younger than the others because it was just the two of us. Being the leader of a group takes skill. Now that I have grandchildren I need that skill again. Still don’t have it! This post has shined a light on this point as being so important. I think I can plan ahead so each one can both work and do fun things with me. Thank you so much.

  4. Michelle says:

    It has been a struggle for me to invite and allow my children to help me with household things! As a first born I would always tell my siblings to “go play” and I would clean our room/the mess. Seriously!! (I was like 6/7 when I started doing this) But to see the JOY in those precious faces as they help me with the dishes, laundry, and baking is PRICELESS! It’s so hard for me to not have it done perfectly, but how will they learn and I want my children to know that they are a joy to my heart. (and not push them aside) It has gotten easier, but I still need to make those decisions to let them work along side me. And honestly they do a fantastic job! My son loves organizing his room/closet and anything else for me. Our youngest, who’s 3 is great a folding rags and towels 🙂 And our oldest has such a servants heart will even make all the beds at times w/o being asked! And does it quite well 🙂 There is a great beauty in posting this as I am pondering that God is PERFECT, HE doesn’t need me to do anything, but for my good and HIS glory HE chooses to use me ….humbled!

    • Oh girl, we are so different! I can’t believe you were doing that as a 6/7 year old! That’s amazing. I wish I had your struggle rather than my lack-of-motivation struggle, because it sounds like you are rocking it and raising awesome kids! 🙂 I have yet to figure out how to motivate mine to pitch in cheerfully. Any advice on that is welcome!

    • Michelle says:

      Awe Katie your very sweet 🙂 Most days it’s hard for me to not focus on all the ways I failed my children…..”My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”
      2 Corinthians 12:9. Need to meditate on this!! Really all I do is allow the kids to work along side me and within reason allow them to organize and clean things according to their abilities 🙂 A really great resource we have used for a couple years is called We Choose Virtues. It’s a great investment in developing those virtues and building up strong character in our children. I believe there are 11 Virtues they cover including Honesty, being Helpful, Diligent, and Perseverant. Right now we are focusing on Kindness and then we will rotate to the next one. If you search We Choose Virtues there is more info on their site 🙂 I don’t buy into all the gimmicky patenting “tricks/tools” per say….but this is one that I believe is a great benefit. Hope this helps. Your doing a great job! Don’t despise small beginnings, be diligent, remember your toil is NOT in VAIN if done unto The Lord!!

      PS a great verse our children learned a few years back while having a family discussion about those who don’t work you don’t eat is 2 Thessalonians 3:10 🙂 They were 6 and 3 at the time and they still remember this 🙂

    • That’s awesome! I love the 2 Thess 3:10 idea! It makes me laugh, but it’s such a good message for them! And thanks for the We Choose Virtues tip. I’m looking it up now…

  5. The most difficult thing for me to do is to sit down and play with my kids. I interact with them all day long, I encourage them to participate in what I am doing, and I actively communicate with them. But I am terrible at doing what they want to do. I always wish my mom had taken more interest in what I was interested in…but it is a hard thing to do! SO that is how I can be more present in my home, when I sit down to play with my kids and let them direct me as to what they want to do.

    • I can totally relate. My parents had kids later in life, and were awesome care-takers and gave us many experiences, but I hardly have any memories of them playing with us. Since it’s not something I particularly enjoy either, I have to really force myself to do it. Thanks for the challenge!

  6. Kelly says:

    I’m so thankful for your encouragement to slow down and enjoy my husband and children this week. I know I need it as much as they do. Thank you!

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