Saturday, July 30, 2005

Home Alone

I was just looking at the photographs of my family and thinking about the women and their work. My mother and grandmother and great-grandmother all presided over their homes. They guarded them and guided them in many ways. The house and garden was their domain. They were never asked what they "did" -- such a question would have only come from an ignorant, uneducated person, or someone who was being sarcastic.

The grandchildren of my husband's family always looked forward to visiting the grandparents at the old home place in the summer times. Many families did this on their holidays. If the grandmothers had not been home, but had been out working in an office, a factory, or a shop, their homes would not have been cared for or available for the family visits. My mother still looks after my father, in their small place, and wouldn't have left it in pursuit of a career.

The pressures on women whose children are grown, to leave their home unguarded, and seek other work for a paycheck, are tremendous. Even in churches where you expect people to know the scriptures concerning women's roles by heart, people constantly ask these empty-nesters what they are going to "do" now.

The idea that the nest is empty, just because the children are raised, is a total myth, because they come back, and they bring more with them. After you have your big cry when they leave, you better get busy getting a guest room ready for when they come back. Fill the freezer and pantry with food for unexpected company, because, believe me, you will be surprised at how often they come home. Then, get one of your rooms fixed up like a children's room, with all the equipment, including a baby bed, toddlers bed, toy box, diapers, and a few clothes. Put new toothbrushes in the bathroom for them. Make it easy for them to come back. My children keep a set of clothes and grooming items here, just in case they decide to make a sudden trip home. Grown kids may be excited about being out on their own, but their homes will never have the atmosphere of your home, and they'll want to come back often just to feel it.

You may think you'll be sitting home alone with nothing to do, but my experience has been that the work load, once the children are gone, is even greater. Jobs that the children used to help take care of, like yard work, cleaning the car, painting the house, cleaning closets and cupboards, baking and cooking for company, creating gifts and cards, etc. are now only done by the lady left home alone. They take just as much time and sweat as they did when the children were home. The lawn isn't smaller, the floor space to vacuume isn't less, and the bathroom is till the same size as it was before. The only difference is, now, you have no one to delegate the jobs to. You would think there would be less to do, with the family grown and gone. There is less of somethings, but more of other responsibilities.

Are you torn in your heart about what you should do now that your house is "empty?" I say the word "empty" loosely, because I think you will find that you don't have has much time alone as you thought you would when your children go to homes of their own. There are now more demands on your time than ever before. Whereas, when the children were at home, people knew to leave you alone, for the most part, now that they think you are "free" you will find they expect you to do things for others, or be available for them. There are many phone calls that were emergencies of the spiritual type, that I would have missed, had I not been home.

There will be people that need to be entertained, and places to go, that previously, due to the current work at hand with family, you avoided. There are things to do that have been put off for years. Now is the time to do them, for it is truly the middle of your life. You are inbetween raising children and old age. It is a period of time that you can use in a mighty way. Some people in this time of life find renewed energy and enthusiasm for old interests, or new ideas. Most inventions, books and businesses become successful after the age of 50.

There may be rooms you have always wanted to re-decorate, or add on. Or, perhaps you'ave been planning to landscape your area into an old fashioned garden where you can sit or take a walk. Maybe you've always wanted to paint a picture, write a story, teach young women how to keep house or sew, or catch up on some reading and letter-writing. Many women want to leave the home because they think they have nothing to do of value, there. Even if this were so, there is great value in being there to guard your house from theft, from stray animals, from disrepair, untidiness, and many other things. We should fix our houses up and then tend to them and maintain the work we have done. Plants and lawns, and the inside of the house, are full time jobs.

If you have money problems, then may I suggest that you cut back on spending, (find ways to get cheaper rates on things, get rid of subscriptions and other "bills" you can live without), and bring in income through garage sales or a home business. I know two young women who love to clean houses. They pass out their calling card and wait for the calls. They are busy whenever they want to be, and they can turn down any jobs they like. Interior decorating, meal providing, sewing, and many other things are really in demand. People will pay a lot to have some of these things done for them. In doing something that enhances the home life of others, you can earn money and yet stay in the interests of your own role.

Many years ago someone gave me a list similar to this. On it was written, "If you can answer these questions 'yes' , then you have spare time to go to work outside your home."
This list somewhat describes the Proverbs 31 woman. One does not have to do everything on this list. Like Proverbs 31, it is designed to show your true worth as a woman in the home; to show you how much you are needed, and the tasks that are available to you, should you choose to do them.
1. Have you shampooed your carpet in the last 3 months?
2. Have you rearranged your furniture in the last 6 months?
3. How long has it been since the inside of your house has had fresh paint?
4. Are your husbands shirts ironed?
5. Do you make your own clothes?
6. Do you cook from raw ingredients, or "scratch" and avoid processed, prepared foods?
7. Have you invited anyone over for an afternoon tea?
8. Is there a family at church you need to have over for an evening of fellowship?
9. Are you teaching younger women any of the homemaking skills, or teaching your own children at home ("homeschooling")?
10. Are your photos sorted by date and put into albums, or have you created a memory scrapbook for each member of the family?
11. Are all your closets and cupboards, pantry, etc. clean and orderly?
12. Have you had a garage sale this year?
13. Do you make things to sell?
14. Are you able to take your time to fix a meal?
15. Is your pantry and fridge stocked well enough to last a few weeks?
16. Are you prepared for the next family event held at your house?
17. Do you make your own gifts and cards?
18. Do you read a chapter in the Bible each day?
19. Have you caught up with your correspondence?
20. Do you grow a vegetable garden?

You could probably add about 20 more tasks available to the homemaker, if you thought about what you do during a day. Do you have time to go to work? Let me assure you that, just when you think you've been abandoned, and have nothing to do, someone will come to see you. I've never seen an older woman with grown children, have a totally empty house for very long. After they leave, you'll have to clean all that up and then get back to your sewing or painting projects, or catch up on the other special work you have. You'll begin to think there isn't enough time to do anything.

Staying home also provides protection from various troubles in the work place. If there are problems in the home, at least they are yours and you have a reason for caring about them.

Staying at home provides a good example to the younger women. Think in your mind of the women mentioned in the Bible from the beginning of time, through the New Testament. Their main concern was their husbands, families, and homes. Technically, you could probably prove that some of them worked outside the home, but does it mean that you should? Is there a command to do so? The woman was always supposed to guide the home. Just because she doesn't have children, doesn't free her of that duty.

If a woman can do all those things described in this list, or in Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and II Timothy 5:14, and if her working doesn't bring reproach, and if she can still be a helpmeet to her husband, and if she is not too tired, and her work at home is caught up, then can she find time to work outside the home.

Another problem of working elsewhere is the amount of dedication it will take to fulfill the job for the employer. There will be days when you do not feel well. You can not lie down on the job, like you can at home when you need to.

There might be those who demand to know why you are not working, and you can always ask them, if you dare, why they aren't at home. Some women get work in offices or stores because they "just can't stay home." They are restless and do not understand the job at hand. They cannot work unless they are regulated by a job. They may be escaping their work at home. I've noticed, as you may have, that the times I feel most like leaving home, is when it is not orderly, and I'm behind on everything. It would just be easier to go somewhere else.

Many women at home are helping their husbands make wise investments and save money. What they save by this standard of living, equals what they would have earned. Most women who work, do not really get much for it. By the time everything is paid, there is little satisfaction and enjoyment left from that paycheck.

One advantage to being home alone is the peaceful times spent in quiet thought. Working women are frazzled with travel time and schedules. Women at home have time to rejuvenate, and then do a really good job with their energy. Women weren't created to work like machinery and keep the rigorous schedules of work outside the home. They need special emotional and physical care , which can only be found in keeping themselves busy at home. So if you are home alone, pray out loud and sing at the top of your lungs. Its a wonderful opportunity to grow and develop your full potential.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bedtime Story by Alan Sakhavarz Posted by Picasa

She Never "Did" Anything

While discussing the estate of a beloved relative, which involved the details of her tea cups and furniture, I was told by someone in her family that there wasn't much left to the family, from her belongings. This was, he said, because "she didn't do anything much."

"She never worked outside the home," he said. "She didn't have any money."

I felt sad that this was his attitude toward the worth of this woman. While I knew her--approximately 25 years, she created beauty and order in her home. She was a good helpmeet for her husband. She crocheted the most beautiful pieces I've ever seen. Her home exuded a warmth of old-fashioned welcome, that I have not been able to match. She sewed her own clothes and was a good cook. I always looked forward to visiting her. She had a cheerful response to everything, no matter what troubles came upon her.

Married in the 1930's, her husband, like many others, was proud to support her full time at home, and did not wish for her to work. One could easily see that it was a full time job just caring for him, the garden, the house, and the many ways in which she served the local church.

The thing I remember most about her is her laughter, and her optimism, until the day she died.
Though she had no children, she was loved by her nieces and nephews, and all her other relatives.

How very tragic that people cannot think of success in any terms but money. I'm sensing a real attack on family values, Biblical standards, and the sanctity of marriage and the home. It doesn't matter what achievement one has in the corporate world. If they cannot keep a marriage together, their accomplishments will not last. If they do not put a concentrated effort into teaching their children, nothing of real value will be handed down to the next generation. If the women cannot become experts, through years of practice and experience, in homemaking, they have no glory. If they are praised by the world for their profession, they can still lose their families. There is no accomplishment that can make up for this.

Such women of the home, ought to be honored. At one funeral I attended, I heard someone remark that "She cared about her home. She was a good housekeeper, and a conscientious mother, and a good wife." There is no greater acclaim.

The beauty of such a life, is that it is unique. Each homemaker has her own talents and way of doing things. Each can make her home special. It would be boring indeed, if, when visiting the homemaker, we would find the homes identically kept. Everyone brings into the homelife their
own likes and talents. One may have her home decorated in blue, while another might enjoy antiques. Others may be keenly interested in baking breads of different types, while some may love the touch of the sewing machine across a pretty piece of fabric. Others might find great fulfillment in providing hospitality, and others may be able to create a home business from their talents and hobbies.

We ought to laud these women, who do not feel they have to compete; who pay no heed to the voices that call them from their nests. We ought to give them prizes, medals, and big baskets of gifts, for their steadiness of purpose at home. There is constant pressure on them to relent. "You won't have a pension," "You won't have any tenure at work," "You'll have nothing to do when you are older." This is nonsense. It is a smoke screen. It is a diversionary tactic. None of it is true.

I heard a religious woman speaking on the radio one day who was claiming to offer counsel to younger women. She claimed that "this is not the 1950's, and no one is ever going to look after you all your life. You have to get some training and get a job." She obviously didn't do the research. There are still a lot of women, more than can be counted, who are staying home. Through their helpful frugality, and the wise management of their money and posessions, they've helped their husbands become successful, and now, in their later years, they are both secure. The ones who thought they should work, however, are still working, still not secure, and sufferring from health problems.

You don't have to justify staying home. The Bible clearly shows that a woman best ministers and blossoms in her home. She is protected from outside stresses, and she can more easily build up a reputation of being "a good woman."

If you've been home for a few years, you've done well. Keep on doing it. Stand up to those who say it can't be done, by showing that it can, and that it is being done. There is no greater accomplishment in life than to have a successful home life. Divorce, troubled children, mother working, a house in disarray, is not successful home life. Much of this can be turned around by the woman's return to the home as a career. Not all women will approach it the same way. It is different for each home. Through a woman's own special personality and dedication, each home though different, can produce the same successful results: children who are able to form good relationships, houses that are well cared for, hospitality shown to others, strong churches, and good marriages.

I overheard two women talking about their finances. One woman said, "We added and subtracted, and looked over our expenses, and decided that "I" should do something." There it is again, the new bywords: "do something." It means "I must leave my home and go to work."
An acquaintance, seeking sympathy from a co-worker about the trouble he has making ends meet (his house payment and taxes are very high), was told, "You wife should 'do something.'"

"Do Something," is a modern phrase for "My wife stays at home. She doesn't earn money or 'help out.'" In colleges, young men and women are taught, in not so many words, that a woman should get a job so she can "help out." "Help out," is the next new phrase on the scene.

I know a couple in financial trouble, who decided to follow the Biblical standards of the roles of men and women. They had a tough first year, as the wife quit her job and stayed home to homeschool their child. Now, only a few years later, they are out of debt, with money to spare. Her husband has no impressive income. He has no job of any prestige. They have decided to follow the Biblical plan and let the wife keep the home and the husband provide a living. There are plenty of stories like this, and it might be surprising to learn that these people do not live miserable, overly frugal lives. On the contrary, they have more leisure time and are under less stress than other families where both people work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Articles You'd Like to Read

There are so many things to write about that concerns the keeper of the home and family. What seems to be the most timely or urgent subject for you, at this time? Please email me with your requests, and I'll try to do the research on it and post new articles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pardon Mama by F. Munier 1888 Posted by Picasa

Extracted Apologies

Apologies, Apologies

Why should I be concerned about the increasing tendency among people to extract apologies from others? Because it wasn't always as widespread. True, some people would demand an apology and it was given and accepted, in blatantly obvious, public offenses, but for the most part, people were so busy at their lives that they had little time to worry about the offenses of others.

Entire afternoons, or, sometimes evenings, are taken up with the procedure of extracting apologies. Meetings are arranged, and files collected, so that everyone can "put their differences out on the table." Yet, never have I seen this be fruitful way of solving problems. In a few months, it must be done again. These meetings often cause more hurt feelings, as things are dredged up and said, requiring further apologies!

These days, it seems that apologies are extracted for another reason: - to take away the uneasiness a person feels about their life. Not everyone lives as they should,and therefore they can get a "feeling" that they aren't accepted or approved of. People natually stiffen at the sight of them, recoil from them, or avoid inviting them to their social events. This results in the offender -- whether he is rejected naturally because of careless dress, immodesty, being unbathed, smoking dope in front of people, wearing embarrassingly immodest clothing, a bad example, or just being sarcastic and sneering at someone's lifestyle---feeling unwelcome.

What is to be done about this, she thinks? These people aren't making me feel good. I feel terrible because they aren't embracing me, and accepting my beliefs. Should I sue, or demand an apology? A person might feel bad about their lifestyle, and can't get that feeling to go away. She builds up bitterness as she thinks of the people that haven't really "approved" of her. It seems the only thing preventing her feeling good about herself, are those who disapprove of her. Bitterness begins to build up, until she demands an apology. Demanding apologies is very rude, and seldom does it win friends and influence people.

It might never occur to the offended, that they might change their attitudes.

Once obtained, the apology just doesn't seem to be "right." This is because the person didn't need the apology. They needed to get rid of root problems that will make them continue to demand apologies in order to feel better. One such problem is "quiet wrath." Looking at what they perceive of as past offenses, (including the failure of the offender to approve wholeheartedly and warmly of their lives), they begin to keep score of wrongs. Soon, the unforgiveness is welling up in their souls. They want the feeling to go away. If someone will apologize to them today, they'll feel better. I've known of a few individuals who extracted at least an apology a day from someone, in order to validate themselves.

Sometimes apologies are carefully monitored to see if the apologizer really means it. This can result in more offenses, as the offended person adds more offenses from the actual apology.

This is the era of the demanded apology. China demands an apology from America for crossing their sea or air space. Muslims demand an apology from Russia for saying that they will root out terrorists, "even in the loo." Brits demand an apology from France's leader for saying that the food in Britian was not worth eating. If you can think of any more national demanded, extracted apologies, please, send them to me.

What do these apologies accomplish? Momentarily they may satisfy the demander. Most of the time, apologies don't hold much weight. Eventually someone become offended again and cannot live without another apology. We used to joke that so-and-so was out to get his weekly apology. It was like fuel to him. If he wasn't at someone's house getting one, he was in his own home stewing about how someone looked at him wrong, and how he would extract an apology from them. His basic problem was not so much that others were offending him, but that he was harboring resentment and bitterness and wrath. His life was not right, and so he was using his accusations against others to distract attention from his own faults.

There are some people, who, just by their clear consciences and clean living, offend people. I've known people who have been in rooms where they have said absolutely nothing, and yet incited the furor of someone who knew they would not participate in their vice, or approve their actions. I'm saying this so that you'll realize that just because someone demands an apology, does not mean they are justified in getting one.

Apologies should be offered freely by those who want to give them. They are not ours, to have, unless someone freely extends them. Once forced out of a person, an apology does not do what it could do, had it been freely given, prompted by the other person's conscience. There are those in society today who would judge a person by how many times they've heard them apologize. I heard a preacher who was bitter toward his wife say, "She never apologizes." Whether or not she should, is not what I'm talking about here. Maybe she should, and maybe not, but no one has a right to judge us by the imagined apology quota of the year. Whether or not you've apologized for something, does not determine who valuable you are as a person.

I'd die of shame before I would ever demand an apology from someone. I'd rather overlook the fault.

As I said, apologies are alright, as long as freely given by the donor. They are not the same, once forced, accompanied by threats of various types (lawsuits, visits from church authorities, disassociation, etc.). Some people will apologize out of fear. Some will apologize just to keep the peace. Others will apologize because they recognize the immaturity of the one they are apologizing to. Some people apologize because they are truly the nobler person. Sometimes grown children, who want to reconcile with estranged parents, will apologize. This should be accepted graciously, as the father accepted the Prodigal son.

Apologies can actually cause more trouble than if a person was left alone. There is an old saying that we should "let sleeping dogs lie." Once you kick him, he will cause more trouble. Sometimes an apology is met with derision, rejected because it wasn't good enough, or argued with. I know, as a girl growing up in a family of 7, that we behaved as well as we could so that apologies would rarely occur. Once an apology was extended, the offended was likely to bring up a long list of past wrongs, accompanied by the accusation "You always," or "You never," pulling the apologizer deeper into an argument they couldn't get out of.

Let us look at demanded apologies in the Bible. If you are thinking of finding an example of a demanded apology, you might not find it. Apologies today are given for the satisfaction of the one who demanded it, not necessarily out of concern for the one who gave it. "Forgiveness for Offenses," the term used in the scriptures, is a lot different than the apology for an offense. Instead of demanding an apology, the offended person approaches the offender and says something like, "I was offended." If the offender wants to, he can say, "Will you forgive me?" which puts the burdon on the one offended. Ones the offended lets go of the grudge and says "Yes, I forgive you," he is free of the burden of the offense. Notice that it is the offended person who goes to the one whom they are upset with. They don't tell their woe to someone else first and get the other person all sympathetic and eventually enraged. They don't wait.

Forgiveness doesn't always mean the other person is right, it just means that you are free. Unforgiveness means that you can accumulate years of bitterness and wrath, which, no matter how many apologies you demand, will never go away. Forgetfulness and forgiveness go hand in hand. If a person offends again, the past should not be remembered, and a long list dredged up with past offenses. Now is now, and then was then. Though tempted, I try not to remind people of past failures in their lives, or past offenses. Forgiveness is the key factor in overcoming the fault of demanding apologies.

Studying this carefully, you can see that it is sometimes wrong to get offended. Overly sensitive people just constantly get offended by everything, and then want someone to ask forgiveness. It is just as wrong to be offended by every little thing, as it is to offend. Getting constantly offended stirs up trouble, and shows self-centeredness.

If you really want to mature properly, you have to learn that throughout life, there will be things that will offend you, and you can't confront everyone for it. It would make you quite busy getting your daily apology. Confronting everyone that offends you usually causes the other person to avoid you. You'll see people walk away when they see you coming, if you have this habit. Some people think they are obligated to get justice for every little thing that they perceive as offensive against them. Some people want to force you to accept their friends, their habits, and their disrespectual attitudes. If you don't like it, they say, then it is you who must change.

It would be better if these apology-bullies would be stood up to, and not allowed to control families and churches. They make everyone miserable instead of happy. They need to learn they don't get apologies just because they demand them. Not everything warrants an apology. Still, the one offering it should do so at his own free will, not from force.

If you'll learn to overlook a fault, you'll find that you don't have to collect offenses, confront people, and demand apologies. You can let the offenses slide over you like water off a duck's back, and get something more creative done in your life. I've noticed that people that want apologies are not absorbed in life. They are not minding their own business, making something, learning something, or helping someone. They are "social creatures," every looking to see how everyone pleases them.They are expecting to be served, expecting to be honored, expecting to be welcomed, and expecting to be praised. The ones who never seem to have problems with other people, are understanding, forgiving, serving and learning. They would be embarrassed to have any attention focused on them.

When we look at the final days of our Lord, we see he did not spend his time extracting apologies from people. He had a purpose, and "like Him, we should be," so we should have a purpose too. Extracting apologies from people shows an unhealthy absorption of the self. If someone offends you, try overlooking it rather than confronting them. You'll find your blood pressure will go down, and you'll be able to sleep at night.

I am not speaking here of necessary intervention, but I am addressing those who find power in demanding apologies. One man said it well: "Some demands for apologies come off as power-trippy." It is best to remember to yield your rights and forgive constantly, and not collect offenses, thus avoiding the tendency to confront and demand of others.

Seeing the results of the meetings where apologies are arranged, I personally think it would be better for you to let the meeting convene, but go shopping, instead. The order, the lights, the colors, and the cheerful atmosphere of the stores might do you much more good than the ugly re-hashing of faults that characterizes these meetings. I know one particular mother who has tired of them. She arranges her home with tea and biscuits (She's from Scotland) in peparation for the relatives, she excuses her self once the meeting has begun, and either goes outide to work in her garden, or gets in the car and drives to the mall. Until the meeting changes to a "praise and appreciation" session, that mother says she will not attend.

What if someone deeply wounds or offends you with words or actions? It is proper to tell them, in the proper humble spirit, that you were hurt, but it is up to them to apologize. Sometimes demanding an apology from them, especially if you are angry, will make the situation worse. I do believe it is okay to say you are hurt, but always be prepared for the other person to retaliate by listing the hurts he feels, in return. In confronting someone, we often open up more trouble. My husband has been located as a preacher in the same congregation for 13 years now. His parents before him were here for 27 years. We attribute that longevity partly to the fact that we quit confronting people for personal offenses. When we "hear" something, we ignore it, and when we are treated badly, we ignore that, too. Sometimes we use the opposite approach. When someone offends us, we ask them if we have offended them, and in someway caused them to mistreat us. We've found it builds better relationships.

What if you inadvertantly upset someone? If you realize your mistake, apologize quickly, and if someone else brings it to your attention, be easy to entreat, make things right immediately, and forget it. Keep in mind, that some people are looking for offenses, and want to pick on the least little thing. If you apologize quickly, they have no more fight in them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005