Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Kitchen

I thought you might like to see a description of an early kitchen where I grew up:

The kitchen cupboards were made of Blazo boxes and mounted on the walls. Mama made little curtains for them with flour sacks. Blazo was a type of fuel, that came in a can, packaged inside a wooden box. I believe my sister still has a couple of those boxes, which she uses for end tables. The use for these boxes was legion and we even packed them full of our posessions in the 60's when we moved to Australia.

The main focus of the kitchen was the cast iron kitchen stove. It had so many features on it for cooking, that I probably can't remember them all. There was a hot water reservoir, a warming section, an oven, and a place for the wood. These stoves were quite common in those days and some people even threw them out when modern stoves came on the scene. I don't know how much they cost in those days, or if maybe they just got them for free, and I have no idea how they were transported to Alaska, but many homesteaders had them. These days they cost in the range of 3,000 to $6,000.

The cooking pans were all made of cast iron, and the coffee pot was of speckled enamel. I sometimes wish it was all still there, and that I could walk through the house as if it were a museam. I've often had dreams of visiting it, and I see the table with the plates on it, and hear us kids playing outside. If I were really rich, I'd have the place rebuilt and decorated the way I remembered. My mother went back and visited the area in the 80's, and said that the log home was gone. She said someone thought it had burned down, but she could see no signs of a burn, and thought, instead, that it had been taken apart and transported somewhere else.

The kitchen had a surface top against a wall, with more fabric curtains hanging from it to hide the storage area underneath. There was plenty of room to roll a pie crust or knead a loaf of bread.

What was so magical about this kitchen was not the contents, but the transformation of my mother when she was in it. She, like other homemakers of the time, felt a dignity in the kitchen, that is difficult to describe. If you've ever seen the classical paintings of women with glowing halos behind their heads; well, that is sort of what it was like, only it was something far greater. It was more like a flash of light on her face. On the homestead there was always work to be done--digging in the garden, weeding, harvesting the food, laundry, chopping wood, etc., but when Mama got in the kitchen, it was not work, it was pleasure. Even today when she cooks for us it is with gusto, and not begrudgingly.

When someone dropped by, she would go in the kitchen to get them something to drink, which was customary. When she did that, she had an air about her that was akin to nothing I know of today. Even a teacher, a nurse, or a head of a corporation, does not carry the same aura of importance and service that these women had when they went into their kitchen. It was like a surge of current, as she pulled up her posture, wrapped an apron around her waist, and begin clinking and clanging the cups and the spoons, putting hot water on the stove to boil, and just being in charge. She was pleased and happy to have her own kitchen, and being a hostess meant she was even more important. She wouldn't have felt happier or more dignified if she'd been given a jeweled crown or elected President.

In ordinary times, the kitchen didn't have such significance, but you could really see and feel the difference when company came. There was a different look on her face, one that said she was in her glory. She ruled from her throne and became the light of the home, in that kitchen, as rustic and as humble as it was.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Unselfishness of Marriage

Getting married is important.

Name one society that does not honor marriage, that has the characteristics of loyalty, sacrifical love, and honor. Cicero, a pagan, knew that marriage was important, when he said, "The very first bond of society is matrimony." I've read that in ancient Rome during the days in which the empire was decaying, bachelors were taxed more highly than married men because the government could see that their society was falling apart at the seams. Socrates said, "By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you will become very happy. If you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher; both of which are good for a man."

I personally don't think it is normal to have a large singles population. Young people should be either identified as part of the family in which they were raised, or as part of the family they are raising. Nowadays, they want to extend their video games every night, and hang around with friends, live the single life free from responsibility, instead of facing the serious responsibilities of marriage, home and family. In some societies, it is said that if a man waited too long to marry, he was regarded with suspicion, as it was supposed that he was shirking responsibility or living selfishly. Although this may not be the case today, it is well to note how highly marriage was once regarded, and what an important part it played in a society's economy and strength.

Marriage provides protection and opportunity for men and women, in many ways. There are many things that can be done better as a couple and as a family, than as a 'single.' The true potential of marriage has not been fully explained to young people, else they would seek it out as the most important part of their future, as they do education or careers.

No longer me, but we.

When a couple gets married, they will most likely assume that "love" will guarantee them success in the relationship.
While this is important, the one thing that contributes more to happiness in marriage is unselfishness. Whether you intend it or not, life after you marry can no longer be a matter of "I", "mine," or "me." It will naturally be replaced with "we," "ours," and "us." Life will be about two people going in one direction. Our home, our income, our relatives, our money, our children, our friends, and our vacation, our joys and our sorrows, will do more to help the marriage than even love. When "I" becomes "we," you will protect it as though it were your own, for to destroy any of the "our" in your marriage, would be to tear down your own house. This is why married couples check with each other before making a major purchase, re-locating, changing jobs, leaving the house without informing the other of their destiny, or coming in late. This is the common courtesty that is natural when you become "we."

Be the best that you can be.

The only thing that remains separate is your responsibility to improve yourself: your habits, your faults, your talents and skills. If your mate wants to improve him/her self, that is up to them. You are not responsible to monitor personality improvement in your mate, but you are responsible to do all you can do in order to become the right person, yourself. Learn to overlook a fault in others, but not in yourself. Treat your mate as though they were a human being with normal problems and don't be judgemental. If they ask for help in an area, do what you can to make it easy for them to do right, without becoming self-righteous over them.

Everyone has faults, and it is possible that you married someone that is a human being just like you, with normal human problems. One of the things that has helped me so much has been my own husband's non-judgemental attitude. He's never complained about the house when it was in disarray (although he always compliments me when it is put in order) and he's never complained if I was sick, needed extra sleep, gained some weight, didn't always spend money wisely, or wasn't living up to my full potential. He has always been absorbed in many different interests and has not had the inclination to be critical. When a person doesn't not have that criticism hanging over their heads, it frees them to be creative, and to be all that they can be.

Think of the kind of freedom you'd really like to have in the country you live in, and give that to your mate.

This is not saying that your mate has a right to live away from you or live as they please. It is the kind of freedom within the relationship that avoids nitpicking and criticism.
Be unselfish. One of the things you have to give up in marriage is selfishness, or the defending of personal rights. The only rights you have are those that are innate, such as the right to be a man or a woman, with all the masculine and feminine qualities that come with it. When you learn about the unique natures of men and women, you begin to see what you formerly thought of as faults, in a different light. Some reactions on the part of your mate are unique to their sex, and some so-called faults are just male or female qualities. When you start taking personal rights, you will tend to be defensive. It won't take long before you have a long list of rights that you must then defend the minute your mate violates them. Giving up your personal rights or deferring has, in the long run, far more power than defending your rights.

Love unconditionally and give sacrificially.

Some people enter marriage with a sense of mistrust. They are worried that if they give their whole heart and their efforts to the marriage, their mate will not do his/her fair share. If you have an inkling of such suspicion or worry about this before you marry, then do not marry the person.

What can we expect of a generation that grew up on self-esteem rather than self-sacrifice? I wonder sometimes what it would be like if a two people entered a bus, one who had just read "Winning Through Intimidation," and the other was reading "Looking Out For Number One." There is only one seat on the bus. How would they work it out? I don't know how it would work out in deciding who would get the one seat on the bus, but such self-centered philosophy in marriage would work out in disaster. With the Golden Rule, each person treats the other as they would like to be treated. I've seen this worked out rather humorously in the marriages of days gone by. My mother-in-law and her sister used to fight over the last piece of bread at a meal, not in the way you think, but just the opposite. Lucile would say, "Inez, you have that last piece of bread. I insist!" and Inez would say, "No, Lucile, you take it!" They would shove the plate back and forth between them, until Joe, Lucile's husband, who was constantly irritated by this ceremony over the years, would take the bread himself, just to end the contest.

Maturity in marriage means that you do what is right, no matter how the other person responds. It is better to have given yourself wholly and sacrificially, than to worry about who is giving their fair share. It will make a better person of you.These days, people worry too much about what they are going to get out of marriage, and not enough about what they are going to give to the marriage. In giving, you make yourself a better person, and it is better to give, than to receive. However, it is rare to find a giving person who is not rewarded immensely.

Avoid bitterness.

One of the most dangerous practices in marriage is the tendency toward bitterness. One or both of the partners will begin to add up a list of offenses, and then wait for them to cross the line again. This is a love based on conditions. It means that the mate can only be loved and accepted if they never make a mistake or never say the wrong thing. One thing that is so dangerous about this mentality is that the person who is the most critical, will have the same problems as the person they are criticising. (And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matthew 7:3)

Sacrifical love differs from sentimental love, in that it is the for the good of the person you love, rather than giving yourself a good feeling. It is stronger than the sentimental love that often tries to avoid sufferring. Instead of thinking "What can this person do to make me happy," sacrifical love says, "What can I do to make my mate happy?"

Practice Forbearance.

To forbear means "to spare" or to indulge someone with love. It is the practice of patience or the delay of resentment and anger towards those that wrong us. It means restraint from anger or reaction towards a fault. ("Forbearing one another in love.." Ephesians 4:2) In the story "The Magic of Ordinary Days," by Ann Howard Creel, Olivia tells the family she has married into, "I've learned more about love in my 6 months with this family than I did in the 25 years in my father's house. I've received love, and I've received forbearance."

Painting: "The Proposal" by Consuelo Gamboa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Education and Research to Enlighten Feminists

Please send any links that would be helpful in exposing the feminist doctrine and its affiliates. Just put them in the comments section.

Get In On Life - because those years spent in college and career are your best years for marriage and family. It is your youth, where your strength is to stand the rigours of home living and child rearing.

Feminists Duped by Corporate Elite  If you believe you are a feminist but also embrace the Bible as your guide, you may want to have a look at the roots of feminism here and then decide if you still want to be a feminist.

Sovereign Solutions - Where did the federal government get its authority to become an empire: a menace overseas and a threat at home?  Some of the videos on this link provide the answers.

The Thinking Housewife - this woman cannot be intimidated by feminists. She has seen what they have done to women, and she is not going to put up with it.

Except for the true origins of a certain party, Ann Coulter got quite a few things right in this article.

This article will enlighten any feminist or Marxist about what really happens when a government is out of control and attacks its own people.

My Beliefs  - A summary of important scriptures that clearly show the truth in doctrine and living in submission to Christ.

Theme Articles

Reducing Stress - Women need to be free from unnecessary stress, so that they can put a lot of love and thought into home living. Here are some things you can do to keep out extra demands on your time, and unnecessary troubles.

Raising Your Own Children - There is more to life than the physical needs of children. Many women think they have to go to work in order to "take care" of their children, or in order to keep a job, but they are missing the better part of their children's lives.  Time lost cannot be recovered, and a childhood is fleeting. Children need their mothers, not babysitters.

Needed at Home - contains a few verses of the poem, "Ad Lib" which was so popular 40 years ago.

Commentary on Titus 2  The special place of honour in the kingdom of God, that certain women have.

Should You Go to Work?  Mother, your children need you, and you are the only one that will do! This article is addressed to men: Daddy, Please Let Mama Stay Home.

On the Home Front What should we do in a world of turmoil?  Do we have to wait til the political scene settles down before we can get on with our lives at home? Should we be in a constant state of nervousness and worry about "wars and rumours of wars?

How to Stop Worrying About Politics and Still Change the World

Renovated History:  Every time I write about the virtues and vices of any era, whether it be Bible times or Victorian, someone writes and tells me that all those people were miserable and no one was happy and that I am just living in the past.  I write about the principles and values that make a society good. I never suggest that we go back to washing our clothes in a river or taking a horse-drawn carriage to town. It is the beauty and the manners that I look for in any era. We can also learn from the errors of the past.  This post, "Renovated History" shows how ridiculous people are about the Victorians. Their hatred of the era is so intense that they draw broad conclusions that are not supportable. This is a laughable tongue-in-cheek rendition of the modernist belief that nothing good happened in the Victorian era, and that all women were oppressed, compressed, (by their corsets of course), suppressed and oppressed (by men of course). If people hate the Victorians, they hate their own kin, for there is not one modernist that does not have a Victorian ancestor. 

Modernism/Liberalism--This is not about living in the past. It is not about giving up your electricity and water: its about returning the old ways of life regarding women being at home and men earning a living. It is about maintaining family life. Modernism says that the secret to success in anything is money, but no money can replace time spent at home with your children, or time spent creating a wonderful home for your family.

The Wife, by Washington Irving

When Queens Ride By - A play written in the 1930's about a farm wife who neglected her home and children. When she has a conversation with another woman, she learns that home and family are more important than anything else.

Protecting Our Daughters

Most Requested Posts:

Charity Begins At Home

Home, the Woman's Realm

1930's Sermon on Submission

Mothers and Grandmothers of the Past

Keepers of the Springs

Taylor Caldwell on Women's Lib

Making the Best of Things

Free-Range Housewife

Why Dont Boys Whistle At Girls Anymore?

The Effect of Architecture of Home Living

Free to be Home

The Decline of Civilization


Society's New Bad Word - Just another negative label to intimidate Christians and prevent them from letting their light shine.

More evidence for the hatred of America, as Communist teachers infiltrated schools and colleges way back in the 60's.

Karl Marx and Reconstruction - Did you think the "reconstruction" of the South after the war meant re-building burnt cities and restoring the war's desolation?  Find out what reconstruction really meant!

Government Should Get Training From Wal-Mart--Government fails financially while Wal-Mart prospers and helps others prosper. What could be wrong?

New York Times Article in the Year 1913 Warns of the Follies of Feminism:  Warns flatly that feminism is a bad idea that will lead to the downfall of the home and of women's rightful place in the home. "The suffragist wishes to busy herself with the affairs of men. We wish to preserve in the home that which is really the home: an atmosphere of sweetness, tenderness and gentleness. ..Misdirected government is a bad thing, but misdirected sex is a national tragedy.

Political Socialism  Churchill called it the equal sharing of misery. Margaret Thatcher said the trouble with socialism was that you eventually run out of other people's money.

The Creature From Jekyll Island -- If you cannot get the book, at least read the reviews on that link, especially at the end of the page, which explain this horrible money system that has taken over our country, and which causes us to be used as pawn in changing the world for the worst.

The Marxist Take Over of America  Do you ever feel that you dont belong in your own country, that it has gone crazy and feels totally foreign?  Are you afraid to even open your mouth in public or among friends? Do you sense a strange atmosphere of unfriendly fear?  This article explains who is really running the place and why you feel the hostility directed at you.

Cultural Marxist techniques: These techniques are broadly based on the Frankfurt School, the University department bought by the Soviet Union in 1935. The Soviets asked it for the best methods of undermining other nations so it could bring them under its control. The EU has been implementing these techniques in Britain since the early 1960s.

 1) The creation of Racialism offences
 2) Continual change to create confusion
3) The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4) Huge immigration to destroy identity and create tension
5) The undermining of schools and teachers authority
6) The promotion of excessive drinking
7) Emptying the Churches
8) An unreliable legal system with bias against the victims of crime
9) Dependency on state or state benefits
10) Control and dumbing down of media and TV
11) The attack on fathers and the encouraging the breakdown of the family
12) Multi-Culturalism
13) The creation of trauma through injustice
14) Destruction of the monetary system
15) Political Correctness Sound familiar? Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism, its Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. Political Correctness is a form of mind control to control free speech, to undermine public opinion, to weaken the defences of democracy and to re-educate schoolchildren; it is a well documented communist subversion procedure.

These are only a few of over 200 techniques, they are ALL used to destroy western civilization and bring about a "One world government" and a Socially-Marxist society built on repression, poverty and war. Cultural Marxism is used to socially engineer a society through the subversion of culture. These techniques have been remarkably successful at undermining local and national government, the Police, NHS, schools and children. It has alienated British people from our nation and its politics; millions are now disinterested and apathetic. ● Cultural terrorism ● Cultural warfare We are at war! Read more about Cultural Marxism:

Click on number 244 Hear-it-Now to listen to the ridiculous answers some of our delegates and elected officials give when grilled on whether or not government is ever limited by God.

 Look on the list and find a place where This Radio Talk Show Host is playing in your time zone.  Sometimes he sounds like the preachers of .old used to sound.  He doesnt preach that Republicans are good and Democrats are bad, like many conservative talk shows. Instead, he points out that the government is no longer American when it ignores the will of the people. Both parties are the same, he points out, and they can all be seen at the same parties, making deals to bring America down.  You cant be overly sensitive when listening to him, though: he's a man's man who speaks the truth. He offers one simple way that might cause a change in people's thinking: when you are standing in line at the checkout in the grocery store, casually point to any photograph of the current president and other politicians and say quietly to someone nearby, "Its too bad he turned out to be such a Communist-Leninist." 

Bringing America Back to Her Religious Roots

All the Reich Moves

All the Founding People

Tradition, Family and Property

Politics as Usual

Here's To You, Thomas Jefferson

Intrusive Government

Original Intent of Our Founding Fathers

How We Lost Our Country

Warning Against Socialism

The Swine Flu Hoax

The Bird Flu Hoax

Dangerous Ingredients

How To Brainwash a Nation

The Dumbing Down of American Education

Eco-Feminism in India

Hollywood's Culture of Death

Monday, November 21, 2005

Managing the Home

I benefitted a lot from the visit of two sisters who called themselves "The Slob Sisters." They were, like the previous letter, daughters of a perfect mother, but her habits never quite rubbed off on them. After years of getting lost in their own piles of unsorted junk, and forgetting which meal it was time for, they got together and formed a system. They practiced it for awhile and then began to hold seminars to teach other "side-tracked" homemakers to have a more orderly life.

I believe many of their ideas were adopted by what is now called "Flylady," who sends regular emails when you sign up, to help you get a schedule at home and manage your time and work better. Here are some of the simple things I learned:

1. Don't begin your day until you are dressed and presentable enough to go somewhere, and put on your shoes.
2. Start at the front door and work clockwise, neatening, arranging, cleaning. Work from top to bottem and clockwise around each room.
3. Pick it up, don't pass it up. If you are going to your room to find something and you come across toys, shoes, papers, etc., pick them up on the way and distribute them where they belong.
4. Never leave the house until the bed is made and the dishes are done.
5. Plan your evening meal at the beginning of the day.

You are welcome to add more to this if you've got any knowledge of this system.

note: I've not had time to moderate comments, so be patient if yours don't appear immediately.

Picture: Apple Pie Harvest from allposters

Sunday, November 20, 2005


This video is about how chocolate is made. It makes you feel justified in eating chocolate- it's good for the environment and small farmers!


Dear Mrs. Sherman,

I've been behind in my reading at LAF and just now came across the link to your March 5 blog post, "Making the Best of Things." I was surprised that so many young women are claiming past financial deprivation as an excuse for poor homemaking and hospitality skills. I would think that a poorer home would be an excellent training ground for learning to be a creative and economical housewife...if, as was your case, their parents did provide them with example and training in having good character.

I wonder, however, if it was the character training, rather than the financial means, that was actually lacking in these young ladies' past. My dear mother was an abused and then abandoned wife who worked hard to provide clothing and shelter and food and health care for my brothers and me. Mom grew up with great deprivation in the Depression years. But she's an extraordinarily diligent person -- the kind who can hardly stand to be still when there's work that needs doing -- and has an uncanny ability to squeeze money out of rocks. Unfortunately, she simply wasn't able to pass on this disciplined character to us. I think diligence just came so naturally to her that she was a bit bewildered by anyone to whom it did not come naturally, and did not understand the need we had for intentional training in this area.

And so I find myself, at 37, still struggling to attain the bare minimum standards of housekeeping. I know that this is my sin and my responsibility, but I seem to be stuck in a perpetually fruitless game of tug-of-war with my bootstraps. As I've grown older, my view of a woman's calling to her home has grown higher and higher, and with it my sense of shame has grown deeper and deeper. I feel like an amputee trying to hop along without a prosthesis or even a crutch. Sometimes I make it a block or so down the sidewalk, but I inevitably fall into domestic chaos.

As you wrote, being a good homekeeper isn't a matter of wealth or privilege, but of character. So how would you counsel someone like me who, in God's providence, did not have the benefit of developing a strong character through the usual means of parental training? Some days, like today, when the dishes are stacked up to precarious heights in the kitchen (and sometimes in other rooms of the house), and the laundry pile is threatening to take over the bedroom, and the floors are becoming an obstacle course of clutter, I am tempted to despair. It's hard to remember that our perfect heavenly Husband has not abandoned me -- that He will complete the good work He's begun. It's hard to submit to the slowness of His sanctifying work -- to be content and grateful for the immense grace He has show me, even though it's not always in the areas of my life where I'd like it to be.

Thank you for your taking the time to read.


My comments: One of the motivating factors in making a homemaker want to do her best, is that her place is her own. We naturally love and care for things that belong to us. Even if we rent a place, the dwelling and the atmosphere belong to us. It is there we can use our talents, our skills, or imaginations and our intelligence to make it appealing, comfortable and functional. What if it were put to a contest, and whoever was able to make their home the most appealing according to a set of standards, would win a prize, and, what if the loser would lose her home or have to give it to the winner? It is possible, you know, that if we are not good stewards of our homes or our businesses, we may lose them to others. Homemaking is a matter of personal pride and personal responsibility. We may think that no one knows what is going on in our homes, but the influence of it flows outward into the community.

Our temperaments are often a result of the way the house looks. Some people even say that the time when there is most likely to be a quarrel at home is when things are in the most disarray. Someone who visits us or lives in our home, may form an opinion about it. We may be observed by someone who is lost in a world of homemaking and doesn't know what kind of standard to live up to. If everyone were like us, what would the homes in our neighborhood be like? Our moods can rub off on other people, so if having a messy house puts you and the family in a bad mood, the best way to alleviate it is to practice some good habits.

Maybe one of the reasons our mother's good habits did not rub off on us, is that we were away from her during the most impressionable years of our lives, sitting instead in institutions with other teachers. I taught my own children at home, and even with all the reading and writing and mathematics, they were still able to absorb the inner workings of the home, even it that wasn't taught from a book. Some of our parents grew wonderful gardens and prepared food from it, but because we were not there to observe the process or work along side them, we didn't learn to do it.

You can put yourself on a schedule and follow it precisely, by the clock, until the things you need to do become so automatic to you that you don't have to look at your list anymore. In the face of non-emergency interruptions, you can say, "Sorry, that's the time I fix meals. I couldn't possibly make it." You can be strict about your schedule until you feel you've gained enough control over your home to become more flexible to allow for interruptions.

The homemaker I mentioned in other posts, was unique in the fact that her hands were never still and her eyes were always looking around her house for things to put aright. She wasn't doing it because she enjoyed hard labor, she was enjoying it. It was like playing house to her.

Picture by Rios, "Home to the Heart." My comment - artists seem to prefer the subject matter of the home, scenery, nature and family.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harmony in the Home

I'm catching up to a few requests. This article is one of those that has been requested many times, regarding family conflicts. I'd much rather write about more pleasant things, but this may lead to something pleasant to someone out there.

What person who really wants to do right, would object to harmony among family members? If you've labored toward that end, you might be surprised at some of the undermining, some of the remarks, and some of the looks you get. People who have been married 30 years or more are often surprised at the new pressures they receive from others, about the longevity of their union. Seasoned homemakers whose children are grown will often be challenged by questions that demand to know what they are going to "do" now that house is empty. (It is never empty for long, I assure you.)

Strong families whose grown children assemble with them often for things like Thanksgiving or just special family get-togethers, are sometimes pulled apart by jealous folks who don't like to see happiness resting on their doorstep. The world thinks that close families are abnormal or unhealthy, and they attempt to split them apart. I recently talked to one heart-broken woman whose daughters will not even speak to her. They grew up in her home, and while home, were wonderful together, but were later influenced by rebellious friends. "You don't have to honor your parents," they were told, "because now you are on your own. You are grown up."

I've written further on this in an article for LAF ( which will be published later on, but I thought it might be good to express some inside views from friends of mine, about this problem, which will not be contained in the article. The title of the upcoming article is "Manners: Honoring Your Parents." It has not been published there yet.

I talked to a 30 year old girl who is living at home with her parents. She wants to marry but has not had that opportunity so far. In the meantime, she finds it best to be at home under her father's care and protection. She is not idle, and has many irons in the fire so to speak, as she is involved in helping with the Crisis Pregancy Center. She does live at home, though, and says she has had to stand her ground in the face of criticism. She receives the typical derision and remarks from others--not just her peers, but from the older people as well. They were from a generation that left their parents, not to marry, but to get out on their own, get apartments and get away from the family so that they could do as they pleased. They tell her that she is grown up now, and that it is ridiculous to be living at home. She also has sisters a little younger than she, living at home.

Another young woman I'm acquainted with, has come up with a good comeback, which she recently expressed to me: "There is no age-limit on honoring your parents." People assume that just because one is at home, they are under an austere set of rules and must be bossed by their parents. This is simply not true. Women who live at home, choose to do so for a number of reasons. One of them is that they enjoy the family harmony. They enjoy meals with their parents and good times at home. If they were out on their own, they would probably find themselves spending most of their spare time at home, anyway, just for the company and the fellowship. The single life is not all it is portrayed to be. It is an expensive life and a lonely life; two things which are solved by living at home.

I once attended a class where a very interesting illustration was presented on a board. The teacher drew a picture of an umbrella, and labelled it "Protection." Above the umbrella where he drew drops of rain, he wrote "Authority." Under the umbrella he drew a father and a mother and some children of various heights, some nearly as tall as the parents. On the right of the umbrella, he drew a terrible rainstorm, with all kinds of black swirls and big drops of hail. It might seem silly to some, but from my own experience of leaving home at an early age, I could see his point. He drew one of the family members walking away from authority. The person did not realize that in his attempt to get away from his family, he was also getting away from their protection. We have the same concept with civil law. It protects you as long as you stay under its authority. When you go contrary to the authority, you enter into all kinds of trouble.

The parents in this family are very interested in young people and often invite them to their home so that their daughters have a good social life. As an older person, (I hate saying that--I'm not that old!) I can attest to the happiness it brings when young people are included in my life. I can provide things that they often cannot, such as hospitality and a place to visit, and they can stimulate my mind and bring new thoughts to a conversation. The old and the young were created to interact together.

When a family is created, children are not born in batches of 20 peers, and married couples consist of just two. Yet we have a modern mindset that is harming the harmony that was once felt in the home, by insisting that young people travel and talk with only people their age. Young people need to be around the wisdom and understanding of the older people, and older people need the vitality of the young. (This is one of my objections to some kinds of education. They way it is set up, youth is not exposed to various age groups.) In real life, the family consists of people of many different ages and places in their lives. Peer groups do not provide this variety and this insight into life.

The secret to harmony in the home is respect for authority, and an honoring attitude. There are forces that do not want this harmony. "Why should you spend the holidays with your folks? Come and hang out with us, instead." They will then tell the parents, "Susan is old enough to make up her own mind. She has her own life now." All this is true, but it is not the issue. The issue is , harmony in the family, and honoring to parents.

There are many reasons to honor our parents, but one important one is because they watch for our souls. If you haven't got parents, there is probably someone in your family that you must respect and honor. Honoring means that you don't say anything derogatory about your parents or your family. Honoring means that you don't do things that would embarrass or shame your family. It means you don't shout at your parents, stage blowups at home, taunt or sneer at your siblings, be critical, argumentive, or hold resentments for years and years. Those are the don'ts.

The do's consist of remembering their special cautions, listening to their requests, being courteous and thoughtful (as you would anyone else), knowing what their goals are, and appreciating them for their sacrfices they made for you. As the young woman said, "There is no age limit on honoring." I will add to that "there is no time limit for honoring." Some of us have sadly parted with our parents through death, but we continue to honor them by living in a way that they taught us, that would not dishonor their name or nullify their raising of us.

To conclude the matter, I would like to say that most of the dis-harmony in the home can be traced back to a dishonoring, disrespectful spirit, and not always on the inside of the home. There are those on the outside who have had disruptive lives, lived rebelliously, and despised their parents and siblings. They meet other people who have done the same thing. If you have an honoring and harmonious home life, you look wierd to them. They don't understand your joys and your sorrows. They will not sympathise with you when there are problems in your home. They will not understand why you want to bother to work to create harmony in your home. They could be somewhat jealous also.

Ive even known of boyfriends who instigate troubles in their girlfriend's families. A truly upstanding young man or young woman, would do all they could to encourage their prospective mates, dates, or whatever they are (they don't really court or date these days, do they--they just sort of "hang out" together..) Instead, some of them seem to relish the conflict that the young lady has with her parents. I would like to give a stern warning to anyone who is "going" with such a girl or guy: get away from them as fast as you can. If they don't honor your parents and encourage you to honor and reconcile, you will find conflict continually in your life as long as you are associated with them. If you marry, your own children will have conflicts, due to that perrson's attitude toward authority.

Harmony can be restored to the home. You are much better off trying to get it, than abandoning all hope. A runner who enters a race, enters to finish, even if he lags behind and is having difficulties. You can establish certain practices in your own life that will restore harmony to the home. Things like creating beauty and order in the dwelling place, serving others in your family whether they return the favor or not, respecting the dwelling place and looking after personal posessions, not answering back rudely or in a way that will enflame anger, not speaking to others about family members, and sticking by one another--defending one another, rather than pulling the family apart. You can help other families be strong by reinforcing their family values, rather than sympathising with a complainer. You can reinforce struggling marriages by encouraging them to stay together. You can teach the message of reconciliation, a word that is rarely heard in families today.

Harmony in the home is more than having the right rug or a matching tea set. These things only add joy if the family has co-hesivness. The best way I know to work on this, is to speak only good of one another, to each other, and everyone else. We may not know we are doing it, but sometimes even if we say, "My husband is a terrible organizer. His papers are everywhere," we send a negative message to the immature among us, who may use that later as an excuse to chip away at your relationship.

Husbands and wives used to be able to tell silly jokes about their relationships, and people would understand, but today, there is a greater threat in the air. If a husband says, "I'll have to ask the chief before I can give you an answer," or "I wear the pants in the family," there are those who are too immature to understand it, who will take it a different way. Eventually they will form opinions of hatred toward the wife, and translate that negativity to the husband, which will demean the wife in his eyes, and then there will be conflict.

People with small minds conclude that the husband or wife must be a terrible person, and will chip at your loyalty in attempt to get you to "find happines." I have recently heard of two marriage counsellors, who instead of trying to get the couple back together, encouraged them each to do whatever made them feel good, or made them happy. This couple paid over $500.00 to recieve this advice that separated them even further. My husband gave them free advice: You will never be truly happy unless you do the right thing.

These jokes and comments were always good-natured and didn't mean anything derogatory, but I've noticed today, there is a generation that doesn't "get it." They may take these comments very literally and very seriously and cause trouble in your home. Much of this lack of understanding comes from not really being brought up in homes, where a natural banter goes on between the father and the mother, and where common expressions about homelife are developed. Daycares and schools have taken these things away from many people.

To create harmony in the home, sometimes you might just have to shut the doors and shut out the world and regroup. You may have to speak up for the family and take some unpopular stands. Some people can't stand happiness in others, and will say what they can to discourage your happy, harmonious family. Create happiness in your family; teach forgiveness by forgiving, love by loving, acceptance by accepting, gratitude by gratefulness. Make things right as quickly as possible and always right wrongs and make up with people as quickly as you can. Be kind, be nice, be patient, be good.If you give yourself completely to these things and they don't respond, you'll at least create harmony in your own life.

I've chosen "Lighting the Course" by Judy Gibson, which you can order from allposters, because of its symbollic meaning to this article. The harmony of the home is both a protectorate and a guide.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Peaceful Retreat 2

People have been asking for pictures of my dwelling, but I think after all I've said, they might be expecting something a little more fantastic than it is. I've learned over the years that it first and foremost must be a home, and that it doesn't matter if the furnishings aren't quite up to snuff, and if nothing matches.

While it is fun to look at the decorating magazines and see what other people are doing, I look only for ideas to do some things better, and don't try to immitate a lot of it. It doesn't bring on any envy on my part to see someone else's house well-done, as I am looking more for simplicity, beauty, order, love, sentimentality and spiritual values in my home.

I'll post pictures as I get them, but in the meantime, let me describe the home of my first friend who loved homemaking and had what I called an "atmosphere" in her home.

Carol lived in a small townhouse, but once I entered, I was transported to another place. She was very British, having been born in Scotland, and it took me years to figure out "how she did that." I detected no wealth or inherited fortune, yet, her house always had a rich look.

She and her sister had grown up in a home where their mother was particular about cleanliness and order, and good quality. They wouldn't hang on to something that was torn or broken, unless it was to be repaired immediately. Their father would fix things as quickly as possible, and the house was always kept in ship-shape.

I asked Carol once how it was that she had so much talent to make her home so orderly and to be so effective in homemaking, and yet make it so beautiful. She said, "I had it bred into me." I was curious about this, because, how does one who lacks the habits of orderliness and beauty, get such a skill? When something is bred into you, it is trained from youth, but it is still possible to reverse a habit or acquire a skill, if you want it bad enough. (It takes 30 days to change a habit, I'm told.)

Observing her house, I noticed she had green velvet curtains trimmed in matching ball fringe, tied back with shiny twisted rope, onto a decorative catch mounted ont he wall. While I thought she had got them at some exclusive store, I found out that she'd made them rod-pocket style from discount fabric. She draped the ends of the simple rods with matching hand-made tassels.
She had a simple couch with cushions made from leftover pieces of the green fabric. Next to the couch was a table and a lamp, with her husband's reading glasses and his mail and favorite magazines.

The fireplace mantel contained two candles on pedestals, placed in front of a mirror, which doubled the effect of the light. The mirror was a an unadorned piece, without a frame, which she had found at a yard sale.

She was particular about everything being clean and having a fresh smell, and you would never have guessed that she didn't shop the most expensive stores.

Her dining area contained a table draped in a pretty cloth, topped by a piece of clear plastic. I had eaten with her several times before I discovered that this table was merely a piece of wood set upon a new trash can that had never been used. The tablecloth was a sheet that she liked and thought was too pretty to put on a bed.

Over time, Carol was able to replace her old furnishings with more substantial things, but I've often wondered what it was about her place that was so appealing. Then one day as the pictures of her home clicked through my mind, I figured it out. She had a way of putting shiny objects (mirrors, brass candle stands) with her soft objects (velvet pillows and curtains), and her wood tables and shelves contained china pieces as well as the occasional dash of unexpected bright spots of color. There was a contrast between textures, as she paired shiny with soft, dull with polished, etc. The place was a "natural history museam" of her family's interests and accomplishments.

She had no papers laying around and no clutter, because she had the interesting habit of picking things up whenever she was in her house. She never waited for a cleaning day. If she was getting something out of her kitchen cabinet or fridge, she would also straighten out something, pull out an empty container, or wipe something with a cleaning cloth. She had a "clean as you go" habit. Things didn't lie on the floor; they were swept up immediately with a little broom and dustpan. Now I don't say that everyone can do this, but it is an interesting custom to aspire to. My home gets really cluttered and messy, but everyone knows I don't feel comfortable that way and that eventually I will remedy it. That's a lot different than someone who doesn't care a whit about it and treats the home as if it were just a stopping off place while on the way to something else.

Her home also had a wonderful scent, depending on the season. It wasn't just clean, it had a smell of spices and flowers and foods that made you just want to hide out in her house somewhere so you wouldn't have to leave.

In front of the couch was a trunk she had been given as a girl, which she now used for a coffee table. On it was placed a bouquet of flowers and a stack of coasters to hold drinks. In a corner shelf were framed photographs of her family. Everything in her home had a meaning. She didn't just put a picture on the wall because it matched; it had to have a message of value to her and represent her feelings about life.

When her husband came home, he always looked forward to sitting in his favorite place and talking to her about his day. She didn't complain about him not offerring to take her somewhere and I once asked her, "Why doesn't Dave ever ask you to go anywhere? You've been home all day and he never offers." She said she had made the place so pleasant, that he couldn't think of anywhere he wanted to go, that was more pleasant or relaxing. She had plenty of things she wanted to do, and was able to go out with her mother and sister during the day. She said, "We got married so we could be together. We got tired of meeting in restaurants and parks. We wanted to have a home to spend the evenings in."

Another painting by Susan Rios: "An Elegant Afteroon." Susan used to be a florist, as you can probably tell by her detailed paintings of foliage. This can be purchased online at Cherish'd Gifts online.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Western Press Vilifies Princess' Decision to Marry

I was looking at this story about a Japanese Princess who gave up her royal status to be married to a "common" man.

Here's what we found interesting:
If you read the Japanese report, it is very honoring and respectful. The writer actually wishes them well.

Yet, the western reporters sneer at the happy event.
If you look at anything western - be it BBC or ABC, the tone is sarcastic.

There is something to be said for manners - and the Japanese have some old traditionalist ways that are beautiful compared to the modern "progressive" mindset. Respect and good will just seem to permeate their every word. A very graceful people compared to the media over here.

First look at the Japanese Editorial and link:

Note especially the concluding paragraph, calling for decorum on behalf of the writer's fellow citizens.
EDITORIALS/ Princess Sayako weds
Princess Sayako, the only daughter of the emperor and the empress, was to marry Yoshiki Kuroda, an employee of the Tokyo metropolitan government, on Tuesday.

The princess and Kuroda, who first met in their childhood, met again two and half years ago and have cherished their love ever since. We want to congratulate them on this occasion.

The marriage is the first for a female member of the imperial family since Princess Takako, the fifth daughter of Emperor Showa, wed 45 years ago.

According to imperial household tradition, formal ceremonies were held for Princess Sayako to exchange betrothal gifts and announce the date of the wedding.

But many things broke from tradition. Up until the marriage of Princess Takako, the emperor's daughters used to marry former members of the imperial family or men who had previously held titles of peerage. But Kuroda is neither of them, even though his distant relative is a former nobleman.

This is the first time for an emperor's daughter to marry an ordinary citizen.
When Princess Takako was married nearly half a century ago, Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun attended the wedding ceremony but did not attend the wedding reception. However, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were to attend both the ceremony and reception this time around.

Reportedly, Princess Sayako and Kuroda decided on their own the scale of the wedding reception and the people to invite. Their wedding ceremony plans were similar to those of ordinary citizens, by which the bride and bridegroom make a fresh start in their lives in front of close friends and family members.

Although the tradition in the imperial household is largely being followed, many among the public will welcome the wedding ceremony in which the princess's friendship with people close to her and the affection of her family members are valued.

In a ceremony to formally say farewell to the emperor and the empress, Princess Sayako said, "I am immensely grateful for being nurtured with profound love."

In response, the emperor and the empress told her to "build a happy family jointly" and wished her good health and fortune. Such words are normal expressions of affection between parents and their children in any family.

We hope Princess Sayako will be able to visit the Imperial Palace together with her family freely and have enough time to enjoy pleasant conversation with her parents, in the same way she has so far done. And no doubt the emperor and the empress will be overjoyed to frequently see their married daughter.

After Michiko was married to then Crown Prince Akihito, it was not easy for her to meet her parents. Only on certain days, such as Michiko's birthday, could her parents, Hidesaburo and Fumiko Shoda, visit the crown prince's residence.

After the acceptance by the ward office of the notification of her marriage, the princess was to officially part with her status of an imperial family member. She will become Sayako Kuroda, gaining a surname for the first time. She will have the right to vote and will be eligible for the pension program.

Although her life will undergo radical change from that of a princess to a homemaker, we hope she will take advantage of her experience working at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology.
If a female emperor is authorized through a revision of the Imperial House Law, which is currently under study, the emperor's daughters are likely to retain the status of imperial family members, even after their marriage.

Princess Sayako may become the last daughter of an emperor to leave the imperial family because of marriage. That is all the more reason the princess and Kuroda will be watched over closely by the public.

But the fact that Princess Sayako becomes Sayako Kuroda means that she will become a private citizen, and not a public figure. We should watch her and her spouse with moderation as they build their lives as ordinary citizens.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 15(IHT/Asahi: November 16,2005)

Now look at this one from ABC (Typical of others.)

I just can't believe that this lady would be so reviled for getting married! That woman who wrote the ABC artcle sure was bitter. The BBC thing was just as bad- they had a broadcast where they turned the former princess into a cartoon and danced her across the screen while proclaiming that she wouldn't have maids waiting on her hand and foot. I think the princess looks very sweet and happy with her decision. I was interested in all this because I didn't even know that japan still had a royal family. Here is some other video footage, under "princess no longer". I dont' know what commentary they have added, when we watched earlier it there wasn't any on there yet.

In view of what we all know about feminism, could these authors possibly be women? Or is it men who despise marriage because they might have to take care of families....I don't know. It is a mindset that is destroying our nation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Modesty Matters

Written in 1956 -- Imagine yourself a resident of the 50's decade and read this. It is not so much about modesty, as it is about the deplorable masculinization of women's clothing and subsequently their disinterest in the home.

The Beauty of Restraint - Written by my daughter who grew up homeschooled -home discipled, and now is homeschooling and home discipling her own children. 

Hawaiian Libertarian

Summer Modesty - I wrote this to remind women that summer need not be a time of bareness, and that beautiful, loose,long  flowing clothing is quite a bit cooler than tight skimpy clothing.

Protecting Our Daughters With Appropriate Clothing - One of my most viewed articles on the good sense behind modesty.

Protecting Our Daughters - How could any father or mother in their right minds put their daughters in danger by allowing them to dress as hooks and lures to the worst elements of society? Most girls think that a predator's behaviour has nothing to do with the way a young girl dresses, but the Bible clearly states that you can be at fault too, when providing temptation or refusing to protect someone from harm.

Modest Active Wear - Don't buy the lie that women have to play volleyball in a string bikini, play tennis in a tutu, or golf in shorts. Women of the past managed to enjoy all kinds of activities without shedding their clothes as they do today.

The Deconstruction of Women's Clothing - In this post, I show how the casual clothing trend has eliminated parts such as sleeves, buttons, zippers, waistbands, collars, cuffs, and all kinds of pieces that made a garment dignified.

Modest Weddings - If you have ever attended a wedding where the clothing of the bride and her bridesmaids made you blush with embarrassment, you can understand the need for instruction on modesty in weddings.

Sunday's Breast- a writer for a prominent newspaper tells of his experience going to church and being confronted by more bare breasts and cleavage than in a bar.

Take The Modesty Quiz

Manners, Customs and Clothing

Blue-Jeans: The New Feminist Uniform?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Beauty Slideshow

Click on the title, or the link below, and go to a slideshow I've created. Although I'm not very good at this yet, I hope some day to be able to do a little online video.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Peaceful Retreat, Part 1

This is such a multi-faceted subject, that I hardly know where to begin. To understand the elements of creating the peaceful retreat at home, I find that I must first educate the young women about its intricate value.

Why do young women shun the prospect of marriage, home, and family? Why is it boring to them? Why do they want to pursue careers instead? Why are they willing to endure the insufferable repitition of factory work, office politics, or industrial labor, instead?

I invited a young couple to my home once, for dinner. The young man was tired after a day's work at a paper mill, where he had also become responsible for a certain department and the employees. His wife stayed at home and educated their two children herself. She was also tired, but not as in need of encouragement as her husband. Because many of his co-workers were women, the subject turned to that of women working outside the home.

As he related to us his observations of the women in his department, his voice got louder and louder, and soon he began to shout.

"WHY OH WHY do they want to work, when they don't really have to?

" My job is hard and it is exhausting. If I could stay home, I would. So why won't the women stay home? There is less stress for them there. They function better there. Men need to come home to a real home that is a peaceful retreat. If the wife is gone all day, the home is anything but a retreat, for she can't put the atmosphere into it that makes it so.

" I can't understand why the women WANT to do this, when they can stay home. I don't LIKE going to work every day--why do they like it?"

Somewhere in all this ranting and raving, was some simple reasoning that always stuck in my mind. I have my own ideas about why women don't want to stay home, don't like it, are bored by it, and don't plan on becoming homemakers and leave the working world to the men. The first is education. Excuse me for daring to touch such a sacred entity, but there you have it.

While it is wonderful that women have the opportunity to be educated, to read and write and cipher, one thing I learned from homeschooling my own children, is that one has to be discerning about what one reads or listens to.

Learning and reading can be used for good, or for ill. That is basically the difference between government education and private education. Education can be a detriment to a girl's life, when it directs her into things that distract her from the things that should come second nature to her.If she spends four years in the University studying marketing, she isn't going to be inclined to be a homemaker. As the twig is bent, so the tree will grow.

Women naturally love the home, until they are trained out of it by education. Little girls play house, folding little blankets for their dolls, and playing with their little tea sets. If a girl spends many hours in college, she will either be shamed out of these early instincts or trained out of them. She will not come away from that experience more determined to have a lovely home, manage it, and guard it. She will not feel the challenge of having a good family and helping her husband in his life.

I know a woman who married a man who had nothing but a bicycle. Although she never pursued outside work, she helped her husband and encouraged him so much, that today he is one of the most successful farmers in the area that they live. He has modern barns, nicy shiny tractors and hay balers, his own gas station to fuel his farm machinery, and a brand new house with floor heating. If they chose to give it all up, they would still have enough to keep a small home and have future security. Her fulfillment was in forging a life together with him, raising their children, and pursuing her own talents. More about her, later.

For this reason, I find college education for girls very distracting, and very subversive. Sorry about that, girls, but those of you who have gone to college, let me ask you about your college days.

How much time did you spend at home, caring for it? How often did you show hospitality? Did you sew your own clothes? Did you dress femininely? How much time did you think about having a husband and how you would love and care for him? Did you dare even dream about it in the politically correct environment of the University? In however number of years you spent in that institution, was your importance based upon how you would lovingly decorate your home and how faithful you would be to your husband, or was value placed on your degree? Was your laundry caught up? Was your room clean? How often did you bathe or take a shower? Did tests and research papers take priority in your life? Did your college experience increase your yearning for a happy marriage, home, and a family of your own?Compare your education to the real life of home and family. How much of it really applies to the way you live in a home?

I spoke to a 40 year old woman the other day, who just came home from work, and is trying to adjust to managing her day at home and being a homemaker. She confessed to me that she would have been far better off to use all those years in college to learn how to run her home efficiently and learn to take care of her husband and children. Her years in college prepared her to work away from home; they did not prepare her for all the things that would confront her in homemaking. Homemaking is often mocked and scorned by the college elites.

She told me that when she was in high school and she was asked in a class what her plans for the future was, she said she wanted to be a wife and a mother. The teacher said, "You have to be something. Being a wife and a mother is not a viable career." Many a young girl, full of natural hopes and dreams about marriage, is humilated and discouraged by the educational "experts," and forfeit their right to have a beautiful life at home.

The other thing that prevents young women from pursuing marriage and homemaking as a career, is regulation. If they've gone to schools all their lives, they are used to getting up in the morning and going somewhere else. There, they are regulated by bells and time schedules which are imposed on them by someone else. They grow dependent on having someone else regulate their lives. The same thing happens at work. Life is regulated by hours, lunch breaks, shipments, order, and the like, and rewarded with paychecks.

Home is another matter. Instead of head knowledge, it requires heart. The heart is not something that is educated much in colleges. People are admired for their smarts, not for their hearts. We need to educate our girls not so much to earn a living but about good living. Peter Marshall, the US Senate Chaplain during the Truman presidency, said (

It remained for the twentieth century, in the name of progress, in the name of tolerance, in the name of broadmindedness, in the name of freedom, to pull her down from her throne and try to make her like a man.
She wanted equality. For nineteen hundred years she had not been equal--she had been superior. But now, they said, she wanted equality, and in order to obtain it, she had to step down. And so it is, that in the name of broadminded tolerance, a man's vices have now become a woman's.

Twentieth-century tolerance has won for woman the right to become intoxicated, the right to have an alcoholic breath, the right to smoke, to work like a man to act like a man--for is she not man's equal? Today they call it "progress"...but tomorrow,oh, you Keepers of the Springs, they must be made to see that it is not progress.

No nation has ever made any progress in a downward direction. No people ever became great by lowering their standards. No people ever became good by adopting a looser morality.

It is not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was. It is not progress when purity is not as sweet.

It is not progress when womanhood has lost its fragrance. Whatever else it is, it is not progress!

We need Keepers of the Springs who will realize that what is socially correct may not be morally right. Our country needs today women who will lead us back to an old-fashioned morality, to an old fashioned decency, to an old fashioned purity and sweetness for the sake of the next generation, if for no other reason.

Girls going home to grandmother's house may sense that there is something different about these homes, but they think it might be because Grandma has old fashioned tea cups in a china cabinet. They don't realize that the peaceful retreat of Grandmother's house didn't get there by grandmother's education or her dedication to the business world, trying to climb to the top of the ladder. She came by it through diligent effort. It takes years and years of living at home, oberving how the family operates and watching their ways, in order to figure out how to create this peaceful retreat. Homemaking requires a woman to be self-motivated. There will be no bells, tests, paychecks, or special motivational meetings. Your education doesn't count, when it comes to creating a schedule that suits your family. No one is going to tell you when to get up in the morning, when to rearrange your furniture, and when to do the laundry. Home requires a completely different mindset. The way you approach the work at home is dependent upon your love for your family.

For those of you waiting to be lifted up into the glorious clouds of interior decorating, I'll post part 2 of the Peaceful Retreat, which includes some of the things that the woman that married the man with the bicycle, taught me. ;-)

"Aria byFirelight" by Judy Gibson

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Developing Your Own Schedule

I've been asked to write something about developing schedules for home living.

Finding a schedule that suits you requires observation and experimentation. Think about your ways and your habits, and soon, you will notice a pattern. Some people like quietness in the morning, and others wake up gung-ho to go, with a raging appetite for breakfast. Each family has to adjust to their own needs. I was a breakfast person and enjoyed watching the sun rise but I discovered after trial and error that no one else wanted to get up and eat that early in the

Friday, November 11, 2005

Inexpensive Hospitality

Magazines and media make such a fuss over hospitality that it can seem to amount to oodles of trouble and leave the hostess discouraged and exhausted. Sometimes the thought of the preparation and expense of having someone over, just takes the enthusiasm and fun out of it.

In the process of showing hospitality, remember that it is the spirit, or attitude of the thing that is the most important. You love your guest and you want to do something special for her. She senses that in your warm greeting and the lack of awkwardness in showing her a place to sit and making her comfortable. "I'll be heating the tea water for a minute. Why don't you just have a look at some of these magazines and I'll be right back."

You can have a pile of the most exciting and inspiring books or magazines you can find, that will entertain her while you get last minute things done, or you can invite her to sit in the kitchen and keep you company. It is nice to talk to someone while you are doing repetitive jobs, anyway. I met one lady who kept a rocking chair in her kitchen just for that reason.

Once, I invited someone over, and my husband took off with the car before I could get everything I needed to complete the meal, so I really had to scramble to come up with something in a hurry. My guest said nothing while she was there, but after wards, sent me a gift certificate to a grocery store for some free food. That was so embarrassing. So, in trying to show hospitality "on the cheap" you have to be careful not to give any impression of poverty, or else they will feel sorry for you and turn down further invitations.

Another lady called my son and offered to buy me a heater, because she was cold when she came to visit. I had been so busy that I'd gotten rather warm, and hadn't thought that maybe she was cold, and did not turn on the heat. I was extremely embarrassed, and did all I could to convince her that I didn't need a heater, and didn't need help with my heating bill, but to this day I'm sure she thinks we are cold and starving.

So, in your attempts at hospitality on a budget, here are some of my suggestions. You have to make the table LOOK rich, with certain elements that appear to be swanky--such as anything that shines, is glittery (I've got a saying: "all that glitters is good."). Don't put frayed napkins on the table, and if you are going to splurge on one expensive item, get really nice napkins. Even the dollar store has better napkins than some discount stores. A rich looking centerpiece helps, also.

The menu can be rich, but you don't have to get the foods at an expensive store. Have one very expensive looking food--maybe the dessert can be the richest chocolate or vanilla concoction you can make, and then they won't notice that the rest is rather plain. The arrangement and the presentation is part of the expression of elegance. A mixture of long grain and wild rice can be displayed on a bed of fresh green lettuce leaves. Color contrast is important. Tablecloths and centerpieces give elegance, if they have an artistic or creative look. Look at the way food is displayed in pictures, and you can get some good ideas. For example, sometimes flowers can be put on the plate of sandwiches or scones, just to give it some color and interest.

We were invited to a woman's home who lived above a store, in a poorer area of the country, and all we had was a pizza made with a biscuit mix, but with her candles and placemats, and comfortable seating arrangment, it was an elegant meal and one of the best evenings we've ever experienced.

While I've had people over for dinners and main meals, I prefer to entertain Tea Party style, for the reason that the foods don't all have to be kept warm or gotten on the table all at the same time. You can serve anything at a tea party, only the food is usually presented in bite-style serving sizes.
People who don't drink caffeinated beverages can still enjoy tea parties, because there are no so many delicious herbal teas on the market, called "infusions" which can be anything from raspberry to lemon or mint.

The idea is to give the impression of being able to entertain, without making your guests guess that you've done it on a budget. Don't say things like:

"I would have served sauce on that dessert, but couldn't afford it. I'm on a budget." (Never admit you are poor--people might think you are mis-managing your money)

"I don't turn on the heat because I don't want to pay the high bill."

"Thanks for the compliment on the tablecloth and centerpiece. I bought them at the dollar store."

"I hope there are some leftovers for my husband when he gets home. I used up everything in the house to make this meal for you."

"I've been preparing food all day. I'm exhausted."

If you make remarks like these, your guests will feel guilty they are even eating and will put you on a list to receive food from the county food bank at Christmas.

To make your menu look rich, put gold or silver doilies on the plates on which to place their tea sandwiches and dessert tarts. Light voltives in cut-glass cups (both which come from dollar stores), which give the party a look of abundance -- but don't tell them that.

Out here in Oregon, people always offer to bring something. This is a good chance to say, "Oh that would be great. I forgot to buy the milk for the tea," or, "I just love your chocolate chip coookies. Would there be time for you to make some?" Be careful about being excessive in this, as people might say "Do you ever notice that Jill never supplies any of her own food at her lunches?" I prefer not to accept their offers, but have, on occasion, gone ahead and allowed them to bring their favorite dessert or hot dish.

The cleanliness and neatness and tasteful arrangements of accessories in the house go a long way to giving the appearance of being well supported. Be careful not to indicate poorness in any way, or intimate that your husband isn't a good provider. This is bad press for your family.

You can make little favors and gifts for your guests, but don't tell them you used the leftover paper seconds from your husband's office. The main thing is to appear to be well enough off to have people over. I'm sure the Pioneers invited people into their camp at night to enjoy what little they had, just for the fellowship and companionship that was mutually beneficial, rather than making excuses for the poor fare served.

Countryside Magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2005) has an amusing article you might get a kick out of:
"Principles of Successful Country Freeloading." It is available to read here

Menus to follow, so check back.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Powerful Equation of Love

Love is a soothing ointment on the scars of life. I've seen hearts seemingly hardened like stone, soften in the application of love. There have been men who are so hostile that every contact with them seems like a war, when treated with love, the pickly bristle of hostility is removed. Like the sun shining on the rose, the fragrance of love makes the coldest heart open.

There is nothing more important than love, yet many parents spend more time and money trying to find the right college for their children, or hunting for the right job for themselves. Their supposition is that once a person is economically or socially sound, love will soon follow.

My belief is that love ought to be put first, and the external things will follow. For example, a mother will carefully show her son by example, inference, and command, how to do the right thing in any situation, no matter what the cost. When this kind of character is bred into him, and he ernestly strives to live the principles of honor, duty and nobility, the perfect job and the perfect wife will come to him.

Sadly, the world has it backwards. It believes that economics is the basis of all success and happiness and that love is an accident which strikes unexpectedly, and that those who do well financially, will have better relationships and stronger marriages.

Commitment is the basis of love, yet few people live this out, in today's divorce culture. When the many principles of love are applied, a person can get through any hardship in marriage. Some people leave their mates because of economical reasons. Others leave because their mate has changed and is no longer the person they married. Yet, commitment overrides these reasons. It seems easy to understand commitment in a job, where payment is given to the loyal employee. The job may be boring, and the company may have changed from the one they first knew 30 years ago, but people keep going to work. They rarely divorce their jobs on the same basis as they divorce their wives.

Even at work, there are presentations and video clips to inspire and encourage the employees to get along with other employees that they don't agree with. Work may be stressful, yet many people remain committed to it. Yet, at home, mates are often treated with less consideration.

We pride ourselves on having the freedom of choice, but sometimes forget that we can choose to love the person we married. Many a husband who has walked out on a marriage, has done so because he "wasn't in love" anymore. However, it is easier to "do" your way into loving someone (with good words, thoughtfulness, and kindness that you would extend even to a stranger) than to love your way into doing.

In previous centuries, mates were chosen by the families, and yet there was more faithfulness, commitment and endurance than there is today, with our free choice of mates. I've often listened to open ridicule of the families who help find mates for their children, and yet see these very scoffers failing their own marriages.

While I do think it is good to have the prospective partners agreeable to marrying each other, I do not think the decision should be left entirely up to the young couple. Marriage is too big a commitment to leave it up to inexperienced youth. The advice of parents and others is very much needed, since they see qualities and flaws that young people do not see. The decision to marry should be a combined effort of the family. Couples who have the approval and backing of their parents are more likely to have stress-free marriages.

I've seen the amazing transformation in love in many couples where the wife has learned to overlook a fault, and look to what her husband could be. Alicia Nash, in the book (can't remember the author at this point) about her husband, Nobel prize winner John Nash, said, when her husband was sufferring from mental illness, "I just try to remember what he was when I fell in love with him. He then becomes that man I married, and I become the woman who loves him."

After accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics, Nash himself said, "I have always thought mathematics was important, but I have made the most important discovery in my career and of my life, in the illogical equation of love. It is one thing to have a beautiful mind, but it is quite another to know a beautiful heart (referring to his wife)."

There were two young men in our congregation who were not attractive to women, nor did they attempt it. As they grew older, when young women came around asking if there were any eligible men, and these guys were mentioned, people would say, "Oh, they are just a couple of country hicks living with their parents." They were reserved, and rarely spoke to women. Many girls passed up the opportunity to offer love to these fellows, in return for the faithfulness, stability and security they could give them.

One day a woman came to me and was wanting to know if I could introduce her to one of these men, as she was looking for a companion. I called them up and told them that she had inquired after them. Their father knew her pretty well and had apprently "talked up" about her. After church when introductions were made, this man that she was interested in, became the life of the party, full of enthusiasm, laughing, etc. I'd never seen him looking better--he was all dressed up, shaven, hair cut, neat and clean. She was kind and loving in her demeanor, and he sensed it. He asked her to his home immediately, and they exchanged phone numbers. I had thought over the years that girls were overlooking this man because of flimsy surface impressions, and were missing out on a rich life with them out on their estate. The application of can change people.

In the pioneer story, "Love's Enduring Promise," by Janette Oke (also made into a movie), Marty cautions her daughter not to judge a man by his looks, charm, wealth or popularity, but by his loyalty and endurance, qualties that would make him " still love you when you are old and gray." People change, of course, because that is the way life is. If we based our love on the way people changed, we wouldn't even love our own brothers and sisters or our best friends. Commitment and loyalty will see us through these changes, and keep love alive.

Today, the scene would be much different. Because of no-fault divorce laws (which are everything BUT 'no-fault'), couples aren't willing to ride over the rough spots of their marriage. Their commitment is shallow, and love is never learned by going through the dark valleys with someone. I will grant that there are legitimate reasons for divorce, but most of the time, the problems that excuse quick divorces, could be solved. The people in the Depression era survived marriage, as well as most WW I and WWII veterans. Just look at the longevity of those marriages, compared to today, and yet they sufferred far more. They had less pay, less security, fewer benefits and less communication. They had commitment that overrides every possible set back.

While it is true that people in marriage change, the commitment never should. Has your sister or your mother changed? Are they every out of sorts with life and disagreeable with you? Would you even dream of walking out and never seeing them again? One function of marriage and the family is to help each individual grow and mature spiritually by attention to the needs of others. We are all in this together, as they say. When a husband or wife goes through unpleasant changes, even if only one of the partners remains determinedly committed, the marriage can survive, and love can grow.

A Texas Supreme Court Judge said, prior to 1970, "If a couple knows they cannot get out of a marriage for any flimsy reason, they will try harder to get along and they will adjust and make life more pleasant for themselves." This is true. When you look at people trapped in elevators, you know they will do whatever they can to keep the situtation calm. They don't know how long they will be there, and their best side comes out. Somehow, in marriage, this has been forgotten.

Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

If we can understand this in the concept of Christian love, then we can apply it to marriage. When you aren't "in love" with your mate, treat him like a brother, a Christian in the church. In the church, we do not always "feel like" worshipping. Sometimes we are depressed or discouraged, but our commitment remains the same. The church members may have changed and some of them may not be exciting or growing like they should. Yet, our commitment remains the same, and we are faithful. We learn to be nice to people even when we do not know them well or are not "in love" with them. We can do the same in marriage, which is truly a love that will cover all faults.

The power of a stable marriage is the message it passes on to the rest of society. Neighbors and friends will be inspired by it. They will think, "Jim and Alice have been through this, and their marriage is still intact." Commitment is the bond that creates the feeling of love, not vice-versa. Yet, commitment is truly love in action.

What is the application of love? It is showing patience, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness, and goodness. It is going the second mile. It is giving your cloak also. It is asking, "What is the most loving thing I can do in this situation?" It is treating the other person as though they were more important than yourself.

These things that create the composition of love - things like nobility, honor, honesty, and gentlenss, are part of the "good works"* the Bible speaks of. We are commanded to be rich in good works, and without them, we cannot become wise or understanding; we cannot mature. Working through troubles will make us stronger, better people. If you don't give up on your marriage in dark periods, you will be able to look back years later and be glad that you remained committed to the cause. Every marriage failure (divorce) is a blight on our nation, a breakdown of the church and the family, and everything that makes a country strong. You who say you are "patriotic," --did you know that saving your marriage is the most patriotic thing you can do?

When a runner enters a race, he does so because he is committed, and he loves the game. However even when the going gets tough, and even when he is so far behind that he knows he will not be the winner, he tries to finish the race. It is a matter of honor and of good character.

Can you imagine the crowd standing by the track, holding out bottles of enticing soft drinks and luring him to take his eyes off the goal; offering him comfort and ease and telling him not to endure; that he doesn't have to "put up" with the agony of the effort--especially since he isn't going to win first prize anyway? This is what our world is like when it says "you don't have to put up with this. It isn't worth it. You should quit."

I first understood this concept when I read Colossians 2: "...that no one may delude you with enticing words (persuasiveness of speech)...let no man beguile (rob) you of your reward..." vs. 4 and 18. It was then that I could imagine the athlete in competition, being distracted by his enemies so that he would fail in the game.

If you are being lured away from the prize of the high calling, you need to focus again on what is really worthwhile in life. If you divorce, you'll have a lifetime of his children, your children, our children, step grand-parents, plus, visitation schedules that will drive you crazy. The unhappiness you may be experiencing temporarily, will dim in comparison to the nightmare that is yet to come through divorce.

* Scriptures on "good works" for further study:

Matthew 5:26
Romans 13:3 (this will keep you out of the courts)
Ephesians 2:10
I Timothy 2:10
Titus 2:7
James 3:13

It is interesting to see how intricately connected "good works" are to "love."

The Susan Rios print can be purchased at

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See also "Here Because of Love"