Friday, November 10, 2006

Home in the Humblest of Places

(I certainly would have started my day on a different tone if I had read this in the beginning!)

"BEAUTY SPOTS".......Cleanly Simplicity
written by Mary Brooks Picken in 1925

Walking down the street the other day, I saw a shabby little doll on some half tumbled-down steps and a little girl five or six years of age with a worn-out broom, energetically sweeping the ground. I watched her as I came near and I remarked, "My, but you are a good sweeper." She lifted her little face and said, "I's making a clean place for my dolly and me to play at."

This is a beautiful thought, expressing one of the most essential threads in our garment of life--"a clean place for my dolly and me." If every woman would only love her family as this little girl loved her dolly--enough to keep things clean for them--life would be different for her and for those she should treasure.

The woman who loves her family enough to tidy herself up for their home coming, who provides a clean table and attractive food, if possible, for her family to eat, who happily keeps her floor swept clean, is building for herself in the hearts of her people tender memories and appreciation, which, though not expressed, will reflect in their lives over and over again and will help them in being kind and lovingly cnsiderate of some one else. And, after all, that is the way rewards should be expressed. They should travel down through the years to serve as good examples.

Some women say they haven't anything to do with, but the only people that I have ever known who didn't have anything to do with were those who did not have the desire to do. There are people living now who can tell of the dugouts out in Kansas before there was lumber or money there to build houses. These dugouts were caves in the ground with dirt flors, but many a time I have heard folks tell how cozy they were and how very clean and smooth the earth floors were kept. The women had no convenieces, yet they built happy hearthstones and gave a good start to their children. Kansas is a great state, and much of its greatness today is due to the love and unselfishness of its far-visioned pioneers.

I once visited a woman who lived in a box car on a railroad siding. A new piece of railroad was being built, and her husband was supervising engineer. A cleaner little place I have never seen, a soft cream color inside with white curtains on the four windows that had been cut in the sides of the car. The furniture, except the bed, table, and stove, were made from boxes painted in cream color and finished by means of white scarfs and curtains. Blue denim covered two trunks and several boxes, which served as seats. A box of pink geraniums was in each window, having been carefully packed and carried from the city.

She happily told how some of the men who worked on the road would come and ask to look in because " 'twas all so pretty."

I asked if it was difficult to keep the scarfs, curtains, table cloths, and bedding white, and the answer was: "Yes, quite a problem, but not so difficult as to do without them."

The husband of this little woman is going forward to a splendid success. They no longer live in the isolated region nor in the box car. I have often thought, as I have heard from these people, that this treasure woman is a true example of the old quotation: "Many women are like candles, finding their brightest moments serving others. 'Tis they who joyfully consume themselves in lighting the way for their loved ones."

"Give that ye may receive," is instruction that we hear, forget, and fail to heed; yet application of it can mean literally picking up a life of happiness instead of misery. Give smiles if you have nothing else. Give encouragement, good cheer. Make beauty come to you through your desire to express it. Your thoughts, deeds, motives, acts, industries, and desires--all can express beauty if beauty is in the heart; all can give happiness if love is the carrying vehicle.

Sweep a clean place for you and your loved ones to "play at." Learn to love people and their little ways--odd, queer, or lovely. Love folks and your work, and you will be doing a big part of what God wants you to do."

from: "Thimblefuls of Friendliness"


Lydia said...

I recall some of my relatives talking about their parents having lived in dug-outs, and I know someone who grew up in a sod house in Kansas.

Anonymous said...

I love this! This shows the heart behind the home and making it beautiful with what you have and not having to buy this or that certain thing in order to make it beautiful. It is what your heart puts into that spot that makes it beautiful!

Dearest Lady Lydia...I know that I not only speak of myself but other ladies who look forward to your updates here. They have been a great source of encouragement and focus needed in taking care of our families and homes.

Thank you so much!

Love and God's Blessings,

Tracy said...

What a wonderful article! Stories like these always inspire me in my homemaking. Thank you for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

i loved this post!

theups said...

I LOVE this post!!!! I am so very glad that you shared this. I'm sitting here with the biggest smile on my face from this sweet story!

Mrs. U

Anonymous said...

Dearest lady lydia,

here in Australia, in places such as Lightening Ridge, White Cliffs and the like, whole communities live in underground dwellings dug deep into the Earth. Though containing no windows and doors that we'd be familiar with, these have been built to remain light and beautifully temporate - more delightful homes I have never come across. On practical terms, none can beat such subteranian houses as, even when the temperature outside rises to above 50 centigrade (as it commonly does in these areas) the ambient temperature remains a comfortable 23-25 centigrade.

if people complain about having "Nothing to do with" meditate upon this for a moment... Whilst viewing a programme about Europe on television last week, my husband was rendered breathless upon a segment dedicated to a cathedral, yes! an entire Cathedral - right down to the chandeleers hanging from its vaulting roof carved entirely out of salt by Polish miners excavating this substance. all they possessed were simple tools and the will to make out of service to the Almighty, a place to worship and honour the Creator of the Universe, jesus Christ. I'm sure the appropriate search string will bring this magnificent jewel up via any number of search engines (lady Lydia might like to post a picture of its interior on this Blog). From the surface, a passer by would have little or no inkling at what lay below the ground regardless of his surroundings above. If we could all take heart from this example, how beautiful would our homes and places of worship be - True Salt of the Earth!

My family grew up with nothing (Mum raising myself and my younger brother as a single parent) yet her ability to make do with what little we had still burns brightly for me today.
Off topic, i've just (upon baking of the second loaf I've ever done) learned how to make bread by hand - no bread-machine, no pre-mixed ingredients (many with nasty emulsifiers, anti caking agents and so called 'bread improvers') just bakers or "strong" flour (essential for a good loaf as its gluten content is higher than plain flour used for cakes and biscuits), yeast, vegetable oil, a little salt, a little sugar and a little hand-hot water.

I'm baking it as we need it, with next to no waste whatsoever (my husband loves it). when i've got this down pat, I'll experiment with different flours, grains, seeds etc.

to any ladies reading this, bread is EASY!!!!! although you need to leave it for two raisings in the bowl and one in the tin, you do just that - leave it, whilst going about other things. All you need is a mixing bowl, loaf tin and oven of any description and you're there. Kneeding is also very easy (I do so with one hand - don't know if it's the correct way but it works for me). You'll get bread that's a whole lot more filling and dense than the puffs of air palmed off as commercial bread in supermarkets. My next big project is cracking the mysteries behind puff pastry (though I have a few strategies Delia Smith uses in her cookery programmes to master this one) This is all so beautiful and rewarding (then there's the aroma of baking bread in the oven permiating the whole house - delicious!).

Keep up the Good work,

Mrs. E,

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this. I'm sure there are many women out there who cope with chronic pain or illness as I do. Some days we have nothing to give but a smile and some encouragement. And in the better times, it helps to realize that the little work we are able to accomplish makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

that was beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this - it was inspiring to me!!

Anonymous said...

Oh! You mean an article that doesn't make you feel menial because you like to keep your home nice and clean and neat!
Thanks for this article of inspiration.

Lydia said...

I hope I have not demeaned anyone for wanting a clean house or for enjoying house keeping. I did say that keeping priorities straight would mean that looking after the family's urgent needs is more important than a clean house, but I think everyone knows that. We didn't always have a clean or neat house when I was growing up. Our parents thought that it was more important to pay attention to what the children were doing and to see that they were safe. However we did have our cleaning days.

Baleboosteh said...

What a delightful article!
Thank you for such a continually encouraging blog.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet piece! So inspiring and encouraging. Someone asked me today what I do for a living.I answered that I am a homemaker. When I first started to answer I felt a hesitancy but I am glad God has called me to this and so I answered with confidence though others may look at homemaking as "not a real job", God looks upon it as precious and I must do a good job as He has called me too.
Thanks again it is very motivating.

Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed that! Where did you ever find the book, Thimblefuls of Friendliness? I see it is unavailable on Amazon and very expensive on the used book sites. I intend to find a copy and read the whole thing! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Notice how the lady who kept house in a box car was not expected to go out and get a job so they could live in a better place; that would be the standard, pat response today, wouldn't it?

Thank you for always bringing me back to center on what is truly important. Keep up the good work, LL; you are blessing many homes.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to find the right mix between taking care of your family and keeping your home. So many go too far one way in that they try and try to keep a perfect home - this is just not realistic nor is possible to do - you and your family have to be able to "live" in your home without feeling like everything they do and touch will spoil the appearance. Keeping a home neat and clean should include what is currently going on in the home.

Finding balance...a nice mixture of everything and pulling it all together to can be done! :O)

With the decor of our homes we often look at the media and think if only our home looked like what has been pictured then I would have a perfect home or then I could keep my home just as it is shown there. I love to see examples of how everyday ladies take what they have and make it into something beautiful...not show room...but comfortable and cozy that speaks of their family and their life. This is a wonderful gift any homemaker can give to her husband and children and all who enter into her home.

Creating peace within...

Mrs. Wayne Hunter said...

In response to Catherine's words that, "It is hard to find the right mix between taking care of your family and keeping your home." - thanks for posting the advice on that subject. It is easy to sometimes feel like a full-time homemaker and part-time wife and mother because one wants thier home to be perfect for their family, yet in trying to keep it perfect, they end up bustling with housework and not spending much time with family - ugh! I have found that the golden key for this situation is to get up early and stay up late, doing the housework at these hours - then during the day a wife and mother has time to relax and enjoy her family in a clean home.

Jenn said...

Gail has a good point! This wife's place was valued by all.

And, I need to take the time to freshen myself up for my family as well, and stop worrying about everything else long enough to do so.....good reminder!

Revka said...

Thank you. I needed this.

Lydia said...

Gail: that is a very interesting observation. I did live at a time when people were more good natured about their homes. They could live in a tent but they were making the best of it until arrangements could be made to improve. The women especially knew what to do, almost instinctively, to make any shelter a "home." It is something not as well understood today.

I do not have the book. Someone sends me transcripts of the chapters.

Anonymous said...

Here is one big reason why nobody expected the box-car lady to go out and work; people valued the woman's role at home MORE than they valued getting wealthier. Men used to feel revulsion towards the idea of wives out there taking orders from bosses while their own children were cared for by someone other than Mom. Somewhere along the line, things changed.

Materialism and greed are big factors in society's changeover.

This is truly sad, because it led to the second trend; now that the women are all out working, they need to work to find their fellowship and "tribe" in the workplace with each other. Being a keeper at home today is much different than it was when I was growing up. Today a woman at home has a lonely profession at a remote outpost. When most, if not all, the women were home in the neighborhood, opportunities existed for comraderie, sharing chores, volunteering and such.

So, two things: women and men have come to feel that the extra paycheck provides things which are more "necessary" than the woman's presence at home, AND women now have to work to get their esteem and social needs met. I believe this is a what compels a woman to get out there and join her "sisters" in the workplace.

I don't like it but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

This post reminded me of the little book "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner. She wrote a series of mystery stories featuring these Boxcar Children but I only ever read the first one. It is still in print but may have been "modernized" by now.

The Boxcar Children No 1 tells the story of how four young children are orphaned and rather than go to the orphanage the oldest boy takes charge of the younger children and they run away from the authorities, find an abandoned box car to live in, scrounge dishware and household accoutrements, and the older boy finds odd jobs in the nearby town in order to earn money for their keep. It is just the most charming story and has a happy ending of course.

I hope others have read it or can get their hands on the original version. The story is a fine example of even very young children taking charge of a difficult situation and determining to carry on with decency and dignity.

Kind regards from Mrs. T.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have time yesterday to write anything, but I was thinking of exactly the same story, the Boxcar Children!! I loved that book as a child, and I think it did plant seeds of wanting to keep a home.....the way they found the dishes, etc and made it a comfortable little home. Our first apartment was anything but luxuxrious, but it was our own little place!!

Anonymous said...

Great inspiration.

Home is where the heart is, not where the wallet is.

Thank you so much for encouragement.

God bless,

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this article, too. Of course, I enjoy just about every article, but this one is particularly good!

This last couple of weeks, I've started in on the "cost efficiency" aspect of homemaking, as it looks like I'll actually be able to close my practice this month rather than next! (I'm also a little leery after the recent election; the last time "certain" people had power, they raised taxes effective the previous year! I see tight times ahead, so...)

I've been visiting outlet stores and thrift shops--and I've already found tremendous bargains, including the ever-elusive pastry wheel--and doing my grocery shopping monthly in a big city two hours to our south, where the cost of living is much lower. (That's everything but perishables that don't freeze well.)

This blog has really been an inspiration and a comfort to me, as I no longer feel we need to have a fancy expensive decor to live well. You are truly fulfilling the Titus 2 commission!

Mrs. Bartlett

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Lady Lydia.

I was about to jump in and spend the day on some of my own projects, but you have motivated me to first spend the morning sweeping the floor, tidying up, and doing a few special things to add a bit af beauty to my home.

I'll choose to put my family first, and trust that I'll have the time for a few of my own projects a bit later.


Jenn said...

I LOVE the boxcar children. We read the first book last year and I liked it more than my children did.

And yes, homemaking in my town is a lonely profession. Even a lot of the women from our church are out working.