Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guarding the Home From Within.

Swan Cottage 1 by Sung Kim

Quotes by William Morris, 19th century textile designer and interior decorator:

"The true secret of happines lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."

"Have nothng in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement; a sanded floor and whitewashed walls and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside.”

If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful House; and if I were further asked to name the production next in importance and the thing next to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful Book. To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle.”

This post is directed to the young woman at home during her first year, but as all things, can be applied in any stage of life.

When I remember my childhood dreams, most of them were about having a house. At the time, it mattered not if it would be a little shack or even a tent. It was fun, to me, like playing house, to arrange it and make it my own. Playing house is important aspect of growing up, because it shows the thrill and delight of having a home. I remember this playing, and how we guarded these little pretend-dwellings against clutter that would make it undistinguishable from a barn. We wanted it to look like a home and feel like a home. We didn't like to have things in it that were not related to home living.

As years went by, we had to guard our homes against so much more, from within the house itself. There was the radio, the television, newspapers, magazines, the mail, and the telephone. In "the old days" these things were welcome friends from the outside world. The magazines depicted women as sweet, innocent lovers of the home, as evidenced by these vitage "Modern Pricilla" women's magazines.

You will have to scroll down quite aways on her site to see the covers of these magazines. I was so drawn into the feeling of love and home-nostalgia that looking at these covers, once again, gave me. Today, the magazines are often heavily laced with things of a less contended nature. So, we had to start guarding our homes against discontent. To explain this, let me give you an example of a morning television program.

The homemaker is doing a few things around the house and she is half-watching, half-listening to a broadcast about designer bags. They are shown in such a great light, and the model who is displaying them looks so sleek and sophisticated, that in comparison, the homemaker, just trying to pick things up and make her house nice for her husband, starts to feel a little put-out, peeved, disgruntled; and even resentful.

The bag looks so desireable, because it has a designer name right on the outside. Guarding our homes from within, meant that we had to continually re-focus on what our mission was, not on what the world was luring us to. The television could be a source of comparison that was not healthy for the home. The home had to be guarded against envy and against discontent.

Besides discontent, we had to guard our homes against time-wasters. Even though we didn't have the amount of media that is available to us today, there was always the danger of getting on the phone too often and too long, and in those days, it didn't have a very long chord. This was one thing inside our homes that could be a useful tool or a problem to guard against. Today we have cell phones, but they are not healthy to use. It is better, if you feel you must use one, to use the speaker phone feature on it, rather than hold it up to your ear. Media seems to be one of the biggest consumers of time that confronts the young homemaker.

We also had to guard our homes against the world's values and language. People coming home from work or school, tended to forget that the home was a sacred place, and it was not obligated to blend in with the rest of the world in order to make people feel "more comfortable." Women at home had to insist that foul language, the new slang and expressions, and scandalous talk, not be engaged in during dinner time or other times amongst the family. This kept the home a quiet, peaceful place.

There was also the constant change in decorating styles. As children in our play houses, we were content with a little broom, a mop, some calico curtains at the window, a box to sit on, and a bowl to wash dishes in. As grown-ups, we had to concern ourselves with many choices, and after the choices had been made, the glossy flyers would come in the mail advertising a new style of furniture that we would have liked better. There seemed to always be someone coming around the corner with another lure. Media had a great effect on the home, and it was the woman's job to guard the home from any type of publication, book, or literature that did not strengthen the marriage and the family. So, we had to guard our home, to a reasonable extent, against change. Change is not all bad. It is good to change your clothes for clean ones, change your furniture around, change your bad spending habits, change your erroneous thinking about certain philosophies, change the things that come into your house, and change the way you spend your time. The "change" that we have to watch out for, today, is the change that would cause instability, create more debt, or estrange your children and your husband.

To guard the home from within, a woman has to also guard her heart, for it can still be swept away by things that appear to be more fun, and easier. The grass, on the other side, still has to be mowed, and there is always a downside to things that seem to be more exciting, so she has to guard her heart continually. Sometimes the outside world can make life at home seem dull. One tactic to guard the home from this impression is to pay attention to the details of your life (note the quote by William Morris) and develop a new appreciation for everything. Putting your heart back into the home that God has provided you, can take away envy, discontent, time wasters and confusion.

When we were little, a lot of us in that era used to enjoy our things. We would wash our clothes by hand, hang them out to dry, iron them, and then hang them up according to color, in our tiny closets. We folded our clothes neatly into our dresser drawers. When we played house, our dishes were washed and dried and put away. We set the table in the highest fashion we could. We were happy to have a little home and our playing reflected it. I think we can take that same mood into our own, grown-up homes and make them a place of delight. The woman at home for the first time, will have to guard it from within, so that things take over her mind and her time, but in return she will have a bright, peaceful spot for her husband, that will make him sigh with relief when he arrives home from the stresses of the world.


Anonymous said...

I really loved this post!

As a twenty year old young lady who longs for a strong marriage and family of her own, I am grateful that you explained so articulately how the seeds of discontent can take root. It is so easy for the lost young people of my generation to get caught up in that attitude, which only breeds further anxiety for them.

If lovingly guarded, a good home can be an answer to the problems of the discontented; such a home can be a haven of warmth, understanding, and deep inner happiness for all.

Thus, insulating your home from within is a great and noble aim. The Proverbs 31 woman knew this, for she "clothed" her home and protected it.

Though my lifestyle is likely very different than yours or daughter's was at my age (I am moving away from home to attend law school) I find great comfort and beauty in what you teach.


TO BECOME said...

I have enjoyed and been blest my your blog since I first starting visiting you. I have left you an award on my blog if you are interested. If you do not accept awards that is just fine. I just think that you are deserving of it. Thanks again for all that I get from this blog. connie from Texas

Lydia said...

Connie, I do appreciate awards but I don't ever seem to have time to go and get them! Also I feel badly that I don't take the time to award other people ...and dont' know how to do it. But so much thanks to you, for doing this!

Anonymous said...

I am soaking up in your words of wisdom!

Yes, the temptations that bombard us everyday from the outside world is enough to make us feel discontent with our position in the home...until we realize those 'cheap' merchandises shown to us on TV and the glossy pages of a magazine does not add anything to our worth as help meet to our beloved husbands.

Lydia said...

Mrs. Honeybee, One reason I dont buy any advertised product if I can help it, is because it seems to put the price higher if it is advertised. Often the item is shown as larger than life, when it is not that large. For example, a child's toy is modelled by a child who is very small, which makes the toy look larger. Furniture can be a real temptation when it is advertised on television, and it can put pressure on the young couple to spend more than they should. Alternatives can be sought, and they can be happy without a lot of expense. There are no rules that say you have to have a certain kind of house or furniture, but sometimes they feel the pressure to conform or be sophisticated. To show you how people were not always affected by the stores or the advertisers, my parents had a couch they used that was actually an old back seat taken from a car that did not work. The upholstery, though, was high quality, as the cars had really nice seats in those days. I wouldn't expect anyone to actually do that today but that is what people did and although they longed for something nicer someday, they didn't seem to feel the same tension over it that is felt today.

Anonymous said...

Advertising really can plant the seeds of discontent in a person's heart. And while there is certainly nothing evil about a good company asking us to buy a product of theirs, we consumers always, ALWAYS must be aware of our feelings in response to the ads. To be honest, sometimes ads end up making me feel better about what I have. Or, I may simply glean ideas from them that will help me rearrange my current clothing or furnishings in a different way. The times I do feel a wave of discontent, I try to remember that I am not the first woman in history to have gone through lean times (in fact, leaner times may yet be ahead of me!), & that my mood might be lifted by simply going for a walk, or cleaning something, or by waiting it out. The only glaring deficiency in my home right now is that it's unfinished. But I have, I think, made it as comfortable as I can with the money available. It has been a real lesson in patience, I can tell you...& it certainly forces me to be more creative with what I have!

An excellent post, Mrs. Sherman.


Lynn said...

I loved the part about "guarding our hearts". My heart is home , my mind occasionally wonders if I should be working outside the home. This uncertainty occurs when others keep asking me when I'll go back to work. So I shall remember your words and "guard my heart" and its desire and my familiy's desire for me to be home - thank you.

Mrs. Anna T said...

What a sweet post. We don't have a TV and don't want one; I try to talk on the phone as little as possible during the hours which are supposed to be most productive. It really is so important to avoid distractions.

Karen said...

As I read I remembered how I too, loved to "play house" as a young girl. We have to keep that joy and pleasure as we "keep house" now.

Yes, media is something to be guarded against. I am glad that you have written about this topic. You mentioned that it can be a time-waster and that it can contribute to feelings of envy/discontent, and that it lets worldly values into the home.

Media can also be harmful for its effects on our children.

I find that I have to guard, or screen against homemaking blogs, even Christian homemaking blogs. If I come away feeling envious then I know that it is not a good site to spend time on. I have been reading blogs for approximately 5 years and your blog is probably the only one I have not had to delete from my favorites list. I know I will feel uplifted and encouraged by coming here!

So thank you for the good work you do!

Best regards,

JKaye said...

Hi. In the past year since I have been staying at home, it has been a challenge to learn how to manage my time so as to avoid distractions. When we moved into this home a year ago, my husband had just gotten a new job, and we were excited to be able to afford some extras we hadn't had before, such as cable television. Previously, we had rarely ever watched TV. After a few months, we cancelled the cable TV. We found that we were so disappointed with most of the programming. There were only a few shows we really enjoyed, but, we decided we would rather be doing something ourselves, rather than watching someone on TV do something.

Then, I began to listen to a couple of radio programs during the morning as I did my chores. But, I found these shows to be distracting too -- perhaps they would tell of a website to visit, and I would feel compelled to go get onto the computer. I would then get way off track. So, I have had to cut out most of the radio programming. I also decided on just a couple of blogs to visit each day, such as this one, so that I won't spend too much time at the computer.

So, just as before, my husband and I do not have a lot of noisemakers such as TV and radio on at our house. This seems really odd to visitors. But, we think it is odd when we visit someone else, and we have to try to have a conversation while the TV is blaring!

candy said...

Dear Lydia,
This is one of my favorite posts! I know, I say that a lot hahaa but I cant help it. I love home making and you encourage me so much!
Love Candy

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Oh, we must guard, and it gets harder and harder every day.

I've found the internet is an amazing time waster. While it is a wonderful tool to connect with like-minded people, it can get out of control and must be guarded against.

~ Ann

Jennifer said...

Thank you for this post. You are so inspiring that you help lift me with your words. Your website is where I go when I need a pick-me-up, and this post was just what I needed!

Anonymous said...

I like that "Queens Ride By" story. To me, it's not even just about women and women's role (though this is important,) but about the power of believing that your own actions and imagination can create a reality that your conscious, "logical" mind thinks is impossible.

It's like being advised, when your marriage is in tough times, to ACT and BELIEVE that everything is wonderful, that you're in love, that you are living with the man of your dreams. (even if your logical mind snorts at the idea.)

Sure enough, if you live it, somehow it often comes true.