Monday, June 27, 2011

Dwelling in the Sunlight

White Roses
by Igor Levashov, Russian

I asked the roses as they grew,
Richer and lovelier in hue,
"What makes your lives so pure and bright?"
And they answered, "Looking toward the light."

La Rosereia 11
by Igor Levashov

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strength and Dignity

by  Daniel Ridgeway Knight, Pennsylvania, 1829-1934

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
~Proverbs 31 verse  25


There are several meanings of the word dignity,  which is sometimes interchangeable with honor. Definitions can be read at the end of the post.  Today I am going to talk about the practical  application of this word, particularly in regard to the conversation of women. Bible classes, tea parties, friends, the telephone, blogs, message boards and instant messaging make it easier to "tell-all" or give detailed descriptions of personal things, but is it expedient to do so?  I believe there can be a danger in it. I believe women can have good conversations and give wise counsel without losing their dignity.

Christian women should seek personal dignity.
Some people have the idea that it is not right to have personal honor or personal dignity, but the Bible teaches that dignity and honor are to be sought:

"A gracious woman retaineth honour. [dignity]" Proverbs 11:16

There is a common belief that things involving manners or  personal dignity are shallow, superficial, lacking in depth, or snobbish, but according to Proverbs 31 dignity is part of being a woman of worth. The Bible speaks of honor as something to seek.

Julia Among the Roses
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

The Trend of Transparency

In an era that encourages transparency and openness, women have lost their dignity and sacrificed their mystery.  The tell-all television shows have helped make it culturally acceptable to reveal every detail of every weakness; every mental anguish in life.  While modernists call this "honesty', it is not necessarily dishonest to keep some things private. Cautious speech is important when preserving dignity.

Someone recently sent me an email forward about the airport policy of making airline passengers walk through X-ray machines.  In view of the popularity of transparency--- revealing every thought, every habit, every thing we do, I was amused at this reminder of literal transparency.

There is a problem if we want to expose everything to everyone, in the hope that we might win some to our beliefs. Women lose their dignity when they do this.  Philippians 4:8  says to think about things that are honorable. It may not be honorable to discuss sinful things among a certain type of audience. Women need to be wise, and distinguish between what things should be said or written for the public, and what things are only fit for privacy.

One of the dangers of the new transparency is that those who seek our harm will use it against us.  Unbelievers do not understand repentance. They focus only  the sin. They may report things you have confessed and give you a reputation you may find difficult to live down. Converted women who have come up out of that watery grave of baptism should not live as though their sins are still clinging to them.  They should walk in "newness of life."  They should think like new creatures. They should avoid discussing personal things among acquaintances and online. They  need  to find ways to come across as being friendly and personable without giving up their privacy or losing their dignity.

by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignity Should Fit the Description of a Godly Woman.
The phrase: "Strength and dignity are her clothing" is a figure of speech referring to the dignified bearing and personality of a worthy woman. One of the meanings of dignity is "honor." At the end of this post is an explanation of the way the Bible uses figures of speech to explain the meaning of something. Strength and dignity are referred to as clothing, so that the learner can understand the meaning of dignity as part of a woman's being. They should be dignified in the way they dress, the way they live and the way they speak.

The Village Seamstress
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignified Speech.
Obviously dignified speech eliminates things like swearing and popular slang, especially when it is suggestive. It eliminates graphic descriptions of personal bodily functions or things that are not part of pleasant, edifying speech.  James Herriot wrote in his book "Dog Stories" that he was happily reminded of the days gone by when people's sensibilities were too delicate to describe troubles with their livestock or pets in graphic detail.  "How different it is now," he wrote, "when the young farmer's wives often make me gulp with their recital of explicit anatomical details."  Public blogs and other forms of online communication can be a temptation to reveal personal things that should be private, or limited to a certain group of trusted friends.

Peasant Girls in a Flower Garden
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignity is Like a Covering.
Dignity is something Proverbs 31 calls "clothing." Those of us who are "in Christ" know that we are also "clothed in Christ." It means to be protected or covered. Ist Peter 5:5 refers to being clothed in humility.  Anyone that understands insurance coverage can understand the concept of being covered by something that is not tangible but is a protection. A worthy woman is clothed in dignity, a figure of speech that means held in honor.

Many young women seek the example of a dignified older woman.   Practice dignity in your youth, and you will become the woman whose personality is clothed in dignity. Be especially careful what you say in groups of women or discuss on public blogs. Private blogs will allow more leniency but even then, women need to be careful to make sure that their speech is pure.

The Flower Boat
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Practice a High Code of Living.
Part of dignity, or honor, is to rise above the  sinful things of the past and not dwell on them. If you are a mother, your children need to see dignity (honorable things) in you. To put the past away is not to be dishonest with them, because it is a way of protecting them. You have to be careful what you confess to your children, your friends, and yes, even church members, because of the way it can be used that is not edifying.

The story is told of a man who went to prison for selling drugs. While doing time, he was converted by a prison ministry. When he was released and attended worship, he let everyone know that he had been in prison and how he had been converted. He told his story so often that people began to refer to him as "the man who went to prison for selling drugs." His sinful but colorful past loomed larger in people's minds than his current change of life. We all need to be careful what we say, whether it be online or off so that our dignity is preserved and so that others will be thinking on things that are lovely. Women can do a lot to prevent a stereotype being spread about them, by not talking of the shame of the past, except in very personal situations.

Maria and Madeleine on the Terrace
by Daniel Ridgway Knight

Loss of Privacy
There may be young children or weaker members who can get the wrong ideas about confessions involving past sinful living.Their minds may dwell more on the dark side of the story than the bright side. Discernment and good sense should be used when deciding whether or not to relate past sins to certain ones. Some people have spread things around that have caused problems in people's lives, and that is a good reason  to keep some things private.

Previous Generations Were More Dignified.
Many of us have parents living who did not see the need to broadcast every feeling, every angst, every bitter disappointment, every plan, or every move they made. Children were not told how much money their fathers earned, how much the family car cost,  how much their father had in retirement funds, how much their mother weighed or how old adults were.  Adults kept a lot of things private and did not have to divulge personal things in order to remain interesting to their friends.  When impertinent questions were asked, it was common to hear the phrase, "That is none of your business."   Today, people think you are hiding something or being dishonest unless you divulge every personal detail of your life, but women need to cultivate privacy and develop personal dignity.

The Fear of Formality.
Grace Livingston Hill wrote in her book, "Re-Creations"

"You know formalities are good things sometimes. They are like fences to keep intruders out and hedges to keep in the sacred and beautiful things of life."

Do not be afraid to keep up your fences and keep personal things to yourself. The practice trains others what to speak and what to refrain from saying or asking.

Evening Hours
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Dignified Living Requires Cautious Speech.
Some mothers make the mistake of exposing their children to the knowledge of the follies of their own youth, not realizing that it may create in the children a desire to repeat the behavior.  Mothers are responsible to guide and guard their children. They need to pay special attention to building the character of their children. Without good judgement, children talk and spread personal things to others, causing great harm in a woman's personal dignity.

While women can be very particular about which magazines they allow in their homes that expose children to sordid things, they need to be just as careful not to expose their children to their own past sins. There is a danger that the children will lose respect for their God-given authorities. Women need to attain and retain dignity and honor so that their children will not lose respect for them. The apostle Paul wrote:

... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

The past can be valuable to remind us the pain of taking the wrong way, but we must be discerning in what we say to friends, to church members and to the public whether it be through casual conversations, the telephone or the internet.  There are some people who lie in wait to find some flaw in Christian women in order to spread malicious gossip about them, gossip which might cause great damage to them later on. There are those who look down on people who talk about unsavory, or sinful things. A gracious woman should seek honor and dignity, rather than causing others to think of sordid things.

Revealing Personal Things Can Harm Your Influence. 
Previous generations were more dignified in the things they talked about. They would have been horrified at the current transparency trend, knowing that it would cause loss of personal dignity and harm their future influence on others for good. They knew that if they expected to be an authority they had to live the part and retain personal dignity.

Gathering Flowers
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Parents Need to Exercise Caution.
Parents do need to use their knowledge to protect their children from the follies of feminism. In doing so, however, it is a very dangerous thing to describe every sinful thing that they did in their youth. It is not good to broadcast the details of their sordid past life to immature minds. Later, in a moment of resentment or rebellion, a son or daughter may think, "Mother did it, so why can't I?"  Or, a child may lose respect for their mother if they know that she once did the things that she is now telling her children not to do. Children also spread personal secrets to their friends, which can cause great havoc in a woman's life. Since a child's mind and reasoning is not fully formed,  parents have to be very wise in the way they portray themselves. They may lose their authority if they show the children a weak side of themselves, and they also lose their dignity.

Seated Girl With Flowers
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Women Need to Be Careful What They Say in the Presence of Men.
While we expect men to avoid using strong language in front of women, women too must be careful in their speech around men, or as some would say "in mixed company."  They should not freely talk about their hair or hair products,  make-up, their personal hygiene preferences, the details of women's physical problems such as their period or any surgeries, the size of their clothing and underwear, marital relations, old boyfriends, potty training methods, and much more. Often in restaurants women indulge in laughing loudly at things that are not even amusing, or talking about things in public that are embarassing. Women need to attain dignity, and to do so, they must learn to speak about things that are higher and nobler. The quiet and gentle spirit (1st Peter 3:4) in women is something God values greatly and it adds to their dignity.

The Duet
by George Knowles

Learn How to Make Good Conversation.
It may take a little study and research to find out how to participate in a conversation without allowing it to degenerate into disgusting talk,  and it may take some practiced skill to guide a conversation that has gone astray. This is a refined attribute that is essential in attaining dignity or honor. Acquiring the ability to speak with dignity is like practicing on a fine instrument to participate in a public symphony. Once the music is learned, the player hardly knows he is performing it. Gracious ladies will have trials and errors but eventually will be able to discern what to say and what not to say, and when to divert a conversation back to the right path, one of dignified talk.

Reduce Communication.
Constant communication is not good for women. (As some men would say, "They need to be making sandwiches" instead. ) Too much chatter, whether online or verbal, can reduce your alertness to your family and sap your strength. 

Young Women Need to Be Around Good Influences and Pure Speech.
 Young women need to remove themselves from places that are a bad influence. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." Ist Corinthians 15:33. If you participate in such communications, you will not attain personal dignity.  It is more likely that these people will pull you down to their level, than you will pull them up to yours.  Online chatter is wasteful and destructive if it is not pure speech.

Young women who participate constantly in online message boards (including Facebook)  that are full of off-color humor, vile messages, smart remarks, gossip and accusations need to close their accounts in those places and never go back. Scoffers and scorners are not going to get better just because someone nice is there.

A rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. It does not matter how many good apples you put in the barrel, it does not make the rotten apple any better. Sometimes, women make the mistake of staying in the company of fools, in order to make the foolish wise, but they are usually outnumbered, and at a disadvantage. Do not risk the loss of dignity by belonging to  message boards or spending time with scoffers that have never changed. There are things to do in the home that are more important that will add to your personal dignity as a woman.

Polishing the Urn
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Older women need to be the primary example of dignity, but if there are none around, younger women need to study and prepare themselves to be the example to their daughters. Applying good conversation principles in knitting and crafting groups, ceramics classes, ladies Bible studies,  restaurants, tours, visits and online can help women attain honor. Often these groups encourage the revealing of personal family information, and some of the women in these groups are not good advertisements for the Christian life. With knowledge and skill, wise women can guide the conversation into things that are lovely, good and noble.

The Honeymoon Breakfast
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Definitions of Dignity

Websters 1828 Dictionary: True honor; nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety, truth and justice, with an abhorrence of mean and sinful actions; opposed to meanness. In this sense, we speak of the dignity of mind, and dignity of sentiments. This dignity is based on moral rectitude; all vice is incompatible with true dignity of mind. The man who deliberately injures another, whether male or female, has no true dignity of soul.

Wikopedia: 1.The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect- a man of dignity and unbending principle- the dignity of labor; 3.A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect-" it was beneath his dignity to shout."

Figures of Speech in the Bible
Today, we use many figures of speech in our language to describe an experience or to give a greater meaning to something. When a person says that a scripture "jumped out" at him, he does not mean that the verse literally came off the page. He is using a figure of speech. I have just written about the worthy woman in Proverbs 31 being "clothed" in honor. This is also a fugure of speech which is used to describe the character quality of dignity. The worthy woman was  wearing a garment of dignity;  a spiritual attribute described as clothing. When you are clothed in something, you represent it, you are covered in it, and you have acquired that personality. The worthy woman has dignity so much in her it is as if she is wearing it.

The Bible is more easily understood when you see the many figures of speech that is used to give a greater meaning to a word or phrase. For example, when a Pharisee told Jesus to flee because Herod was going to kill him, Jesus said, "Go, and tell that fox....."   he did not mean that Herod was a fox. He was applying the attributes of a fox to Herod's personality. Perhaps he meant that the king was sly or sneaky. Some would call this personification of the fox and others might apply it as symbolism, Herod's personality being symbolic of a fox.

Below are a few (there are many more) significant figures of speech in the Bible:


Friday, June 24, 2011

A French Visitor, Alexis De Tocqueville on American Men and Women, 1831

Beneath the Apple Tree
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight
Pennsylvania, 1839-1924

"You do not see American women directing concerns outside the range of the family, or handling business dealings, or entering politics." … "Nor have Americans ever imagined that the result of democratic principle would be to overturn a husband’s authority or to introduce any ambiguity about who is in charge in the family." … "if I am asked how we should account for the unusual prosperity and growing strength of this nation, I would reply that they must be attributed to the superiority of their women."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Flipside of Feminism

A Cottage Garden in Full View
by Val Norman

Feminist occasionally try to make a point about the use of modern inventions by homemakers: driving a car, using a computer, publishing books, having a home or cottage industry, earning money with personal talent such as art, crafts, etc., and so forth. Their claim is that without feminism, women would not be allowed to read, write, drive, or conduct business.

 I have always answered that the feminist movement was never needed. Their claim of being responsible for all these privileges is false.  These things were enjoyed by women long before the 20th century feminist movement.

 From a Biblical perspective, Christ freed women and made them "heirs together" in the grace of life. 1st Peter 3:7.  The only liberator women need is Christ, and they do not need liberation from their duties as guardians of the home. Discontent at home, feminists insist that women need not use their talents for the family, but should make their mark outside of the home.   This has done great harm to the home and the family, as it indoctrinates  young women not to desire the honor of being wives, mothers and homemakers.

The best way to make your mark outside the home is to do a good job inside the home. Good works from the home never go unnoticed and do create a reputation for the home.

In tiher book, "The Flip Side of Feminism" by Suzanne Venker and  Phyllis Schlafly, Phyllis addresses this same comment, stating that feminism never helped her succeed in anything.  You can view her speaking about it on a video here. It is also imbedded at the end of this post.

One thing I have not seen addressed much  is the constant mockery that prevails toward the homemaker, and especially the Biblical homemaker who desires to home school, make her own bread, grow a garden, sew clothes, and create a home life for their loved ones.  Those who promote feminism have to first break down the things that stand in their way, and this is seen in the amount of derision, deriding and despising that is aimed at this honorable and Biblically approved life. 

The concept  of  the pedestal has been scorned to such an extent that these days, no one dares to mention it in regard to the reputation men and women must uphold in their own spheres. One chapter in "The Flip Side of Feminism, titled "The Pedestal," states that women need to get off men's pedestal, and get back on their own.  Helen Andelin made this concept more widely known, when she wrote that the women needed to stay in their feminine role. She warned that sometimes people would try to shake her pedestal and want to bring them down to their level, away from her lofty position as wife, mother and guide of the home.

My own belief is that God gave women a wonderful way to live through His Word which teaches them to take charge of the home.  There is plenty to do at home for the young, even without children, and when they become older, they should be teaching others about the things they just finished doing. One stage of life prepares them for the next. Young women must learn to keep house, practice it and become good at it, and when they are older, show the younger women how to do it. The trials and errors of homemaking, child-rearing and marriage prepare women to be teachers of good things. Even a woman who has learned from her mistakes can be a good teacher, as she attempts to help the next generation to have good judgement.

In His wisdom and perfection, God created the most natural way of life for women. If this is the right way, why then, do women worry that it is not enough, that it will not work, that it will give them no rights, or that it will not be possible?  Why do women listen the world advising them to have "back-up-plans," or "something to fall back on"?  Does God's word need a back up plan?  Women need instead to back-up God's plan by putting it into practice.  Yes, in a sense, we need back-up plans, but they should be re-enforcements, not substitutes. When you want to keep the wind from blowing away your soil, you plant trees and shrubs around it. When you want to stay home, you find ways of doing it, and ways of proving that it works. I repeat: we need to back up the plan God already gave us in Titus 2, Ist Timothy 5:14 and others.

Proverbs 31 seems complicated and exhausting, but in the New Testament, the last will and testament of Christ, which is our spiritual authority today, the role of a woman is much simplified, and it is for her own peace. It gives about three main things for the woman in the church of Christ, to do: marriage, raising children and keeping house. This is reinforced in several different passages as guiding the home, guarding the home, training children, respecting the husband, and having a quiet and gentle spirit. One way to acquire that quiet and gentle spirit is to limit your activities to just the important ones that are given in the Bible: the care of the home and the guiding of the family.

 God knows the nature of women and the danger of being over loaded with the worries of this world, and wisely allows her to be a home, where she can choose how she will look after it, what talents she will pursue, and how her children will be trained. In order to retain the quiet and gentle spirit, a woman must not take on the role of a man.

Fully embracing and enjoying the role at home is not dependent on money, as feminists would make us believe. Read my comment about one of the gods of this age, the economy, which women submit to as an excuse to leave their homes and families and pursue wages, on The Thinking Housewife.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lily Pond

The Lily Pond
by W. Ashburner, 1882-1932

Painting Description: Wearing a long blue gown, and holding up one side of the hem, a woman stands the lowest step in front of a lily pond. Her dress is adorned with a white shawl-collar, edged  in a wide ruffle on the shoulders. The collar is tied in the front at the waist. The curved stone stair step leads behind her through a gate opening, and the entire background of the painting consists of foliage with dark pink flowers. The water shows a slight blue reflection of the gown, as the woman casts her glance downward to see the lilies.

Here are a couple of ways to create home made cards and letter-writing materials:

To make these you will need some pages from a daily removeable page picture calendar, some heavy paper or card weight paper, scissors and glue.  Match up the pictures to the card and glue in place.

Since the inside is blank, write on it as though you were writing a letter, and use the back, too. Or, just stamp your greeting, if you have one, that fits the occasion.

Using decorated stationery might develop your interest in writing letters.
Decorate blank paper to make special writing paper by rubber stamping various areas around the paper, and then placing a ruler on the straight edge of the paper. Draw lines with co-ordinating crayon or special pens just to join the images, like this:

It nicely frames your letter with a lovely border.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Serendipity Saturday

A Moment In Time

I was given a chance to look at two interesting publications today. On the left, the Jean d'Arc Magazine,

which yielded these two lovely ideas. Above, a shaded patio table created with swaths of lace over a metal structure, and below,

making bouquets using columbines, a spire-like flower that apparently comes in several colors. Sometimes these common flowers that are so easy to grow begin appearing in expensive, store-bought bouquets, along with things like Queen Anne's Lace, forget-me-nots and daisies.

The magazine on the left, "The English Home" featured an interesting recipe for a tea bread, above, and some beautiful scenes, below. That was not all: - each magazine had far more splendid pictures and reading than these, and the ads, all relegated to the back pages, were in keeping with the theme of the magazines. Each ad was a pretty as the pictures in the publications themselves.

The English Home magazine features a regular ettiquette lady named Mrs. Minerva,  who has a tongue-in-cheek style that makes you smile.  This issue featured a personal home tour, an article about taking afternoon tea, a study of damask fabrics, and country homes. I'll have to start getting my own copy.

Wal-Mart had a new batch of cotton prints so I got a small piece of several patterns. The daisy print also comes with a pale background,
And this is a close-up of the pink swirly print that has a sheen on it.

It is always nice to have a bit of leisure time and enjoy the things that delight the heart. A friend of mine wrote to me recently and suggested that women at home take non-spending pleasure trips by viewing what is new in the shops and savoring new ideas. It is important to take time out to rest and enjoy just being alive.

I am reading a book called "An Enduring Love," about the modern Queen of Persia. A chapter from the book can be read here, and it was also made into a Miramax movie. This is a story of a family without a country, and shows the dignity in which Farrah handled all the things that happened to them from the time they fled their homeland to the death of her husband and youngest daughter. She wanted to be seen as an over-comer and refused to succumb to self-pity.

I looked for an unaccompanied (ACapella) version of "God's Choir in the Sky" but could not find it. This version, however, is quite nice, (filmed in the small village of Urk in the Netherlands)  and the words are posted below it here.

I heard the angels sing "Glory Hallelujah!"

A mighty chorus way up high;

I heard the angels sing "Praise the name of Jesus!"

Singing in God's choir in the sky.


I heard a thousand trumpets sounding out His Glory,

telling the story how he came to earth to die;

I heard a million voices praise the name of Jesus,

Singing in God's choir in the sky.

I heard the glorious song coming out of Heaven,

The sweetest music ever heard;

I heard a mighty song sung by all the angels,

My soul thrilled at ev'ry loving word.


I fell down on my knees when that chorus ended,

They shouted out a glad Amen!

I fell down on my knees, prayed that when in heaven,

I would hear that choir once again.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Talking Happiness

Painting by Alan R. Banks
American, 1948-present
click on painting for a more detailed view

Alan R. Banks was one of the artists whose work was included in the Russian art exhibit in Moscow.

Description of Painting: The subject is a woman wearing a long skirt patterned with gold and yellow flowers, a white blouse and  a white hat with a dark green band of ribbon around the crown. She is seated on a black, wrought iron bench in a garden, reading a book. Her expression is one of contentment and peace.  Behind the seat are delicate white climbing roses, and the sunlight makes a pattern on the path beyond to a lattice fence. The thick green grass looks like a soft carpet for her feet. Beyond her is a lattice fence and more roses.  What a wonderful place to find quietness, sweet scents, and happiness.

Every decade has its bad news. No matter where you live or when you were born, there is something tragic going on in the news. The great painters, though  living in perilous times themselves, still brought loveliness into the world through their work. 

If you are a homemaker, you have to consider yourself an ambassador of your own kind. A gloomy attitude towards life will discourage others from joining the wonderful world of homemaking.

Speaking in a positive way can make a day brighter for yourself and others. This poem expresses it well:

Note: When reading poetry, it is not necessary to pause at the end of a stanza or line. Read fluently, pausing only at the punctuation marks. You will find that it make better sense.  This is a great read-aloud poem.


Talk happiness. The world is sad enough

Without your woe. No path is wholly rough.

Look for the places that are smooth and clear,

And speak of them to rest the weary ear

Of earth; so hurt by one continuous strain

Of mortal discontent and grief and pain.

Talk faith. The world is better off without

Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.

If you have faith in God, or man, or self,

Say so; if not, push back upon the shelf

Of silence all your thoughts ‘till faith shall come.

No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.

Talk health. The dreary, never-ending tale

Of mortal maladies is worn and stale;

You cannot charm or interest or please

By harping on that minor chord disease.

Say you are well, or all is well with you,

And God shall hear your words and make them true.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850-1919

The author in the Victorian era expressed the same problems in speech that we have today.  Complaining about life, reporting on every physical problem, and  lack of faith are things that each generation needs to overcome.

There is no denying that life on earth can get very upsetting,  but we are stuck here while we live, so we have to make the best of it.  Within your grasp there is probably a Bible, and in it contain the keys to happiness, whether the circumstances be dreary or bright.

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.  Proverbs 3:13

Behold, we count them happy which endure...  James 4:11

But if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.  Ist Peter 3:14

There are of course, some people who will never be happy. They love misery and they want others to be miserable too. However, Christian women are not supposed to be speaking of  gloom and doom.  Since talk comes from whatever is in the mind, the solution is to think about things that are lovely:

According to Philippians 4:8, we are to "think on things" that are: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue and praiseworthy. 

To train the mind to think on those things, try substituting a cheerful thought for a depressing one, or a good story for a scary story.  Think of careful living instead of careless living. Spend some time creating a cache of lovely ideas, places, things, happenings and dreams, to substitute when you find your mind drifting into depressing thoughts. If you have gotten into the habit of thinking on the dark side of life, it will take some time to break it, but by substituting the collection of happy thoughts, beliefs and ideas, it can be done.

Some people have learned the art of taking "mind-vacations" where they think of places they would like to go and things they would like to do when they need some relief from the stress of the world around them. Others use pleasant little rituals, like taking tea using their best setting, at least once a day, to remove themselves from the cares of life that could otherwise cause dark thoughts. 

 There are those who just know how to keep a song in their hearts, so that when stress is levelled at them, they concentrate on the words of the songs they have stored up in their minds.  

 In times of tedious tasks, people who sing will find the job almost done before they know it, and they did not have to suffer from unhappiness while doing it. When we were children, we had to pick berries in the wilds, and it just seemed to take ever so long to fill our buckets. We found that singing all the verses of all the songs we knew, helped to lighten the work.  This is one way to substitute something lovely for something that seems difficult and tedious. Forward this video to 3.52 on the dial, and hear the wife of Itzhak Perlman say "If everyone sang every day, the psychiatrists would be out of business."

One lady I know has a unique approach to life. With this method, she has accomplished many things and overcome many challenges.   With her permission, I will quote:

"When I have endured any suffering or reproach, I go home and draw plans for a new house. After I have sketched the house, I build it in my mind and draw it on paper. Then, I go through books and catalogs and find all the furniture I like and fill up my new house. I pretend that there is plenty of money for whatever I want. I build a beautiful house and fill it with all the kinds of things I've ever liked.  After that, I fill the closets with clothes for everyone in my family, and get myself a new wardrobe too. Then I write out invitations to people I like,, to come and have a banquet with me. At each place is a gift for each person, and they all enjoy a very special meal."

 She is thinking on things that are lovely, pure, noble and good. She has not changed the bleak ways of the world, but she has controlled how it will effect her.  The author of "Auntie Mame" wrote, "Life is a banquet, but most people are starving to death." This is a figure of speech that means there is a way to be happy but many people just do not see it.

The Bible is a source for refreshment and relief when the rest of the world is full of confusion. It is now more easily accessible than at any time in history. Most people have it right at their fingertips in the form of E-Sword on their computers.  If you want to know the secret to happiness, just type in the word "happy," and see what the source really is. It has nothing to do with riches, honor, or worldly success. It has a lot to do with training the mind. There is no reason to be starving for happiness when it is available in abundance. The only thing you have to do is put these things into practice.

In talking happiness,  it is essential to think on things that are good and happy. That is what Philippians 4:8 is all about. Many people are exceptionally familiar with this verse, but very few people remember the promise that comes in the very next sentence. It promises that if you do these things, the God of peace shall be with you. Think of things that are noble, lovely and good, and peace will follow.

Besides thinking happiness, we must speak happiness. Our speech is a gift to others. We can lift them up or depress them. The poem mentions the problem of complaining about ill health. This is something I heard one woman call "organ recitals"--referring to the state of the heart, the liver, the kidneys, etc. during a meal.   It is always inappropriate to discuss bodily functions, details of your recent surgery (how much blood was spilled, etc.) while people are taking tea or eating.  It is more encouraging  to give a good report. (Philippians 4:8)

If you are involved in a regular Ladies Bible Study, you need to be especially careful to give visiting ladies a good impression. I have heard outsiders say of these classes that they would have enjoyed it better if there had not been so much bad news discussed among the ladies after the lesson was finished. 

Sometimes when people are in a group, they forget themselves and get carried away with topics that are not appropriate or uplifting. Everyone seemed eager to report personal details of their lives that are not encouraging, or gruesome details of things that ought not to be spoken of in public.  This kind of talk can be corrected by taking Philippians 4:8 into the mind and applying it every time you are tempted to say something that would give a visitor a bad impression of the Lord's church. Before you speak about unsavory things, look around the room and see if there might be anyone there who is weaker or who may not be edified by what you say. Be sure that your conversation is uplifting and beneficial without being macabre.

 An outsider will think that Christianity must be a miserable life, when all they hear is women in the church talking about horrible things. God's people are not supposed to be morose, fearful, complaining  or gloomy. They need to talk happiness and overcome the world.

I am reading an old book online titled, "The Joy of Living," by Orison Marden, written in 1913. In it, the author chides her own generation for worrying about the future, and speaks of ways to enjoy the present to the fullest.  At the beginning of chapter XXV , which is titled "Turning the Water of Life into Wine,  is written, "If it is a dark day, never mind. You will add to the brightness."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Beginning the Day At Home

Rosey Beginnings
by Susan Rios
View this art

If you are just getting started in homemaking, or thinking about it, here are some ideas I'd like to pass on, which I learned years ago.

Write Your Plans The Night Before: Supply yourself with a very special note pad, pen/pencil, and carefully write out your homemaking  plans for the next day.  Shop the day before for essential meal supplies, and anything else that will make housekeeping more efficient and pleasant.  Items might include:

Apron -as pretty as possible
An attractive (to you) notebook and pen
Special soap for any  washing dishes
New dish rag and dish towel for drying
A scented candle for the home
A soothing musical CD to listen to
A tray for tea time
Flock-lined rubber gloves
Cotton work gloves or garden gloves

Most of these things can all be obtained at your local Dollar Tree store. Find the most attractive items to grace your home, which is the most important place on earth. The reason for including them on your shopping list is for the pleasure of using them while you are homemaking. 

Homemaking is more than cleaning and cooking. It is also providing an  atmosphere in your home that makes it a lovely and soothing place to be, and this is helped with some of these little extras.  It will take some effort, but the results are worth it.  If you prefer, try making some things such as your own napkins for the table, candles, soap, or crocheting a dishrag from cotton yarn. It is not necessary to buy everything, but to do whatever you can.

Prepare a tea-time tray for yourself for a tea break at a time of the day that you determine. Place it the room that is the most presentable, to give it a look of orderliness, and to make you look forward to completing certain tasks before you sit down to enjoy it. You might take tea when the mail comes, or when you want to look at the new issue of a favorite publication.*See note below.

Make Your Plans on Paper:
After you have gathered your supplies, you can make your plans to begin the next day afresh, ready for managing your home. This consists of such things as:

Making the front room, living room, or whatever will be seen first from the front door, presentable. This is perhaps something that could be done the previous evening.
Meal plans with menus and any reminders to yourself about the meal preparation, table settings, etc.
Cleaning the kitchen
Making beds
Putting clean towels in the bathroom, adding a new bar of soap, or whatever is needed.
Outdoor work
Any errands requiring use of the car.
Possible visits you might receive
Essential sewing, mending
Leisure time that includes creativity.

A possible selection of writing materials for the home office: blank notebooks with interesting covers, and attractive pens, pencils, most available from Dollar Tree and discount stores.

This is just a sample list, and will vary greatly from house to house. Some times the demands on the homemaker are so great, that only a few things on her list will be accomplished. In that case, they can be transferred to the next day's list. The best way to discover what you need to do, is to discover how your family lives, and what they need the most, what they are constantly looking for around the house, what they use, when they are hungry, what they need to do, and so forth. 

 Even if you are newly married, there will be plenty to do, if you are being conscientious about your time. Naturally, without children, there will not be a huge amount of laundry or dishes to do, so this is a great time to be sewing, knitting, or making things for the home.

I know a young woman who says she "just lives in a trailer."  She is newly married, and never once has she hesitated for something to do. She redecorated her little abode by creating a hanging garden around the entire house, and inside, she covered the couch, made pillows and matching curtains, a table cloth, tea cosy, and all kinds of charming accessories from the same calico cloth.

She is also an efficient homemaker, and is good about making sure that her husband always has clean clothes and always has something hearty and homemade to eat, and often has company. Her dining table, though small, is set with her wedding china. "I want to create good memories of our humble first years," she says, and that is why she appreciates the day at hand, not worrying about the future and not concerned about whether they will have a "real" house, but carefully planning for it and living each day fully and beautifully.

Prepare Yourself:

Mary Kay, who founded a famous skin care company, wrote in her book that she never showed herself to her family or anyone coming to the door,  until she was bathed and fully dressed, hair fixed, looking pleasant and ready for the world. Some women find it better to get up and get prepared before the rest of the household begins their day, when the shower is available and all is quiet.

Being home, you may not think anyone will see you all day, but if you have children, your appearance and cleanliness and attention to grooming will leave a permanent impression on them that they will emulate in the future. God sees you, and as one author wrote, "I must wear my prettiest dress today, The flowers in my garden will want to see me."  This is a fanciful explanation but seriously, the way we dress is a reflection of how we feel about life, and shows respect for the God who created us. Our mode of dress also helps create a mood or attitude of success in whatever we put our hands and minds to do.

Spend Some Time Alone:

Whether you have a room you can sit in or your just get up ahead of the rest of the crowd, you may find it very beneficial to have some time to think before the day begins, with all the urgent things that will beckon you. Open your Bible and your heart to God's guidance, and pray that He will help you guide your home and accomplish the most important things on your list.

When I say "urgent things" I simply mean that people must be fed on time, and that clothes must be washed, floors must be swept, and other things done. If you lag, you'll find the day gets worse as duties pile up. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to prepare a meal when the last meal's pots and pans are still in the sink waiting to be washed, and the dishes are not loaded in the dishwasher.  If you have children and are training them to do this work, you still have to supervise it and are still responsible to see that it gets done. This is the way you guide the home. (First Timothy 5:14)

If for some reason you are not able to spend the first few moments of the day gathering your thoughts and thinking about the day's activities, at least you will be dressed and have taken care of your appearance, will make a big difference in your efficiency.

Begin Your First Task

Light a scented candle, put on some music or something that helps you pace yourself, and begin your daily work. In former days, we used to sing when we were involved in anything that would take a long time. By the time all the verses of a song or hymn were sung, the job was finished. Children can be included in everything you do, as they follow you from job to job and room to room, and that way, you can keep an eye on them at the same time.

Pay Attention to Your Work But Keep the Rest of the Atmosphere in Mind:

Some people can concentrate on something even when life is crashing down around them, but most people need to have peace and quiet while working. It is good to be cleaning the kitchen, but a homemaker needs to be flexible enough to correct other matters in the home so that she can work in peace. Do not lose yourself so much in washing dishes that you fail to hear what is going on in the rest of the home, or that you cannot sense the loss of peacefulness.  Be able to work, but be aware of what is going on around you. If you are homeschooling, I think it is very important to have a neat, clean, and orderly, yet beautiful atmosphere in your home. It adds to the peace and the ability to learn good things. I think part of homeschooling should be homemaking. It sets the tone for the day's learning. Just be aware of the atmosphere of the home and see that it is pleasing and refreshing to the spirit.

Never Lose An Awareness That You Are Accountable to God:

Your motivation for doing your best at home and providing the most wonderful life for your family cannot rest merely on the approval of others. Good manners, good housekeeping, knowledge, wisdom and understanding are all part of a higher code of living that comes from reading the Bible and doing your best. Not everyone in the family will understand it or appreciate it, but they will be taught and guided by your example.

Preparing for homemaking is important because day by day, it sets your family on a course that will enable them to function in life. It will enable you to offer hospitality with peace of mind. Not only that, but keeping house is a fulfillment of the scriptures.

*If you cannot find the ideal magazine or publication for your leisure reading, I would like to pass on an idea I learned from someone. She finds all her favorite articles, recipes, homemaking tips and decorating photographs and prints them out, binding them in one personal magazine which is sometimes as much as 40 pages. Then she enjoys sitting down and reading them in room she has just finished cleaning, during a rest time. She says that reading the articles from paper is a huge difference from reading them on screen, and then she adds it to her personal library. You can make a cover out of sturdier paper and protect the home made magazine.

If you do this, you can punch holes in the left margin and insert wired ribbon to easily bind it, and oh..please don't forget to include some things you like from Home Living!

 Sample of Hand Made Magazine Using Antique Clip Art on the Cover