"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Every Morning

Some encouraging excerpts from:  "Keeping House – The Litany of Every day Life" 
by Margret Kim Peterson.

  • "God is the creator and has given  [us the] privilege of imitating and participating in God’s work as creator. 
  •  God ... started with chaos and ended with a...beautiful universe.
  • Housework is all about bringing order out of chaos. 
  • That heap of damply repulsive clothes on the bathroom floor turns into stacks of neatly folded clean laundry in a matter of hours...
  • A table piled high with junk mail, school papers, and forgotten socks turns into a table neatly set for a meal...
  • A sack of potatoes ...turns into a dish of mashed potatoes ...
  • Housework is never "done" in the same sense ... that God's providential involvement in the world is never done."
(End of excerpts)

To sum up: We keep house because we love our families. And we won't be all done today. We will wake up again tomorrow, and receive the gift of another day, and the privilege again, of honorable work to fill our hands.  We take care of our families, who love and appreciate us in return. 

True, some things are more fun to do than others. Making cookies may be more fun than cleaning toilets. But we still clean the toilet. And we don't fall into self pity over it.  We even make a game out of it, and it actually can be fun.  
After all, every person on earth has parts of their job that are unpleasant and would be avoided if possible. 

As homemakers, we are privileged to be servants of all, and Jesus tells us, "The greatest among you is the servant of all". He himself demonstrated, by subjecting himself to death on the cross  for our sins.

And, oh the wonderful fragrance in a home where being servant of all is being taught! You can smell it from way down the block!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Masks of God

written by Dr. Gene Edward Veith, director of the Cranach Institute,
which is dedicated to the study and application of the Lutheran doctrine of vocation

God works through you in your vocation, whatever it may be.
When I go into a restaurant, the waitress who brings me my meal, the cook in the back who
prepared it, the delivery men, the wholesalers, the workers in the food-processing factories, the butchers, the farmers, the ranchers, and everyone else in the economic food chain are all being used by God to “give me this day my daily bread.”

This is the doctrine of vocation. God works through people, in their ordinary stations of life to
which He has called them, to care for His creation.  In this way, He cares for everyone— Christian and non-Christian—whom He has given life.
Luther puts it even more strongly: Vocations are “masks of God.”

On the surface, we see an ordinary human face—our mother, the doctor, the teacher, the waitress, our pastor—but, beneath the appearances, God is ministering to us through them. God is hidden in human vocations.
The other side of the coin is that God is hidden in us. When we live out our callings—as
spouses, parents, children, employers, employees, citizens, and the rest—God is working through us. Even when we do not realize it, when we fulfill our callings, we too are masks of God.

When a woman and a man, called into marriage, become parents, they sense the miracle that has happened, that God has created a new life through them. The miracle continues as God uses them to bring that child into His eternal kingdom when they bring their baby to Holy Baptism.

The sense of the miraculous may wear off in the routines of changing diapers, dealing with
temper tantrums, earning a living to keep the kids fed and clothed, going to parent-teacher
conferences, driving to soccer practice, and everything else. But Christian parents can have the confidence that God, who has given them this holy vocation, is hidden in their parenting, that He is caring for their child through them. The purpose of vocation, according to Luther, is to love and serve the neighbor. Scripture says that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:20-31).
Our relationship with God is based solely on His grace and initiative, what He has done for us in Christ, and not by any works of our own. Our relationship with our neighbors, though, does
involve our “works.” As Gustav Wingren, in his classic book Luther on Vocation, summarized Luther, “God does not need our good works. But our neighbor does.”

During the Reformation, Luther denied that those who sought to base their salvation on their
good works—allegedly “serving God” through their ceremonies, fasts and elaborate spiritual
disciplines and mortifications of the flesh—were actually doing good works at all. “Who are you helping?” he would ask. A work that is truly good has to be of actual benefit to one’s neighbor.
In the spiritual kingdom, it is not a question of serving God with our works: He serves us through His
works, in Word and Sacrament, which bring us into the redemption He achieved in the work of Jesus Christ. But the faith of the Christian bears fruit naturally and even unconsciously in love for one’s neighbor, a love whose source is God and which is carried out in vocation.  Christians would do well to echo the lawyer who asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke10:29).

In the vocation of marriage, the husband is to love and serve his wife, and the wife is to love and serve her husband. Parents are to love and serve their child, and children are to love and serve their parents.  On the job, the neighbor being loved and served may be the boss, one’s employees, the customer. In our vocation as citizens, our neighbors to whom we are responsible to love and serve are our fellow citizens in need of good public policies.

To be sure, we often sin in and against our vocations. God did not call parents to abort or abuse their children, but to love and serve them. God called physicians to bring His healing to patients, not to kill them. God did not call businessmen to cheat their customers, but to provide for their needs. Government officials are not called to oppress their citizens, but to protect them.
Less dramatically, husbands and wives are to serve each other in love, not neglect each other.
Workers need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. (The Reformation doctrine of vocation is said to have contributed to the so-called and fast-departing “Protestant work ethic.”) In the catechism, under “The Office of the Keys and Confession,” to the question, “What instruction does Dr. Luther give us for examining ourselves before Confession?” we are told to apply the Ten Commandments, very specifically, to our vocations:
“Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father,
mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any person by word or deed; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.”

And yet, even though we sin and fall short in our vocations, God continues to work in them, even despite ourselves.  Wingren gives the example of a business owner who cares nothing for his neighbor; his only concern is to make money. And yet for all of his sinful selfishness, God still uses his business to provide useful products or services to the community (otherwise, he could never stay in business) and to provide employment so that his workers can take care of their families.
Similarly, God brings children up through even imperfect parents (as we all are). He brings His saving Word and Sacraments even through imperfect pastors. God has a way of delivering His gifts in earthen vessels, but that by no means diminishes how valuable they are.

If we are masks of God, even when we do not realize it, it is also true that God is masked in our neighbor. Particularly when our neighbor is in need—when he or she is sick, hungry, thirsty, naked, a prisoner, a stranger—Christ Himself is hidden. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,” the Lord says, “ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
In serving our neighbors, we end up serving Christ after all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From the Hearth: Cleaning Tips

Today's the day (or anytime during the next two weeks :) to link up any easy yet must-know cleaning tip.
Anything from how to use lemon juice to get the smell out of a cutting board to how to use Oxi-Clean to get out a stain.  ANYTHING!

If it's helped you it will help someone else, so please share.

If you don't have a blog or don't want to do a whole separate post for one tip, just leave your awesome cleaning tip in the comments area below.  We're all waiting to hear from you.
(Okay, we won't wait too long. ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prayer for Acceptance of Blessings

O merciful God, what a kind and gracious Father you are,
to deal so sincerely and paternally with us poor and judged sinners.
You did release your most precious possession, 
your Son, Jesus Christ, into the jaws of death and the devil.  
You did require that He should descend into the deep and again ascend on high 
and conquer the captivity which has held us all in slavery.
Through this we are your dear children, his brothers and sisters,
and inheritors of all his eternal, heavenly blessings.
Give us your Holy Spirit so that he may preserve us to the end in faith.
Grant your grace that youth and those unborn,
the weak in faith and those not properly instructed, may get and keep a right
understanding in the doctrine of becoming fellow citizens with the angels.
So highly privileged are we who believe in Christ.

 from  Luther's Prayers, #107

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quote for the Day - On Careers

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."
 - G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 16, 2011

God's Hands

Michelle put this quote up on her blog and I thought is was too good not to share.

     “God’s creatures are merely the hands, channels, and means through which He bestows all good things. For example, He gives breasts and milk to a mother to offer them to her infant; and He gives grain and all kinds of fruits of the earth for food, things that no creature could produce independently. Therefore no one should presume either to take or give anything except as commanded by God, recognizing all these things as God’s gifts and thanking Him for them, as this commandment requires. Conversely, we are not to disdain this way of getting good things from God through His creatures, nor are we arrogantly to seek other ways and means to obtain them than those He commanded; to do so would be not to receive them from God as His gifts but to look for them in ourselves.”

from Martin Luther’s Large Catechism, extended explanation on the First Commandment

Wish my hands looked that beautiful.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quote for the Day

  "What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God.  
We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well pleasing to God,
not on the account of the position or work but on account of the Word and faith
                     from which the obedience and the work flow."                          

  Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pretty little check marks, all in a row.

Emily Cook from over at Weak and Loved sent in this little piece she wrote and I think it's great.  
I've felt like this so many times.    Thank you Emily!

(By the way, we love any of you ladies sending in items of encouragement for all of us here!)  

Pretty little check marks, all in a row.

Sometimes it feels like God gives me too much freedom. When I am feeling the pull of ten different things, unable to give myself fully to any one, and feeling like every priority is getting too little of my attention, well, I would really just like a list. Not just general guidelines, not only ten commandments, but a detailed list. I want something like this:

Today's to-dos

Thou shalt remove thyself from bed when the first child calls. Feed, dress the children, and line them up neatly in front of educational television.

Thou shalt spend ten minutes with God and coffee.

Thou shalt work in kitchen for 1 1/2hrs, in three 1/2hr intervals, and no more.

Thou shalt use ten of the minutes I have given thee to catch up with current events.

Thou shalt endure 18 knock-knock jokes, but thou canst redirect the child that bringeth the 19th.

Thou shalt change each of the 17 diapers that are presented to you this day.

Thou shalt entertain children for 4 hours, educational activites consuming the better half.

Thou shalt exercise thyself and children for one hour.

Thou shalt spend no more than two hours on other housework, laundering thy towels and ordering the disorder visited upon thee by thy children.

Thou shalt snuggle thy children for 10 minutes, three times, afterwhich thee may excuse thyself to do your other jobs.

Thou shalt converse with thine husband for at least 60 minutes.

Thou shalt spend 20 minutes talking about God to children, reading this specific Scripture passage, praying, and bearing the nonsensical questions that are presented you in this time frame. After those minutes have passed, thou shalt send them off to bed.

If thou has completed the above tasks and are still without sin, thou may indulgest thyself in telephone or computer-facilitated socializing. Then, get thyself to bed by ten.

I am sure the list would be long and tiresome, but at least it would be clear! If I had a nice checklist like this, at least THEN I could look at all the things still undone at the end of the day and shrug, "oh well! God didn't tell me to do it so it is not my problem!" And I could go before Him with all those nice little checkmarks in a row and say, "Here's my report, Lord! I got it all done! Now give me some good sleep tonight please, and I'll see you tomorrow!"

But there is NO LIST! No black and white job description for me, and as far as I can tell, you don't get one either.

What does that leave me with? God's Word, and the Holy Spirit, and a bunch of demands, and a sinful heart that gets in the way when I try to sort all of this out. There is generous amount of freedom, and a great deal of gray. 
And at the end of the day, there are things left undone, and the things that were done were done by me, a sinner, and I see even my best is tainted.

No checkmarks, no gold star. Just me. I come to God at the end of the day with the things I have done, and in His light I see there is not much to be boasting about. "Um, here you go Lord. It's a pencil holder... I think. Or maybe a coffee cup? I guess it's not at all finished, and I'm not sure what it is going to be...and I messed up in a few places. So there you have it... it is what it is... and I'm tired Lord."

Me, commiting the demands of the day, my efforts and my failures, to Him.

No pretty checklist to make me feel good about myself.

Just a lopsided sculpture that may or may not be a pencil holder.

My head does not rest at night comforted by what I have done. And yet by God's grace, what I have done and what I have left undone is taken from me by Jesus.

I am not sure what He does with all the gray; I cannot picture exactly what it is He is making.
I do know that He takes the black, the ugly sin, and hides it in His own wounds.

And then, He takes whatever remains of my lopsided creation, and He uses it for my good and the good of His people.

Then finally, He looks on me with pity, and gives me something concrete that I am to do with myself:

"Daughter, go, sleep in peace."

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
Philippians 3:7-9

Monday, December 5, 2011

From-the-Hearth: Recipes

So here goes our first try at this.  (Explanation is in the previous post.) 
I have a feeling it will be slow going at first, or at last, or the whole time.  Oh well.  trial and error.  Sigh.   We'll start with recipes.  That seems easy enough (I think ?).

You can pick a recipe post you've already put up on your blog years ago, or post a new recipe to link to.
  I'll put the first one up just to show everyone it can be done (I mean if I can do it...).

The instructions are pretty easy.  Click on the "Click here to enter" link below.
You enter a name for your link, like  "The Best Beef Stew Ever!" or something (but this had better be some pretty good beef stew!), and then you enter the url address to that post (not to your blog, but that one post in your blog) by copying and pasting theat posts full address in to the url section and then you upload a photo (optional).
(The photo I first tried to load was too big, so, in my photo program I just went to "file", then "export" and then exported it to my desktop at the smallest size it had available and then uploaded that new photo for the link.  I know that sounds complicated, but after a few times we'll all be pros at this... which will be nice, since most of us aren't pros at anything else. :P )

If you have questions or problems you can put them below in the comments section and I'll try to answer them for everyone's benefit.

Also, if you don't have a blog, you can always link to a great recipe you know about online down in the comment section of this post. 

Well, we'll all learn as we go.  And don't be shy about putting up any recipe you think is good.  Someone family out there will be forever blessed by your "Pull-apart Cinnamon Bread."  But if you don't put it up, you have just deprived them forever of that wonderfully scrumptious family night dessert that they could have shared with smiles and warmth and laughter and hugs, and...  So put it up!!!

Plus, I'm leaving this link-up open to add recipes for the next two weeks, so if you make a good meal in that time, you can snap a few shots of it and share it with us.  And you can check back to see if anyone added anything new as well.  Thanks.  Have fun!

Share your recipe here...

Sunday, December 4, 2011



We plan to start a new link-up day twice a month or so where everyone here can either link to their own blog or share in the comment section various simple but valuable tips that they believe every woman of the house should know.  Everything from recipes, cleaning, education, saving money, clothing, spiritual comfort - anything that can immediately benefit other mothers in the things they take care of on a daily basis.

We were going to call this new link-up idea "Sharing the Wealth," but that phrase just seems to leave a sour taste in our mouths these days, so we decided to call it "From the Hearth," and since the hearth is usually the central gathering place for warmth and fellowship and all around homeyness, it seemed to fit nicely.

We will have a topic to post on for each link-up, so we can stay organized and make it easier for people to know what to share each week. One week it could be recipes.  One week, cleaning methods/products.   One week, money saving tips.  One week, a more specific topic like great uses for baking soda.  One week, links to articles, sites, quotes, or posts you've written on your own blog that provide spiritual encouragement or comfort in our vocations at home.

We'll just start slow with this and see how it goes and what works for everybody.
The main goal of this is to find an easy and fun way to interchange valuable knowledge and wisdom for the advancement of our homemaking skills and home being presence.

But remember, this is a NO PRESSURE blog.  Post if you want.  We're all learning as we go here.
And always remember - IT'S JUST US!  :)

See you at the first From-the-Hearth link-up soon!

(Also, if you have any ideas of how you believe this website can serve you and other mothers in a practical way, please email us.  Thank you!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

My sister-in-law Susie sent me this link.  She thought it would be a great project for moms and little kids to do together.  Scrumptious too!  I am really going to have to do it one of these crispy cold afternoons. 

It's basically, well, what the name says, hot chocolate on a stick!

You can find out all about how to do it *here*.

Who doesn't love a good cup of hot chocolate to cozy up with on a bleak winter day?

(My translation of the sentence above - what child doesn't love to cozy up with a good cup of  h.c. while watching mom scrub all the chocolate off the stove-top, pans, sink, counters, chairs, fingers, and floor afterwards.  Hey, just the price of being a fun mom once in a while, ya know? Me all the way.  Cough... :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rightly Dividing the Bloglife

So there's always this funny dilemma when it comes to blogs about "vocation" and "motherhood."

What am I doing off in cyber-space reading or writing this great piece about "being present" and "being home" for my kids, when I should rather be doing it right now, right?!

I mean, when does my "bloglife" actually backfire and become sinful?

My pastor said something last night when we were discussing this very question that really helped me with the great balance of it all.

He said you can judge a thing by the fruit it brings forth.
If what I spend time reading or writing is bringing me into a closer and better relationship with the real people, right here in my life right now, then it's good and profitable.
If it drives me more inward and away from the real people in my life every day, from my husband, children, or the women right here in my own local church... is not only unprofitable but detrimental.
So simple, yet profound.  At least for me it was.

Along with the obvious mis-ordering of vocational priorities - yelling at your kids to be quiet so you can concentrate on this blog post about motherhood, or spending a late afternoon perusing food blogs and not getting the dinner made - there's also the trap of this illusory life women can fall into, where these cyber-communities become more real to them and precious to them than the people in their own home or church community.  They feel more understood and appreciated "online" than they do with the sister they have a hard time with in the office or their peer in the nursery who really knows them  (too well :).

On the other hand, there are those who do not have within their vicinity people in their own stage or station or season of life wherein they can draw practical advice and help or have face-to-face vocational chats.  That's where blogs and supportive sites for the everyday life at home really become gainful for comfort, restored joy in vocation, peace in knowing you're not alone, etc.  (I think Barbara Curtis makes some very good points on the proper use of blogs for moms in her article *here*.)

So what we are saying here to anyone reading this is that we do not want to waste any of your valuable time.  Our goal is to share things that are practical, profitable, and supportive of the life you live and the love you give to those whom God has given you as neighbors.
And we all need lightened up once in a while too.

We all need encouragement now and then, and there is much comfort to be had in knowing that there are other women who have already walked or are walking this same bumpy road, day by day, hour by hour, step by step, in faith, in Him.  Through our mutual conversation we can all hopefully learn a new shortcut or two, and avoid some puddles, and maybe hear words that will help to guide us and comfort us through the rough and dark passages.

I, for one, have received much encouragement from other mothers taking the time to put into words their solutions to everyday problems, their struggles, their humorous stories from daily life with little children, and Biblically based perspectives on topics we all deal with daily.
Hopefully this blog can give a little of that.