"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

Monday, November 28, 2011

What do they DO all day?

 "What do they do all day?" asked Laurie in Little Women, about the March girls. Today many women, including myself at times after a long day without having “finished” anything, ask the exact same thing about us "just a mom" type moms. What in the world do we spend so much time doing, since we don't work?  It is true that sometimes there is no measureable progress through-out the day, but remember, that child won’t always be little, looking for cuddles and a re-read of the same book. Let’s enjoy it.

Enjoying a leisurely afternoon at home

    "Motherhood is the most elusive profession in the world. All mothers know that it is futile to try and convey to the casual observer what their job is like. A woman who does not have children could easily sit with a group of mothers and children and watch as the mothers  wipe away a few tears, change a couple of diapers, or discipline their children -- and wonder, what could be so difficult about motherhood…       pg.19 of 7 Myths of Working Mothers

       Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:
                Thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
                                            Psalm 128:3

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning the Balance

Our friend Carla sent this in.  She is recently widowed and has six children, two grandchildren, and countless nieces and nephews.

 "As I read your post about the laundry and God’s will, I was reminded of a poem by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton. I didn’t ever read the entire poem before today, but I found a wall plaque with the last stanza on it when I was a young mother, and it fit right in with my philosophies at the time, so I put it up in my house.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

    Now, I used it to justify NOT taking care of business as I ought, but that is not what I’m saying.  As a young mother (or any mother) we are constantly bombarded with thoughts that we are not doing enough.  If I’m scrubbing the floor, I should be rocking the baby or reading to the toddler.  If I’m playing legos or dolls with the toddler, I should be scrubbing the floor.  It never ends.  I just wanted to encourage all of you that, although it is very important to keep your home tidy, it is more important to be “home” for your children. 

     There is definitely an art to the balancing of daily chores and giving of yourself to your children. (If you ever get the act down, I’ll rent a circus tent and we’ll all pay admission to see how it’s done.)  Yes, God’s will is that you clean those clothes and vacuum up the dog hair, but it’s not only that.  As sinful humans, we gravitate toward the thing that pleases us. 

     If we enjoy housekeeping and really like things clean, we might tend to put off the toddler or the baby to “get it done.”  Then there are those of us who would rather play with the children all day and Daddy comes home to chaos.  Finally, there are those of us who have “projects.”  We want to get this little dress made for Susie (who would rather have Mom) or we want to get that scrapbook of the family vacation done (Children need to have pictures to remind them of the family outing, you know.) or “I just have one more email or post to finish.”  In the latter case, the chores don’t get done AND the children don’t get Mom.  So wherever we fall in the pit of deceitful hearts – and we probably have a good idea where that is (Your friends do, if you don’t.), our only hope is Christ. 

     Blogs like this help mothers who are not able to spend a lot of time on the phone at any given moment or attend a lot of meetings, but who can grab a moment to read a byte or two.  They help extend the mutual conversation of reproof and encouragement, edification and the renewed hope we all so desperately need on a daily basis.  So grab a byte to eat and ask God to help you in your daily balancing act.  My final encouragement would be to err on the side of more children and less housework if you have to choose.  Here’s the poem I wrote about it all.

There’s laundry and ironing and dishes then still
There’s sweeping and mopping and wiping up spills,
There’s folding and scrubbing and housekeeping ills
There’s food to prepare now my family to fill

More laundry, more ironing and making the bed
More sweeping and scrubbing and washing of heads
More folding and dusting and changing the beds
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing instead

But what about Johnny who’s playing upstairs
And what about Susie who needs loving care
And baby has been in that same bouncy chair
For nearly an hour while Mommy prepares

A sumptuous dinner and makes all things neat
She’s worked very hard now so go wipe your feet
As Johnny and Susie file back to the door
They wonder why Mommy’s no fun anymore.

So keep your house tidy and make all the beds
But children need loving and maybe instead
Of scrubbing that floor you could stop for a time
And read to your children or watch as they climb

The tree in the yard or they run “very fast”
Make time for the glue and the glitter at last
Make time for the dancing and dressing up fun
For children grow quickly so go hug your son

Take time for the cuddling and playing and such
For God in His mercy has given you much
To fill up your hands and I don’t mean with soap
Your children are treasures, now go give them hope.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why does God give women brains?

I just wanted to post this article up over here too in case you didn't get a chance to read it yet.

You may read it HERE.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Want to be like God, Eve?

       "God is the creator and has given to humans the dignity and privilege of imitating 
       and thus participating in God's work as creator. When God created the heavens 
       and the earth, he started with chaos and ended with a finely differentiated and 
       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 within 
       a matter of hours; a dining table piled high with junk mail, school papers, and 
       forgotten socks turns into a table neatly set for a meal; a sack of potatoes, 
       properly peeled, boiled, and seasoned, turns into a dish of mashed potatoes 
       that the indiviuals assembled around the table are happy to eat."   

             - from page 38 of Keeping House--the Litany of Everyday Life, by Margaret Peterson.

So Eve, if you really want to be like God you could start with the tasks at hand. 
Instead of getting yourself into trouble with all that "good and evil" knowledge, why not start bringing some order to that mound of dirty laundry!

Thanks again to "Cathy" for sending over this article.

p.s. Cathy happens to be my own mom. I know, some of us have all the luck :-)

Hmmm, I wonder what God's will is for me today?
(referring back to the "What should I do today?" post)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where Mundane Touches Sacred

A wonderful lady emailed over a link to this article -

"I hold the laundry tight and inhale extra long and think about the love that is modeled when a woman washes the same clothes over and over, day in, day out—almost touching something sacred—this washing and consecrating of material things for a noble and good purpose. The renewal that comes from being clean. My heart aches for that washing too. Perhaps it’s a blessed thing, this daily rhythm of life. We love the grand scale, the best days, the shiny things. The bright newness of God’s blessed restoration.

But what about all those ordinary days?  Where is God then?
He always chooses the ordinary things to do his greatest work.
He chose bread to feed us. Water to wash us.   A baby to save us.
He is no despiser of the small days.
It is in them that we see the key to life.

Not in falling in love but in loving everyday, with clean socks and warm soup.
Not in that one blissful day of childbirth but in the birth of each day, one a time, where the daily routine teaches us to depend on our Father,  who has made no provision for tomorrow—but only today, in this daily bread.  Perhaps this thing I’ve come to dread— this daily drudgery— is in fact my greatest teacher, in disguise.

Teaching me to live in this moment. With these children. And this sacred work. It’s really all there is.
Today is the day of salvation."

You can find the rest of it here - Where Mundane Touches Sacred.

Thank you, Cathy!

What should I do today?

There are certainly days when, after wiping many, many runny noses (or rather the same two runny noses, many, many times) I feel like it'd be so much more fulfilling, profitable, and basically better for my own pride, to be pouring out my life in a more amazing way than housework and child raising. I can imagine myself gloriously, but with much humility and wisdom, taking
time to minister to a fellow church member, building her up in the most holy faith. Or, how about me "reaching out" to a stranger at the grocery store with the love of Jesus...? Or, how about me...? There's just no end to the glory stories I can imagine myself in the center of! I can easily fall into looking for neighbors "out there" to love. 
This article, Locus and Focus: God’s Will for Your Daily Life (also a radio broadcast, which is slightly different and I actually enjoy even more) is one of my all time favorites about daily vocation. Todd Wilken explains vocation with the simple questions "Where am I, and who am I with?"

Excerpt from article:
  The unspoken assumption goes something like, "Well, if God’s will were obvious, everyone would know what it is, right?" Wrong. Contrary to what almost every book or tape on the market will tell you, God’s will for your daily life IS obvious. The only reason we don’t know what it is because we ignore the obvious. 
  God shows you His will every day in a hundred ways. His will is right there under your nose. His will is as close as your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends and your co-workers. His will is right there, where you are and where they are.

Excerpt from audio broadcast:
What if you're a mother who stays home? Well your home is your workplace, and generally if you're staying home that means you've got kids around. That means they're your work; the house, the kids, the kitchen, the laundry, all those things. A women standing with a laundry basket of dirty towels in front of the washing machine need only ask herself this question, "Where am I? I'm in the laundry room standing in front of the washing machine with a handful of dirty towels. What does God want me to do? Wash the towels!" It's not big; it's not flashy, but it is where God has put you.

Back to me speaking:
What a relief! I can be at peace knowing that God put me just where I am, with all the dirty laundry and the "little neighbors" I am with every day. I don't have to search any farther than that to know what God's will for my life is.

Church Growth

Congratulations Chris & Jane, 
and welcome to baby Christine Joy
born yesterday, 11-17-11.

"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thought for the day

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5

This scripture came to mind as I am patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for baby to arrive any day now.

Bless you today in your vocations.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"The Day of Small Things"

by Carmon Friedrich   
(Dedicated to all the young mothers whose weariness 
and frustrations I understand... Zech. 4:10)

Fretful wailing pierced the night;
I wearily switched on the light.
Calming babies, soothing fears,
Shedding bitter, angry tears.
Must my strength be all poured out?
So, discontent, I start to doubt.

Seeing others free to roam,
With pretty clothes and spotless homes,
While little ones to my legs cling.
Dirty laundry and apron strings
Seem to be my lot in life—
Grumpy mommy, weary wife.

Packed away in mothballs now,
Diplomas, ribbons, awards show how
The world once gave me accolades
As all my talents I displayed.
So many dishes now crowd the sink,
My overflowing brain can't think.

As I grumble, baby sleeps—
Quietness over my spirit creeps.
My joy comes not from flimsy stuff:
His strength in weakness is enough.
It's wrong to think I'm in a cell;
Wide's the space God gives to dwell.

How could I forget that when
I willingly submit, it's then
My joy is full, I'm made complete,
Prostrate and worshipful at God's feet?
Small things and trials I mustn't despise,
But see them, trusting, through His eyes.

HT: my sister-in-law Susie

Friday, November 11, 2011

My house would be cleaner

"....Housework is these days the subject of a great deal of fantasy. Designer cleaning products and accessories are marketed to high-end consumers.... who like to imagine themselves waltzing about in sheer black aprons while wielding feather dusters.

 Newspapers bring us columns on fashion that feature haute couture-clad models striking poses on washing machines, the presumed message of which is that you can be expensively dressed, impossibly thin, and dramatically photogenic, all while a load of towels spins dry.
Domesticity, we are led to believe, is a leisure activity, one that results in elaborate, spotless perfection while requiring nothing of us but that we purchase a few brand-name products or publications.

The reality, of course, is that housekeeping is not effortless, and it is never perfect, even when it does get done, which is less and less."

These excerpts are from a book my mom recommended to me called Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Peterson.  I'm only on page 5 but I'm already really enjoying it.

So I guess my house would be cleaner if I just went and folded some laundry and cleaned my bathroom while the babies are taking naps. (instead of blogging)

A World of Mystery

"The Mother is a world of mystery.  She loves; she does all kinds of interesting things 
throughout the house; she sings; she reads; she loses her temper; she may be as peaceful 
as a summer evening or a whirlwind of fury.  But she is always the mother, and her love 
for her child[ren] even when it is shot through all the flaws of her character, will be a 
 human love.   It may be far from perfect.  But it will be something real."

Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child