Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Home & Hearth

During the course of my internet wanderings the past week I have come across many, many articles, web pages, comments, etc. that treat women whose focus is the home and hearth with contempt. After stumbling across a handful of such places I started searching in earnest for other sites that would even out the scales. I was quite disappointed.

It seems that modern society (especially the so-called liberated females) are set on making a laughing stock out of traditional family roles. On one site I visited, I initially thought I had found a like minded lady. Her blog had a vintage 1950's theme and it's contents centered on cooking and organizing her home. "Wonderful!" I thought. Until I took a closer look at her page. Yes, it was full of recipes and housekeeping advice, but in the section that housed her profile information...well, I can't repeat it here but suffice it to say she was literally cursing "Suzy Homemaker." Saying that although she had this page to help herself stay organized, she in no way wanted to be lumped into the catagory of a traditional, conservative wife and mother.
In other places I found sweet vintage pictures of housewives attending to their homes but the caption would read, "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." Such a disappointment.

I really did think that if I dug deep enough into the cyber world, I would find more pages like Homeliving (in my sidebar.) But the further I dug, the more derogatory the mood became toward those that would hold the home up in high esteem.

It seems that the majority of our society has forgotten the old adage: the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. It seems unbelievably short sighted to me. Our world will be paying the piper in the coming generations. I suppose we already are, hence that backlash against Biblical femininity.

I do not profess to know another person's heart. But I truly believe that the reason some women kick against the pricks of traditional roles is that they feel guilty. Because in their heart of hearts, they know it to be the good and right way. But they have filled their lives so full of things that are the very antithesis of a traditional role and these things have taken over their life. If they admit to themselves that they were wrong, major life shifts would have to occur. Perhaps a great deal of money from their job would have to be sacrificed. Material pleasures would not be as easily acquired.

And so in order to make themselves feel better about the choices they have made, the choices now running their life instead of the other way around, they need to ridicule and laugh and berrate those of us who have chosen the more traditional path. Like a child that has not gotten his way.

If the mindset of our current society does not take turn, then may the good Lord have mercy on us all. We shall truly need it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Paying attention to quality

It can be a very easy thing for the busy homemaker to feel as though everything has to be accomplished and come together all at once. But, especially if you have children in the home, the reality is that everything being done all at the same time will most likely not happen.

However, if you spend your time each and every day paying heed to the quality of the work you do in the home, your family, the house and the quiet pleasures within will not be found in a state of want. I think one of the most important things to do in order to accomplish this slow down! A lot of stay at home wives/mothers seem to run and rush through the chores of the day, just taking a swipe at things here and there and at the end of the day nothing has been seen to the point of completion. How much better it would be instead of quickly wiping down a counter top with a rag that is ready for the laundry bin to take just an extra five minutes to clean it thoroughly. Then find something pleasant to the eye and place in the center or perhaps strategically in one corner. It really does not take very long to take an ordinary chore and elevate it to something that results in beauty or coziness in the home.

It has been said before and I'm sure you have heard it from time to time, to think of a little girl when she is dreaming and pretending to be a wife and mother. She does not hurry through her tasks, but relishes each one. She does not quickly stash things away in her little cabinets, but stacks them neatly. Now I realize that some chores are just that - chores. But taking the time to do them properly will make such a difference in the overall mood and tone of your home.

There is no shame in taking your time with things. Do not put yourself in the frame of mind to think that every single thing that could possibly be accomplished on any given day HAS to be accomplished on that day. This is more pressure than anyone can thrive under. Instead it is good to have a core list of items that are the necessities of the day, then extras can be worked in around those. Perhaps your core each day could be making the beds, attending to the meals and one or two loads of laundry. That is certainly a core list that most of us could keep up with quite easily. When your core list is not so big as to be daunting, you will be more likely to take your time making that bed. Instead of rushing through and just throwing the covers up to the top, you will feel you have the time to take just a few minutes extra to add some fluffy pillows to the top and perhaps a pretty afghan or blanket across the foot.

Another thing to keep in mind with large projects in the home is to break them into small, workable pieces. Taking a room apart from stem to stern for a deep cleaning is a good and noble idea, but keep in mind that on any given day you have to get your core list of things done. It doesn't make sense to start a project so big that it cannot be finished by nightfall, thus leaving a big mess at the end of the day and core jobs not done. This may mean the big deep clean may need to be separated into smaller tasks accomplished over the course of two or three days. By the week's end you will have a room that has been deep cleaned and a week full of days where the beds were made, the meals fixed and the laundry done.

When you give yourself permission to take the time needed to attend to quality in regards to your homemaking, your house will have no choice but to fall into a state of cozy order within the ensuing days.

May the Lord bless you, your homes and the quiet pleasures within!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Some links for your amusement

The Victorian era is a favorite of mine. It's so sad that we have lost or tossed aside so many social graces that were once considered a part of normal life. I thought I would share with you some links to a few beautiful Victorian places on the web. I hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Preparations for the Lord's Day

It seems to me that a good portion of a homemaker's life is spent in preparations. Preparations for bringing a new child home, preparations for dinner in anticipation of a husband arriving home from work, preparations for holidays and most importantly, spiritual preparations for the life that is to come.

Today my mind is on preparations for tomorrow. Sunday. Is it meant to be a day filled with stress and anxious feelings or those of peace? Is it to be a day of gracious home ways or a day where we quickly order a pizza for Sunday dinner? It takes a lot to get ourselves {and anyone else in our home attending} out of the door dressed presentably and to church on time. It takes effort and forethought to have a homemade Sunday dinner grace our table that is adorned with a beautiful table setting.

And Sunday morning is surely not the time to be giving thought to such things. It simply will not work and will, most likely, cause you to be stressed and in turn stress those around you.

Saturday, my sweet readers, is the day for domestic tasks with Sunday morning and afternoon in mind. I have made a list of possible tasks that could be applicable to many households:
* Make sure everyone has their clothing for Sunday morning washed, ironed and laid out, right down to the shoes. {If you have children then you must know how they can lose one shoe right before you are ready to head out the door.} Make sure no little ones have outgrown something that fit them just last week.
* Have a plan for breakfast. I love a big breakfast. But in our house, Sunday morning is simply not the time for that. I try to always have something simple planned for breakfast on Sundays.
* Have Bibles, Sunday school materials, tithing money, etc laid out together in one spot so they can simply be picked up as you go out the door Sunday morning.
* Set your Sunday dinner table on Saturday night. I always put on a tablecloth with another lace one over that for Sundays. Then I line up our glasses on the table, turned upside down. I stack our plates and place our folded napkins on top of them. Then I cover the plates and napkins with an attractive kitchen towel so they will not get dust on them before Sunday afternoon. I usually put our silverware on right before we eat.
* It helps me to have a couple of special menus that I rotate for Sunday dinner. There is never any wondering - what am I going to fix? I have two menus that are favorites of my family. One is homemade lasagna and the other is an original recipe that involves baked chicken and maple bacon. I never serve these meals during the week. They are kept specifically for Sundays. And because they are favorites and I rotate them, no one ever gets tired of having them.
* Go to bed on Saturday night! You need your sleep, especially so when the next morning is the Lord's day.

These are reminders that I must give myself every weekend when my flesh wants to stay up late, or try to say that I'll have time to iron those clothes in the morning - and my good sense knows better. They key to a peaceful, relaxed Sunday is figuring out what your Saturday preparations need to be for your home and then doing them. We must remember to "give due diligence..."

May the Lord bless you this weekend and may your preparations today create for you a peaceful day of worship tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Giving due diligence

The thought of giving due diligence to the work at hand in our lives has been on my mind a bit today. I decided to look up the word diligence in the dictionary. This is the definition: constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind. As I read this definition it struck me what a motivator the words "constant and earnest effort" could be during any given day filled with our domestic tasks.

I think that if we cultivated a spirit of "constant and earnest effort" and applied it to our lives every day our lives would be more peaceful, more calm and more beautiful. Think about it this way - if we drag ourselves through our day just barely doing enough to make things livable - is there any room in that day (or that attitude) to do anything that would add extra comfort to a family or beauty to a home? But if we take the same day and go forth with a mindset of having "constant and earnest effort" applied to our Bible study, domestic tasks and creative pursuits - how much more enjoyable and profitable the day!

As I said, these are the thoughts that are on my mind today so I decided to study this concept further. I looked up the word constant in the dictionary. For such a simple word, it has many definitions. But one stood out to me. It was this: faithful; unswerving in love, devotion. I think those are words that are very well applied to our home life. A very beautiful definition in deed. Faithful and unswerving in our love and devotion to the Lord and the holy ground of our home he has blessed us with.

Next is earnest. It is defined like this; serious in intention, purpose or effect; sincerely zealous; showing depth and sincerity of feeling. Again, another wonderful way to approach our lives. If we are feeling sincerely zealous, if we are showing depth and sincerity of feeling there is no way we can trudge through our days with a haphazard attitude! These are actions and emotions that show love, tenderness and caring. How much the better for a husband, wife and children in a home where these are the standard frames of mind.

The last word is effort. Effort is the conscious exertion of power; hard work; a serious attempt. I truly believe that understanding the fact that a life full of blissful details and domesticity is much easier gained if one accepts the fact that there is work involved in making them come about. We seem to be such a "me" centered society now and we are worse off for it. There truly is beauty in a line of ironed shirts hanging in a row. A table beautifully set and a meal made with love. And quite honestly I would rather walk on a floor that has been mopped than on one where no one cared enough to attend to the task. All these things take work and effort on our part but they are more than worth it! But I also fear that more and more people are unwilling to put forth the effort because of a selfish lifestyle.

So, a constant and earnest effort. It is a faithful, unswerving love and devotion that is serious in intention and sincerity and applied to the work of our lives. I think these are thoughts that will help me daily when my flesh is wanting to give into laziness.

This entire study also brings to my mind Titus 2:3-5. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Let the light shine in!

I have a personal preference for natural sunlight to fill my home. And, although I realize it is a necessity, I would even go as far to say that I do not like artificial light. One of the first things I do every morning is open the curtains and blinds, sometimes even pulling the blinds all the way to the top to let that much more light in. It often perplexes me to see houses shut up tight during the daylight hours with nary a shade open. I can't imagine the insides feeling warm or homey. More like a dark tomb. No quiet pleasures in places like that.

The way we choose to use light in our homes has a great impact on not only our physical senses but our mental ones as well. It has been proven that lack of exposure to enough natural light can cause seasonal depression. This is a small part of decorating/housekeeping that deserves some special attention and thought.

One place that I have found that it is good to have a small lamp in addition to regular overhead lighting is the bathroom. I have set lamps on bathroom counter tops and even on the back of the toilet, perhaps on a pretty towel with some potpourri in a small bowl next to it. I once lived in a house where the electricity did not work in our main bathroom. No matter what we did it would never work for more than a day or two at most. This bathroom was on the interior of the house and had no windows. I went to the local dollar type store and bought two small lamps. They did not even have any matching ones, so I just got two of the same size in a cream color that were styled a bit differently. Placing one on each end of the bathroom counter made our bathroom so cozy. When my husband got home and saw them he smiled and said, "Now that's very appropriate." You would just have to know him, lol, that was a major compliment! One of the reasons I like to have a lamp in this room is very simple. If one is getting up in the night you want to be able to see, but at the same time we all know that awful feeling of being blinded by a regular light when coming out of the dark. A small lamp may even be able to be kept on all night so as to be just enough light to light the way or calm the fears of a child sleeping across the hall.

I also like to keep a small lamp in my kitchen. I love the look of a kitchen at night, after all the cooking and cleaning is done, lit by just a small lamp. It's very cozy. There are many small lamps in most stores now days that would be very appropriate in a bathroom or kitchen and they can be found quite inexpensively.

There is a trick that I learned with my children when they were small. Being children, they would be energetic, sometimes especially so at bedtime. I realized that if I would turn off all the overhead lighting and turn on just the lamps on the end tables and perhaps a lamp here or there in a corner about an hour before bedtime, I would have a much easier time getting them to sleep. I never made an announcement that playtime would be over in an hour. I simply, quietly turned off all the main lights and only left the very soft lamps on. It always had a calming effect on them (and still does, even though they are older.) It caused an unconscious mental shift of going from day to night. It made the transition so much easier.

Have you paid attention to the effect your lighting has in your home? Do you have a favorite reading nook that needs some lighting? Perhaps a tall lamp behind your chair. Do you have a choice of lighting in your rooms that will not blind you should you need to turn it on in the middle of the night? Do you remember to take advantage of the natural sunlight during the day? The choices we make with our lighting affect the whole mood of our home, we would do well to remember this when decorating and arranging our rooms.

Blessings to you as you create the quiet pleasures of home!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sacred Work in our Holy Home

Welcome to my home on the web. It is my wish here to find some like-minded women who value their homes and families and who strive to have a rich home life. Also to help those who may not understand this lifestyle choice see the value in being the hand that rocks the cradle and the one who serves the meals.

A house is not a home until someone ties heartstrings to the detailed tasks of the day. These are not merely mundane chores, they are the things that make up the memories of the next generation! Did you know that your home is a holy place? Within those four walls and underneath that roof is a ministry that the Lord has given to *you*. No one else is qualified to be the wife in your home. No one else is qualified to be the mother in your home. No one else is qualified to set the atmosphere there as you can. Yes, your home is a holy place ladies.

It is very important to me that I try my best to set a certain mood...tone if you will, in our home. It is the biggest compliment to me when someone describes our place as homey. I don't want showy, expensive or the best. I want my home to be a comfortable place full of all the domesticities that I can muster. I like home cooked meals and rooms with soft light. Kittens curled up, dogs lazily showing you their bellies and children's laughter. Vegetables and flowers growing outside and lots of houseplants inside. Sunday dinners with lace tablecloths. These are the things of which memories are made, traditions handed down and families made strong.

Please don't fall into the mental trap of life being one mundane chore after another. Quiet pleasures do not simply happen! They do not fall out of the sky for our delight. But they require someone to roll up their sleeves and do the work (yes, it is work, but it's *holy* work) that is required to make life a pleasure. I have a friend who has beautiful (and many) houseplants. She also creates beautiful things for her home by cross stitching or embroidering. She told me that it makes her sad to look around at the other apartments in her complex because hers is the only one with any plants outside. She has gotten many comments from people that her plants or her handwork is beautiful ~ but that they simply do not have the time to spend on such things.

Ladies, if the quiet pleasures of life are to be attended to, make no mistake the time has to *be made* for them. They will never simply appear. Mental priorities must be made. Now I'm not saying you have to grow beautiful plants or engage in needlework. (Although these are wonderful endeavors that can bring much happiness.) But in your minds eye, whatever it is that transforms a mere *house* into a *home* will be something that will require work. Sacred work for your holy home. Endeavors that will both please the Lord, your family and yourself. Beautiful, quiet pleasures. These are the things of which a noble life is made!