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I thought I would repost this, from an old post Denise made (here):

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place,
but have not love,
I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements,
but have not love,
my children learn cleanliness, ­not godliness.

If I scream at my children for every infraction,
and fault them for every mess they make,
but have not love,
my children become people-pleasers, not obedient children.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love accepts the fact that I am the ever-present “mommy,”
the taxi-driver to every childhood event,
the counselor when my children fail or are hurt.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, and runs with the child,
then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child.

All the projections I had for my house and my children
have faded away into insignificance,
And what remain are the memories of my kids.

Now there abides in my home scratches on most of the furniture,
dishes with missing place settings,
and bedroom walls full of stickers, posters and markings,
But the greatest of all is the Love
that permeates my relationships with my children.

-Adapted by Jim Fowler

Happy Mother’s Day! May you know the Lord’s sustaining grace, and His own tender love as you try to show His unfailing charity to your kids through a lifetime.

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When a mud dauber nest appeared in the corner of our porch over the weekend, my husband and I made plans to hit it with some Greased Lightning (in our experience, a serviceable small insect-killer). We assumed it to be a wasp or hornet nest; I had forgotten that wasp nests looked like honeycombs, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a hornet’s nest. Before doing the deed today, I suddenly recalled something called a mud dauber, considered the mudlike appearance of our nest, and went a-Googling. Good thing; by my research I have saved many a mud dauber’s life and thrown into jeopardy, I hope, many a black widow’s life. Mud daubers are not aggressive or overly defensive of their nest, rarely sting except when handled, and their prey is spiders! Black widows were mentioned among their favorites on the extension websites I read. So we will keep our mud daubers for now.

For a while I had been thinking of writing something about the connection between experience in homemaking and the difficulty or ease of hospitality, but before this weekend I felt wholly unqualified; we had only “had over” immediate family and maybe two friends on a handful of occasions, never for more than a couple of hours. When a good friend of my husband’s came on pretty short notice for a three-day visit last week, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed everything from the preparatory cleaning and planning to the visit itself. It was interesting; I was aware of being solely responsible (with my husband) for the comfort and well-being of his friend during his time here, and I thought I would have to restrain myself from excessive anxiety that he was uncomfortable due to some oversight on my part, because that’s one of the more charming aspects of my personality. Ha. It was likely due to the guest’s kindness and good nature that I was at ease instead, even when the chicken refused to finish roasting and I had to pull it out and poach the pieces separately…but that’s another story. Weirdly enough, sometimes I “forget” I am an adult, and married, and no one else is ultimately responsible for what goes on in our household. Having a house guest sort of made me feel like I was all grown up all of a sudden.

At the very least I now know experientially the relationship between showing hospitality “without grumbling” and having some level of general confidence and competence in keeping house. When you factor into normal routines the (probably inevitable) pressures when a guest is on his way, it is a huge advantage to know how to plan meals and to have some sort of mental checklist for preparing the guest room and rest of the house. I have only lately been aiming to keep our home close to “visitor-ready” all the time; not so much because we are apt to have unexpected visitors but because I realized that it’s just stupid to let some parts of the house get messy because no one sees them but me. Aiming for the standards I would have for a visitor helps—and I’m not sure what to think of the probable vanity underlying such a standard. I’m inclined to be pragmatic and say that if it helps me keep my house clean, welcome, vanity! Ahem. At any rate, the fact that I had begun implementing this in our guest/game/spare room about two weeks before my husband’s friend decided to visit helped quite a bit in my preparations. Sometimes I’m so used to seeing a pile of papers or books that need to be put away that my eyes simply begin to gloss over them. But it’s funny how your vision “improves” when you learn company is coming. The baseboards suddenly look dirtier, the relatively organized stack of coupons looks out of control, and you realize your dinner repertoire presents about three options for both guest-worthy and foolproof meals.

Simple thoughtfulness and application of the second great commandment—what would I like to have done for me and not done for me as a guest in someone’s home?—certainly go a long way. Without it a perfect host will be like a “clanging cymbal.” But unless I ever become wealthy enough to have maids and a chef to cook us fancy French dinners every night (which I’m not sure I would actually enjoy), I think it is right and worthwhile to expend effort improving in such mundane areas as cooking and cleaning. Are they really so mundane when they make me more ready and willing to serve my family and friends out of my home, and when they are a so large a part of true homemaking?

Sorry to interject on a more personal note, but I was given a strange and very mixed gift yesterday: my old journals and other old writing projects.  It was one of those irreplaceable and priceless objects only a husband can give you — apparently Ruben had saved and kept many things I ruthlessly sought out and destroyed; and besides the gratitude accruing to an unexpected return of one’s past, I am very grateful that the present is always the perfect place of repentance.

However I came across this which seemed not wholly inappropriate to some of the discussions we’ve had about ‘home’ and which I confess made me cry — reminding me of something I have been learning lately in other ways: that joy here is not so much an effect of having everything as we would wish, as an effect of the light on a unique pattern of faultlines in the broken things we love.  I have been thinking lately of the expression, ‘when life hands you lemons . . . ‘ — but I think that falls short.  Life doesn’t hand you lemons really: we carry our own lemons around with us — ingratitude, bitterness, covetousness, self-pity, etc: life is always sitting there by the side of the road on a hot day, like Wisdom, calling: selling at an incredible discount the most costly and refreshing lemonade.
~

“Where do you go when you can’t go home?”

Such was the song that was belted in darkness while I waited for Ruben to get his favorite potato chips in Kroger and listened to A Prairie Home Companion.

It doesn’t much matter where you go, I think. Anywhere alike you dream about home, making it up in detail; you play with the details and variate them and pick your own favorite variation and play with the details some more. You imagine home like a starving person imagines an ideal meal. Here we have no continuing city; here we have sometimes, no city at all. Meanwhile no matter how many homes with all their windows lit and the light beating like wings in the darkness, by sea or mountain, tucked into the woods with tall windows that the damp leaves cling to as they travel down you imagine — ‘home’ is something solid. It sweeps suddenly in and out with the memory of the headlights of a pesero climbing shakily through the rainy darkness: you shiver by the side of the road with fifteen other people all waiting to crowd into that warm human mass of shoes and faces and coats and backpacks that is already spilling out the doors of the bus. It is the almost solid fall of light in the morning sublimating the blue lichenous couches and walls of wood, your feet freezing on the unheated board floor of the cabin as you stand unseeing, arms wrapped around you, only the dust dancing with you in a space of light. It is the pale pink light in the evening, delicate and papery, illuminating the little trees and houses it has picked out in gold while a smoke blue mantle throws itself over the mountains. It is the lights in the valley like stars on the sea floor, broken by the silhouette of the corn stalks. It is the gas stove in the little kitchen, your pow-pow that never works, pumping water while your nose and fingers turn to ice, the bath which you have to get out of in order to change the water temperature while steam escapes through the holes in floor where the pipes come through. It is the beautiful copper tubing of the pipes that bring in your bathwater which Nico cut, molded, and installed himself while you were sick. It is Reme smiling on your front step; the people who bring the water smiling on your front step; Liliana or Adriana smiling on your front step, Miguel frowning on your front step. It is the dust that rises in clouds when you sweep the floor, no matter how often you sweep. It is walking twenty minutes down the mountain for aspirin; never being able to go anywhere after six or seven for fear you won’t get a bus back up the mountain. It is the three hour trip to the grocery store, your legs and your back aching with the weight of the groceries and the hundred steps up and over the Carretera, coming back to a frozen house on a frozen mountain and turning on all the space heaters. It is the place to which you will never return. You know it too well to variate its details; you know its every inconvenience. It is the place closest to heaven on earth, the place where you watched the shadows and the quality of light changing along the length of the walls until only the stove light over the sink was gleaming, casting elegant allusions to the dining room chairs; it is the place in which you made your husband and your three legged dog chicken soup when they were sick, sat up with candles when the electricity went off listening for your husband’s running step through the thunder, stood in the doorway while the dew gleamed on the grass like little worlds, your hands curled around your cup of tea, blinking in steam and happiness; where the wind came and found you and the bamboo shades clattered; or the rain came tracing patterns like a lady drawing her long, gentle fingers over a glass.

Today is my mother-in-law’s birthday; in celebration of which, the snow leopard and I are having a party.  R. Aloysius was much too excited at the prospect of posing with a live flame so we had to substitute a colored pencil for the candle.*  The cake itself is a double decker rice cake, frosted with something closely related to the chocolate gob — I would list the recipe, but it might detract from the joy of the occasion.  I will however, briefly caution against trying this at home.  Snow leopards are dangerous animals, and should not, under normal circumstances, be fed the sort of thing that happens when I experiment with baking chocolate.  This very rare snow leopard is extremely well bred.  He coughed politely when I offered him cake, and waited until I wasn’t looking to hide it under the present.

Mom is not only the nicest mother in law I could imagine, but has become a dear friend as well.   We are taught in the Psalms that a woman’s keeping house, and being a joyful mother of children is from God — it is a blessing from Him, and so it is a way of life that is a praise of His goodness.  Mom exemplifies that.  I am very thankful to have not only her example, her prayers, and her friendship, but to have her as part of my heritage.

*I thought I might somewhere in some corner of a cupboard own some birthday candles, but no.  I didn’t think the pow-pow (I’m not sure what they are technically called: the handheld devices one uses to start a gas stove) would have the same appeal sticking up out of a rice cake, as something slender and decided on the orange pencil — but that made me reflect on how charmingly and practically Mom Z can improvise whatever is lacking from normal little things and make everything so much more interesting.  She has always been able to do so, from what Ruben tells me.

PS.  The snow leopard also wishes me to say Happy Birthday to Laura.

Myself

by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself, and so

I want to be fit for myself to know,

I want to be able, as days go by,

 Always to look myself straight in the eye;

I don’t want to stand, with the setting sun,

And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf

 A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself, as I come and go,

Into thinking that nobody else will know

The kind of a man I really am;

I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.

 I want to go out with my head erect,

I want to deserve all men’s respect;

But here in the struggle for fame and self

I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to look at myself and know

 That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.

I can never hide myself from me;

I see what others may never see;

I know what others may never know,

I never can fool myself, and so,

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience free.

I thought this poem was thoughtful. It is self centred but we know that God sees and knows all that we do and say and think. For us as christians, this helps and encourages us to truly seek to be Christlike in our life and conversation. I think we will all admit that at times we ignore, or at least pretend that we do not have certain faults and failings (sins!). I am provoked to examine my own self coming into this new year of 2010. Will I be a peron I can live with? Will I reflect my Lord and Saviour and walk before the Him ?. By  God’s grace.

May He bless each one in the year ahead .

My Life is but a weaving                                     

between my Lord and me;

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper,

And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

B.M. Franklin

This is from a longer quote sent from Grace Gems daily emails. I need to be reminded of these things often because I’m such a slow learner.

“My times are in Your hands!” Psalm 31:15

…We shrink from suffering, from sacrifice, from struggle–but perhaps these are the very experiences which will do the most good for us, which will best mature our Christian graces, which will fit us for the largest service to God and man.

We should always remember that the object of living here, is not merely to have present comfort, to get along with the least trouble, to gather the most we can of the world’s treasures, to win the brightest fame. We are here to grow into the beauty of Christ, and to do the portion of God’s will that belongs to us!

There is something wonderfully inspiring in the thought, that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, for each life. We do not come drifting into this world–and do not drift through it like waves on the ocean. We are sent from God, each one of us with a divine plan for his life–something God wants us to do, some place He wants us to fill. All through our lives we are in the hands of God, who chooses our place and orders our circumstances, and makes all things work together for our good–and His glory.

It is the highest honor that could be conferred upon us, to occupy such a place in the thought of God. We cannot doubt that His way for us is better than ours, since He is infinitely wiser than we are, and loves us so. It may be painful and hard–but in the pain and the hardness, there is blessing.

Of course we may not know all the reasons there are in the divine mind, for the pains and sufferings that come into our lives, or what God’s design for us in these trials is. Yet without discovering any reasons at all, however, we may still trust God, who loves us with an infinite love–and whose wisdom also is infinite!

When we get to heaven, we shall know that God has made no mistake in anything He has done for us, however He may have broken into our plans–and spoiled our pleasant dreams!

It should be reason for measureless gratitude, that our lives are not in our own poor feeble hands–but in the hands of our infinitely wise and loving Father!

Excerpt from J. R. Miller, “The Lesson of Love” 1903

This little gem appears at the bottom of my Macaroni Beef  recipe which I posted at  Mumma’s Place  earlier.
ooOOoo
HOW TO PRESERVE A HUSBAND
 
Be careful in the selection. Do not choose too ripe or too old. Best results if he has been reared in a healthy atmosphere. Some insist on keeping him in a pickle, others prefer to keep him in hot water, such treatment may make husband sour, hard and sometimes bitter. Many housewives have found that even poor varieties can be rendered tender and good by a garnish of patience, the sweetening of a smile, and the flavouring of a kiss to taste. Wrap him in a mantle of charity, place him over a warm steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream!
When thus preserved a husband will keep for years!

The events in this blog happened in May of this year. I am republishing them here from my blog because a similar thing has happened to us recently, which reminded me of God’s gracious provision and the blessing that brethren can and should be to one another.

One of the amazing blessings I have observed over the years is the way the Lord provides for his people…. sometimes in the most unexpected ways! We’ve all heard stories of money/ food /clothing, desperately needed, turning up, seemingly out of the blue. “Our God shall supply all our needs…”

This week, we had one such chain of events, though minor, which reminded us of God’s gracious provision for us and the way he attends to even the least of our needs. And how our good deeds and blessings are “paid forward”, so to speak.

A friendly neighbour, who often drops in home grown produce, sent a pile of pineapples over early in the day, which we really appreciated and we decided to pass them around.

Now some elderly friends have been really struggling with poor health, adult children and grandchildren problems and generally coping with everything. When hubby returned from a visit there in the morning he suggested I go over to help in the afternoon. I took our (already prepared) chicken casserole dinner over, both of us feeling we could manage without it that night and have a “scratch” tea. I spent a lovely few hours both doing chores and visiting. What a blessing these aged saints are and have been to us. I came home refreshed, though concerned for their plight.

We ate our basic evening meal and I was surprised as I did the dishes to receive a call from a dear friend. Could they call round briefly? Of course, that would be lovely! (But secretly I’m thinking – this is unusual?) Now these friends have had a very difficult year. Hubby, who is self employed, has been off work for 4 months, had an operation, and will be off a few months yet. I was wondering, are they okay?

When they arrived they came bearing several kilos of steak, sausages and mince!!

During their period of hardship many have given “care packages” to their large family and this day they had been generously given a large meat order. They in turn felt led to share some of this bounty with us!!
Marvellous provision indeed!
And we’ve all really enjoyed the pineapples!

October 2017
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