Homemaking–A Bit of Vintage Thinking

In listening this morning to motivational speakers talk about achieving goals, dreams, and “God’s Purpose” for my life via morning routines, vision boards, affirmations, etc., it occurs to me I may not be as far behind the curve as I’ve been believing myself to be. It also occurs to me that a bit of vintage thinking might be in order. Again. Because this voice telling me that I “can be more” is all pervasive, ever insistent, badgering, pressuring, pushing.

Surely, I reason, the great, good, gracious and giving God I serve can lead, guide, and bless me without me constantly striving, trying and doing–what the world will call success. Surely He can be trusted, and as He’s shown me over and over again, to be with me, vision board or not. What if it’s as simple as “seek ye first”? What if, as is always the case, whatever society calls success isn’t that impressive to God? Could it be that there is more fulfillment of both His dreams and mine when we–He and I–are seated together in heavenly places, far above the noise of “purpose and performance”?

Just this morning I heard a speaker talk about the great success of a woman who was 58, that was 58! years old (it’s never too old!, I was assured) and who went to college and became a school teacher. She was a mother of five and grandmother of five, but now comes the lauded “success”. No longer will her kids get to call and ask for prayer, no longer will her granddaughters invite her to have tea with their dolls. Shall I talk about boys knowing there is one place on earth that is always and absolutely perfectly safe? That would be with Granny. You can tell her anything and she’ll give you good advice right along with hugs and milk and cookies. And readalouds–like Frog and Toad and Timothy Tattercoat!

Maybe on weekends? On weekends (when they used to pick strawberries and bake bread together) Granny will be grading papers, but perhaps she’ll schedule some time, sometime. (Yes, I’m quite and very well aware of the need for such teachers as Granny will no doubt be, and also aware that she may be exactly where God wants her. It’s the attitude here I question: Now she’s doing something worthwhile.)

And here’s a thought: What if all that “purpose and dream” stuff is for those who don’t already have the highest and best and most beautiful of all purposes on earth? Yes, I’m talking about homemaking, as it’s meant to be, and with God’s help is.

Also this morning was a phone call about a friend’s daughter-in-law who’s going to leave her two little ones and go to nursing school. Yes, the husband is very well paid, but “these days it takes two incomes.” No. It doesn’t. It has been proven over and over again that there is an overall loss in monetary wealth when both the parents of small children work. As to the real costs of moms not being on the throne in the home–immeasurable.

As one of the earliest victims of modern feminism (the last of the lucky generation whose moms kept the fort) I know of what I speak. I bought this lie and the costs are still being paid. Unlike so many, however, I got a second chance. I know of the innumerable ways to save money (kids not sick all the time is a big place to begin this calculation) when you make a home by staying home, when you build your house and everyone in it, as the Queen of the Most High Place, i.e., when you’re “just” a homemaker.

This idea that we need to “get out of the house”, that homemaking is “menial and degrading” is a LIE FROM HELL.

Consider this, in one of my all-time favorites, Sixpence in Her Shoe, written by Phyllis McGinley and published in 1960: I am one of an enormous, an antique sisterhood, each of us bent on much the same ends, all of us doing our able or our fumbling best to hold the planet steady on its axis by such primitive expedients as hanging window curtains, bandaging knees, or getting meals to the table on time.”

Proverbs 14:1 — “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”

Week One of my Zero For Six adventure is over, and here are some conclusions and confessions.

ON NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING

I tried more than once to buy makeup and skin care, and finally settled for ordering the ingredients to make skincare at home (from Vitacost.com) and a tube of lipstick and some foundation, both Mineral Fusion. This after I trashed all my old (some 14 years old!) cosmetics and was completely out of skincare. I was using Vaseline.

When I say I tried more than once, I mean I filled my cart with some very impressive products on the Net, and then just couldn’t spend all that money, so gave it up. The next morning I drove to a department store to see if there was one of those cool specials where you spend $35 and get a promo package worth $150 of stuff you mostly want and will use. Nothing doing, plus they were blasting cruddy (non-relaxing, non-uplifting, non-melodious) music and I’m just so over going into stores where the customer is obviously not that important.

So, one of the morals of this story is that frugality can either be deprivation, or it can be an open door to creativity, often resulting in a better quality and healthier outcome. And of course, there’s that lovely smug feeling that comes of spending less and getting more. How smart are we? Pretty smart.

ON NON-FATIGUING FOODS

I dropped the ball here a little, both at The Sugar Mouse tea house on Thursday in Laramie, Wyoming, and then again Saturday night, when I made chocolate no-bake cookies (they had peanut butter, so that makes them real food, right?). But then this morning I read Honey, God’s Gift for Health and Beauty, which caused me to sweeten my blueberry muffins with honey rather than sugar, and to give my leftover no-bakes to my son, who has no belly fat and a great love for no-bakes.

From there I researched benefits of drinking vinegar and honey and went to town for organic (with the mother) apple cider vinegar. I already have raw honey, so upon finishing this post I’ll make this amazing elixir and partake!

As to coffee, I actually went to a coffee shop and ordered herbal blackberry tea, iced. Delicious! I didn’t have any coffee at all, all week long, until a very tiny cup (1/4 cup of coffee, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream) today, telling myself that I will allow myself one cup per week. So, we’ll see how that goes.

ON WATCHING

I scored A++++++ on this one. There are so many other marvelous and fun and creative things that get done when the TV/laptop/phone is off. I love it. Yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to watch something, but it was only when I was thinking of eating something fatiguing . . . As I’ve said before, these habits, for good or for not-so-good, go together.

It was helpful that I didn’t take a martyr’s stance, that I checked my thoughts before speaking them. I might have thought a few times that it would be nice to sit down and take a load off, watching something totally fun, such as Decoy Bride, or that it wouldn’t hurt to watch whatever John was watching. After all, it was Friday night . . . But I didn’t speak it, didn’t talk about it. Instead I settled in with a stack of books, my journal, pens, and highlighters, and read old favorites such as The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey, and Candy Paull’s Abundance. I prayed as I read from the Psalms, and also had a couple of lovely phone conversations. Best of all, I did some some very in-depth listening to my beloveds as they shared their hearts. This simply doesn’t happen when you’re glued to the tube.

Determined not to be even a little bit tempted to watch an episode of Poirot tonight, I made a library visit and came home with Francine Rivers, Victoria Holt and of course, Agatha Christie. I was completely surprised by the ending of By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and I keep marveling at the mind of Agatha Christie, and wondering when my non-watching time will become writing time. Fiction, I mean–the writing that stretches me, calls me, eludes me, and won’t leave me alone. As my daugher Rebekah said when she was little and things didn’t go smoothly, “Oh, sigh.”

ON SPEAKING GOOD WORDS

I noticed and noted that I don’t need to worry about the negative words of others–I have plenty of my own. I read Lindsey Roberts’ free booklet, The Company You Keep and among so much rich and uplifting information, I focused on the idea of being good company to me. I really enjoy myself when nothing but faith, thanksgiving, and great expecations come out of my mouth.

And of course, what you fill your heart and mind is what comes out of your mouth, and then what becomes your life. So, maybe out of all four of my Zero For Six quests, this one of is most important of all.

“And so I began to dance with my life . . . ” – Shannon Ables

I’m reading Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life and at the above-mentioned sentence, I had to stop and share.

I can relate.  I had so many ideas for what to do with today, “something truly meaningful,” I prayed to God.  And then I wrote down the three things that would, I thought, be truly meaningful.  But thanks be to God, He, as usual, has a better idea.

So, here I sit before the fireplace, with the wood popping madly as the wind blows the snow horizontally outside, and I’m smelling John’s baking “chicken/turkey/bacon” enchiladas.  I’m ready for them, having only partaken today of a glass of Moscato, some Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups, and a cup of New Mexico Pinon coffee with plenty of organic heavy whipping cream – that shared first thing this morning with my gem of a son, Seth.

As Seth made the coffee in the beautiful French press (present from him for Christmas – lovely deep red in color), I prayed that another gem of a son, Benjamin who is in Kuwait, would call.  I dressed in favorite old jeans and a marvelously comfy sweater and sat quietly, and when the phone rang I knew it was him.  A truly meaningful day, and it’s only just begun.

I first opened my eyes this morning to the rocks on the bluff gleaming gold, and diamonds in the snow.  But by the time I finished a long and lovely chat with my son, the sky was threatening snow big time.

It was a good day, I reckoned, to visit the post office, pick up the mail, and send cards and letters.  I wrote what I believe is a fun letter to a dearly beloved young man who is in prison, and tucked it inside a small package along with Louis L’Amour’s Ride the River, which is about Echo Sackett.  I covered the package with real stamps (more romantic than stickers) and got a special “Love” stamp for the fun greeting card I also put in the mail today.

We, my Valentine John and I, went next to the Library – they had called and said I had books in!!!   It was a lovely stack:  Through the French Door by Carolyn Westbrook, Really Rural by Marie-France Boyer, Fight Like a Girl by Lisa Bevere, The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Classen, and finally, Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life, to which I plan to return right after those enchiladas . . .

Later in the Truly Meaningful day

The enchiladas were EXACTLY the thing for a cold February day in the Rockies, and I made for sure and for certain the cook knew he was appreciated.  Hugs and kisses and thanks and more thanks.  “Yum, oh, yum, you must remember exactly what you put in these,” etc. (It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Valentine’s week at our house).

And now I’m back to what makes any day truly worthwhile:  a good book.  I must pick up where I left off:  “And so I began to dance with my life . . .”

When I Write a Book . . .

I picked up Alice Hoffman’s The Third Angel because it was recommended in Fearless Writing.

I have a like/dislike relationship with this book, but I’m keeping on with it because it keeps redeeming itself, keeps pulling me along with unexpected delights.

I am not delighted with a woman who is marrying a man she knows to be selfish and flawed, but I am carried away with the answer to her own question:  How do you love such a person?  You just do it.

I am delighted when a book reminds me of the truths in my own life, how love is an act, a sacrifice, a looking like God.  Love is God and I am becoming more transformed into His image when I “just do it.”

Like the character in The Third Angel, I find myself unmoved by the flaws in those I love, even blind to them, when I get on that love train and we both start going places.  Life becomes an adventure of raw discovery, flaws become idiosyncrasies, differences become intriguing – even delightful, and life is good.

There is language in The Third Angel.  If not, the editors would probably say to the author, “This is London, you must have language, no one will believe it otherwise.”  But if I write a book, the strongest language will begin with “sh” and end with “it” even if the plane is crashing.

Wait.  No planes crashing in my book.  I will, as they say, write what I know.  Spaghetti sauce in a favorite antique bowl slipping out of my hand as I swipe it out of the fridge, breaking and splattering spaghetti sauce all over the kitchen.  Living and moving and breathing spaghetti sauce.  Everywhere.  Little faces astounded at the crash and even more at Mommy saying that word.

But then I would forget about a broken bowl and a messy kitchen because there is a much larger issue:  tender and bare feet.  I would shoo them away and clean every last speck – not perhaps every last speck of spaghetti sauce, which I will be finding this time next year, but every single last speck of glass.

Because I know these feet are going to be with me forever.  I know what is real and good, and that is the life of my children.  Life.

I don’t know if Alice Hoffman knows life is good, if her book will end as a good book must, with a satisfactory and victorious ending (a love ending).  I do know if I write a book, it will be filled top to bottom, end to end, and side to side with “Just do it” love.

Amen.

P.S.  Don’t miss The Homefront Show Fridays at 2:00 MTN.  Go to 1360am.co and join the fun!

 

 

Seriously! Me Read The Lord of the Rings?!!!

old-books

I’ve stopped the lament about the dearth of edifying, smut-free, uplifting and thought-provoking books being published recently.  I’ve even taken a further step and am reading well-known classics (some are awful, by the way, and don’t deserve finishing) and lesser known but quite excellent books, such as Beverly of Graustark, and Elizabeth Goudge’s ever-so-marvelous Pilgrim’s Inn.

But today I have made up my mind to read books recommended by my family, books I’ve resisted for a number of years, throughout our home school journey.

hobbit-house

Experience says this is a good idea.  Case in point:  The HobbitSince high school when my girlfriend urged me repeatedly to read it, I have said, “It’s not my thing.  I know I won’t like it.”

My kids have also relentlessly pestered and badgered me to read The Hobbit, and finally, after years of resistance, I relented and read it.  And loved it!  And over the past three weekends, the three Hobbit movies have been our excellent viewing entertainment (greatly enhanced and understood because of first reading the book).

So where does all this go?  To the classic literature they have all read, the books they pity me in my ignorance of, and stubborn resistance about – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

girl-in-read-reading

There seems to be a sort of secret affinity and understanding, a club of higher thinkers if you will, that those of us who haven’t read The LOTR books simply cannot fathom.  Therefore, it would behoove me, methinks, to read these literary masterpieces and make everyone in my house believe there is hope after all, that miracles do indeed happen, and that Mom is redeemable – perhaps even interesting – now that she is learning the difference between an orc and a ring wraith, and can even speak a bit of Gollum.

Here’s the Challenge:  Read things you don’t think you’ll like, just to make someone else happy.  Who knows what could happen?  Maybe the next time I want them to read something marvelous about which they have reservations, they’ll just read it!

What a concept – reading something new and different just because it will make someone else happy, just because it’ll give you insights into their strange conversations, just because it’s the way into “The LOTR Club” of higher thinking individuals.  This sounds like a no-lose deal.

And who knows, I might even like it, orcs and all.

 

Is This Romance or a Colossal Waste of Time?

woman reading photo

So many books, so little time.  Why, then, am I reading the most forgettable of books?  Because I am trying to escape laziness by being lazy.  Say what?

I recently read two very different books.  The second one is so forgettable (by a very successful modern author) that I won’t bore you with its title.  The first book, however, sent me to Alibris.com to see what else I might find by the author.  I started this book during Thanksgiving week, so it took a while to finish.  But even as I was busy with other quite enthralling and enjoyable activities, I was thinking about the book, about the main character’s dilemma.  I was, as I explained to my family, “intensely involved’ in this story.

book on desk with glasses

Right.  The name of the book:  Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  This book enhanced my thinking, revved up my mental engines.  Like another recently enjoyed excellent book, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Lady Audley’s Secret satisfied my heart’s desire for new insights and revelations, as well as reacquaintance with deep and almost forgotten heart’s truths.

So, why again do I pick up twaddle and use up precious hours of my life reading it, and then forgetting it as soon as possible?  It’s called “escape” and aptly so, but to where?  I escaped to intriguing worlds with Mary Elizabeth Braddon and with Elizabeth Gaskell, but with the author who must not be named I escaped to . . . I don’t remember.

 

beautiful library

So many bad (inane, intelligence insulting, smut-filled) books.  So many good books.  I choose good.

Oh, and one more thing!  Beware the “poignant” books.  This usually means the author’s life stinks and he/she wants yours to, also, via reading this tripe.  Try instead something whose very feel in your hands makes you say, “I wonder what’s in here.”

old books

How About a REAL Romance!

IMG_3718

They’re the books my junior high principal used to entice non-reading boys, and they worked like nothing else.  They’re the books beginning with cliffhanger action, getting more exciting with each page, and ending satisfactorily every time (the boy and the girl have an understanding).  They’re Jubal Sackett, Sitka, Last of the Breed, and SackettThat’s right, they’re Louis L’Amour westerns (well, a few of his books, including Last of the Breed, aren’t westerns, but they’re still great books).

By “great” I mean, for starters, they have heroes worth remembering.  I remember, for instance, the Sacketts.  There are certain arroyos, canyons, and long vistas that take me back to a reading moment, and I say, “Look, I think Tell Sackett’s down there in that gulch.”  And there’s no doubt he’s about to do the right thing.  Not the easy thing, but the right thing.

So, no, these books aren’t Putlizer winners, they don’t have endorsements on the back telling us how “poignant” they are.  We won’t impress our “intellectual” acquaintances by stacking them about our living room.  And if we do try stacking them, they won’t remain stacked as do all the “right” books and the “must-reads”.  Rather, they will be read!

Every freeschooled bookwyrm has turn-on books.  Hannah, for instance, began her love affair with books by reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Secret GardenHer only Louis L’Amour book was The Last of the Breed.  Our other three bookwyrms have read, as have their parents, every Louis L’Amour (as far as we know) more than once.  Of course, bookwyms read almost all genres–anything and everything worthwhile, and some books not so worthwhile.

“Not so worthwhile” includes many recommended books, best sellers, and “must-reads” which are missing at least one of those main ingredients–worthy characters, an interesting plot, and a satisfactory ending.

Let’s stop worrying about what other people say we “should” read and let’s please ourselves with books that deliver.  Like say, a real romance.  Say, maybe, a Louis L’Amour.

School in the Trees

file0001899299486

Remember field trips–the best part of school?  It didn’t matter where you went, just that you got to go outside!

Since the kids were small I have seized opportunities to go outside–school on a quilt in the back yard; school as we pulled the littlest child on the biggest quilt in the red wagon.  We didn’t call it school as we ate dusty blackberries picked from the roadside to enjoy as we read Timothy Tattercoat by Maryel Chaney.

But oh, the lessons learned. Years later we didn’t call it school when we climbed and scooted and grunted our way to the top of the tallest rocks in the mountains behind our house, and stood reaching for the sky and talking of dreams.

I certainly don’t call it school when I demonstrate the ultimate in relaxation.  Sometimes, no matter how enthralling the book I’ve chosen to read on my quilt atop an aspen leaf/pine needle carpet, I fall asleep in the sunrays shining through the trees.  Whiling away afternoons celebrating the short but glorious Rocky Mountain summer is a lesson in, well, does it always have to be a lesson?

There is nothing difficult about any of this “schooling” – watching butterlies and humming forgotten tunes, telling stories of my childhood, experiencing my children. Perhaps more than wondering what the lesson is for my children, I should consider the message:  Life is wonderful.