Sunday, June 26, 2005

More from Mrs. Sharp

Mrs. Sharp is talking about the women's literary world of the late 1800's when she introduces us to "Jenny June" a popular columnist for Demorest's Family Magazine.
One of the most appealing aspects of of her column, "Talks With Women," as well as the work of numerous nineteenth- century advice columnists, is her self-assured, cheerful, and always optimistic tone even when addressing sensitive subjects. Perhaps this is because Victorian women were not torn about their priorities and society supported their efforts in the home and raising a family.

I'm swooning as I read on.....

In August 1867 culumn by Jenny June--" It is a high and important office, that of mother, and requires all the best and choicest qualities which belong to womanhood, trained and perfected. Much love, much patience, wisdom, knowledge, judgment, self-control, with body and soul attuned to, and kept in harmony with, the laws of God and nature, compose the divinity which should hedge about a mother, but alas! too often does not... It is no light thing, no easy task to be a mother and fulfill a mother's duties. Incessant care, incessant watchfulness, and all without fussiness, or too conscious restraint, is the price of success...The making of a happy home is the first duty of a wife and mother, and the most important question to her is, How to do it?...Even under the present imperfect conditions, home is the central attraction of every human heart, the inspiration of nearly all effort, the haven of all our hopes and desires. What would it be were women true to themselves, to their high destiny, to their great work? [What would it be] were the influences of home charged, as they might be, with the electric current of active love, faith, knowledge, strength, courage, and devotion to the interests they are bound to protect?"

Oh where has our society taken us from??
Oh Lord, help me to recreate the "art of domestic bliss" within my everyday life!

If you can relate or desire as I do to feel the way that paragraph reads I cannot urge you enough to read Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach (I found it at the library =free)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Outlook on Life

I've realized lately that my big problem in being a homemaker and mother is that I just don't know how to do it! I didn't go to school for it, my mother (whom I love and respect more than I can say) didn't have time to show me how (she was forced into the work world when I was 7). I grew up in the age of blossoming feminism and rising rates of divorce. And now I find myself smack dab in the middle of the 'me, me, me' society.
On top of all this one of my greatest struggles on the path to salvation is sloth. Don't get me wrong; I do not sit around watching soaps and eating Twinkies. I just find it much easier to sit here (at the pc) than to try and dive into one of my many piles of clutter. Or to try and create some semblance of organization. I am always saying that I wish I were more organized, consistent and simplified, but to actually make it happen is like trying to fit a square into a round hole for me.

I’ve decided what I need to do, as hard as it will be, is to rewrite my outlook on my life. I need to prioritize and decide what it is that I really want, kind of like writing out a business plan or creating a mission statement. But to get to that point I need to really try and understand the importance of my “job”. The responsibility I have as a wife and mother.
I’m reading a book right now recommended by Katherine Levison who has written several books on the Charlotte Mason education methods, called Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions.

The first couple of sentences on the back cover read like this: “A sage of the Victorian Age resurfaces with Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions. Are you pleased with your family life? If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ Dear Reader, welcome home to Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, an old-fashioned resource created especially for modern families.” I’ve only just begun reading this book but I highly recommend it! It talks a great deal of the changes that took place for woman in the 19th-century. She introduces me to Mrs. Beeton who was the author of a book written in 1861 titled The Book of Household Management. I did a google search for this book and was pleasantly surprised to find an Ebook copy here. I MUST share the first section of the first chapter (titled The Mistress) before I close for today.

AS WITH THE COMMANDER OF AN ARMY, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield,” who says: “The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes.”

This statement has greatly opened my eyes to the significance of my role.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Are we really better off? (Idle hands make mischief?)

Although it has been ages since I’ve acknowledged my purpose for this blog—“Homemaking and Motherhood”—I would like to continue with answering another question that I set out to answer. But let me preface it by saying when I sat to write what you’ll read below, it was not for the intent of continuing my quest into “Homemaking and Motherhood”…it just so happens it fits. I’d love some feedback if you feel so inclined to share your thoughts.

I have been wondering lately whether or not we really are better off these days with all of our timesaving luxuries; “gadgets and gizmos aplenty”. All around us we see ads and commercials, billboards and storefronts telling us that we just can’t live without. Simple things like an electric can opener, a dishwasher and microwave…these have become commonplace and just a part of life. They aren’t even looked at as luxuries anymore. A washing machine and clothes dryer are a necessity! Are these things really making my life easier? Maybe easier isn’t necessarily better for my soul! We’ve been reading the Little House series in our home lately and watching things such as “Colonial House” on PBS and I think there is something frighteningly comforting to me about living in those times. Everything you do in a day was to ensure your survival! Proverbs 16:26 says “The person who labors, labors for himself, For his hungry mouth drives him on.” You worked to provide food and shelter for you and your family or for you neighbor. There was NO room for idleness and sloth. They taught their children survival skills as early as they could. Young boys chopped wood and plowed fields; young girls baked bread and milked the cow. The children had their times of play but when they did they enjoyed themselves because it was relished. There was very little room for mischief.

I see my life as one long spare moment followed by another. The dishwasher washes my dishes, the washing machine washes my clothes and dries them. And the biggest and best thing of all—the market provides EVERYthing else. I don’t need to bake bread or grow vegetables or milk the cow…what a waste of my time. Time that can be used to PLAY…and to teach my children to play! We watch TV, play video games, sit and do nothing because “there’s nothing to do”.

Proverbs is full of caution against being lazy! “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, And an idle person will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 19:15

“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 13:4

I truly wish to escape this vicious cycle that seems to have overcome my life. It’s overwhelming at times. I wonder why I feel so paralyzed at times with confusion of what to do next…it’s not because I have too much to do, but possibly because I don’t have enough to do to keep my hands from mischief. Or that I don’t know what to do to keep my hands from mischief. Yes, I think to most it may sound like I’ve gone off the deep end. You might say, “Well, you have a choice, you don’t have to use all those gadgets and gizmos aplenty.” But I never gained the knowledge or know-how to even know where to begin.

May God grant wisdom, courage and diligence to a struggling sinner.