Below are a number of articles to encourage every bride in the ways of wife-ing, homemaking and family building. Most were written for a local M.O.P.S (that's Mothers Of Preschoolers, International) newsletter. The Homestead Homemaker authored these articles and loved being a M.O.P.S Mentor Mom for five years.
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My days are busy right now but as they grow shorter and cooler I dream of taking some time to curl up in an big, overstuffed chair and reading for hours. You know, the kind of soft, comfy chair that curls around you in a warm hug. That is broken in from many winter reads and afghans crocheted there. It welcomes you with familiar contours that your own posture helped customize. It fits you. It’s a place to relax and be “at home” - the old stuffed chair.
I was about fourteen when I asked my mother the brazen question. “Mother, how can you stand to be with the same man all these years? Doesn’t it get boring? Doesn’t it seem like somebody else would be really exciting about now?” I asked the questions not so much out of insolence as out of real curiosity. I already knew that she had an answer and I wanted to know it.
I remember her expression as she spoke. A soft half smile warmed her face. She looked at me with the tenderness a mother has when she ponders her child’s youthful naivete. But then the smile grew and she looked away to where her thoughts took her.
“Yes, the same man, all these years,” she mused. Then looking back at me said, “Well, Honey, a husband becomes like - well, like an old stuffed chair.” She seemed satisfied with her answer. I wasn’t.
“An old stuffed chair?!!! Oh, great. I can look forward something torturously dull.”
“It’s not,” she mused.
“I will never think of my husband as an ‘old stuffed chair!" I vowed.
As the days grow shorter and cooler I love to curl up with my husband. With just a little more stuffing these days, he curls around me in a warm hug. Familiar. A perfect fit. I relax and know that I’m truly at home with him. There’s nothing like an old stuffed chair. And as for “torturously dull” - he’s not.
“I’m my beloved’s and he is mine." from Song of Songs
Do you remember Valentine's Day in elementary school? How we got to decorate a box or folder that would sit on our desk and receive valentines from our fellow students? Remember sitting at the kitchen table with a list of classmates and addressing a valentine to each one. We didn't want to miss anyone. Then, there were those familiar candy hearts. One into each envelope, but -- not so fast. Let's admit it. Those two-word messages were selected with the utmost care. Our best friends got lavish compliments like, “You’re Cute.” Girls could say that to each other then. Icky or cootie-laden boys got something benign like “Good Luck.” More admired male classmates received “You’re Sweet” or other mild accolades. But if you thought you had a chance with him, the most wonderful boy in the class received the “Be Mine” or “Love You.” It was a daring move but you could away cop out, if necessary, with the old, “It’s only candy. Of course I didn’t mean it Frog Face!!”
Messages exchanged on candy hearts form a tenuous basis for a relationship. Consequently there are lots of broken hearts in third and fourth grade. Personally, I’m glad I’ve been able to move into a more secure relationship with my husband. I value the “for better or worse, ‘till death do us part” commitment we have. Life will keep coming at us with its inevitable troubles but he will remain my friend and I his. I know through the darkest night his hand will be only a reach away.
So on Valentine’s Day, when I give my true love a heart that says, “Be Mine,” it will mean a great deal more than the one I gave Frog Face. And I think I better tell him that I never gave anyone else the one that says, “Kiss Me!”
Lavish your affections on your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. You’ll have more fun than you ever did in third grade.
“My beloved is mine and I am his.” Song of Solomon 2:16
Some people just give up too soon. I did with my rose bush. Someone gave me a little rose bush once. I was delighted because it was expected to produce a really beautiful flower. But, it was only tiny when I got it. I watered it now and then for a while but finally got kind of bored with the stickery little plant that was taking too long to bloom. It sat out in the back and it managed to stay alive through the winter but, eventually died of thirst and neglect. Yes, it was heartless of me. I never saw the flower or smelled the acclaimed fragrance.
What's even worse is that sometines I treat my marriage the same way. The love between two people is a living thing too, and needs to be tended and nurtured. I may fail to nurture the love that is already there because I want to see a bigger, better love -- NOW. Nobody like to be kept waiting. Sometimes this happens in the early years of marriage when the love is only a thorny seedling. How sad to cut short the potential of a relationship by robbing if of the time and experiences that would bring it to full flower. Some song lyrics express this idea:
Some say love, it is a hunger, An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower, And new, it's only seed...
When the night has been too lonely, And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only , For the lucky and the strong --
Just remember, in the winter, Far beneath the bitter snows -
Lies the seed that with the sun's love, In the Spring
Becomes the rose.
Maybe today is the day for a little extra watering and nurturing of the love seedling that is marriage. A note of appreciation, some words of love, or a little extra trouble to make a gift or treat could revive a thirsty bud. And a huge application of patience should help. Do apply the patience. A rose is worth the wait.
“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents...” Proverbs 19:14
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children...” Proverbs 13:22
I got my inheritance from my father today. I’m familiar with inheriting already because I’ve inherited things before - eternal life, salvation, the kingdom. But, the inheritance from my father, came in the oddest form. It was just a small piece of paper. Not even a whole sheet. But, that was a disguise. I know what it really was.
It was this: The raw fleshly energy of a man who loved passionately those the Lord intrusted into his care, like me. It was accumulated, repetitious years of work for Oakland Public Schools and the steel mill and so forth. It was Mama’s and Daddy’s wisdom in planning, preparing and sacrificing. It was credit lines protected, premiums paid on time and insurance payments kept current. It came from cooking at home, not eating out. Sewing, not buying. And squeezing wardrobes, school supplies, and Sierra Bible Camp “out of the grocery money.” The small piece of paper didn’t come easily.
Daddy provided for his own; Mama, a second wife after Mama died, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, even after he left this earth. He continues to provide homes, Christian educations, and for the advancement of The Kingdom. He wasn’t gifted with business savvy, but with a devotion to his family. He had no real wind falls, but the grace of God as he “laid by in store on the first day of the week.” He had no name to admit him into affluent circles but wore the name of the Savior proudly — Christian. “What kind?” people always asked. Plain ole, vanilla, like right out of the New Testament. That kind.
A piece of the life of my father and mother has been extended to me. And just like my other inheritances it was a free gift. I think I want this gift to go in the same direction they were going. “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons” and I think maybe daughters, too. Like arrows we will shoot into times and places Mama and Daddy couldn’t go, like New Jersey, Chicago, Mombasa, West Virginia, LA., the year 2,000 AD. Like arrows, we were notched and drawn, carefully aimed and tearfully released.
In receiving this gift from my parents, I receive their legacy of faith and family and of running the good race - which I think is a relay. And they say that a relay is won or lost in the passing of the baton. So I take the baton of faith in the hand off from one generation, as it drops out, to the next, as it strains ahead. I build on a foundation they laid so that the baton will be passed to my children’s children. And I will tell them of their heritage and how they must run the race because Grandma and Grandpa are in the grand stands cheering them on.
“...since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,...let us run
with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
The weight of winter whiteness lies upon the bearers of fur and fin. Lungs and hearts quiet. Temperatures dip and silent sleep ensues. Hibernation, a mysterious process, must be a near death experience. Having depleted all reserves in a metabolic plunge, the earth sleepers have no strength to pull themselves out. Only God can save them. And for thousands of springs, He has.
Snow thins, ice cracks, days lengthen, and the awakening begins. Lopers and scamperers, swimmers and crawlers, stir and creep from the cold dark into the warming light. Gradually the Renewer brings them to full vitality. The Life-Giver resurrects one more spring.
I’ve had my winters. Hibernating in grief, apathy, indulgence. But, He Who is the Resurrection quickened me. Rousing my heart, warming my breath and drawing me from the cave to the Son light, revived and even vibrant. He has shown me Who is the Giver of Life.
No matter what kind of a winter we’ve gone through, let’s be renewed along with the earth this spring. Let’s breathe in the words, the very Spirit of Jesus. He will pour life into us abundantly. He is our resurrection and our life.
A movie title said it does, but I’m not so sure.
There seems to be a lot of hope-lessness floating around. I’ve heard, “We’re hopeless unless we get new political leadership.” “Raising decent children is hopeless in this culture.” “Our financial situation is hopeless.”
What I’m realizing is that one of the things that defines the people of God is that we are a people of hope. Of the top three Christian virtues, hope falls right smack in the middle of faith and love. It seems like we hear a lot more sermons on faith and love though. Folks are quieter about hope. I think maybe it’s because of the way we currently use the word. Hope is a word we say with fingers crossed sucking air through our teeth like, “I hope we can buy a house someday.” “I hope I don’t get the flu.” It has become a word about desire or longing but not certainty.
Mr. Webster gives the older definition of hope as something we can rely on or trust and a current definition as desire accompanied by expectation. That’s sounding a little more like Biblical hope. It is looking to the future. It will never result in disappointment. The scriptures teach that hope is the assurance that all God has promised will come to pass. This is why hope has its most powerful benefits in time of suffering. But, true hope is not accessible to those without God. In our contemporary society, rather than anticipating a glorious future, we are time-locked in the eternal now. People have attachments with the things they can clutch in their hands, short-term success, immediate gratification.
I read that the movie “Hope Floats” was about having a positive attitude in life in the face of adultery, divorce, depression, and grief. It preached that no matter what happens in life we must go on. Hope has become nothing more than the floating debris of a shipwrecked world where bad things happen to people all the time for no reason. With no moral center, it’s probably the best we can do. But Biblically speaking, hope doesn’t float because it is an anchor. It is an anchor for the soul that goes down deep. It keeps us from being blown out to sea in the rolling waves of successes and failures, triumphs and tragedies.
C. S. Lewis said, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” Our eternal hope makes all the difference in the present and the future.
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts.” Romans 5:5
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19