Sunday, December 24, 2006
As you celebrate the holidays this weekend, keep in mind the first gift given - that of true Love.
First Corinthians 13 - Christmas Version
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen,
baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging
a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
I'm just another cook.
If I work at a soup kitchen,
carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity
but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels
and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties
and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able
to give in return but rejoices in giving
to those who cannot.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break,
pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust,
but giving the gift of love will endure.1
Thinking of you on His birthday,
1 Author Unknown – taken from “The Old Schoolhouse” email newsletter
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Last week at Caroline’s was good fun and great conversation. Thanks, Caroline! We discussed how we can celebrate Jesus’ birthday in tangible ways. Here are some online ideas:
Happy Birthday, Jesus1Offer Jesus a symbolic gift in honor of his birthday. Give him an area of your life you desire to change—an emotion, an activity, or a relationship—and physically wrap a box to represent it. Do this individually or as a family. Create a family present to display every year by painting an unfinished wooden box and tying it with a silk ribbon.
Guest of Honor
Set a place of honor for Jesus at your Christmas dinner table as a reminder of his presence.
Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus2
Let your children help you make a special cake ahead of time and share it with friends and family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day:
Make a white, round cake to remind your family of Jesus' purity and his eternal reign. Use 20 candles to represent the 20 centuries since Christ's birth. You can use red candles as a symbol of the blood Jesus shed for us and for Christmas joy. Tell your children that the candlelight reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. Place a silver star in the center of the cake to represent the star of Bethlehem. You can make a star with silver candles or by covering cardboard with aluminum foil. Before you sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and blow out the candles, explain the symbolism to your children.
We also discussed the possibility of celebrating the Day of Epiphany – January 6th (more on that in a future email). And Shawna brought a book by John Piper (Future Grace? I think it was) who wrote a chapter in his book about our indebtedness to God and what we do with that feeling of indebtedness. It was a very interesting read, and I wish I had it in front of me to quote for you. But if I remember correctly, it was focused on our getting rid of our feeling of “IOU” to God and instead asking Him for more – more of Him, more of everything He has to offer us, etc. God delights in us and doesn’t want us operating from a feeling of indebtedness to Him – He just wants us to love Him and want to know Him more. Thank you, Shawna for bringing your book.
We will not be meeting tomorrow or next week and will resume our gatherings on January 5th. Anyone willing to host in the coming weeks, please let me know. Thanks! Have a wonderful Christmas and birthday celebration!
Three Wise Women would have…
Arrived on time,
Helped deliver the baby,
Cleaned the stable,
Made a casserole,
Brought practical gifts and
There would be
Peace on Earth.3
1, 2, 3 – All of these were found on the internet, but I misplaced the information of where they were from. Sorry!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Is everything just about all set? Your tree up and decorated? Your presents shopped for and wrapped? Your grocery list in order? Plans for your house to be thoroughly cleaned? No, me neither. :-) If nothing else, we’ve imagined everything to be pretty, festive, joyful and perfect, right? I imagine that Mary also had many hopes amidst her fears that things would go perfectly for her son’s birth. Philip Yancey compares the possible scenarios between John the Baptist’s birth and Jesus’ birth:
“…the birth of John the Baptist took place amid great fanfare, complete with midwives, doting relatives, and the traditional village chorus celebrating the birth of a Jewish male. Six months later, Jesus was born far from home, with no midwife, extended family, or village chorus present.”
Knowing something of the environment where Christ was born, we could assume the typical fanfare of the arrival of a baby would have been extravagant compared to the circumstances and company with which Mary and Joseph found themselves. The stable animals would have lent their body heat as well as their feeding trough but no jubilant songs or deep praises. Can you just picture the visions Mary had of herself giving birth to a King, the Messiah, the Savior of her people? Don’t you think that maybe, just for a moment, Mary thought the birth of her Christ-child would be a little bit more perfect?
Let us cast off our visions of a perfect holiday and instead open our minds and hearts to the plans God would have for us on this, His birthday. Perfect, in our world, means stress, worry, and frustration – an unattainable goal. Perfect, in God’s world, means peace, joy and unconditional love – completely possible with Him. Perfect is quite simply a babe in a manger and nothing else.
The Child we seek
doesn’t need our gold.
On love, on love alone
he will build his kingdom.
His pierced hand will hold no scepter,
his haloed head will wear no crown;
his might will not be built
on your toil.
Swifter than lightning
he will soon walk among us.
He will bring us new life
and receive our death,
and the keys to his city
belong to the poor.
~Gian Carlo Menotti
How do we celebrate Christmas as a bona fide birthday party for Christ? What gifts do we actually give to the Christ-child? Please come with your ideas, whether you’ve tried them or not. Hope to see you this Friday around 10am – please RSVP if you can come. Thanks!
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!" 1
Last week our discussion centered on simpler gift-giving. Many ideas came from an article found at www.simpleliving.net such as gifts of service, gift certificates, annual memberships, outings, homemade gifts, etc. There are many great ideas to be found on the web at places such as http://www.newdream.org/holiday/giftideastaff.php (I even downloaded an entire brochure called “Simplify the Holidays” here) or www.simpleliving.org. I also came across a few organizations online that may aid you in donating to some great causes. I have not had the time to research any of these in detail so I cannot personally endorse them, however if you have the desire to search out some great causes to support, they may help you. Besides the ones mentioned in last week’s email, there are:
We’ll be collecting our Peace Paks for ChildVoice International this Friday, so please bring your boxes of items donated to our next meeting. If you need a copy of the PeacePak flyer again that lists the items needed, just let me know and I’ll forward you the document. I’m not sure if any of you have heard of the book, Unplug the Christmas Machine. If you have it, I would love to borrow it as it sounds really good. Here is a “pledge” I found from the book that speaks to the need for simplifying Christmas:
The Christmas Pledge2
Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.
As we continue preparing for the holidays, one of the questions that we started to explore last week and I’d like to explore more this week is, how do we celebrate Christmas as a bona fide birthday party for Christ? I would love to know how you celebrate Jesus. What gifts do we actually give to the Christ-child? Please come with your ideas, whether you’ve tried them or not. I would be grateful for new traditions in celebrating the “Birthday Boy”!
1 From How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
2 From Unplug the Christmas Machine , by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staehe
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday! We’re officially full-swing into the holiday season now with the baking, shopping, decorating, etc. – how do you feel about it so far? Are you already wishing that you could catch your breath? Have you re-assessed your activity for the season? Are you able to keep your focus on that Star up in the sky and not on the mass of people between you and the cash register or the sea of brake lights in front of you? Do you feel the anticipation of the day of birth up ahead? (I believe Michelle feels it!) It is a day the world will celebrate…whether they see the newborn swaddled there in the manger or not. We’ve been talking about simplicity this season – how much simpler can it get than a smelly barn, a few dirty animals, a scratchy manger, and some swaddling clothes?
Why a Simpler Christmas?1
- A simpler Christmas leads to freedom. A consumer Christmas leads to stress and debt.
- Simplicity leads to generosity.
- It leaves room for more joy. It is such a joy to get the burden of stuff off our shoulders.
- It builds relationships. We are told thousands of times every day by commercial advertising that we will find meaning and happiness through stuff. Voluntary Simplicity says we will find happiness and meaning in life through relationships – within ourselves, with others, with the Earth and with God.
- It leads to a whole life of simplicity. Celebrating is one part of a total life of integrity.
- It promotes justice. By using only our fair share of Earth’s resources, we leave some for others around the globe and for future generations. “Live Simply that Others May Simply Live.”
- It Cares for Creation. A simple life is an Earth-friendly life.
“We live in a world gone mad with consumerism. Within weeks, the stores will be filled with holiday music, gorgeous decorations, and enticing goods begging to be bought for gifts. This is our culture—the culture of desire. Will we succumb to the call of television, newspaper and magazine advertising? Or will we, this year, do what Buddhists and Jesus advise: stand apart from desire, detach, ponder the circumstances, do not tumble head-long into instant gratification, do not store up your treasure, but do consciously choose a simpler way. Let us be a people who embrace voluntary simplicity!
Can we have a wonderful holiday season and still be people committed to voluntary simplicity? I believe that we can by being creative consumers and creative hosts. As far as decorations are concerned, perhaps you use your Christmas decorations year after year. Many of us have made things with our own hands to give as gifts. The goal is to give simple gifts. If we do not have the talent (or ability) to make things—and I do realize that much of what we can make can now be bought more cheaply—we could consider… support[ing] local artisans. Or we could shop from catalogs that give back to the communities? These are gifts that give…
May voluntary simplicity be our mantra this holiday season!”2
Speaking of gifts that give, there are some good organizations out there that give back to communities in need. Whether by donating or shopping through these websites, you are giving to great causes. Try www.agreatergift.org where they offer free trade items and foods that improve the villages/communities they come from. Also www.thehungersite.com - this site allows you to support great causes simply by clicking free links every day or you can purchase various items in their store (many of which are also fair trade and very reasonably priced). Samaritan’s Purse offers a Christmas catalog where you choose what your donations go toward. Check out www.samaritanspurse.com and look for the “2006 Christmas gift catalog” link on their homepage. If you know of any other good fair trade sites or a great charitable site for others to shop through for the holidays, please let us know. What better way to celebrate Christ’s birth than to be generous and serve others!
Another great way to serve this holiday season is to give to a wonderful organization called ChildVoice International. Susan Arico sent out an email recently which I’d like to include here:
I thought you might be interested in this Christmas time opportunity…
ChildVoice International is currently supporting 150 child mothers (female children who were abducted into the rebel army, forced to become “wives” of commanders, and escaped from captivity with one or more children) and their 250 young children in northern Uganda. This Christmas, ChildVoice is seeking to supply Christmas gifts package for these child mothers and their children.
If you are interested in participating or finding out more, the attached flyer (PDF) supplies information about the specific of these shoe-box sized gifts.
In addition, please note that all items included in the packs should be new as used items need to be fumigated before going into Uganda which ChildVoice cannot do. The last day they are taking boxes is Friday, Dec 8th.
We’ll be collecting any “shoebox gifts” this Friday as well as next week. This week our topic of discussion will be “What ideas do you have for simpler gift giving?” I can’t wait to hear them!
1 From the Alternatives for Simple Living website http://www.simpleliving.net/main/custom.asp?recid=1
2 From the website http://www.uufairhaven.org/Ser2006Nov05.htm
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
As we reflect on all we are thankful for this week, I offer up a prayer of thanks for you - for all of us proud to call ourselves “Kajiji Girls”. When I think of our group, one of the things I love most is the variety of backgrounds we have and the number of churches represented in our little group – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox. Our diversity is our greatest strength, in my opinion. Listening to others views, beliefs, ideas and suggestions has been enormously valuable in my life and fellowshipping with you has been the highlight of each week. God has used the group to challenge, inspire and encourage me, and I’ve heard the same from many of you. I feel our small community is a true representation of the Church. So while you eat turkey with your family whom you’re grateful for, remember that we are family as well and God is thankful for you!
By the way, Erin sent me this great article that I thought some of you might enjoy as well. It speaks of feeling thankful in a more simplified existence without much money (something a lot of us can relate to!). Click here to read it: http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/consumerism/penniless-blessed.html.
P.S. We will not be meeting this Friday of course, due to the holiday, however we’ll resume again on Friday, December 1st.
1 Philippians 1:2-7a
Last week we brought some verses with us that we’ve either posted in our houses or are favorites to repeat to our children. Erin took notes for us and wrote the verses down so I could share them with you. I’ll include Erin’s notes here.
The following verses were recommended for posting by Caroline, Kim & Shawna:
Mark 9:35, 37
John 15:9-10a, 13
Galatians 5:13-14, 6:9
Colossians 3:20, 23-25
Equally helpful was a discussion about introducing Scriptures to our little ones. Here are some of the ideas we shared in this regard:
· Read a children's book that features Bible verses such as:
My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts
Susan HuntCrossway Books / 1998 / Hardcover
· Work through a curriculum such as: the ABC's of God's Attributes by John Piper (I looked for this on www.DesiringGod.com and couldn't find it - Shawna, can you help?)
· Post verses at their eye level that are specifically for them. I will add to this idea - post verses for all of your family members as little love notes to them - I think my mother-in-law would be pleasantly surprised by this one!
If you have any additional Scriptures or ideas along this vein, I hope you will share them with us! Looking forward to seeing you all on Friday!
I’ve attached a document with the above verses typed up so you may print them out and post them, if you desire. As I was doing my research, I came across a couple of verses from The Message that I thought might be good for posting so I’ve added them - I really like the modern perspective on them.
For those of you who weren’t able to make it, please feel free to email your ideas, verses, suggestions, etc. to me, and I will share them with the group. We are always grateful for help in this area! Thank you, Shawna for hosting!! We’ll be meeting at Caroline’s house this Friday around 10am, and we’ll discuss what we are thankful for as well as Thanksgiving traditions your family enjoys.
P.S. We won’t be meeting on next Friday, the 24th as next week is Thanksgiving. We’ll resume again on Friday, December 1st.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
At our last gathering, we talked about our home environment and how it affects us. It seems that it’s pretty common knowledge that a neat and orderly environment engenders peace and brings a measure of comfort to our souls. Ideas were passed back and forth in how to create a more spiritual element to our surroundings, and one idea was in posting Scripture throughout your house. In Chasing God and the Kids Too, Cheryl Carter writes:
Most importantly, the Word should be in our hearts; but first, it should be everywhere else, because before we can get it in our hearts, we must see it with our eyes. Posting Scripture prominently in our homes assists us with biblical meditation because it does not require scheduled quiet. You may meditate whenever you get a few moments. While I would agree that quiet moments are rare, they certainly do occur, often without our foreknowledge. Having Scripture before you capitalizes on those moments… It’s all about making meditation a priority. Some mothers do not meditate because they think they don’t have the time. What they really mean is that they don’t have a huge, ideal block of time to sit and read uninterrupted. Such luxuries are limited for mothers; therefore, we have to make the written Word become part of our everyday activities.
Cheryl goes on to say that you can post verses anywhere in your house and offers tips such as posting some verses at your children’s eye level so they may benefit from it too. She writes:
Change Scripture weekly, monthly, or quarterly, whichever is best for you. I like to leave it posted for a while to ensure my children internalize the Scripture. It has been said that the best way to show we know something is to teach others. Our children are our best students. If you can teach what you have meditated on to your children with practical application, then it truly has transformed you. The posted Scriptures will not change you. Jesus did not say the truth will make you free. He said the truth you know will set you free. (John 8:32)
Some of you may have experience in doing this and could give us some of your tips on what and where to post. I’ve included a request to you all from a message Erin sent below:
Hello Ladies! As I am sure you will hear from Crystal, this past week we discussed home environments, our inner music and such. One of the things that came up a bit was the idea of posting Scripture in strategic places in your home. I got to thinking it would be really neat for us all (whether you have ever come on a Friday or not) to email in one or two ideas for a good verse to post and a good place to post it. For some of us, it will only need looking around and choosing the favorite one we have up already, for others (like me) it will require blowing the dust off our Bible and taking a prayerful perusal through the pages (how's that for alliteration!). Be sure to include where you think a good place to post it is (bathroom mirror for example). Selfishly speaking, I am hoping we will all take two seconds to send this in - I could so use the creative ideas of my sisters!Thanks and many, many Blessings on you all! I am so grateful to your presence in my life!
Please send in your suggestions to me via email and/or bring them with you to our next meeting this Friday. We’ll go over the verses you suggest as well as any other ideas you may have that we could all benefit from. Thanks to Michelle for hosting last Friday and providing some delicious baked goods and yummy fruit! We look forward to meeting at Shawna’s house this Friday at 10AM. See you there!
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
It doesn’t get much more simplistic than J-O-Y. Those of us who grew up in Sunday School understand this anagram to mean Jesus first, Others second, You third. Wow, what a way to put us on the bottom, huh? But let me point out that without “You” in the word JOY, we’re left with just J-O, and for some reason, it just doesn’t leave us with the same feeling as JOY. You are an integral part of the equation, and if all you’re doing is serving Jesus and Others, you’re in danger of dropping off the end of a very basic yet important word, and our service to Jesus and others becomes drudgery. We seem to have a pretty good picture of what it means to serve Jesus and to serve others, but to serve ourselves? What does that look like?
“Solitude seeks to silence a noisy world. But it is also a tool to quiet our souls, which are often wracked by their own inner turmoil, tensions, and troubles.
…solitude is a way of recharging [our] spiritual batteries for deeper, more effective, and more selfless service to the world and others.” John Michael Talbot wrote these words in The Lessons of St. Francis. He went on to say, “I find that when I’m grounded in silence and prayer, the work I do becomes efficient, energized, and empowered by God’s spirit. The more I devote my time to prayer, the more I get done in my periods of activity. But if I focus on spending my time in activity, I quickly realize that I’m getting little done.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like most of the focus in my daily life is on activity – how much can I get done today? What is on my calendar? What are others expecting of me today? What are others demanding of me? But how many moments throughout the day do we take the time to meditate, focus on God, take a breath, say a prayer? Even better, are we ever able to steal away to our most comfortable chair or lie on our bed and just close our eyes and stay silent (without falling asleep, I might add)? I think the question could be, would you even do this if you had the opportunity? “We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen… We choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place.”1 What does your inner music sound like? Do you even know? When was the last time you listened to it? If it’s been awhile, ask yourself why – are you afraid of what your music sounds like? Not a tune you would sing along with? A little off-tune maybe? Complete silence? Matters of the heart rank highest on God’s radar, and if we are too busy to know where our heart lies, we’re in deep trouble.
Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally.
- Thomas Merton
“I wonder if many of the world’s most avid noise makers and consumers of noise aren’t actually afraid of what they would find deep down inside if they ever got alone in silence with themselves and with God. Don’t run from silence. Accept God’s gracious invitation to the joys of solitude. Don’t fill your days with noxious noise, or your nights with a constant stream of unfunny sitcoms, boring adventure flicks, or prefabricated pop music. I invite you to step into the calm, cool water of silence and see God there. Or as Henri Nouwen has written, ‘To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.’”2
Last week we met at Jill’s where we had delicious chocolate muffins, coffee and great conversation. Thanks so much for hosting, Jill!! In fact, we got to talking intensely about other things and never got around to our original topic of discussion: our ideal home environment. So those of you who were interested in the topic, you’re in luck as we’ll discuss the question this week. We’ll talk about how our home environment affects our “inner music”. Hope to see you there!
1 Anne Morrow Lindbergh
2 The Lessons of St. Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Recent conversations with our group has surprised me in that more than once the subject of housecleaning, home organizing, or home maintenance has come up and spoken about with avid interest. We all seem intrigued about the subject and always on the hunt for ideas from others on how we can better our own homes. After spending a good portion of today making bread and soup from scratch (feeling all “homemakery”, I am), it got me to thinking about all the time we put into our homes and maybe all the time we don’t as well. Recently I’ve been on a kick to “put my home in order” - I’ve been too busy/lazy for too many years to maintain a good schedule of necessary chores and tasks. I’m finding out that much of it has to do with my attitude about housework. In Shelter for the Spirit by Victoria Moran, she talks about what cleaning has to teach us:
Thich Nhat Hanh is a contemporary Buddhist monk…he is expert at finding the divine in the mundane. In his book Peace Is Every Step, he writes this of washing dishes: “I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!” (How like a monk, huh?)
Of course you and I aren’t monks. We don’t spend every day of our lives intently focused on realization of the divine. Precisely because we have so little time to concentrate on spiritual truth, it is all the more important for us to occasionally discover a little of that truth in a job we’d be doing anyway. In the everyday maintenance of our homes, we have the option of experiencing peace, contentment and that safe feeling of being part of something large and grand and good.
Victoria writes how with all the technology of our day, cleaning is really the only physical action some of us have on a given day. “Most of us work with our brains all day and live in our heads the rest of the time. We read and think, compute and reason. Cleaning is physical, nonintellectual, and devoid of supertechnology. It deals with rudimentary elements like water and elbow grease…Cleaning is definitely real and as old and as universal as praying.”
There are many reasons as to why we clean and organize and maintain, but a major one we all understand is because of our love for our family. We instinctively know that with every dish washed, every toy picked up, and every book placed back on the shelf, we create a haven for our family and ourselves. I would also hazard a guess that we know quite well in our heads but not so much in our hearts our acts of service are ultimately to be done for the Lord. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”1 Brother Lawrence2, a Carmelite monk who spent most of his life working in the kitchen of the priory had this to say: The most excellent method of going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing people but purely for the love of God.
If we can wrap our minds around the business of housekeeping as a “divine” act, maybe then our lives will be more enjoyable and more contented and our homes will be more livable (I speak for myself, of course!). “We can clean out of pride, compulsion and concern about how other people see us, or we can…clean out of love and respect for ourselves, our families, even for the Creator of an orderly universe.”3
It is a great delusion to think our times of prayer ought to differ from
other times. We are as strictly obliged to cleave to God by action in the time
of action as by prayer in the season of prayer.4
“The act of taking care of our homes brings comfort and consolation both in the enjoyment of the fruits of our labor and in the increasingly rare freedom to engage in worthwhile, unalienated, honorable work.”5 Can the mundane acts of housecleaning lead to a simpler (and more worshipful) life? We’ll discuss this on Friday at our group as well as discussing what is our ideal home environment. Thanks to Raluca for hosting last week and for the yummy banana bread and cookies provided. Location for this week will be emailed to everyone as soon as possible.
But in the mud and scum of things, there always, always something sings.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
1 Colossians 3:23,24
2 Best known for his book The Practice of the Presence of God
3 Page 99 in Shelter for the Spirit by Victoria Moran
4 Quotes from Brother Lawrence posted on www.PracticeGod’sPresence.com
5 From Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Titus 2:3-5 (NIV) - "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home**, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." **KJV = keepers at home
What happens to us when someone asks what we "do for a living"? Do we proudly step up and proclaim the pride we feel in fulfilling God's purpose for ourselves and let them know that we are Homemakers...wives, moms, homeschool teachers, keepers of our homes and all that the moniker implies? Or...do we shrink back, roll our shoulders in and meekly say, "Me? Oh, I'm JUST a homemaker."
"Eh-hmmm. I'm just a homemaker."
"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I'M JUST A HOMEMAKER! Sorry."
WHY do we often feel like we should apologize for doing what God's will for our life is?! WHY do we feel that the only way we are to "make a difference" in the world is to cram ourselves into power suits, heels and face the anxiety of not only trying to stay employed but then trying to run our household as well? Been there, done that, got the stinkin' t-shirt!
What message are we sending to our daughters? That they should be ashamed or honored? Which message are they supposed to adhere to...one that says, "Sorry, Honey, but your lot in life is to ONLY be a housewife and mom; oh, and if you want to, you can homeschool them, too"? OR one that says, "Oh, Honey! God has honored women by allowing us to not only have the privilege of creating life, but He has given us the gift of being the keeper of our homes and all that it entails!"
We know that it's not all roses and rainbows or June Cleaver doing her housework in a perfectly pleated dress, with pearls, make-up and sprayed hair. But what we do counts for far more than the "image" that the power suits imply. WE ARE the "hand that rocks the cradle" and WE DO influence the world!
How in the world did illusion get so far? Looking back from the distance of time, I can see where some of our problems with liberalism and feminism began to take root in our Baby Boomer generation…
I have the relationship with my daughters that my mom always dreamed of having with me, and all the while they are learning from me about the honor the LORD has bestowed upon women by allowing them to see in their father a man who longs to serve and follow the LORD. A man who sees part of that as being the major provider of his household and allowing me to live my God-given role as wife, mother and home-keeper.
This is SO exciting to me! No, I don't do housework in pretty pleated dresses, pearls, high heels, sprayed hair and mucho make-up; but I do get to make my house a home - a real haven of rest for my husband, a secure nest for my family and a welcome lighthouse of hope for our friends.
Now, isn't THAT a calling worth striving for? Worth preparing for? Worth feeling honored to live?
Next time someone asks you what you "do for a living," hold your head high and tell them proudly, "I've been honored by God to be a keeper of my home, and I'm training my daughters to do the same!"
Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><
This week we’ll be meeting at Raluca’s house. Our question for this week is: What is your view towards money? And how do you reconcile fulfilling your wants and desires with giving charitably to other people/causes? See you Friday morning!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Last Friday started out chilly but turned into a beautiful sunny day at the farm for our Kajiji group. We didn’t end up picking apples, but we were able to pick some pumpkins from the pumpkin field. Our discussion was about whether the role of motherhood is fulfilling and what kind of sacrifices are/were made in order to obtain that role. I love the honesty and openness I heard from the group and appreciate the difficulty to feel fulfilled in that role at times. More often than not, I hear about women who are struggling with their role as mothers, not because they are driven to become the highest-paid executive in the company and are trying to balance the demands of work and family, but because they feel they have a calling to minister to others or use their God-given gifts in some way to serve Him and their role as mothers hampers that calling in some way. Do we not all sometimes feel that we could be greater in our calling or more effective in our service for God if only we didn’t have children? Or maybe it’s not our children but us that we find fault in – we should be able to do it all, but we find ourselves falling short of the goal.
Did you know that our roles as mothers are very similarly connected to the Levitical priests’ roles as “keepers of the temple”? Our unique ministry is being the guardian of our home. Mary Farrar in her book Choices (I’ll be quoting her book a lot here) talks about home being our primary focus. “Your home and the people who live there are to be your primary focus, as well as the primary beneficiaries of your energies and gifts.”
“Some women’s gifts and bents lend themselves naturally to the care of the home. But other women have bents that create a great struggle… If you are one of these women, relax and understand that your struggle is normal and natural. The truth is that many women of Scripture would be struggling, too, if they lived in your shoes.
No doubt the Proverbs 31 woman would be faced with some tough choices if she lived in our time. But mark this – please. She would never let her outside ministry and businesses get in the way of the care of her home.
The godly women of Scripture were not gift-enamored. They were God-enamored.
They were not gift-fulfilled. They were God-fulfilled.
Their primary concern was the well-being of their families and the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth.
This is tough for some of us to swallow. Yet if our homes are to survive the inferno raging about us, we cannot ignore these harder truths or lay them aside. Let’s just face it. There are times when taking God’s priorities as our own priorities will mean that we will lay aside the expression of some of our gifts and training for a season.
But consider this. While you and I are sacrificially meeting the needs of our children and families, God is preparing us, sharpening us, equipping us, deepening us, and re-directing us to use our gifts in ways we could never have foreseen.”1
Mary Farrar talks about Harriet Beecher Stowe and how her role as a mother impacted a nation.
“She had lost a child to infant death the year before she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was her motherly grief that caused her to grieve for all the black mothers who had lost children through slavery and that motivated her to write such a book. Amazingly Stowe was the first American to break the silence on this issue.
It took a woman.
Her book made waves worldwide… Upon meeting her during the Civil War, Lincoln remarked, ‘So this is the little woman who made this big war.’
The embracing of biblical motherhood can bring an entire nation to its knees. Sensitize the mothers, and you have sensitized a nation.”
None of these words are meant to guilt you into feeling fulfilled as a mother, but rather to persuade you of the utmost importance of your high calling. Jesus commanded us to “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We are fishers of men simply by being mothers, are we not? What greater calling could we have at this stage in our life?
G.K. Chesterton said, “[A mother of young children is] with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t…How can it be an [important] career to tell other people’s children about mathematics, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe?… [A mother’s] function is laborious…not because it is minute, but because it is gigantic.”2
This week’s meeting is up in the air as of right now – I’ll let you know details as soon as possible. Thanks and God bless!
1 & 2 From Choices: For Women Who Long to Discover Life’s Best by Mary Farrar
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Last Friday was gray and rainy yet many of you came to take part in our Kajiji group and made it a wonderfully fun and engaging gathering. Thanks to Erin for hosting at the last minute due to the gray skies. Our discussion centered around recently read books that have had an impact on our life. I love receiving recommendations for books from friends and would enjoy having a “recommended reading” list. Since there are hundreds of great books out there, I hope we can have this discussion again in the future and add on to our list. I’ve compiled our list here:
Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher – Erin points to this book as helping to define her personal, social and political identity as a “crunchy conservative”. Highly recommended to those who struggle with finding a healthy balance in the “red vs. blue” politics of life.
Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church by Mark Driscoll – This book is of a pastor and his journey from a tiny, intimate church to finding himself the leader of a massive body of members. Shawna learned about setting goals and planning ahead in life as vital to growth and leadership.
Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger and Andrew Quicke – Lisa loves this inspiring story of Jackie as a young woman being called to live and serve in the Walled City of Hong Kong where addicts, prostitutes and criminals are her neighbors, and how her influence brought hundreds of these “outsiders” to Jesus Christ.
Why You Act the Way You Do by Tim LaHaye – Kim testifies to this book as helping to better her marriage and the way she interacts with others. Tim LaHaye interweaves the four basic Greek temperaments (of which we all are predominantly one type - Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Melancholy and Choleric) with the fruits of the Holy Spirit and how we can overcome the weaknesses inherent in each type.
Great with Child: Reflections on Faith, Fullness and Becoming a Mother by Debra Rienstra – Jill loved reading this book throughout her recent pregnancy and commented on how refreshingly realistic it was about the journey of conceiving, growing and delivering a child. The author, a Calvin College professor, writes beautifully in a poetic style about her emotional and spiritual changes created by her third and last pregnancy.
Praying with Icons by Jim Forest – Stephanie appreciates the historical iconographic education this book provides as well as the significant symbology behind the icons. In reviewing this book, The Midwest Book Review states, “Icons are not simply illustrations or "art" in the usual sense, but aids to prayer and contemplation, windows on the divine. Praying With Icons is a superlative introduction to icons and is highly recommended for readers seeking to expand their spiritual experience to encompass the entire Christian spiritual legacy.”
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson – I recently discovered this book at the library and it has changed my thinking on housekeeping. The value of planning and organizing the space we live in has a huge impact on me and my family, and I have reevaluated my perspective on the “art” of keeping house, thanks to this book. It is a big book with detailed explanations, list suggestions and helpful tips to getting started for novices like me as well as those more familiar with the “science” of keeping house.
Shelter for the Spirit: Create Your Own Haven in a Hectic World by Victoria Moran – This is in tandem with the above-mentioned Home Comforts book as it delves more deeply into the spiritual and emotional makeup of the environment of our homes. I have yet to read more than a couple of chapters, but so far it is one of the best books on this topic that I have read.
The Good Life by Helen & Scott Nearing – Michelle recounted the intriguing story of the authors who apparently are considered modern-day pioneers of rural homesteading. They abandoned city life for a more self-sustaining and vegan way of life that lasted for sixty years!
The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin – Caroline found this popular health book to be interesting and helpful. This self-proclaimed Biblically-based holistic approach to health addresses the complete well being of a person by incorporating the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects into the diet plan.
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a` Kempis – Caroline also recommended this book, one of the best-loved classics of Christian literature, originally written around A.D. 1440. Until this century, it was the most widely read book, second only to the Bible.
So welcome to our list of recommended books! If you’d like to read any of these, click on the links where you can read summaries and reviews of these at amazon.com. You may find some of these at your local library or at www.christianbook.com. Thanks for everyone’s input and recommendations. I look forward to hearing more in the future!
This Friday, our discussion will center around our choice to stay home with our children. Are you fulfilled with the role of stay-at-home mom or would you rather be somewhere else? Anywhere else? Just kidding…it’s been one of those days. Did you give anything up to stay home with your kids such as a career, hobby, achievements, etc.? We’ll meet at DeMeritt Hill Farm unless, of course, the weather doesn’t cooperate again. We’ll plan on meeting next to the playground so bring blankets and chairs. Afterwards, we may stay to pick apples and have a picnic lunch so you’re welcome to join us, if you’d like.
Did you ever stop to think that we women who do too much wouldn’t be able to do too much if we weren’t competent, strong, intelligent, courageous, and
determined? We might, however, be a bit lacking in common sense.
- Anne Wilson Schaef
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I hope that your week is going well so far. It was such a wonderful day at the beach last Friday – talk about perfect weather! We discussed many things including Fall schedules and being busy. We talked about what the world’s expectations are of us (you can have it all; your kids can have it all so go, go Gadget!) and how that affects us and our families. I have a copy of The Message by Eugene Peterson which states Ephesians 2:2 as saying, “You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.” I love how he’s phrased that! In so many ways, we look to the world for instructions on how to live, yet we are told to live by God’s instructions.
What are God’s expectations of us? He commands us to be still and know that He is God.
In the English dictionary:
Still is defined as remaining in place or at rest; motionless. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be motionless (and sleeping doesn’t count)?
Still is also defined as free from sound or noise, as a place or persons; silent. Frankly, that may be hard to imagine as mothers of young children.
It is also defined as free from turbulence or commotion; peaceful, tranquil, calm. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?
Psalm 46:10 says to "Be still," which literally means relax. It means to "let your arms down to your side"—to be vulnerable to God.1 So why would God tell us to be still? In the Hebrew, it is meant that we are to be “weak” so our faith may be exercised in reliance on Him. “We let go to objectively know the saving power of God in our lives. We give up trusting in ourselves and our own designs in order to experience the glory of God’s all-sufficiency.”2 Have you experienced the glory of God’s all-sufficiency lately?
“I have a deep conviction that what my life needs more of, is stillness. However, it is not a conviction based on needing to be better at it. It is a conviction based on my need and how God met me, answering my prayer for more of Him. So, I am asking God to help me find moments of stillness; to prepare for the next season of my life by factoring in my need for stillness; to resist the temptation to avoid and/or dismiss opportunities for stillness. Because it is in the stillness that I know my Savior’s deep love for me. It is in the stillness that I sense what He is calling me to. It is in the stillness that I truly rest in His sovereignty; it is in the stillness that I learn His voice. It is in the stillness that I sense His presence with me, and sensing His presence changes everything.
No wonder stillness is hard to come by. If these are the results of being still with God, the Enemy of our Lord and our souls no doubt has a vested interest in keeping us busy and preoccupied.”3
Weather permitting, we will be meeting at DeMeritt Hill Farm this Friday, and you’re all welcome to go apple-picking with us afterwards if you so desire. If it rains, we’ll be meeting indoors so check your email Friday morning just to make sure. Looking forward to finding peace with you at the farm (children permitting, of course!) God bless!
1Taken from http://www.preachingtodaysermons.com/stowjostrusg.html
2 Taken from http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Meditations/Be_Still/be_still.html
3Taken from http://www.rdf.org/a-place-for-you/womens_ministries/ms_word_docs/devotional_2004_01_26.doc
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I’m hoping that this week will be nice for our outing on Friday as we’re hoping to make it to the beach! This may be one of the last times we can visit the beach so we’ll be heading over to Newcastle again. We’ll be on the beach around 10-10:30am and stick around until, at least, Noon. So bring the kids and join in on our discussion about Fall Schedules. Now that the school year is well underway, most of your schedules have become busier, maybe more routine and probably a bit more chaotic. Before you delve into a schedule worthy of any female superhero, ask yourself if you were meant to become Wonder Woman or does God have something else in mind for you. Are there commitments that maybe shouldn’t be committed to? Are there times when you should be saying no to others and yes to God? Are your commitments affecting your husband, your children or yourself? In Overcoming Overload by Steve & Mary Farrar, the authors write:
“Simplicity is a mindset that leads to some very hard choices. It is the cutting away, or trimming off, of the good in order to have the best. It is an elimination of the cholesterol that slowly but surely clogs the arteries of the soul. Simplicity is painful because it is the greatest step of trust yet. And few are those who venture to go this deep or this far. The tragedy is that if you walk away from biblical simplicity, you have really missed the very thing that overcomes overload. You’ve lost the very thing that changes the course of your life from that of being momentarily at rest to that of being continually at rest.
…We are good implementers. Simplicity, on the other hand, is a walking away. It is a conscious choice not to act, not to do. Sanctuary says yes to God. Sustenance recognizes the need for soul nourishment. Supplication understands the power of beseeching the throne of heaven. But simplicity says no.
No to overspending or overcommitting. No to opportunities that tear apart families and marriages. No to the pace. No to the world’s expectations.
And we do not like to say no. We enjoy our addictions to the pace. We love the rush of the pursuit of success. We perish at the thought of a missed opportunity or a lesser sense of accomplishment in the eyes of the world. But when we choose simplicity, we are making the hard choices that change the very core of the way we live life. Simplicity reforms our lives. Simplicity resists 24/7 at every turn and puts us on a different path, a path of clear focus and biblical living.”
What kind of path are you on this season? Is it a path you look forward to with hopeful anticipation? A path with just enough joy, peace and solitude to refresh you along the way? Or is it a path that fills you with a sense of dread every time you check your weekly schedule? Are you merely in “survival mode” or are you truly living? We’ll talk about some of these questions on Friday. Also please forward me your ideas and suggestions for topics of discussion. Thank you – hope to see you on Friday!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Last Friday at Newcastle Commons was such a perfectly beautiful day for our first Kajiji Girls of the season! Our small group enjoyed the food, sun and view of the sea while our children ran around the grassy lawn, climbed the rocks, dug in the sand, and watched the cool practice rescue maneuvers performed off-shore by the Coast Guard. It’s always so refreshing to take a breather from our busy lives and spend it with each other in fellowship.
Speaking of busy lives…last season’s Kajiji emails were centered around the vital importance of friendship. I feel led this year to address the gift of simplicity in our lives - as in leading a slower, more meditative spiritual life as opposed to the frenetic pace we set for ourselves and our families. In Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster states that “[Simplicity] is a call given to every Christian. The witness to simplicity is profoundly rooted in the biblical tradition, and most perfectly exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ…In simplicity, we enter the deep silences of the heart for which we were created.” I would love it if any of you have thoughts/contributions to this ongoing discussion via email. If you have a great book on the subject to recommend or even some helpful tips to help us all simplify our lives, it would be appreciated.
Most of us live to a staccato beat, pulled and jerked from one role to another.
I have come to believe that one of the crying needs in me and in our culture
is the need for silence and solitude.
- Gloria Gaither
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
“Wanted: A few good women to form a circle of friends. Must be smart, fun-loving, always there when I need them. The type who’ll love my kids, drop dinner by when I’m stressed, always see the best in me, and never complain about their lives or anything I do. Gift-givers and surprise-party throwers a plus. Required: A commitment to never change, move away, or like anybody else better than me.”¹
Does this sound like a want ad you could post? Does any of it resonate with you and your needs?
Every week *Kajiji Girls gather together to share laughs, concerns, opinions, food and life in general. Every week brings a discussion about various topics affecting our life – from finances to sex to self-esteem to parenting. We’ve discussed and debated many things these past few months, and we look forward to many more conversations with you as a part of our group. If you’re looking for “not-just-another” playgroup but a real spiritually-refreshing, mentally-challenging, emotionally-supportive Mom’s group, then come by and check us out. †Since forming early this year, our group has been constantly evolving, but our foundational ideals have stayed the same. We recognize the innate need in each one of us for spiritual and emotional support from a community of women. There is a purpose to our socialization and a spiritual component to our group. We all have ideas and questions about family life, faith, love, friendships, etc., and the ability to share insights and thoughts with other women is what builds intimacy in our community.
Now that summer break is coming to an end and the fall season is upon us, we are looking for more women who would like to become part of our group. If you have received this invite, it is because someone thought you might make a great Kajiji Girl! Do you enjoy getting together with women of many different backgrounds? Do you enjoy discussing various topics of interest relating to your daily life? Do you have an interest in deepening your spiritual life with other sisters-in-Christ? Do you need an excuse to get out of your miserable house with the dirty dishes, piles of laundry, annoying TV blaring the voice of Barney (or insert your least favorite children’s television character here), the mind-numbing boredom of reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 86th time and the sound of your brain cells dying from having no conversational speech patterns resembling those of an adults?
Then come to our fabulously fun Friday gatherings!
And maybe get a moment’s peace and a little sanity...
along with a cup of coffee.
Our kickoff starts on Friday, September 8, 2006 at 10am. Children welcome. Location and details to follow. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact Crystal Ortlieb.
¹Quoted from Celebrating Friendship written by Judith Couchman, part of the Women of Faith Bible Study Series
* Kajiji meaning “Community, global village”
†If you are curious about the history of Kajiji's, attached you will find my initial invitational letter explaining my thoughts and reasons for starting this group.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I want to thank you so much for being a part of our group this past year. We have had some interesting dialogues and wonderful debates. Is not this the way we are encouraged to pursue God and His truth – by being part of a community that opens our hearts and allows our minds to see truth where we would not normally find it? You, my sisters in Christ, are being used by God in subtle ways with enormous consequences. I hope you know that. I enjoy getting to know you and spying the beauty of a King’s daughter in each one of you. I hope through our group you have gained some valuable insight into your own spiritual/emotional life, and if you’ve been able to form bonds with other Kajijis in the process, all the better! I think you understand by now how much I’ve emphasized the sacredness of female friendship and why it’s so crucial to our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical lives. For some of you, this will be the last email from Kajiji Girls, and we want to thank you for your past involvement. Your presence at our groups has been invaluable and appreciated, and your words outside of our groups have been encouraging (even from those who have never been able to make it!). For those of you interested in continuing your involvement with Kajijis, whether that’s by gathering with us on a regular basis or just through our emails, we are so grateful that you are part of our group! We have done some really fun things this summer, and I also look forward to getting back into our “regular” routine once the weather starts to cool down.
You will be receiving an invite sometime in the near future to kick off the new season of Kajijis. We would like to extend the invitation to more women in our lives that we think would make great Kajiji Girls. If you know of anyone who could benefit from our group (and likewise that our group could benefit knowing), please feel free to invite them to our gatherings. Just let me know their info, and I’ll send them an email invitation.
Please, please, please let me know via email by September 1st (that’s this coming Friday!) if you’d like to stay on the email list. Simply email me a “Yay” or “Nay”, and please do so whether or not we’ve spoken in person as this will be my only indication that you are interested in staying involved in Kajiji Girls. We really don’t want to say goodbye to anyone, however we understand sometimes our group is not a good fit (whether in scheduling, relational dynamics, etc.) for everyone. We cherish the spiritual bonds of our female friendships and look forward to making new ones. Thank you for sharing your life with us these past few months. There are many more months of fun Fridays ahead us, and we would love to have you join us!!
P.S. Speaking of Friday gatherings, we’ll be meeting at Butternut Farm in Farmington again (weather permitting) for some more fruit picking this coming Friday. At this time, they have a variety of peaches, many tomatoes, fall raspberries, more and more pumpkins and apples each day and just a few blueberries left. Calling them will provide an accurate update as to what fruits are ready to be picked this week. Check out their website at www.butternutfarm.net, and let me know if you plan on coming – thanks!
Monday, August 21, 2006
This Friday we’d like to meet somewhere outside, however we’re keeping an eye on the weather as it looks cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. I’ll keep you updated and decide our location as we get closer to Friday. If someone would like to volunteer their backyard with the chance of needing to move indoors, that would be great too – just let me know.
I look forward to seeing you all again regularly as school gets underway and Autumn approaches. Have a great week!
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Last week we gathered at Erin's house and got into the topic of friendship. I just want to say how much I have loved getting to know each of you and the friendships formed in our group. I think that the women God chose for this group are amazing, and I've learned so much from you all. I've never been a part of such a great interdenominational group of women who have so many different backgrounds, valuable ideas and godly ideals. You all have such caring hearts and are great examples of a true community of women. Thank you for making our little group into something so much more than just another playgroup.
David F. Maas states in his article "A Priceless Comodity",
"As the greater church of God has continued to fragment, splintering asunder congregations and creating yawning chasms between former friends and acquaintances, my wife Julie and I have come to the conclusion that a close friend who has God's Holy Spirit is one of the most valuable commodities one could ever desire. As more of our former friends and acquaintances drift away from the teachings that we once collectively valued - or seemed to - the ones that stay loyal become precious as rare gemstones.
In the words of the old Yiddish proverb, "There are three types of friends: those like food, without which you can't live; those like medicine, which you need occasionally; and those like an illness, which you never want." We certainly want to eliminate the last type, but we need to build and strengthen godly friendships. God's work is a love-building work, forging bonds between fathers and children and children and fathers (Malachi 4:6), in essence, the entire family of God. Godly friendship is the cement that makes this all happen.
Here is a recap of the essential characteristics of a Christian friendship:
- It places God first, the middle strand in a threefold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
- It follows the principles or laws of bonding (interest in the same things), which include at the forefront a love for godly principles.
- It involves a give-and-take communication involving advice, criticism, and encouragement.
- It involves a climate in which the most sensitive of confidences can be exchanged without fear of betrayal.
- It consists of an unbreakable bond that lasts through good and bad times.
A minister once taught, "A friend is someone, who, if you make a colossal botch of something, doesn't think you've made a permanent job of it." God is such a friend. Let us try to emulate Him."
Well, we'll keep trying for the farm each Friday and hope that the weather starts to cooperate on our fabulous fun fridays. We'll try to meet at DeMeritt Hill Farm off Rt. 155 again this week. Let us know if we should expect you or not - thanks!
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
How are you all? Hope everyone has found ways to staying cool this week. For those on vacation, we miss you and hope you are having a great time that is restful and refreshing. I'm going to use this email as an opportunity to take a step back for a moment and address the needs of our group and those within it. With attendance being so low lately, it's been hard to judge how things are going. I'm curious to know how everyone feels about how our group is doing so far. Is there anything you feel we should change, include, etc.? Are you happy with the dynamics of the group, with the things we've done, with the discussions we've had? Would you like to see this group going in a different direction? Do you agree with our "mission" so far? With our mission being to serve each other as mothers, wives and, overall, as women, I'd like to know if you feel you've been benefiting from this. The initial welcome letter sent to all the Kajijis included this excerpt from a Focus on the Family article:
"[In today's society] female companionship is often difficult to find, and many younger women, especially those with two or more preschoolers, abandon the search for friendship. It is simply too much trouble. To the young wives who are reading these words, I urge you not to fall into this pattern. Invest some time in your female friends - even though you are all busy. Resist the temptation to pull into the walls of your home and wish for someone to talk to."
"Remember, you are surrounded by many other women with similar feelings. Find them. Care for them. Give to them. And, in the process, your own self-esteem will rise. Then when you are content, your marriage will also flourish. It sounds simplistic, but that's the way we are made. We are designed to love God as social creatures; we don't do well in isolation. Don't let that isolation happen to you."
Our Kajiji Girl time is meant to be sacred for you as a mom - a time that for just once a week you can be recharged in the spirit of female friendship. By the way, the season of summer doesn't negate this desire and need in us no matter how busy we allow ourselves to be. And besides being away on vacation or taking fun days off with the family, I don't consider the "busyness" of summer to be very refreshing or fulfilling, do you? The Fall season is fast approaching and school will be starting up again. I'd like to take this time to "regroup" in a sense and ask whether Kajiji Girls fulfills a need in your busy lives and whether you feel you can really commit to the group. If so, I will gladly keep you on our email list and look forward to seeing you on most Fridays. If you don't think you can commit or you have other ministries in your life that fulfills that need in you, please let me know (and no hard feelings!). I simply want to make sure that you are not caught in isolation as described above with no support group around you. I hope to hear from each and every one of you over the course of August in answering this question. If I have not heard from you by September, I will assume you are too busy to commit to the group. However, if there is anything that the group or I can do for you whether or not you can commit to the group, please let us know! We are here for you whether you can make it to our Friday gatherings or not.
This Friday looks to finally be a beautiful day for an outing - hopefully no thunderstorms or rain clouds and no heat stroke weather either. So we'll plan on meeting at DeMeritt Hill Farm in Durham, NH off of Rt. 155. Go to http://www.demeritthillfarm.com for directions and info about the farm. At this time, topics of discussion will be put on hold until group size is larger in order to facilitate more interesting debates. Looking forward to unifying our group for the coming season and enjoying what's left of this one!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Thought for the week:
In the Torah women are called akeret ha-bayit, the foundation
of the home. That doesn’t mean washing dishes. It’s educating our
children in everything we think about life. That’s the nature of what a
mother is. – Chaya Sasonkin
Has anyone been able to read the New Harvest newsletter I forwarded two weeks ago? Tomorrow’s discussion will center around the first three pages of the newsletter. Let me know if you need me to send it to you again. Looking forward to seeing everyone again!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
We’ll be taking a small hiatus this week as most of us for one reason or another will not be able to make it on Friday. I’ll be attending a homeschool conference for the weekend and won’t be around, however if any of you are really wanting to get together with those who are able, I hope you’ll take the initiative to contact others and set something up for Friday morning. We’ll all meet again as a group on Friday, July 21st – location TBD. (Isn’t this summer going by so fast?!)
Our next topic of discussion will be on a newsletter that I’m forwarding along to you. I discovered an interesting website called www.newharvesthomestead.com. I received the free introductory issue of the newsletter and would like to offer it to you to read as well. If you could read even just the first three pages to really get a sense of what it’s all about, it would be helpful as we’ll discuss it at our next meeting. (If you don’t have adobe reader or just can’t access it, let me know and I’ll copy & paste it into an email for you.)
I will email everyone the location of our next gathering sometime next week. Until then have a very safe and enjoyable week!
Thursday, July 6, 2006
As far as our topic of discussion this week, I think it would be great to occasionally delve into more personal territory and really get to know each other. I do have a list of topical questions that we can discuss such as “what are your discipline philosophies?” or “how do you instill confidence in your children?”, but I think this week I’d like to ask a more personal, getting-to-know-you kind of question. So…how did you meet your husband? Tell us your love story. Do you believe that God orchestrated the two of you being together and how do you think He did this? I really look forward to hearing all of your stories.
See you tomorrow!
Saturday, July 1, 2006
What an unbelievable morning we had yesterday at Michelle’s family’s farm! Thank you so much for inviting us, Michelle! It was one of the most fun gatherings we’ve had. Of course, now we are trying to eat up all these strawberries which are very yummy. My family’s planning on making strawberry ice cream with them. For those of you who couldn’t make it, we’re sorry to have missed you on such a lovely day. I intentionally left the floor open for discussion of any kind as I wasn’t sure how the morning would play itself out so we ended up talking about the topic of cohousing. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the term, but it’s a unique way of living in which a community of people create and design a communal neighborhood based on a shared vision/mission. It’s intriguing and appealing in many aspects. If you’d like to learn more about it, visit www.cohousing.org.
Erin took some great pictures yesterday at the farm and is able to share them with us – thank you, Erin! There are some really cute pictures…
I’d like to put a question to all of you: What do you think of meeting in public places during the summer? Ideas could be the beach, a playground, a park, a farm, etc. We could either have someone volunteer to bring the food to wherever we meet or we could pack our own picnics. The advantage to this would be not having to impose on anyone as hostess, and everyone would know in advance where we’d be meeting. The only concern I’ve heard about this idea is it may be a lot harder to carry on conversations with each other if our kids are running all over the place. Would meeting in a public location distract from the intimacy of our group? Please let me know what you think.
With that said, we’re looking for a hostess for next Friday so if anyone is willing to host the meeting at their house, that’d be great. And if I have no volunteers and a bunch of you liking the idea mentioned above, we may just decide to meet someplace completely different. So let me know as soon as possible. Thanks!!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I came across a really interesting article on homemakers.com that talks about the effects of stress on a woman’s health and how we deal with it. I’ve included it here:
“According to a ground-breaking new book The Tending Instinct (Times Books,
2002), by UCLA psychologist Shelley E. Taylor, the bonds between women run
"old and deep" and have long been critical to our survival. Taylor, a
world-renowned expert on stress and health, contends that women are
genetically hard-wired for friendship as a means of coping with stress and,
furthermore, we selectively seek out friendships with women -- not men --
when the chips are down.
Her research into women and stress has turned decades of stress research --
almost all of it based on male studies -- on its ear by suggesting that
women respond to stress differently than men. While men tend to exhibit the
well-known "fight or flight" response, Taylor theorizes that a more common
female stress response is what she calls "tend and befriend." She says our
evolutionary heritage suggests women who formed strong bonds with one
another were more apt to survive (as were their offspring) than those who
did not. Over time, women have learned to turn to one another for support
and solace and have thus become crucial to one another in times of stress.
"Female friendships play an important role in women's mental health," says
Taylor. "Women can hold off many stressors by affiliating with other women,
by building liaisons and forming friendships."
It also mentions an actual study done on female friendships:
In June 2001, the renowned Harvard Medical School's Nurses' Health Study
concluded that women's social networks play an important role in enhancing
our health and quality of life. The study went so far as to conclude that
not having at least one good confidante is as detrimental to a woman's
health as being overweight or a heavy smoker. (!!!)
I looked up the study online and found it to state that
“Contact with friends and relatives and level of social engagement were
significantly protective against a decline in mental health among women
living alone but not among women living with a spouse. These results suggest
that women living independently are neither socially isolated nor at
increased risk for decline in functional health status. In fact, these women
actually fare better on measures of psychologic function than do women
living with a spouse.”
What does that say about our friendships?? In the long run, our friends, not solely our spouses, are what help us to live longer lives and stay sane while living it!
Looking forward to our fabulous Friday…
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Last Friday we met at Erin’s house and discussed the subject of our own personal beauty. Interesting theories and moving stories were swapped about our perceptions of our own physical beauty. A truth we all agreed on was that the more centered we are as children of God, the more He encourages us to see our own beauty. Even those of us who may view ourselves as beautiful, have parts of our bodies that we don’t like. There will always be flaws and defects. However, as we become more confident in our identity as Christ’s child, the better view we have of ourselves and others through Jesus’ eyes. By taking on our identity as the daughters of the King, we are given the ability to see ourselves as He sees us – created perfectly the way He chose us.
This week’s question is: How do you manage to get “alone time” with your husband? We’re looking for any tips or suggestions on being able to separate your “family time” with your “spouse-only time”. How do we make our marriage a priority? Do we or should we make our marriage a priority above other relationships including our children’s?
The more I experience human intimacy, the more I become aware of its
limitations. More and more I realize its inability to satisfy totally the
infinite capacity of my heart. Therefore, experiencing the limitations of human intimacy, I long more and more for intimacy with God, whether or not I realize I am longing for him.
This Friday we’ll be meeting at Shawna’s. Looking forward to having more thought-provoking conversations with all of you! Please RSVP if you’re planning on coming…and bring a lawn chair as it’s supposed to be nice outside!
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Hello, Kajijis! It was so great to get “back on track” with our group last Friday. We met at my house and discussed many different things as well as collected some more questions to discuss in future weeks. Those of you who weren’t able to make it can email me some questions/topics you’d like to discuss. Usually the questions remain anonymous so feel free to throw a topic out there. Here are some questions we’ll be discussing over the next few Fridays:
- How do you get “alone time” with your husband?
- What is your perception of yourself in regards to outward beauty? If you feel that you have a healthy perception, how did you come by that?
- What do you do to instill self-confidence in your children?
- How do you find time for sex???
- What are your discipline philosophies?
- What is your view towards money? How do you reconcile fulfilling your wants and desires with giving charitably to other people/causes?
I’m really looking forward to discussing these with all of you. Friendship/community is meant to be an empowering, knowledge-sharing, supportive environment – I think we’re achieving that by positively sharing our differing views with each other. It’s always encouraging to hear that we are not alone in our viewpoints and some of our ideas can help others. This week we’ll discuss the second question about our perceptions on our self-image. Try to devote a little thought to how you feel about yourself in terms of your physical appearance and whether you think you have a healthy perception of yourself or not. Where do you think your ideas about beauty and how you “measure up” came from?
This week we’ll be meeting at Erin’s house. Feel free to email me to let me know if you’re planning on coming or not – thanks!
Monday, May 29, 2006
We sit surrounded by words,
Shelves upon shelves
Our conversation seems to compete
With all this communication.
I see sitting across from me a smile
That I should see more of,
The subtle wrinkles around
Her eyes more pronounced,
Her teeth showing in laughter.
Our conversation seems, at times
Too irreverent for
The conversation of
The slang of
This communication is something
Not for the
Words it contains,
Not for the thoughts
But good for the soul.
Time With A Friend ~ Judith Erl
You all are good for my soul. I hope to see you all over the next few Fridays. Let me know if you’ll be able to come this week - we’ll be meeting at my house.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
So there really does exist a sun in our sky! Is anyone else looking forward to this Friday? I think we’re all ready to get out of our houses and let the kids run wild while we feed our brains with female conversation and stomachs with coffee and pastries. Our group met at Marisa’s last week where we talked about bringing Christ to our kids. Erin taught us practical tips she learned about ways to incorporate our faith into our homes on a routine basis. We even received a handout to bring home outlining some of the ideas in the book The Most Important Place on Earth by Robert Wolgemuth. Thanks so much for the time and effort it took to put that together, Erin – it was so helpful!! We had some great exchanges, and Marisa is always a wonderful host. Thank you, Marisa!
I read an interesting article this past week in National Geographic titled “The Secrets of Living Longer”. I’d like to share an excerpt about a group of people known for their longevity:
With an average life expectancy of 78 years for men and 86 years for women, Okinawans are among the world’s longest lived people. More important, elders living in this lush subtropical archipelago tend to enjoy years free from disabilities. Okinawans have a fifth the heart disease, a fourth the breast and prostate cancer, and a third less dementia than Americans”, says Craig Willcox of the Okinawa Centenarian Study. What’s the key to their success? “Ikigai certainly helps,” Willcox offers. The word translates roughly to “that which makes one’s life worth living.” Older Okinawans, he says, possess a strong sense of purpose that may act as a buffer against stress and diseases such as hypertension. Many also belong to a Okinawan-style moai, a mutual support network that provides financial, emotional, and social help throughout life.
The article highlights two women friends, Ushi and Setsuko who live together along with Ushi’s daughter, Matsu who herself is 78 years old.
These women have shared each other’s fortunes and endured each other’s sorrows for nearly a century and now seem to communicate wordlessly. What is Ushi’s ikigai, I ask – that powerful sense of purpose that older Okinawans are said to possess? “It’s her longevity itself,” answers her daughter. “She brings pride to our family and this village, and now feels she must keep living even though she is often tired.” I look to Ushi for her own answer. “My ikigai is right here,” she says with a slow sweep of her hand that takes in Setsuko and Matsu. “If they die, I will wonder why I am still living.”
Moai is defined as a group of friends, neighbors, or others
who get together regularly to provide reciprocal
support – social, emotional and financial.
This Friday, we’ll be meeting at Michelle’s. Please RSVP to let us know if we can expect you. This week’s question is “How do you and your spouse handle your finances?” Should be an interesting conversation… Can not wait to see all of you after this long week - thank you all for being my moai!
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Opposites attract, but can they stay good friends? Or does friendship depend on having lots of interests and opinions in common? “One of my great concerns – something I see frequently in Christian circles – is the tendency to isolate ourselves from those who are different from us,” says Luci Swindoll. “We gravitate toward people who think like we think, agree with us on everything, believe like we do, even dress the same. In so doing we miss wonderful, God-given opportunities to expand our understanding of the world and the people in it.” We also miss out on opportunities to grow personally and spiritually.
Of course, midst the diversity you need a soul mate or two – friends you connect with easily and deeply – to anchor the whole rollicking party. But before you shout, “Who’s got time for so many people?!” let’s clarify what diversity can pack into two or three friendships. Even if your friends resemble casts of thousands, you still need the essentials of depth and quality somewhere in that crowd. And let’s face it. Nobody’s just like you. (Thank God! That would be utterly boring.) The greatest examples of sisterhood still have individual differences, but they respect rather than revile, enjoy rather than envy, their friends. They take time to “settle in” with and accept one another, so what seems quirky grows endearing.
This Friday we’ll be meeting at Marisa’s house. The topic we’ll discuss this week is “How do you as a mom bring Christ to your kids? What are you doing right now while they are small?” Do you have any practical ideas you use on a daily or weekly basis to incorporate your faith into your family life? How do you best model your faith in Christ for your children? I can’t wait to hear your ideas as this has always been a guilt-producing struggle in my own life. Do we and can we ever feel as if we are doing all that we can to train up our children in the ways and admonitions of the Lord? Erin has recommended a book called The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One by Robert Wolgemuth. Erin says there’s lots of great practical tips in it, and I’ve asked her to contribute some of these to the group on Friday. Looking forward to hearing all of your ideas on the subject…