Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Divine Housekeeping

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.

“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
5 From Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

JUST a Homemaker

This past Friday, Kajijis got together to talk about how we define ourselves to the outside world. When a stranger at a party politely asks you, “So what do you do?”, how do you answer that question? And, better yet, how do they typically respond to your answer? After you tell them you’re a stay-at-home mom, do they have nothing else to say? Is there no polite inquiry into what motherhood entails for you? Do they not have you expound upon your answer in any way? Is there no answer that would pique a stranger’s interest and leave them wanting to know more? “Yes, I’m raising up the next generation of ecclesiastical theologizers.” or “Hi, I’m the high priestess of my temple.” or “I’m a keeper.”;-) Anyway, I found a blog on www.homeschoolblogger.com that addressed this very issue recently and wanted to share some with you below.

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."

"Excuse me?"

"Eh-hmmm. I'm just a homemaker."

"I'm sorry, what did you say?"


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

Keepers of the Temple

Dear Kajijis,
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.”

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.
A mother.
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

Our Recommended Books

Dear Kajijis,
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

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