Monday, April 29, 2013

Hidden Art of Homemaking - Book Club

Cindy at Ordo Amoris, one of my favourite blogs to read, has started a bookclub on The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I'm so glad - this will hopefully keep me on track for reading and blogging.

You can still join! We are just on chapter 2 and the chapters are short.

Her first post reminds us not to compare ourselves with others because that is the temptation we face. Cindy says, "'Inspiration is good; comparison is bad.'" I think this is so true in our world of social media, particularly Instagram or Pinterest. We feel like everything we do must be just as perfect as the pictures we see (since we don't see the real lives but simply the pictures).

Years ago, when I first started to get involved with email lists, I remember feeling very pressured to organize our school just like so-and-so's on the email list because they seemed like they had it all together. Then if I read homeschool forums or curriculum catalogues, I was even more tempted to change things until I found the "perfect" curriculum or the "perfect" routine.

What I gradually came to realize is that the women I observed on the internet were not whole people. I only saw what they chose to share. Most of them were not doing it intentionally but it came about that way just because that's the way life goes. And it's very tempting to never share anything negative about your family but only the positives. Why would I take a picture of my kitchen not being clean for the 3rd day in a row when I could take a picture of something else that was perfect? Our accounts of our lives can come across in the same way - only the good parts survive.

Does that mean that we should never look on Pinterest, never read blogs, or even go off the Internet all together? I don't think that's the answer. I think the answer lies in searching our own hearts, identifying ways that we are tempted to sin and then dealing with that specific issue. What my temptations are will be quite different from my friend at church. But each of us needs to check and make sure that we are not making odious comparisons.

I love Pinterest for the inspiration. I like reading blogs of women who encourage me to look beyond myself. I especially like reading about how women are growing and changing because it challenges me to do the same. But I need to be wary of envy and discontentment and look for ways to fight against the particular sins that I struggle with.

I'm looking forward to being challenged not only by The Hidden Art of Homemaking but also by the lovely women who are reading and blogging about it too.

I was also challenged by Cindy to include a photo each time of something beautiful. This is one of my favourite pictures of Calgary and the Rocky Mountains off in the distance.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Interesting Links

A Candle in the Window  - I just came across this network and it looks like a great idea. We have been blessed with both hosting people in our homes and being hosted. Knocking on a "virtual friend's" door can seem a little strange at first but the bond of Christ quickly draws us together. We have had a couple of duds but not much and even at that, it was never terrible. I'm interested to pursue this a little further.
With household budgets becoming more and more strained, travel can be a challenge! A Candle in the Window Hospitality Network provides a creative, economical alternative. And while the thought of saving money in a struggling economy is extremely appealing, we strongly believe the greater blessing will be in the fellowship and relationships established as others "come through" our homes, sharing God's faithfulness in their lives and we have the opportunity to do the same.
Homeschooling and interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason? I'm going to join this discussion group over the summer. 

I found this article quite encouraging. 

Unbeknownst to those of us in the study, our leader had asked other women--older, godly women--to pray for a specific member of the group. Our leader's mom had received my name and over the course of that summer she prayed for me and for my future and for my future husband and for our life together. She prayed for me to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. At the close of the study, in August, she gave me a letter outlining many of the verses she prayed over me as well her hopes and prayers on my behalf. With the letter she included a paper bookmark with both our names written on the back and the date.
Something to mull over: education by subtraction.  Especially this time of year when I am starting to think about next year ...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Hymn - Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!

Sunday, April 07, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about hospitality the last while and what it is and what it isn't. I did a presentation about 8 years ago (when we had been married for only 16 years!). So I thought in conjunction with my (hopefully) regular posts on The Hidden Art of Homemaking, I would also add some thoughts about hospitality.

My presentation opened with this story. It came from this website.

When their daily devotions took Bob and Betty Blixmore to the end of the book of Romans, they came across the verse that says:Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (12:13)Deciding to take this seriously, Bob and Betty began to wonder about practicing this verse in their own home. Much of the planning fell to Betty, since Bob was very busy with his work. That was fine with Betty because Bob couldn’t tell a salad fork from a pitchfork and rarely linked more than four fully intelligible sentences together (the last time was when the Oilers gave up a 35-3 lead to lose to the Bills, back in ’92). 
Betty thought about having the Slakdings over, but the Slakdings had five children and her table only seated eight comfortably so someone would have to eat off a TV tray and that would be awkward and possibly messy on her new, expensive, velour-look carpet.
She almost invited the Wakzones over in April, but only had time to make a casserole and worried that casserole might make her look bad since casseroles are a better choice in the winter (although it had been a chilly spring).
She left a message for the Wingdaks, but by the time they returned the call on Friday afternoon Zippy the cat had gotten into the snail repellent and was barfing non-stop so that didn’t seem like a good weekend to have guests and Betty made up some other reason for having called when she ran into Marge Wingdak down at the Cart-N-Scarf.
All through May and June Betty waited to replace that horrid sofa before having company over. In July and August the Blixmores were off to the lake every weekend and in September everyone seemed so busy what with school starting and the next thing you know it was the holidays!
Next, Bob and Betty grew old. Before you know it, Bob and Betty died, never having had anyone over. The guys from the mortuary noticed that the Blixmore’s carpet was in really great shape.
 I love this story! Such a great reminder of what happens when we wait for the "perfect time" to practice hospitality.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking

With the death of Edith Schaeffer this week, I was reminded of The Hidden Art of Homemaking sitting on my bookshelves. It has been one of those books I've been thinking about reading for a while but never quite got to it. So I decided that I would start reading it and keep myself accountable by blogging about it.

Before I begin writing about the first chapter, I wanted to go back and think about the influences in my life on my view of homemaking. My first and primary influence has been my mom. I cannot imagine viewing my role at home without thinking about her example to me. She was always home and took pride in her role at home. Even now, she doesn't work outside the home in a paid position but she has continued to model the role of a wife and mother to her family, her friends and her church. On occasion, she has commented to me that she doesn't understand how anyone could be bored at home as there is always lots to do. Of course, that work also includes volunteering, whether in the church or the community.

I think that one of the ways that my parents most influenced me was in the area of hospitality. Our home was always open to people and my husband and I have benefited from this example. I hope to write more thoughts about hospitality in the coming weeks as well.

We didn't grow up with a lot of money or a fancy home but we did have a home where people were valued and Mom contributed much by her careful husbandry of the family income. I remember times when the month was longer than the money but we always ate well and had enough to be generous. This is the legacy that I hope to pass on to my family.

Another influence are a couple of women that I met at camp. They were both cooks at the camp. They served up delicious food but they also took time to make it and the surroundings look beautiful even for the younger campers! I often think of these women when I'm preparing for company.

Over the years, Edith Schaeffer has had a tremendous influence on families as well. The first chapter of The Hidden Art of Homemaking is titled "The First Artist".

I found her definition of art to be interesting and challenging. According to Mrs. Schaeffer, art involves creativity and originality. It satisfies and fulfills both the artist and the observer.

The most perfect artist is God. Creation is "a communication of the glory and greatness of the Artist. They communicate the wonder of who He is and what was in His mind as He created: not all of what was in His mind, but something truly of what was in His mind." (emphasis in original)

She goes on to list uses of art forms in creation. I had never thought of these before.

Sculpture - mountains, the human body
Movement in art - the wind, waves, trees, clouds
Light shows - lightning, the sun, northern lights
Sound - our ears have the capacity for appreciating sound; song
Landscape architect - God planted Eden, it didn't just appear. He planned it!
Man - created in the likeness of a Creator and we create because of God the Creator

Creativity involves choice. We always have to make a choice when we create - will it be this or that? We are limited by time, talent, resources, skill. God isn't limited at all.

Even though sin has spoiled the world, there is still "leftover beauty" in God's creation. We retain fragments of the perfection in creation.

Mrs. Schaeffer finishes the chapter by reflecting that those who love God and know Him should be more creative than those who don't know God. It should lead to more creativity, not less, because we know God the Creator.

"But, not forgetting the above, then what I call 'Hidden Art' should be more important to one who knows and admits that he made in God's image, than to those who do not."

I think this is a really important point. As Christians in the 20th century, we have tended to want to leave the creative arts to the world because we have been fearful of being influenced by the world. I think that Christians should be the most joyful artists precisely because we see what we reflect. And we also should celebrate all aspects of art whether or not they are created by a Christian because we recognize God's common grace to us all.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Mennonite Girls Can Cook is one of my favourite cooking websites. They have a new book coming out and I'm looking forward to seeing it. For today, check out a recipe for using up ham leftovers - guess what we are having for supper!