Godly Homemaking wisdom for a peaceful and joyous home life. . ..
"Faint not; the miles to heaven are but few and short." -Samuel Rutherford
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From "On The Banks of Plum Creek"
"After Laura and Mary had washed and wiped the dishes, swept the floor, made their bed, and dusted, they settled down with their books. But the house was so cozy and pretty that Laura kept looking up at it."
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Human Frailty of the Godly Soul
"The life of Luther might suffice to give a thousand instances, and he was by no means of the weaker sort. His great spirit was often in the seventh heaven of exultation, and as frequently on the borders of despair. His very deathbed was not free from tempests, and he sobbed himself into his last sleep like a greatly wearied child."
"As for her, like most women, she had but one ambition. To be a good wife and a good mother, and to be beloved by her husband and children, was all she asked. [She was] a busy, affectionate, cheerful little housewife, whose voice would never be heard in the streets, but whose memory would always live in a few faithful hearts."
- Elizabeth Prentiss, 1800's.
A married woman who stays home. This is a lifelong vocation. It is an old-fashioned term, and something to be proud of. Not a "domestic engineer." Not a "home manager." An old fashioned housewife, who keeps the home, and abides there. - Mrs. White
Several years ago, during a major oil crisis, gas prices rose to over $4.50 a gallon here in rural Vermont. This caused food prices to skyrocket, partly due to the cost of fuel for the freight trucks who were delivering inventory to all the supermarkets.
Many could not afford to drive to work and had to find ways to carpool, walk, or find some other form of transportation. I remember having to give up going to church and limiting youth group events for my (then) teenage children. It was shocking to realize we couldn't afford the gas to drive to church!
One of the hardest things during this time was having just enough food to feed one's family with little or nothing left over to share with a guest. Many did not entertain at home. Having company was rare and difficult. Offering just a cup of tea to a guest when one wanted to offer cake or pie was depressing!
Nobody wants to live in want or hunger. Nobody wants to feel like buying sugar to bake cookies would be a financial burden when the family needed more nutritious foods like vegetables or meat.
Food pantries in our county were suddenly full of the more affluent in our area. We were told that many could not afford to buy food and pay basic living expenses at the same time. One large church in our area was open on a daily basis and gave out emergency food boxes which were expected to last a family, or individual, for a couple of days. We were seeing both homeless and middle class in the same breadlines. Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody wanted to need charity, but the economy forced many to seek help just to eat.
Another church in our area had a monthly potluck supper offered right after the morning service. Almost everyone brought hot food, desserts, salads, bread and treats to share with each other. This way each family could contribute what they could and enjoy a nice big meal without feeling like they were getting a handout. This same church also provides a large spread of refreshments in the dining room after every Sunday service. Most of the food is brought in by members of the congregation and is a lovely way to comfort one another with both food and fellowship.
There were certain days of the week where local supermarkets would provide display tables with food samples. Children of customers were also given a cookie from the bakery or a piece of cheese from the deli. This made grocery shopping, on limited funds, a special outing and a way to gratefully enjoy a special treat. It benefited the stores as well since they were able to offer new foods, and have a nice way to encourage customers to shop.
Today, times are better. Gas prices have dropped to around $2.88 in our area. This is the lowest I have seen it here since before the oil crisis hit our nation. Yet, there will always be someone, or some family, struggling through a time of poverty, a time of "reduced circumstances." These are the people on a financial adventure who will overcome the difficulties with prayer, faith, hard work, and the blessing of a good church family.
One of the grown children called in the early evening. He just finished his shift at work and had locked the keys in his car. Could someone come by with a spare set and help? We looked out the window. It was not quite 5 o'clock. It was dark and snow was falling. The streets were slippery. Mister offered to drive. I went along for the ride.
Rural Vermont in the winter is a beautiful, peaceful place to be. I find it very restful when Mister does the driving. I can sit and enjoy the snowy landscape. Mister often reaches out to hold my hand as he drives along. He lets me listen to what I like on the car radio. At this time of year, Christmas music is playing continuously on our local station.
When we arrived at our destination, Mister got out and cleaned off our son's car. The door was opened with the spare key, and the engine was started to warm it up. I watched the two of them under a lamplight, talking, as snow fell all around them. I was thankful to be in a warm, cozy car.
As we drove back home, it was pleasant and quiet. I remembered our last outing, when we dropped off one of the vehicles for repairs early one morning. The drive home with Mister is always special because it doesn't happen very often.
In almost 3 decades of marriage, we have never had a "night out." We never went on a "date." It is not something we ever thought about. Our time outside the home or family was always practical. Our outings are essential errands. They have always been that way.
During these drives, we don't argue. We don't talk about any worries or problems because they don't enter our minds. We enjoy the car ride and the beauty around us. Mister makes sure the car heat is warm enough for me, and that I am comfortable. He opens the door for me and makes sure I am safe. These gentlemanly acts of kindness are what make the trips a little respite from the trials of life.
We are also very grateful when we arrive safely back at home. Despite our flaws and normal annoyances in daily life, we have work to do. It does not matter that we are both worn out. Our children and grandchildren need us. They need us to stand strong - together- and get back to the business at hand - the striving and cultivating of a godly lighthouse, despite a cold, imperfect world.
I had 30 minutes in the kitchen. Two of my grandbabies were in the nursery with their Uncle. He babysat while I went into my favorite room in the house. I got out the bundt pan and made a chocolate fudge cake. While I worked, I turned a CD sermon on my kitchen radio. It was by the late Dr. Curtis Hutson. It was so precious! At the time the sermon was recorded (I think it was in the 1990's), he had cancer. He was in his last days here in this world. Someone had to help him onto the pulpit, he was so weak and weary. He preached a beautiful, heart-stirring message, and he also broke into humble songs. I sat on my kitchen stool and frosted the cake, as gentle tears came to my eyes. These were tears of sweet happiness.
In old southern churches, congregants are often seen crying with a peaceful and joyous look in their eyes. Onlookers may not understand. But what is happening is that the message being preached (through a heart close to the Lord . . . a humble precious heart), causes a melting of the normal coldness and frost the world seeps onto our hearts. Our tears are ones of holiness. We are being warmed by the fire of godliness and it melts our souls. It makes us well. The tears, with a sweet smile, is a sign of happy joy in the Lord.
I was so grateful to be in the kitchen doing what I love on this special birthday. It is a good day to be revived and reflect upon one's life.
How much more work can I do for the Lord? Each day is an honor and a gift. Each birthday I am drawn closer to my last day here in this world. I am heaven bound. Not because of me, but because of the dear Lord who is longsuffering and merciful.
I am so grateful for the laborers in God's holy fields, who lift us all up and encourage us along the way - no matter how rough and difficult the road can be.
I am reminded of my old Massachusetts home at this time of year. Our family had a membership at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I took my children there many times. We wandered around the living museum observing costumed actors going about the historic daily life of the Pilgrims.
The settlement was right beside the ocean. The whipping sea winds made the cold Autumn weather icy and bitter. (Having lived most of my life at the ocean in a nearby town, I know how difficult the winter ocean air can be.) The simple homes the people lived in had fireplaces to keep them warm. Each house had only one room. They were like tiny cottages with a bed and a table. Each family: mother, father and children lived in their own cottage. I saw the hard work each had to do. There were gardens to cultivate, heavy clothing to wash, outdoor kitchens to work in, an abundance of wood to chop, and babies and children to take care of. This was all for survival. This was the beginning of a new life here in America for these foreigners. I often thought how much warmer and nicer life would have been if they had settled out in the mountains rather than by the cold ocean. But it was far too dangerous at the time.
On each of our many visits to the Plantation, we sat in their humble church. I was in awe. I love how the people themselves built the church using the nearby trees for building supplies. There were straight and plain benches for the congregation and a place in the front for the Minister. This was where he encouraged the people and inspired them to holy living so they could face the coming week ahead. This was where he preached and taught against sin and convicted their hearts and minds to stay on that precious heavenly path.
The journey the Pilgrims took to get to this country was treacherous. Have you seen the Mayflower ship? A short drive from the Plantation brings you to Plimouth Rock and the Ships for tourists. We have walked through the boat and have seen the living conditions, which tells me that those people had a strength of character and a moral endurance to accomplish something few of us today could manage.
Many died on that ocean voyage. Many also died before the first year on the Plantation. I am sure the Pilgrims prayed constantly for health and continued courage. The Bible was the most important book to them. They taught it to their children. They comforted one another with it's words. They lived it!
That first Thanksgiving was modeled after the Biblical time of feasting. The Pilgrims, who were deeply religious, most likely were inspired to do this from Leviticus 23: 34, which is the commandment for the Feast of Tabernacles (or "Sukkot"- meaning "booths" or "temporary dwellings"). This was a time to gather up the harvest to worship and thank God for his provision.
This time of year, many of us want to throw a large celebration. We might spend far more money on food than we can afford, and not even consider it's folly. The high cost of food makes many of us poor. For those who have farms and are growing their own apples and fruits, have their own turkeys, and grow their own vegetable - these are the people who can have a plenteous table with food grown for very little cost, with the work of their own hands. But for the rest, who have to buy every apple to make a pie, or have to buy the turkey and the potatoes and all the rest, far too much money can be easily spent. This is not the purpose of the Thanksgiving holiday.
In our home, I have to count the cost. I have to find the sales and "scour out the land" to make our Thanksgiving wonderful, but something we can afford. We will have our own family and guests as well. It will be a precious and delightful time. But I will host this in a manner in which I can afford, and with creativity and the works of our own hands. I will make what I can, and buy what I can afford. We mothers can make these special times because of our labor and prudence.
The Pilgrims were a humble people who sought after holiness. Their first Thanksgiving feast was a joyous time to enjoy the prosperity of an abundance of food the Lord had provided for them.
Let us follow their example despite a consumerist, ungodly culture around us.
I noticed some little pine cones around some of the trees on the front grounds of our Estate. I thought it would be so nice to bring them in, and decorate. I wanted to get back out there with my grandson and have him help me. He is 2 years old now. But things got very busy with the care of the house and the care of two of my grandchildren. My sweet, little grandboy has a sister who is 7 months old. I remember walking around the property with him the first year of his life. I showed him my attempts at gardening and he loved being held while we walked and talked about the Estate. His sister hasn't had that privilege. I have found it difficult, in my old age, to tend to both of them on the grounds without help. I get tired much too easily. So I have to conserve my strength, leaving outdoor playtime with the babies to others in the family.
The other day, I noticed new daisies growing by the front porch. I would walk by the window and see them starting to blossom from a large plant one of the children had given me this past mother's day. I couldn't believe new flowers were coming at this time of year, here in cold New England, in November? It made me smile.
I am making Thanksgiving preparations and want to get back outdoors to gather some pine cones to decorate. I will have to make the effort, this coming weekend, to take my grandbaby girl out with me. I need to show her what the grounds look like this time of year. I want her to see the leaves before they are covered by the coming Vermont snow. I remember, this past summer, walking her by the back river as we listened to the rushing of the water on the rocks. There is a serene peacefulness to being out in this quiet retreat we call HOME.
I was tidying up my dressing room and found a miniature porcelain doll. It is a little pilgrim doll I bought, years ago, while in a gift shop at Plimouth Plantation. I will bring it out to display on the hutch in the parlour. The children will enjoy seeing it when they come home for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks.
I have limited Internet access, and have enjoyed being completely without it for a few months. I hope to write here when possible, but will continue to send out a monthly newsletter. Old fashioned mail is such fun.