Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Of Elegance and Everyday....

As I've said before on this blog, I started homemaking in the days before the Internet.

As a brand new bride, I moved fourteen hours away from my mother and ten hours away from my mother-in-law. Now, I look back and see that God surrounded me with many women who could have been like a "mother" or "mother-in-law" to me. In fact, I did learn from the older homemakers who attended our church.

At the time, however, I was not aware of how God's plan in Titus 2 works. Thus, I did not learn as much as I might have. I had read the verses about older women teaching the younger. I thought I knew the concept, but my view of it was limited. I suppose I thought of it mostly in terms of attending a Ladie's Bible Class once a week. That is a great venue for such teaching, but there was so much more that I missed. I didn't understand the depth of friendships that God wants us to have in the fellowship, and I had no clue how to go about building those friendships.

Besides, I was too prideful and too embarrassed to admit how much help I needed in learning how to manage my home. I was just discovering that the process of pulling various skills together into the oversight of a home is far more challenging than the world believes.

I am grateful that when we moved another city, we became part of a church where we learned the importance of godly friendships. I saw how important it was to have women in my life whom I knew and who knew me.

Today's homemaker has an added plus: blogs that inspire and teach women how to manage their homes. As a young bride, I would have loved to have access to the information you can now find on the Internet. Even now, I glean a lot from homemaking blogs, and I also read them when I'm flagging a bit in inspiration. Homemaking blogs are a valuable resource, provided that you measure them against the truths of God's word.

Having said that, I still believe that the personal touch is needed if you really want to grow in walking like the Lord, loving your family, developing a godly character, and managing your home. In real friendships, you understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. If you draw close in friendship to an older woman, you know her as a whole person -- not just as an image projected in a blog. Because you know that she is a real woman, with real struggles, you can identify with her and learn from her. And, since she knows you, she can gently help you see yourself, so that you can identify weaknesses to overcome and strengths that God has blessed you with.

I related so much to Meredith's comment yesterday on "Like Merchant Ships." She is "teaching" one of our "finishing school classes" this week, and her topic is living elegantly on a budget. I had to laugh when she talked about being a mom who wears stretch pants and a layer of Cheerio dust. She stated that she doesn't think of herself as an elegant woman, but she has learned many ways over the years simple and frugal ways to add beauty to her home life.

Now, I find Meredith's tips to be elegant indeed. Her post about corralling breakfast messes into pretty containers took me back to a time when no one ever set a carton or a cooking pot or a bottle of ketchup on the family table. Instead, people put food, condiments, milk, etc., into attractive serving dishes. I, myself, have gotten quite lazy in that area. Meredith's post inspired me to think that just a little extra effort would add a great deal of pleasure to our family meals.

At the same time, Meredith's comments about the stretch pants and cheerio dust touched on one of my secret fears. The young ladies at church who ask me questions about marriage or their children already know that I am far from perfect. So, they can place my thoughts in the proper context. Yet, I fear that women in the blog-o-sphere might imagine that I write about homemaking while attired in a shirtwaist and pearls and sitting in a perfect house, surrounded by a perfect family.

I have learned many things about homemaking in the past twenty-six years, and I love talking about homemaking and learning more about it. I enjoy loving my family and caring for my home. Yet, I also struggle with my weight and health; my furniture is worn from years of both children and guests sitting on the couches; and, right now, I should stop typing and tidy up my kitchen.

If there's one thing that I hope all of the women take away from the Finishing School project is that none of us has fully arrived. We all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn. That is true on our blogs, and that is true with the friends we see everyday.



Sandra said...

Hi Elizabeth, Another lovely post!

I just wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying the Ladies Finishing School. I really appreciate your efforts in starting it...thank you!

Julieann said...

Elizabeth, I loved this post. Years ago when I first married---I made a promise that I would never have my husband come home to me wearing sweats --I have kept that promise too. I make sure I am wearing something nice and if I am scared it might get ruined I wear my apron.....of course when I know I am going to be working with bleach I don't wear my black dress----I am sure you know what I mean. You mean you AREN'T wearing pearls right now? Just kidding:)

Wonderful post as always!!


Elizabeth said...

Hi Sandar,

I'm so glad you are enjoying the Finishing School. I'm enjoying it, too.

Hi Julieann,

That's a great promise you made to yourself about never letting your husband see you in sweats! I'm sure your hubby appreciates it.

I made a similar promise to myself -- that DH would never see me in curlers or with a mask on my face, or such. I've had curlers on a few times in his presence, but I do manage to do most of my "pretifying" in privacy. I have this idea that it keeps a little mystery alive in a marriage.

Actually, when I wrote that post, I was wearing pearl earrings. Does that count? LOL. But, at the moment, the resemblance between me and June Cleaver stopped there.

I'm a lot younger than Wally and the Beaver. But, even when I was a little girl, my mother and her friends always cleaned house in shirtwaist dresses and a strand of beads or pearls. They got their hair done once a week, with lots of hairspay to keep it "done" for a week. And, they really did look as elegant as June Cleaver!


Mrs. Brigham said...

Thank you for this post, Elizabeth, It really blessed my heart. :o)

New Mom said...

Thank you so much for your sincerity and humility. As a young woman, it's easy to get caught up in looking around and envying those "perfect wives,"-- especially those portrayed in blog world. It's nice to be reminded that we are all human!

Elizabeth said...

Hello, Mrs. Brigham and New Mom

Thank you for your kind comments.


Birdie said...

Absolutely lovely! Thanks for posting this.

Susan in Elk Grove, CA said...

Just found your blog while "linking around". I've been married for almost 26 years, been a Christian for 22, and a mother for 23 years. I know exactly what you mean....and have been pondering my role as an older woman for awhile, now. God has recently brought a young bride into our fellowship, and I am conscious of the role I could play in her life. I am praying for wisdom!