Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Love Always Trusts....I Corinthians 13

As with all of God's instructions, there's so much power in these three little words in I Corinthians: Love Always Trusts. Creating an atmosphere of trust in your home is essential for a happy, thriving marriage and for the good of your children.

There was a time when my husband and I disagreed over trivial things -- such as how to fold towels. Later on, we'd wonder why these things were such a big deal. We discovered that it boiled down to a lack of trust in each other's heart. We invested even little things with doubts about each other.

We thought things like this: "If she loved me, she would..." or "She goofed up in that area, because she just doesn't care." "If he loved me, he would..." or "He acted that way because he's just mean."

We would assign motives before really talking things out, which I believe falls under Jesus admonitions against judging shallowly and falsely. We learned -- the hard way -- that it is always better to approach each other with an attitude of trust.

Our thinking changed to something like this: "He (or she) may be goofing up or even sinning in
the moment. This may be something that we do need to talk about. But, I have faith that we can get beyond this. I know that this is not what he (she) really wants deep inside. I know that he (she) loves God and that he (she) loves me. He (she) is a new creation in Christ, and that is his (her) true nature.

We stopped taking each other's quirks, little failings, and differences of opinions so personally. We started looking to each other's better nature and also putting our ultimate trust in God. Of course, we are not perfect in this. But, this is something that we learned that has added joy and richness to our love. Now, we can discuss problems -- even larger problems --calmly and with faith that God will lead us to work things out.

We learned the same thing with our children. As they have grown older, at different times, they have struggled with different things. Their faith has been tested in areas. We have learned -- in part because of great advice from other parents -- that our children will weather these storms much better if they know we have faith in God and in them. If children are going through a shaky time in life and they sense their parents are panicking over them, they will lose faith that they can make it through a time of trial. Conversely, if they are uncertain about something pertaining to growing up, they will handle it so much better if our faith is a refuge for them.

Now, that's not to say that we shouldn't be urgent for a spouse or a child who is floundering spiritually. But, there is a difference between urgency and giving way to fear and a lack of trust. Urgency, when combined with faith, moves us to pray, to speak the truth in love, and to look for ways to serve someone. Fear and lack of trust causes us to be critical, anxious, nagging, and ineffectual in helping someone overcome their problems.

In one of my favorite passages, Peter tells wives that we are Sarah's daughters if we do what is right and do not give way to fear. He tells us that the beauty of the holy women of the past was that they put their hope in God. Because their hope was in God, they were able to trust that God would take care of them, even if their husbands were not perfect.

Trust helps us in friendships, as well. We may see a friend act or hear them speak in a way that we do not understand at first. If we do not trust, we may be quick to put the wrong interpretation on that. It could be something as simple as thinking someone did not smile at us when they saw us at church. We then wonder, "Have I done something to offend her? Does she not like me anymore?" Later on, we may find out that our friend was battling a migraine or had just received some disturbing news. If we have a heart of trust, we will avoid reacting to things until we know the full story.

Trust involves thinking of the other person before we think of ourselves. If we are self-focused, we will react to others out of fear, self-protectiveness, and over-concern for our own feelings in a situation. If we are God-focused, we will trust, be patient, and find out the facts before we re-act.

In short: Be real about problems, but hold on to faith and love. Love always trusts...

For further study: I Corinthians 13:1-7, James 1:2-4, I Peter 2:20 through I Peter 3:9


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's Review --
Simplicity Dryer Sheets

Has anyone tried the Simplicity hypoallergenic/non-toxic/biodegradable fabric softener/dryer sheets from WalMart?

I have bought other dryer sheets and fabric softeners, but, honestly, I do not use them very much. I decided yesterday that with the humid weather coming, I'd like to use something to keep my fabrics soft and fresh. So, I decided to browse the fabric care section.

The first thing to catch my eye about the Simplicity dryer sheets is that they are hypoallergenic. We are in serious allergy season here, and I could try out for a part in Snow White as Sneezy or Wheezy or Sleepy. Any little thing I can do to avoid extra allergens right now is a bonus.

Only after I checked out this hypoallergenic claim did I realize that the sheets are also supposed to be earth friendly.

I bought the unscented kind, and the lack of scent is probably at least a contributing factor to their being hypoallergenic. I read this morning that Simplicity also offers a lavender scented kind, also. I didn't think this through very well, as fabric freshness is at least as important to me as the softness factor -- especially in summer. So, I do not know if an unscented fabric softener will impart freshness. However, softness is important to DH, so I am interested to see if he will like the results of a drying with these sheets as much as he does when I use something like Downy.

For a non-toxic product, the Simplicity box carries a lot of warnings about the proper use. Most of these precautions are the kind you see on any cleaning product: not to be ingested, if swallowed call physician immediately, flush eyes with water if it comes into contact with eyes, keep away from pets and children.

It's also not to be used on flame resistant items, as it reduces flame resistance. I do not have small children in the house, so that is not an issue for me. But, if I were still washing children's jammies, I wonder if I would have seen that note on the box before buying it.

You see, dryer sheets are such a common item, I assumed I knew how to use it without reading all of the fine print. I was in a hurry to get groceries put away and to move laundry through the process, and I was eager to try a new product. So, I just tossed a sheet in without reading the directions.

Consequently, I also missed the fact that you are supposed to divide the perforated sheet into two sections and throw both sections into the dryer. This is to keep one large sheet from clogging up the dryer vents and causing a fire. Fortunately, I did not cause a fire.

Anyhow, this was a good reminder to me to read everything on a box before you purchase a new item or even a familiar item in a different brand than you normally use. And, likewise, if there are any inside instructions, you should read those before using.

The box says there is a chance of the sheets spotting fabric, but it gives simple directions for remedying this. I had no problems with spotting on my first trial.

So far, I have only used the sheets once, and that was for white bedsheets. The bedsheets are soft, but they tend to be soft, anyway, so I can't tell a discernible difference. So, it's too early for me to comment about the fabric softener sheet's performance.

However, I'm happy to see that manufacturers are attempting to provide affordable health-friendly and environment-friendly products.

If you'd like to check out Simplicity's line, visit their web site at

If you have used these dryer sheets, I'd love to hear your review. Leave a comment!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Where I'm From.

I am from sunshine on seawater, from beach food, from Durkees' on French fries and cherries floating in cokes, from shrimp fried in Mayport.

I am from a home in which I was loved and sung to and read to and rocked, I am from a home that I could always count on to be home, from a home in which in which my parents grew old together, from a home that moved -- love intact -- from north Florida's gardens to Atlanta's suburban lawns.

I am from roses, from magnolias, from dogwoods, and azaleas, from kumquats and crepe myrtles, from sour woods, and towering pines. I am from the strong arms of live oaks, and the tender fronds of weeping willows.

I am from generations upon generations of Tennessee farmers and from Southern talkers, from the keepers of family history and from those who live long. I am from a father who tenderly nursed my mother through the long years and years of her dying.

I am from Victorian grandparents and I am from modern times. I am from the days of watching rocket ships lauched from Cape Canaveral, from TV shots of landing on the moon, from blow-dryers to personal computers to laptops to I-pods, from Yardley and Bonnie Bell to Prescriptives.

I am from the joy of reading, from Winnie-the-Pooh and Dr. Seuss. I am from churches in pretty buildings in big cities, and I am from a little church in the country, where the sermon was accompanied by the swishing of fans, fans provided by the local funeral parlor.

I am snatched from days lost in prodigal wanderings and in older "brother" grumblings. I from God's hands, from Christ's blood, from the Spirit's word, from the cross and the resurrection, from the new birth in baptism, from the school of Jesus.

I'm from the South, from Florida and Georgia and Texas and Alabama and Tennessee. I am from fried chicken and biscuits and buttermilk pie. I am from cats napping on beds, from afternoons in porch swings, from breezes blowing in through open windows.

I am from men and women who turned wilderness into plantations and farms, from men who fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War, and from women who held things together while they were gone, from parents who lived through the Depression and World War II.

I am from my husband's faith, his love, his hugs, his laughter, and his support, and I am from my children's kisses, their smiles, their love, and their joy.

I have from wondrous places and from astonishing times -- from mostly sweet and from sometimes bitter -- and, still, I am on my way home.


I got the idea to write this after reading Lori Seaborg's post on Keeping the Home. She gave a link to this template:

I love this template, because 1) it makes you think and 2) it is a way for someone who is not a poet -- like moi, the non-poet -- to express herself in verse. Well, after reading this, you may think that #2 is a bit of a stretch. :)

Check out Lori's version of Where I'm From: Where I'm From -- Lori

If you do one, I'd love to know.



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why your role in the home will always be important...

Here's an interesting quote from Kathy Peel, who wrote an excellent book entitled, "The Family Manager":
"If you suddenly won the lottery or inherited a large sum of money and were able to hire a full-time cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, gardener, handyman, social director, accountant and secretary, there's still one department you'd still have to personally oversee -- family members and friends. No one else can be a wife to your husband, a mother to your children, a daughter to your parents, a daughter-in-law to your in-laws, a sister to your siblings, or a friend to your friends."

There's no doubt that managing the physical aspects of homemaking is important. But, why? Because of relationships. Out of gratitude, we want to be good stewards of all that God has given us. Because we love our families, we want to provide them with spiritual training, clean and pleasant homes, good and nourishing food, suitable clothing, health care, education, etc. Because we have been loved, we are urgent to share love with others.

Some of us will be able to hire others to take care of certain aspects of homemaking. After all, the worthy woman had servants. However, the woman who can pay others to do some physical work must not assume that, simply by doing so, she has fulfilled all that she is called to be in her home. She is still needed to be a loving, guiding presence in the family.

Perhaps, one reason why people undervalue the importance of a woman's role as wife and mother is because they fail to understand the heart of it. Maybe, when we, ourselves, find our enthusiasm flagging -- as we all do at times -- it's because we temporarily forget why we do what we do.

We get into trouble when we reduce the larger mission of making a home to the purely mechanical performance of household tasks. Of course, there are many domestic jobs that the keeper at home must attend to, either by doing them herself or by delegating them. After all, as the quote goes, "Love is in the details", and there are a myriad details that make up the physical care of a household. However, of even greater importance is the heart of a woman. This sets the tone of her home, whether the woman can afford outside help or not.

Here's an example of what I mean: Two women can each scrub a toilet. One can grumble as she does it, feeling picked on because this chore has fallen to her, feeling demeaned by having to do what in her eyes is a menial act, and regretting that it will only need to be performed again soon. Another will think of how delightful and healthful it will be for her family members and for her guests (and for herself) to have clean facilities to use, how grateful she is to live in modern times with indoor plumbing, of how thankful she is to have the physical strength to serve, and of how she wants to show love even in this small act.

Love -- it makes all the difference.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Adorning the Home with Intangible Collections

Collecting objects according to a theme is one way to express individuality and creativity in your home. We've all seen items grouped together to make a charming display: teacups, baskets, and shells are three popular items to collect. At one time, I collected country French roosters and hens and still use some in my kitchen.

As lovely as these collections can be, there is another kind of collection that I read about. In the book, Special Delivery, which is both a personal Bible study and a book describing how to write letters for any type of occasion, the author mentions collecting opportunities to write encouraging notes.

I thought that was a charming idea, and it spurred me to thinking. What other types of intangible collections could adorn our home? I came up with a few ideas. Maybe, you can think of some other ones:

1) Collect opportunities to be a secret servant -- Look for ways to serve family members and those outside your family and see if you can sneak in a few without anyone ever knowing you were the one who performed the act of service. Back during the first gasoline crunch in the late 70's, my future mother-in-law got up early, took my future husband's car to the gas station, waited in line for a long time to get up to the gas pump, filled the up with gas, drove it home, and left it in the driveway. It was such a pleasant surprise to him to get in the car and have it already filled. Little things like that make such pleasant memories.
2) Collect opportunities to smile -- Of course, there is a time to smile, and a time to be serious. But, if you tend to be out of balance on the serious side, look for opportunities to flash someone an encouraging smile.
3) Collect smiles from others -- When someone flashes you a particularly pleasant smile, make a note of it so it will be stored in your memory. Our memories are constantly recording impressions. However, the impressions that our memories tend to bring up for review are those that were either ultra-happy or ultra-challenging -- whatever was out of the ordinary. For some people, the mind especially dwells on the ultra-challenging. One way to increase our storehouse of pleasant memories is to be intentionally mindful of even small, but pleasant impressions -- even something so simple as a lovely smile. On a gloomy day, we can reflect on the smiles we have received from our spouse, our children, babies, grandparents, friends, etc. If we treasure these in our hearts, we will find ourselves smiling, too.
4) Collect memories of lovely things in nature -- The world abounds with beautiful evidences of God's creation. Take note of them, and call them up whenever you want to relax. Yesterday, I went to the dentist for a deep cleaning -- not my favorite thing to do. I rendered an uncomfortable time more comfortable by thinking about an afternoon, many years ago, when our family went to the zoo. We walked through a large butterfly tent, in which butterflies of all different kinds were allowed to fly freely about. Some of them lit on us. It was so fun to be in a tent full of such lovely creatures. Little did I know then that I was storing up a memory that would be soothing in the future. We all have such experiences; how wonderful it is to really think about them or jot them down in a journal so that we can look back on them.
5) Collect heavenly treasures -- Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:29-21

For truly lovely adornments to your house, collect these things together with your children!


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wives and Daughters -- Fathers and Sons

Did you know that just a couple of years before Mrs. Gaskell wrote Wives and Daughters, the Russian author, Ivan wrote a book called, "Fathers and Sons". Like Gaskell, he authored his novel in the 1860's, but, also like Gaskell, he sets the novel in the 1830's and '40's.
Like Wives and Daughters, Fathers and Sons is about generational changes in outlook. Turgenev wrote about the cultural chasm he saw growing between Russian liberals in the earlier part of the 19th century when compared to he complete nihilism that was coming into vogue in among younger Russian intellectuals. The nihilists, like some counterparts among the post-Darwinian movement, believed that "pure" science held all of the answer for mankind. The Russian nihilists took this a step further. They wished to do away with all institutions, except for a national government composed of people who would lead and educate the people according to "enlightened" nihilist values. Hmm...Is there some historical foreshadowing here?

The main character, Bazarov, finds that his nihilism falls apart when it is confronted with human emotions, particularly when he is rejected by the woman he loves. Bazarov's nihilist theories also give his parents pain, and he is frustrated by the fact that his parents don't see things his way. His story is contrasted with a friend's, who marries and has a happy home.

Mrs. Gaskell entitled one of the chapters in her book "Father and Sons." Notes to the book suggest this might be an oblique reference to Turgenev's novel, but I am not sure about that. It seems to me as if it's a logical title for that chapter in its own right.

Had Mrs. Gaskell read "Fathers and Sons" when she wrote "Wives and Daughters"? Quite possibly. Lots of people were reading it in England at the time she penned her novels. Were any themes in "Wives and Daughters" influenced by Turgenev's work? I wouldn't venture to say. Perhaps, someone who has studied this era's literature would be more qualified to speak about this.