Weekend Thoughts

This was circulating among email inboxes as a forward some time back. I enjoyed reading it.

The History of ‘APRONS’

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress
underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans
from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was
even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs,
fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the
hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the
peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had
fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how
much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved
her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will
replace that “old-time apron” that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill
to cool.

Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.
Photo: Luke making our breakfast this morning. What a man!

Moving Away From Self-Preservation

A girl I know is going through a really rough time. She shared the other day how she felt as if all she was doing these days was taking care of her children, and she didn’t like the way she and her husband had no time for each other or anything else. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and this situation, and decided to email her with some of my thoughts on the matter.
It is customary to want to encourage and cheer someone who is tired and feeling really spent, by telling that person that this too shall pass and that they will find time for themselves and will soon get to take a break, because that person deserves a break. There is a sense of entitlement that we can have in life that I believe doesn’t really exist. The truth is that a life lived with God in control is quite difficult, and we are never guaranteed, nor should we ever expect, a break.
For many years of my married and mothering life, I lived and served my family in a way that my motive was, ‘okay, I will work only this hard, because I want to have something left at the end of it for me.’ For example, Nap Time was to be ‘me’ time, so I would get riled if someone didn’t sleep. At a certain point of exhaustion or emotional upheaval, I would shut down, thinking that God wouldn’t want me to entirely spend my energies on my family. I should be able to have a break, right?
Then, long about 2003, I read an article in Above Rubies that changed all that. The title of the article was, “How do you cope with exhaustion?” and when I sat down to read it, I looked forward to gleaning some good advice on how to get more breaks in my day. [smile] Boy, did the author, Melissa Anderson, go in a different direction than I envisioned! She spoke about how exhaustion in motherhood is to be expected, and that Jesus Himself became exhausted in His work. We have the choice of giving in to it, as is our human nature, or warring against it, as He did, by spending time with the Father. He didn’t let Himself be consumed by exhaustion. Melissa pointed out, “there is no doubt a person will be consumed. The question is by what (or whom) you will be consumed.” Later she wrote,”Unless we arrive at Job’s conviction of ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ [Job 15:13], we will not enter into the fullness of the rest He wants to provide.” Woah there, lady. You’re saying that I have to totally surrender my hopes of rest in order to gain the rest I want? And, that God’s plan is that I be totally consumed by His will and work? [nervous chuckle] I didn’t see that going over real well around my heart and my home.
The last part of the article went like this:”Eventually, each of us will find ourselves facing the question, ‘What if there is nothing left of me for me?’ This is cause for soul-searching. I realize I have a higher calling than self-preservation.
That last phrase hit me between the eyes, it was so revolutionary to my way of thinking. I had to admit that I was pursuing self-preservation; I expected, thought I had a right, to something left for me after I served others. But, I also had to admit that nowhere in the Bible did I see Jesus serving others with that motive. No, watching Him we saw, quite graphically, the meaning of the words spent, poured out, set aside, sacrificed, broken, became nothing.
Lines from Jeremy Riddle‘s song, Sweetly Broken, say it beautifully:
To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing
For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
So, when I wrote to this girl, I wanted to remind her in these hard times the truth that I had been blessed to discover, that for her to be totally spent on her children right now is God’s purpose fulfilled in her life. She will, of course, see days to come where things aren’t so hard and she gets those much needed times of rest. But if she lives thinking she is entitled to anything, ungratefulness and discontent will swallow her up.
Let’s each let go of ‘me’, let’s live life to God’s glory, and we’ll never be disappointed.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

Thundering Sneakers: A Book Review

This is a bit lengthy; my regulars can feel free to skip or skim.
Thundering Sneakers, by Prudence Mackintosh, is basically a compilation of articles that she wrote in the 70’s for Texas Monthly about the joys and humor of raising her three boys. Does everyone want to know what “thundering sneakers” could possibly mean? Maybe I should make you read the book and find out for yourselves. I don’t know if I found the book to be so humorous because a) I’m just glad these outrageous things haven’t happened to me (yet), or b) I’m getting good at knowing that even our family’s bad days will have their funny parts down the road when I look back.
The book is divided into three parts: part one looks like a collection of memories of the children before any were in school, part two begins reminiscing when the oldest starts first grade, and the final part shares chapters that showcase each child, the husband, and the father-son relationship they have.
I could relate to the first part most, I think because mine are all still that young, and the mishaps she shares are happening on our Center Street Stage daily. It truly was easy to identify with her and her struggles, in spite of this being written 30 years ago. Many things about being a mom never change.
The chapter about her her third son, William, in part three, was special to me. In her day, when two children were the average, she (in jest) called it “a perilous venture” to have a third child, and went on to describe the many joys William contributed to their lives. In our family, our children find welcoming each new sibling to be more and more exciting, the more we have. It is as Prudence once heard someone say, “Ain’t it funny how some babies jus’ show up bein’ comp’ny.”
Some descriptions she gives of clothing and decor date the book, but the overall purpose is timeless. I believe the purpose of Prudence’s book was to share that “life with children must be appreciated in the process.” Hoping for the next day, or grieving over what could have been- neither attitude works for a mother during those years she is at home caring for her children. One must be content in the moment, and look for the many things there are that bring joy and laughter right now, for this moment will soon fade into the next moment. Good advice I constantly need to hear.
Among the many thoughts shared in the book, Prudence mentioned two issues that still linger today as matters of debate- women pursuing careers instead of staying home with their children, and the erosion of community. It was a bit ominous reading her words because, back in 1970, these were relatively new concerns, and now the two situations are so much worse.
Her thoughts on mothers staying home:
“Now I’m all for women developing competency and self-reliance, but…Anyone who has worked longer than a year knows that eventually any job loses most of its glamour. And the world is no less “real” at home. For that matter, mothers at home may be more “real” than bankers or lawyers…How can reading a balance sheet compare with comforting a five year old who holds his limp cat and wants to know why we have to lose the things we love?”
What is changing about her neighborhood:
“There is no doubt that we are becoming a more affluent neighborhood… we tend to buy our privacy, not neighborhood togetherness… As the cost of heating and cooling has climbed, we are less likely to leave the kitchen door open… we enclosed the side porch. We needed the extra room and gave little thought to the role that porches play in binding neighborhoods. Neighbors who wouldn’t think of knocking on your front door for an informal visit can see you on a porch and not feel that they are imposing… fenced backyards are becoming almost compulsory… Locked in their own backyard, little boys might miss the… chance to retch and gag when the teenage girl across the street kisses her boy friend goodbye after school.”
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. Every once in a while I would tire of the attitude she conveyed that ‘this is how I hoped to raise these boys, but this is how it really turned out, and I couldn’t do anything about it’. The latter piece of that is what gets me. Yes, children will act out and surprise us from time to time, but for the most part, the product shows what we put into it. She could have done things differently in some scenarios, and wouldn’t have had such chaotic results. She was not so helpless as she tried to make herself out to be. But, as she said in her preface, she “never attempted to offer final solutions or pediatric advice-only the solace of shared experience.” If I look at the book with this in mind, I have to admit that she was quite successful.

Odd Offerings Updated

Various bits of information that I know you desperately need, but don’t fit in a post anywhere else:
Meredith mentioned Top Secret Recipes a few weeks back. I took a look and tried their ‘Panera’ Broccoli Cheddar Soup- quite yummy. I’ll probably stick with my Mennonite cookbook recipe for it, though, since I’m more comfortable making it that way. The website offers a new ‘restaurant copycat’ recipe a month; I look forward to seeing what they mimic in April. *Oops- looks like it is every week, not every month. Sign up for updates so you can be more on top of it than I am.:)
What kind of M & M are you? At this website, you can give yourself a chocolatey makeover, complete with a custom candy coating. I wanted to save my creation to my computer so I could post it here, but was prevented from doing this. *Hold the anchovies; Luke showed me how to save it! Press ‘download’ at the bottom of your finished candy person, then right-click and choose ‘save image as…’ Thanks, hubby.
Barbara Curtis mentioned Paperback Swap a while ago. We don’t accumulate too many books (that we don’t intend to keep) around here, but I know of some of you who do. Maybe this would be a great way for you to declutter.
Today is half off day at Salvation Army in my town; I’m hoping I can get out to shop. Two weeks ago I went, and came home with two pairs of sneakers for the boys for $.50 each, and a shirt and jumper for Abbie totaling $1.50. Not too shabby. Call your local thrift shops and find out when their sale day is; this can be a great way to stock up on summer clothes for children.
I finished Thundering Sneakers yesterday, and hope to post a review tomorrow.
Have a great day!

Gleaning From The Weekend Sermons

It must be possible to have every virtue but love, and use them to their fullest, for a while. Strange but true. Paul warns in Colossians 3 and 1 Corinthians 13, though, that without love, our efforts will come to nothing. I’ve written before about my burden to see my kids get saved. Aliyah especially is getting to the age where her misbehavior can only be so corrected by us; she needs the Savior, and the Holy Spirit inside her to convict her of wrong and teach her Who is in control. I’ve felt lately like I am not getting anywhere with her on spiritual matters. It occurred to me, and not for the first time, that maybe I am attempting this in my own strength. I exercise patience, kindness, and serve her, but it is because I know that is what I am supposed to do, and I don’t always have love as my motive. If I loved her, I would lay her at the feet of Jesus at the outset, watch for His healing touch, wait for His direction in the matter at hand.
The speaker, Louie Giglio, at the concert last night said many thought-provoking things. Chris Tomlin’s tour is called the How Great Is Our God tour, named for a song that he has out on this latest album. Louie drove home the point that God truly is great, so great in magnitude that we honestly can’t get our minds around how big he really is. So great in His creative power in making each one of our bodies, that we often ignore how we are created in His image, rather than try to understand it. And so great is His love toward us, that He was willing to become one of us relatively tiny creatures, and die on a cross, so that we could be free from sin and have eternal life with Him. But we have trouble even grasping that. Louie’s talk was a good reminder to me of how little I am, and how I need to be letting God have control in my life and the lives of my children. He has it anyway, but if I don’t live like He does, and try to solve problems and run the show myself, my kids won’t know that I love them, and they won’t know that God loves them, either. I want to let the power of the cross do its work, and not let the foolishness of ‘my wisdom’ get in the way.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Weekend Thoughts

“Fixity of heart is a rare thing and probably always has been. It is easier to follow after the world in its futile pursuit of happiness, simply because we are like sheep and we go astray. To stay quietly by the Shepherd seems harder, but in the end we find there (and nowhere else) our soul’s real strength.” Elisabeth Elliot
Read the entire devotional here.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day

I’m always up for a free day at the Y- looks like April 14th is the next opportunity. Read about Healthy Kids Day, and see if your local Y is involved, here.

Babies On My Mind

Bits of news to end the week:
An update on Vincent. This was the latest word-
“Pray for the Karnai family. Vincent will be undergoing surgery tomorrow to put in a trach and a feeding tube in his stomach. As long as surgery goes well, he will go home in a week. A lot of changes are in store for this family. Pray for strength.”
For me to tell this little one’s story has been piecemeal, since all I know is what I get in emails (distant friend of a friend communication). I guess we know enough to pray, though.

In case someone is reading that doesn’t know yet, I have a little one on the way, number six. I had an ultrasound and it looks like baby’s a boy! This evens the score, three to three, or four all, if you count Luke and me. The imaging center has a new 3-D ultrasound feature, and since it is so new, they are letting everybody have it done. So after all the measurements were taken, the tech tried to get some 3-D images. Whew! It is harder than it seems. They have to catch baby totally surrounded by fluid, with no limbs in their face. This little guy didn’t give a hoot about those rules, and nosed up to the tissue wall or had his hands up in his face the whole time. Didn’t make for good shots. Oh, well. I thought as I was leaving, if we have any more, technology will advance to where I am taking home 4-D movies of the baby. Pretty neat times we’re in.

I’ll be back next week with, I hope, a review of the first book I finished in my reading challenge, Thundering Sneakers. That, and my thoughts of the Chris Tomlin concert we (finally!) get to attend on Sunday. That, and what I’m thinking about life in general at the moment. Stay tuned.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”1 Corinthians 1:4-9

da Vinci And Me

In Aliyah’s art lessons last week, we learned about Leonardo da Vinci. He was a genius-an expert in music, architecture, military strategy, engineering, science, astronomy, botany, anatomy, and, of course, art. Yet, we learned, he was so busy jumping from idea to idea, that he rarely was able to accomplish much. His Mona Lisa is well known; instead of moving on to paint other things, however, he would keep coming back to it, and worked on it for years.
From the art lesson:
“Fewer than 20 of his paintings exist.
None of his building designs were ever built. His only large sculpture, a clay horse, was destroyed by French soldiers when they marched into Italy. But he did leave more than 7,000 journal pages filled with his sketches and inventions. His artworks are treasured as some of the world’s greatest masterpieces.”

I knew a little about da Vinci before, but when I realized how talented he was and how little he accomplished, I felt sad for him. But maybe I am wrong to assume that he wanted to do more than he got done. Maybe going back over his paintings and reworking them gave him great joy.
It seems to me, though, that he was striving for perfection, and in doing so, he only gained a few masterpieces. If he might have settled for less (say, just the greatest artist in his lifetime, not the greatest ever), we might have need of two Louvres, or at least a bigger Met. It is an interesting thing to think about.
I have a few talents, not as many as da Vinci, but I feel a renewed desire after reading about da Vinci’s career to work at putting them to use, to have some tangible things that will last, for my children to see and remember me. It would be wonderful to leave behind things I made and have done, not to point to myself or my greatness, but to inspire my children and others to use their talents to the glory of God, as well. Better get knittin’.
“Head of a Young Woman” –WebMuseum