15 November 2014

Homemaking in Challenging Circumstances

Courtesy of Microsoft.

Dear Ladies,

Thanks for reading my last post and for all the kind e-mails and comments.

Due to the smell emanating from my neighbors' home,  I have become, involuntarily, a homemaker in somewhat challenging circumstances.  The family members who were sleeping in the room that shares a wall with the neighboring home are sleeping in my room on air mattresses donated by a friend.  To sleep in my room is a treat for them; after prayers and bedtime routine, we tell stories and sing until I am the only one left awake.  The situation is not ideal.  They could sleep in the living room, but that room tends to be quite drafty and cold from October through February.  Their clothing and bedding has been given a sanitizing wash at the local laundromat and is now being stored in my room, too. I don't know what I am going to do with the furniture in that room: time and more research will tell.

The hallway bathroom that shares a wall with the neighbors' home has been decontaminated as much as I am able to do, and except for my going in there to run the plumbing and wipe down the counters a couple of times a week, the bathroom will remain unused until the situation is positively resolved.  I am grateful (even more than usual) for the blessing of two bathrooms.

To encourage all of us who are homemaking in challenging circumstances, here follows a lady's homemaking in extreme circumstances experience, as excerpted from my book A Fascinating Companion:

"Let me give you an example of a woman who was a Domestic Goddess in extreme circumstances. I knew a woman whose family was without a permanent address for several months. They were homeless because of a mistake that the husband had innocently made. The family home became their car and three small tents at a campground, and yet, this woman made sure that the tents were clean and as comfortable and attractive as possible and that the family's meals were nutritious and tasty although they were prepared on a small cook stove and the barbecues that the campground had set up.  The family ate at a picnic table, but that table was clean and rendered attractive through the use of a tablecloth and a centerpiece. 

"She shopped for food each day because they lacked reliable refrigeration. She laundered their clothing at a laundromat once a week. She did everything in her power to bolster her family's spirits during this trying time, and...her husband and children remembered their time of homelessness as being a time that she held the family together. This lady was truly a Domestic Goddess. 

"To truly enjoy being a homemaker, we need to give our domestic duties a place of importance in our lives. Homemaking duties are not more important than the people in the home, their health and happiness. At the same time, to serve the people in the home and to help them to be healthy and happy, we need to do our work will joy and vigor, going the extra mile to do our jobs well."


Hugs and love!   Please keep the prayers going.

Agape always,
Cynthia

10 November 2014

Tender Mercies

Young Mother Sewing - Mary Cassatt - Public Domain



Dear Ladies,

For the last several weeks, we have been unwell: not actively ill but a lingering feeling of malaise.  We came to find out that one of my neighbors has been doing something, and his actions have negatively impacted our health. That's all that I can reveal publicly. 

My vocation and my jobs have been attended to, but anything extra (such as my love of connecting with other homemakers via this blog) has fallen by the wayside.  Since we have discovered the cause, we have been able to work around the cause, and I expect that we will feel better sooner rather than later. 

I trust that you all pray for us regularly, and I dare to ask that you include a specific request for our protection.  The next months--until the neighbor is evicted or decides to leave on his own--could be very dangerous for us. If I had the money to leave and to move to someplace better, I would do so; perhaps pray for that, too?  God is always good, even when our lives don't take the route we thought they would.

Much love to you and yours!    

"Let Thy tender mercies come unto me, and I shall live: for Thy law is my meditation" (Psalm 118: 77).  I have certainly appreciated all of God's care these past few weeks.  We did not know what was going on, but God did and does. 

Agape always,
Cynthia

PS: In this time of relative quiet, I have thought of a way that I might be able to consider remarriage, all as God wills, of course.

16 October 2014

Want to Feel Happier? Walk this Way...

Leighton - Sunday Morning - 1891 - Public Domain

(The Leighton kick continues but nears its end [I believe].)

As I have been wont to write over the years, sometimes changes occur from the inside out, but sometimes changes occur from the outside to the inside.  A study by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (published by the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry) suggests that changing our walks may contribute to changing our moods.

How interesting, I perceive, that the original Fascinating Womanhood pamphlets recommended something similar nearly a century ago: 

"Now there is walking that consists merely in getting somewhere and there is walking that is an inspiration and a joy in itself. Yours is to be the latter. Walk briskly, throw your shoulders back, hold your abdomen in, and stretch your spine until you feel as erect and tall as you can be. Don’t slouch. Imagine, if you wish, that you are a motion picture actress, and that every step you take is being registered by the camera. You can, if you try, make your walk a thing of grace and beauty, attractive in itself" (The Original Fascinating Womanhood Pamphlets, page 73).

We cannot do everything on our own, but we can do a great deal to help ourselves. Perhaps changing one little something could commence a number of other positive changes?

As always, I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,
Cynthia

12 October 2014

What is the Prime Question Courting Women Need to Ask Themselves?

The Accolade - Leighton - ca. 1900 - Public Domain
(I have been on a Leighton kick lately.)

Women in or seeking courtship sometimes hang themselves up on trivial matters:  Does he have a college education?  Does he belong to the same denomination?  Do we want the same number of children?  Do my parents like him?  Does he make me laugh?  

All of these matters are possible considerations, some of them less important than others, but I believe that the number one question courting women need to ask themselves is "Can I follow this man as he follows God?"  This question presumes, of course, that the man is following God, which would undercoat the entire courtship.

In any organization, one person is the earthly leader.  In Christian marriage, as far as I have been taught and as far as I note in God's word (Col 3 and other places), that person is the husband.  God leads the husband; the husband leads the wife and (if so blessed) the children. 

That prime consideration means that friendship and courtship time should be spent in prayerful discernment and long hours of conversation and observation.  Listen to him, and listen to his family and friends.  You'll have plenty of time for smooch fests after you marry; courtship is the time for talk fests.  The answer to "Can I follow this man?" does not evidence itself in a few hours, days, or weeks.  Usually, at least a year is required, but that time might be lessened if you knew each other casually for a while or if you have friends or relatives in common who would be willing to share their thoughts.

I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,
Cynthia

06 October 2014

Backup Husbands? (Not for the Youngsters)

Tristan and Isolde - Edmund Leighton - 1902 - Public Domain
Today's art was chosen with care, for it depicts the cruel sin of infidelity in a setting of beautiful detail.  Leighton exceeds his usual quality in this painting. He takes great pains to highlight the depravity of unfaithfulness by making the figures, their clothing, the setting appear even more exquisite than usual.  Infidelity can be a paradox like that:  Infidelity lures people with its siren song, "Life will be better over here, with this one."  That siren song is a bunch of hooey!  As the cliché goes, "No matter where you go, there you are."  

Recently a new study was done by Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne which suggested that people were using social media to keep in touch with "back burners"--folks who are defined as "a desired potential or continuing romantic/sexual partner with whom one communicates, but to whom one is not exclusively committed" (study abstract).  According to the study abstract I read, the concept of the "back burner" associate is  nothing new.  However, using social media to communicate with "back burners" is new.

Add to this study the survey that suggests that half of the married women surveyed have a "Plan B" husband waiting in the wings just in case good ol' "Plan A" does not work out.  

Oh, dear!

First of all, I am always concerned about any children involved.  What sort of stability are the children enjoying in their homes?  Mom/dad/both parents remaining ever-vigilant in their search for another spouse instead of giving themselves fully and completely to the present spouse leaves the home in a constant state of flux. Children are highly intuitive, I believe, and while they might not be able to place an exact label on what transpires in their homes, they do recognize immediately when something goes awry.

And what of the "Plan B" people?  People are subjects, not objects.  We all have feelings, don't we?  The "Plan Bs" deserve not to be strung along for another person's amusement, security, or convenience. 

For Christians, the situation becomes even more complex, given the teachings of Jesus about divorce and remarriage in Mark 10:1-12.  

I suggest that rather than having a "Plan B," women devote themselves fully to the husbands they have now.   Help your husband to give you the love you need by becoming the Ideal Woman as delineated in the original pamphlets and as amplified in Mrs. Andelin's book.  When you become the Ideal Woman, his love for you is almost always awakened.  We ladies become "Plan AH" (AH stands for Angela Human), then leave the "Plan Bs" to find Ideal Women of their own.

As always, I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,
Cynthia

30 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #9: Evaluate and Reorganize the Youngsters' Clothes

Courtesy of Microsoft.


I tend to go minimalist on the youngsters' clothing collections, as well.  For us that means...
  • One dressy outfit for Church and other formal occasions
  • Three pair of jeans, one pair of khakis (errand days, appointments), one pair of knee-length shorts
  • Two polo shirts that go with all the pants
  • Five t-shirts that coordinate with all the pants
  • One jacket with a hood
  • One swimming outfit
  • One pair of sandals
  • One pair of athletic shoes
  • One pair of dressy shoes
  • Five pair of dark blue socks, two pair of khaki socks
I purchase almost all the youngsters' clothing at resale shops.  I prefer to purchase lightly used, quality clothing rather than brand new poorly constructed clothing.  Sorting through the youngsters' clothing is a bit easier as I can see what items no longer fit and decide whether to repurpose them, donate them, or return them to nature.  All my friends' children are female or older than my youngsters, so giving to a friend does not apply.  

Autumn is a great time to go through clothing, toys, and books for possible donations to the charity or thrift shop of your choice.  Another possibility is to take gently used items to a consignment shop for evaluation.  Most consignment shop staff are particular, but it can be a way to make a little extra cash.

I hope that my nine little challenges helped to improve your home.  Mine is definitely looking better. 

Agape always,
Cynthia

PS: Today is Womanhood Day.  I plan to bake cookies and serve my family's favorite main dish (lasagne) for dinner.  

27 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #8: Evaluate and Organize the Clothing Collection

Courtesy of Microsoft.

As long-time readers may recall, I like to keep my clothing collection to a minimum.  I am fortunate to live in a two-season climate--summer and the rest of the year--a distinction that makes wardrobe planning easier compared to living in a four-season climate (which I have done).  

I like to keep the following items in my clothing collection:
  • Eight housedresses (most home sewn or purchased at thrift stores)
  • Eight aprons  (most home sewn or received as gifts)
  • Three sets of lingerie (one on, one in the drawer, one in the laundry - I hand wash almost every day)
  • Six nightgowns (three for each season)
  • Two robes (one for each season)
  • Three summer dresses
  • One little black dress (wearable on all but the hottest days)
  • Three light jackets (one to match well enough to make a suit with one of the skirts)
  • Three skirts in neutral colors
  • One twin set
  • Three dressy t-shirts
  • One beautiful white blouse
  • One raincoat
  • Two pairs of shoes
  • One pair of athletic shoes
  • One purse that matches the shoes
  • Two tote bags
Having a relatively spare clothing collection allows me to store everything in one small closet and provides enough clothing for me to go an entire week without washing anything but my lingerie. However, even the best-planned wardrobe needs maintenance and the occasional culling.  

To complete this challenge, I remove the clothing from the closet (yes, I hang up everything as I don't own a chest of drawers) and inspect everything for holes, tears, stains that might have been missed, etc.  Then, I give everything the love test:  Do I still love the item?  Does it help me to show my family and associates the picture of womanhood that I wish to display?  If an item no longer works for me, I give it to a friend, donate it, turn it into cleaning rags, or return it to nature.  

Before returning everything to the closet, I vacuum the closet carpet and wipe down the floorboards and the hanging rod.  The entire process takes about two hours, assuming that I don't allow myself to become sentimental.  

How are you reorganizing your clothing collection?

Agape always,
Cynthia

PS: Womanhood Day is Tuesday, September 30.  What are your plans?
 
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