Monday, December 5, 2016

In One Little Sentence of Mary

In One Little Sentence of Mary

I stood at my ironing board  - it is just the right height - and practiced my 15 minute talk so many times that I started loosing my voice. Therefore, the day before the Christmas Tea I kept quiet. 

This is a gorgeous American patriotic painting of Christmas 1795.

I enjoyed the Tea. It was lovely to have some lady's chatter (a contented hum could be heard) and meet blog readers in person on December 1st. 

Here I share a little of my talk.  

Christmastime is a time of togetherness. Big suppers. Open-house parties. Recitals, etc. And yet, it is also time for solitary reflection. Especially when we are shuffling around regular chores to fit in the Christmas-y ones, we shuffle some more to keep Christ in Christmas.     

I found the best way to commune with Jesus is to open the pages of the Gospels. As simple as this is, it may take some doing if you are surrounded by young children and their ongoing urgent needs. But it is exactly because we are surrounded by people and chores needing our attention, that we also seek to make a little time for ourselves. To be alone with God. 

I went bananas over this gingerbread cookie pineapple a friend made me.
I like having a Bible on my kindle. In the early hours, in the dark hours of a winter's morning, the gentle light of my kindle brings me the Word. I can read while the Man-of-the-House is occupied in the next room. He starts his day earlier than I. 
Eloise examining an acorn in the cardigan Grandma knit.

A girl can glean much in 2 minutes of reading the Gospels while also sharing her deepest longings and cares. And in 5 to 8 minutes a whole chapter of the Gospels can be absorbed. The number of minutes is not of the essence. I bring up minutes here only because I am always amazed at how many of them I had just spent scrolling down my Facebook posts. On Facebook, 20 minutes disappears in thin air. I am trying to remedy this - such as having some Facebook-free days. 

Some girls are not morning-people. If not, then another space of time can be had. You may not feel optimistic. Perhaps you feel that nothing short of turning your day's set-of-hours upside down will enable you fit in time for yourself. May I console you? Less drastic measures will more-than-likely meet your needs. 

I remember something shared by an older woman-in-the-Lord. I was a young mother then. The writer mentioned that she kept a Bible open on her oak sideboard. This piece of furniture was next to the staircase in the center of her house - just where my sideboard was, coincidentally. Like me, she walked passed it often. She would pass her sideboard to carry clean wash upstairs, to set the table,  reach for a jar in her pantry, get to the broom closet. In the midst of her chores and energetic children, she would pause to read her Bible, where it rested on the sideboard, where she had left the satin ribbon between its pages. This gave her something to ponder privately during December's busy days. She could be mindful even if her mindfulness was centered upon a single verse or two.    

Baptist Meeting House built 1806 in Vermont. This is a color photograph. See the wreaths on the door?

If we draw near to God, He draws near to us - in a quiet corner - in a quiet way. If Facebook draws you, momentarily put your cellphone in the garage if you have to - where the Amish keep their phones - where you can't hear it ring. Why the Gospels? It is in the Gospels where we find an intimate theology. 

In the first chapters of Luke, Mary and Joseph are in the middle of an intimate theology. When the shepherds find Mary, Joseph and the baby lying in a manger, they report what wonderful, exciting things they had learned (seen and heard) from the angels.

How did Mary respond to this intimate theology? “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Here we have a threefold exercise. It is part of the exercise of the spiritual life, really. All, in this one little sentence, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” - - - we have: 

Memory,  Affections,  Intellect.
Of Memory? – Mary kept what she saw and heard. She reflected. She remembered, and remembered again. Mothers hold onto memories. Mary's memories were extra special ones. 

Of Affections? Some translations say Mary treasured all these things. She approached them with tenderness, reverence and praise. And her treasuring goes along with her Intellect. For, we see that Mary pondered them in her heart. She increased her understanding by lingering and meditating for a while. She wasn’t drawn away or distracted by Facebook or Pinterest's email announcements of new pins, as I can sometimes be.    

It is only as we take quiet moments to read the gospels, God’s perfect storybook of Christ, that by degrees Jesus becomes more and more dear to us. He becomes dear to us - not by emotional appeals –not by any loud orchestra - or beautiful Christmas choir. Although these uplifting experiences are appreciated as they add merriment to the season. Moreover, it is the impressions left by an accurate knowledge of Jesus that He becomes dear to us.  
Eloise straightening the cotton blanket Grandma knit her.

A girl who loves Jesus, does so, because God’s Word dwells in her heart richly.  

She is mindful of Him. 

She can love Jesus and serve others with a servant’s heart, because she’s read and pondered how much He first loved her.  

Charles Spurgeon talks about Mary's three-fold exercise this way. I underlined it in my devotional. “Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ which you have either felt, or known, or believed, and let your fond affections hold Him fast for evermore.”

There are many names for Christ our Lord. Here’s a few.

Prince of Peace
Morning Star
Lamb of God
Good Shepherd
Light of the World

What is the name most precious to me? 

It is the name the angles told the Virgin Mary to give her child. Jesus translated means Saviour. 

The Son of God was coming into the world in human form (incarnate deity) to save his people from their sins. To forgive Karen of her sins. For this, I will be forever grateful.  

Post Script
You know I like making doll quilts. I pre-ordered Kathleen Tracey's newest doll quilt book, Small and Scrappy at Amazon, and I look forward to it coming. 
A doll quilt I made for a special friend. This Raggedy Ann  was hand-sewn in Pennsylvania by a Sunday School teacher

I concocted another smoothie. We've been using our Vita Mix Blender for years. Many are the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. The raw smoothies and cream soups you've seen on this blog, have all been made with this powerful machine (that is easy and safe to clean). Its worth every penny. 

Beet-Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie - Yum 

Winter Purple Smoothie

Place these raw ingredients in Vita Mix in this order and whirl.

a whole orange (peeled, pitted)
tsp of lime (a squeeze)
a good handful of (washed, drained spinach, 3/4 C. loosely packed)
a small red beet peeled and cubed (or half a medium beet)
half C. frozen blueberries
Add a little water or juice from orange (1/4 C if needed.)
opt: I tsp. coconut oil 

To keep fingers from staining I peel a red beet over a strainer in the sink, under slow running water.

A Joyful Christmas Be Yours,
Karen Andreola 


Monday, November 14, 2016

Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea - December 1st

Hello blog friends.

On December First I will be the guest speaker at a Christmas Tea. I'm writing my talk and practicing it this month. (It will be about 15 minutes in length.)

I seek to encourage women to ponder Christ while they are busy serving at Christmastime.

You are invited.

 December First

If you are a blog friend who lives in comfortable driving distance to Quarryville, Pennsylvania in southern Lancaster County and would like to attend . . .

- P.S. (I am removing the contact information today - Dec. 1st - as the organizer has a set amount of table reserved.)  

The decor-theme this year is "Christmas Around the World"
I plan to dress in Christmas colors and look forward to meeting you while setting aside some refreshing moments to share tea during this festive and busy time of year.

My talk is meant to help women with:  hands to work, hearts to God.
Perhaps we'll meet this Christmastime.
Yours, Karen Andreola 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fit For a Calling

Preparing For A Calling (a post in 2 parts)
Franz Eduard Meyerheim (1838-1888) German Painter

Miss Charlotte Mason was "quite sure" about something. It was that a calling, "comes to the person who is ready for it. That is why the all-round preparation of body, mind, soul, and heart is necessary for the young knight who is waiting to be called," she says.

Her word "knight"paints a picture. A calling is a "royal service." Higher than serving any Lord of the Manor, however, we serve our Lord God, the Maker of heaven and earth, "who," she says, "fixes the bounds of our habitation, [and] does not leave us blundering about in search of the right thing. . . " because he fits us to the world we live in.*1

My summer project finished, an autumn table thingy
If he finds us waiting, ready and willing, He gives us a call.

"It may come in the advice of a friend, or in an opening that may present itself, or in the opinion of our parents, or in some other of the quiet guidings of life that come to those who watch for them, and who are not [self-centered]; or it may come in a strong wish on our own part for some particular work for which we show ourselves fit, " says Miss Mason.

We may not know how it comes but we can be sure that

we have not
because we ask not *2

that if we avail ourselves to be of service to God and mankind that it will come whether it is to be a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker . . . doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, etc.

Hand-quilted, machine flange binding, the batting is cotton flannel cloth.
But each person, says Miss Mason to young people, "requires preparation of his calling; first, the general preparation of being a person ready and fit; and next, a special preparation of training or teaching ...." but "it rests with us to fit ourselves for our vocation."

We do this, remembering that the worth of any calling depends upon our willingness to serve and be of use. Let "no day. .  go by without giving . . practice in usefulness. Each one is wanted for a special bit of work he is fit for; and of each it is true that -

Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident:
It is the very place God meant for thee." *3

Our trees out back. 
This post is my edit of a message given to young people by Charlotte Mason in her book, Ourselves Bk 1. page 209, 210.
*1 Colossians 3:23-24, Ephesians 6:7
*2 James 4:2
*3 Charlotte Mason is quoting a well-know piece of verse by Richard Chenevix Trench, a poet and Anglican Archbishop (1807-1883) whose life overlapped hers.

A young lady makes these thin crisp butter cookies.
Is Motherhood a Calling?

If you've heard my Mother Culture talk you might remember my young son's question. We were discussing professions. He asked, "Ma, what's the lowest paying job?"

My first answer was,"Making french fries at a fast food restaurant." But then another vocation popped to mind. "No. Wait a minute. I know a lower paying job than that," I said.

"What is it?" he said.

"You're looking at it," I said.

A mother, homemaker, home teacher, must fit herself with dedication, faithfulness, knowledge, and a variety of skills. Her list of duties and responsibilities is long. Yet she is paid no salary.

Google the antonym for "professional" and you get "amateur." A mother, homemaker, home teacher is an amateur. And yet she carries out her service as of "unto God" as well as she can. But an amateur is not really the opposite of a professional. It has a special meaning.

Inside the word amateur is the Latin word "amare" - to love. A mother, homemaker, home teacher, does what she does for the love of it. All that she does, she does for love. She loves and is loved in return. This is her high calling. This is her special service. Without this calling the world would suffer.

Here's a story about a calling of love. Over the summer I read A Lantern in Her Hand  by American author Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881-1954).

A friend told me that she read it first as a young lady. Again when she was married with a succession of babies. Years later, when her children were flying out of the nest. With each read she was encouraged in a different way. I can understand why. The story traces the life of Abbie, a pioneer woman of Nebraska, from a young girl of the 1850s, to a grandmother in the 20th century.

Along her seasons of life we pick up little morsels of wisdom. Bess Streeter Aldrich wrote this story in the 1920s in admiration of her own mother. Much research on the details of covered-wagon-days went into the book. Many were first-hand sources. They came to Mrs. Aldrich in the form of handwritten letters. Listeners of her radio interview were invited to share their reminiscence with her. Surprisingly letters came pouring in.

Amidst the mind-set of me-first, Abbie's life shines in contrast. This is the benefit of reading A Lantern in Her Hand. It challenges us to be of generous of heart. To take courage in adversity. To patiently not grow weary in the good work we do as amateurs. This story helps us understand what love is. (A brief kissing scene in an early chapter might fool the reader that this is a romance novel. It is not.)

I placed our lantern in the back garden for this post.
In the sequel, A White Bird Flying,  the main character is one of Abbie's granddaughters. It takes place in the "modern" days of the 1920 and 30's. Reading the last page brought a tear of joy to my eye. It was a nice page in which to end a day. I like happy endings.

Do you sometimes feel the need to be encouraged by another who has gone before you? I recommend this gentle story, A Lantern In Her Hand.  Sold on Amazon. My copy is on Kindle. I would have given this book to my daughters to read had I known about it during their girlhood.

I have A White Bird Flying in paperback.

Have you read either story?

I finished knitting the cotton cardigan I began in July (Christmas in July, one gift completed.) The yarn was a gift to me last Christmas.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola
P.S. Years back, I voted for Ronald Reagan. (That's how old I am.)
Today (as always) I am voting policy. I am voting pro-life, for the man who has the best chance at winning the election at zero hour, who is surrounding himself with good men like Mike Pence. Potential nominees are lined up for the Supreme Court. I agree with Christian historian David Barton that voting is a duty and that these judges of the land are paramount.