Sunday, December 17, 2017

Archive for February, 2002

Celebrating Motherhood

Last night, before I went to bed, I was telling Jim about what happened to me a few nights ago. I never intended to write about it on the email. But, as I prayed this morning, the Lord told me to write it. “Well, Lord, those ladies will think I am nuts.” Well, I have to obey the Lord.

It was Friday night … somewhere in the wee hours of probably Saturday morning. But Papa had taken all the blankets. I was turned toward him and my back was cold. I felt Mary the mother of Jesus come to me and cover my back, as if to cover me up as I was cold. She knew I needed a covering. I was so startled and the whole thing frightened me. I was half asleep and I reached out for Jim’s comfort. I snuggled up to Papa and went back to sleep. Mary’s touch and covering felt like angels’ wings fluttering about me, covering me and keeping me warm with a covering made of feathers. I didn’t tell anyone about what I felt until last night when I told Papa. But all day Saturday, I felt that feeling on my back of a covering of angels wings. Lynetta often says to me, “Connie, I’ve got your back,” meaning I am praying for you, backing you. I wonder if the women in the Bible are backing me?

As I write of wisdom and hear her voice from Proverbs, oh, she is like a mother to me. It is so sad that Mother has been thrown out of the church, and now she has to be like a man to get back in. She must forget her life as a mother to come back in. And the world talks about WOMEN’S RIGHTS. They will give her “her rights” providing she will act like a man. It’s like telling a duck that if she will act like a squirrel … stay out of the water and climb trees and eat nuts, she will be more of a duck. One day the duck gets sick of trying to climb trees and hates eating nuts and is tired of trying to grow a bushy tail. So she waddles off into the pond and enjoys the refreshing water. Later, she comes back out and makes a nest and lays some eggs and enoys being a “Mama Duck.” Well, it’s all that simple. A duck is a duck and a squirrel is a squirrel.

I have had so much in my heart lately about celebrating motherhood. Oh, mothers, we should enjoy being mothers. As we are, we find our refreshing water. Like the mother duck, we find our place. We find our PEACE in our place. We should love to put our hands in dish water and feel the refreshment of our work as keepers at home.

Honestly, I find so much peace when I wash with my wringer washer. I mean, how much joy is it to push a button on your automatic washer? Back in the old days, before I got my FREE wringer washer, I washed my family’s clothes in the bath tub. Not for very long, maybe a few weeks. But we had our big family and I couldnt afford to take all those clothes to the laundramat. Back then, when Papa had just gotten saved. Heck, he could harldly find a job. He would do anything to keep food on the table. He was doing his best, so I figured I had better make do, too, and do my best. And that meant doing my wash by hand. But I loved it.

I just did whatever it took to keep the family running smoothly. Our dog Lady had several litters of 14 puppies. We couldn’t afford dog food for all those puppies. So I would make huge pans of oatmeal for them and put in instant milk and meat fats and left over food from the family table. Those little puppies were the children’s toys, and they loved them and they were so cute. They were happy and well fed. And my family was well fed, too. I just cooked and baked all the time.

Ya know, when I was raising the children and tryin’ to keep food on the table, well, it was hard sometimes. My friends, Jill and Dixie, were raising their children, too, and about like Jim and I, they struggled, too. But, ya know what, somehow we women always kept food in the house. After the utility bills and the rent was paid, then came food. And often out of the grocery money, we had to buy household items or clothes. In the winter, trying to buy gloves and hats for the children was always a struggle. But we mothers would trade clothes back and forth, or give each other some of our vaseline or shampoo if we had enough.

I would always pray and ask the Lord’s help. And folks would say, “Jim and Connie’s kids always look nice and they are all so good looking and healthy.” Most folks never knew the struggles that went on behind closed doors. I lived very in tune to the Holy Spirit because I had no other way to go. I didn’t go out and hob nob with the world.

I mean, Papa had been so wild for so many years. I mean, to be his wife was like trying to tame a wild stallion. If he got mad at work, heck, he thought not twice of busting some guy in the mouth and walking out the danged door, and never looking back, by the way. Well, Papa grew up and he dont do things like that anymore. I just kept believing the Lord for him, and he did quit doing things like that. I got the victory over Papa and the fear of what he would do next.

One day, many years ago, I could tell he was heatin’ up and was ready to quit another job. I said to him, “My faith can handle that. Can yours?” He said he didn’t think so, so I said “Well you’re on your own, then, because I dont care what the hell you do. My faith can handle it.” And my faith did handle it. God was with me, no matter what Papa did.

Oh, he was hard to handle sometimes. This guy came to our house. Well, he kept coming and inviting us to his church. I told him he hadn’t better come again, as Papa was heating up. Well, he came again and Papa decked him and he never came again. I mean, after he got up and ran out the door, I was so embarrassed, I thought I would DIE … Just Die on the spot. But I never said a word. I just prayed and Papa asked me if I wanted to go to K-Mart, and I said yes and I just kept walking in faith. I only told Jill and she acted like, “What else is new?”

We mothers walked by faith and not by sight. We kept our eyes on the miracle to come and not on the hell around us. We were visionaries and raised our children and submitted to our husbands by faith. We always looked to a better tomorrow.

Well, Papa did learn how to do right and control himself, and thank the Lord for that.

Stayin’ Close to Home

Oh, Mamas, we need to stay close to home. Papa always says about these guys that are in trouble all the time, “If they would just go home after work, they would save themselves a lot of trouble.” And, ya know, mothers, we need to stay close to home. We need to love our kitchens and love our home making.

Sometimes, if I get discouraged about my home making and can’t get myself busy, I just go in and start cookin’. Cooking gears me up. I maybe will make a pot of soup and then, while it is cooking, I will do the dishes or clean out the refrigerator. Then when the soup is on simmer, I will run upstairs really quick and make the bed, and run back down before the soup boils over. Cooking stirs my heart. My friend Collen used to love to iron if she was feeling fretful. My friend Jill always loved to wash and hang clothes on the line. Sometimes, if you start out with something you like, you get yourself going and then you can do the chores you hate.

In the summertime, oh, I love to do my wash with my wringer washer. Oh man, that thing is old, but it still works good.

When the children were young, and five at home, both my gas dryer and washer went out at the same time. Heck, we didnt have any money. I prayed as I looked out the window. Across the street, a neighbor had a wringer washer sitting out by the street for the Salvation Army to pick it up. It had been out there a few weeks, so I thought “Well it probably dont work.” But the Lord just prompted me to check it out. Well, to shorten the story … the Savation Army didn’t want it and it did work. The price was right — “FREE” — so I just wheeled it down the street and the children helped me lift it up our step and into the house. I used it until it wore out. Then I got another one and I still have it now. It’s white and barrel like. I have an automatic washer. But I have used the wringer when I needed to save on water or the automatic broke down.

I used to make my own soap to wash with. I just put a half a bar in my blender with bleach for laundry soap, and, oh boy, did I get the clothes white. I would wash the white socks and underwear first, then the white sheets. At the end, I would wash the rag rugs. I could use the same wash water for all 3 loads. Then the next day, I would start over with new water and do the towels and wash rags, then colored clothes, then the dark clothes like the jeans, and at the end some of the dark throw rugs. I would always do three loads in one wash tub water.

I have my wringer in the kitchen next to my sink. I just use my kitchen sink as a rinse tub. It was pretty quick and easy. You can get so much wash done so quickly. I could do three loads and have them all hung out in about an hour. I washed about every other two days. I didn’t have a floor drain in the kitchen, of course, so I had to empty the wash water into buckets and take it outside.

We just need to stay close to home and be quiet because, ya know, when you have little ones they take so much patience. My little Danny, when he was little, I was always tying his shoes. I tried not to be impatient with him but, oh mercy, if I was in a hurry, I would get so impatient. I thought it would take him forever to learn to tie his little shoe laces. And, oh, the small ones … they take so much care and watching. Being faithful as mothers to teach the same lesson over and over again is hard sometimes. We as Moms need to be at peace inside our hearts.

When I was a young mom, I often would take the phone off the hook and put a sign on the door that the baby was resting and could they come back later. I always put Jim and the children first. Wee ones need their naps and quiet meals. Often, they get so distracted if there is too much excitement around them. They are like little puppies. They just like to have fun, and often they can’t settle down if there is too much business around them. I don’t think it is good to have a lot of company around all the time when raising children, because you need private time with the children so that they get used to you and what you want to teach them.

Mother’s heart is a child’s first teacher. Mothers, what is in your hearts? If your hearts are quiet, your children will be quiet and content like you are.

Sometimes our children would get sick and, oh, we never had any insurance most of the time. If they would start to run a fever, I would often cry. I was so close to them and I always cried if they got hurt or were sick. I would go in another room so they wouldnt see me and I would cry and cry. Jim and I would shut the house down when the children were sick. I would not answer the door or the phone. Papa would take care of anything outside the home, and I would care for the children. Jim would go to the store and get juice and whatever medicine I needed to care for the children. If they were real sick, we took them to the doctor. But that was rare that they went. I would pray all night if my children were sick. I would sleep with them, hold them and pray. Oh, the times I had to rely on the Holy Ghost for my life and my children’s life.

Good Morning

This morning when I got up, I put a 7-bone beef pot roast in my Dutch oven. I just brown it first, and then I put it in the oven. It needs to bake for a few hours to get it tender enough. I just add water to it, maybe a half a cup. I add coarsley ground pepper, and onion powder and salt. When it is almost done, I will put my vegetables in with the roast and bake them in the oven for about an hour. I will put in chunks of potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, and maybe a half an onion (or left whole). Then, when the meat and vegetables are all done, I will put it on a serving plate. Then I will make gravy in the pot I cooked it in.

After our family dinner, I will take all the leftovers and put them together … the meat, vegetables and leftover gravy. And later on in the week, I will make a rich stew with my leftovers. I will add more vegetables and maybe a can of mushroom soup or a brown gravy mix, to perk it up a bit.

For our afternoon family meals, I like to somehow cater to Jim’s appetite because he will be gone all day and late into the night sometimes, depending on how much work he gets for that given day. When the children were little we would just eat leftovers in the evening for supper. Or we would have things like macaroni & cheese and applesauce. Well, we homeschooled so the children were here for the big family meals at noon.

But I have always cooked and baked in the mornings for the family home. To me, it sort of sets the day, the tune of the music and tempo for the family’s dance. When I homeschooled all 3 of the children, I always had dinner well on its way before we began devotions at 7:30 am. This way, a mother is not caught off guard. If she has unexpected company or some interruption, then she still has dinner prepared and the family can eat on time. Even when Jim’s schedule was different and he worked morning hours, and we wouldn’t eat until 5:00 in the evening, I always cooked in the mornings. Some things you can’t make ahead, but things like salads and Jellos or your desserts can all be made ahead. And at least you can thaw your meat out or do some preparation for the evening meal.

But the family meal is very important for us as Papa always prays over each of the children then. I’ts our time of agreement, Papa’s and mine, that our children are blessed and the Lord is watching over them. Papa prays out loud and I agree. We, of course, pray not only for the teenagers here at home, but we pray for all of our 6 children … Jimmy (35) in Calif. and his wife Alecks … Christiane Joy (28) in New York … Johnny (27) in Missouri and his wife Christine and our first grandbaby to be born in May … And David (age 20) who lives in his own pad near here … And then Dan (age 19) and Mary (16) who still live at home. Papa covers them all with his love and prayers.

And God knows that all of Papa’s children are perfect. I mean, ask him — he will tell ya. I huff and puff and holler at the kids sometimes, but Papa says they can do no wrong. So I just get in agreement with him. Papa is the head of the house and the priest of the Home.

Makin’ Do

Last week or so, my girl Mary and her Sweetheart Brandon went to the second hand store. It’s called the Cellar Door. Anyway, hung on the back wall were the black iron skillets. Mary (16) told me that she pointed them out to Brandon and said “My Mom has used those skillets ever since I was a baby.” Brandon is sort of a backwoods kind of guy and I think he kind of liked the idea.

Well, I have used them ever since I got married. I have a good collection of them and I burn things if I use any other pan. It’s my dream some day to cook on a wood cook stove, like the old Home Comfort ones. Anyway, I have collected these skillets by faith that some day I would have a wood cook stove. I have all the sizes I think of the skillets. I buy then at sales when I see them. I have the dutch oven and the big iron lid with the bale handle. I have a long flat griddle that lays flat across 2 burners to fry pancakes on. Then I have the gem pan (muffin pan). Then I have a skillet that is separated into triangles, like a cut pie. Well, this is for cornbread. I love my black iron pans. Oh! I almost forgot I have the square skillet too and the round flat griddle for potato pancakes. These were my grandma Juanita’s pans and she gave them to me.

These skillets take a while to heat up when you cook with them, but they hold the heat in and I use them happily all the time They are nice to start cooking on top of the stove. Then, if you need to, you can put things in the oven to finish up the baking. When I fry chicken and after it is brown, I put it in the oven for a while to make sure it is done. Well, you can do that all in the one pan.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my kitchen. We had gone a few places in the morning and then come home, and we ate with the teenagers. The house was quiet and Papa wanted to watch the races on tv. I just went out to the kitchen and worked happily out there. As I worked, I thought of the mothers during the Depression, during the early 30s. I tried to make my kitchen look like theirs did. I thought they probably had few dishes for every day. And so I decided to give away a lot of the dishes I am not using. Mary loves dishes like I do, and I will let her go through my box before I take it to the Salvation Army. (She plans to marry Brandon someday and she loves to squirrel away little dishes and treasures to start her home with.) I can imagine the mothers back then loved all of their little treasures. And after every meal, they washed and dried every dish and put it back neatly in the cupboard.

I thought of how they probably had a lot of space on their shelves. I thought of how they would cover shelves with little tablecloths made of cotton feed sacks. I covered my shelf above the sink with an old towel that my grandma had crocheted the bottom hem. I have a little door that goes to my hall from the kitchen. I put a little curtain up there. The mothers back then, they made do.

I love to collect small tablecloths from garage sales in the summer. I have a plastic table cloth on my big family table. And often, I will take a treasured small cloth and put it I the center of the table on top of the plastic cloth and make a little display. I put my napkins there, and salt and pepper shakers, and sugar bowl. You can find so many old-fashioned cream and sugar sets and salt and pepper sets at garage sales for 25 cents each. They are fun to play with.

As I worked in my kitchen, I straightened the rag rugs on the floor. I have about 3 as to cover up the missing linoleum. Whenever I work in there, the rag rugs get all messed up. But, you know, the old-time mothers were patient and straightened their rag rugs many times a day, and never thought anything about it. These mothers were thankful to have whatever they had to make a home with. Many were just happy to have a kitchen to cook in.

Often, as I cook in my little kitchen, I think of the mothers on the street. My kitchen is old, but I will bet a lot of mothers would give anything to have it. To have your own kitchen to cook in is a gift to a wife and mother.

As I straightened my shelves yesterday, I put little pictures of Jesus up and pictures of Mary. As I work, I like to look at Jesus and pray. And when I see Mary’s picture, I think of wisdom and I think of Sarah and Elizabeth, Hannah and the virtuous woman and her price is far above rubies.

Ya know, back in the Depression era, the mothers had to pray for food for their tables. When they had something to cook and put on the table, they were thankful. They didn’t worry over the linoleum on the floor. They were just glad they had food to feed the family. And we need to be thankful, too, for what we have. With the economy the way it is, we need to have thankful hearts and learn how to make do.

Too many mothers give it all up too quick. The home starts to go under with the dad out of work. Then the mother runs out to get a job, and the stability of the home goes with her. But if she would just get quiet and make do, the storm would soon be over. But it starts with a thankful heart and a creative mind. Even during the Depression, rarely did a mother run out the door to get a job. No. She was expected to make do. She was expected to put a meal on the table, one way or the other.

Women have come to my kitchen and said “There is no way you can cook out here. You have no counter space.” Well, it is an old kitchen. It’s even too small for a kitchen table. But I just mix up pancakes and breads, useing my family table. I fed a family of 8 many meals, and most of it from scratch. I just made do.

I have read a story once about a mother during the Depression era that didnt have a root cellar to store her canned foods. So she found a cave near their house and she stored her produce in this cave. Another brave mother said she had the produce to can but couldn’t afford canning lids. So she walked to town with a dozen eggs to trade with the grocer. She couldn’t afford to take the car …. no gas … so she and her children walked down the railroad tracks as a short cut to town. She made it to the store and the grocer wouldnt trade, and so she and her children began their walk back home. How discouraged they must have felt. The children would play among the tracks and pick up odd pieces of paper to make things with. Well, the mother was praying and she looked down and found something rolled up tight just under the track. It was old paper that had been there probably for years. It was 3 dollars rolled up tight. Her heart, of course, was so encouraged. She and the children ran back to the store and, instead of buying just one package of canning lids, she was able to buy enough for all of her canning needs. She was able to buy sugar to can her peaches. She bought the children a sack of candy and let them eat it one piece at a time. They would make it last a long time.

The old-time mothers never had the conveniences we have today. And yet, you read about how content they were with what they had. The mothers often sang as they worked. One old time mother used to say her mother sang a certain song when she kneaded her bread. After all the verses were sung, she knew the bread was kneaded good enough, and then she would shape it into loaves. Her daughter, who was old too, said that when she first sat up housekeeping as a new bride, she thought you “had” to sing that song to make bread. She thought you couldn’t make bread if you didn’t know the song her mother sang. I always say that if my bread didn’t turn out it was because I didn’t love it enough.

Lynetta raised seven children and I raised six. We were talking lately about how close our children are to their own brothers and sisters. Well, we were poor families. Our children’s friends were each other. If you are poor, you can’t go here and there and split up as a family. You stay home and you find your fun and enjoyment at home.

Really, this home was my stage for many years and still is. I teased and joked with my kids until they could hardly stand it. As I cooked and baked, I teased and told funny stories. Good grief! I never had the money to run out and shop for entertainment. I developed a sense of humor at home that not only entertained my family, but it entertained me.

Now days, about once a week in the late afternoon, after the house is quiet, my neighbor Charlotte will knock at the door. “Connie, I just came by for a laugh and then I have to get home. Jay will soon be home from work.” Jay got home early one day and he called here for Charlotte. She said “Honey I am sorry I wasnt home but I had to come here to laugh. I just need a few more laughs and then I will walk home.” Jay told me that he could make her laugh, but not like I can. And often, folks come here to just be lifted up. I am used to entertaining with my odd ways of looking at things.

But I think this is sort of the way of poor families. We make do. We make our own entertainment. And, of course, all my children are creative and entertainers, too. When times were so hard for us back in the old days, I would get together with Jill and just howl with laughter. Her car could keep everyone laughing. It had REJECTED written on the front windshield. It couldn’t pass inspection. My friend Nancy, when I get down and out, will say “Well Jim didnt quit smokin’ did he?” I say, “Oh, no, nothing that bad.”

Oh, I gotta stop and get Mary up for school. Forgive me for where my sense of humor crosses the line. Have a good day.

Inviting Wisdom to Come In

Do you want to invite wisdom into your home? Well, you can. She wants to come and help you build your homes for Jesus. Prepare for her to come as you would for an old country Titus mother to come for a visit. What would she want you to wear? Probably a long dress and a head covering? An apron would make her very happy. Probably you could invite her when your husband is at work, so you could just sit with wisdom and have some girl talk. Certainly you would need to have your home chores done. Maybe you could invite her when the baby is sleeping. Make your home ready to receive a guest, a holy woman of God. She can stay as long as you would like her to.

But when your husband comes home from work she will want you to minister to him and she will stay in the corner, out of your way, and watch you and cheer you on. She will tell you about Jesus and servanthood. When Dixie used to come to my house and Jim was home, and we had coffee, I would serve Dixie first as she was our guest. “Connie, you dont serve me FIRST!!!! You serve Jim first; he is the Priest of the Home.” Wisdom would be insulted if you didn’t serve your husband while she was there.

And if you hate your husband and don’t want to serve him at all, you can kiss the spirit of Wisdom good-bye. Because, Darlin’, she can’t stay where evil reigns. And if you insult wisdom enough times, she will never come back. You will see what i mean as you learn more about Wisdom.

See, when King Solomon asked God for Wisdom, he said “Lord, I want wisdom above riches and REPUTATION. I only want wisdom to build a temple for God.” And wisdom came to him and he wrote Proverbs.

But wisdom won’t come to your house unless you mean business with God. And, oh mercy, don’t tell me how many times you went to church last week. I am talking about repentence and getting right with your husband. Getting right with your kids, even though they are ruining your reputation. Love them where they are at … right, Mary? (Mary taught me that.) “Hey wisdom won’t even stay at your house if you hate your dog.” Be quiet, Lynette.

No, seriously. Wisdom must be the queen in your home or she will not come at all. You can’t stick her in the corner while you watch Divorce Court. I am confessing my own sin here. That show makes me laugh, and its hard for me to stay away from it. One lady on there beat up her husband to teach him how to be a man. She told the judge that she was trying to make a man out of him. “Well, Lady, you are taking the long way around, let me tell ya.” But I, at times, have such an odd sense of humor. God forgive me.

But today, Mothers, let’s build our temples for Jesus. Let’s want Him above this world and all its foolishness. Let’s build homes today where Wisdom can rest her head. Where she can wait in the corner and cheer us on as we serve our husbands and children. Let’s make a home where we can talk with her, where she feels invited to stay as long as she wants.

Is your bedroom a place you would want to show the older Titus mother as she helps you make your bed? Is your kitchen full of spices and bread baking?

Wisdom loves the earth. She loves herbs and spices. She loves flowers in the Spring. She loves the smell of harmony in your homes. Soft candle lights, sweet smiles, and busy mothers.

Invite her to come in and to stay as long as she likes.

Super Bowl

Jim and the boys are watching the Super Bowl. (Dan 19 and David 21, and a friend of the boys.) Then I come in the room and chit chat here and there. The game doesn’t interest me much, but I love preparing for it.

Anyway, I fixed calzones for them and chili. Also, cinnamon rolls. Also chips and pickles, etc. One calzone, Jim’s and my favorite, is made with sausage and sour kraut and cheese. Then the kids like the one with hamburger, speghetti sauce and cheese.

You just take some frozen bread dough in the loaf and let it thaw, and then roll it out flat and thin. Then just put your meat and cheese in it, and sauce, and fold the dough over the top and pinch it down around the outside. It then looks like a half circle. Then you just let it rise once, then bake it. When it is done, I put margarine on the top and let it melt, then sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese. Then, to serve it, you just slice it. I made two and they are almost gone.

Well, better get back in there and visit.

P.S. Papa is sneakin’ cinnamon rolls. I gotta go spank him.

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