Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I watched most of the Public Broadcasting mini-series about the National Parks this past week. I especially wanted to see the first two parts of the series where they talked a lot about John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt.

I had heard that Muir came from a Christian background which affected his entire life. How interesting that it was the beauty of nature which renewed the spiritual side of his life after being raised by a very harsh "Christian" minister father.

It reminded me a little of a family which had a very strong impact on my husband's Christian walk. Like his parents, they were devout Lutherans, unlike his parents... there was not the critical environment in the house. The family showed their worship in love, laughter, and creativity. They were always working on some type of fabric art and the mother's beautiful designs hang not only in their home... but in their church.

It seems to be the first time he associated Christianity, beauty, and a joyful Christian home. His mother was an excellent cook and their house was always neat and clean. The paint was fresh and the furniture quite pretty... some of it now adds beauty to my own home. But the atmosphere of the home was not one of worship and creativity.

While Bible passages were read before dinner each night, critical words which had been spoken through the day did not leave an environment to enjoy the food of the Word or at times, the delicious food which was set before them.

As you can tell if you have read Coffee Tea Books and Me for very long, I believe in Beauty. As I first learned from the Schaeffer's, we are created in the image of a Creator. We were originally placed in a garden of Paradise surrounded by perfection... plants, flowers, trees, vegetables, herbs, and lots and lots of animals.

I believe what Muir found in the beauty of California wilderness and my husband in the humble home of a large family was this... the attitude in which we approach anything... our religion, our home, our creativity, our cooking, our sewing, our Bible reading, our meals we serve, our garden, our reading, and most of all... our family... it is that which makes all the difference.

I only met the family my husband talks about with such fondness a couple of times in the very, very early years of our marriage. The image is rather fuzzy but what I can recall is a dining room table covered with fabric and felt as a special wall hanging was being put together for an upcoming church holiday. I remember a warm, loving mother and the laughter of teenagers. I was instantly drawn into their world for the short time we visited their home in an old neighborhood of his hometown.

One can make beauty in the home, talk about their faith, provide healthy and delicious meals... and turn away those who live with them just by the critical spirit in which all is given and provided. It is especially hard for those who were raised in a critical home not to default to a critical spirit themselves (as my husband has found all of his life). I find myself speaking harsh words when I am tired and cranky, which is common to most of us.

I want to be more like the Christian mother who influenced my husband so much in his early twenties... bringing life and beauty and joy not only with the creative works of my hands... but by what words I speak into their life.

That creative mother would never think of herself as a missionary in the kitchen and with a needle... inspiring her children and one young man who became a part of their world for such a short time in his life... and who continued to minister through her home for decades.

Creativity... Beauty... Hospitality... Kindness... a humble home... how much they profited the Kingdom of God.


Barb said...

Amen. How beautifully put - you do have a way with words that can make a person ponder. Thank you for your thoughts.

Beth said...

What a lovely and meaningful post! Thank you so much for reminding us that we need to live the Chrisian life not just preach about it! Thank you also for talking about being a Missionary in our homes. What a precious picture for young (or not so young) mothers!

matty said...

What a beautiful, thought-provoking post today! I have just finished one of the Schaffer books and am getting ready to read another. Also, because of your suggestions, have finished three Stoddard books. The impact these have had on me are amazing. I find myself looking for and wanting to create more beauty. Such an inspiration! Thanks!

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Brenda, I loved this post about showing love, not just the physical environment in the home. I am always sad when people say they were brought up in a critical atmosphere. I was blessed. Even though we didn't have much materially when I was growing up my parents didn't critize me and put me down. They were very loving and it is difficult for me to understand why parents don't support their children. You obviously have been very loving with Stephanie and Christopher from the way they have grown up and continue to live in such a positive way. I am praying the Lord will show me what else He would have me to do for Him. I will not let the accuser tell me I am too old or sickly to serve in some capacity and I am praying to be open to where He leads me. Your tea set looks beautiful. I wish I were there to sit down to share some nice hot tea. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 50's with rain so finally we are getting some weather like I enjoy. Isn't it interesting how people can influence us from our early years and we always remember them? Sweet and uplifting post.

Holley Gerth - (in)courage said...

Beautiful post. I love how you tied creativity, beauty, love, and worship together. What you describe is truly a weaving of heart (inner) and home (outer) that makes a masterpiece bringing glory to God.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda! GK Chesterton said that culture is religion externalized. That can be on a large scale, as with an entire country, or a small scale, as with our homes. Our homes are a reflection our hearts. I pray mine is full of peace, love, and His grace.


scrappy quilter said...

What a beautiful post and so very true. Hugs and thank you for sharing such profound words.

Anonymous said...

Your post has me remembering my own childhood in a critical home. I know where it came from: my mom, her father, his mother and who knows in the generations before. I have been fighting it all of my life; only Jesus has made a difference. I have to admit, I am not critical with my grandchildren! Even when I don't say critical things out loud I find myself thinking them at times. Thank you, Jesus, for your Holy Spirit who changes us from the inside out.

Friend Debra

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

As much as I loved my dear father, I could never quite please him most of the time it seemed. He did not deprive us of love though, and that covers a multitude of sins.

Although I'm not a "cradle Lutheran", I have been a member of a conservative Mo. Synod Bible-believing Lutheran Church for many years. Believe me there are hypocrites in all denominations. My precious daughter was the victim of the most hateful, spiteful Baptist ex-inlaws you ever met, but I guess we have to forgive them, right? That is SO hard. They have caused my daughter and grandchildren such pain. I was actually baptized in a Baptist Church and have many dear Baptist friends. It's easy to acquire a "critical spirit" when you are exposed to it daily during your formative years. You husband is blessed to have you as his caring wife--I hope he realizes it!



Anonymous said...

Friends can bring us much joy in life! Today the young man I have called "our other son" and his wife come for a few days to visit. It has been several years since we have seen them, being we live about 900 miles away from each other. It will be fun!! Sometimes when we lack in relationships with kin, we are sent someone else to bless us!!

Good remarks about parenting,etc. So glad for you that your children have turned out well!!

Lisa Z said...

What a wonderful post. I too believe that Beauty is so important. I seek it and try to create it in my life all the time, and know that it is one of God's greatest gifts. I'm so thankful for our national parks! I enjoyed a couple of nights of the documentary. Thank goodness the U.S. had the foresight to dedicate land to those parks!

I was raised in a critical home and have tried very hard to overcome it in my adult life. I can be very critical at times, but I've come a long way thanks to my faith in a God who loves me as I am, and to my wonderful husband who doesn't criticize back but gives me an example of true love. My greatest hope is that we are raising our children in an atmosphere of love and kindness, and that they will not have the troubles I've had because of my dad who constantly "teased" and criticize me. I've forgiven my dad, who grew up in an abusive household. Progress is made in each generation, thankfully.