Home Essentials – Obedience

Note to self:

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The most important rule of a well-regulated family, of a family founded on love and unity, is that the children show an unbounded trust in and obedience to their parents. Jesus practiced this for thirty years in Nazareth for we hear nothing of Him but that ‘he was subject to them,’that is, He did what He was told.

from “The Joy in Loving” by Mother Teresa.

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Home Essentials – Peace

Today’s post is about uncertainty.

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I’m sure that, at one time or another, almost everyone has contemplated the thought of Mary’s uncertainty, as she travelled to Bethlehem on that first Christmas, two thousand years ago.

She was expecting her first child, a poor young woman with no resources, except her faithful husband and faithful God. Many of us have wondered what it would be like to arrive in an unfamiliar town and have nowhere to stay, and then to actually go into labour that night, with no midwife or doctor, no clean bed, and most of our baby’s requirements left at home. (Mary had swaddling clothes, so maybe that is a little like us being able to grab some disposables from the 7-11.)

But, the truth is, that we all have very uncertain lives. We literally don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We have no idea when we will be called to leave this world. We can ‘read the signs of the times’ and get a feel for events moving into place around us, but as for the exact circumstances of tomorrow, or even later today, or even five minutes’ time, well, who knows?

God does, of course.

The Bible is filled with stories, amazing stories, of the uncertainty of men and women and the faithfulness of their God.

The Apostles were no strangers to uncertainty, even though they lived with Jesus, day in and day out. It may seem surprising to be reading about Jesus’ Last Supper during this time of Advent, but, Jesus’ words on that night are really the crux of His mission on earth and show us the certainty that He promised to give us to replace the uncertainty always present in our lives.

Jesus promised us peace. He never assured us that we will experience wealth, happiness (as in always getting everything we desire), stability, good health, freedom from war and tyranny. Some of His followers do experience blessings; some are freely given, some are given as an answer to much prayer, some are given miraculously, but none of those blessings are guaranteed.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ” John 14:27.

It was peace that marked the lives of Mary and Joseph, as they passed through their many trials. It was peace that the shepherds experienced, when they arrives at the humble shelter to honour the baby Jesus. And it is peace that the world craves – the world will not be converted with an intellectual argument; if that were so, then we would have no atheists today. When we have peace, true peace, not a false acceptance of error or sin, and when we live that peace, then not only can we cope with whatever life throws our way, but we also learn to listen, to better help our children, to make good decisions, to discern the Will of God, to have dialogue with other Christians, to build bridges.

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Home Essentials – Stewardship

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I’m part way through a helpful finance workshop courtesy of Christian Personal Finance, (christianpf.com). I came across this site when looking for a free downloadable budget planner, as mentioned previously.

Well, the site is really interesting, and I signed up for a 20 day finances ‘makeover’; one lesson comes each day via email. So far, the lessons have been very straightforward, and most have been relevant to my household. (Except for advice about refinancing a home-loan – we are renting at the moment and don’t have a mortgage to consider.)

Apart from the workshop, there are numerous free budgeting tools, templates, reviews and articles – there is even a self-employed, homeschooling mother among the contributors. And I really appreciate the the Scriptural perspective of the writers.

Our circumstances recently changed, and my housekeeping money has decreased, but I’ve been amazed at how easy it has been to adapt. This must be due, in part, to the finance workshop, and also to my changing relationship to money, which has come as a result of planning a home-business.

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The following Scripture reference was posted on the CPF website in an article about adult children returning to the parental home, but it was relevant for me today as I made time to help with my little grandson:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

They are rather strong words, and a good reminder that charity does begin at home, and that we are also called to be good stewards of our time.

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Small Economies and Large Economies.

There was some exciting news among my mail today; I received my ABN – Australian Business Number! That means that I can proceed with the business, and order my supplies wholesale.

After a lot of thought,I have decided to use my husband’s philosophy (Go for Quality) and order a top-of-the-range die-cutter.

I had a funny series of thoughts about my die-cutter.
Could a small economy, such as a village, be saved by a die-cutter? How far could we turn around an ailing micro-economy?

Picture this: a stranger comes to town, armed only with her trusty die-cutter. She sets up shop, displaying her wares, which consist mostly of locally made arts and crafts. Her price-tags, stationery and take-home bags are made with the die-cutter, as well as some of her own crafts.

She approaches the local school. Would some of the teachers like to use the die-cutter? Yes, they leap at the chance; it’s just what they need to cut their workload as they prepare Christmas crafts for the children. They purchase materials from the shop, and use the die-cutter for free. The business-woman makes customers and friends.

She approaches the small retailer next door. Could making his own labels cut some of his costs? Yes, he replies, plus he doesn’t have to wait for the printer in the city to get to his small order. He purchases materials and hires the die-cutter at a small fee.

She approaches another retailer. Would that lady like to make her own gift-bags, complete with her store’s logo? Yes, she would love to, and she could also use them at her market-stall.

And so it goes on – the Church fair committee, the party-planner, the busy mum all use the die-cutter and cut their labour and their costs, and boost their local economy.

And, the part I like best – no cheap imports from China were involved in the making of this fairy-tale.

Back to reality:

I found a remarkable pro=life group on Life Site News, today. (I hope you will visit lsn@lifesitenews.com )
They are called “Women’s Rights Without Frontiers” and their goal is to draw attention to the many abuses of women around the world, especially forced abortion and China’s One Child Policy. I like this group because they appeal to all women, even feminists, who can clearly see how damaging forced abortions are to all involved, and because many abortions in third world countries are performed solely because the unborn baby is a girl. I urge you to visit their site – you can even donate money to save a pregnant mother from having an abortion. Other charities allow you to sponsor a child, which is great, but this one allows us to prevent an abortion and sponsor a child in utero.

By the way, here’s something ironic that I found when looking for images for today’s post:

As you can see, Chinese parents were choosing to have smaller families, even before the One Child Policy was introduced. It makes you wonder why there was any economic reason to bring in such a barbaric law. Perhaps it is just another example of ‘absolute power’ corrupting ‘absolutely.’

No beautiful home

We have been experiencing technical difficulties, here at the Clubbhouse, but all seems to be resolved for now.

My daughter, son-in-law, and new baby are staying with us for a few days, which is a great blessing for our family.

I have had reason to think about the problem of homelessness, lately. I saw a brief story on the news a few nights ago on this subject. According to the latest census, homelessness in some states has risen by 20% during the last three years. Authorities cannot account for this increase, and neither can I. It is so hard to imagine that so many people can slip through the cracks in Australia, because, despite what we may think about many of the government’s policies, we really do have a good social welfare system. There are unemployment benefits, which some can exist on for years, until they are entitled to an age pension. Chronic illness, sole parenthood and being a full-time student also attract benefits. We also have a free medical system in operation, but that is beginning to break down, due to lack of funding and mismanagement – free health care IS available, though.

So how can so many people become homeless? Can some people go through life with absolutely no support? No family? No friends? No contact?

A man who had previously been living in his car for eight years, was featured on the TV show. We didn’t hear anything of his background, other than a few words from the man himself. He said that he had sunk very low, and spiralled lower and lower, until he found himself homeless. We weren’t told how he came to eventually have a home again. It looked like a public-housing apartment; it was clean and plain, and he looked very contented and grateful. That sounds like a recipe for a beautiful home…

Another reason that homelessness and displacement have been on my mind is because a refugee family has come into my life. Truly, refugees are the poorest of the poor, because they have not only lost family, possessions and their homes, but their whole culture is torn from them, and they are thrust into the unfamiliar world of Western life. The language is new, the sounds and scents are all new, and, if the refugees are Moslems, as in this family’s case, then they may be treated with a degree of suspicion. At the very least, they could hardly be unaware that many citizens regard such displaced people as financial burdens. Let’s hope that we never feel this way about refugees.

St. John Chrysostom is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” So, it’s pretty clear to me that if we don’t share with the poor, then we are stealing from them.

It might appear contradictory for me to post photographs and articles regarding beauty, material possessions and craft on this blog. But, this is the crux of what ‘A Beautiful Home’ is all about. I know that I must take care of my family first, or else they would be the destitute ones. So, that’s a given. And I believe that a beautiful environment is very important to everyone’s mental health, stimulates creativity, and creates a sense of continuity in our lives. There seems to me to be a certain balance in a home where a beautiful prayer-life prevails-(eg the Rosary), alongside classical music and fine art, rather than with violent video games and heavy metal. I know that this is an ideal that is not always possible to attain, even in my home, but I hope it explains where I am coming from.

Here is this week’s addition to my home (It is hard to beat that little baby, though.) The fabric panel came from an Etsy shop. It is based on a beautiful wool and silk tapestry designed by Edward Burne-Jones and Henry Dearle, who was a protege of William Morris. The tapestry in turn is based on a stained-glass window design by EBJ.

“Angeli Laudantes” fabric version

The tapestry version

The stained-glass window design

I know that I am not an eloquent person, but I plan to continue to explore the themes of beauty, art and charity, as I find my voice in my blog.

Beautiful home accessories – forgiveness

Forgiveness is a funny thing, isn’t it? We all know that we must forgive, so you would think that we would be rushing to forgive our persecutors as we are forgiven. But, for some reason, it is so easy for us to hold on to anger and resentment, as we count up to our magical exemption code: 77 x 7. That’s really a symbol for what we believe to be our threshold of forgiveness, when we allow ourselves to say ‘enough is enough. A saint could do more, but not I. I’m too hurt/damaged/vulnerable to forgive any more.’

A state of unforgiveness shows up in our homes. The children are stressed and so are the parents. The atmosphere is not peaceful and the home is not beautiful any more.

An ill-kept home may indicate a state of resentment among its inhabitants. There may be a subtle message of ingratitude, lack of appreciation or even willful neglect. Perhaps it says: ‘you have upset me so much that I will not clean up for you anymore.’ What would happen if there was a little more forgiveness in that home? Would it become a little more tidy, maybe a LOT cleaner?

What about an overclean home? It’s not really beautiful, is it? I find it sterile and unreal. Does it indicate a state of unforgiveness,as the housekeeper attempts to compensate for her negative feelings by presenting skills that are above reproach? Maybe it says: ‘I haven’t done anything wrong – see how clean my house is!’

A similar comparison could be made with home-education. A lax approach may show signs that the teacher is too pre-occupied with her own problems to bother about the schoolwork. A too-rigorous approach could indicate that the teacher wants everyone to suffer as much as she is suffering. Forgiveness could help in both of these situations.

It is said that a gentle answer turns away wrath, and while this is often the case, we have all experienced times when the anger shows no signs of abating. But, just think about how much more beautiful a home can be with only one angry person, instead of two. And the children will still have someone to go to for their little worries and bumps and cuddles.

So what is a home without forgiveness? It’s just a feature-wall, a throw-rug and a couple of lamps, and a lot of unhappy people.