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A Hospitable Woman Allison Bible Ink Slingers Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Sacred Scripture Series Spiritual Growth

Ode to Feminine Genius ~ A Hospitable Woman

This is the sixth installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic WomanToday’s topic will cover A Hospitable Woman.

Hospitable Woman

martha2Hospitality really isn’t having folks over for dinner or inviting ladies to tea (although I love to do this); it isn’t making sure our homes are in decent enough order to welcome drop-ins (although this is a good idea). It is much more radical. Much more uncomfortable. Much more beautiful.

The ancient Hebrews were commanded thusly:

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:34).”

And our New Testament Greek word for hospitality is a combination of two:
Phileo ~ brotherly love
Xenos ~ stranger

So hospitality is actually loving strangers like family.

Even our English translation of hospitality (from whence our word hospital hails) is friendly, generous reception of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Strangers?

Look at these verses again, remembering strangers.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (I Peter 4:9).

And having a reputation for good works … has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work (I Timothy 5:10).

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14).

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:20).

Strangers like that new family or smelly man at church (Go ahead and invite them for coffee in the parish hall; maybe make a friend). Strangers like that rude cashier or snobby neighbor (Go ahead and smile; it might make them smile, too). Strangers like the ones mentioned for parish prayers (Go ahead and drop off a muffin and a note to the hospital room; it means so much).

martha1Of course we should be sharing generously with our friends, and let’s think of opening the warmth of our homes (or at least friendly faces) to strangers as well. Remember Martha? We think of her negatively because of Jesus’ fussing over her fussing (although I do not picture Him being rude to her, but like my husband smiling at me and saying, “Hey Hon, leave it alone; come sit with us!”). The Scriptures tell us that “Jesus entered a village and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house (Luke 10:38).” It starts with welcoming people.

Even strangers.

Hospitality is radical. Hospitality is uncomfortable. Hospitality is beautiful. Hospitality can change the world, one welcoming at a time.

Dear Martha, pray for us.

 

 

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A Frugal Woman Ink Slingers Mary S. Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series

Ode to Feminine Genius: A Frugal Woman

This is the third installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today’s topic will cover a Frugal Woman.

Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman - Frugal
Blessed Mother Teresa is the patron saint for the Frugal Woman

old bread muffin

A Frugal woman. Sounds kinda boring, doesn’t it? Like that woman wearing an ill-fitting jeans jumper that looks like it’s from 30 years ago, buying only day-old bread, never getting anything nice or new, and spouting off about how everyone should grow and grind their own flour, like her. Um yeah, I really don’t want to be that lady. The good news is that being frugal doesn’t have to look like that at all. Frugality just means making wise use of the gifts God has given us, whether it’s our talents and skills, our monetary income, our time and effort, or the material items we own. It means not wasting or throwing away those gifts. So, how does that look in everyday life?? Well, I’ll tell you about one major way my husband and I try to be frugal, then I’ll go through several different points to think about in considering how best to become more frugal in your own life.

Money can be a difficult topic in any marriage. I’ve heard that financial difficulties or disagreements are responsible for a large percentage of divorces and any married couple can tell you it’s the source of many arguments. As much as we should perhaps want to “rise above” such mundane and materialistic concerns, it can be difficult to avoid hearing your spouse criticize your spending habits and not take it personally. My husband and I have had our share of disagreements, usually rising from a difference in how our parents handled money and how we were raised to think of money, or even just our personalities – a matter of us doing things differently from each other, rather than one of us doing anything wrong. We’ve managed to work out a system that has been working fairly well for us with ideas originating from a variety of sources.

budget envelopes For a few years now we have roughly followed the advice of Dave Ramsey. The biggest change for us was going to a cash budget and planning where all of our money is going to go each month before we spend any of it. I’m better at making plans and organizing the details, so I work out the budget in a spreadsheet I created and figure out what bills we’ll need to pay and how much money goes in which envelope for the month. My husband is better at making sure those planned details actually happen, so he’s the one who sits down and writes the checks for the bills and makes sure each one gets paid. It amazed me at first, just how easy it was to stay on budget, simply because I had to actually pull out cash for whatever I wanted to buy! From one month to the next, we went from spending more than my husband’s paycheck, to being able to save money each month! I was afraid we’d feel so deprived, or that it would actually start more arguments, since we were really making an effort to save up some money in a “rainy day fund”, but that wasn’t the case at all. We try to touch base about the budget monthly or when there is a major expense that comes up and I think that heads off any arguments because we deal with differences or problems before they get big and emotional. Of course, we have had to make many adjustments as our family changed, our needs and wants changed, and my husband’s job changed. And it’s taken time to figure out the best separation of roles and what we each are best at. Nowadays, the changes are more minor since we’ve gotten the bigger aspects of our system worked out. In fact, the biggest change I have planned is to sew a cash envelope wallet (like in the tutorial here), to replace our ratty and wrinkled paper envelopes that tend to get misplaced or ripped.

Frugality is a difficult thing. Budgeting and money management is part of it, but clearly not the whole. The monthly duties of planning the budget and paying bills can be easy compared to the myriad daily choices we make that comprise a frugal way of life. It means a daily commitment to using the gifts we’ve been given wisely, deciding as a couple (for married folks) how best to use what we have, and to trusting that God will provide what we need as long as we do our part and follow His will. That looks different for each family, and certainly is a balancing act trying to figure out what works best. And as with most things, we can always do better. That can be discouraging at times, but I prefer to think of it as the “glass half full,” because when I’m disappointed because I made a poor or wasteful choice, I know there’s room for improvement next time. So here’s what I look at in attempting to be more frugal:

1. Budget

  • plan your budget: do what works for you. A spreadsheet plan and cash in envelopes has worked great for us, but another system might work better for your family.
  • stick to it, but
  • change it when needed: especially at first, towards the end of the month I would take money from envelopes that still had any to fill needs in other categories. When I frequently find myself short in one envelope and with extra in another, I change the budget for the next month.

2. Plan

  • Meal planning helps avoid wasted food, planning several errands for the same trip save time and gas, planning ahead for clothing needs enables you to take advantage of the best sales.
  • Even in small things, planning can help: knowing you have enough milk or eggs for tomorrow’s breakfast means avoiding a last minute shopping trip or a stressful change of menu in the morning.

3. Discuss with your spouse

  • this isn’t a one-off thing, you really need to keep checking in to make sure you’re both on the same page
  • look at each of your strengths and weaknesses to decide how best to divide the responsibilities, whether it’s budgeting and bill-paying, shopping and cooking, childcare, or anything.
  • if things change, discuss with your spouse again.
  • If things don’t change, discuss with your spouse again (I know, broken record, right?!?! Seriously, planning and talking about your plan together really is the best advice I could give any married couple!!)

4. Consider the smaller “daily” stuff

  • Consider whether clipping coupons is for you. Have you checked out discount or second-hand stores in your area? Even if there are some things you really want to buy brand new, I’m frequently amazed at the quality of some items I find at my favorite thrift stores!
  • something is broken?? Rather than tossing it, take a moment to see if it can be fixed, re purposed, or recycled
  • Even having “grungy” clothes set aside for when you paint or do other messy stuff (or having separate play and school/church clothes for your kids) is also a way to be frugal, because it saves your nicer (and usually more expensive!) clothes from getting stained, torn, or otherwise ruined.
  • Learn to do some things yourself: cooking from scratch, buying large cuts of meat and cutting/packaging them yourself, sewing, gardening, all these skills are great for making better use of the resources you have
  • share skills with others: my MOMS club enjoys doing some play dates where we learn new skills and share what we know with each other, and we’ve also worked out trades and barters for some skills – mending a friend’s pants once got me a couple jars of her delicious strawberry jam!! You might be surprised what some of your friends could teach you to do, or could barter with you for something you can do.

5. Pray

  • Okay, this really should be the very first step! Because the first step is discerning how and where you need to make better use of your gifts, and that means prayerfully considering your lifestyle.

Clearly, this is just a start. There are so many different personalities, needs and family situations that there’s no way I could address every need. There are so many websites and resources on how to save money, and make better use of what you have, that this post is really more an encouragement and a few ideas for you to consider your own situation. So put away the thought of a cranky, styleless, penny-pinching lady, and consider how you can joyfully be frugal with what you’ve been given. I’ll be there with you, singing while I mend my kiddos’ torn clothes!

So, what are some tips that YOU can add to this list? In what ways do you live frugally and how does it help your family?

::DISCLAIMER: Recognizing that each family, marriage, woman is different, this series is intended to give advice and information based on the writer’s personal experience. These are not intended to say that our way is best and that we know what’s best for your family, but rather the point is to share some things that have worked for us. We welcome your ideas in the comments and/or look forward to seeing your posts that highlight things that work in your home. We’re all in this together!::

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A Faithful Woman Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Motherhood Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Series Vocations

Ode to Feminine Genius: What is This Homemaker Stuff, Anyway?

This is the second installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman.

Today’s topic will cover a Faithful Woman.

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St. Monica is the patron saint for A Faithful Woman

When we first started hammering out details for this series, I got really excited – then, I saw the word homemaker – used repeatedly. Not really knowing much about the word, I looked up the definition and found

home·mak·er

[hohm-mey-ker]

noun

1. a person who manages the household of his or her own family, especially as a principal occupation.
2. a person employed to manage a household and do household chores for others, as for the sick orelderly.
Origin:  1885–90; home + maker
Can be confused: homemaker, housewife (see usage note at housewife).
Usage note 1.  See housewife.

house·wife

[hous-wahyf or, usually, huhz-if for 2]

noun, plural house·wives [hous-wahyvz]

1. Sometimes Offensive . a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.
2. British . a sewing box; a small case or box for needles, thread, etc.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), house·wifed, house·wif·ing.

3. Archaic. to manage with efficiency and economy, as a household.
Origin:  1175–1225; Middle English hus ( e ) wif.  See housewife
WOAH.
Back the truck up.
1. Sometimes Offensive . a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.

My inner feminist nearly flipped her lid. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I never much liked the imagery of being married to my house and I certainly did NOT sign up to be the principal keeper of the house.

WHAT GIVES?!!

Recently, and more appropriately, FINALLY, at the young age of {insert garbled words}, I have managed to come to grips with my role in the house and its place within my primary vocation as wife and mother. For many years, though, there was a gap of epic proportions to describe the disconnect between myself and the house. It was always something I dreaded, resented…even hated.

Laundry, meals, grocery shopping, meal planning, repairs, cleaning, more laundry, more groceries, home decorating, maintenance, gardening {seriously???}, and overall pride of home.

Yuck. I’d rather just piddle around on the interwebz.

That’s way more fun…plus, I know how to do that.

And do it well.

Most of us were never taught how to manage a home, or taught that it’s ok if you hate it or aren’t good at it. Many of us have been worn down with society’s idea that our self worth is attached to only the work we do outside of the home. And sometimes those images and thoughts come with an undercurrent of you’re not worth anything if you stay at home {or worse, care for the children}. 

YOU ARE LESS THAN.

YOUR WORK IN THE HOME HAS NO VALUE.

YOU CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO SOCIETY.

GET A REAL JOB. 

For a number of years, I lived for my kids to be at school. I loved my ME time! They received a good education and I got what I thought was well-earned quiet time. I lived for naps because I still had littles at home who needed naps. I dreaded 2:45 p.m. because with it came the afternoon madness of homework, snacks, craziness, extracurriculars, living out of the vehicle, husband coming home to utter madness and no dinner made. SHEW.

My life was full of self-inflicted chaos.

And worse, I didn’t know it could be any different.

Conversations over the years with other women led me to believe I wasn’t alone in my distaste for taking care of the home. Over time, I found there was a common thread, but couldn’t quite place its origin until one gal and fellow Ink Slinger Misty hit the nail on the head. She said {paraphrased} that our culture doesn’t nurture or foster home management for girls. As women we are often left in the dark on home management or are supposed to automatically know how to run a home and take care of it, right down to the minutiae. We’re not only supposed to know how to do these things, there is also this impossible standard of both liking it AND doing it well and without complaint. PFT!

Imagine if we trained up our children in ways that helped them to understand how the home works, from researching and shopping better insurance rates, to knowing and learning tips to buying the best tires for your cars, how to delve into a life of frugality by being empowered – truly empowered – to make your own chicken broth, canning tomatoes, making your own laundry detergent, etc., to creating a schedule for cleaning in the home, meal planning, tips for staying productive throughout the day instead of sliding into a rut of the stereotypical watching your “stories” and mindlessly popping bon bons, knowing you will have good days and bad days and the WORST kind of days and that that is ok, we all have them!

But what if, instead of telling our children that the world is right, and that their worth is attached to college degrees, good-paying jobs, climbing the corporate ladder, getting that nice home in the designer jeans neighborhood and buying the latest cars and tech toys, we instead teach and consistently reinforce in them that their worth came attached to their soul the moment they were conceived and that God has indelibly marked us as His and that nothing in this world will ever fill the secular void like His love does?

Now, I’m not saying that having a college degree or any of the other things are bad – but, rather, what I’m saying is that we rework our perception of what fulfills us, so that even if we have achieved some/all of the above, we are still aligned correctly and rooted firmly in God’s love so that we can use the good from a good-paying job to build up the Kingdom.

All we have, all we work for, all we do is to build up the Kingdom. This is the root of why we should take care in doing everything so as to please the Lord.

Even the home.

The thing I dreaded taking care of because I detested it so much.

::sigh. Ok, Lord, you win. Show me how to do this with less complaining and more glorifying You::

A handful of tips that work for this gal

1. Pray. Before I get out of bed, I like to spend time in prayer, anything from reading the daily readings, to contemplative prayer, praise and thanksgiving. It helps set the day right when I’ve given God His due. 2. Make your bed. This is one of my top three things that must get done each day for me to feel some level of accomplishment. Yours may be different. Identify what you have to accomplish each day and stick to it.

IMG_5335
Starting laundry first thing in the morning helps me get the day going in the right direction. Seen here is a small peak at Mt. Washmore.

3. Cleaning schedule. This helps my house run smoothly. About 10 years ago, I decided to give FlyLady a try and after a year or so, I modified her schedule to fit our family. The result is that we have a set laundry schedule {girls on Mondays, me on Tuesdays, boys on Wednesdays, husbie on Thursdays, towels/sheets on Fridays}, set days for certain cleaning tasks that are divided among family members, from bathrooms to bedrooms, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping. 4. Many hands make for light work. Kiddos as young as two can start helping with chores. In my house, I have learned that while yes, I did not marry the house, I am by default simply based on the time I am in the house, that logistically I am in charge of the majority of the home. Thems the breaks. So, it makes sense from a practical and logical standpoint that because I am home, the majority of what goes on in it is left in my charge. That doesn’t mean that I do all the chores, but that I do my part while managing who does what and overseeing, helping, and correcting the chores or projects. 5. Lowered expectations. Your home won’t look like something out of Real Simple unless you don’t do any real living in your home. If you accept that your home will look like people – gasp – live in it most of the time, it will greatly reduce your stress. In our first home I always felt like things needed to be pristine and perfect – something I failed at daily and exacerbated my frustration with the house, the family, myself. I leave you with a quote by a veteran momma that really hit the nail on the head for me.

momquote

::DISCLAIMER: Recognizing that each family, marriage, woman is different, this series is intended to give advice and information based on the writer’s personal experience. These are not intended to say that our way is best and that we know what’s best for your family, but rather the point is to share some things that have worked for us. We welcome your ideas in the comments and/or look forward to seeing your posts that highlight things that work in your home. We’re all in this together!::