Monday, 29 August 2011

Beauty at Home

Several years ago, I discovered a box full of old, dusty books. I was exploring in my grandmother's garden shed, which was a rare privilege - we rarely visited her, living six hours away. I love old books, and these were made doubly special because Dad and his brothers had read them as boys - they seemed to have so many memories attached! One book in particular captured my interest, a musty-smelling hard cover with Dad's name written inside. It had the most beautiful black-and-white drawings inside - so beautiful that I took the book off the shelf again today, and looked at my favourite one:

Somehow, I'm always encouraged by this picture. Perhaps it's because I know the story behind it :). The girl you see baking is called Merry, and her nature suited her name well. However, she had one sadness. She loved things around her to look beautiful, but her family did not share this love. They were practical, hard-working people, who used their spare time to rest, eat, and enjoy the fire - not to pretty things up! What was the use of that?

So for a time, Merry was quite discouraged at home. Then one day, a motherly lady spoke a few words of counsel. How a young woman could add real beauty to her home with a countenance and attitude of joy, helpfulness and industriousness - or how a young woman, much as she loved beauty, could take still more beauty away from her home with a sour, ungrateful, discontented spirit. Merry went home, resolved to heed the woman's advice and value real beauty. It was not easy - living in a family that worked from sunup to sundown, she often sighed over the menial, hard, and unbeautifully practical tasks of each day, and instead longed to be tending flowers, or doing pretty embroidery. But in the picture above, the fruits of her labour are evident. With a joyful attitude, she has obviously had the time to do both her tasks and make the kitchen more beautiful! The prettily frilled curtains, apron and cap - even the plants on the window sill - are testimony of this. But most especially - Merry herself looks joyful, industrious and contented!

This story is so simple, yet it encourages me. It reminds me especially of the Proverbs 31 woman. She is industrious: "She... eateth not the bread of idleness". She is cheerful and contented in her role: "she worketh willingly with her hands". She was also virtuous and joyful! "Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." She is also contented, because (in my experience :)) discontentment manifests itself in peevishness and a sour attitude: "She openeth her mouth in wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." I love to be reminded of this, because I believe the home is the Lord's mission-field, ministry, and calling for me! In my own strength, I cannot strive to be industrious, joyful and contented. I cannot produce the 'fruit of the Spirit' myself, because it is His fruit - but I can abide in the Lord Jesus, and seek His righteousness today, so that it is not I, but Christ, that liveth. I'm looking forward to the coming day, because Christ Jesus LIVETH!!


Carra - a bondservant of Jesus said...

Dearest Maddy,
That is truly a beautiful post. :) What a lovely story behind that picture. :) The Lord is truly lovely.

I know our Lord Jesus has blessed women with so many wondrous gifts... and so many resent the things He has chosen to give them.
I am truly thankful to know Jesus, and to be the woman that He has made me to be. May I continue to grow in Him.

I also thank Him for you being the woman He has made you too. He has wonderful plan for your life Maddy.
I love you.

Sarah said...

Hi Maddy,
This is indeed a beautiful post as Carra has just said. The story is very encouraging. A cheerful countenance is indeed beauty - it brightens up life. Smiles are contagious. I pray the Lord would truly give us joyful hearts...'Rejoice always' the Bible says.

God is good.
Love in Him,

Joy said...

Dear Maddy,
How special to find such an old lovely story, especially one that belonged to your dad! :)

This story surely carries a lot of truths in it. I loved the fact how that with Merry's sweet, joyful attitude came beauty as well. How often we get discontented with the menial work of daily life... scrubbing toilets, washing cloths, cleaning and wiping dishes and cooking routine meals for the family... but I love how you point out that this is all part of our call, our home-mission, and oh! How thankful I am that God has given me this task... may we all take it with a joyful sweet spirit content in His will knowing that whatever we do, is for the Lord Christ!

Thank you for sharing that, Maddy! I agree with Carra, that I am so grateful for the gifts God has given for women, and may we not resent them but praise the Lord for them and truly use these gifts for His glory!

Amen! I am sure that the Lord has a wonderful plan for your life too, Maddy. And for you too Carra! "For I know the thoughts I think towards you," says the Lord. "Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope". May we cling to that promise, that He who promised is able to perform!
I love you, dear Maddy, so much.
In His unfailing love,
your loving sister,

Maddy said...

Dearest Carra,

Thank you, I always love to hear your thoughts so much :). That is very true, many women do resent the gifts He has chosen for them. The Lord has really been showing me this of late - that where He has placed me right now, is the best possible place for Him to grow me, to put me through the refining fire, the way He planned. It is so wrong for me to question this, to dream that there is something better. To resent His calling for me, instead of praising and thanking Him for His care and great Love. May we all seek the Lord, and His will for us - not our own plans, which at first seem so much more attractive! The Lord knows best... a verse in Proverbs says "He delights in every detail of our lives". May we turn our eyes upon Jesus, and thank Him for that which serves HIM, not our own desires. And like Merry, make the circumstances of that calling beautiful!

I love you, dear sister, and thankyou as always for sharing your love for Him with us,


Maddy said...

Dear sister, Sarah,

Thank you, I really liked that reminder that joy and cheerfulness are contagious, and brighten up life! Yes, may we be filled with the Joy of the Lord as we seek Him today... and "Rejoice always". I pray you are in the Lord's peace and care this week, with those assignments :).

Much love your sister,


Maddy said...

Dearest Joy,

Thank you for that special comment. It was lovely to share with you on this... I really love the way we all can discuss these things, and fellowship! Thank the Lord.

Yes, how often discontentment can creep in, when doing those menial daily tasks! Sometimes I think, "I'm 'wasting' my life doing these things, because they are unimportant - they don't achieve a grand or heroic commission in the world's eyes". This is such a wrong, ungrateful, and foolish attitude before the Lord! He is showing me so much about my daily heart attitudes in the home,and I'm thankful that He is showing me how I need to cast all my cares on Him, and abide in Him. See! - He grows us best, where it is His will to place us! And I love what you said, whatever we do, it is for the Lord Jesus. Amen! And this truly is the greatest, most honourable commission on earth and in heaven - to serve the Lord Jesus and glorify Him! Far from a waste of time, it is the BEST use of time!

That is a wonderful promise from the Lord, Joy. Thanks for sharing it today; how good it is to know that His thoughts are to give us a future and a hope. Praise our Lord and Saviour. Bless His name!

Dear Joy, I love you too.

Your sister in Him,


Sarah said...

Dearest Maddy,
Thank you very much for your prayers. The Lord really helped me with my assignments and I finished on time, though by the end I was really exhausted:)!

Hope to see you soon!

Love in Him,

Maddy said...

That is wonderful Sarah, all praise to Him! I love to see how the Lord helps you with this. He truly lightens our load, and guides us, as we seek Him. How great is the Lord, and worthy of all praise!

Love in Him,


Sarah said...

Amen to that, Madday!

April said...

That's a very beautiful post, Maddy. And I love the story behind Merry. :)
We share a mutual love of old books! :)
The Lord bless you and draw you ever closer to Himself!

Maddy said...

Thanks April, lovely to hear from you :). That's a nice thing to discover, that we both love old books! We don't have many second-hand bookstores around here :(... but my grandparents certainly have some old books! The Lord bless you, and keep you, also. Love, Maddy

Sam said...

Yes how beautiful is a virtuous and industrious woman who finds her joy in our Lord and doing His work. I still remember this :) , think I may have found one of dad's old 'biggles' books too.

You're so obviously finding your joy and contentment in our Saviour, love you little sis ( yes, little, I will always be your older and wiser brother haha ) xo

Maddy said...

Lovely to hear from you, big brother! :) Yes, may we seek the Lord truly, and be joyful in Him, wherever He places us. Thanks for this special encouragement.

We sure did find some good books in that old box! Covered in dust and falling apart... but special memories, and still readable. You used to enjoy those biggles books so much :).

Love you too, lots. Be blessed in Him, see you tomorrow!

Love, Mads