Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Older-Woman-in-the-Lord

An Older-Woman-in-the-Lord

    A faded photograph of my great-great grandmother, Emma Cook, was recently handed down to me. I never met her but I named a story character after her. All that I know about Emma has come from tid-bits of memories shared by my mother.

    Like my great-great grandmother, the Emma of my story is soft on advice, big on cheer, and graciously understanding. In Pocketful of Pinecones Carol says, “Emma is as durable as marble and as gentle as the May’s mist. I’d like someday to be more like her.” Underneath Emma’s feminine sweetness is the rock-hard strength of her trust in the God of the Bible. I created her for my readers, to be an older-woman-in-the-Lord.

    If you’ve read Lessons at Blackberry Inn you might like to know that the Edwardian style of dress Emma wore to her birthday party is based on a dress I’ve had hanging in my closet for more than twenty years. I bought it in England in 1986 to wear to church.
    Where is that older-woman-in-the-Lord of inner strength, inner beauty and femininity? Why is she so hard to find? Perhaps she sits quietly reserved in your church, or is among your relatives or acquaintances, but needs someone to reach out to her. She could be brimming with experience and little words-of-wisdom but like the Emma of my story she is reticent about giving advice where it might not be wanted. Perhaps she isn’t one for standing up in front of a group, arranging her advice in neat packages for an inspiring talk. Most likely she has older children than yours and thus she mixes in different circles. Or perhaps, she is older still, sitting alone like Emma, with her crochet, making gifts for the ones she loves and needs to be sought out.

    In my childhood I used to walk around the corner to visit with Emma Cook’s daughter, Helen, (my great-grandmother). These old wooden and wire hangers were made by Helen’s hand. I inherited them. I thought you’d like to see the kind of crocheted gifts the Emma of my story liked to make.

   Hungry for direction and inspiration from an older-woman-in-the-Lord, younger mothers reach for books. I know I have. I love books. Books, magazine articles, and now the Internet, stand by in urgent readiness to meet the needs of the questioning mind. But may I share an observation? When I read too much too fast I get more advice than I know what to do with. I can become mentally muddled and strangely discouraged. Does this ever happen to you?

    Could this be because “in person” insights are shared in smaller doses? The natural sparsity of advice of “in person” conversation offers an engaging combination of wisdom and admonishment. Charlotte Mason’s description of the potency of an idea tells us that the seed of an idea grows gradually. As you apply it new aspects suggest themselves, new aspects make their appeal. An idea unfolds its leaves as it receives a little more pondering, a little more prayer. This makes further application possible. We know better which steps to take.

    The Holy Spirit does this work of enlightenment in us. We don’t need a superabundance of advice to spur us onward. Really good advice, that is small enough to be taken with a grain of salt, is plenty – for the time being.

    You may not have had the comfort of an older-woman-in-the-Lord in your life. Too few of us have. It’s sad. But I will make a good guess, my friend, that God is working in you so that you are becoming one. You may even be one right now.


  1. Older women are such a blessing from Our Lord!

    I also get 'information overload' when I retrieve too much from websites or read too many books on the same subject...but having a nice chat with a lady with more experience on the same thing is just priceless!

    simply, maria.

  2. Maria,
    Something as simple as a chat can make all the difference. I regret not asking a certain older-woman-in-the-Lord certain questions. She is in another church, in another state, but what I could have gleaned if I would have only asked is something I can only wonder about now. I will always admire her.
    Karen A.

  3. Dear Karen,
    Thank you for sharing the photo of your great-great grandmother. She is lovely and sounds like a lovely person as well. What a treasure to have the clothes hangers crocheted by your great-grandmother!

    I also often feel overwhelmed by too much information or advice at once. I like to reread my favorite books every now and then so I can soak more in each time, but having an older woman in person for help and advice is so much better. I learn much by reading, but I do so much better if I can actually see it lived out or shown to me in person.

    I do not get on blogs or websites much not only because of lack of time, but also because reading so many different comments and articles leaves me feeling a bit jumbled! A little doze of wisdom at a time is much better, I agree.

    Karen, Yolanda's nature drawings are so precious! Thank you for sharing them! Also, thank you for the pictures of your homemade curtains and bathroom. How inspiring! I had to show our eldest daughter because she and I have been making plans to paint a few rooms this summer and add some special touches. The knitted socks are so very adorable, too! I am still working on a few baby sweaters that have been a joy to knit so far.


  4. Karen,
    Speaking of information overload I was wondering if you still had issues of the Parent's Review available for sale.

    If so, then how would I go about ordering them?
    Thank you.

  5. You can purchase all the back issue of our newsletter (published in the 1990s) through the website you listed. Click Parents' Review and "How to Order." Fill out the form, print it out and mail it to us with a check. The website needs updating but it still operates and we receive orders for back issues from time to time. I have plans to discontinue the issues and place some of the best articles in a book that will be more reasonably priced. One of my projects is to add new articles to such a book. Some of what is included in A Charlotte Mason Companion was derived from the years I researched and compiled articles for the Parents' Review.
    Thanks for asking,
    Karen A.

  6. Karen,
    I am so happy to hear that you are considering another book filled with CM wisdom! In re-reading CM Companion I saw where you wrote that you would possibly write another volume for the high school aged child. Is this still a consideration of yours. Currently, I have CM Companion, the Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner and the Original books in my book basket. This is a very well needed Mother Culture moment for a weary mama and it has been like a warm soak. I only wish my tub looked more like yours!! :)
    Laura (who couldn't help but come by for a quick visit once again!)

  7. Laura,
    Visit whenever you like.
    I decided, after I completed high school with all my children, that a new book, entirely dedicated to high school would not be necessary. So much of what is described in A Charlotte Mason Companion can be carried over to high school. Ideas on how to do this might be helpful.
    Homeschool Highlights features suggested materials for high school. (The website does need updating, however). Each of my children ended up meeting requirements with subjects that were a little different. I encourage mothers to take advantage of the freedom to satisfy individual interests in a curriculum while meeting requirements. Ask yourself what you'd like your children to know, what you'd like to teach, and not only what is required.
    I'm writing a book on Mother Culture at present. But as with all my books I write by inches. So it will be a while.
    Thanks for your comment, Laura. I am glad to hear that you are taking time for Mother Culture. Karen

  8. Dear Karen,

    I cannot tell you how delighted I was to see a comment from you. I'll say again that I just cannot tell you in a blog post how dear your book is to me. I have many of your books. We've used Story Starters, Simply Grammar, my copy of Pocketful of Pinecones is nearly as worn out as A Charlotte Mason Companion, and now I am reading my new copy of Lessons at Blackberry Inn. I love Emma! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


  9. Lynn,
    I am happy you like my character, Emma, and my books, too.
    Thank you,
    Karen A.

  10. Karen,
    I am so happy to see you blogging! You are my favorite homeschool author. Your books have blessed and inspired me through the years in our homeschool journey. Thank you!!

    This scripture popped out at me this morning, it goes with what you were sharing: Prov. 20:5

    "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out."

    What a great reminder that we sometimes have to take the time to draw out from those wiser-in-the- Lord women around us.

  11. Jennifer,
    Thank you for sharing the verse. It is wonderfully appropriate. I'd like very much to incorporate it into the chapter I am writing for a book on Mother Culture.
    I am happy to hear that my writings have blessed you.

  12. Dear Karen,

    You spoke to my heart and expressed feelings I do not always get a chance to explain to others. Thank you. I have recently ordered most of the books you have written, and anxiously await to begin reading. My homeschooling years are just beginning (at a more advanced age than is typical), and I look forward to your wisdom.

    God bless,
    (Adams County, PA)

  13. Dear Stacey,
    It is a comfort to learn that others have similar thoughts to mine on the subject of the older-woman-in-the-Lord.
    I pray that my books will minister friendly, useful, ideas for your "educational life." Please know that a mother can begin home teaching at anytime at any age.
    Karen A.

  14. Oh my goodness I am completely overjoyed to have found that you have a blog. I am a brand new homeschooling Mama, and I am having a very overwhelming day....feeling the yucky "I can't do this" attitude that happens when I start something new, big, and/or exciting. I needed to read much of what is included on your blog....perfect timing from our Heavenly Father. Thank you!

  15. Nikki,
    It is good to have you visit. I like to hear of mothers brand new to home education. The feeling of being overwhelmed is familiar to many. I've felt it at times. I learned to add to the "time table" of subjects and activities gradually at the start of a school year. Therefore, in the first weeks our time table was much more sparse. To jump into a full time table can feel demanding. It takes time to warm up to lessons and adapt to a new schedule - more time than a preprinted lesson plan may dictate.

  16. I just found your blog today so I read this post. The insights as to how we lose something in being mentored by books and websites. This is so true. This is why a local church and body is so important. One can not only just attend but must be proactive in relationships with older and younger women. I'm grateful too for those online and "in print" mentors, too, like you.

  17. Yes, I am definitely becoming that older woman. It's hard to know how to reach out to younger women.