Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clothed Like the Flowers

Clothed Like the Flowers

When it comes to dressing modestly some things are better left unsaid. An explicit list of dos and don’ts isn’t necessary in polite society where I speak with you here. I want you to know, however, that I am all for it.
Having made modesty an important precedent I now invite you to step further along the path.  

Creativity & Clothing is a subject waiting to be explored for Mother Culture. I haven’t met with a more inspiring chapter on clothing than the one written in 1971 by Edith Schaeffer in her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I love it.

I was in the middle of adding  “gaudy to the green” in our garden with some bright flowers, and sewing myself a skirt with tiny bright flowers on the fabric – flowers like the ones I had just planted. The coincidence made my winter reading of Edith Schaeffer’s chapter pop up.   

Much can be said about clothing and her chapter asks good questions. Here is one point I find particularly intriguing. 

Trusting in God’s provision we can be clothed like the flowers.

Edith Schaeffer looks closely at the well-loved verses in Matthew 25-34 where Christ tells us not to worry. Even though food and clothing are two necessary things that require much labor and continuous effort to provide – we are not to make these the end-all of our lives – but seek first the kingdom and trust in God’s provision for our daily needs.

In the context of Creativity & Clothing Edith Schaeffer sees something else. On these passages she focuses the keen eyes of an artist – in this case a domestic artist.

Christ tells us, “Consider the lilies . . . even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these . . .” And Mrs. Schaeffer does. She brings to our attention a whole page of flowers by name giving us example after example of amazingly varied color, texture, shape, fragrance and beauty to consider

She reflects, “If God can so beautifully clothe the flowers of field, which only last a short time and then are cut down, how much more shall He clothe you, . . .” She believes that God’s promise infers more than mere utility, since “He who designed the clothing seen on the flowers is the same One who will provide for us.” Are we not more important than the flowers? Therefore how much more as people with personalities and tastes can we be clothed?

Encouraging us to explore our creatively – an exercise of the imagination – she sees no reason why we cannot dress as beautifully or gracefully as a flower. How that translates into clothing for our family, plain or fancy, is up to us. 

This idea kept popping up last month. At that time we received an email. A new batch of photographs of the baby invited us to admire his cuteness. And we did, thoroughly.

Then I saw it. Do you see it? It’s astonishing. The orchid on Sophia’s mantel is a curious color of turquoise and Sophia’s blouse is a similar color. “Clothed like the flowers,” I thought. 

And I thought some more. Besides borrowing the colors of flowers, perhaps designers unconsciously borrow from petals, too, while making the ruffle a popular edging. Perhaps women who like flowers will unconsciously wear ruffles.

This blue calico skirt I purchased has a double flounce – a smooth sort of ruffle that isn’t gathered.

Mrs. Schaeffer’s chapter inspired me pull up a chair to my sewing machine. I chose a shorter skirt pattern for the summer than my usual ankle length – one with a flounce.

Aiming to find a fabric that would match a red blouse, I settled on one with only touches of red so as not to add too much red to the outfit. The fabric has tiny red flowers.

“How strange. They look like the patch of dianthus I’ve just planted,” I noticed. 

Sadly, a month later I concluded that dianthus doesn’t thrive on the west wall of our house. It was too late to transplant it elsewhere. 

Its withering also reminds me of Matthew 6.

We needn’t picture flowers in our fabrics to be clothed like the flowers. We needn’t wear ruffles or flounces, either. But I hope these ideas on Creativity & Clothing will inspire your Mother Culture in a way that is pleasing and personally rewarding to you. You are of more value than the flowers. 

Explanation of Photographs of Flowers:

Red Echinacea at the side entrance
Candytuft at the edge of the patio
Daylily loving a sunny spot
Scarlet bee balm near the back kitchen door
Roadside field of chicory across a cow pasture nearby
Dianthus thriving a short time then wilting (normally hardy.)

Post Script
Thank you Suzanne for your beautifully written review of my Mother Culture CD at Blueberry Cottage. I appreciate how descriptive you took the time to be. Your posts on Blueberry Cottage are sometimes courageously informative and other times charming. 

Comments are Welcome,
Karen Andreola 


  1. How appropriate! For about 3 weeks, in our Together Time, we've been memorizing Matthew 6:28-34 - the passage about the lilies of the field, and Solomon, and God supplying our needs.

    And I've been mulling over that and my propensity for worrying about things like clothing and meals.

    Thank you for this encouraging post!

  2. I can testify so many times to God's provision of well, everything! But recently my dear hubby has surprised me with a dream trip to Israel!! He got a good deal on the ticket as it was with faculty from the Bible college where he teaches, but still it was a splurge. Living in England I have almost no use for summer weight clothes and don't tend to bother buying any most years. I only had one or two things and was going to be gone for over a week with no washing facilities. I prayed and God supplied - beautifully! Over the two months I was looking I found stunning things that went with the few that I had to make a full wardrobe by the time I left! They all cost just pennies compared with full prices new, and I new I was dressed in a way that made my husband proud of me. God is no man's debtor and does supply bountifully!

  3. A beautiful and thoughtful post, Karen. I, too, enjoy the writings of Edith Schaeffer. I would also mention that your insights, as seen through Carol's eyes in A Pocketful of Pinecones and Lessons at Blackberry Inn, encourage the reader to notice natural beauty all around, as you do in this post. I plan to re-read both books as homeschooling inspiration for the upcoming school year. Thank you for sharing your gifts!

  4. I'm thankful to have found your blog...I still remember receiving Lupine seeds from you at a home school conference years ago. Your encouragement is refreshing.

  5. I have been thoroughly inspired Karen. I left for a bit, especially the idea of dressing like the flowers, then I came across this wonderfully encouraging post, and I am now looking at clothing with the same love as before.

    Thank you.


  6. Mrs. Schaeffer's clothing chapter is a marvelous one! She has such good common sense mingle with an amazing eye for beauty.

    Our youngest child will be heading to college this fall, so I won't need to visit Appleton and its environs for homeschooling inspiration (though I have done just that for several years now). However, I will be visiting Appleton anyway. Re-reading these delightful stories helps keep me motivated to truly make a home.

    Thank you for a lovely post, Karen.


  7. This is a great post. Sometimes we tend to give the idea that modest equals dull. Not so! We can be modest and lovely like the flower's of the field. Thanks for this encouragement.

  8. Hello Ladies,

    I appreciate all your comments.

    Yes, dressing tastefully doesn't have to be expensive. I've seen what my youngest daughter Yolanda (married) can do with thrift shop finds. The nicest wool tweed vest my husband has purchased (and the only one) was found in a thrift shop.

    It's neat that you remember picking up a seed packet at the conference, Jenna, so many years ago. Lupines produce an abundance of seeds. I remember decorating the packets with a rubber stamp to encourage those (tangibly) who attended my nature study talk. I've wondered what became of them. Now I know where one went. How fun.

    I don't think I would have uncovered this gem of an idea from Mathew 6 myself. Edith Schaeffer was obviously meditating on scripture when she wrote her book and made the connection - the way we are supposed to slow down, and calm down, long enough to do. I'm convicted.

    It gladdens me, Ladies, that you enjoy seeing nature through Carol's eyes in my stories. Thank you for sharing your enjoyment with me.
    Karen A.

  9. Thank you for this! Mrs. Schaeffer's book is in the mail, and I can't wait to read it. I have appreciated your books too.

  10. Karen,

    This is a wonderful post. I love Edith's book - and have started it again.

    I love to dress in a feminine way, no matter what task is at hand.

    Your skirt is wonderful. What pattern did you use if you don't mind my asking. The girls would like it alot, too!


  11. This is my first visit, and I was so encouraged by your post. I have re-read The Hidden Art of Homemaking every year since I purchased it 12 years ago! I have been known to describe the exact passage that you are referring to here... I think it is so important! We are not only called to modesty, we are expected beauty... It is modeled by our Creator God!

    Your skirt is so lovely. Perfect fabric!

    Blessings, Debbie

  12. Gracious! Karen, I only just saw your name on the blog after I posted my last comment. The other book I have reread for the last 12 years is my Charlotte Mason Companion!

    So although this is my first visit to this blog I've been visiting you for years!

    Debbie :)

  13. What a beautiful post. I never thought of the verse in this way but it really does fit. I need to pull out my The Hidden Art of Homemaking book and read the chapter now. Thank you so much for the reminder. I loved looking at all your flowers and your skirts are so pretty. I really hope to try my hand at sewing this summer. Hopefully really soon. PS... your dd and grandson look wonderful in their picture.

    Blessings and ((HUGS))!

  14. Lovely post. I also loved Tasha Tudor's idea of how fortunate we are to be women, how she just could not imagine wearing manly attire.Your skirt is so cheery,I love it with the red blouse. I have just arrived home from 9 days in Strasburg Pa. I purchased lots of fabric as I do each year for projects I hope to work on throughout the year. I love shopping for fabric, I love all things frilly, I have an ankle length dress with a petticoat sewn into the dress. When I wear it, I get many stares, but i love it, it is so modest.Thank you for this likening to Scripture. I do not dwell enough on what all The Word is saying when reading it.I need and desire to reap a greater blessing in studying and meditating on His Holy Word. Thanks again , Dawn E. Brown ps........I thought about you and your family while we were in your area recently, would have loved to have met for tea. My daughter and daughter-in-law both plan to home-school,and that would have been a treasured visit, perhaps someday...thanks also for sharing your dear daughter and grandsons picture,that is sweet...

  15. Karen,
    God's timing is so perfect! Just today I was having this discussion with someone about modesty and dressing in a feminine way and felt I really must have blundered my words, because I was warned to be careful of legalism, and that was so far from my point. One day I will word things in your calm, sweet way. The Lord so encouraged me to then read this very post today, written so well. I was also encouraged to see so many young faces in your comments who affirm your writing. And I apologize for struggling to focus on the flowers and your daughter's blouse, as your grandbaby was just all I could see! So precious. Can't wait to get your CD. You are a blessing!

  16. How blessed I am to have such kind ladies reading my posts who are also fellow readers of Hidden Art. (Mrs. Schaeffer's daughter, Susan, once shared that this was to be the title of her mother's book initially.)

    Dawn, you were indeed nearby. Isn't it easy to dally in the fabric shops of Lancaster? Email if you like.

    Keep offering your opinion when asked, Claudia. Little blunders (I've made them) can cause us to be so carefully guarded that we do not kindly offer an opinion or toss a seed in any direction. I'm glad to see that this isn't the case with you.

    My Regards,
    Karen A.