Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stop and Smell the Roses
   Walking up or down the staircase (usually with laundry in her arms) the Lady-of-the-House momentary rests her eye on a Christening gown that hangs on a closet door. It isn’t anything her children had worn. It was a hand sewn “find” at a sprawling open-air antique market. 

   That was a decade ago. Now years later, she sees that the baby in the header of her blog is wearing a gown remarkably similar.

   She likes the gown for its association. Once she was a mother of babies. Although, at that time the days could seem long when cries for nightly nursing awakened her, in retrospect the days were fleeting.

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment what goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going." Tennessee Williams

   The Lady-of-the-House purchased a pair of knee socks at a health food store. 

   She wore them with a comfortable skirt when she drove the Man-of-the-House to the hospital for surgery. All alternative treatments had only resulted in making his shoulder worse. Recently, a surgeon expertly made a number of corrections to it. But the week prior, the Lady-of-the-House had bouts of anxiety. She knows how the Man-of-the-House is allergic to strong medicines. And the pain of recovery would be forthcoming. When she awoke in the blackness of the night with foreboding, she recited Psalm 23 silently to herself with eyes closed. She fell back to sleep.

   She had made ready the green sweater. 

   Her plan was to knit it in the waiting room. Knitting helps steady her nerves. By sewing up the side seams and picking up the stitches around the armholes, she could knit down a sleeve fuss free while the Man-of-the-House was wheeled away. Her old rectangular basket is perfect for holding distracting magazines, too. 

   On the day of surgery the son of the Lady and Man-of-the-House stood at the door and waved a farewell. He glanced down at his mother’s new socks. He was staring  incredulously. “Mom, did you know those words were on your socks when you bought them?” The choice of garment seemed an irregular one to him. Her answer made more of a puzzling impression on him.
   “Yes,” she answered, “They take the place of a tattoo and give me a good reminder.”  She smiled a big smile when she saw the look on his face. Being more conscious of living in the present helps keep the Lady-of-the-House from drifting into unchecked anxiety over future events.

   Leaving the driveway and turning down the road the Lady and Man-of-the-House feasted on their neighbor’s bright blooming phlox with their attraction of fluttering swallowtail butterflies.

   Before they reached the highway they feasted on a wider view of the countryside – overlooking the cash crop of tobacco in the foreground. The Lady-of-the-House thought:

   Mothers often look down-the-road into the future. We have to. There is always the next meal to prepare. Another batch of clothes awaits washing. And children inevitably grow out of their clothes. They grow intellectually, too, and a new semester of books is sought and lined up. Looking after and looking ahead are very much part of her life. Birthdays and holidays are forthcoming. Recitals loom on the horizon. Wise economy is essential and money is squirreled away for future expenses. Homemakers can easily become overwhelmed with gazing too long and too often at what’s ahead.

Present With God

  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,” says our Lord Jesus. He then points out that Mary has chosen the good part. *1

   Do we pause and listen at the feet of Jesus like Mary in the calm of a present moment? Do we also, as St. Paul tells us, “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving” pour out our hearts to the God who loves us?*

“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for the future.” Arnold H. Glasgow

Present With Her Husband
   In a good marriage a wife lives in the present with her husband. Anne Morrow Lindbergh is insightful on this. She says. “Security in a relationship lies neither in [looking] back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.” Unless we find contentment in the present we will never find it.

   Forgive and forget. If we haven’t forgotten perhaps we haven’t really forgiven.

   Love loves in the present.

Present With Her Children
   A mother who lives plentifully in the present with her children worries less. She has learned to be mindful of the words of Christ Jesus, “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” *3
   The best preparation for the future, says George McDonald, “is the present well seen to, and the last duty done.”
   Our todays make our tomorrows.

Present in the Home
   For my young lady readers, as much as youth is filled with anticipation and aspirations, enjoy the present with your mother, father, brother, sister. Someday you may live miles apart as professions in America so often necessitate. Families become geographically separated. This is what the Amish strive to avoid by confining themselves to the horse and buggy. 

   Someday you may be leaving and cleaving. A new home will be established. Then, you may be arranging for extended family gatherings for a renewed time of togetherness.

An Example From Fiction
    Speaking of young ladies, the Lady-of-the-House has before her a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. Have you seen the BBC film? In this beautifully done period piece, nineteen-year-old Margaret Hale is the main character. The first dozen chapters of the book are tightly fitted into the film’s first installment. Between leaving the parsonage, a country home in the south of England, and reaching their destination north to the smoky, crowded, manufacturing town of Milton, the Hales take a holiday at the seashore. This holiday is described in the book but omitted from the film. The Lady-of-the-House soaked in some lines that especially spoke to her. They reflect Margaret’s thoughts during her stay at the seashore. (She came upon them not long after the purchase of her new socks.)

   After the emotional upheaval of father Hale’s shocking news combined with the physical packing of boxes for the family’s “removal”, for the first time in many days Margaret felt at rest. The sights, sounds, and scents of the seashore were wonderfully new and refreshing to her. Mrs. Gaskell writes:

Camden, Maine, U.S.A. 

   “There was a dreaminess in the rest, too, which made it still more perfect and luxurious to repose in. . . the stroll down the beach, the sea air . . . the great long misty sea-line touching the tender-coloured sky; the white sail of a distant boat turning silver in some pail sunbeam: - it seemed as if she could dream her life away in such loveliness of pensiveness, in which she made her present all in all, from not daring to think of the past or wishing to contemplate the future.
   But the future must be met, however stern and iron it be.” 

   Our Heavenly Father is omnipresent. He is not bound by time. But for his children He is a very present help in trouble.”*4

A Poem
This little poem by Mary Frances Butts sums up this post’s message sweetly.

Build a little fence of trust
  Around today;
Fill the space with loving work,
  And therein stay;
Look not through the sheltering bars
  Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
  Of joy or sorrow.

Post Script
   Dean is recovering slowly and surely. He photographed the flowers and countryside in previous weeks. Someday I may learn photo-shop but for now Dean always crops and balances the colors of each post’s pictures for me.

   The grasshopper-green sweater with rolled edges was completed this week in size 2 for a grandson.

   My cross-stitch sampler (more strawberries) is hung on a bedroom wall. I positioned it in a parlor window (above) to photograph it (along with a few close-ups of its parts) in greater sunlight. The design is by Words of Praise. 

Your thoughts are welcome,
Karen Andreola

End Notes:
1. Complete story: Luke 10:38-42
2. Fuller passage: Philippians 4
3. Fuller passage: Matthew 6:34 
4. Complete passage: Psalms 46:1



  1. Oh Karen,
    What lovely, uplifting thoughts. Thank you.

    Your socks and your son's reaction to them make me smile. Each time I shop at our grocery I determine to find one of those tattoo sleeve things to wear when I go there so I will look less out-of-place when I go to shop! All the workers and most of the customers are quite decorated, not, by the way, something I'm inclined to permanantly be.

    You've given me renewed purpose to live joyfully and peacefully in the present. The quote about a present well seen to is particularly helpful to me.

    May the Man-of-the-House have a peaceful, full recovery.


  2. So much to ponder in this post. You are a wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your handiwork, your life.

  3. Karen, Thank-you for this much needed reminder. To be present is a must for the homemaker.The many pulls throughout our day, oh my.I chuckled when I saw your socks. I can only imagine the curve you threw to your son with that one.Your answer was even better, concerning the tattoo.I know I often borrow tomorrow,when what I really need to be about is today.In reading the book of Colossians this morning,I paused long at Chapter 4,verse 2 talks of continuing in prayer with thanksgiving,and verse 17,take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,that thou fulfill it.Prayer and praise,doing what all God has called us to takes much work.Some is quiet work ,but work.We need not dabble in tomorrow,as you said, whether joyous or sorrow.Thank-you much, I am so blessed once again. Surely hope your husband is on the mend.Blessings, Dawn E. Brown

  4. I've missed seeing Nigel, please say hello for me.

    I am sorry about Dean's shoulder but trust that he is on the mend and will be much better now.

    I love this feels newsy and like I am having a visit with you.


  5. Ha! I LOVE those socks (and shoes)! What a fun purchase.

    I'm adding North and South to my book list.

    As always, thanks for your thoughts.

    Oh, and I have already listened to my Mother Culture CD 3 times and am now lending it out to a friend. It was fun to hear your voice and be inspired by your stories.

    Take care!

  6. Beautifully written Karen. I am saturating myself in the quote you've given by Arnold Glasgow. A good one indeed.

    What fun humor in the chat with your son.

    :-) I just loved it.

    Your wisdom behind motherhood and the fleeting moments always bring me such encouragment...comfort. I catch myself looking down that road far too many times. and when I really think about it, isn't this why life is robbed of the simple joys?
    so yes, unless we find contentment in the present...we will never find it.

    Your sampler is cheery and fun. I purchased some hoops at the goodwill a couple of weeks ago and have decided that this fall will be a perfect time to teach my dauther a little needlework. She is only five, but sews well with her hand. With some burlap and a large needle, I think it will be a nice first start to this.


  7. Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights.
    I struggle so much with this constantly. It was a good reminder that no matter how much I struggle, on my own strength I will never be able to live in the present without the help of the Lord.

    So glad to hear your husband is recovering nicely!

  8. Hubby and I went to Cracker Barrel for our anniversary this morning (we love breakfast out celebrations).

    I pointed out to him a bag they were selling with the words (something like)... Live in the Moment.

    Reminds me so much of your message today!

  9. Thank you for this post with all its beauty in photos and words of encouragement and, for me, its gentle admonishment. I needed this - to be reminded to not live in the past, to be thankful for today with its many blessings, and to press on knowing God will be our Helper, come what may.

    The sweater is so bright and cheery and the samplers are lovely.

    North and South is a favorite of mine ~ my husband enjoys it as well. I purchased the audio book to delve deeper into the story and we have very much enjoyed listening to it and discussing it during long hours spent driving in our car.

    May your husband continue to get better with each passing day....


  10. I love the socks and would like to know where I could get all sorts of "tatoo" socks. Your sweater is lovely and the post refreshing. I appreciate your encouragement to enjoy the days with our children.

  11. I was just reminded of missionary Jim Elliot's words "Wherever you are be all there."

  12. Can I just say that being "present" with our families, with Our Lord is truly the way He wants us to be.

    "Do not worry about tomorrow..." He is basically saying - "do not worry about your next breath, or the food you have to prepare, or the clothes you have to present with Me right now - this moment, and everything will take care of itself - at its proper time".

    Thank you for your words and for your encouragement.

    Can you share the sweater pattern (if you can), I am teaching myself how to knit, and would like to make a sweater for my niece and for my daughter.

    Thank you :)


  13. Sigh....I always feel very encouraged by your posts. Thank you. This post has echoed my own thoughts and posts recently and encouraged me to treasure up this lovely moment of precious life. I said a prayer for Dean's swift and full recovery.

  14. I was just down in your neck of the woods last week, so your shots of the landscape are very familiar. Thank you for your blog and for the encouragement it brings to my heart.

  15. Dear Ladies,
    Thank you for your thoughts on this post and well wishes for Dean.

    Any speaker makes herself vulnerable when standing before a crowd (nervously) revealing her heart. She exposes herself to critique or ridicule but she does it for the sake of ministering to those in like circumstances. Therefore it is good to learn that my Mother Culture CD has encouraged you. Thank you.

    I "splurged" on those socks - found at Maggie's is excellent quality - although twice the price of the Amish knee socks five minutes from my house. Other messages displayed are "just breath" and "simplify."

    I knit the green sweater from a pattern that I greatly modified so I will point you to Yankee Knitter Designs. (on-line) Their pattern 30 is bulky and so you probably could use Sugar 'n Cream with it. It has rolled edges and it is "easy" for beginners. I've repeatedly knitted from patterns 19 and 22 in worsted wool. I recommend the "mattress stitch" for side seaming though this is not specified on the patterns.

    I taught myself how to knit socks with Yankee's pattern 29. It is wonderful for its range of wools and sizes. It explains how to finish the toe with "kitchener stitch."

    I enjoy our Saturday blog conversations between chores.
    Good Day,
    Karen A.

  16. Glad Dean is recovering peacefully, thankfully. Love the quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, copied it into my journal. Being "present" is a daily, "present" effort for me, but I am learning, little by little, and appreciate the reminder. Your posts are full of your beautiful crafts, your busy hands, and your rich thoughts. Thank you!

  17. What a joy to find this blog...I have enjoyed your post and will come back often...blessings

  18. Dear Karen,

    This post spoke right into my heart and spoke into a lot of feelings I have been needing to work through. It was almost like you knew what to say to encourage me but I know it was what the Lord was showing you through your situation. I loved the story of the socks and having them instead of a tattoo. [o=

    I am so glad to hear that the man of the house is doing well and I pray a speedy recovery for him. This year will be a lot of learning patience with the recovery. My SIL and FIL both needed lot of time to heal from their surgeries.

    Your needle work is so beautiful as always. I hope we get to see a picture of your grandchild with the sweater on. Maybe one day I will get back to my x-stitching but for now it is too much for my very full brain. My knitting is very therapeutic and is perfect therapy for me at this stage in my life. I have been picking simple patterns so I can enjoy the process and rhythm of the motion of the needles. It is so perfect for praying, meditating on God and His word.

    I had to smile at your basket. I have one very much like it and it is full of books I really want to read and I love putting my on the go projects in it too. Kindred spirits in so many ways.

    I pray for much peace and healing in the coming days.

    Blessings and ((HUGS))my blogging friend
    In Him<><

  19. Thank you Karen for this lovely post. I've had a very unsettled few weeks lately and this is just what I needed to read before I retire tonight. So very calming. We recently did a study on the 23rd Psalm. There is such comfort in those words.
    Blessings Gail

  20. Dear Karen,
    I have enjoyed pursuing your site this morning. Always such a blessing. Your sampler skills are beautiful and very inspiring.
    Edith Gaskell is one of our favorite authors, and the BBC production of North and South is alluded to almost daily by one of my four daughter by repeating humorous phrases from it, (and also especially from Cranford 1 and 2.)
    My oldest daughter especially loves the phrase "Less interjection and more replenishing of glasses" and "Speculation is the enemy of calm." Nobody else understands what we mean, but I guess that is okay. :)
    I hope you are enjoying the last bits of summer.
    Sarah B.

  21. Dear Karen,
    This post spoke to my heart. I've been struggling with everything that needs be done - in the future. What a time and energy waster that is! The Lord has been gently reminding me that it's "one day at a time". Thanks for sharing this.
    Many blessings,

  22. Karen, I just love these posts.
    Always so much to think on and ponder.
    So much in our lives to love...and appreciate. When I see so many other women rushing about and missing heart hurts a little for the mother and especially the children. Like all of the children every day on the play ground, at school year after year.
    I have to stop myself always, from wondering about them and their lives.
    Wishing their mother would bring them home, too.

    Thank you!
    Ordered your CD, can't wait!

  23. Thank you!

    I, too, sometimes live in a future full of worry. I corral my thoughts by blogging, but really need to think about other ways of doing it.

    Love your socks!

  24. Thanks for the lovely reminder. I had an anxiety attack at bed last night and I kept repeating Phil 4:6-7 to myself.

    I hope that Dean is recovering!!!

    Love, Heather

  25. I enjoy your posts, and I enjoy reading the responses even though they are from six years ago! I feel I'm getting to know you better and better from reading your blog. I finished a little knitted bandana for my little dog this week. I made it with sock yarn that I had left over from knitting myself a Sockhead hat. It's a slouchy hat made with sock yarn. I need to take some photos and put them on my blog and on Ravelry.
    God bless you friend!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage