Friday, November 22, 2013

Saying Grace

Saying Grace

Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.
Scandinavian proverb

     In Pennsylvania, a November morning looks like nighttime. The Lady-of-the-House awoke early. The first thing to greet her consciousness was a bird singing . . . in the dark. One bird, braving the frosty night air was perched in a tree somewhere close by. The high note of its modest little tweet rang clear, resounding through a tightly closed window. The Lady-of-the-House parted the curtains. But it was too dim to see even a bright red cardinal, the bird she suspected it to be.

Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

     This child’s grace at table, echoed in the mind of the Lady-of-the-House. She felt it. She thought about it. The simplicity of this grace taught in childhood is like a proverb, a “drop of ink . . . to make us think.” It sets the mind on higher thoughts. Such drops of ink - when heeded - are a blessing in the life of a teacher whose attitude, and gentle but firm underlining authority, are felt by the children she guides.

     The verse also brought a twinge of conviction to the Lady-of-the-House. It shed a soft light on her lack of everyday thankfulness. She wants to be faithful and have a heart that sings.

“Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?”

     “Alas, how often we are among the nine, the poor, pitiful souls who received everything and gave nothing, not even a word of thanks,” says Miss Charlotte Mason. We become dull to our blessings, are rushed on to do the next urgent thing, or are preoccupied with some fret of the minute, she tells us. She invites us to make thankfulness one of the habits of life – part of the atmosphere of our lives. See what many exclamations she uses on page 192 of Ourselves Vol. II. It is so unlike her. Miss Mason is not given to exaggeration.

     "How good is life, how joyous it is to go out of doors, even in the streets of a city! Surely a pleasant thing it is to see the sun! How good is health, even the small share of it allotted to the invalid! How good and congenial all the pleasant ways of home life, all family love and neighborly kindness, and the love of friends! How good it is to belong to a great country and share in all her interests and concerns! How good to belong to the world of men, aware that whatever concerns men, concerns us! How good are books and pictures and music! How delightful is knowledge! How good is the food we eat! How pleasant are the clothes we wear! How sweet is sleep, and how joyful is awaking!      Even an occasional thanksgiving . . . sweetens the rest of life for us. . .  We say grace for a kind look, or a beautiful poem, or a delightful book, quite as truly as for a good dinner – more so, indeed; for it is true of us also that man doth not live by bread alone."

Miss Mason continues further down the page:

     "Perhaps most of us fall on our knees and give thanks for special mercies that we have begged of our Father’s providing care – the restored health of one beloved, the removal of some cause of anxiety, the opening up of some opportunity that we have longed for. Such graces as these we give ungrudging thanks, and we do well; but the continual habit of thanksgiving is more:

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be,
Thy praise. *1          
                                George Herbert ”

*1 The Lady-of-the-House found and filled out the rest of the verse referenced on page 193

Explanation of Photographs

Feeding the Birds – by Johan Mari Henri ten Kate (1831-1910 Dutch painter)
Punched paper motto stitched for a married daughter in 2008, posing for the photograph on a bale of straw beside a yo-yo mat in autumn novelty prints – borrowed for this post.
Back of yo-yos up close.
Picket fence at Landis Valley.
Pieces of a cabled pullover in size 4 being knit in a November-brown color for a grandson.
Knitting a sleeve in-the-round is the way the Lady-of-the-House prefers to do it. It is her only change to a tried & true, traditional-style pattern of which she has gotten much practical use over the years (by Yankee Knitter Designs #22).  

From my house to yours,
Karen Andreola

Post Script
If you'd like to send a gift-wrapped Mother Culture CD to a friend in time for Christmas the order should be received here by December 14th. The friend's address can be placed in a note with your Pay Pal order or check to the PO Box. Thank you, Ladies. 


  1. I really needed to hear this today!!! Thank you so much dear friend!!

    I love the needlework and yoyo mat. Your sweater is coming along nicely!

    Love, Heather

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  3. I always enjoy your posts. I would love to more about the punched paper project(s). Can you provide me a link or further direction on the craft?

  4. Victorian Punched Paper mottos in satin stitch are quicker to embroider than any needlework I know. And they look handsome on the wall. At Green Gables - on Prince Edward Island - I've read that one hangs on the wall.

    Kits can be purchased on ebay. - Type "punched paper motto" in the search. If you obtain a piece of punched paper that will fit into an 8 by 10 ready-made frame, trace and paint the words on the paper yourself, and buy some DMC floss, this is the least expensive way to go. But for a first attempt a small kit will be your teacher.

    The stitches are at an angle like needlepoint and are carried the entire way across a letter. Some designs will suggest a running stitch for a vine, or other stitches that will fill in a rose bud.

    I think the most striking mottos are those for Christmas - but this is no surprise as the Victorians were in "top form" at embellishing this holiday.

  5. An easy way to make thankfulness a part of every day is to have a "Thankfulness Journal". I have been doing this for over 20 years, first thing in the morning. It can be a fancy notebook or just a regular cheap notebook- I alternate on this. First thing when I get up, I write down at least 5 things I am thankful for from the day before.
    Even on very bad days (like when everything goes wrong or I have trouble with my special needs son) I still find something to be thankful so...on those days it might be "that a day is only 24 hours long then we get to start over" :) Sometimes it's that "certain slant of light coming in the window" or "cuddling with my toddler". There's always something to be thankful for in the worst circumstances.
    I think Miss Mason would have approved of this habit.

  6. I'm enjoying a certain slant of light through a window today while I house clean.

    Yes, I think Miss Mason would have approved of the exercise. You gave me an idea. A thankfulness-doodle at the start and close of a grocery list would make the shopping seem less intimidating. I still use pencil and paper for such things. Thanks

  7. Oh, fellow pencil/pen and paper users! Imagine that!

    To be fair, I do enjoy the benefits of my husband's smart phone from time to time.

    A freshly sharpened pencil holds so many possibilities, doesn't it?


  8. We've been memorizing Autumn poetry and I think I will add this poem for them to learn over the Winter.

    Having a thankful heart is so important. It is something we must work at diligently and to teach our children to do as well.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Karen. Are you all gathering at your home? What fun to have your grandsons with you at the holidays.


  9. Dear Karen,

    How it quiets my soul this day to read those words regarding faith... the bird "sings while it is still dark".

    His words,"In everything give thanks", are ultimately a gift given to us by our loving Heavenly Father. How I love Him for all His provision.

    And speaking of possible dark times, how is your son faring these days?

    Have a glorious Thanksgiving week.

  10. Yes, our keeping room will be a full gathering. I started cooking preparations today - baking the bread for the stuffing. I'm particular about the stuffing but the rest of the meal is always rather plain. Still, making sure plain food is not undercooked or overcooked takes a watchful eye, doesn't it?

    Our son's treatment has been postponed as the doctor decided upon more tests. Thanks for asking. I'll keep my friends posted.

    Karen A.

  11. A most gracious post.

    Very fine indeed. Don't we all need to hide this truth into our hearts?
    Daily. Thankfulness?. Yes. I think we do.

    Your yo yo's look so lovely against the straw. I can see them on a Thanksgiving table as I type this.

    The quotes on thankfulness by Miss Mason minister to me. I don't recall reading them at all and I'm so happy you wrote them here.

    You look darling in your soft blue blouse while you busy yourself with knitting:-)

    Warm wishes for a joy-filled Thanksgiving.

  12. Dear Karen,
    I am so Thankful for your timely thankfulness post. I have been trying for the last couple of days to be thankful in pain, sickness, and unfulfilled dreams. I have been trying to remind myself that God only allows what is best for us. The afflictions of Job are ever before me. Having a terminal and somewhat debilitating illness has given me (on occasion) depressing and morbid thoughts. I am attempting to live with a grateful heart.
    I would like to add another great poem which I memorized as a young person and have loved and have counted on ever since.
    by John Greenleaf Whittier
    We live by Faith; but Faith is not the slave of text or legend. Reason's voice and God's, nature's and duty's never are at odds. What asks our Father of His children, save justice and mercy and humility, a reasonable service of good deeds, pure living, tenderness to human needs, reverence and trust and prayer for light to see the Master's footprints in our daily ways? No knotted scourge not sacrificial knife, but the calm beauty of an ordered life whose very breathing is unworded praise!--A life that stands as all true lives have stood,
    Firm-rooted in the faith that God is Good.
    Thank you again for reminding me!

  13. "He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me.
    The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace."
    - Joni Eareckson Tada

    I understand the desire to wish to escape this fallen world and all its sorrow, pain, sickness and sin.

    "No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make his blessings flow, Far as the curse is found."

    Thank you for sharing from the heart. May God hold you close.

  14. Hi there! I'm new to your site and I might say, you have such beautiful crafts! Your images too are excellent and truly one with nature. Your needle-works are truly impressive. Great work! Hoping to hear and read more from you.

  15. Dear Karen,
    This post and your blog are so lovely! I am also new to your blog, but loved, read, and reread your book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, when I was homeschooling years ago. I plan to visit again soon, so I can read back through your archives.

  16. This was a thoughtful and gentle exhortation to thankfulness.
    God bless you. We can always find something to be thankful for if we try.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage