Monday, September 29, 2014

Feed My Lambs by Karen Andreola

Feed My Lambs
Scrolling, you’ll see I have a contemplative message to share with you today. But before I do, may I take a minute to show you what’s been on my needles? 

This month I got around to sewing up the summer skirt I had cut out of a pale blue-green calico months prior. There were just enough warm afternoons left for a week of wear.  

karen andreola

I added a ruffle of a coordinating print. Then, because this left a slightly puckered seam, I hid the seam with a pleat, and then another pleat to make the whole hem appear intentional. It turned out to my liking, imperfections, length, and all. 

Blue-green is a color that is difficult to match in a T. A lighter version of the color would have matched more satisfactory to my tastes but I knew I had a darker shade of blue-green in my clothes closet before I purchased the calico.  

Red yarn rested snug in my stash for too long. This summer I set my sites on using it up. Content with my stand-by cable pattern (that’s proved itself time and again) and happy with how the size 2 Donegal Tweed fit a two-year-old grandson in 2010 (cute-y here pictured) I am now making another.

This time a size 6 is on my needles for his brother – but in a washable wool blend. My, how fast little boys grow! Anyway, the pattern has just enough diversity-of-rows to make it interesting while being uncomplicated enough to allow ease of conversation with whoever is in the room. My aim is to have it presentable by Christmas.

Donegal Tweed cable knit cardigan

I closed the last page of Miss Clare Remembers with a sentimental farewell, then whizzed through Miss Potter because its author Richard Maltby Jr. carries the reader along almost as swiftly as the film – which makes sense since he wrote the script for it. (Due to comments of a private nature made by Miss Warne in the art gallery, and other details excluded from the film, this book is not for children.) I recommend the film over the book, in this case. I borrow the DVD from our church library, now and again, for the story but also to savor the closing scenes of the Lake District.

Miss Potter by Richard Maltby Jr.

The Chief Business of a Mother
Here is another tool for bringing up children.

What is the chief business of a mother? Is it to be a taxi driver for her children, a law-giver, a laundry-maid, a cook, a home decorator, a fashion assistant, a photographer, a birthday and holiday organizer?

The chief business of a mother is to be an inspirer.

Before His ascension our Lord Jesus told the apostle Peter to “Feed My lambs.” *1 God has chosen loving mothers and fathers for this important work. We are not empty-handed. We have a tool. It’s “a life of ideas.” Miss Charlotte Mason trusted the mother at home to sustain the inner life of a child with ideas as she sustains the child’s body with food. This is how children grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

“What’s an idea?” you might ask. Well, here’s one way to look at it. An idea is like a watermelon pit. A little boy bites into a thick slice of watermelon. It is so juice-y that he gulps it down instantly and then realizes that he swallowed a watermelon pit. With large, round eyes and a tinge of anxiety, he looks up into his father’s face and asks, “Dad, I swallowed a pit! What’s gonna happen to me?”

Dad teases. “A big watermelon is going to grow and grow in your stomach until it gets this big,” he says with arms wide.

An inspiring idea isn’t stagnant. It may start as small as a seed. But then it grows. If it’s a good idea it nourishes and vitalizes. Ideas and their naturally occurring associations, come to children through various means;

through observing nature,
recognizing beauty,
appreciating art and melody;
through the rhythmic movement of their games,
through handicrafts,
good conversation,
a Sunday sermon, etc. 

When people asked pastor’s wife, Edith Schaeffer, “What’s your advice about bringing up children? What did you do?" she said, “If there is any one thing I would stress . . . it would be this: I read aloud to the children, both individually and together.” Mrs. Schaeffer believed that sharing ideas in the family circle is one of the most beneficial and close “togetherness-things” we can do.*2

pumpkin patch in Pennsylvania
Landis Valley pumpkin patch

Ideas are found in books, most importantly. Of these, children need quality and quantity. Through books, written by enthusiastic authors, we give children what the apostle Paul in Philippians recommends.*3 Books supply us with something pure, lovely, noble and just, to think about. They do the teaching for us.

Speak the Truth with Hope
The maturing child sees that this fallen world is not all sweetness. Therefore, we must reach for books that accompany life’s hard truths with hope. During the confusing and scary week of 911, Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood appeared on public television with a message. He said to children, “Look at the helpers.” This is what his own mother taught him. In life and in books, we look at the helpers. 

And we look for the heroes. 

Heroes are the basis of our religious life. The heroes of the Bible – those faithful ones -  are a cloud of witnesses to inspire us.

In literature we find adventure, sorrow and sin – and perhaps those who take pleasure in sin - but we should also meet large-hearted characters that comfort, protect, correct, bring joy and reconcile.
In history we meet those who destroy and oppress. Therefore, the history books we give children should also include those brave souls who build, defend, and minister the gospel. Who are these brave people? What were they like?

Science seeks to discover how the world works. If it is not only self-seeking it will rise to meet the challenge of relieving hardship and sickness. It is inspiring to meet the inventors and healers. Who are these curious, perseverant people? What did they accomplish?

Pass the Torch
Inspiration comes by way of those who uncover truth and pass on the flaming torch of ideas (especially needed in dark places). Someday our children may be one of the torchbearers, the helpers and the heroes of the next generation. Whatever is noble, true and pure should be considered and appreciated because it all comes from God, whether it is delivered to us by a believer or an unbeliever.

It's a pity when a child has no one to look up to. This child suffers a great loss. He becomes dull, complacent, and thinks, “Why bother?” Any amount of hero-admiration is good for us. Not only does it pull us up out of the dull-drums with its little sparks of enthusiasm, but it changes a “why bother?” into a “let's go for it.”

We can get caught up in ourselves. But it only takes a little hero-admiration to alleviate concept. Teens can get caught up in themselves. But if they care about others to the point of admiring them, then they will waste less time admiring themselves.

Landis Valley

What happens when we feed our lambs? Inspiration can be a personal and quiet thing. When a child admires someone, he will notice things about this special person that he, himself, is lacking. He may become conscious of his frailties or inexperience, yet – at the same time – his admiration stimulates a desire in him to become more like his hero. 

Set the Table
Children are a mixed bunch. Just like we spread the table with a variety of healthy foods, let’s spread the table with differing ideas, because we do not know which our child will choose to care about. In Ecclesiastes we read, “In the morning sow your seed [or watermelon pits]. And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper.” *4

Astronaut Jim Irwin
Jim Irwin's autograph

A Hero Face-to-Face
My husband, Dean Andreola, worked at the Christian Bookseller Conventions back in the hay-day of publishing. As a perk, he got to meet Christian authors and singers. One year a long line of people waited to meet a popular, flamboyant vocalist, to get her autograph. There was no line for astronaut Jim Irwin. In fact, there was no one there at all. Born in 1956, astronauts were Dean’s heroes. The television seems to have been invented and widely in use (in his boyhood) just in time for America to watch (live) the moon landings. Therefore, Dean was excited to walk up Jim Irwin to meet a man, face-to-face, who flew in a rocket ship to the moon. Mr. Irwin penned his name on a photograph and handed it to Dean. It reads, “Dean, Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

A true hero lives for, and points to, the greatest hero of all (of Whom one day we will meet face-to-face.)

End Notes
*1  John 21:15
*2  Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Tyndale House Pubs., pg 152
*3  Philippians 4:8-9
*4  Ecclesiastes 11:6
Some of the paragraphs in this post were adapted from earlier posts here on Moments with Mother Culture.

Thank you for your visit. Write anytime.
Karen Andreola


  1. True heroes are a great blessing!


  2. Karen,

    I LOVE that story of Dean and Jim Irwin. Jim's message to Dean is one I am going to share with Kyle.

    Tim has worked to cultivate heroes for Kyle - men like George Washington, his own missionary father Elmer Rabe who, though Kyle's grandfather, Kyle doesn't know him as he went to be with the Lord the year Tim graduated from high school. Ordinary men whom God used.

    I think we need inspiring in this challenging days, people to look to and be encouraged by their choices and their lives.


  3. Your skirt is so sweet! You did a great job. I think it's perfectly suitable for autumn, but probably not passed November.

    Miss Potter is in a book format?! I'm going to see if my library has it. I watched the movie again a few weeks ago. It's a favorite of mine.

    What a special momento for Dean. I like what Mr. Irwin wrote.

    I hope you are well!

  4. Another beautiful and inspiring post Karen. Thanks you again for pointing us in the right (His ) direction.

  5. I love what you wrote: "The chief business of a mother is to be an inspirer." Those words inspire ME. I am going to write that in my commonplace book. This post helps me put things back into proper perspective. The day busyness can crowd out my thinking like this at times! Thank you. Oh - and I love how your skirt turned out. :)

  6. Karen...what a beautiful post! Tears came to my eyes when I read what Jim Irwin signed! I also love that the "chief business of a mother is to be in an inspirer". And that skirt! What a cute fix you designed! I want to make a skirt with a ruffle and two pleats above it! Great fabric. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  7. Karen, your skirt is simply lovely! I am inspired to go to the sewing machine again!

    All of this post is most inspiring, too. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging words. God bless you.

  8. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for sharing all the nourishing nuggets for the soul. I'm always inspired when I read your articles.

    The story of your husband meeting Jim Irwin was very touching…brought tears to my eyes.

    I really like your pretty sewn skirt and the bright cheery red sweater you knitted. I have a few unfinished projects I would like to complete over these next weeks.

    Happy Autumn,
    from Lynne

  9. Dear Karen, you have once again blessed me with your words, here at your blog and also by leaving comments of counsel at mine. I did read every night to my children, which is one great memory I keep close.....I just wish I would have had a mentor such as you or Miss Mason while bringing my children up to adulthood. I absolutely loved the story you shared about your husband and Jim Irwin. I think I just found myself a new hero in him ;) I think your skirt is beautiful and the sweather too. Blessings dear friend

  10. Thanks for visiting my blog, Karen! I agree, Austen's books are best savored slowly. Your skirt is darling and you look so nice in it! Cute little sweater, too. Love the quote that mothers should inspire their children. Have a lovely weekend! Bess

  11. I absolutely love this post. Just what I needed to enjoy tonight. <3

  12. Enjoyed this post! Cute skirt ~ the little red cable cardigan is adorable! Is the pattern available or is it one of your own??
    Enjoy your day,

  13. Dear Ladies,

    It is a pleasure to prepare nuggets of ideas for you and know that they are falling on listening ears.

    I made the skirt by tracing an existing skirt.

    Talk to you soon,
    Karen A.

  14. What a 'nourishing' blog! I am very thankful that the ladies at my church recommended it to me :-)
    I am looking forward to coming back soon.
    I love the skirt you've made and the little sweater is adorable. I am currently working on a Gansey style jumper for my little one.
    Peace to thee,

  15. I love your writing about how a good idea grows, that makes so much sense to me! Wonderful post.