Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fit For a Calling

Preparing For A Calling (a post in 2 parts)
Franz Eduard Meyerheim (1838-1888) German Painter

Miss Charlotte Mason was "quite sure" about something. It was that a calling, "comes to the person who is ready for it. That is why the all-round preparation of body, mind, soul, and heart is necessary for the young knight who is waiting to be called," she says.

Her word "knight"paints a picture. A calling is a "royal service." Higher than serving any Lord of the Manor, however, we serve our Lord God, the Maker of heaven and earth, "who," she says, "fixes the bounds of our habitation, [and] does not leave us blundering about in search of the right thing. . . " because he fits us to the world we live in.*1

My summer project finished, an autumn table thingy
If he finds us waiting, ready and willing, He gives us a call.

"It may come in the advice of a friend, or in an opening that may present itself, or in the opinion of our parents, or in some other of the quiet guidings of life that come to those who watch for them, and who are not [self-centered]; or it may come in a strong wish on our own part for some particular work for which we show ourselves fit, " says Miss Mason.

We may not know how it comes but we can be sure that

we have not
because we ask not *2

that if we avail ourselves to be of service to God and mankind that it will come whether it is to be a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker . . . doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, etc.

Hand-quilted, machine flange binding, the batting is cotton flannel cloth.
But each person, says Miss Mason to young people, "requires preparation of his calling; first, the general preparation of being a person ready and fit; and next, a special preparation of training or teaching ...." but "it rests with us to fit ourselves for our vocation."

We do this, remembering that the worth of any calling depends upon our willingness to serve and be of use. Let "no day. .  go by without giving . . practice in usefulness. Each one is wanted for a special bit of work he is fit for; and of each it is true that -

Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident:
It is the very place God meant for thee." *3

Our trees out back. 
This post is my edit of a message given to young people by Charlotte Mason in her book, Ourselves Bk 1. page 209, 210.
*1 Colossians 3:23-24, Ephesians 6:7
*2 James 4:2
*3 Charlotte Mason is quoting a well-know piece of verse by Richard Chenevix Trench, a poet and Anglican Archbishop (1807-1883) whose life overlapped hers.

A young lady makes these thin crisp butter cookies.
Is Motherhood a Calling?

If you've heard my Mother Culture talk you might remember my young son's question. We were discussing professions. He asked, "Ma, what's the lowest paying job?"

My first answer was,"Making french fries at a fast food restaurant." But then another vocation popped to mind. "No. Wait a minute. I know a lower paying job than that," I said.

"What is it?" he said.

"You're looking at it," I said.

A mother, homemaker, home teacher, must fit herself with dedication, faithfulness, knowledge, and a variety of skills. Her list of duties and responsibilities is long. Yet she is paid no salary.

Google the antonym for "professional" and you get "amateur." A mother, homemaker, home teacher is an amateur. And yet she carries out her service as of "unto God" as well as she can. But an amateur is not really the opposite of a professional. It has a special meaning.

Inside the word amateur is the Latin word "amare" - to love. A mother, homemaker, home teacher, does what she does for the love of it. All that she does, she does for love. She loves and is loved in return. This is her high calling. This is her special service. Without this calling the world would suffer.

Here's a story about a calling of love. Over the summer I read A Lantern in Her Hand  by American author Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881-1954).

A friend told me that she read it first as a young lady. Again when she was married with a succession of babies. Years later, when her children were flying out of the nest. With each read she was encouraged in a different way. I can understand why. The story traces the life of Abbie, a pioneer woman of Nebraska, from a young girl of the 1850s, to a grandmother in the 20th century.

Along her seasons of life we pick up little morsels of wisdom. Bess Streeter Aldrich wrote this story in the 1920s in admiration of her own mother. Much research on the details of covered-wagon-days went into the book. Many were first-hand sources. They came to Mrs. Aldrich in the form of handwritten letters. Listeners of her radio interview were invited to share their reminiscence with her. Surprisingly letters came pouring in.

Amidst the mind-set of me-first, Abbie's life shines in contrast. This is the benefit of reading A Lantern in Her Hand. It challenges us to be of generous of heart. To take courage in adversity. To patiently not grow weary in the good work we do as amateurs. This story helps us understand what love is. (A brief kissing scene in an early chapter might fool the reader that this is a romance novel. It is not.)

I placed our lantern in the back garden for this post.
In the sequel, A White Bird Flying,  the main character is one of Abbie's granddaughters. It takes place in the "modern" days of the 1920 and 30's. Reading the last page brought a tear of joy to my eye. It was a nice page in which to end a day. I like happy endings.

Do you sometimes feel the need to be encouraged by another who has gone before you? I recommend this gentle story, A Lantern In Her Hand.  Sold on Amazon. My copy is on Kindle. I would have given this book to my daughters to read had I known about it during their girlhood.

I have A White Bird Flying in paperback.

Have you read either story?

I finished knitting the cotton cardigan I began in July (Christmas in July, one gift completed.) The yarn was a gift to me last Christmas.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola
P.S. Years back, I voted for Ronald Reagan. (That's how old I am.)
Today (as always) I am voting policy. I am voting pro-life, for the man who has the best chance at winning the election at zero hour, who is surrounding himself with good men like Mike Pence. Potential nominees are lined up for the Supreme Court. I agree with Christian historian David Barton that voting is a duty and that these judges of the land are paramount.


  1. Hello, Karen.

    That little pink sweater is a real beauty! We have a brand new great-niece who is scheduled to make her arrival sometime around the end of November. I am waiting to meet her before choosing just the right shade of pink yarn so that I can knit a sweater for her. Fun!

    In a Bible class discussion the other night, our teacher asked about how we move forward when things are uncertain in our lives. A good friend answered, "By taking the next step, whatever that may be." All the next steps help to fit us for our calling. Remembering that Almighty God is already wherever we will be stepping gives us great courage.

    And just think, eventually all our steps will end at His throne.


  2. What a lovely, refreshing post. I'm just getting ready to begin Christmas Kringling. That's what I call making and preparing things for Christmas gifts. I actually started last month on the 25th with my first Christmas Prep party for the ladies at church—just a dedicated time to work on projects together. Only a couple ladies came. Maybe tonight's party will have more interest. I'm starting with purse tissue holders for friends. They are quick and simple, and I like having a little something to give at Christmas—especially for some of the older single ladies.

    Your post made me feel good about being home for my family. Thank you. I'm a book reviewer, so I have many books to write about on my blog this fall. I'd like to read A Lantern in Her Hand, but I'll wait awhile. I put it on my wish to read list on Goodreads. I'd really love to read your book, Lessons at Blackberry Inn. I've wanted it for years. Perhaps one day.

    Be blessed and enjoy this most beautiful of seasons. You've influenced me greatly through your books and writings through the year. Thank you!

    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    Carthage, Missouri

  3. Karen:
    Another beautiful and inspiring post. I do so love to read the thoughts you share with us - reflections like these give me some peace, and happiness. I know its because they come from your sweet spirit, which is so obviously fed by the Holy Spirit. So thank you.
    Your fall "table thingy" is so pretty! Thank you for sharing that with us! And the new pink cotton cardigan is as sweet as can be. Someone will be having a good Christmas. And that pretty photo of the plate of butter cookies with the late afternoon light on them!! Love.
    I have not read the two Aldrich books - but I am off right now to order them, because they sound like something I would really enjoy. I often think about certain books I read as a young girl, and the long-lasting impact they have had on my life.
    Blessings and hugs to you -

  4. "A Lantern in Her Hand" is one of my favorite books. I found a lovely vintage copy at a book sale a couple years ago. I remember when I reached the end of the story I couldn't stop crying. Aldrich writes so beautifully, I truly enjoyed her descriptions of the prairie. I also enjoyed her book "Rim of the Prairie" and my mother has recommended I read "Miss Bishop".

    The sweater you knitted is beautiful! So sweet and cozy. : )

  5. I've read both of those Bess Streeter Aldrich books and enjoyed them very much. They might be a good winter re-read.
    Sue R.

  6. Karen, While doing a library system search for the books you mention I saw there was a movie made based on _A Lantern in her Hand_ called "A Mother's Gift." Obviously I have not yet seen it but maybe it's a good, family friendly adaptation for families who like prairie type movies. (Even my boys will watch "When Calls the Heart.") :-D
    As I mentioned to you on Facebook, I appreciate your plain statement of your political convictions. We can endure four years of an unsavory president, but Supreme Court justices have no term limits.
    Thank you for sharing your creativity. Your autumn table thingy is lovely, and your sweater for Baby E reminds me of Carol and Dora discussing their pinks.
    God's blessings be yours,

    1. Update :-)
      I watched "A Mother's Gift" and while it was similar to the book the story was quite condensed and some details were changed. As usual, the book is better. The movie did spark a good conversation with my teenagers.

  7. Thank you once again for this lovely post. My grandmother had the book "Lantern In Her Hand"
    It is in our library. the pink sweater is a beauty.
    God Bless

  8. Lovely quilt table runner/thingy. Yes, I've read Bess Streeter Aldrich many times also. I also enjoy seeing your pictures from the Landis Valley Farm, we went one time many years ago.

  9. I loved the Latin origin description! How fascinating! :) I just LOVED A White Bird Flying, Karen. It took me a bit to get into it, but then it meant so much to me. I read it earlier this year. I will have to read a A Lantern in her Hand now! I have a different Aldrich on my stack right now from the library. So many books, so little time. :) Thanks for another wonderful and interesting post...they are encouraging to me. :) Amy

  10. Karen, thanks for a lovely article. As a native Nebraskan my mother introduced me to her favorite book, A Lantern In Her Hand, when I was in 8th grade. I have loved Abbie Deal ever since.
    A book that hasn't been mentioned is The Rim of the Prairie, another favorite of mine. My youngest daughter also enjoys reading Aldrich and hopefully in a few years my granddaughters will too.

  11. Again, thanks for the words of encouragement, Karen. I am putting those books on my "to get" list, with the hopes of all three of my daughters reading them, and me, too.
    And I am 100% with you about voting policy. As a Christian, voting for a woman who is pro-death is not an option.

  12. Karen,
    I just now read this wonderful post. These wise and timely words uplifted my spirits, after a very difficult day. I love your advice, I love your book recommendation, and I love your voting policy. Blessings to you, and please keep the encouragement coming.

  13. I started reading this post when it first hit my email but never got to finish it. My days are busy and full. I have 6 kids in 5 different grades with the youngest being not quite ready for school, a farm with cows, goats, chickens and dogs, and a long list of tasks that daily beckon me. Every Mother Culture post is for me like sitting at the feet of a wise woman as she gently speaks and encourages me in the art of being a home maker and home teacher. I can easily get into the role of a farm hand and working outside getting dirty and smelly but I must not stay there...my family needs a gentle and loving me to cook healthy meals, to kiss boo boos, give hugs and smiles and pats of affirmation as well as to teach them in the gentle art of learning. Mother Culture draws me back to the me my family needs and I so appreciate the wisdom and grace with which you write, Karen. Blessings to you. (And thank you for answering my question)

  14. I thank you for the book recommendations. Since reading this post in October, I have read both A Lantern in Her Hand and A White Bird Flying. They were both so inspirational. My husband would come home every day and ask how Abbie Girl was and then Laura. I am glad to see that others have read Aldrich's other books and also have enjoyed those. I look forward to more. Thank you for always writing inspirational words to dwell upon.