The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Part Two

What is art, anyway? Who decides whether something is art or just a gobbled mess?

First we need to look at the First Artist, the only True and Perfect Artist. “The only artist who is perfect in all forms of creativity…in having perfect truth to express as well as perfect expression of truth…is of course God – the God Who is Personal.” -page 14

When we look at God’s creation: the world, the universe – from the smallest insect to the largest star, we see that creation is infinite. It is perfect – as created. God made the elements which rest in the atmosphere and reflect the light as the Sun sinks slowly into the horizon, causing the burst of colors we call a sunset. God created the irridescent sparkles on the scales of a fish, so that when the light hits it just right, we see the splash of rainbow under the water. God created the whiskers on the face of a cat, so useful, but also something which adds to the overall appearance of the animal. God added His love and grace to the world through His Son – the picture of the Cross, while disturbing and heart-wrenching – a perfect work of art.

If, therefore, God is the perfect Creator, and we, His creation, attempt to follow in His example, what is art? “One individual personality has definite or special talent for impressing, in some medium, what other personalities can see, hear, smell, feel, taste, understand, enjoy, be stimulated by, be involved in, find refreshment in, find satisfaction in, find fulfillment in, experience reality in, be agonized by, be pleased by, enter into, but which they could not produce themselves.” -page 14 This is art. When you cause a reaction in someone who cannot cause that exact reaction for themselves, you have art. So whether it is a breathtaking landscape on canvas, or a heartrending dramatic play, it is art if it caused someone to sit up and take notice.

“Art satisfies and fulfills something in the person creating and in those responding.” – page 14

When an artist creates something, we are able to learn something of what is in the artist’s mind, heart, and personality. We don’t know everything, but we see some of it. In the same way, we learn more about Who God is by learning about and experiencing His creation – His art. “[Eden] mattered enough to God that it should be beautiful to look at.” – page 23.

Next time: Should I spend my time with this “art” stuff or is there more important things to be doing?

Part One: Now? I’m waiting until…

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 11:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Part One

I’ve recently begun reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. What a gem! I’ve never read any other of Mrs. Schaeffer’s work and I am really enjoying this book. Rather than give lists of things to accomplish or paragraphs on how to organize time, Mrs. Schaeffer chose instead to inspire her readers to find ways of making their homes beautiful, using what she calls the “hidden arts”.

The contents of the book include: The First Artist; What is Hidden Art?; Music; Painting, Sketching, Sculpturing; Interior Decoration; Gardens and Gardening; Flower Arrangements; Food; Writing – Prose and Poetry; Drama; Creative Recreation; Clothing; Integration; Environment. All of the above are applied to how a homemaker – whether a he or she, a single person, or married, a parent, grandparent, or neither – can truly enjoy art within his/her home.

From page 63: “Develop it [your creative capacity for expression] for your own sake, for the enrichment of the lives of those you live with, and as an unconcious spark to set fire to to other dry wood, other creative creatures on a finite level.” A major theme in this book is that of not letting your talents lie dormant while you are waiting to “arrive”. So often, we dream of when’s and if’s, saying that we’ll do that thing that we so love to do at that time. Sadly, when or if that time arrives, we may find ourselves incapable of doing that which we had so long dreamed of. We may also find that we no longer have the skills necessary to achieve our dreams, because we let them relax for so long.

Mrs. Schaeffer implores us to use our talents now, where we are, with whatever means we are capable, in order to not let them go to waste. If you can play the flute, do not wait until you are on stage in a concert hall; play for your children, for your neighbors, for your church. If you can paint beautifully, do not wait until you have the perfect studio in which to create. Make the world your studio and practice your art so that it can be enjoyed. If you sew, if you dance, if you sculpt, if you arrange flowers – do it now. From page 77: “We foolish mortals sometime live through years of not realizing how short life is, and that TODAY is our life.”

Next time: What is art, anyway?

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 5:41 am  Comments (2)  
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BTT- January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, everyone!

So … any Reading Resolutions? Say, specific books you plan to read? A plan to read more ____? Anything at all?

Name me at least ONE thing you’re looking forward to reading this year!

My New Year’s Reading Resolutions:

1)Read the Bible through in a year.  2009 is the year I will accomplish that.

2)Read at least three “classics”.  My hopes are: Jane Eyre, A Tale of Two Cities, and Silas Marner.

3)Read one pleasure novel a month and write about it.

4)Read one non-fiction book a month and write about it.

These are pretty lofty goals for me, but my intention is that I will spend two hours a day in study, in addition to a minimum of 45 minutes in Bible study. 

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

BTT – Time is of the Essence

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read?
Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

1.There is never enough time to read.  Part of my problem these days is that I don’t want to get involved in a book only to be torn away from it in five minutes when someone needs me.  Not much of an excuse, I know.  But there it is.

2.I would read a variety of things if I had all the time in the world to read.  My preferred reading is fiction…clean romantic with a mystery twist.   However, I also am learning to enjoy some deeper fiction and educational books.  So I would split this hypothetical time between many different genres.

Published in: on December 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm  Comments (1)  

BTT – Book Meme

I’ve seen this series of questions floating around the ‘net the last few days, and thought it looked like a good one for us!

What was the last book you bought?

Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury

Name a book you have read MORE than once

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

The Bible

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

Summary, usually.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?


What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

Gripping plot.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

Anne from Anne of Green Gables

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Ha! None, I don’t read in bed. However, next to my chair I have Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

The Quilter’s Kitchen by Jennifer Chiaverini, which may or may not count, since I didn’t read the recipes, just the little story blurbs that follow the book series’s characters. Before that was Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

New Grub Street by George Gissing. It was awful. I was depressed by it, I found the worldview utterly hopeless, and I found myself dreading picking it up. I was trying to read it for a book club, but just plain couldn’t get through.

Published in: on October 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

BTT – Book Boundaries

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

I recently read Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton. Hinton is best known (at least to me) for the novel The Outsiders, which was turned into a movie of the same name back in 1983. I saw the movie at some point in my teenage years, and immediately loved the story. When I found the book at the library a couple years later, I was overjoyed! One of my fondest memories of a book is when I was sitting on my mom’s bed, bawling my eyes out when Johnny died. The telephone rang and although I was closer to it, my mom had to get it, because I simply could not get control of myself enough to answer. Hinton was forever etched in my mind as a wonderful author.

From about the ages of 18 to 32 (which is pretty much now), I only read Christian fiction. I came from a background of reading everything I could get my hands on, which included some pretty disgusting novels. Because of this, when I was born-again, I chose to be very careful about what I read. I had a lot of nasty stuff to clean out of my brain, and wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to clean out new stuff while I was still dredging out the old. Recently, however, I picked up a couple of books that weren’t “Christian” on the label. Some weren’t overtly Christian, but definitely held the familiar worldview. Others, not so much. But I’ve now come to a point in my faith that I can recognize the difference. Because I was branching out a bit, I let myself peruse the library shelves a bit more freely. When I saw Hawkes Harbor , I was really thrilled. Little did I know how thrilled I would be!

Hawkes Harbor was a surprise to say the least. It is definitely not a youth novel, with sex and strong language abounding. Fortunately for me, neither seemed overly gratuitous or exceptionally unnecessary. Both flowed well with the characters, and weren’t described in vivid enough detail to make me completely disgusted. I had no idea that the plot included a vampire. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I did. But once I started reading, I was drawn into the plot because I cared about the characters.

Hinton did not fail me with her vividly drawn characters. Jamie, the protaganist, is a trouble young man who, after spending years drifting from one port to another and one con to another with his friend/foe Kellen, finds himself driven mad by the terrors he experiences at the hands of his vampire master, Grenville. Thankfully, Hinton did not go into great detail over these encounters. They were used simply to drive the characters along and explain the deterioration of both Jamie and Grenville. The novel is not about vampires, in spite of the fact that one is present in the story. It is about the changing relationships in the novel, the exploration of restoration and atonement, and the growth that comes with hardship.

This book was a definite stretch for me, but I’m glad I picked it up. I’m not sure I would read it again, and it didn’t make me want to pick up other thriller-type books, but I don’t regret reading it. The book made me think about how I feel about things such as redemption and restoration, although it did not present these concepts from a Biblical worldview. By reading the ideas from another worldview, I have been able to sharpen my own understanding of what I believe. I also enjoyed the characterizations from Hinton – without them, the book would have been simply a poor thriller. The characters made the book.

What about you? Have you read anything that really made you stretch yourself? Picked up a book that you couldn’t put down, even though it wasn’t your usual fare?

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm  Comments (3)  

BTT- What a Character!

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

Well, um, it’s just you. Lol, well, okay. It isn’t me. I myself like the character development. In fact, I am so not into the story that I will almost always read the last two chapters (or more!) of a book first, even mysteries. I love to know where the characters end up, and then watch the way the author gets them there. A good story line doesn’t draw me in nearly as well as good characters.

As an example, I recently read Quilt as Desired by Arlene Sachitano. The storyline was okay, somewhat contrived and predictable. The author is obviously new on the scene – way too much side material and underdeveloped themes and references. But her character development was good; she created interesting, believable characters (for the most part). I was left, by the end of the book, with a desire to know even more about these people in this world that Mrs. Sachitano had created. That is a true sign of good character development. In spite of the fact that the storyline wasn’t all that great, I would read the next book in the series.

So, as for me, I’m definitely into the characters. The story is simply the characters played out.

Published in: on August 30, 2008 at 4:21 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ecstasy…The Delight…The Library

Inspired by Booksplease

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

Oh, what a great question! The library, with its odors, bookshelves, silence, and precious, precious books, is handsdown on my top-ten list of places to be (without small children). I love to browse the stacks, seeking out the old books that have made it through the purges, turning their pages and treasuring them for the classics they are. I also love to pick up the new releases, feel the crispness of their covers and wonder if new friends await me inside. When I was a child, my joy was the fiction stacks, and while I still love to read a good story, I find myself in the non-fiction section more and more often.

My earliest memory of a library was our elementary school library. Because it was a former high school, the elementary school was a mishmash of rooms that were built to be something else. The library was in the old auto shop, with a cement floor, steps that led down into it, and great acoustics. My memories tell me that I questioned the librarian for several minutes about the placement of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I’d been told repeatedly that they were autobiographical, yet they are filed in the fiction section of libraries. She had some nonsensical explanation that I don’t remember; I do remember, however, that I didn’t believe what she said and I walked away firmly dissatisfied in both her answer and the organization of books in a library.

My very most favorite memory of a library (besides seeing Belle open her eyes in that scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when the Beast gifted her with his library) is when I was about fifteen years old. A school paper sent me searching the library for books and articles about geotropisms. Because it is such an odd topic, we had to go to the big library downtown in the nearest city. I had never gone there before, mostly because the hours were fairly limited and the area wasn’t the safest. When I walked in, shock and amazement overwhelmed me. Two full stories of books, with a catwalk along the upper story greeted my book-thirsty eyes. My mom and I walked in and I stopped in my tracks with my jaw hanging down to my knees and my eyes as big as dinner plates. Book-lust overcame me! I spent about two hours perusing the library, and only found one reference to geotropisms. I also found my respect for libraries returned and my love for books thoroughly affirmed.

What about you? Have you found yourself in awe of the books in your library? Or do your memories of the library tell a different tale about your life?

Published in: on August 21, 2008 at 9:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Take Me Away to Another World

Does anyone remember that soap opera – Another World? Of course, I don’t watch soaps anymore, but when I did, this was my favorite. Vicki and Sam and Amanda and Steve and Rachel and Carl and Cass…yeah, they were my buds. But now, on to the question.

Suggested by Miko

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?

Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?

What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

(This came to me when reviewing a Jonathan Carroll book – I’m not sure I’d like to live in the worlds of his books.)

When I read a good book, I am swept away from my own existence (wonderful though it may be) into the world the author has created. Some authors create fantasy worlds while others recreate worlds that once or do really exist. While I enjoy a good fantasy, I don’t enjoy being swept into those worlds. Too much about those worlds is a wild card. Anything can happen and the laws of nature need not apply. Because of my love for history, I love the worlds of the past. I don’t think I’d want to dwell at any one place(time) too long, because I do love my modern conveniences, but I would love to see the world of Katherine (Anya Seton) or Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery) or My Antonia (Wlla Cather).

As for who do I trust to write my story…I’m not sure. I honestly don’t think I’m well-read enough to answer that question. Or perhaps, I don’t think that my life is interesting enough to warrant a memoir.

What about you? Do you have any favorite book worlds? Any you would avoid at all costs?

Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 11:20 pm  Comments (1)  

Booking Through Thursday – Independence Day

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

Know What You Believe by Paul E. Little
I’m reading this book in conjunction with Starting Points by David Quine, which is a literature-based Christian worldview syllabus that I intend to have the children use in ninth grade. I’m trying to go through it myself first. Know is one of the books we work through in the syllabus, and I have to say that I am learning a lot. Or, to be better put, refining what I already know. Honestly, I’ve not had questions about my faith, so never thought the things that the book answers. It is still interesting, however, and I think that knowing what you believe is a good thing. Do I agree with everything that Mr. Little has written. So far, yes. It is a basic primer on Biblical Christianity.

The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory. An old book on education that I discovered from The Classical Scholar. Very interesting stuff, this.

Published in: on July 4, 2008 at 2:50 pm  Leave a Comment