Today I am pleased to present an entry from my wife, Susan. After reading this, you'll see why I always say she is the better writer in the family. In addition to being a stay-at-home mother of three, she is also a professional freelance writer and director of religious education at St. Luke's Bladensburg.
When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the Continental Congress had given us, he is reported to have replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” This has always been the problem with being an American: we have to “keep” our freedom. Now, don’t get me wrong. Dr. Franklin and his friends worked very hard to gives us our best shot for remaining free. However, they also know that they would eventually pass away and the next generation would be left to keep our Republic. A monarchy is safe as long as the king can product an heir. A dictatorship will take care of itself. But a Republic requires careful tending, and that is what I hope to write about in the next four weeks. Because I am a woman, a wife, and a mother, I will primarily addressing my comments to the female members of James’ audience. Of course, you men are welcome to read, too.
To illustrate my points, I have chosen to focus on Norman Rockwell’s famous “Four Freedoms.” The main reason behind this is that I love his work. Looking at a Rockwell is like stepping into a place and time. Sure, they are romanticized, but they are also serious and gritty. The men have dirt under their fingernails and the women’s hats are often at least slightly askew. Another reason I chose the Rockwell paintings is that they are homey and have a sense of community that I think we definitely need to get back to. Finally, these particular paintings illustrate the freedoms that are typically closest to a woman’s heart because they concern our family’s safety and comfort.
So please join me as we take a few minutes of consider what the role of the modern mom is in keeping these four freedoms safe. Also, please note that the Bible verses in question are from the famous description of the “Virtuous Wife,” Proverbs 31
Freedom from Want
With the current state of the economy, want is closer to our doorstep than many of us can ever remember. The recent rise in the cost of gasoline has driven up the cost of everything from clothes to coffee and beef to building supplies. Then there’s unemployment. I know more than one family that has lost its primary breadwinner.
So what is a woman to do? If you have been home with your children, you may be wondering if you should re-enter the job market. But you may not be able to find a job, not to mention the additional costs of childcare, clothing, travel, etc. In the meanwhile, why not consider some creative ideas to stretch your dollar until it buys $1.50 worth of merchandise.
· Consider the traditional Catholic practice of meatless Fridays, but instead of going with pricey seafood or fish, consider a meal of pasta and vegetables or eggs and cheese.
· Plant a “Victory over Want” garden. I know summer’s almost over, but it may not be too late to grow a tomato plant or two in a pot. You can keep in growing in a summer window through the fall.
· Make your own fun. If you have to cancel cable, consider spending the evenings you used to spend watching TV at the local library or pool. Or just try playing some silly games as a family. One especially fun thing is to read a book aloud together, with different people taking on different characters.
· Cut back, not out. If your family always goes out to dinner after church on Sunday, have dinner at home and then go for an ice cream cone at a local fast food place.
· Learn a new skill. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to learn to crochet, now’s a great time to learn. Not only will it give you a sense of accomplishment, but it can also provide you with a way to save money by making gifts for holidays and birthdays. Super Cheap Hint: Put the word out around church that you’re learning to knit or crochet and you’re likely to be gifted with more yarn than you can use.
· Volunteer. There’s nothing like passing out a meal to the homeless to help you realize just how fortunate you are. Also, if you’d like to take you family to a local event but can’t afford the admission, check out the internet to see if you can volunteer a few hours in return for free admission.
Susan Mathis is delighted to be a daughter of the Church, the wife of James and the mother of Chris, Josh and Maggie. In addition to homeschooling and homemaking, Susan also blogs for thecouponcupboard.com.