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Why I’m Going to Start Wearing Aprons

20 May

Most aprons in stores these days are more like t-shirts with quotes, slogans, and silly statements. I saw one I liked online the other day that said, “HAVE MERCY!” I think I need that one when I burn the biscuits or overcook my hubby’s steak.

Times have changed. I read that Grandmas used to set their hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Today, their granddaughters set their pies on the window sill to thaw!

I have this mental image of my Grandma Parks in an apron, baking cherry pies. Her hands and hair and apron were full of flour from rolling out the dough; but that apron protected her dress underneath so she’d be ready for dinner. It was easier to toss an apron in the washer than a dress, she said.

Once a staple of women’s wardrobes, aprons went out of style about the same time women stopped embracing their femininity for a more “feminist” mindset. Aprons, often perceived as symbols of servitude, all but became obsolete. But, just like the movement toward true womanhood, a more balanced few of femininity, and the desire of many women to be compassionate in serving others from the heart, aprons are experiencing a comeback.

Have you noticed the wide variety of apron patterns in stores over the past few years? I bought two simple ones a few years back, but haven’t made a single apron yet. Then, some time ago, when my speaker friend Judy Sharfenberg and her daughters were ministering at the same Christian camp I was, they sold aprons they had found on the internet, “dirt cheap.” I bought two.

One was a wild and crazy print in black, pink, turquoise, and white. The other was navy blue with red trim, and on the blue background was a series of heart designs that look like Scherennschnitte (German paper cutting). It looked so quaint, I couldn’t resist. But I haven’t worn them yet. I’m thinking this over today … why don’t I wear my aprons?

I’ve discovered some things about aprons.

  • At their most basic, aprons are meant to protect the clothing underneath, but sometimes they are so beautiful, I want to cherish and protect the apron!
  • Most aprons have “attitude.” It’s rare to find a boring apron, unless it’s one of those barren cream-colored canvas aprons ~ all function, no pizazz. [Note: On a woman, aprons can accentuate femininity. On a man, they basically just keep barbeque sauce off a t-shirt.]
  • Aprons have many functions and their style usually indicates their purpose. Some are perfect at a tea party; others are rugged and wonderful for gardening (with big pockets).
  • Aprons have uses beyond protecting clothes… for example, aprons can be substituted for a wiping towel when something spills.
  • Aprons can scoop up whatever is out of place and used as a “tote” to put things where they belong.
  • Aprons can serve as a “basket” to hold the fresh fruit you pull off a tree, just for today.
  • Aprons can be a quick potholder for hot pans.
  • They can be untied and used as an impromptu fly-swatter.
  • In a pinch, an apron can be a shawl, thrown around the shoulders for a quick run outdoors to the mailbox on a chilly day.
  • Aprons can wipe a grandchild’s tears.
  • They are decorator items… they look adorable hanging from hooks or draped over rocking chairs.
  • Aprons are for “hiding.” Think of little ones hiding from strangers behind Mama’s apron… or mama hiding a treat in the pockets. [Full disclosure: I once hid a spot on my skirt with an apron at a dinner party. I made sure it was festive and cute. No one knew … until now.]
  • Aprons usually have some sort of ties to keep them in place. (Hmmm… for some reason, the song “Blest be the ties that bind…” is running through my mind.)

Now if you thought I was going to make some powerful spiritual applications based on those observations, you’ll be disappointed. I could, but really, aprons are just aprons, and I just listed some wonderful reasons to use them.

And most of the things I mentioned that aprons can do will only work if an apron is long enough and full enough for the task. (Those short little “cocktail” aprons won’t do the trick.)

A few years ago, I bought my granddaughters some sweet aprons. (That’s Megan, wearing her lavender check apron.) I’ve noticed lots of little girls wearing them lately. Maybe there is hope that this generation will experience an apron revival.

Meanwhile, my wild-and-crazy apron and the Scherennschnitte apron are hanging next to a beautiful yellow one with daisies that my mom gave me… and I haven’t worn that one either!

What a waste. Aprons are meant to be used.

I think I’m not wearing my aprons for several reasons.

  1. I don’t cook at home enough. Who needs an apron when Applebee’s is preparing the meal?
  2. My aprons aren’t handy enough. They’re hanging on hooks in my garage. I need to give them a quick-to-reach place in my kitchen.
  3. I’m wearing too many “grubbies” at home, so I think I don’t need an apron. (OK, I’ll confess. Because I work at home, it’s easy to wear my comfy pj’s a lot of the time.) I have an image of 1950s women doing their laundry in heels and pearls. The apron seemed to fit that image better than my Levi’s or pj’s. But if I dressed better, I’d need an apron for messy jobs.

I’m sure there are other reasons… but I’m going to focus on those three. As I see it, I have three choices to make that will make me a better apron-wearer, and here’s where a couple of spiritual applications kick in, for me at least:

  1. I need to get more “homie” … to be a better grocery shopper and meal planner. I need to save money by learning to make food at home again. I knew how to do that once. What happened? I think that when I started writing, I stopped cooking. I’m all about convenience foods and a microwave. But part of me longs for a revival of some culinary skills. I think that God puts in every woman’s heart a desire to nurture and to build a “nest” with diligence and dignity (Proverbs 31:10-31). It’s part of our role and privilege as women. I’m going to start simple and cut up some vegetables for the crockpot. That can get messy… I’ll need an apron.
  2. I need to give my aprons a new “home.” I am going to clean out a drawer near the sink and fold or roll up some aprons to “live” there until I need them. [Grandma always had her everyday apron hanging on a hook next to the refrigerator, and fancier ones in a basket on a shelf, hidden behind a ruffled curtain!]
  3. I’m going to upgrade my “at home” wear. My hubby will appreciate it and it will be one way that I can show him respect (Ephesians 5:33b) with my appearance. If dress nicer ~ and I  don’t need to wear pearls and heels ~ I won’t have to “head for the hills” when the exterminator or Fed Ex knocks on my door. And as I wear those nicer clothes, I may need to grab an apron more often.

How about you? Do you have aprons you’re not using? Why not? Isn’t there a place for at least one apron in your everyday “wardrobe?”

Hmmm… I wonder if my daughters-in-love would like aprons for Christmas? I still have those patterns.

Spring(clean)ing into Action

15 Apr

I think spring cleaning must be hormonal. And it seems the women’s hormones are the only ones that kick into gear!

I came across an article written by Kellie Head, a mother of six, as a guide for her husband to help her with the spring cleaning. It was called “Spring Cleaning a la Testosterone.” (1)

Kellie says she used to wonder whether men play dumb when it comes to cleaning, or whether they are simply trying to avoid any sort of housework; “but now,” she says, “I think it may have something to do with a testosterone brain block or something.”

Kellie decided to make a “cheat sheet” to help her husband when spring cleaning comes around. It included a number of definitions, and I’ll only share a few here:

“Vacuum (cleaner) … much like the leaf blower except it sucks in , instead of blowing out. Don’t let this alarm you. It isn’t broken and doesn’t need more torque, speed, RAM, or whatever it is you did to the dishwasher.

“Dust pan … Contrary to popular belief, this is where you sweep the dirt, not under the hallway area rug.

“Dust Cloth … A cloth designated for removing tiny particles of dirt from every flat surface of the house. Hint: look for your old ‘lucky shirt.’

“Oven Cleaner … No, not the teenager. This is an actual product that you buy, spray in the oven and wipe out two hours later. You won’t need your welder’s mask for this task, but if it makes you feel more dangerous, go ahead.

“Squeegee … Same principle as washing the car windshield, and yes, real men do squeegee!”

And then Kellie added this final note: “While Duct tape may be a wonderful plumber’s aid, it’s really not the best solution for keeping the bathroom towels in place and Jamie’s teacher is still asking why his homework was stuck to his forehead last week. For these reasons, I have hidden the duct tape and distributed your picture to the local hardware stores. Don’t make me call Duct Tape Anonymous again….”

My dad had a thing for duct tape. I think that I inherited the duct tape gene. While traveling on a revival team during the years when girls all wore “maxi dresses,” my heel caught on the hem of my burgundy plaid jumper and it ripped out right before I was due to go on stage. No problem. I talked our sound crew out of a roll of duct tape and taped my entire hem. It stayed in place through several washings that year!

I’ve often wished I had the Martha Stewart gene, but no ~ spring cleaning is not my cup of … Lysol. It seems there’s always something else I’d rather do when my daily work is done ~ like writing, time with grandkids, water aerobics, or watching something off-the-wall on TV like “Doomsday Preppers.”

I imagine that a number of cultures have some form of spring cleaning. I read about the preparations Jews made for the Passover in the Old Testament. Talk about spring cleaning! Unleavened bread became the symbol of the Jews’ exodus from days of slavery in Egypt, and every observant Jew made sure there was no bread containing leaven anywhere in the house ~ not even a crumb ~ before the Passover celebration. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was so much a part of Passover that their names were sometimes used interchangeably (Exodus 12:15-19, 41; Luke 22:1). During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Israel was to eat only bread without leaven (which represented sin) for seven days. (For more about this feast and parallels to Jesus, the Bread of Life, read here.)

So getting rid of the leaven was a crucial cleaning ritual, and, while I realize that the Jews had a spiritual reason for cleaning their homes before Passover, I imagine that every Jewish woman stood back and admired her clean, “purified” home when she was done. There was the satisfaction that they had obeyed God, and they were ready for the blessings to come.

When I look at the diligence of the Proverbs 31 woman, I imagine that she (and her maids) cleaned her home for many reasons, too. A clean, organized home enabled her to care for her family better. Perhaps it allowed her to offer hospitality without worrying about how the house looked. A clean home was one way to honor her husband.

We can’t have perfectly neat, clean homes all the time. Life gets messy sometimes, and we let things slide. Our dust bunnies invite friends, and spiders crochet doilies in the rooms’ corners. But there comes a time when we need to pick up the broom and dustpan and get busy. We set our homes in order to create a place for greater peace and joy. The more we want to experience a clean, hospitable home, the greater effort we’ll make to do whatever is necessary to get it in shape.

And by the way, our hearts get “messy” sometimes, too. We let things slide, and one sin invites another.  There comes a time when we need to remember the words of 1 John 1:9, God’s promise of forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins to Him. When our hearts are clean, we experience more of what God has for us, including peace and joy! We need more passion for purity of heart, like King David, who prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

We need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and watch out for the “leaven” that causes problems. Cleaning doesn’t just happen, with or without the Martha Stewart gene.

May we use the words of scripture to motivate us to spring into action ~ cleaning our homes and our hearts!

(1) http://www.familycorner.com/parenting/humor/springcleaning.shtml

Slogans

19 Feb

I laughed as I read these actual newspaper classified ads:

  • “Georgia peaches. California grown. 89 cents/lb.”
  • “Tickle Me Elmo. New in Box. Hardly Tickled.”
  • “German Shepherd. 85 lbs. Neutered. Speaks German. Free.”
  • “Whirlpool built-in oven. Frost free!”
  • “Snow blower for sale. Only used on snowy days.” (1)

I love advertising bloopers like those; but I have great memories of some commercials with unforgettable slogans, too. (If you’re not old enough to remember these, check with Grandma… I’ll bet she remembers!)

  • “It’s Shake ‘N’ Bake, and I helped.
  • “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”
  • “Ruffles have r-r-ridges.”
  • “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”
  • “Ho, Ho, Ho… Green Giant.”
  • “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz. Oh what a relief it is!”
  • “Ask any mermaid you happen to see…”
  • “When it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table.”
  • “Oh Oh, Spaghettios!”

And my personal favorite:

  • “Twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun.” (2)

Slogans are little tag lines that make a product or concept unforgettable. They highlight what advertisers want people to see as important ~ something they don’t want to miss out on.

As I thought about some of these TV commercial slogans, I wondered, “Are there any slogans in my life that point people to what I think is important?”

T-shirt - Your Slogan HereOne of the “slogans” I use all the time is from my LOL with God co-author, Pam Farrel: “You make your choices and your choices make you.” This reflects my belief that our choices can either hold us back or transform us and help us reach our goals. Anyone who knows me knows that the theme of “choices” is big with me. The Bible is packed with choices we can make each day. A fun exercise is to read the scriptures and search for these choices with the desire to choose wisely and well.

Another “slogan” I’ve often used is from a revival preacher: “If revival depended on you ~ your prayers, your faith, your obedience ~ would your church ever experience revival?” These words remind me that I am not only accountable for my life, but there is something bigger at stake in how I live. My closest friends know that the need for personal, church, and national revival have been at the core of my ministry. My heart cry is “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6 ESV)

Another slogan I’ve embraced is a quote by Pastor Bill Elliff at the Summit Church in Arkansas: “Everything flows from the presence of God.” This reminds me that God is to be the center of my life, with everything flowing from His Word, will, and ways. Those who have followed my life over recent years know that these words transformed me and helped me focus on biblical priorities ~ God, family, ministry. I’ve learned to trust and relax and let God work, instead of pursuing an agenda without Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). As a woman leading other women, I want to encourage them to rest in God.

Another slogan that reflects a core value is from Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “…we can only be whole when we function according to [God’s] design for our lives.” (Biblical Portrait of Womanhood). This speaks to my desire to help women embrace the biblical perspective of their role in the family, church, and community.

How about you? What are the slogans … the quotes you say most often or the themes of your conversations ~ that most reflect who you are, your values, and your goals? Do your slogans reveal the authentic you?

(1) http://www.tensionnot.com/jokes/one_liner_jokes/newspaper_classified_advertising

(2) Michael Gitter and Sylvia Anapol, Do You Remember? The Book that Takes You Back, (Chronicle Books, 1996), pp. 86-91.

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