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The Apron Memoirs

The Apron Memoirs
Cherishing the Simple Beauty of Womanhood God’s Design for Us

White swirls of lace adorn the rounded neckline. Two long sashes join together in the back, tied in a crooked bow, strings hanging loosely. Flour hand-prints and chocolate smudge designs blend into the vintage floral pattern. A pocket hiding loose buttons, coins, sprinkles & crayon bits are the grand finale to this work of art. It has been a witness to a life well lived, a culture of joy and a home woven and spun with beauty and simplicity. It has worn the tears of a little heart broken by an uncaring world, it has been enveloped by laughter in the joy of young souls creating masterpieces, it has been covered by the drool of a rosy cheeked babe nestled close to her mother’s heart, it has been worn in preparation of a blessed visit from a kindred spirit garnished with tea and sweet delicacies, it has been wrapped in the arms of a beloved husband under a moonlit sky as a long day draws to an end. It is not fancy. It is likely faded and worn. But is loved and cherished. It is whimsy and homemade cookies and humming at the sink and fingerpaints and a glass of lemonade all wrapped up in a simple smock. It is my mother. It is me. It is you.

 My Mother’s Apron

                She slipped her head through the oval neck, and wrapped the red apron tightly around her waist. It was Christmastime. And the house was soaked in Holiday spirit, smelling of cinnamon, illuminated with colorful lights, filled with warmth and what had become our family customs.
                “Let’s make some Christmas Cookies!” Cheerfully rang through the house, as my sister and I found our way to the very heart of our home, Mama’s Kitchen. We were mesmerized as her firm, yet gentle hands worked the dough into something mold-able  Those same hands had held our tiny fingers as infants, and wiped our tears when life became unbearable. They were powerful hands, capable of so much. Flour sprinkled onto the old counter-top and its dust flew into the air, it was pure magic, as it landed on our noses and little girl giggles filled the room.  She wiped her floured hands on the bottom of the apron, where the Christmas trees suddenly became snow covered in our eyes. Strong arms rolled the wooden pin across the sugary dough, as she hummed along to the Christmas music wafting through the house. Those same arms had scooped us up and rocked us back and forth when weariness overcame our little forms.
                We cut out trees and snowmen and angels and stars, and lined them on a weathered cookie sheet. We opened the oven door, and the apron swept across the floor as she bent forward placing the cookies onto the metal rack. She moved to the kitchen sink and began singing along to the music. Her voice carried across the room as we eagerly wiped up the counters and swept up the floor. That same voice had whispered sweet lullabies into our hearts, and told us often that we were loved and cherished.
                It was time for the cookies to come out of the oven, she never set a timer – she just knew. She wiped damp hands across the chest of her apron and used the skirt of the apron to guard her hands as she pulled the hot sheet from the oven. We iced and sprinkled and licked and created beauty that afternoon. By the end of our baking, her apron was covered in flour & icing. It was lovely that way.
                It was a memory created. It is a moment forever captured in my mind. The apron was the witness to that moment. It was certainly used many times again and it has certainly seen better days, but it holds the sweet memories of a childhood full of love and learning.
                My mother cultivated a love for creating with our hands and minds…a love for togetherness and music and laughter. Most importantly she showed us that God had created us as women with the ability to see beauty in the mundane, and a desire to create beauty out of this life we have been given.
 God created us as women – mothers, daughters, sisters – with souls that long for enchantment and artistry and elegance. We enjoy fragrant aromas and simply lighting a candle can brighten our day, we love tiny tea cups and sipping tea brings a smile to our lips, our hearts swell at the site of fresh flowers, we feel peace when our homes are neat and cozy, we feel relaxed when icing a cake or knitting a blanket, we express ourselves by slipping into a pair of sparkly ballet flats, wearing a floral print bag over our shoulder or even wrapping a polka dot apron around out waste. We love and feel all of these things because God created us to love them. He purposely made us feminine.
                So often in today’s world we are told that we need to be hard, plain, and tough. If we want to be pure, gentle and fruitful, we are made to feel weak. But those qualities are exactly who God created us to be. He sees strength in us - we are life givers. God creates life within our wombs, but it does not end with birth. This world is fallen and ugly, God knew that women could bring life and beauty to even the most disparaging situations. We tend to a garden of souls – our husbands, children, family and friends. We pluck out the weeds, water and feed them – beautifying their lives and conducting a musical sonata around them that inspires them be to brilliant, captivating human beings who can be light in darkness, who can be brave in the storm, and can come home to a cultivating, life-giving, smells like cinnamon, flour covered, apron hug.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
Proverbs 31 – The Message


The Motherhood Apron

                The sound of the door creaking, the heavy patter of small feet, the yipping of the dog, the babe lying at my side. My son was up long before the sun had cast out the darkness of early morning. Another day had begun. The night had been spent with my teething ten month old, only comforted and resting when nestled into my body, using me as a pacifier. “Beckett, give mommy two minutes, Annabel is nursing.” I whispered. He turned and ran through the bathroom, eager for the start of a new day.  I eased my arm out from under the sleeping babe, and maneuvered (very stealth-like) out of the bed. I picked up my daughter and moved her to the playpen nearby, she stirred and began to cry, I grabbed my clothes and shuffled out of the room as quickly and quietly as possible. By the time I shut the door she had fallen back to sleep. Success!
                I dressed myself and pulled my desperately needing washed hair into a pony tail. A shower would have to wait…maybe naptime. Oh how I dreamed of the hot water running over my shoulders, eyes closed, totally relaxed, no little voices calling for me. At the sound of my oldest daughter’s door opening I snapped back into reality. She brushed past me, headed for the toilet. “Good morning, sweet girl!” I said, putting on my most cheerful voice. She smiled sleepily, and greeted me in return.
                I made my way into the kitchen, switching on the light, and grabbed the apron hanging nearby. It was a deep violet color, with white polka dots. Lace trim created a V-neck pattern on the rounded neckline. The skirt had layers of ruffles. I loved that apron. It was comfortable, stylish and functional. If you stopped by my house on a week day, you would probably find me wearing that apron…doing dishes, teaching my children, doing a science experiment, cooking project, preparing lunch or snuggling on the couch with a book. Just like every other morning, I tied the apron around my waist and immediately felt ready to take on whatever tasks that day might bring.

                It was second nature for me to wear an apron. Most of my childhood memories include my mother wearing an apron. They are lovely memories of a blessed childhood. When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to create those same memories for my children. Aprons were a part of that. I have been accumulating a small collection of aprons, and always love receiving new (to me) ones! I feel productive when I am wearing an apron. I feel motherly, I feel feminine, I feel “me”.
I settled in at the kitchen table, delving into God’s word and journaling my thoughts. As a stay at home, homeschooling, mom, the apron feels like my breastplate of righteousness - reminding me to live the holy and blameless life that God desires of me. Putting it on each morning motivates me to breathe life into the day. To commune with my Father, to selflessly give my time and pour my energy into developing the hearts and minds of these precious little ones that God has entrusted in my care. When weariness or laziness creep in, and I find myself relaxing on the couch or surfing the net longer than I should, it is helpful to look down and see the apron. It stares back at me, as if to say, “Enough dawdling, there is work to be done!”
Have you found an “apron” to motivate you to be purposeful about your day? I believe that God wants us to be purposeful. He is not a slave-driver, or expecting perfection, but as mothers we have been given a sacred gift in these souls that we have charge of. And we have precious little time to make an impact on their lives – which ultimately makes an impact on this world.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Proverbs 31:27.

Mamas, I know that you may feel weary and burnt out, and the days seem to drag on. Your house is finally peaceful and calm; you fall asleep…only to start it all over again tomorrow. I have been there. I am there. But we have a Father, who understands the burden and load of motherhood. After all, He created it. And He wants to comfort you as a mother comforts her child.

Isaiah 66:12 says, You’ll nurse at her breasts, nestle in her bosom, and be bounced on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you.”

Would you allow your Heavenly daddy to pick you up and comfort you in those moments when you feel overwhelmed, overworked and overtired? And then, when you wake up the next morning – put on the breastplate of righteousness…put on a purple polka-dot apron!


The Marriage Apron

We had been married for about 3 months, and I was determined to make a great dinner for my husband. He was working a full time job, working as a youth pastor and going to school. I had recently lost my job, and life had been pretty stressful for us, so I wanted to do something really special for him. I wasn’t much of a cook, I was eager to learn, but most of our meals consisted of a bland chicken breast and some lettuce splashed with dressing. Bless my husband’s heart, he never complained, and even helped cook. We lived in an old house that had been converted into four apartments. It was a nice apartment, but the dining room and kitchen were adorned with awful gray indoor-outdoor carpet. It took a lot of work to make the kitchen feel cozy and homey. I had decked it out in my “French Bistro” style, and all the new gadgets and small appliances we had received as gifts.

I grabbed my purse and keys and headed to the small grocery store down the road. I had decided on lasagna, although I had never made one before. I weaved in and out of the aisles, list tightly grasped in my hand. I could have called up my mom, and gotten her incredible lasagna recipe, but my twenty year old self wanted to do it on my own – prove that I was a good wife. It seemed simple enough, however – noodles, meat, sauce, cheese. How could you go wrong? Attempting the lasagna was a big enough task for me, so after getting the needed ingredients, I picked up some frozen garlic toast, a chocolate cake from the bakery and a bottle of sparkling cider – this was going to be romantic! 

I wrapped the red French Bistro apron around my waist and quickly got to work prepping and cooking. It was my first time wearing it, and I felt like the apron was an important aspect of my plan - I wanted to look the part of the perfect wife. Just tying those apron strings behind my back gave me a sense of purpose and homemaking. If only looking like a chef, could actually make you one - fast forward two hours, and I would be found sitting on the floor, tears pouring down my cheeks and streaming down the apron. Situated on the stove above me, in what "used to be" a pot, was what "used to be" lasagna noodles. They were now stuck to the bottom of the pot, never to be eaten. The pot never to be cooked in again. How could I have failed so miserably? 

Thankfully, when my compassionate husband came home, and assessed the situation, he knew what had to be done. He hugged me - pulling the red apron close to himself, kissed me and assured me that he still loved me...then he chucked that pot into the trash and ordered pizza.  We lit the candles at the table that night, poured the sparkling cider into shimmering wine glasses, and ate delivery pizza in our newlywed apartment. 

I learned a lesson that night (aside from the importance of cooking lasagna noodles in water!)...Wearing the apron did not make me a good cook. Wearing the apron did not make me a good wife. Wearing the apron did not make me an expert. I needed help. I needed guidance and wisdom from women who had gone before me on the road of marriage and homemaking. No matter how much I had tried to look the part - I didn't know what I was doing and I failed miserably. 

Sometimes we do that in our walk with God. We think we are an expert. We think we can do it on our own. We want to prove how smart, powerful, talented we are. But we need help. We need guidance and wisdom from the One who has gone before us - who knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper us, not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future. We can "look the part" - carry the bible and sing the songs, but when we try to do this life on our own, we fail miserably. 

"As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him."
~ Psalm 18:30

Thankfully when we make a mess - when we burn the lasagna noodles of our life, we have a God who wants to wrap us up in his arms, tell us that He loves us, and chuck those noodles into the trash.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

A Father's Apron 

My husband has been known to strap on an apron every now and then. He is the Master Griller in our family, and makes a mean waffle! I don't have many memories of my Dad wearing an apron or even being in the kitchen, but one particular memory stands out. My mom was out for the night, which was rare in our home, and so my Dad was in charge of dinner. He made meatloaf. When dinner was ready and it was time to eat, he pulled the steaming juicy meatloaf out of the oven. The aroma floated up the stairs, and we all came running, ready to chow down. 

My brother, Jason, arrived in the dining room first and spotted the meatloaf. A look of disgust crumpled up his face as he spouted, "Ew. I hate meatloaf." Sarah and I had entered by this point and taking our cue from big brother, chimed in. "Meatloaf is gross!" "I am not eating that."

I can only imagine my Dad's frustration after slaving all day cooking a wonderful meal for us - what ingrates! He asked Jason why he didn't like meatloaf and Jason replied, "I don't like buffalo meat." My dad was perplexed, but decided to try to smother the flames of our meatloaf contempt and then he said something magical.

"Guys, this is CHRISTMAS meatloaf. It is not like any other meatloaf."

And that was all it took. An hour later, empty plates filled the sink and Christmas meatloaf filled our bellies. When my mom arrived home, we ran to greet her - as if she had been gone for week, much as my own children do. "Mom, dad made the best meatloaf." "It was Christmas Meatloaf!" "You have to try it!"

As my dad stepped in and explained what had happened, my mom laughed, but then something caught her attention. She turned to my brother and said, 

"Jason, Meatloaf is not Buffalo meat, what made you think that?"
Jason's response: "You know, Meatloaf - Buffalo."

In truth, there was nothing special about my Dad's meatloaf (aside from simply that he made it!). It was not buffalo meat, but as long as we believed that it was we were NOT going to eat it. It was also not "Christmas Meatloaf" but as long as we believed that it was, we were willing to forget our meatloaf disdain. Regardless of what we believed, it was the same meatloaf. 

Life is all about perspective. You have heard it said, "Do you see the glass half empty or half full?". Well, my question is, do you see your circumstances through your own ignorant eyes - as buffalo meat? Or through your Father's eyes - Magical Christmas Meatloaf.? My earthly father knew what was best for us. He knew that we needed to eat our dinner, and he created a way. Most importantly, we trusted him. Our Heavenly Father also knows what is best for us, and has created a way for us to taste the great food he has prepared for us.  But we have to be willing to look at our circumstances through Heaven's view. Trusting that God has ordained each step we take. 

As we walk through this life - we must not believe that we are eating buffalo meat. We must believe that we are eating Christmas Meatloaf. The meatloaf is the same either way, but your mindset is what changes the experience. 

Romans 8:6 says, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."

My prayer today is that we allow our minds to be governed by the Spirit. For that mind is life and peace! Who knows what amazing things could happen if we shift our perspective and make something magical out of the messy or mundane in our life...Would you trust your Heavenly Father today and taste of His Christmas Meatloaf?


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