Dear Shepherdess: With this January issue we welcome many new readers. This section of the magazine is particularly for the minister's wife, but you husbands can read it too! However, please share this section each month with your "shepherdess" and tell her we'd be pleased to hear from her. The article that fol lows comes from La Verne Beeler, who wrote it as a letter to her friend Millie at the time of her husband's ordination to the gospel ministry. No matter how many years you've been in the ministry, I believe you'll find it helpful. With love, Kay.
As I looked at you and Mark last night—you were both radiant, sparkling ambassadors for Christ. Your career as helpmeet to your minister husband has begun and your role as a minister's wife will enhance or limit his ministry. Parishioners can be curt or cordial—almost in the same breath, but they are usually tolerant of a person who is glowing and growing. According to a Spanish proverb, "Solo los angeles son perfectos" (only the angels are perfect), which indicates room for growth in us all.
When you asked me what counsel I might have for a young minister's wife, the concept of glowing and growing came to mind. Thirty-five years ago, when my husband, Charles, was newly ordained, a dear friend, seasoned and solid and delightfully charming, spent an after noon talking to me about growing with my husband intellectually and spiritually. She said, "One never stays status quo—we grow or diminish; it's up to us."
Self-improvement is the key and it is a lifelong study—but a most re warding one. A motto that has motivated me since the days I studied elementary education is, "You are the attitude of your classroom." This same idea can be applied to the role of a homemaker or a minister's wife. It may read "You are the attitude of your family, or your church." A challenge of this kind requires vigilance and devotion.
Millie, you are one of God's cameo's—fashioned by Him. Put ting Him first in your life will be the secret of success in every area of your activities. Find time for quiet meditation, Bible study and prayer. It may mean getting up before the family does, but it pays rich dividends. To keep a journal of thoughts that particularly impress you as you study is also a rewarding experience. The inner glow of a deep commitment inspires confidence and faith.
Your Bible and denominational reading matter will claim priority in your reading, but there are many other publications and books worthy of study. These will broaden your scope of understanding. Reach out to learn the trends of thinking in your neighborhood and community. Your personal goals and study will be different from Mark's but will give him a new avenue of insights into the areas where you witness most effectively.
Your family and the organization you represent want always to be proud of you. That means you will face up to the weak spots in your ministry as a wife, mother, and member of your church and community.
Your personal appearance gives an immediate resume of who you are. This index to your character is obvious to all who meet you. Be cause this first impression is so important, an inventory of your personal appearance would be an appropriate beginning. It may en courage you to list your assets and go from there—from top to toe.
Hair.—Shiny, healthy, neatly styled. A hair style that takes more than ten minutes to arrange each morning is too complicated to maintain.
Skin.—Clear and clean. A good cleanser and moisture cream will help in these areas. Make-up is a cover-up. It should not be obvious.
Eyes.—Warm, expressive. They are the windows to your soul.
From the neck down, it is clothes. One guideline I find most helpful reads: "A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire. Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils."—Education, p. 248.
Simple lines, good quality fabric, becoming colors, and well-fitting clothes are always in good taste. That isn't always easy to attain, but it is possible. Everyone has a figure problem of some kind. There are ways to minimize these. A class in basic sewing will help. Learning to make some of your own clothing is challenging and economical. One becoming dress is better than 2 or 3 of lesser aesthetic quality. Since our commission is to "Go ye ... to all the world"—that means to all classes of people. We need to be able to meet each person in his social spectrum and feel at ease.
Use the same care in what you wear in your home as what you wear in public. Home clothing is different but still should be becoming, fit well, and be cared for properly.
To carry this same careful planning to your home arrangement and the clothing your family wears will take careful study and economy but it is an important plus for your family profile.
Here again, there are many books that can help you. Hidden Art by Edith Schaefter suggests simple in expensive ways to be at your best in your home and with your public.
Each day is a new opportunity for beginning again—for progress. It's that way with me, too—thirty-five years of new beginnings, new challenges, new horizons to reach. God is good. He rewards our best efforts by demonstrating to the world through us the fruit of the spirit— "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ..."
God bless you as you minister in your sphere as a shepherdess.
Prayers from the Parsonage
by Cherry B. Habenicht
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal . . ." (Matt. 6:19).
Even though You said this, I am so grateful to You that my cherished possessions survived another move.
Here are two delicate stem goblets of the pattern Dick and I chose be fore our wedding. One was a gift; the other we bought ourselves. We never completed the set.
This antique crystal jar, set in an ornate sterling frame, belonged to Dick's great aunt. I always saw it displayed on the buffet in his home and was so surprised when Mom Habenicht gave it to us.
So heavy it seems to defy destruction, this vase of thick crystal was sent by my relatives in Sweden. Its simple lines and fine etching rep resent the art of my people.
And here is the fragile hand-painted tea set promised me by Grandmother when I was a young girl looking with awe at the bright poppies and gold trim on each piece of china.
These are some of my treasures on earth. They are not very practical, and I use them only occasion ally, but they add color and richness.
I think of the cycle of heirlooms, each object cared for carefully and passed to the next generation to keep the aesthetic sense alive.
In this world of Melamine, Tupperware, and Teflon, a thing of beauty is a special joy. Thank You.