All True Remedy Begins in the Heart Thoughts on Integration in a Broken World

All True Remedy Begins in the Heart, Thoughts on Integration in a Broken World, Liturgy of Life.

I was recently talking with some friends about the challenges of living cross culturally along the border of Mexico when they shared a revolutionary story from their own lives.


My friends belong to an affluent church in San Antonio, filled with the kind of folks you want to have as neighbors, who gladly feed your dog and pick up your mail when you are out of town.  They are good looking, professionals and business owners, who jog in the morning and live in comfortable homes and  drive nice cars.





Realizing their tendency to attract more people like themselves, and wanting to diversify, they began getting involved with the community in an apartment complex near their church building.  You know the kind surrounded by a barbed wire fence that makes you wonder if it is there to keep the folks from outside coming in or the folks inside from coming out.


Initially their involvement was simple and consisted of offering transportation to those who wanted to attend church.  But with one couple, Eddie and Joyce, things started to change.  Eddie and Joyce, it seemed took the invitations to get involved in the church seriously. They began attending regularly and even showed up at social events.


Eddie, though he had no front teeth, could keep the crowd amused with his jokes. Joyce had the mind of a child and expressed her affection for her new friends by making crafts, (you know the kind that your kids bring home from Sunday school which you have to quietly throw away once they are sleeping, (it sounds harsh but you just can’t keep all that stuff)).  After a while they even began inviting church members over to their apartment to share a Stouffer’s Lasagna, not realizing the discomfort that was obvious to everyone else.  Most of the church had never set foot inside of section 8 housing and until that moment had never expected to.


While my friends were truly growing to love Eddie and Joyce (though they were scratching their heads at what to do with the growing mountain of Popsicle stick picture frames and paint by number boards that Joyce was giving them) they were befuddled.


They asked,


“What does it look like to be friends with people who are so different from us?”


All True Remedy Begins in the Heart, Thoughts on Integration in a Broken World, Liturgy of Life.



It my sound unkind.


We are quick to perhaps jump up in defense, “What do you mean, they are people just like you?”


But the truth is that we all have tendency to surround ourselves with other people like us. And we have the census data to prove it.


No matter if we believe abstractly in equality, the reality is we are more comfortable with people who look and talk like us and who have our interests and backgrounds.  And while there isn’t anything wrong with feeling comfortable with whom we share much in common, it is also no wonder that America remains deeply segregated.


.    .    .

This week our reading group is finishing up  The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.


Towards the end of her book which is mostly about being creative at home she adds an unexpected chapter entitled, “Integration.”


Her approach is entirely different than anything you would see in newspaper headline.


Her point is this,


We tend towards segregation, by race, gender, age, education, religion, economics, nationality.  Our differences frighten us and make us  uncomfortable, but if  we want to work towards peace in the world can and should start at home.


And we can begin by doing something as simple as inviting over someone who is outside of our normal social circles and building a friendship with them.  It isn’t much, it is far more than most of us are doing.


And it won’t come easily.


Relationships require work that most of us are not willing to do. It takes planning and preparation to connect with anyone, especially someone different from ourselves. We may have to think outside of the box and do something unexpected,  plan a music night, or a park day, or read a book aloud, have a cultural dinner, a cooking class, or a movie night. Or maybe we can help during a time of need, give a gift, or plant a garden together.


Or  maybe like my friends  we can sit around eating lasagna and doing paint by numbers, wondering what is ever going to become of this, while at the same time knowing that this is exactly what makes us feel most alive.


We have looked to government mandates and social reform to bring people with vast differences together and we have seen it fail time and again.


The government can’t break the hardness of our hearts. Only Jesus can do that. And Jesus is in us.



This post is part of a series based on reflections from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here. Each year we read a collection of books on life, faith and family, to see our list click here. If you would like to read along, please subscribe and you will get new posts sent to your inbox as well as reading group updates. Feel free to comment or join us in our facebook group for more in depth discussion.

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Monks, Napkin Rings and
An Intentional Table

Visiting a monastery can be a bit disorienting. Everyone walks around staring at the ground, wearing Medieval garb,  and no one talks. Not exactly a place where the average American feels at home unless maybe you are my husband who is more of an introvert than anyone I know. Still, even to him, entering into a community that exists mostly in silence feels isolating until, he says,  you arrive at meal time and find a seat with a card marked with your name on it.  It is a simple thing but it lets you know that you were expected and that there is a place for you here.  With that little card which is laid out with a napkin and napkin ring the heart of monastic hospitality is conveyed.
At the monastery you get one napkin, it is switched out when laundry is done at the end of the week. You keep your napkin and name card tucked into its ring. And while some elements of this routine feel a bit stiff and formal it is exactly the formalities of it  that give you a sense of place, an understanding of how things work and clarify your role in it.

.   .    .    .

We took up cloth napkins pretty quickly in our house mostly because it felt practical. I am not one to take up anything fancy. I don’t want ruffles or  anything that will break. I don’t even have more than three dishes that match. But give me something that is reusable and that saves me a few pennies and the earth a few trees and I’m all for it.

This week in the Liturgy of Life Reading group we read through Edith Schaeffer’s Hidden Art of Homemaking. In typical fashion she takes what seems like an exceptionally trivial topic, “flower arrangements,” and turns it upside down. In it she reminds us of the power of beauty to communicate and help foster communication between others. She challenges us to look for the little everyday things and turn them into something special, to seize exactly those mundane moments and use them as occasions for beauty that will inspire and delight our families and prepare us all to live in appreciation of the world around us.

[Read the rest…]

On Making a House a Home
Redefining Homemaker

On making a house a home. Thoughts on being a homemaker, Liturgy of Life

When I tell people that I am a doctor but I stopped working to stay home with my daughter I get a lot of funny looks.  In my conversations on the topic I often hear a phrase that used to irk me a little, though I wasn’t sure why, it went something like,

“That’s great that you are able to be home, that just would not work for me, I have no desire to be a homemaker.”

And I get it, in our world homemaker evokes certain images.

There are those women wearing designer jeans spending the mornings at the gym and the afternoons on the phone, paying their cleaning lady on her way out. Others  are barefoot in overalls and pigtails spending the day making granola and composting toilets. And of course there is the soccer mom with her mini-van, day planner and iPhone spending her day on Pinterest and her evenings posting pictures of her kids and her creations.

The stereotypes, at least, aren’t all that appealing.

And of course I recognize that working outside of the home  provides necessary income as well as a satisfying experience for many, so don’t get me wrong I have nothing against working outside of the home. In fact, quite the opposite I have great respect for both men and women who leave the house everyday to work and even more respect to those  who also manage a a family with young children at the same time.

But  the above comment makes me think that somewhere along the way we as culture have  lost what it means to be a homemaker and forgotten the essential role that home plays in all of our lives. Let me explain.

.    .    .

Right now We are reading Edith Shaeffer’s Hidden Art of Homemaking in the Liturgy of Life reading group.

Today I got to a chapter called “Interior design.”  Even for me, who loves all things crafty and cutesy,  the title was a turn off. I can’t design a room to save my life, I’m no good at it and I don’t enjoy it.

Shaeffer begins,

We all live somewhere. A castle, a palace, a mansion hidden by acres of wooded land, a large town house, a suburban home with lovely gardens, a farm house set back from the road among rolling fields, a cottage by a brook, a Swiss chalet in the Alps, a villa above the lake, a modern home of old bridge timbers,  rock and glass fitted into cliffs overlooking the sea, a house identical to hundreds of others in a housing area, a tiny house built against other tiny houses with common walls between them- all in a row, or a flat in block of flats, an apartment in a New York skyscraper, a trailer or caravan in a park full of these, a tent in the desert, a hut in the jungle, a bamboo house on stilts above water, a one-room tree house, a room in someone else’s house, a stuffy room at the back of a boarding house, a one room cave in rocks, a thatched roof cottage, a clearing in the woods where you can put your sleeping bag, a hotel for ten days- some kind of spot in the world is the place we each call home, no matter how temporary that place might be.

By the end of the list I was both delighted to think of all of the different homes and wearied by Shaeffer’s persistent style of  listing every possibility leaving nothing to the imagination.

But in it Shaeffer  helped me work out why the comment I mentioned wasn’t sitting right with me. I realized, we are all homemakers. We all live somewhere, we all have some sort of of home, and we all have a relationship with that place. It shelters us and we care for it.

.    .    .

There was once a day, at least in America, and probably most of the world where both man and woman made their living from their home and by their home. A man’s work tended to be the work that required more physical strength, because, men are stronger, and the woman’s work tended to be based around caring for children, because women give birth and have breasts. But the survival of the entire family had to do with the functioning of the home and its ability to produce food  as well as crafts, services or something useful to the rest of the world. Far from simply being a place to sleep and relax, the home was essential for production and as a gathering place for community.

Today the majority of men and women have left the home to work, yet our homes remain the place where our children are formed and where they first learn to interact with the world. Making our homes the starting place of all culture and society.

Our homes speak of who we are and at the same time shape who we will be.

Whether we are full time homemakers or have a work outside of the home, the place where we live matters and as we care for that place we are homemakers.

If you ask my daughter what we have been doing this week she will tell you,

“We are unpacked. But now we are making our house a home.”

And I think she is right.

This post is part of a series of reflections on The Hidden Art of Homemaking in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group. We would love to hear from you or have you read along with us.

Thanks for being here.






Family Music Night
An Introduction to
Living Sacramentally

Family Music Night, Liturgy of Life

I am not musical.  If you don’t believe me, read this, and re-live with me the devastation of being cut from choir at the young age of 10 (seriously, 10 in a public elementary school, it still seems unkind, I can’t imagine I was that bad, anyway how was I ever going to learn?).  I survived it but I steered clear of music as much as I could.

Fast forward 15 years  I found myself married to a professional singer-song writer (obviously I wasn’t as good at steering clear of music as I had thought).  Music slowly began seeping its way into my life. I began singing along in church (though likely out of tune, I still can’t tell what is in tune and what isn’t), I would even clap my hands (though always off beat) and as I did some of my fears of making music began to fade.

Skip ahead 5 years to the birth of our daughter.  We realized quickly that music soothed her and I wanted music to be part of her life.  At least I wanted her to feel comfortable  in the world of music that had felt foreign to me.  I knew that the best thing I could do toward that end was to give her a mom who enjoyed music with her.

So in a timid voice I began singing lullabies at bedtime, silly songs at snack time and then old Girl Scout camp songs on long car rides (We have little Bunny FuFu mastered). We began listening to my old CD collection, (most of which I had gathered in high school and college) and bought a few musical sound tracks at the Good Will.

 .    .    .

Now I couldn’t tell this story without sharing a book with you.   The Trapp Family Singers, is the book that inspired The Sound of Music.   Written by Maria Von Trapp herself,  it  tells the story of their family and their career in music (it is one of the most wholesome, light-hearted books I have read, though she goes into perhaps a bit too much detail on the Catholic mass for the average reader, for someone who writes on liturgical traditions I found it interesting and highly recommend it).

Though Maria doesn’t write any advice directly to her readers I walked away with a message,

“Keep music in your home, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t great, the music and the home will  both be improved by having the other there.”

.    .    .

Right now in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group. We are reading, The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  In it Shaeffer encourages us to be creative in our every day lives.  She reminds us that having music in our homes allows us (a family, or any grouping of friends or roommates or whoever) to create, produce and enjoy something together.  And while it sounds simple these are some of the deepest longings of our souls.

So with all that said, may I recommend to you an idea . . .

Family Music Night . . .  inspired by The Von Trapp Family Singers, played out in all sorts of imperfection every week by the Jarretts.

On Saturday night (given we aren’t out of town) we do music as a family.  Zenie looks forward to it all week. Michael plays guitar, which is a bonus, but you could do the same just by putting on a CD (or whatever gadget people are using to play music these days, I can’t keep up) and Zenie passes out her instruments. We sing a few songs (and maybe sometimes do a crazy dance).

Most often the whole thing lasts about 20 minutes until Zenie’s bed time.  Some of her favorites are Hobo’s Lullaby by Woody Guthrie, and Mexican Home by John Prine, we mix in a couple of Michael’s originals and usually end on a hymn.  On those nights she goes to bed with her eyes sparkling with excitement knowing she was just part of something special.

Family Music Night, Liturgy of Life

On nights when we have dinner guests we have everyone to join in (so if you come over on a Saturday make sure to bring your guitar or violin or whatever), which turns an average Saturday night into a fantastic house concert.

As we create, and produce and enjoy music  together we also enjoy God and His creativity, His production and His Goodness and enjoy seeing Him at work in each one of us.

And that is what it means to live sacramentally.

Give it a try or let me know some other ways you incorporate music into your family life.


This post is part of a series of reflections on The Hidden Art of Homemaking which we are reading in our reading group. We would love to have you join our group or contact us for more info.

Thanks for being here.