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There is a bed to be made lovely, a thank-you card to send, a bit more Quiet Time to be had, as mine was interrupted by a lovely breakfast with my husband. We talked, rather than eating, so I reheated my walnut-topped raisin English muffin to be split with my son, this after buttering and toasting and topping it all with pumpkin pie spice and raw honey.
Of course, French press LaVazza on the balcony is the only thing for this, along with birdsong-interspersed conversation, and then back inside for a few more details. Back to a resumption of my Quiet Time. Earlier I read the words in red (hanging with Jesus so I can be like Him) and now for Oswald. In My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers I read this: “The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it.”
Does this resonate, even ring out, to others as to me? Possibly not. We are all so very different, unique. I’m reminded of a previous day’s devotion: “Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.”
It occurs to me that, other than prayer, all other people really need from me is an example—that of the enjoyment of each and every detail and duty of my life, and the smile on my face because I have chosen to obey God in “the tiniest detail(s).”
Putting each moment, task, and detail under the protection and blessing of His Love adds up to a beautiful and wondrous life. A unique life.
The Bible talks of a “spirit of jealousy” and if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of it, you won’t hesitate to believe. This is a spirit that divides those who are meant to be the best of friends, the closest, dearest and most faithful of companions. It’s wily, pervasive, and deadly to all concerned.
If, like myself, you’ve been a victim of this spirit from childhood, but by some miracle were never prone to jealousy yourself, you are jealousy’s lesser victim. The real victims of the spirit of jealousy are those under its power. Not only can they never have a true and unblemished friendship, but perhaps even more tragically, they can never attain that thing about which they’re jealous.
If you’re filled with a furious disdain for the lovely blonde with the darling tribe of little blonde children, obviously cared for by a doting daddy somewhere (or not, you don’t know), let that fury be your signal, your clanging bell with flashing red lights on the arm over the railroad crossing. There’s a freight train of destruction headed your way, and you’d better stop right now. This train means to make absolutely certain you never have that family of your own, or whatever it is you fear to even hope for.
Don’t just say “no” say, “ABSOLUTELY NOT, YOU FOUL, LYING, PUTRID DEMON SPIRIT. I love, admire, respect, pray for, and enjoy the sight of that beautiful little family. And I know that they have their trials and troubles, and again, I pray for them. And I dare to believe that You, Lord God Almighty, have the very deepest desires of my heart, for me as well. I can choose jealousy and defeat, or I can choose faith working through love. I not only choose faith working through love, I embrace it and hold fast to it, and declare I will never again be under the sway of jealousy.”
Jealousy runs rampant in our society, also known as “class envy” and fostering a festering and demonic hatred in those who want what others have. Again, until they, jealousy’s primary victims, are free of this spirit, they will never have what they desire. When we submit to Satan we guarantee our own blindness and defeat.
The key is to choose to admire people for those relationships, talents, attributes, gifts, accomplishments and possessions you currently lack, and to kick jealousy in the teeth by loving those people in thought and deed. Then your mind will be cleared of the filth produced by jealousy, and you will see your way clear to praying and believing what the Word of God Himself says about being “no respecter of persons” and giving you “the desires of your heart.” Then your mind will see yourself as “complete and lacking nothing” and you will laugh at the very idea that you are somehow less than anyone else.
Choose Jesus’ Love, not Jealousy’s Torment. Those people you think you hate are the very ones God wants you to bless, and vice versa. Amen!
Yay for the abundance of “opportunities to pray” all day!
When our daughter Hannah was targeted for abortion – doc said I’d die otherwise – I said to my husband John, “You know what this is? This is an opportunity to pray.”
When she was in intensive care at birth (36 units of Pitocin) there it was again, an opportunity to pray. What else could we do? Praise God for things we can’t possibly fix!
I didn’t die, Hannah came home the next day with me, instead of staying in ICU the forecasted “minimum two weeks”, and she is an extremely lovely, fit and healthy 24-year-old today.
I taught her by example, even from the womb, that fear is not the way.
Psalm 139:13,14 – For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.
Watching everyone lose their minds over Covid has been more than perplexing and puzzling. It’s been revelatory! I am EXCITED about what God’s up to here.
Now, before anyone thinks I’m saying God did this, I’m not! But the Bible tells us He turns what Satan intends for evil to the good of those who love Him. For me, that is so, so true.
I am seeing (so surprising) that it is often those who never set foot in church who have the most light and the least fear of a flu bug.
I’m finding those who didn’t finish high school, and certainly never got a college degree, are the ones who see through the lies and laugh at the fear. I’m learning from those “least likely to succeed” types, how to succeed.
There is both logic and the ability to listen without pride, to what I have to say, from those among us who are humble. And it’s humbling. And freeing. To such as these I can talk about ideas.
So here’s an idea: What if everything we’re worried about and carrying on about in the world, is simply the inevitable consequence of a church that has dropped the ball.
What if the fear that was festering in the breasts of the world, exploded when the church showed that all its talk of faith was a farce, as doors closed without a whimper, citing misunderstood scriptures as justification.
Here’s the thing about all this “obedience to civil authority” stuff. If obedience to authority is making you comfy, question your motives. If it’s making you very, very uncomfortable, go with it. God’s ways are often a bit stretching.
Let me elaborate: When the likes of Paul and Peter admonished their wildfolk followers to behave and obey laws, they (Paul and Peter) were either on their way to, in, or just out of jail. For, you guessed it, misbehavior and disobeying “authority”. It went without saying, so they didn’t say it, that they weren’t talking about disobeying God in order to obey man.
This Covid thing is causing us to look to the real Author and Finisher of our Faith, and it’s obviously not someone who preaches, but does not practice, faith.
“You have to be ready to go to jail,” I said to my daughter about it. “I am, Mom,” she said. “I refuse to live in fear.”
No fear here. As for me and my house, we will obey the Lord. And to help us in that we’ll hang out with people of simple, unpolluted (by Bible college?) faith. Amen.
P.S. If our Founding Fathers had mindlessly obeyed man, had done the comfy thing, there would be no America. If Paul and Peter had obeyed man, there would be no New Testament, and no New Testament church. Wait? Is there a New Testament church? I’ve looked all over my town and the only one I can find speaks only Spanish.
Perhaps I should learn Spanish. Or just go to “church” with my daughter, which is on the streets, with the poor, tired, addicted. The humble.
Church. What is it? Who is it? Who’s the Boss of it, of me? One of the speakers at the Bible college my daughter attended was saying that American Christians need to be more like the Russians, where “they don’t have the problem we have here with submission to authority.”
We became a nation in part because God wanted to deliver people who were sick and tired of tyrannical authority and who came here for FREEDOM (such as my Russian friends), not yet another yoke of bondage.
There is one God, One Savior, one Final Authority. And it AINT a man in a suit in a pulpit with a degree giving him man’s stamp of approval. Will the real Christians please stand up?
Yes, I am asking myself if I qualify. Do I trust and obey? Him.
P.S. I was never afraid of the flu, but I was distressed by the frenzied and mindless mask and sanitizer worship, by the evidence of a society-wide lack of faith. I struggled with an uneasiness and uncertainly early on (when we still called it Corona Virus) and when I prayed about it I realized I had made a grave error. I had judged other Christians for their faithless reactions, for fear. Well, as you may or may not know, it’s not only what you fear that will come upon you (see Job), but it’s also what you judge. So, I repented and began to pray for the Church, and indeed the whole world, to be free from fear. Absolutely free from the awful torment of fear. Agree wtih me, please.
And another thing! The reason I am free from fear is because, day in and day out, I read the Word of God, which builds and builds and builds my faith. “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
I just got an e-mail from a favorite local coffee shop saying we can now come in and get coffee to go – must wear masks, blah, blah. Hip, hip, hooray, we’re “allowed,” they’re “allowed”, everywhere people are asking tyrants for permission to breathe, practically. Through masks. Most of which don’t work anyway.
So, I wrote them back, but haven’t yet decided to send what I wrote. After all, they’re desperately trying to stay in business. Still . . .
Here’s what I wrote:
- Since when do we quarantine the healthy along with the sick?
- Since when do we destroy the lives and livelihood of a huge majority of the working class of the USA to “save” people who are veulnerable to the flu?
- Who will decide in the future what supposed diseases we’ll have to be imprisoned for to “save” us? Will we be incarcerated because of arthritis outbreaks? Or allergies? Or lactose intolerance? It is a very very, very short step from where we are now to totalitarianism.
- Where in the Constitution of the United Staes of America does it say the government can strip you and me of our Constiutional rights because of an epidemic?
- Since when is it okay to inflate death numbers with suspected or unproven cases to justify what has been done to the American people?
And just one final word from me, Bev: Let us remember the world is watching, and that it’s not “Land of the Weak, Home of the Safe.”
The great gift of Christ to me when I was first a believer was peace. “I still have all my problems,” I told my mom, “but I’m not afraid any more.” The peace that passes understanding. This is a peace that can’t be explained. It can’t be understood apart from experience.
But today, I am not often seeing that peace in others who say they are believers. This disturbs my peace! But note I did say “disturbs” not “steals”. I guard my peace and when I feel its pending absence (no longer a feeling I am willing to live with) it’s time to go to The Prince of Peace.
Some people think that means God’s all about peace in the usual sense of the word. But I know the truth is that He’s about the peace that only comes via fighting the good fight of faith. And He’s about giving me peace right in the middle of the battle.
That’s where we are – in the middle of the battle. I don’t think anyone would argue about that. But there is mental wackiness going on because of fear. Fear must be fought! Fear must be defeated. Faith, which the Word tells us “works” through love, is what connects us to God. Not fear.
People are afraid of their own shadows, and teaching their kids fear as well. I saw a toddler the other day with a mask on and it was unbearable. Kids are being programmed to fear, to “all their lifetimes be subject to bondage through fear of death.” But the good news is that Jesus came to “release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” – Hebrews 2:15
I’ve been released from Fear’s tyranny more than once. I didn’t hold on to that peace experienced when I was spirit-filled. For years I struggled to walk in faith, and the biggest problem was that I was in unforgiveness. Finally, I was finished with the torment of fear, but that’s another and lengthy story.
For now I urge you, I pray for you (for the entire world daily) to be free from the awful bondage of Fear. Raise your head up and receive your freedom. Remember Jesus came that we would be “free indeed.”
The physical mess we’re in is a result of the spiritual mess we’re in. We will not have political freedom as long as we are spiritually bound. So let’s look at the chaos in the world around us and see it as an opportunity to trust. What else can we do?
May 6, 2020
I asked my daughter Rebekah to join me on the balcony this morning. “I need your advice,” I said (among the many rewards of homeschooling is wise children). I made LaVazza in the French Press and brought her a San Pellegrino, then sat down with my journal. But before I, the Great Meeting Instigator, could present my thoughts, she began reading from 52 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know by Dave Adamson.
I wanted to talk about me. Sigh. Patience. Wait, what was that? About His mercies being new every morning? The word is rachum. I remembered why we were on the balcony. Because not only was it morning, but it was a beautiful, shining, May morning. A robin was worm hunting beneath us, and another one was pecking a bedroom window for reasons unknown. Perhaps he thought his reflection was a possible Mrs. Robin, and extremely attractive. Perhaps, like me, he thought it was all about him.
Rebekah continued to read and I waited. Quietly. Surely I am smarter than that robin? Finally, I talked. “Shall I write fiction or non?” What about this, and that, etc.? Her answer brought a flirting, flittering thought from the back of my mind to the fore: “Write what’s in your heart and hold nothing back.”
What is in my heart? Home. Jesus and Home. Home.
My fiction is about home, and my non-fiction as well. Write both? Then where to begin? It’s Springtime. Resurrection. You don’t have to begin, merely resume with vigor. The whole world’s all about singing a new song, and doing a new thing, and out with the old and in with the new. And that’s marvelous. Sometimes.
But sometimes it’s marvelous to go digging through all kinds of old stuff – barely begun stories and mostly finished manuscripts, journals, forgotten thoughts and notes, highlighted portions of old books from friends’ hearts.
They’re friends I’ve never met, but who wrote from their hearts unto mine, holding nothing back. “Father, help me, direct me, anoint me, to write like that. Even as you spoke to Rebekah’s heart and she passed it on to mine, speak to my heart so that I can pass it on to those who have home in their hearts. Amen.”
That’s pretty much everyone.
Thanks for joining me.
P.S. But what about that “hold nothing back” part? Yikes. That sounds quite messy.
Over the past several months, I have frequently pondered the possibilities for the closet in my foyer (once used as a little office by children now grown and gone). When a speaker at my church started talking about the marvels of having a Prayer Closet, I began to scratch that itch, one I didn’t even know was there.
Could the foyer closet work? Maybe, but shouldn’t a Prayer Closet be quiet, rather than in the flow of traffic? And it was a bit small – would the fetal position actually be conducive to hearing from God? That, I knew, was what I wanted. I wanted to pray Holy Spirit-led prayers, to be changed, and a conduit of change. I wanted to commune with God.
I dared to dream. Uninterrupted. Private. Whenever I wanted or needed to get alone. A place for all my stuff, my prayer and praise “paraphernalia”. Mine. So I could be more His.
And there it was – the room attached to the side of my utility room, functioning as linen closet, gift wrapping station, sewing/ironing spot, storage for kites, puzzles, paint, defunct pillows, lawn chairs, and Christmas decorations, revealed to me its true purpose. I rolled up my sleeves.
Where to begin? First came organization of the back shelves, which included large piles for both Goodwill and the trash, along with condensation of Christmas decorations. Curtains were hung over the shelves, and the much needed deep cleaning began. A good bit of elbow grease and five tubes of caulk later, it was painting time. I chose a very pale yellow green for it all, but it was too much. Toning it down was as easy as painting the ceiling, door and window trim white (with the palest ever peachy/pink tint).
Now for the fun parts. For several days I found and added treasures to enhance my space. It was as I hung my window treatment that I realized this room was originally supposed to be a bathroom. Why else would it have an opaque bathroom-sized window? I smiled as I wondered and whispered, “God, I think you stopped the bathroom construction because you thought, ‘Someday Bev will need a prayer room.’”
Finally, after about a week’s work, I sat down to engage. The first day I got a straight-from-Heaven word. I’d been praying about certain people, with a troubled and weary heart, and I asked God for “a word”. I randomly opened the Bible to Jeremiah where my eyes went directly to a verse that emphatically answered my heart’s cry.
Day Two I got another powerful word, which developed during the next several hours and into the following day, and it set me free from a thirteen-year relationship struggle.
On the third day I filled my journal, writing as quickly as possible so as not to forget anything, with new and freeing revelations. Since then I wander into my Prayer Closet early and late, as well as between times. I enter knowing I have a need of something, and I come out with something to meet the needs of others. Sometimes meeting the needs of those who love me most is just a matter of getting my joy back, and passing it on with a smile.
Pehaps you’re wondering whatever happened to the closet in the foyer, and what did I do with my linens, ironing board, etc? The foyer closet is now my sewing station. The ironing board and iron rest in my bedroom closet. This is very handy for John and me, as we can step right out of the bathroom, do our ironing, and dress right then and there (I haven’t quite worked out that wrapping station bit, but I will, and quite likely as I’m sitting and dreaming in my lovely new Prayer Closet). As to the linens, I have a new and improved setup. It’s two cleared shelves in the utility room (they were in great need of clearing) and I had the most fun and felt ever so elegant and superior throwing out ratty linens, and folding the remaining items with perfect symmetry.
Symmetry. That’s the word for what a prayer closet can do to your spiritual life. Plus, it’s just so much fun!
Hello and welcome to all parents who are suddenly at home with their kids. As a veteran homeschooler I have some thoughts, tips and downright excellent ideas for you.
- Begin every day with “The P.J.’s of Power – a psalm, a proverb, Paul’s wisdom from something in the New Testament, and Prayer, and Praise, and then some of Jesus’ words. If the kids are readers and awake (this is a lovely time for all of you to catch up on sleep by the way), instruct them to do the same, take notes, and let it all be done in P.J.’s!
- Make this something they truly enjoy, perhaps all around the table first thing, along with hot chocolate, and begin teaching table manners and conversation arts at the table. Best of all, you are teaching them to love and enjoy God!
- Have all hands on deck for meals. Rotate assignments for who is helping cook, setting the table, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors afterward, etc.
- Speaking of rotating assignments, one of my best ever ideas was my COD idea – Child of the Day. It began first with who was going to pray at meals because when they all chimed in the food got cold before they finished. They prayed for Grandpa’s cows, and the neighbor’s sick dog, and anything else they could think of. So, it was Benjamin on Mondays, Hannah on Tuesdays, Rebekah Wednesdays, and Seth Thursdays. Friday was my day and John got Saturdays and Sundays.
- Let things evolve, according to the needs of your family. The COD evolved so that chores were added, along with privileges, per child, per day. A favorite part of being the COD was getting to pick the bedtime story.
- Make the bedtime story non-negotiable, and make it a story that even the parents enjoy reading. It’s a good time, if you’re in a cold climate, for a cup of warm milk (we used the neighbors’ goat milk gifts this way) with honey, which is relaxing and delicious (add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla if you like).
- Begin developing and promoting the idea of personal libraries, as you read books like Frog and Toad, Hattie Rabbit, Barnyard Dance, Goodnight Gorilla, and Thomas the Tank Engine. Those are just some that still make me smile as I recall taking walks with thermoses of tea and a few cookies (which the kids LOVE helping to make). If the kids are older choose Little House books, such as The Long Winter. If you don’t have this book, order it! It’s .99 plus shipping, and all of us living today should read about those who came before us, who built this country through hardship and hunger such as we’ve never experienced.
- Make memories every day. We have a favorite memory of taking the red wagon, the two younger kids riding with the picnic basket and quilt, picking blackberries along the side of the road in rural Arkansas, and settling in the shade to read Timothy Tattercoat. Books inspire. This book actually planted the seed in our kids’ minds to one day live in Colorado, which is the setting for Timothy Tattercoat. As the kids grew they enjoyed Louis L’Amour books about miners in Colorado – be on the lookout for books and outings (we know all the best museums wherever we’ve been) that make learning History fun and fascinating and unforgettable!
- It’s OK to take all day. Tea parties all the time, any time, by any name are a great use of an entire day. Because after all, the best part of this whole home-with-the-kids thing is becoming truly acquainted with your children. This is done quite effortlessly and beautifully over tea. We had History teas, where we discussed whatever anyone wanted to discuss from History, which can lead all kinds of marvelous directions; there were geography teas (look at maps and talk about countries). “Look, there’s France – what do know about France?” Hmm, your humming mind ponders, shall we do a unit study on France? Google “homeschool unit study ideas” and remember to tailor these ideas to suit yourself!
- “Maybe,” you might ponder, “We should do a unit study on our state, and do a field trip approach, right in our own backyards. What are the herbs coming up this spring, and how can we use them? Let’s make a plan to gather rosehips, mint, and whatever else will work, and make the best ever herbal tea. Maybe we’ll learn a bit about home remedies.”
- Pray for anointing as a parent, and you will soon know that you are uniquely qualified to teach your children, and you will learn right along with them. In my case, I believe I learned more than anyone.
- Have “Dreaming Times.” When our four kids were small I had a great need for an hour of absolute peace and quiet in the afternoons. I would go into my room with a book (John and I always taught by example that reading is a treat), and say, “Don’t say my name for one hour. Play alone and dream and we’ll do something wonderful when we’re done.” They would very quietly sneak into each other’s bedrooms and play, but they knew I meant business about an hour of peace and quiet. Now be prepared to talk about, and respect, their dreams. And your own!
- Have a plan, but be ready to switch gears. If after Dream Time you meant to go grocery shopping, but they’ve had a dream of building a fort and starting a “John Wayne Club” (yes, this was a thing), the groceries can wait. Building and creating should always trump spending money. This is where you can get creative with what’s in the pantry, and play happy music to accompany the beautiful sounds of children at play. Let them see and hear you happy, as you sing and dance.
- Teach them good personal and homekeeping habits. They can make their beds each morning and brush their teeth, before the “privileges” of outside play, or getting to learn something new about a Founding Father, or mixing and using their own finger paints, etc. They can brush their teeth and pick up the living room (baskets for everything work well) before they get their bedtime story.
- You are the fearless leader, and part of that is meaning business and making House Rules. These rules are for your sanity, and to make your children popular with others. Ours were things like NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE, NO YELLING AND SCREAMING IN THE HOUSE, RESPECT OTHERS’ PROPERTY, RESPECT OTHERS. PERIOD. Then there was a written and publicly posted list of table manners: No phone answering during meals, no gross or negative conversation subjects during meals, etc.
- Read and re-read daily scriptures on the Tongue from Proverbs, and let your kids see you forget the scriptures entirely, mess up, repent both to God and to them. This practicing of what you preach, learning and growing as you go, will be a marvelous example, and will draw their hearts to you, and to God. This will also help your marriage flourish, which is the very kindest thing you can do for your kids – the most important education you can give them (please pardon me for causing you pain if you’re a single parent – these rules still apply, and I wish I’d known them when I was a single parent!).
- Consider the power of your example as you make the most of this unexpected situation, as you show them love by sacrificing your normal routine and getting to truly know your child, and yourself. Remember that your child is unique in all the world, indeed in all the history of the world, and that you have been given the gift of unexpected time together. To love.
- Be sure they know that you see this time with them, this family time, as a marvelous treat, a wonderful blessing. Tell them this.
- Don’t try to cram too much into your days. Seek a lifestyle of His unforced rhythms of grace.
- Keep it simple, and remember, “A little child will lead you.” But you must lead first. And you must first be led. By Him. Amen.