What’s in a Package?

Love.  I have packed a box as full as I could get it, and then added just a few more things.  And as I wrestled it closed with the miracle that is packing tape, I thought, “The postage is going to cost more than the contents are worth.  If the postage is over $50 I’ll just unpack it and send the cash.”

But no.  That didn’t seem right.  Because you can’t put a price on Love.

This package is for my daughter Rebekah, at Bible College in Fort Worth, Texas.  She has friends coming for a tea party and a movie, but no tea things, no bedding if they want to spend the night on her air mattress, and no movies to watch, which is what they’ve suggested they want to do.

She has one plate, and nothing on her walls.  “Mama, I want you to come and visit and help me with my little house,” she said over Christmas break.  Code:  “Mama, I want you to come and visit.”  (She calls me Mum via e-mail, Mom in person, and Mama when she’s lonely.)

Well, OK.  I will.  But for now I’m sending Love in the form of a package.  And now that it’s all packed and addressed, I feel that ridiculous sense of joy and accomplishment that sending Love in the mail always brings.

I’m thinking over what I’ve sent:  two sets of sheets, a lovely kitchen painting of a giant red pepper, and then a sacrificial gift –  the collage Rebekah made as a child that shows me her heart every time I look at it.  It brings me joy, but it is now hers.

Then there is a tea set, a Pioneer Woman plate (also VERY sacrificial giving) to match the one she has, two other personality plates, a sack of hanging paraphernalia (stick pins, hooks, nails) along with safety pins, tape, scissors, and a Leatherman-type tool.

What else?  There is some gourmet summer sausage, canned meats, two beautifully wrapped gifts from a friend (I know what’s in them, but I can’t say), and a book she’s going to love.

And then a favorite movie per her request:  Amazing Grace.  Well, why not add two or three others?  I chose National Treasure, Letters to Juliet, and Enchanted.

There are a few more items for decorating, and a love note to go with the Love.

So, as I have now convinced myself that I will send this package regardless of the cost of postage, I will also urge you to put a little something in the mail to someone you know.  Someone who might enjoy a bit of Love.

It costs fifty cents to say, “Hi.  I love you.  Bye.  P.S.  Please write back soon.”

John Parker Today at 2:00 on The Home Front Show!

I have experienced and do believe in Miracles, and that’s one of the many things slated for today’s Home Front Show.  Until . . . I talked to John and realized he has something that has to come first.

So, join us in just a few minutes for BLESSINGS!

Friday at 2:00 to 1360 am, Johnstown, Colorado, or go to the link below:

Thanks!

https://tunein.com/radio/KHNC-American-Freedom-Network-1360-s16926/

“Father, Anoint Us as Parents.”

When the kids were growing up John and I prayed this daily:  Father, anoint us as parents.  

But even though I vehemently disagreed with the idea that kids are adults at eighteen, that our job is finished, somewhere along the way I started acting like I believed that rot.  Somewhere, for some reason, we stopped praying that powerful prayer.

Sure we still prayed for our kids, sure we were still very available, but we thought, what?  That they no longer needed parenting anointed by God, that we no longer needed His help, that the battle was over and won?

The words began whispering themselves to me a few weeks back:  Pray for anointed parenting.  Finally, last night, after listening to my kids’ conversation and seeing the evidence of needed peace in their hearts, I said to John, “We need to pray for anointing as parents again.”  He immediately agreed and we IMMEDIATELY did it.

NEVER, EVER, EVER WAIT TO PRAY.  Do it then and there, or that very important opportunity will escape.

You may be asking, “What is this anointed parenting stuff?”  This is parenting with the power and wisdom of God Himself, wherein your child’s heart is revealed, and the words coming out of your mouth are words of life, rather than words of nonsense and destruction.

After listening to the prideful disdain for others coming out of my child’s mouth last night, and keeping still until I prayed, I received revelation about what’s really going on in his mind.  Rather than being aggravated with him, my heart became very tender toward him.  Rather than being afraid of the tendencies I see him learning toward, I became warlike in my desire to fight for and with him.

I began to strategize.  I went to the Word and then got on my knees, and I realized something:  I haven’t been showing the humility necessary to get his attention.  I haven’t been humble enough to realize that apart from Him, I can do nothing.

I can sense the Holy Spirit ordering my thoughts, cleansing my heart, and strengthening me for the task at hand.  It’s exciting.  The call to battle of motherhood is a continual call and a continual battle, and in Him, we win.

Amen.

So Many Opportunities for Joy, Why Let Anything Steal Them?

We went to a Christmas ballet we’ve dubbed “Ballet Bizarre”.  We looked at the checking account and decided repurposing is indeed a wonderful thing.  It will be our first Christmas with our son overseas in the Middle East.  The world is a powder keg, and our child is in the smack dab middle of it.

And so on.  There are reasons to lament during this Season.  There are reasons (but then aren’t reasons simply excuses?) to Bah Humbug it all.  But I am not one to say “Tis the season to be jolly!, or as I was singing (shouting) all morning, “Tis the season to be Jarry, fah, rah, rah, rah, rah!”, and leave it at that, fun as it may be.

I am here to dig and delve deeply into the Reason for the Season.  I am here to say the money (or lack thereof) in the checking account and the bizarrre-ness of “Art” and the locale of loved ones are simply opportunities to remember Jesus.  This is the season for the ultimate of all beauties – the Love of Christ.

And so the bizarre ballet is an opportunity to be thankful that I have yet another focus for prayer.  The repurposing is a reminder of all the treasures I own that will now grace the lives of others.  The son overseas reminds me that technology can be a wonderful thing – his Christmas package will arrive today or tomorrow most likely, and he will open it in our presence via Internet.

The powder keg world?  Still and as always, Jesus is our refuge and our strength, our high tower and deliverer. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Amen!

Sharing Him at Christmas can be done with or without cash.  We are opening our home on Christmas Day for the first time.  We will be sharing a Christmas brunch with people the Holy Spirit has put on our hearts to invite, and there will be much merry-making, joy and celebration.  We’re including the most important of guests via the special invitation of prayer, and as always, He will be right on time.

I have decided and decreed that I will not even think, for one moment, thoughts of lack this Christmas, much less speak words of lack.  What indeed, do I lack?  I serve a Risen Savior.

As for those pesky arguments about December 25 not actually being His birthday so what?  I was born December 28 and I would have no problem with people celebrating my birthday on July 28 or whatever day suited them.  What I would have a problem with would be people being upset because they didn’t have a gift for me, or feeling pressured because the day was a reminder of what they lacked in their lives, rather than a reminder that I loved them.

So, that’s it – the key to joy in this Season, no matter what your circumstances:  We must choose to worship and serve and receive His great gift to us all.

Mr. Bennett, in Pride and Prejudice says, “No lace, Mrs. Bennett!”  I say to myself, “No Lack, Mrs. Bev!  You have Jesus and it’s time to celebrate.  Each and every moment of each and every day.”  Jesus the Savior is Born.

You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.

What does it mean to “help” my husband?

I was pondering my wifely skills and shortcomings (praying He will “cleanse me from my secret faults”) this morning and asked God the question:  What does it mean to “help” my husband.  I know this word (Genesis 2:18) comes from the same Hebrew root translated in Psalm 54:4 where is says “God is my helper.”  Being like God to my husband?  Lord, what does that look like?  God loves unconditionally and faithfully.  God always forgives, always hears and listens, guides and guards, and looks for ways to bless.  He helps.

Helps.  The Ministry of Helps, I’ve been learning, is simply that:  helping where help is needed.  It includes but is not limited to, Holy Spirit-led ministering via a hug, listening ear, kind word, thoughtful deed, card, letter, call, or even an e-mail that says, “You’ve been on my heart and I just want you to know I love you,” etc.  And all of that is best served with Word-based, Holy Spirit-led prayer.

Is that something Christians just know how to do?  Apparently not or they’d also know the joy of it, and do it more often.  And more effectually.  Listen:  No one needs a “woe are we, such worms who only deserve death” prayer.  No one needs our lies added to Satan’s because we’re scriptural illiterates who think God has good days and bad days, and it’s a roll of the dice, and He’s probably not going to help anyway, but it’s worth a shot.  We guess.  Maybe.

People need prayers of faith based on the truth of God’s Word about His great and never-ending love for us.  People need prayers from people who know what Jesus accomplished on the cross.  They need prayers from people whose hearts are actually filled with the very Spirit of God because they’ve accepted the gift of Jesus and what He accomplished at Calvary.  People need to be ministered to in the power of this Love.

I weep when I begin ministering like this at church.  My heart is so grieved as I pray for people and realize their desperate need of prayer and of a caring touch, that sometimes I can hardly speak through the slinging snot.  What a picture, right?  No one seems to care that I have to blow l my nose throughout the prayer.  What they care about is being cared about.  I realize as the Holy Spirit reveals hearts to me during prayer, that people are broken-hearted and disconnected.  They are weak, weary, and vulnerable to that ever-prevalent lie of the enemy:  No one cares a single thing about you.

I have learned that even my adult children, who have been taught from their very beginnings that they are more precious than words can say, are susceptible to this lie.  And since this lie comes at them continuously in some form or fashion, I must continuously speak and pray the truth.

The tendency is to see a problem in an adult child’s life and to lament it, pray that situation changed or certain influences removed, and to frown really hard in the meantime.  But those children need equipping.  “Equipping” sounds like tools and gear and rules and how-to instructions.  But those are physical things, and must be preceded by the spiritual.

Let me clarify. I’ve been considering the incredible pressures my children face right now.  I’ve been doing a little more worrying than I should (any worrying is more than I should worry) and a little less praying than I should, and a little more speaking the problem than I should (yep, ANY speaking the problem is more than I should speak).  My daughter, Hannah, for an example, is fighting numerous hard battles right now.  She wants to excel at all things, and let no one down ever (especially God) while in the midst of extreme responsibilities and demanding/needy people, but without extreme support.

Except for her parents.  We are extreme support.  We are equippers.  We don’t say, “Well, Hannah has her act together, Hannah reads the Word and prays more diligently than do her siblings, Hannah will be fine,” as we focus on the others.

No!  That should not be the reward for her efforts.  The squeaky wheels shouldn’t be the only ones getting the grease. When I sense there is a difficulty, and when I don’t, there is still a difficulty, or very possibly a host of difficulties.  It’s time, not only to pray for Hannah as usual, but to pray with her.  To let God use me to bless my child.

As He does.  It’s such a blessing when I call and say, “I want to pray for you,” and then to be used by God to speak things I had no idea about, but that bless and strengthen and help her.  I did this recently only after several days of prayer and consideration, and a two-hour quiet time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer.  This meant that through my prayers He was speaking to her heart, blessing her heart, strengthening and helping her, giving her perspective on things that were troubling her.  Bringing her peace, power and an undergirding for her day.  Equipping her.  It’s my job.

The Word talks about equipping the saints, and we’re all too ready to sign on for that:  Oh come all ye saints and listen unto me.  I shall equip you!!!  But we are to start where it all starts.  At home.  We come before the Throne of Grace for our personal equipping, putting on the full armor of God, hearing His voice, heeding His voice, seeking Him and basking in His goodness and grace.  Then, and only then are we equipped to equip.

We moms are also ready to sign on for equipping our kids first, and our husbands next, or last, or never.  But that essential time in the Word and prayer will straighten out all the crookedness in our thinking, and we will come to see the truth about “helping” our husbands:  We are acting as God’s most essential ambassadors, His equippers.

Just as the Queen of England has no need to drive the car, neither do we have to be front, center, and “in charge” when we know our true worth to God as Homemakers.  Let us embrace, accept, and occupy our thrones as He intends.

 

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Send the poem below as an invite/reminder to those coming to your house for Thanksgiving.

 

Or, try an e-mail such as this one I’ve sent out to my guests:

 

Hi,
I am praying we are all overjoyed at the goodness of God this Thanksgiving.  To that end, if you have something to share – a testimony, poetry, a song of thanksgiving perhaps!!!, and if ____________ would sing too that would be SO marvelous.
No pressure, and please pass on to your beloveds if they have something to add/share.  Anything at all, maybe something from American History???  A favorite psalm or other verse?
Love and Hugs and Can Hardly Wait!
Bev
And now for the food:  “We’re not having ham this year?” Seth asked in wonderment.  “No, we’ll have ham at Christmas maybe,” I answered.  The truth was that I have other meats in the freezer I want to use.  I think it’s OK to deviate a little from tradition, just as long as you keep the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Gravy can be tricky, but it’s nothing compared to who to invite.  The key is that, after prayerful consideration and family discussion, YOU INVITE.
There are countless people who would love to come to your house, but you need God’s
guidance to get the right group together.  I like to have it all nice and tightly sewn up, so I can plan.  Let’s see.  If we take the folding chairs off the balcony, if we mix the old steak knives with the new, and alternate the plates – green, gold, white, green, gold, white . . . Should we move the loveseat into the living room for more seating???  
How many people?  One couple has to go to Minnesota to see ailing folks, and that other couple who’s on the outs with their own families could take their place . . .
Or, I could invite that little single mother down the road . . .
In all this there are, thanks be to God, some people coming who will back us up and stand with us in prayer if there are some “messy” folks there, some folks who really need extra, extra, extra love, love, love.
Thanks be to God for Thanksgiving.  Amen.
 

Thanksgiving Day

Over the river, and through the wood,
  To grandfather’s house we go;
       The horse knows the way 
       To carry the sleigh
  Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood—
  Oh, how the wind does blow!
       It stings the toes 
       And bites the nose
  As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
  To have a first-rate play.
       Hear the bells ring 
       “Ting-a-ling-ding”,
  Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
  Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
       Spring over the ground, 
       Like a hunting-hound!
  For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
  And straight through the barn-yard gate.
       We seem to go 
       Extremely slow,—
  It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood—
  Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
       Hurrah for the fun! 
       Is the pudding done?
  Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

 

Don’t Hide Behind What’s “In”

One size does not fit all.  If you have a brand new home in a look-alike neighborhood, then go ahead with what’s “in”.  But if you have an old and beleaguered house, with crooked walls and battered  baseboard heater covers, with weird angles and misplaced windows, you need to form a cohesive whole.  One that goes.

Goes?  Yes, goes.  One that goes with the house, the setting, and one that suits you, even if no one else gets it at all, even if it couldn’t possibly be less “in”.

A brief history of decorating:

Our house had darkly stained (almost black) wood trim, unpainted.  The walls were a dark diarrhea color, and the crowning touch was the mauve Formica countertops to match the pink-ish stain on the cabinets.  My budget was for paint.  Not new trim or countertops or cabinets.  Paint.

After much searching I finally hit on a golden apricot for the walls and a trim color called “Blackberry” which was deep purple most of the time (I took the doors off the upper cabinets and display dishes rather than pink-ness).

But there was that time of the day when the purple trim was just garish as heck against the white areas of the kitchen, and not all that complementary with those  lovely mauve countertops.  The countertops were the sticking point – the mauve against the apricot, which also at some times of the day was just plain orangey papaya, began to be a thorn in my side.

I griped in my head every time I looked at it.  If I could just get new countertops.  I spent a couple of years on this “if” but to no avail.  Fine.  One fine day I would have new countertops.  In the meantime I would go to what always works for me.  Paint.

Don’t want to repaint the whole thing.  How about just the kitchen including the wall that is also the window wall of the dining room?  What color then?  Finally I found it.  A lovely and very pale green/yellow (depending on the light, but more green than yellow).

The mauve countertops against the green look fantastic.  The ugly old now appears lovely vintage.  I am so very pleased with this outcome of my efforts.  However, there was one thing.  The corner.

With a bit of uncertainty I had stopped in the dining room corner, where each color refused to cooperate with or give way to the other.

And so.  Something to tie it all together.  Perhaps a border that went all the way around the dining room.  I found the border.  A year later I thought (border still in drawer) of stripes on the lower part of the wall, beneath the border.  Another year later I did it, and you see the results above.

I leave it to your imagination to  envision how awful this room looked before I painted, but let me assure you that when that trim was stained walnut, and later when those walls were painted in shades of body excrement, those things were “in”.

Again, what’s “in” should be what works for you.  My house is high in the Rockies and it’s often chilly.  I want warm colors.  My house is also a 70’s monstrosity of vaulted ceilings and weird angles, and the argument could certainly be made that “granny” decor doesn’t fit.  But the final word on it all is “mine”.  This is house is mine, and so what’s “in” is irrelevant.

No design police are coming, no magazine photographer either.  What’s “in” about this house are the people who LIVE “in” this house (continual compliments from my beloveds on this new creative endeavor).

I encourage you.  Go browsing and digging around thrift shops, estate sales, antique stores, kitchen stores and consignment shops, and your own “stuff” for something that absolutely delights you.  Let your imagination go.

Just remember this:  “In” is based on someone else’s imagination, or lack thereof.  Again, this house is your house!

Happy Real Decorating!

P.S.  Somewhere in all this – about a year ago, I think, I painted the trim white, a lovely brilliant white with the very teeniest hint of rose (in certain light).