Control or Contentment? Success or Selfishness?

I’m hearing lots about eliminating “toxic” people from my life–those who don’t contribute to my “success”–about walking away. I really like this idea, but does God?* In listening to and reading motivational “success” gurus I know I’ve gotta get up at 5:00 a.m. if I’m going to “be somebody.” But God says I am somebody. People always want to know what I “do” and the temptation is to say, “I’m a writer,” as this, unlike homemaking, is an approved occupation. But God approves of me. Just because.

Still, the messages are so compelling, as are the ideas of writing bestsellers and achieving other lauded goals, having an actually heeded day planner, and checking off my to-do lists each day. And the facts that vision boards don’t work for me, and my plans almost always are superceded by “life” doesn’t faze me. It can’t be that all those people are missing something–after all, they’re “successful”–I MUST TRY HARDER. FASTER, FASTER, WORK, WORK!

As I ponder all these things, and wonder why Christian motivational speakers consider non-Christians “successful” simply because they’re famous, I suddenly remember something I once heard, and now I am listening: If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry, a hen. Ah, now that sounds like success to me. My daughter recently roasted a fat chicken in the Hobbit way – bacon, butter, herbs, and those things under as well as atop the skin. The chicken was first rinsed and then patted dry, to be cooked on high heat, and all in pursuit of a very crispy and delicious skin. Roasted along this dear bird were root vegetables, and all hearts were made glad.

When Rebekah asked what I wanted done with the chicken I could have told her my plan. Rather, I asked for her suggestions and out came An Unexpected Cookbook–The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. Not my plan, but better than. I’m liking the sound of that: Not my plan, but better than. My daughter is happy, my family enjoys an excellent meal, and I don’t have to cook. Success!

* In Andrew Murray’s classic book, Humility, he writes: “Look upon every fellow man who tries or vexes you as a means of grace to humble you.”

Running From What Will Save Me–A Homemaking Thing

For someone who loves home and family as much as do I, I certainly can get bent out of shape when my runaway plans go awry. This morning, after six days of shopping dates thwarted and nixed by various and sundry entities and events, I finally let it go. I finally said, “Maybe it’s best I stay home. Maybe I’ll make like a big girl Jesus-truster, and be still. Rest. Stop chomping at the bit, whining, fretting.”

I have quite a list (been adding to it for six days) of things I “need.” Is it possible that all those things I think and hear myself say that I “need” are just me justifying spending money that will be needed later for a better cause? “Patience, my dear. We know from experience where pressure gets us.”

Could it be that all I’ve said and re-said about home is true? That it is the most excellent place, the place for a creative grace to be had only at the hands of a truly attenrive home artiste? Might it be so that time and attention at home are always rewarded, as I’ve so often maintained, even as time and attention to shopping is often more regretted than rewarded?

I sit now in peace–the taker of my own advice: when at all possible stay home, and when you least want to do so, there’s likely a prize hiding behind that desire to flee, a treasure to be found and had by simply being still.

It could be the treasure of a new book idea, or finding and using what I have to recover those filthy bar stools, or thrilling my heart by trashing all my makeup unless I bought it in the last six months (nothing left except my almost-gone mascara). I might even fertilize my plants! I can even iron my linen shirts while listening to a French lesson or calling my sweet friend Pam. Snow’s coming–I’ll build a fire, fill the wood box, make a pot of soup. And back to the makeup idea–I can feel the thrill of putting it all in the trash even as I am writing this post!

Who knows what I’ll get up today? The brain is stirring up possibility.

Your Favorite Love Song, Please.

Hi,

I’m coming right along with the improved and expanded edition of The Maker’s Marriage (please don’t order from the picture here on the website, as I still haven’t managed to delete it ) and I’m wanting to add beautiful love song suggestions, as music is such a power tool in getting our hearts right, and attuned to love.

So, if you have a favorite love song or songs, or indeed just any favorite beautiful and uplifting music, would you mind sharing via comments, or by simply e-mailing to me at: bevparker@rocketmail.com.

‘I need a song for every chapter (there are thirty something chapters right now) and I don’t want to limit my readers to my tastes only. Also, if you want to include a few lines about why this song is special to you, that might be helpful as well.

Please remember my promise to have this very good (if I do think so, myself) book finished by John’s and my 30th anniversary–October 12, and be ready to buy a copy or several to share.

Thanks very much!

Bev

P.S. If you know how I can delete my current pic of The Maker’s Marriage, I would really appreciate knowing if you can spare a minute or two to share.

Hooray for Insomnia

I was hoping it was at least 3:00 a.m. It was 1:30. But that was OK actually, and here’s why: I had put my jeans and writing shirt (more on that later) out before bed, right along with my water, Bible, scribble book, journal, pens and highlighers, and devotions. I was ready to sneak into John’s office (where the chairs are comfy and the computer cooperative) and have myself a little time with Jesus. Remember the song? So let us have a little talk with Jesus, let us tell Him all about our troubles . . .

I did have some troubles, as I woke from a disturbing dream and wanted to make sense of it, if sense could be made. But those troubles went away pretty quickly as I prayed and then found great teaching on YouTube.

It took a while to get through 2.5 sermons (I’ve paused in the middle of the third sermon to write this post) because I was taking notes, pausing to pray, pausing to sing scripture to God (I don’t sound all that bad and I know He likes my singing. I just know.) I also paused to pass on a sermon to people I think/hope will be blessed.

And let me admit it. I also passed it on to someone I think needs it. As do I. Especially the parts about remaining strong in such a time as this. How? Via meditating on the Word of God. Again, how? Well, let’s begin by saying it’s not how I recently heard a success guru say he does it–he “meditates” ten minutes.

Psalm 1:1-3 is helpful: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (That’s verses 1 and 2–I’ll leave you to see this man’s reward in verse 3.)

Here’s most of what the Word Wealth in my Bible says–“meditates” hagah (hah-gah; Strong’s #1897: to reflect; to on, to mutter; to ponder; to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English “meditation,” which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions. From this tradition comes a specialized type of Jewish prayer called “davening,” that is, reciting texts, praying intense prayers, or getting lost in communion with God while bowing or rocking back and forth. Evidently this dynamic form of meditation-prayer goes back to David’s time.

This is how we receive the Biblical promise of a renewed mind. I, for one, am in great and continual need of this. I think thoughts and act ways I don’t agree with! They’re not the real me. They’re distortions and deceptions based on the lies of my enemy. But they’re always decreasing in power as God’s power overcomes through Biblical meditation.

I think I won’t call it insomnia, which implies being unable, but wanting, to sleep. I think I’ll call it a wee hours assignation with the Lover of my soul. Hooray for Hagah!

NO, NO, DON’T ORDER THE MAKER’S MARRIAGE YET!

Yikes, I see the “click here to order” next to the pic of the OLD Maker’s Marriage. Wait for it! I haven’t figured out how to get that off my blog, but I will. I just got a “WordPress for Dummies” book, so hopefully today will be the day I get this pesky thing down, and get on with the new version.

Again, the expanded version of The Maker’s Marriage will be available October 12, 2021, which will be John’s and my 30th anniversary! Yay!

The Maker’s Marriage Coming Right Up!

In expanding The Maker’s Marriage (available October 12, our 30th anniversary), I am adding an introduction so that those who won’t be helped won’t be wasting their time. Following is the first draft of the new intro:

Before we waste each other’s time, let’s understand that it’s not about me, or you, or our opinions and beliefs.  It’s about the One Who made us, loves us, and wants us to succeed beyond our wildest imaginations—our Maker.

It follows then that The Maker’s Marriage isn’t about keys, steps, techniques, or suggestions.  Rather, it is about the miracle of a marriage that is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.  A Maker’s Marriage.

So, if you’re in hopes of finding yet untried ways to get that other person to straighten up and fly right, or to understand you and meet your needs, or any other base, low, pathetic mockery of God’s marvelous plan for you and yours, hope again.

Actually, I do want you to hope again.  But this time let it be hope in the Love that never fails.  Herein lies hope that is based on nothing less than Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of the relationship that is meant to bring Heaven to earth.  How about that!

And how about this–how about getting free from the need to be right?  How about getting free from the tyranny of selfishness and the life of pain it brings?  How about falling in Love with your Maker, and passing that Love right along to the person on the pillow next to you?  It’s called pillow talk, and it beats arguing hands down.

Why not?  Why not begin and end the day with a bit of a cuddle with the one on the pillow right next to you, and fill the spaces in between with the great adventure of a marriage that is all the Great Lover ever meant it to be?

It’s called honor and you were meant for it.  Honor yourself and your mate by first honoring your Maker and receiving His honor for you.  Yes, it sounds beyond you, beyond your broken heart and wounded soul, beyond the memories that refuse to fade.  That’s because it is, and we’re going there—beyond all of it, into the arms of the Restorer of the breach, the Healer of the brokenhearted. 

Welcome to The Maker’s Marriage.

Love is Success, Success is Love

I appreciate Grant Cardone because so much of what he wrote in The 10X Rule applies to success in the most important thing of all: family. “Pretend,” he writes, “you’re being recorded as a model by which your children and grandchildren will learn how to succeed in life.”

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know I define success a little differently than most people–something like, “Success is being free from the approval of others, from the tyranny of selfishness. Success is being a homemaker.” It can also be being a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, as long as in that role we are also the one who doesn’t pass by on the other side when we see the opportunity to give, the opportunity to sacrifice.

(I must pause here to say you don’t impress God when all your giving is done outside your family, and all you have left for them is impatience and unkindness. And judgment.)

Back to sacrifice–WE ARE MADE FOR IT! What story is better than that of the Good Samaritan who “took pity” on the half dead man? I’ll tell you one that is as good, but first a word about the Good Samaritan. He was on his way to somewhere and it was not in his plan, on his calendar, or convenient for him to stop. He was likely a man of affairs and means, as evidenced by his leaving the man at the inn, promising to be back, and promising to pay any and all costs. The innkeeper trusted him and I think that was because people who take the time to help others at great inconvenience to themselves–people who sacrifice–are trusted.

Now for another good story: Once upon a time there were scores and scores of women who “took pity” on their husbands and children, and cared for them, without access to success gurus, social media, nannies, new SUVs or throw-away diapers. They had to lean on the Helper, the One Who (if we will let Him) sticks closer than a brother.

In making such sacrifices they raised children also willing to sacrifice. They were rich inside.

We are created in the image of the God of Sacrifice, and apart from a life of sacrifice, we cannot ever be whole.

This is not a call to return to the “good old days” of twelve diapers and no washing machine, or of no central heating and running water, or having nowhere to go if married to a brute. In America, because of the sacrifices of those who came before us, we live in such a lovely world as regarding physical conveniences and social supports, but not one so lovely when it comes to sacrifice.

It’s time to not only be willing to sacrifice and give, but to be on the lookout for opportunities for doing so. And if you have the immeasurable privilege of having people living in your own house for whom you can sacrfice, it’s time to give thanks, not complaints. Just remember this when the doubts and self-pity come in like a flood: your reward is guaranteed, even if not immediately seen.

If you don’t believe me, read the New Testament. If you don’t believe that, you’re doomed–to the misery of a life without sacrifice.

Zero for Forty Something?

John and I will be 30 years married October 12! I’m thinking I’m going to do something memorable in these days remaining from now until then. Like stop mistreating my body and forget about a thing or two, or 1,000. And another thing (I’ll tell you in a minute).

It’s like this: there are forty something days remaining until October 12 and that seems like a good amount of time to once and for all forget about sugar (and it’s variants). It’s a good amount of time to forget about losing weight and just eat great food such as the soooo good, almost-make-you-cry strawberries, awe-inspiring sun-cracked tomatoes, and best of all, lemon cucumbers–all from a local farm stand. Most and best of all, forty something days are a great time to forget about past grievances, aggravations, and petty stupidities.

What might happen if one wasn’t sick at heart and body because of sugar; if the SIN of unforgivness was repented of and turned from and absolutely refused? One might do something marvelous, like write a marvelous book about a marvelous subject.

I’m going to improve and expand The Maker’s Marriage between now and October 12 (yikes, did I just promise that?). I”m going to take the original edition off this site, and get to work on the new one today. The mind boggles at all the great ideas it has already come up with, and that before I even begin writing.

Be ready! It’s gonna be good.

Sarah Ban Breathnach Calls it “Homecaring”

In A Daybook of Comfort and Joy Sarah Ban Breathnach writes, regarding Victorian women, that they: “. . . were the moral, spiritual, and physical center of the home, responsible for creating a welcome retreat of beauty, comfort, and contentment that would protect, nurture, and sustain those they loved; elevated the pursuit of domestic bliss to an extraordinary art form; and . . . approached the domestic arts–cooking, decorating, gardening, handicrafts, and entertaining–not as burdens but as a form of personal expression and a means of persuasion.”

A means of persuasion . . . Could it be, might it be true, that the more care we give, the more we get, that the less we try to force others into our way of thinking, the more apt they are to see things our way? I say it’s time for a bit of “Peace be still. Be still and know. Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, created. Created in the image of God, the God Who ordained that we all have home, and Who waits for our invitation to partner in that great endeavor called homemaking. “Home,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “is the definition of God.”

He has crowned us with a beautiful and glorious crown. We might call it a “homecaring” crown, to quote Ban Breathnach again, who further exhorts us to, “Begin believing that the time, energy, and emotion you invest daily in the soulcraft of homecaring–carving out a haven for yourself and those dear to you–is a sacred endeavor.”

P.S. Regarding the pic at the top–that’s my dad. My dad was a builder–of houses and of hearts. Whenever and wherever he was around, it felt like home.

Dull Books, Dull Boys and Girls

“You appear to have absconded with my keys, Mother,” my daughter said. “Oh, no! I’m so sorry.” And I was sorry about it, even as I was delighted in a child who says, “You appear to have absconded,” rather than, “Hey! You took my keys!”

It pays to homeschool, especially when you have a literary approach. That is, approach the teaching of spelling, speaking, writing, and thinking via literature. Put excellent books in every nook and cranny. Read to them and with them. Read books they recommend. Talk about it: What was your favorite part? Do you agree with the author’s worldview? Are there plot holes? If you re-wrote the story, what would you change? If this book were to be a movie, who would you cast as the villian?

DO NOT read below their level. One of the best parts of any book is a new word. Beatrix Potter’s use of “soporific” is a great example. Don’t go into Mr McGregor’s garden: your father had an accident there, he was put into a pie by Mrs McGregor. It is said that the effect of eating too muclettuce is ‘soporific‘.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been absconding with other people’s property, eh?

Phyllis McGinley, in the treasure of a book, Sixpence in Her Shoe, wrote, “If I had time and courage enough, I’d write a children’s book stuck plum-pudding rich with great jawbreakers of words,” and, “I am certain that children, left to themselves, would prefer a rattling good story . . . to the handsomest volume in the world which brings no glory to their dreams or quickening to their pulses.” She continues, “They are a braver generation than we suppose. So they deserve brave books. They deserve the best that men and women of wit and talent can write for them.”

And they deserve parents who will read to and with them. Books with big stories, big wonders, big ideas, big words.