What if my Success is More Successful than Your Success?

I know about Vision Boards and The Five Habits of Successful People; and about Morning Routines!!!  I’ve heard about The Seven Things Successful People have in Common, or is it Eight?

I’m familiar with the idea of turning off the loveliest of classical music, and certainly not listening to The Eagles telling me to Take it Easy, because there are motivational speakers to be heard while I drive.  And when I’m putting on make-up.  Then as I whip up a politically correct dinner, I can listen some more.

I know “successful” people are disciplined and determined and consistent.  At what?  At going after their dreams, being all they can be, living life to the fullest!

I am thankful for such people, and thankful I’m not one of them.  I, too, have my eyes on the prize, my goal clearly mapped out and pursued.  The prize is the high calling of God, and for me that is first and foremost the care and keeping of home and family.  The goal is to be so enamored of God, my ears so keenly tuned to the Holy Spirit, so after Jesus, that like Him, I only do what I hear my Father say to do (not there yet, but on the journey).

That means I get to live a life of adventure and excitement and a somewhat giddy unpredictability.  This life is much tougher than getting up at 4:00 am to write a by-God-I-will number of words daily, do my prescribed workout minutes, eat my egg whites, drink my protein shake, dress for success, and all before 9:00 a.m.

This life is for those crazy enough to forget all that and to try walking on water – no formulas, no gurus to look to.  Only Jesus.

This life is for those willing to labor to enter into His rest, to be led down the path straight to His blessed, favor-filled, victorious Garden of Eden life.  Success!

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.

“I’ll Take a Hug.” “Thanks, and How About a Kiss?”

“Come here,” my daughter Rebekah said this morning.  I knew the drill.  I was trying to hurry and forgetting to put first things first.  Hugs.

And as I wrapped my arms about her good (and soon leaving home) self, I had a revelation, a knowing.  God loves her like this – huglike, all encompassing, embracing Love.  All-is-and-will-be-well Love.

“What’s in a hug?” I pondered.  Beyond what we can imagine, I’m certain.  I know science will bear me out – in hugs are health and well-being and so much more , so that we all want to be on the receiving end of hugs.  Well, that’s not quite right, is it?  Both ends of hugs are receiving ends.  What I mean is that we are glad when someone opens their arms and says to us, “I’ll take a hug.”

“I’ll take a hug,” is a never-forgotten sentence spoken to me years ago by a woman of grace, and when I really needed that hug. 

Give a hug, take a hug.  Especially if it’s from and for one of the beloveds in your house. 

I usually get up before my darlin’ and am more excited about mornings than is he.  So, to wake him properly I always crawl back into bed and hug him.  He pats me on the back in his sleep and says nonsensical things like, “It’s too late.”  More pats and moans.  “I mean early.  It’s too early.”

And then a kiss before I jump back up and get to something lovely like tea all alone on the balcony, where I muse a bit more about hugs.  And kisses.  Sometimes on the cheek from and for people I hardly know.

I, one raised without a lot of hugs and kisses (we all have learned better by now), and kind of shy about the whole thing, especially the kisses, am now a big fan of both. 

Here’s how this came about as regards the kisses:  A fine young man named Gabriel was spending a holiday with us, and because I knew he was missing his mama and vice versa, I tried to be extra nice to him.  Plus, as he was a friend to my son, I felt quite dedicated to his wellbeing and happiness. 

And so, when it came time for his departure, he very sweetly and naturally kissed me on the cheek, and as in this morning’s hug with Rebekah, I got a bit of a knowing:  This is a good thing.  This is a blessing.  This is like being a little baby when people kiss on you non-stop, head to toe without a second thought.  This is grand.

From that day on I often kiss people on the cheek when I hug them.  It’s lovely and I know sometimes they are surprised, and perhaps even displeased.  But for the most part, they are getting a knowing, I’m hoping.  A revelation that they are not only hug-worthy, but kiss-worthy.  Appreciated. 

Loved.

 

What was the highlight?

mountains

This past weekend my daughters Hannah and Rebekah joined me and nine other ladies from our church at a women’s conference entitled “Women Arise!” held at Charis Bible College (Andrew Wommack Ministries) in Woodland Park, Colorado.

We arrived home Sunday just before my husband, John, arrived from the airport with my mother-in-law.  We all unpacked, chatted and chattered, and it wasn’t until this morning at breakfast that John got a word in edgewise, saying, “What was the highlight?”

Hard question, but I’d given it some thought.  The spiritual highlight was perhaps the final teaching from Audrey Mack, which lit a fire under me that seems to be getting hotter by the minute.

flame

The setting, the weather, the thousand small favors of God on each minute – these were all highlights.  Maybe, as I said to Hannah last night, “Maybe the most important thing was the bonding between the hearts of the women of our church, and no doubt between all the women there.  The revelation of sisterhood in Christ, the shared hilarity and heartache, the love..

John asked me a few more questions this morning, then turned to Rebekah.  “What was the highlight to you, Rebekah?”  Rebekah said she “got new dreams and remembered forgotten ones.”  She didn’t mention that we got to the conference early and feasted on Brat Kolaches and amazing pastries at Woodland Park’s Donut Mill, but perhaps we’d already said enough about that, and about the other culinary delights experienced by all.  If Rebekah was reticent, Hannah could regale her dad on that account at a later date.

Hannah was already gone to work when John asked his question, but she would have had so much to say, so much to praise.

I could say the praise was the highlight, the worship of our good Father.  I could say bringing home a heart full of praise and thanksgiving and joy was the highlight.

But how do you describe the highlights of God?  It’s all highlight.

Certainty.  I came home with certainty.  With peace and power and a new and greater level of dominion, a new revelation of authority in Christ.  More humility, more surrender, greater power.

More.  Always more.  Because His depths are unfathomable, endless, and marvelous.  I marvel at the question, and so enjoy exploring the answer.

How to choose one highlight?  Would it help to eliminate those things that weren’t my favorite parts?  There was a workshop time slated Saturday afternoon that I skipped out on, in favor of walking around the sparkling lake, crossing the high wooden bridge, and making tracks to sit under a pine in the sun, where I whispered to God and He heard me.  That was definitely a highlight.  So, even the parts that weren’t looking like the best parts, became highlights.

“It’s all highlight in Jesus,” I could say to John.  And I remember what I told Rebekah, and then repeated to John last night.  “You know what’s really great,” I said to Rebekah as we ate lunch on the way home yesterday.  “What’s really great is to go somewhere so astoundingly beautiful and have such a wonderfully blessed time, and yet the best part of it all is going home.

english cottage

And so, dearest husband, the highlight of the entire beyond-all-I-asked-or-imagined weekend, was coming home to you.

Pentecost, and all Things Richly to Enjoy

 

creek 2

Taking a walk in the cool not-quite-summer breezes the other morning an old question popped into my mind:  Which of the senses would you miss the most, were you to lose it?

Loss of sight would mean no more color, no more iridescent, translucent, sparkling, proof-of- God color.  No more looking into the eyes of my beloveds, no more laughing at a child’s guileless smile.

Not good.

Loss of smell would mean I couldn’t smell this sage I’m crushing in my fingers and thereby being lifted, transported.  Same for the juniper, pine, spruce, fir and cedar on the heavenly breeze.

Loss of smell would mean roast beef and vegetables and gravy and hot buttered homemade bread would be irrelevant.  Also not good.

Loss of smell would mean I wouldn’t notice the clove on John’s breath when he kissed me.

A kiss.  A touch.  Not being able to feel the kissing face, or hugged neck, or the touch of a hand of another of God’s children.

marmot

Hearing.  A marmot is sounding the alarm because the dogs are busy sniffing out his rock pile, and the spring snowmelt has made the creek practically roar as it rushes out of its banks, but not above my favorite creekside blessing rock.

And I couldn’t hear His praises sung from the depths of the hearts of His children in church this morning, on Pentecost Sunday.  This thought makes me catch my breath from the sudden glitch of alarm, the actual physical ache, in my spirit.  But, on this day of all days, I am choosing not to think about “what ifs” and possible losses.  I am thinking of my utter inability to even begin to grasp the magnitude of the Love of God.  This is the sense I want to exercise, increase, develop.  This is the realm into which I want to delve more deeply.  More richly.

He has given us all things richly to enjoy.  I call the dogs off and they happily dash off to the next thrill, all senses alert.  He has given us all things richly to enjoy.  This thought again wafts into my mind and I think of how all the senses will be alive and blessing me at once if I simply take this walk with a loved one, sit by the creek eating roast beef on homemade bread with also homemade mayo, and watch steam swirl up out of a thermos of tea as we sip and smile at each other.  And as we see on each others’ faces peace.  How beautiful, how marvelous.  Oh, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth.

In all the earth.  He has given us so much to enjoy.  Let us not, in pursuits of manmade enjoyments and entertainments, forgo, forget, become blind to, the wonderful world He has made.  In all of our seeking, with all of our senses, let us tune into Him.  Let us daily live a life of Pentecost.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

The Home Artiste and Mother’s Day

LAST WEEK THE RAIN AND FOG AND THE CHILL CAME IN – AND THE BARELY GREEN ASPEN TREES WERE SHROUDED IN CLOUD.  MY DAUGHTER REBEKAH RIGHTLY DISCERNED IT WAS THE PERFECT TIME FOR A TEA PARTY AND SOME GOOD CONVERSATION, WITH SOME LOVELY MUSIC.  I HAD BEEN PLANNING TO DO SOME PAINT PREPPING, BUT IT WOULD KEEP.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WEDNESDAY MORNING WAS MUCH THE SAME AND WHEN I ASKED JOHN IF HE WAS STILL SURE HE WANTED A SMOOTHIE FOR BREAKFAST IN THE INTEREST OF TIME, HE WASN’T SO SURE.

SO HERE’S WHAT WENT DOWN:

I PUT SPROUTED AND BUTTERED BREAD IN THE OVEN ON LOW, AND THE SERVING BOWLS AS WELL – PUT COLD BOWLS INTO THE OVEN BEFORE TURNING IT ON, NOT AFTER IT’S HOT. (IF I HAD BEEN GOING TO SERVE FRIED EGGS, I WOULD HAVE ALSO HEATED THE PLATES – FOR FOUR PEOPLE I HEAT SIX PLATES, THEN I HAVE ONE EXTRA ON TOP AND ON BOTTOM, AND WRAP IN DISH TOWELS WHEN I TAKE THEM OUT AND THERE’S NO STRESS ABOUT THE HORROR COLD EGGS!).

THEN THERE’S ALSO A PLATE TO PUT THE EGGS ON AS THEY’RE FINISHED FRYING, WITH A LID OR COVERING OF SOME SORT TO KEEP THEM WARM UNTIL SERVING.  WE CALL THESE EGGS “DIPPIES”, AS YOU HAVE DONE WHITES, BUT YOLKS NICELY RUNNY AND GOLDEN FOR DIPPING TOAST INTO!  (I LEARNED TO CALL THEM “DIPPIES” FROM JANE BROCKET IN “THE GENTLE ART OF DOMESTICITY – EXCELLENT, JANE IS!)

I DUMPED HALF A JAR OF CHUNKY CINNAMON APPLESAUCE INTO A PAN AND ADDED WALNUTS AND RAISINS AND BEGAN HEATING. THE TEA KETTLE WAS FILLED AND HEATING AS REBEKAH SET THE TABLE WITH MILK IN A CREAM PITCHER, HONEY, ETC.

I HEATED THE TEAPOT WITH HOT WATER THEN EMPTIED IT AND SET IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STOVE ON THE WARMING ZONE, ADDED FOUR BAGS OF ROOIBOS TEA AND COVERED IT WITH A TEA COZY ( I WOULD MUCH PREFER A NICE ENGLISH BLACK TEA, ACTUALLY) – ALL READY FOR BREWING. ANOTHER THING I WOULD HAVE DONE IF IT WERE REALLY A COLD DAY IS USE STURDY THICK MUGS AND RUN HOT WATER INTO THEM FOR A BIT BEFORE SERVING TIME.

A PACKAGE OF THIN PORK CHOPS CAME OUT OF THE FREEZER AND WENT INTO A SKILLET WITH WATER TO BEGIN STEAMING APART AND COOKING (I COOKED THEM UNTIL THEY CARMELIZED AND MADE LOVELY BROWN GRAVY, OR AU JUS).

WE HAD LEFTOVER MASHED POTATOES SO I MADE THEM INTO BALLS AND PUT THEM IN THAT SAME SKILLET AFTER REMOVING THE PORK CHOPS INTO A SMALL SKILLET AND PUTTING ON A BACK BURNER ON LOW. ONCE THE POTATO BALLS WERE BROWN ON BOTH SIDES, I PLACED THE PAN ATOP THE PORK CHOP PAN AND PUT A LID ON TOP.

WHEN THINGS LOOKED TO BE NEARLY READY, I DUMPED LEFTOVER HOMEMADE SOURCREAM DIP AND A CUP OF LEFTOVER CHOPPED ONIONS AND SAUTEED THEM GENTLY IN A MIXTURE OF BUTTER AND OLIVE AND COCONUT OILS.

I WHIPPED UP SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH PEPPER AND SEA SALT, POURED THE STEAMING WATER INTO THE TEA POT.

NOTE:  I HAVE A SAUCER READY TO DUMP THE TEA BAGS ONTO BEFORE SERVING, AND A SAUCER OR POT HOLDER TO PLACE THE TEA POT ONTO FOR TABLE PROTECTION (THIS IS ALSO A POSSIBLE ISSUE WITH HOT PLATES, IN WHICH CASE THE TABLE SETTER PUTS A NAPKIN OR A PLACEMAT AT EACH SETTING.

YOU MAY THINK THIS SOUNDS COMPLICATED, BUT IT’S SIMPLY A MATTER OF DOING THINGS IN ORDER, AND GETTING INTO GOOD HABITS.

HAVING A LITTLE HELP IS NICE, TOO. IF YOU DON’T HAVE HELP, THOUGH, YOU JUST PREP AHEAD OF TIME AND THINK THINGS THROUGH.  SET THE TABLE, FILL THE CREAM PITCHER, PUT THE HONEY AND STRAWBERRY JAM ON THE TABLE (NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN THAT JAM!), WHIP YOUR EGGS AHEAD OF TIME, AND THAW THAT MEAT AHEAD OF TIME!

WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IS READY OR JUST ABOUT, POUR THE EGGS IN TO SCRAMBLE AND WHEN THEY’RE NEARLY DONE RING THE BREAKFAST BELL (YES, I DO HAVE ONE!)

OH, AND IF YOUR LOVELY DAUGHTER PUT ON MUSIC FOR YOU, AS DID REBEKAH WITH COLD PLAY’S “SOMETHING LIKE THIS” BE SURE TO DANCE ABOUT AND SING A BIT. WHAT A GIFT TO YOUR FAMILY:  A HOT, DELICOUS BREAKFAST WITH A DANCING, SINGING, SMILING MUM.

HMMM.  MIGHT THIS BEAR PONDERING WITH REGARD TO MOTHER’S DAY, AND ALL MY FAMILY’S SO HOPING I LIKE THIER GIFTS, AND THAT MY DAY IS TRULY SPECIAL?  COULD IT BE THAT I SHOULD SIMPLY FOCUS ON REJOICING IN GOD FOR MOTHER’S DAY AND ALL IT MEANS?

I AM INCAPABLE OF PUTTING WORDS TO WHAT’S IN MY HEART, BUT I ASK GOD DAILY TO CLEANSE IT FROM ALL SELFISHNESS, SO THAT IT MAY BE FULL OF PRAISE AND SONG.  YES, THAT’S IT, OR AT LEAST A GLIMMER – I WANT MY FAMILY TO HAVE EVEN THE SLIGHTEST INKLING OF THEIR WORTH AND VALUE TO ME.  AND I WANT THEM TO SEE ME SMILE.  AND HEAR ME SING.  AND DANCE WITH ME.

THIS MOTHER’S DAY DON’T LAMENT A SINGLE THING. JUST ENJOY, AND GIVE, AND RECEIVE!

Lifting Burdens via Intercessory Prayer

 

praying-young-man

I was asked to pray for someone last night and I just couldn’t do it, not with any faith and fervor.  I awoke at 2:00 a.m. burdened for this person, but not in a good way.  It might be more accurate to say I was aggravated with them.

As I prayed about it I realized that intercessory prayer is not to be undertaken before there is personal heart maintenance.  Otherwise, the intercessor simply takes on the burden of the other person, rather than assisting them in giving that burden to Jesus, who can not only take it, but do away with it!

So, practically what does that mean?  It means seeing what the Word says about love, and about every single person.  It means asking God for His take, how He sees it, what He wants done in this person’s life.

Then come the revelations, the prayers of faith that build more faith, and the return to where we start:  apart from Him, I can do (pray) nothing, and with Him all things (prayers) are possible.

He’s the only Way to go.