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!

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.

Homemaking–A Bit of Vintage Thinking

In listening this morning to motivational speakers talk about achieving goals, dreams, and “God’s Purpose” for my life via morning routines, vision boards, affirmations, etc., it occurs to me I may not be as far behind the curve as I’ve been believing myself to be. It also occurs to me that a bit of vintage thinking might be in order. Again. Because this voice telling me that I “can be more” is all pervasive, ever insistent, badgering, pressuring, pushing.

Surely, I reason, the great, good, gracious and giving God I serve can lead, guide, and bless me without me constantly striving, trying and doing–what the world will call success. Surely He can be trusted, and as He’s shown me over and over again, to be with me, vision board or not. What if it’s as simple as “seek ye first”? What if, as is always the case, whatever society calls success isn’t that impressive to God? Could it be that there is more fulfillment of both His dreams and mine when we–He and I–are seated together in heavenly places, far above the noise of “purpose and performance”?

Just this morning I heard a speaker talk about the great success of a woman who was 58, that was 58! years old (it’s never too old!, I was assured) and who went to college and became a school teacher. She was a mother of five and grandmother of five, but now comes the lauded “success”. No longer will her kids get to call and ask for prayer, no longer will her granddaughters invite her to have tea with their dolls. Shall I talk about boys knowing there is one place on earth that is always and absolutely perfectly safe? That would be with Granny. You can tell her anything and she’ll give you good advice right along with hugs and milk and cookies. And readalouds–like Frog and Toad and Timothy Tattercoat!

Maybe on weekends? On weekends (when they used to pick strawberries and bake bread together) Granny will be grading papers, but perhaps she’ll schedule some time, sometime. (Yes, I’m quite and very well aware of the need for such teachers as Granny will no doubt be, and also aware that she may be exactly where God wants her. It’s the attitude here I question: Now she’s doing something worthwhile.)

And here’s a thought: What if all that “purpose and dream” stuff is for those who don’t already have the highest and best and most beautiful of all purposes on earth? Yes, I’m talking about homemaking, as it’s meant to be, and with God’s help is.

Also this morning was a phone call about a friend’s daughter-in-law who’s going to leave her two little ones and go to nursing school. Yes, the husband is very well paid, but “these days it takes two incomes.” No. It doesn’t. It has been proven over and over again that there is an overall loss in monetary wealth when both the parents of small children work. As to the real costs of moms not being on the throne in the home–immeasurable.

As one of the earliest victims of modern feminism (the last of the lucky generation whose moms kept the fort) I know of what I speak. I bought this lie and the costs are still being paid. Unlike so many, however, I got a second chance. I know of the innumerable ways to save money (kids not sick all the time is a big place to begin this calculation) when you make a home by staying home, when you build your house and everyone in it, as the Queen of the Most High Place, i.e., when you’re “just” a homemaker.

This idea that we need to “get out of the house”, that homemaking is “menial and degrading” is a LIE FROM HELL.

Consider this, in one of my all-time favorites, Sixpence in Her Shoe, written by Phyllis McGinley and published in 1960: I am one of an enormous, an antique sisterhood, each of us bent on much the same ends, all of us doing our able or our fumbling best to hold the planet steady on its axis by such primitive expedients as hanging window curtains, bandaging knees, or getting meals to the table on time.”

Proverbs 14:1 — “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”

Zero for Six Update

In case you didn’t know, Zero for Six is about doing zero of something(s) for six months. I’ve been experimenting with four areas in this adventure: spending, diet, words, and TV.

As usual, the TV isn’t really a thing. In weeks and weeks, the only thing I’ve watched, with and at her request, was Emma with my daughter. This the Romola Garai version and in two sittings. That’s it. I’m not counting watching excellent preachers and motivational/inspirational speakers such as Jennifer L. Scott, Creflo Dollar, Benjamin Hardy, and Terri Savelle. But even these, helpful and positive as they are, can become excessive escapism. How to know: Do I go and do what they’ve inspired me to do, or do I just go on to the next video?

What to do, what to do? Read, don’t watch! Read books by these people (Madame Chic books by Jennifer L. Scott should not be missed!). Write, don’t watch! Write your morning pages, your artist’s pages, your scribbles. Until those thoughts going through your brain–up, down, and all around and all the time–are put down on paper, you’ll struggle to sort them and make sense of them. And then speak–the solution, not the problem.

Words. I’m learning that less is more. Less problem speaking, opinon spewing, and “news” spreading makes for more victory. This is a battle I refuse to lose, and I’m willing to crucify pride in the pursuit of positive, life-filled, scripturally correct speaking. I’ve given my family not only permission, but a request to call me on it, when less than helpful words come out of my mouth. So, I’m not at zero negativity, but that’s the unchanging goal.

I’ve found that what I speak about diet, or as I’ve put it in past posts, not eating fatigue-inducing foods, is helpful. I’m not only speaking that it’s easy as pie to do intermittent fasting, but that I don’t really even like sugar. At all. I’m finding that speaking that I’m simply no longer interested in less-than-healthy and delicious foods makes that so. In talking about how high the cost and how low the benefit of eating out so often turns out to be, I am cooking with greater care and more satisfying outcomes.

A most satisfying outcome of eating at home is the money savings. I do consider eating out, in many cases, to be unnecessary spending. I’m making progress here. I’ve come to the place where I pay attention to my instincts, and where my stomach doesn’t rule me.

If I have a bit of doubt, I get out! While traveling in South Dakota, (80 mph speed limits on Interstate!!!) for instance, my daughter and I stopped at a steakhouse. We went inside and the decor didn’t wow me. Way too gray and minimalist, and an attempt at authenticity via a sawdust-covered floor that didn’t impress. We gave our names to a snarky hostess and I went to the rest room. In there two women were carrying on about their husbands, and it was evident they didn’t know about positive words. They were well versed in the various and creative ways to denigate their husbands with the F word, but past that their vocabularies were limited. And so their lives.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said to Hannah. We left town, ended up at a marvelous destination in the middle of the South Dakota prairie, where we had the best night’s sleep in two weeks–The Dakota Prairie Hunting Lodge. I’d made an excellent soup the day before and it came out of the ice chest and into the microwave. We then dined on the deck where we watched the sun set, listened to innumerable critters sing their evening songs, and enjoyed the breeze along with our delicious and satisfying meal.

The next day, after leaving Mount Rushmore (soooooooooooo marvelous) we had peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the car rather than stop and spend. We made it to Fort Collins, where John met us at the car rental place. I was so ready to go on home, and to not spend any more money, but when John said, “Are you hungry,” Hannah answered with a vigorous nod and “Yes!” Off we went for a delicous and delightful meal at 3 Margaritas. Was that unnecessary spending? Not at all.

The Opportunity Cost of Running and Hiding

I wanted John to take me away, to distract me from my wretched selfish self, but there were pesky things like roofers coming, a tow truck on its way to haul the tractor in for a new engine, the windshield man coming to put a new windshield in John’s truck, and I don’t remember what all else. I didn’t get my way, whaaaaaaaaah!

I didn’t get my way,

So it’s come to this–time to pray.

Not getting what I asked for

Life is such a bore.

Artist’s pages reveal

The thief is here to steal.

He’s taught me well to doubt

It’s time to kick him out.

——————————-

I hope you will forgive and bear with my rhyming fun. What I meant by “Artist’s pages reveal” was that when I began to journal (Julia Cameron calls it writing “artist’s pages” in The Artist’s Way) I saw what the enemy (John 10:10 says he comes to steal, kill, and destroy) was up to, and where I was giving him access.

I just so happened to have, lying next to me on the couch, I Never Learned to Doubt by Jesse Duplantis. Yes, I realized, I am doubting, and it’s making me miserable and a misery. I did some heavy duty repenting and heart-cleansing, some delving deep into my heart attitudes and among other things I came up with this: I am not to run and hide from the misery of doubt. I am to root it out!

If John would have taken me out for breakfast it would have been quite expensive–the opportunity cost of doing the one thing (often what we think we need and certainly what we want) is what we miss via that choice. I would have missed a heart-cleansing, a joy refreshing, a time with the One who heals me.

The Art of Conversation Creates Art

It was a lovely morning yesterday. Seth and I tried a new LaVazza variety (falling off the wagon a bit on this aspect of Zero For Six-ing, but more on that later) on the balcony. We likened the rustling of the Aspen leaves to the feel of clean cotton sheets, the breezes in the pines and the birdsong to music.

The conversation went and wound its way here and there, and somewhere in there I had a fantastic idea–a doable, practical example of how to remind our government that indeed, they work for us. I won’t go into the particulars of the idea, because I want to talk about the power of conversation.

We’re meant to have it, and it’s meant to produce ideas, solutions, revelations. It’s meant to connect hearts and minds and put us in the creativity zone. So, if our conversations aren’t producing this magical marvel, especially when we’re talking with our adult children, we can examine ourselves.

Do we listen carefully and thoughtfully? Do we interrupt? Do we have to be right? Are we taking a parental role when our family members are not asking for that? Just as we’re extra polite and considerate in our conversations with non-family folks, are we also with our beloveds? Do we remember that sometimes hearts simply want to be heard–not to hear our opinion?

When we don’t know the answer do we simply say, “I don’t know, but I will pray for wisdom, and I will pray for you to have wisdom, and all will be well”?

It’s helpful to remember that those who talk the most and loudest are often drowning out the words of those with the deepest and best thoughts. Just in case you’re like me, and maybe are a bit chatty, it could be time to put some art into our conversation.

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.

Zero For Six Going Strong

Mostly. I am not even missing non-essential viewing. Not one minute has been lost to TV since I began my four adventures. To re-cap, I began a quest on June 1: Let’s see what happens when (and if it’s possible) I attempt a six-month exit from the lands of: 1) TV watching; 2) fatiguing food consumption; 3) negative words; and 4) non-essential spending.

About that non-essential spending. Well . . . I bought two new outfits yesterday, and I won’t bore you with assertions of how essential these outfits are, of how long it’s been since I bought anything new, etc. I will say that John was trying to get me to go shopping for new clothes, and wasn’t giving up. I will say that there is no buyer’s remorse. I will say that I didn’t buy these clothes because they were on sale, which can often be likened to eating a bag of cookies because they’re low sodium. The satisfaction just isn’t there.

Moving on to what’s the toughest part–negative words. Boy, is this a process. It is helpful to me to keep on keeping on reading Psalms and Proverbs. Not only do I find therein continual evidence of the importance of words of life, of faith, but the help needed to stay the course.

And I pray. There are those tricky little areas that most people, including me, wouldn’t even notice as negativity. But upon further examination . . . when I think about the power of words, and that what I just said was a pronouncement of power, but not for good, I find so much of what I say is enforcing a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. “It is what it is,” is a dumb thing to say. It’s defeat. Talking the problem simply solidifies it in our minds as unsolvable.

I’d like to say, regarding consumption of fatiguing foods, that I’m doing soooo well, good, and fantastic! I’ll simply that that I’m making a bit of progress. My coffee consumption isn’t remaining at zero, but like the purchasing of those above-mentioned new outfits, I am making it special. For instance, yesterday. I split a piece of actually and truly made-from-scratch key lime pie with my daughter at Island Grill in Fort Collins, and had a cup of coffee that almost made me swoon when the server set it down under my nose. Since this was the appetizer and followed with a simply divine burger and cole slaw, I was not at all fatigued. Interesting concept: Food that is sometimes fatiguing can, done right, be energizing . . .

I am absolutely loving not watching. Not simply sitting and watching (and munching) I get a little more excited about life every single day. Might I suggest, ever so gently, that you consider a Zero For Six adventure quest of your own?

Thanks for joining me!

Now We’re Cooking With Nuts!

One of the innumerable blessings of homeschooling is abounding, wonderful, and marvelous wackiness. “You do know your brother is weird, don’t you?” asked my daughter’s friend. A better description is “uniquely quirky”. It was our Creator who decided each and every one of us would be unique in all the history of the world, and in so doing, made it impossible, no matter how hard we try, for any two of us to be alike–unweird. Normal.

Exploring normal. Normal breakfasts, for starters, are too fast and too cruel (like the remarks of that little girl who didn’t take the time to know my son before mis-pronouncing who and what he was). A not so normal breakfast is eggs scrambled by you and/or your children, maybe even from your own chickens, and eaten with homemade blueberry lemon muffins–baked by you and/or your children. Forget the fake OJ. This deserves a spot of tea.

“Normal” ice cream is filled with chemicals, egg substitutes, artificial flavors and colors, fake “milk” and high fructose corn syrup. Oh, and air. And not many nuts. Not so normal ice cream is made at home with such marvels as organic heavy whipping cream and eggs, finely ground vanilla beans and maybe a bit of lavender essential oil–to be had on a Saturday morning, or for brunch, or with a first breakfast of blackberry crumble made with oats, whole grain flours, sea salt, REAL butter, honey, and walnuts.

Or make that a peach crisp with pecans with a purely vanilla ice cream. Chocolate goes well with peanuts and peanut butter topping, or try adding toasted coconut and almonds to your almond flavored dream cream. It’s up to you–you’re unique and you deserve uniqueness, or rather, nuttiness.

This sort of thing will cause your daughter to dance on the dining room chairs and your honey to show you a ballet step you never saw before. Nuts, not normal–both of them. And yay!