The Power of Harmony . . .

After giving thanks and more thanks (when I open my eyes and am still snug under the covers) I read my devotionals: Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, and Faith to Faith by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. This morning’s Faith to Faith mentioned “the power of harmony” and when I hear about power, I listen up. So, please, listen up and let us ponder and consider:

Strife drops the shield of faith, stops prayer results and invites Satan and his cohorts into your midst. Discord is deadly. It paralyzes the power of God in your life.

Don’t allow the enemy to stop you at your own front door by allowing strife in your home. If you do, you’ll be no threat to him anywhere else.

Put the power of harmony to work in your family.

I say “Amen to that!”

Home-First Hospitality

Today’s Henri Nouwen Society offering spoke to my heart and I want to share it, then offer my thoughts, so please read beautiful Henri thoughts, and consider mine.

Henri:

Hospitality
Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. . . . The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adore the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.

Bev’s:

I read these beautiful thoughts on hospitality, made a comment, and then considered the comments offered, where one wise man said in a nutshell, “One-on-one hospitality is the cure for the world’s ills.”

Let it begin at home. Let us be open to the wounds and ugliness of each others’ hearts and personalities. Let us seek reasons and ways to bless and pray for–not the world first–those with whom we share our dwellings. Let us, as Henri exhorts us to, ” . . . offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

Freedom. Let us emulate Christ by offering a “free indeed” hospitality. No, this doesn’t mean anything goes. Just Love.

Love doesn’t always keep still and quiet, any more than love mouths off in anger. Love abides in God, Who is Love, and seeks His ways, grace, understanding, wisdom, and even knowledge of what’s in the wounded and precious hearts with whom we live. Love is patient, kind, at peace, hospitable.

Hospitality is Love. Or is meant to be. Again, let it begin at home, where all good things begin and end, Amen.

And Another Thing–Great Cookbooks!

I just finished a post about things found during cleaning and organizing, and I forgot about my cookbooks. Here’s what happened. I’m clearing off the top of the fridge (the best place in my small kitchen for large bowl storage) and what to my wondering eyes do appear, but several cookbooks.

Once upon a time I put some favorite cookbooks in theretofore unused cabinet space atop the fridge, and then promptly forgot about them. When I spied them as I wiped down the nasty fridge top my first thought was, “Oh, this is where I put it!” I peered at the titles and sure enough The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham was among the treasures. Also found (forgot I had this gem, so wasn’t really looking for it) was Better than Storebought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie.

Better than Storebought promises and delivers solutions to the ever-present problem of high prices for low quality grocery store offerings. “This is a book,” says the book jacket, for cooks “. . . who love good, real food . . . . “for cooks who prefer to make more cheaply . . . foods . . . that wear grand-scale price-tags . . . for curious and questing cooks who enjoy the creation of intriguing edibles . . .”

As for “intriguing edibles” The Breakfast Book is a celebration of breakfast, with offerings such as knotthole and featherbed eggs, muesli ballymaloe, dewey buns and buttermilk breakfast doughnuts, because, as Marion Cunningham says, “Homemade doughnuts and fritters have their very own marvelous character, better than anything you can buy out and about.”

Well, there are some fairly marvelous pastries “out and about” in my area, but they also have some fairly marvelous price tags.

So, as I’ve said and will no doubt say again, “Do try this at home, with what’s right under your nose.”

It’s Amazing What You Can Find

Each time I do a bit of straightening I am amazed anew at what’s right under my nose, what treasures are in my house. In a recent re-rereading of Alexandra Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life I was inspired to deal with some of those little things, those seemingly unimportant details, which get let go when life, elections, holidays and worldwide pre-planned panic attacks occur simultaneously.

Renewing a friendship with old fave authors is the very thing when taking to heart God’s admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled.” And if that trusted friend reminds me of an old truth–that the beauty of small things are worth notice and even close attention–it’s off to the races.

Yesterday I cleared my mind as I cleared drawers and closets. I gladdened my heart as I cleaned and organized my pantry. Heeding Alexandra, I made my fridge a joy to behold–everything straight, neat, and beautiful. I even took the eggs out of the big egg flats and put them into a lovely burlap-sided fridge basket. I may have to pause here and go stare into my fridge.

Homemaking is art.

And art, no matter who says otherwise, pays. It pays to discover there are peppercorns in the pantry, when I had decided I must have been mistaken about buying them. It pays to find my tape measure when I’m going through drawers in the utility room (I had decided to buy a new one). There was great joy in my heart when I found missing lingerie (I had decided I must have given this item away, and wondered why) when I cleared and organized my lingerie chest.

And the great joy to be had simply by straightening shoes in the closet and finding the missing mitten (one I personally knitted which therefore has a bit more “personality” than your ordinary mitten) I’ve been searching for and mourning for almost a year–this is good news, Reader. Why isn’t it on national TV? Bev found her mitten!

And in her Lazy Susan what did she find? As always, lids without bottoms and bottoms without lids (I store containers and a few other items in the Lazy Susan cabinet to the right of my kitchen sink). But I also created order out of chaos as I made my kitchen a bit more user-friendly, and a lot more attractive.

And what wondrous joys await me today? Today, or so I say, I am going to clean the “junk drawer.” I can see myself now: throwing this away and that away and this away and that away; putting the stick pins in thier own little slot, the rubber bands all together; and rejoicing in the “finds”, those things that got stuck in the drawer because I didn’t know what else to do with them. But now I will know.

You can say I am easily entertained, and I will agree with you. It’s quite the life skill, and as I said, it’s amazing what you can find. At home. Right under your nose.

New Sound

Day in and day out I am reading scriptures about praising God, about shouting, singing, going into battle prefaced and protected by songs of praise. Last night as I went to sleep I began singing snatches of a forgotten song, and as it began to come together I sang it over and over, knowing my sleep would be sound, my dreams beautiful.

Phil Driscoll’s New Sound was, I believe, a gift to my heart from the Holy Spirit. There’s a new sound in the earth, there’s a new voice to be heard.

Listen. Be blessed. Praise Him.

Evacuated Yet Again, But My House Will Stand!

It was a Thursday morning, five or six weeks ago, bright and beautiful, during my Quiet Time.  I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “Take care of business at home.”  What did that mean?  I prayed about it, for my home and beloveds therein.  I walked through the house, praying, listening, and felt led to go outside.

Outside I walked around the house, praying God’s protection over it.  I then felt led to turn and extend my arms in all directions, praying for all that I could see.

That evening my daughter said, looking outside, “Look at the light, it’s so golden, so beautiful.”  John and I looked, and then at each other.  “That’s not normal.”  From the west it was, the light of a sun setting through the smoke of a forest fire.

I called the daughter who lives safely down the mountain and told her what I’d been led to pray, and that there was a fire, the “Cameron Peak” fire.  “That’s wild, Mom,” she said. “I had a dream last night that the entire mountain was on fire.”

A week or so later (during Labor Day weekend) we were evacuated.  After a few days in the friendliest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, the Cheyenne, Wyoming Days Inn, we were allowed back home.  A lovely rain and snow storm seemed to have defeated the monster.

But alas, here we are again, in Day 10 of Evac #2.  The winds came along with the heat, dead timber, rough and inaccessible terrain and the fire re-ignited, growing to today’s acreage of over 124,000 acres.

Many people are in shelters, their possessions piled about them, wearing masks, coughing from smoke.  Others, like a lovely couple I ran into yesterday are struggling because they’re staying in a condo without a TV.  We are pitied because there are four of us in one hotel room.

Perspective.  I choose a 5-Star perspective, to borrow from Fiona Ferris in her lovely book, Thirty More Chic Days.  Fiona noted that if you read the 1-star reviews of a book, even one you’ve read and loved, it will taint your opinion of the book.  She’s decided to only read the 5-star reviews, as those will enhance your experience and enjoyment of the book.

I would add that the 5-star reviews are written by people who are thankful.  If they were masked and in a shelter, they’d be ever so grateful for the heat and running water.  If they had a condo, TV or otherwise, they’d be glad, glad, glad they could afford privacy.  If like us, they were in a hotel, they’d be grateful for the funds (our employer is paying, hooray!) to cozy up and get acquainted with the charming town of Cheyenne.

It takes a bit of wisdom and smarts to be thankful.  It takes nothing but bowing to the flesh, which anyone can do, to gripe.

So, even though I really want to go home, I’m making the most of, praying for ideas of how to spend, each day.  And I’m knowing we’ll be home when we go home.  Meanwhile, home is where my beloveds are, and our good God is always there.

If it doesn’t feel like it (such as a few days ago when the winds came up to 60 mph and the fire went straight toward our house) it’s because I’m not doing a 5-star lookout.  A 5-star lookout means my mind’s working right and is certain that I was led to pray protection for my home, and that my home is protected.

We have also been praying for protection for our firefighters and thus far (and we’re believing this will continue) there have been no injuries reported.  Numerous structures have been destroyed, but again, no injuries, no lives lost.

Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me to be thankful.  And please bless this lovely coffee shop we’ve found in Cheyenne, The Rail Yard, which had we not been evacuated, I might never have discovered.

I think I’ll do a post about my Cheyenne discoveries.

Doors to Delight in the Details of Daily Life

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.

Writing and Home and Good Advice

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.

What I Did on My Corona Vacation

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 dreamUninterrupted.  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!

You’re Not “Stuck” at Home. You’re Having the Time of Your Life, Homeschooling, That is!

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.

  1.  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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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!
  10. “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.”
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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!).
  17. 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.
  18. Be sure they know that you see this time with them, this family time, as a marvelous treat, a wonderful blessing.  Tell them this.
  19. Don’t try to cram too much into your days.  Seek a lifestyle of His unforced rhythms of grace.
  20. 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.