“And so I began to dance with my life . . . ” – Shannon Ables

I’m reading Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life and at the above-mentioned sentence, I had to stop and share.

I can relate.  I had so many ideas for what to do with today, “something truly meaningful,” I prayed to God.  And then I wrote down the three things that would, I thought, be truly meaningful.  But thanks be to God, He, as usual, has a better idea.

So, here I sit before the fireplace, with the wood popping madly as the wind blows the snow horizontally outside, and I’m smelling John’s baking “chicken/turkey/bacon” enchiladas.  I’m ready for them, having only partaken today of a glass of Moscato, some Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups, and a cup of New Mexico Pinon coffee with plenty of organic heavy whipping cream – that shared first thing this morning with my gem of a son, Seth.

As Seth made the coffee in the beautiful French press (present from him for Christmas – lovely deep red in color), I prayed that another gem of a son, Benjamin who is in Kuwait, would call.  I dressed in favorite old jeans and a marvelously comfy sweater and sat quietly, and when the phone rang I knew it was him.  A truly meaningful day, and it’s only just begun.

I first opened my eyes this morning to the rocks on the bluff gleaming gold, and diamonds in the snow.  But by the time I finished a long and lovely chat with my son, the sky was threatening snow big time.

It was a good day, I reckoned, to visit the post office, pick up the mail, and send cards and letters.  I wrote what I believe is a fun letter to a dearly beloved young man who is in prison, and tucked it inside a small package along with Louis L’Amour’s Ride the River, which is about Echo Sackett.  I covered the package with real stamps (more romantic than stickers) and got a special “Love” stamp for the fun greeting card I also put in the mail today.

We, my Valentine John and I, went next to the Library – they had called and said I had books in!!!   It was a lovely stack:  Through the French Door by Carolyn Westbrook, Really Rural by Marie-France Boyer, Fight Like a Girl by Lisa Bevere, The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Classen, and finally, Shannon Ables’ Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life, to which I plan to return right after those enchiladas . . .

Later in the Truly Meaningful day

The enchiladas were EXACTLY the thing for a cold February day in the Rockies, and I made for sure and for certain the cook knew he was appreciated.  Hugs and kisses and thanks and more thanks.  “Yum, oh, yum, you must remember exactly what you put in these,” etc. (It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s Valentine’s week at our house).

And now I’m back to what makes any day truly worthwhile:  a good book.  I must pick up where I left off:  “And so I began to dance with my life . . .”

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.

 

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).

Love Reasons and the Loveliness of “No”

There is a child in my church who looks like a fairy wood sprite.  Her hair is white, her skin almond pink, and her large and luminous aqua eyes slant up with intelligence.

Her voice is intriguing, and for me it defies describing.  Perhaps because I am more interested in the mobility and expressiveness of her face when she’s talking.  Were it not for the new daddy in her life who understands the value and loveliness of the word, “No,” this child might be easy prey for the enemy of her soul someday.

But the fairy wood sprite is winning, and if this new daddy has his way, her entire life will be a fairy tale.  She is learning that she is royalty, deserving of all the best things, which include discipline.

I usually sneak peaks at this child from afar, but Sunday I went so far as to kiss her white head when she wore a bit of a frown on that dear face.  “Here’s a feel- better kiss,” I told her as she passed, and was gratified to see her smile as she walked away.

This child doesn’t need yet another adult fawning over her beauty, trying to make points with her mom and grandma by giving her whatever she wants, feeling sorry for her because (until lately) she was daddy-less.

If this child does what most kids do, she will act up a bit now and again.  And again.  If her parents do what most parents do, they will ground her, speak sternly to her, get angry and tell everyone who will listen all about it.

But if these parents are bold and brave because they know they’ve done the training, the nurturing, the hard part in saying “No” when it needed saying, they will also have the strength and wisdom to speak straight to this child.

I imagine such a scenario as this:  “The answer is ‘No'”, Dad says, (parents agreeing ahead of time after prayers together for wisdom) “And I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why.”

Child looking mutinous, still standing, so very wronged is she.

“Sit down.  I want to look you in the eye because I want you to see the love in my eyes.”

Child sits.

“So many reasons.  The phone is keeping you awake, keeping you from other activities, making us feel left out of your life, exposing you to things that may or may not be healthy for you.”  Mom thinking the main reason is that the more her child is hooked up to electronic devices, the less respect she shows her parents, and she chases a niggling thought that sounds something like, “And whose fault is that?”

Child rolling eyes.

“Please don’t do that.  Do I ever do that to you?  Because if I do, if you learned that from me, I sincerely apologize and give you leave right now to call me on it if I ever do.”

No comment.

“But there is another reason.  I call it The Love Reason.  The reason that someone who loves to make you happy, who loves to see your smile and hear your laughter, who wishes every moment of your day was pure joy – the reason such a one as your ma or I can say the dreaded “N” word is The Love Reason.

Child looking interested, alert.

“See, if I notice a kid in the store hooked up to her phone, it exasperates me.  But when it’s the child God gave me to love, in kicks The Love Reason.  The Love Reason is also God’s reason.  He says “No” about certain things because He loves us and doesn’t want our enemy to get at us.”

“He has high hopes for us, a destiny planned, a hope and future beyond what we can ask or think or even imagine.  So, you could just say my Love Reason is Love.  I love you and don’t want you harmed, hindered, or set back.  I don’t want you following the crowd and not going on your particular and beautiful adventure path in life.

Child listening.

“It’s my job.  God gave you to me as a responsibility and a gift to steward.  Even God Himself doesn’t own you – He wants you to give your life to Him willingly.  But He does have Love Rights.  Love Rights include the right to say “No”.

“So, Love Reasons and Love Rights. I could bore you with all the science behind what that phone’s doing to your fine brain, but suffice it to say watching instead of creating and doing shrinks the imagination part of the brain.  I think we can agree imagination is a marvelous and precious thing.”

Child nods just a little.

“So, here’s the deal:  Along with the No Thing I’m going to do the Hard Thing.  I’m going to put myself at your disposal to facilitate electronic alternatives – creative, action things that you can think of to do.”

Parent wonders what possessed him to make this offer – Mom raises eyebrows very high.

Child is quick on the draw.  “I want you to help me build a canoe, and take me fishing.  And my bike tire is flat.  Plus Mom said we could have a tea party and I want to do that.  Tomorrow afternoon.  So, maybe we need to go to the store right now to get the stuff.”

Mom is laughing right out loud.  Dad takes deep breath.

“Well, it just so happens I’ve been looking at canoe plans on the Net.  Let’s go to the garage and see what we have and what we need, then we’ll go to Home Depot and the grocery store.”

“Isn’t that technology, looking on the net at canoe stuff?”

“Why yes, it is.  But I wasn’t just watching people build, and fish in, canoes.  I’ve been finding out how they did it.  And we’ll make one even better.  I’m thinking your canoe should have pontoon floaters on the sides so it won’t tip if you want to stand up and fly fish.”

“Can we make a campfire and cook the fish at the lake?”

“Absolutely.”

Phone forgotten.

What Homeschoolers Need Most is What We All Need Most

There are so many excellent resources for homeschooling parents, but how to choose?  So many opportunities, but which ones to forgo?  This is a big deal, and it must be done right!  Right?

Know your child via time with your child’s Maker.  You MUST pray for and receive the wisdom of God for each child.  Individually.  You have birthed an individual, unique in all the world, indeed, in all the history of the world.  One of your many excellent reasons for homeschooling is to train this child up into the fullness and wonder of that uniqueness.

So, get to know your child.  This, dear parent, is a lifelong process, and you are called to it.  As a parent, we partner with God to create and give and nurture life.  It is a lovely process of discovery, and today is the day to begin!

Seek God’s face and His grace.  Ask Him and He will answer.  My experience homeschooling taught me that He really likes to get involved in this marvelous escapade!  He wants you to know Him, and He wants to reveal the heart of your child unto you.  Blessed, so blessed are you.

What do we all need?  To know and to be known.  Give yourself and your child a gift so far beyond curriculum, field trips, and co-op activities.  Give yourself up to the wonderful journey of getting to know God, who will reveal to you yourself, and the heart of your child as well.

OK!  Yay!

“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.

 

Bodacious Faith, Roma Downey, Emilie Barnes, Laura Calder, Abigail Adams and More! Friday at 2:00 on The Homefront Show

If you’re like me, sometimes you need a little extra strength.   And a little, no, make that a lot more love.  A little faith, no a lot more faith.  There’s a song about having “a little faith” and it sounds all pious but it’s not.  God is not the god of just a little bit.  No more than we want our kids to sniff the spinach bowl and disdain the roast beef rather than enjoy the entire meal – no more than that does God want us to take just a little bit.

In the secular college where I studied economics, we were taught scarcity of resources, just as Satan intends we all be taught. Rather than being taught to simply create more pie, we are taught about that one measly pie.  By people of greed and lack we are taught greed and lack.  We have limited, scarcity, I’d-better-not-expect-too-much, if-I-prosper-that means-someone-else-can’t (but too bad for them), mentalities.

But God wants to give us all the good and then embellish it! He wants to give us the truck farm of spinach and serve up helpings of it along with the steak from our cattle on a thousand hills and finish it off with key lime pie shared with the neighbors under twinkle lights on our big decks built out over the water.

Livnig water. My nephew’s son has had an intestinal issue lately and they think it may be too much swimming in the river, which is low right now, stagnant.  Folks, we are all putting up with low water, swimming in stagnant water, and completely doing without the readily available living water of Jesus.

We think in lack. Even those of us with money in the bank think in lack.  Always in a defensive, “yeah but, what if” mentality.  And almost guaranteeing that the lack will come (we say what we believe and we have what we say, we get what we expect), and  even if it doesn’t come, we never enjoy what we have and where we are.

So, we need faith. I’m going to talk a little, but say a lot, about faith today, bodacious faith.  And we’ll see how so many things flow out of faith, and flow into faith.  We’ll see a cycle of faith.

So call anyone you know who struggles with doubt, who frets and worries, who has anxiety lines right between her eyes (anyone who is a human, especially a human female) and tell them:

http://www.1360am.co is the place to go, for The Homefront Show.

Also today we’ll talk about the power of posture and poise, about the Inviting Life,`Housekeeping Howevers, baking pineapple for brunch, about being a COI per Krista Dunlap, and from The Founder’s Bible we’ll see how two of our founding parents had great expectations for their children.  I’ll feature Roma Downey’s book, Box of Butterflies, and Emilie Barnes’ Tea Lover’s Devotional.  And we’ll begin today’s show with beauty AND PERHAPS A CORRECTION, from Psalm 19:12.

All this and more today at 2:00 Mountain Time at www.1360am.co