Proverbs 14 – The Wise Woman Builds . . .

If you read the Proverb of the Day you’ll see today’s first verse (Proverbs 14:1) tells us that the wise woman builds her house. Digging into this we find “house” referring not only to a physical dwelling place, but also meaning “family.” The rest of the verse tells us that a foolish woman pulls her house down with her own hands, but let us now talk about how to build, how to be wise.

It always begins with humble and yet ferociously faithful prayer. Would you see your house as a strong and sure shelter for the hearts of all those you’ve been given to love? Do you want to build, nurture, partner with God Himself as a grace architect? Pray first. First pray. Pray, intercede, fight the good fight of faith for those you’ve been given to love. To Love.

This is serious business, this Love. This is God. We hear and say, “God is Love” and we go on and act like He’s a tyrant, not to be trusted. Well, there is one way out of that destructive thinking, and it begins with a determination to build, to obliterate the lies of the enemy, to be as Paul, “not unaware of his schemes.” In short, (this is too simple) read the Word of God.

You can begin with the Proverb of the Day–today’s the 14th, so read Proverbs 14, then get lifted with Psalms, taking your sweet time with sweet Jesus. Read some of His words in the Gospel of John, maybe try some GE Power from Galatians and Ephesians (I can’t ever read too much of Ephesians). And back to Proverbs for some scriptures on the power of the tongue, maybe . . . then full circle back to that house building.

Proverbs 14:11 tells us ” . . . the tent of the upright will flourish. Flourish–I like the sound of that, and find it defined thus in Strong’s Concordance: pârach, paw-rakh’; a primitive root; to break forth as a bud, i.e. bloom; generally, to spread; specifically, to fly (as extending the wings); figuratively, to flourish:—abroad, abundantly, blossom, break forth (out), bud, flourish, make fly, grow, spread, spring (up).

So, let’s go back to that “upright” business, as we surely want our tents to flourish. Again, from Strong’s: straight, upright, correct, right. It is straight, upright, correct, and right that we wise women build our houses–our beloveds–with faith-filled, Word-based prayer. We don’t need to talk about it, or plan ahead and dress up for it. Just do it right this very minute. Now!

“Father, I thank you for those you’ve given me to love. Let me Love as You Love. Show me how to build my house. Reveal any place I’m tearing it down. Teach me, reveal to me the glory and privilege of being Your ambassador to my beloveds. Help me to be wise. In You. Amen.”

Life is Good. Worry is bad.

I live with kind and undemanding folks, which sounds like a very good thing, right? But it can cause me to get a bit selfish and too into my own thing, which never seems to satisfy my soul. So, in my recent adventures in doing less and going my own way more, I am reminded of what I should KNOW by by: There is satisfaction in sharing, satisfaction in sacrifice.

And I am reminded of my mantra: A smart girl like you oughtta be able to figure this out. Of what am I speaking? I am speaking of the lack of shared meals happening of late at House of Parker.

We all have differing schedules, dietary preferences, and priorities–one person gets up at 3:30 a.m and is home any time between noon and 5:00; another gets off work at 11:00 p.m. The easy thing is to just say, “Who cares?”

The voice plaguing me says they don’t know or appreciate what it takes to put healthy meals on the table; it takes too much time; we’re in a new season and it doesn’t matter that much anyway. “Reason” continues: If I cook what they want it’s too hard to stay low-carb; let them cook their own–they know how.

And yes, they can and often do “cook their own” with the attendant continually messy kitchen, use of ingredients meant for other things, formation of unhealthy habits, and a general state of culinary chaos.

But that isn’t “the thing” really. The thing is that we no longer have “Table Share”. When I read a beautiful quote, or hear an amazing tale which simply must be shared for the joy and edification of all parties, for the common bond created via the ensuing good conversation, the best opportunity for doing so–while enjoying a meal–is unavailable.

What then shall a smart girl do? Give up? Sigh? Call someone and gripe (true friends share joys, not gripes)? No, she changes things here and there. She calls a family meeting first of all, enticing everyone with milk and no-bakes (chocolate oatmeal cookies cooked stovetop with plenty of butter, vanilla, salt, maybe some peanut butter and almond flavoring, and a bit more salt than called for).

In this meeting it is discerned that everyone is fine with her having more time to “do whatever” she wants, and that she should just “make herself happy”. And so . . . the hope that they will tell her what to do, how to solve this issue about which she is apparently the only one who cares, fades into more of the voices: It doesn’t matter; no one cares; you’re the only one bothered by this.

I own it. I am bothered by this, and that’s reason enough to do something about it, and I will find a solution.

So here it is: Breakfast together will be in the form of a weekend brunch; we’ll have dinner together (sort of–when it’s possible) and I will have beautiful times alone, as well as lovely times with only one of my beloveds at a time per their schedules, and on those marvelous times we’re all available, it will be all the more beautiful and lovely for the rarity.

And I will relax, and live in the unforced rhythms of grace given by my Creator. Because it always comes down to this: As smart as I am, He is smarter. He cares about what I care about, and He cares about me.

So rather than losing my creative juices via fretting, I will stop. Rest. And make my darlings happy by making myself happy. I will live each and every day without a plan or a goal, except to receive what God has for me–peace and love and joy–and pass it on. If that happens to be over a meal, so much the better.

Life is good. Worry is bad.

What Would Smith Wigglesworth or a mom do?

The March 21 offering in Devotional by Smith Wigglesworth is the tale of a miracle healing, wherein before Smith came on the scene God prepared a woman’s heart to receive. This was a handy thing for me to be reading, as my son came to ask for healing prayer just after I finished. My heart was prepared to pray, and I wanted his heart prepared as well.

“First,” I answered, “Sit down and do me the honor of letting me read this to you.” Benjamin sat and I read Smith’s marvelous story, beginning with Matthew 8:17: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

After finishing the devotion, I took Benjamin’s right hand and wrist (where the pain was) and began praying, during which action I was impressed to remind my son that his name means “Son of the Right Hand.” There was much more, and he received more than healing. He received encouragement.

I didn’t wake up encouraged today, and I was in no mood to encourage anyone else. But then there came that miracle thing called Quiet Time, and I was encouraged by the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John; then by Paul in I Corinthians with Love words, and David speaking straight to my heart in Psalms.

In Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest I was struck by the statement, “I have been identified with Him in His death.” Pondering this, I read from Smith Wigglesworth, focusing on the fifth verse of Isaiah 53: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

I choose to identify myself with The Healer.

The final thought in this devotion is, “One bit of unbelief against the Word is poison.”

He IS the Healer. Amen.

Control or Contentment? Success or Selfishness?

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

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

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

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

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

Did I Say Enough About Respect?

I’m wondering if I said enough about respect in The Maker’s Marriage. And did I say enough about the personal blindness engendered when we look at others’ (our husbands’) faults? Most of all, did I get across the bottom line: It’s not about me, you, our mates–it’s about our relationship with Jesus.

Do we respect the Lord of all good and glorious gifts? Or, do we disrespect Him, and thereby assure that our marriages are not good or glorious or gifts at all?

Apart from Him (which is where I live when I choose my own stupidly selfish way) I not only can do nothing worthwhile, I have nothing worthwhile, and can therefore give nothing worthwhile.

This Christmas, why not give the gift of respect.? I mean to, for sure and for certain. Amen.

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.

Mama, You’ve Got the Goods

One of the reasons Satan hates mothers so much is because that’s who has always defeated him–mamas in the trenches, fighting the “good fight” of faith. We’re not on TV, no one knows our names. There are books about famous Christian women who changed history, but the fact is no one book could hold all our names. You and I, in prayer right now, are changing history. We don’t need other people to know, because God knows.

I am loving Colleen Mitchell’s words in Who Does He Say You Are?: “God designed as a first earthly home for himself the pefect vessel, the receptacle of grace without flaw, and it was a woman . . . “ We women, receptacles of grace and banded in prayer, are breaking the back of the evil that besets our children from every side. I, for one, am refusing the unending pressure to put anything and everything before prayer and warfare.

We begin to win when we defeat the lies of “feminism” and turn to our Maker, in perfectly lovely femininity, saying “Yes” to the lover of our souls. More from Colleen Mitchell: “We stand together under the shadow of the spirit, and the Most High God comes to dwell in us–in you and me. It only takes our yes.”

It only takes our yes. She continues, “And the yes releases the wild grace of growth, of swelling hope in us, of an intimate relationship with the one who is saving us even as we carry him.”

Father, help me to make you more at home in me. Again, Colleen Mitchell: “And when we have grown full and stretched wide to cradle this light, we open ourselves to its pushing, and it spills out of us, a love and a life that brings saving life to all who long for it.”

Ladies, we’re “it” and we’re here, to quote a marvelous man named Mordecai, “for such a time as this.” We’re here for “life that brings saving life . . .”

P.S. This aint for sissies, so don’t expect any of it, ever, to be easy. But do expect, and accept nothing else but, Victory!

P.P.S. All women are Mamas, even if our kids are grown, or don’t speak to us, or we never had biological children. As Christian women who hold Jesus in our hearts, we see all children as ours. We are Mamas, and we’ve got the goods!

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 and Coffee? I Can’t be Serious!

I went for LaVazza Super Crema, but when I saw that the yet-untried LaVazza Gran Espresso had “notes” of cocoa and black pepper, I called my partner-in-coffee crimes, Seth. “I would be honored to try Gran Espress,” he responded. I could hear him grinning. “Notes” it would be.

The cool thing was that I could taste the cocoa, and that the black pepper was so good it made me extremely happy. Having gotten my cup first, I said to Seth, “You’re going to like this.” Sure enough. The uncool thing was that I didn’t stop with one cup, and the second one gave me a bit of a headache.

There is so much to be said for, so much to be gained from stopping with that one cup, that one serving. Savoring, enjoying, focusing on, being grateful for, that one lovely cup. More is not always better.

I don’t think I’m alone in over-endorsing the belief that, as Mary Engelbreit put it, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Sometimes definitely yes, sometimes absolutely not. It’s called moderation, it’s called balance, it’s called not swinging from one extreme to the other, landing on one ditch or the other–all or nothing! I won’t have coffee for six months!

Why then, am I doing this, if I’m (obviously) doomed to failure? Because what’s obvious is not always true. I may fail now and again, but I’m still moving forward, still learning how to walk wisely in this high place of grace.

So, it’s about grace. God knows I want to do this, to take care of my health, and He knows I want to enjoy excellent French Press coffee with my son. He also knows that I need to move to a place of quality, not quantity, and believe it or not, you can learn that from coffee!

My Zero For Six adventure, as regarding coffee, is Zero consumption of fatiguing foods for six months. I never supposed I would have 100% on this quest. I am simply taking it step by step, and hoping, praying, believing He is with me.