Pentecost, and all Things Richly to Enjoy

 

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

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

Not good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

“Well, who do you think is pretty?”

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When my daughter Jane was ten and carrying on about the latest Hollywood sensations, John pulled a face at her taste.  “Well, who do you think is pretty?” she demanded.

“You.  Your mother.  My mother, my granny, my sister,” he replied.  Out of all the brilliant things John has said, that was one of the most brilliant.

That was years ago, but this morning I awoke thinking about how our society makes heroes out of quite and very unheroic women, at least as compared to those near and dear to me.  What, I wondered, would I say to anyone asking me, not who was pretty, but who was beautiful, heroic, worthy of praise and emulation in my life?

“My mother, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, my friends, my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.”

I remember my dad talking about my grandmother chasing a poisonous snake who was trying to escape under their house.  “You’ll not get near these children,” she shouted as she brought a garden hoe down on it, severing it’s head.  When I was little she used to put The Happy Goodmans on to play for me.  She deftly peeled what may have been the world’s best tomatoes (grown in her weedless garden) with her ever sharp paring knife, sliced them into thick, fat, juicy slices and served them to me with salt.   One day, I vowed, I would do that for someone.

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But how would I ever emulate my momI’ll never be as strong as she is was my silent concern.  She never stopped moving except maybe once on “slow” days for a cup of coffee and a Lucky Strike.  She was up before us to put a fantastic breakfast (a platter full of meat, eggs, biscuits, gravy) on the table, to starch our jeans, and then off (for the second time) to her many-thousand chickens.  She was up waiting when I got home from basketball games (once it was 2:00 a.m. and there she stood, leaning on the kitchen counter for support, smoking her Lucky Strike).  She didn’t say “I love you” she did love.

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And then there’s my mother-in-law who taught my manly man husband to cook, can, sew, clean, iron, and to always be clean, neat, and presentable.  So when our youngest, Seth, was born, John brought the older three to the hospital looking like little dolls.  The nurses went on about it.  “Who dressed those kids?” one asked.  I was bewildered.  Who do you think? 

“John did,” I told her.  “Well, I never!” she said.  “Just look at them.  All spit and polish!”  And so I looked.  Their clothes were ironed, Benjamin’s hair parted perfectly, the girls’ hair curled, their eyes shining.  In other words, looking like kids should look when they’re coming to see their new sibling and their mother.  Did other dads bring the kids to see mom looking any other way?  Evidently.  Talk about dumb as a post.

And who was to thank for that?  My mother-in-law.  Well, and John being smarter than a post.

And then there are my sisters-in-law (brothers’ wives) who stayed with my brothers through thick and thin, who are excellent mothers, citizens, and friends.  As for John’s sister, even when her life was falling COMPLETELY apart, she was fun, kind, and positive.  How many women “leaders” can say that?  These sisters of mine!  All of them are absolutely indispensable to the welfare of all of us blessed by their presences in our lives.  I really could never say enough about any of them.

I won’t even start with my friends, except to say that my dad was right when he said to me years ago, “Bev, you’ve always had truly good friends.”  Indeed I have.  They have filled gaps, dried tears, inspired, listened, commiserated, advised, and loved me through some pretty dark days.  Real women, that’s what they are.

And then there are my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.  Let me just say right here that there aren’t a handful of movie stars in history as lovely as these young women, as brilliant, funny, kind, or true.

I’ve said all this to say that we might stop taking note of celebrities who we’ll most likely never even meet, and start celebrating those women near and dear.

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The Stupid Question: What About Socialization?

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“Precisely.”

That’s what to say when you’re asked this most aggravating and ignorant of questions about why your child isn’t being institutionalized.

“But aren’t you concerned about socialization?”

“Yes.  That’s one of the reasons we homeschool.”

Total confusion on their part.

Patient sigh on yours.

“First of all, we aren’t socialists.  We don’t believe the state knows best.  We don’t believe the state owns us or our children.”

“Secondly, we don’t think hanging out all day long (mostly sitting) with ignorant little kids who look, talk, dress, and are in more ways than not, exactly alike, is proper socialization. ”

“In fact, we think it’s extremely unnatural, unhealthy, and stifling.”

Oh, and we’re too nice to say so, but it’s your kids and grandkids (it’s mostly old fools who come after us on this)  who won’t look us in the eyes when we attempt to converse with them, who mutter or don’t answer at all, who display an alarming dearth of original thought and logic if they do venture an opinion, not our poor little homeschooled “hicks.”

We have always gotten compliments on our kids – on their ability to converse with people of all ages, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and races; on their friendliness, kindness, respect, and their obvious enjoyment of life and each other.

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Yes, you can search and find kids like ours, and they may even be kids who are public-schooled.  Don’t know, haven’t seen that very much.  But why go to the trouble?  Why not just homeschool?

Yes, your kids will miss out if you homeschool.  They’ll miss out on being bullied or becoming bullies, on easy access to drugs, sex, alcohol and porn.  They won’t learn about being one of the “in crowd” or being “cool” and “popular.”  In short, they won’t be social monstrosities, with mountain-tall egos, or “nerds” who hate school.  And if you have even the smallest of success, you will raise individuals who miss out on becoming followers.

You, too, will miss out if you homeschool your children.  You’ll miss them turning into hellions during their teen years.  You’ll miss them losing respect for you and your beliefs, and you’ll miss becoming an embarrassment to their social little arses.

If you homeschool, you’ll miss out on being politically correct and socially acceptable.  And yes, you’ll have to deal with the stupid question.  I’ve given you a few answers, and here are a couple more:  “Who and what successes qualify you to judge me?”, and, “So, what hole do you live in (speaking of socialization) so that you don’t know the abysmal failure public education in America has been proven to be, no matter how you measure it.”

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “no matter how you measure it.”  Because if your goal is turning out good little robots who lose their sense of personal worth, individual creative prowess, and dare I say, common sense and kindness, then maybe public school is a roaring success.

Go ahead, in the name of socialization, steal your child’s childhood.  Take away his time to play, invent, create, read, read, read, commune with God and nature, and grow into the person God intended, so that he can change the world.

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Look around you.  Do we need even one more just-like-everybody-else person?  Your child is unique in all the world, in all the history of the world.  It will take a huge and concerted effort to make her just like everyone else – socialized.  In fact, you can’t do it alone.  You’ll need all the help you can get to stamp out all that originality and wonder.  Hooray, there’s public education in America!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Men

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I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.

If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”

I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”

“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.

“Kind,” said Seth.  “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.

I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be:  kind and stalwart. 

And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.

Family First?

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Or last?

One of the many beauties of home education is that family comes first, naturally.  The fruits of that, provided grace is in place, are unlimited, and this was brought home to me recently when I read an article about eliminating negative people (especially those who hinder living in faith and love) from our lives.

I respect the author of this article, and gave serious thought to her words.  Was I not eliminating such people out of fear of conflict, or perhaps because I’m too nice?  Were they truly a hindrance?  There was no question that these people are difficult and tiring, but were they really a problem?  A spiritual roadblock?

No.  And here’s why:  My family keeps me strong, on track.  We pray with and for each other, and with and for others, every single day.  When I am brought down by someone or something and make my fall evident with frustration and negativity, someone in my family will do as I’ve asked them to do:  Don’t let me get away with it!

We learned from Pastor Keith Moore’s example to say, in response to negativity (anything contrary to scripture), “If you say so.”

Aaaargh!  It makes us wanna box someone’s ears (I’ve been reading too much Georgette Heyer, if there’s any such thing as too much Georgette Heyer ).  But, instead, we take deep breaths, roll our eyes, wrinkle our noses as though at a very unpleasant odor, and change our words.

Example:

Me: I’m sick to death of his crap and I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind.”

Brat Child of Mine with Snarky Grin:  “If you say so.”

Me:  Really deep breath, mutterings, stomps, yeah-buts, etc.  Another deep breath.  “I am taking his nonsense as an unconscious cry for help, and I’m not giving him a piece of my mind because obviously I can’t spare it, and I’m going to stop and pray for him right now.  Will you, dearest child, agree with me in prayer?”

I just strengthened myself, lightened the load of the child who has to listen to MY crap, and prayed myself right out of Satan’s way of thinking and doing, and changed things for the person I prayed for.  Rather than a piece of my mind, he got a piece of God’s love.  Amen!

 

Early Morning Rain, Jesus, Testosterone, Good Books, Babies, and so Forth

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I cut and pasted these from my 2009 Facebook “25 Things” because it made me happy to read, and because I think it will be fun to add to it.

1. I love quiet time with Jesus early, early in the morning, and a nap in the afternoon.
2. I love putting in a load of laundry at 4:00 a.m. before I build a fire, make a cuppa or indulge in my latest new coffee, and settle in for quiet time.
3. I love being a member of the revolution Jesus started 2000 years ago.
4. I love rain. And more rain. Long, grey, dreary rainstorms.
5. With good books, like five or ten, fiction and non-fiction.
6. And a journal with colored pens, and a legal pad for absolutely mindless scribbling.
7. I love sending letters on nice stationery with lots of stickers and a pretty stamp.
8. I love watching my kids out the window on their sleds.
9. I love it when they wipe out and shriek with laughter, only to be pounced on by the dog, and get up and do it again!
10. I love John.
11. I love men who are so manly the testosterone drips off them, but they wear pink proudly, and are really good at comforting babies and changing diapers (John).
12. I love men who sing country love songs and hold my hand and sound like Vince Gill (yes, you guessed it – John).
13. I love men who love like Jesus – John, and also my dad.
14. I love my friends and all my family, especially all those little babies I have never seen.
15. I love big hardwood trees in the fall.
16. I love Fall.
17. I love God’s new mercies every morning.
18. I love color, lots of clear, bright color, or soft, muted colors. And light – iridescent, translucent, luminous, shimmering light.
19. Like on water. I love water, especially the Pacific ocean, but any water will do. I even love mud puddles.

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20. I love to travel. Even if it’s just a new dirt road close to home.
21. I love conversations with friends.
22. I love home schooling, and all my great teachers – my children.  And talking about home schooling with other home schoolers.
23. I love studying my kids, discovering them, marveling at God’s genius in creating them.
24. I love marriage. And chocolate.
25. I love whipping the devil’s butt when he tries to make me afraid. I love Jesus.

April, 2015 – And smiling teenagers teaching themselves without any Mom-prodding.

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Café Home

 

There is so much more to cooking than following a recipe.  Cooking is about people – what they like, love, and need.  And cooking, like many things, is best done at home by someone who loves those for whom she or he cooks.  Becoming adept in the kitchen is a key to quality living for large families, couples, and for those who live alone.

This is true for trained chefs and for people who loathe the very sight of a kitchen.  Think of it this way:  Just because you live in New York is not to say you need never learn to drive a car.  The ability to drive a car is a handy skill.  Just because you don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry is no excuse for taking everything to the cleaners.  Knowing how to pull and turn a few knobs and separate the whites from the colors is a basic life skill.  Just so being able to feed yourself.

Being unable to scramble eggs, make biscuits from scratch, or whip up a mean spaghetti sauce is just plain dumb.  The idea that it’s fine to go around practically bragging about not cooking is childish.  Not being able to cook is only fine if you are a child.  Let’s all do our friends, parents, kids and their spouses, and our grandkids a great favor:  let’s lead by example and cook!

It doesn’t matter who you are, the time will come when you need to cook.  My mother-in-law, bless her forever and ever, taught my husband to cook, clean, can, and that no job was beneath him.  So, when our last child was born Cesarean and I was a bit under the weather – no sweat.  From the time John brought the older three to the hospital looking ready for portraits, until I no longer needed his help, he took care of things – including the cooking.  When the hospital nurses remarked on the kids’ neatly parted hair, clean fingernails and starched little Levis, I was at a loss.  Did other dads actually drag dirty, unkempt kids to the hospital to see their mother and new sibling?  Apparently so.

At our house it works best for me to be the Kitchen Master.  Because of my proficiency, it’s easier to do most of the cooking myself.  But easier is not always better.  I need breaks, John enjoys weekend cooking, and cooking with the kids (especially if the grill and beef are involved), and the kids need to learn to cook.

So, you’ve taken the first step.  You’re convinced (or almost) you do need to know your way around the kitchen.  Stay with me and you’ll learn so much more than that.