Wealth–It’s Not About Diapers or Tomatoes

In answering a question about my view of wealth, I once answered “tomatoes.” I was thinking of my grandmother’s adept peeling of hot-off-the-vine, sun-split tomatoes from her garden, and eating their sliced deliciousness with nothing but salt and myself. Wealth.

That same grandmother once said, “Well! He did that just right.” She was watching John carefully fold and gently apply a soft, cloth diaper to Rebekah’s baby bottom. Wealth.

Rebekah, like her sister Hannah, didn’t fuss or cry when her diaper was wet. She sent in my direction a businesslike grunt of sorts and I responded immediately. No soggy bottoms on my watch, no sir! Wealth.

A lovely woman once discussed cloth diapers with me, telling me how other moms thought she was ridiculous for using them. “I enjoy the extra time, the interaction,” she said. I knew what she meant. We shared something precious, an understanding of the beauty, the wealth found in taking that extra moment to make things “just right.”

It’s a matter of opinion and preference, of course. With our fourth child, when John was changing a smelly diaper, he said, “We are not this broke. No more cloth diapers.” I didn’t argue. There was a new wealth at this time, one made of cash, one not as rich.

I am not suggesting you use cloth diapers or grow your own tomatoes. I am simply suggesting that wealth is made of moments shared.

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 And the facts that vision boards don’t work for me, and my plans almost always are superceded by “life” doesn’t faze me.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.”

What Can I Create?

With this evening’s attitude, not much. Once I start thinking about what’s not perfect, I’m on the way to griping about it, and here it comes–the Biblical “spirit of heaviness.” And who needs more of that?

Well, no matter how many times I try sad, I never like it. It never works for me. And it’s always rooted in choosing doldrums over delight. As someone who, over 40 years ago, chose to join the revolution started 2000 years ago by a really great guy named Jesus, I simply have no business thinking it’s about me.

I know (this I’ve tried as often as I’ve tried sad) that when I start doing the selfish it’s not going to end well. Ah, but when I read the beautiful Word of Life, when I pray, when I repent of my disobedient self-absorption, the very atmosphere of my life begins to change. What a difference a moment makes.

What a difference a bit of good preaching (this evening it was Creflo Dollar talking about the “sin” of selfishness, the miserable life therein); last week it was Bill Johnson saying, “When at war, create.”

Create. I’d no sooner finished listening to Creflo, than John asked me to watch and listen to the story of a businessman turning Central Park into something marvelous for New Yorkers. Create. We’re all born for it, created for it.

Just in putting out the maple syrup and making plans for homemade waffles, scrambled eggs, brats, peaches and tea for a late breakfast tomorrow, I have begun creating something marvelous in the sight of my beloveds.

In writing my evening pages (I scribble my thoughts morning and night to see what’s in my brain) I create a list for tomorrow–assuring that it will begin as it should–first with thanks for the Author of all Beauty and Creativity, and then with the getting to it.

What can we create tomorrow? Why don’t we let it begin with smiling at ourselves in the mirror and remembering we’re created in the image of the The Creator. Who knows what we’ll get up to (I might start a book, or at least another blog post, do a YouTube thing. I might even clean the junk drawer!). Or maybe I’ll just create joy by giving smiles and good words to all.

Thanks for letting me share with you!

P.S. You can still get The Maker’s Marriage (on Amazon) before Christmas–if not for Christmas, by New Year’s Night.

Running From What Will Save Me–A Homemaking Thing

For someone who loves home and family as much as do I, I certainly can get bent out of shape when my runaway plans go awry. This morning, after six days of shopping dates thwarted and nixed by various and sundry entities and events, I finally let it go. I finally said, “Maybe it’s best I stay home. Maybe I’ll make like a big girl Jesus-truster, and be still. Rest. Stop chomping at the bit, whining, fretting.”

I have quite a list (been adding to it for six days) of things I “need.” Is it possible that all those things I think and hear myself say that I “need” are just me justifying spending money that will be needed later for a better cause? “Patience, my dear. We know from experience where pressure gets us.”

Could it be that all I’ve said and re-said about home is true? That it is the most excellent place, the place for a creative grace to be had only at the hands of a truly attenrive home artiste? Might it be so that time and attention at home are always rewarded, as I’ve so often maintained, even as time and attention to shopping is often more regretted than rewarded?

I sit now in peace–the taker of my own advice: when at all possible stay home, and when you least want to do so, there’s likely a prize hiding behind that desire to flee, a treasure to be found and had by simply being still.

It could be the treasure of a new book idea, or finding and using what I have to recover those filthy bar stools, or thrilling my heart by trashing all my makeup unless I bought it in the last six months (nothing left except my almost-gone mascara). I might even fertilize my plants! I can even iron my linen shirts while listening to a French lesson or calling my sweet friend Pam. Snow’s coming–I’ll build a fire, fill the wood box, make a pot of soup. And back to the makeup idea–I can feel the thrill of putting it all in the trash even as I am writing this post!

Who knows what I’ll get up today? The brain is stirring up possibility.

The Magic Homeschool Bus?

I’m doing a homeschooling article for American Essence magazine, and it’s developing into something about making homeschooling marvelous, enchanting, enthralling, exciting, even magical. Can you help? I have such great experiences and resources, but I’d like thoughts from currently homeschooling parents who realize that it’s really about so much more than academics, and that a facsimile of the traditional/public school classroom is not optimal, to put it mildly.

If you would like to add your thoughts, or know of someone who might, can you let me know?

Here’s my number, if you’d like to call: 970-556-2785.

Thanks!

The Maker’s Marriage–Romance Reimagined

is finished. However, I am having formatting issues, ISBN questions, and other challenges, all of them interfering with my 30th anniversary celebration. So, I know you will understand when I say that because the steaks are on the grill and my family have all gathered bearing gifts, it will be another day before this marriage-mending miracle book is actually available on Amazon.

Tomorrow!

Money for Things We Don’t Need

In the life-enhancing, joy-bringing book, An Italian Journey by James Ernest Shaw is this truth: “Spending money for things we don’t need also makes us think we can’t afford to pay a fair price for things of precious value–like healthful food, great art, and inspired entertainment that celebrates mankind’s creative spirit.”

This can be seemingly insignifcant purchases, but oh, they are not! The curious thing is how we think we’re saving money at the big box store where tomatoes are half the price of those at the farm stand, not noticing that the big box tomatoes aren’t edible, while the farm stand tomatoes call our names with their scent before we can even see them. Everything about shopping at the farm stand satisfies. The price is only a part of good money management.

We think it’s good money management to choose the BOGO sale and yet wonder how we come home without what we need and after spending well beyond what we planned. We wrongly equate a full pantry with prosperity, even though it’s full of things we’d be better off without.

Things. Things can be groceries. Right now my pantry and freezers are each mixtures of things we’ll eat and things we’ll throw out. It is the old case of careless spending, rather than careful, focused, thoughtful purchasing of quality goods. It’s the rewarding of the bigger-but-not-better at the expense of the purveyors of quality, and at the expense of ourselves.

This is a big deal. I’m not at all talking about big business vs. small. I’m talking about quality vs. quantity, about the huge expense of going cheap, about cheating yourself and your family via spending your money on fluff.

And fluff makes us fluffy. Fluff is energy bars, instant oatmeal, dry cereal with cheap skim milk, microwave mac-n-cheese, corn syrup and sugar-filled drinks, 30-ingredient “snacks” and “treats” and other such fakiness. Expensive on every level. The richest people in the world can’t afford this.

If my husband reads this, he will likely hope I’m taking my own words to heart. Well, I am. This is a big deal.

P.S. For more on the subject of marriage and money, stay tuned (and buy!) The Maker’s Marriage, available October 12, 2021. Thanks!

NO, NO, DON’T ORDER THE MAKER’S MARRIAGE YET!

Yikes, I see the “click here to order” next to the pic of the OLD Maker’s Marriage. Wait for it! I haven’t figured out how to get that off my blog, but I will. I just got a “WordPress for Dummies” book, so hopefully today will be the day I get this pesky thing down, and get on with the new version.

Again, the expanded version of The Maker’s Marriage will be available October 12, 2021, which will be John’s and my 30th anniversary! Yay!

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.