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!

Your Favorite Love Song, Please.

Hi,

I’m coming right along with the improved and expanded edition of The Maker’s Marriage (please don’t order from the picture here on the website, as I still haven’t managed to delete it ) and I’m wanting to add beautiful love song suggestions, as music is such a power tool in getting our hearts right, and attuned to love.

So, if you have a favorite love song or songs, or indeed just any favorite beautiful and uplifting music, would you mind sharing via comments, or by simply e-mailing to me at: bevparker@rocketmail.com.

‘I need a song for every chapter (there are thirty something chapters right now) and I don’t want to limit my readers to my tastes only. Also, if you want to include a few lines about why this song is special to you, that might be helpful as well.

Please remember my promise to have this very good (if I do think so, myself) book finished by John’s and my 30th anniversary–October 12, and be ready to buy a copy or several to share.

Thanks very much!

Bev

P.S. If you know how I can delete my current pic of The Maker’s Marriage, I would really appreciate knowing if you can spare a minute or two to share.

Zero for Forty Something?

John and I will be 30 years married October 12! I’m thinking I’m going to do something memorable in these days remaining from now until then. Like stop mistreating my body and forget about a thing or two, or 1,000. And another thing (I’ll tell you in a minute).

It’s like this: there are forty something days remaining until October 12 and that seems like a good amount of time to once and for all forget about sugar (and it’s variants). It’s a good amount of time to forget about losing weight and just eat great food such as the soooo good, almost-make-you-cry strawberries, awe-inspiring sun-cracked tomatoes, and best of all, lemon cucumbers–all from a local farm stand. Most and best of all, forty something days are a great time to forget about past grievances, aggravations, and petty stupidities.

What might happen if one wasn’t sick at heart and body because of sugar; if the SIN of unforgivness was repented of and turned from and absolutely refused? One might do something marvelous, like write a marvelous book about a marvelous subject.

I’m going to improve and expand The Maker’s Marriage between now and October 12 (yikes, did I just promise that?). I”m going to take the original edition off this site, and get to work on the new one today. The mind boggles at all the great ideas it has already come up with, and that before I even begin writing.

Be ready! It’s gonna be good.

The Opportunity Cost of Running and Hiding

I wanted John to take me away, to distract me from my wretched selfish self, but there were pesky things like roofers coming, a tow truck on its way to haul the tractor in for a new engine, the windshield man coming to put a new windshield in John’s truck, and I don’t remember what all else. I didn’t get my way, whaaaaaaaaah!

I didn’t get my way,

So it’s come to this–time to pray.

Not getting what I asked for

Life is such a bore.

Artist’s pages reveal

The thief is here to steal.

He’s taught me well to doubt

It’s time to kick him out.

——————————-

I hope you will forgive and bear with my rhyming fun. What I meant by “Artist’s pages reveal” was that when I began to journal (Julia Cameron calls it writing “artist’s pages” in The Artist’s Way) I saw what the enemy (John 10:10 says he comes to steal, kill, and destroy) was up to, and where I was giving him access.

I just so happened to have, lying next to me on the couch, I Never Learned to Doubt by Jesse Duplantis. Yes, I realized, I am doubting, and it’s making me miserable and a misery. I did some heavy duty repenting and heart-cleansing, some delving deep into my heart attitudes and among other things I came up with this: I am not to run and hide from the misery of doubt. I am to root it out!

If John would have taken me out for breakfast it would have been quite expensive–the opportunity cost of doing the one thing (often what we think we need and certainly what we want) is what we miss via that choice. I would have missed a heart-cleansing, a joy refreshing, a time with the One who heals me.

Think on THESE Things

Let’s forget about forgetting about the negatives in the news, and let’s remember to forget the faults–the negatives, of those who matter–of our SIGNIFICANT other(s). Today is the perfect day to begin with our mates and ourselves and seek “like-mindedness” where it counts most–at home.

Division is running amok, rampant throughout the earth. Let us “Just Say No” to divison at home, beginning with saying “No” to finding fault with our mates. This means we look at what’s right, pray about what’s not, and let God have a go (unhindered by our “help”) at healing our beloveds (that includes ourselves).

I’m not talking about revving up our rah-rah engines with some positive confessions and personal improvement strategies, and telling our mates it’s time to get with our program, our GREAT new program! I’m talking about simply taking God at His word via knowing what His word actually says. About us and everyone else we’re given to love. About seeking to see with His eyes.

The Word of God doesn’t say everyone except our mate is fearfully and wonderfully made, to be loved and cherished, forgiven, set free, blessed. We are created to be as our Creator–blessors. We are not to take stock and find others, or ourselves, wanting. The Blood of Jesus took care of that. We must beware of the perversion in extending blessing to everyone on earth except our mate.

There are deep things in all our hearts, things that need healing, things that will never see the light of freedom without the power of God’s love. Anyone can look for and find fault. We are not to be “anyone”. We are to be the champion of our mate’s heart. Let us look at our mates as our first order of Love business, our first call of Love duty. And let us remember that the first order of business in Love, is Loving.

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.

 

The Maker’s Marriage Excerpt

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”— John 10:10

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Chapter 2 – Recognizing the Enemy

      Your mother-in-law is not the enemy

A friend tells me she and her husband always join her parents and her husband’s parents (at the same time) during holidays and birthdays, and she says this with joy. Wow! What a concept. Don’t they know that in-laws are always outlaws? Don’t they know you just have to put up with these people, and no one expects you to actually like them?

In Biblical times most families considered marriage serious business. Two young whippersnappers weren’t just sent out into the wilderness among the wild beasties and forgotten. No, indeed. There was preparation—spiritual, financial, physical. There was feasting and rejoicing. Not only was a new family formed, but the existing families on both sides were now considered one family by all parties. They were made one by a sacred covenant. It is no wonder, for example, that Ruth stayed with Naomi. Naomi accepted her not as her son’s poor choice, but as a beloved daughter.     The implications here are huge. The cynic might say it was just the patriarchs doing good business (and what, really, is so bad about good business, and starting marriage off on a sound financial footing?). But let us think about the possibilities in a mindset of acceptance, where his parents love her as a daughter, as hers love him as a son. And let’s forget about how that worked or didn’t work out way back when. Let us make some changes in the here and now.

Yes, this can be a bit tough. I’ll admit it: when I was first around my daughter-in-law’s parents I was curious to get to know them, and polite enough, but that was about it. The idea that God might want me to embrace them as prayer partners for this lovely couple and their child, and enjoy them as new friends with whom I already had much in common, was so foreign it never entered my head. Of course, John and I enjoyed them, and it was a blessing to see their great love for our mutual grandchild. Still, in spite of all the evidence, and common sense’s suggestion that we should be close friends, family even, deep down I didn’t believe we could. I certainly had never seen such a thing.

In fact, I saw the opposite. Grandma (maternal grandparent) had no liking for my dad, and Grannimother (paternal grandparent) not a lot for my mom. So, in spite of the fact that Mom loved Grannimother and that in her later years Grannimother often wanted Mom’s care rather than that of her own children, there was always that thing, that barrier that never quite fell: you don’t ever truly and completely love and accept your in-laws.

Following the example of their parents, is it any wonder couples think division is normal? Rather than having a faithful, stalwart, and wise cheering section from both sides of the family, they accept as inevitable such evils as competition, jealousy, and Strife.

Even if you, like my parents, had mothers-in-law who were simply not behaving well, and had no intention of ever doing so, you, smart girl, can overcome. Let me tell you a little story that will give you an idea or two about where to begin.

Once upon a time we moved to a tiny mountain village where outsiders were suspect, to put it mildly. The children’s librarian told me she didn’t agree with my homeschooling, the general store employees told us we’d made a mistake moving to their town, and the postmaster was so reserved I felt like apologizing for asking to buy a stamp.

It came to light that we were disliked before we ever came to town due to the whining of the couple we replaced in our new job. Never mind they were fired long before we were hired. Logic has little to do with such matters.

So I said my mantra: A smart girl like you oughtta be able to figure this out. Then it came to me. Cookies! I am a good cook—a little more butter and salt, extra nuts, raisins, organic brown sugar, chocolate chips, etc. I baked cookies and took them to the post office, library and general store. I invited the librarian over for Thanksgiving, and made a point of complimenting and thanking the postmaster. As a family, we prayed for the entire village and individuals as they came to mind. I asked the elderly how they felt and gave out free essential oils for their aches and pains. I set out to bless the town.

It wasn’t long until I began to get compliments on my kids instead of criticism of my methods. The librarian asked what we wanted in the library as far as books and programming, and the postmaster became someone I looked forward to seeing.

It is a rare person who cannot be won over, and even if they never like you, you will come to like and even to love them, if you bless them long enough. So, it won’t matter what they do and say—the sting will be gone. And yes, what’s good for the post master is good for the mother-in-law. And the mate.

     Your Mate is not the Enemy

 When it comes to marriage the stakes are higher (marriage success is the ultimate success, and considerably more important than favor at the post office), obedience to God is tougher, and the battle is more fierce. But the enemy is the same.

So, back to your mate, the scoundrel. If he’s not the enemy (just bear with me) then who is? And what good does identification do, you ask? Well, does a policeman shoot in the dark in the general direction of where the burglar was last seen, or would he prefer some night vision equipment before he starts wasting ammo?

OK, clever you. You know I’m going to say the enemy is Satan, and based on the awful things you and your mate each said in your last fight, that’s a believable assertion. So what now? Now you get over any and all teaching that scoffs at the idea of demonic influences and spiritual warfare. Now you get into the New Testament like your life (and marriage) depends on it. Because actually, it does. Study and become adept at putting on and keeping on the full armor of God.

As you study this, beginning in Ephesians, you will notice that after you’ve fully donned the armor of God you are admonished to pray for all the saints. It is my experience that this—praying for others—will keep your armor intact. And always remember, pray first and last for that one God has given you to love first and last.

            The Brain on Strife

You may recall the aforementioned scripture, James 3:16 – “For where envying and strife is, there’s confusion and every evil work.” I was praying for revelation about the full implications of this one day and I got a vision in my head of a brain on Strife. There were wires tangled everywhere, running amok over and under each other, in blue, yellow, orange and green. They all had little round connector pads on their ends, but they were connected to the wrong parts of the brain, and it was obvious the signals were getting crossed and going to the wrong places and nothing was making any kind of sense for this poor brain. This—chaos—is what happens to logic in the presence of sin (Strife being the operative sin in this particular case).

Once Satan has the upper hand (via Strife) your behavior will be appalling. Don’t waste your time lamenting the immaturity of your mate. It takes two to tango. Does your spouse’s awful behavior justify yours being just as bad? Are you really OK with a Pre-K maturity level?

I have to admit I speak from experience. John used to call me Teflon Woman. “Nothing sticks,” he explained, as I simply refused to ever take the blame. Incidentally, refusing to take the blame and responsibility for one’s actions is a symptom of ASPD (anti-social personality disorder), or to be blunt, it is the behavior of a sociopath. Well, I prefer to say I was simply immature. And I hasten to add that once I thought a bit about it, I realized my “I didn’t do it, not my fault” mentality was an open door for the enemy in our marriage. I decided Teflon Woman wasn’t really who I wanted to be.

Suggested Reading: House by Ted Dekker (not for the faint-hearted); Spiritual Warfare by Joseph Prince, who discusses how-to’s of binding the Spirit of Strife; and Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, in which Dr. Leaf states, The great news is that we are wired for love, which means all our mental circuitry is wired only for the positive, and we have a natural optimism bias wired into us.

Key to Victory: Know and refuse your enemy.