It is Finished!

After much ado I have not only finished and uploaded my paperback version of The Maker’s Marriage–Romance Reimagined to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), but have the Kindle e-book version uploaded as well.

There is a 72-hour wait before the paperbook is available on Amazon, and I’ve put the Kindle edition up for pre-order (available October 29). I thought, when I committed to having the e-book ready (new formatting, etc.) by October 29, that it was going to be as difficult as the paperback version. In fact, after trying to upload the paperback version for much of three days, the e-book version went up in an hour. So, it’s not what I intended to do, but that’s how it is for right now.

I thank you for your support and I feel this is a bit like having a baby–in spite of the pain, I’m quite enthused about it all. I want to encourage everyone else to write a book and e-publish. Strange, that.

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.

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 TV is Play

It’s not deprivation! Not watching makes us more childlike, more apt to play. I find myself delving into old joys, thinking new thoughts, considering forgotten possibilities, simply because I’ve freed my mind from the tyranny of watching.

When I’m not watching a fake world I take in my own. I hear the wild turkeys in the yard, come to see the goldfinch when someone exclaims at its beauty, listen for the lovely sound of the blackbirds. I see the cottontail munch, munch, much stems of grass, sing him a bit of a song and watch his ears twitch as he listens. I’m noting the scent of my beloved’s soap on his skin, of the juniper and sage on the breeze, of the lemon curd just cooked. I’m listening to what plays when I try “Romantic music for daydreaming.” I’m listening to my beloveds. I’m hearing the music of life, and life becomes musical.

When I’m not watching, I’m gracefully and rhythmically getting through those little details cluttering my life, thus freeing my mind for larger and deeper thoughts. Or simply thoughts of play, maybe like being in a play, or learning the rules for Charades and having a tea party. A proper English tea, perhaps, as I share Queen Elizabeth’s 23 rules for living (including play) from Bryan Kazlowski’s Long Live the Queen, and dream . . .

If I can’t go to England right now, I muse, maybe I’ll read James Herriot, or P.G. Wodehouse, or Agatha Christie, sipping Earl Grey. Maybe I’ll nap like a baby all afternoon, and stay up all night, and see what I can get up to . . .

We’re meant to play.

Zero For Six–Calling a Spade a Spade

My four new Zero For Six adventures–Six months of zero TV viewing, faithless (negative) words, fatiguing foods, and non-essential spending–seem to feed each other, to overlap. Even as they go together negatively, so do they positively. They sustain each other you could say.

Take spending. Non-essential spending surely includes the purchase of fatiguing foods that are those most often consumed along with TV. I’m now going to add clarity by simply changing one term. In place of “non-essential” and “fatiguing” I will say “junk”. The same for “faithless” or negative and fear-filled words–I will simply call them “junk” words.

My quest to eliminate junk words will no doubt be aided by eliminating junk spending, but perhaps even more by turning off the “lowness box.” So much of TV is simply low. Even those shows based on the writing of excellent writers, must it seems, be lowered. Turned to junk, watched while eating junk, paid for of course, with junk spending. And what comes out of my mouth after I am insulted with this stuff spewing into my living room? Junk. What else?

It’s a vicious and insidious junk stew and I’ve had more than enough.

Thanks for joining me, and please share this with anyone who needs a bit (or lots and lots) of Zero For Sixing.

P.S. Watch for my next post–I’ll go into more detail on Zero For Six Junk Spending.

Zero For Six

It is time. For change. Now. And so, beginning June 1 I am embarking on four Zero for Six projects:

#1–Zero Non-Essential Spending for Six Months

#2–Zero TV Watching for Six Months

#3–Zero Fatiguing Foods for Six Months

#4–Zero Faithless Words for Six Months

I will be sharing process and progress in posts and podcasts, in hopes we will all change our lives–six months at a time. So, if this sounds interesting and intriguing to you, please share the good news, and thanks very much! And remember to take a “before” pic, as you and your life will look very different in six months, if you choose to join me in this adventure.

Tomorrow I will share my preliminary plans and procedures for implementation of this exciting next six months of my life!

Writing and Home and Good Advice

May 6, 2020

I asked my daughter Rebekah  to join me on the balcony this morning.  “I need your advice,” I said (among the many rewards of homeschooling is wise children).  I made LaVazza in the French Press and brought her a San Pellegrino, then sat down with my journal. But before I, the Great Meeting Instigator, could present my thoughts, she began reading from 52 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know by Dave Adamson.

I wanted to talk about me.  Sigh.  Patience.  Wait, what was that?  About His mercies being new every morning?  The word is rachum.  I remembered why we were on the balcony.  Because not only was it morning, but it was a beautiful, shining, May morning.  A robin was worm hunting beneath us, and another one was pecking a bedroom window  for reasons unknown.  Perhaps he thought his reflection was a possible Mrs. Robin, and extremely attractive.  Perhaps, like me, he thought it was all about him.

Rebekah continued to read and I waited.  Quietly.  Surely I am smarter than that robin?  Finally, I talked.  “Shall I write fiction or non?”  What about this, and that, etc.?  Her answer brought a flirting, flittering thought from the back of my mind to the fore:  “Write what’s in your heart and hold nothing back.” 

What is in my heart?  Home.  Jesus and Home.  Home.

My fiction is about home, and my non-fiction as well.  Write both?  Then where to begin?  It’s Springtime.  Resurrection.  You don’t have to begin, merely resume with vigor.  The whole world’s all about singing a new song, and doing a new thing, and out with the old and in with the new.  And that’s marvelous.  Sometimes.

But sometimes it’s marvelous to go digging through all kinds of old stuff – barely begun stories and mostly finished manuscripts, journals, forgotten thoughts and notes, highlighted portions of old books from friends’ hearts.

They’re friends I’ve never met, but who wrote from their hearts unto mine, holding nothing back.  “Father, help me, direct me, anoint me, to write like that.  Even as you spoke to Rebekah’s heart and she passed it on to mine, speak to my heart so that I can pass it on to those who have home in their hearts.  Amen.”

That’s pretty much everyone.

Thanks for joining me.

P.S.  But what about that “hold nothing back” part?  Yikes.  That sounds quite messy.

What’s in a Package?

Love.  I have packed a box as full as I could get it, and then added just a few more things.  And as I wrestled it closed with the miracle that is packing tape, I thought, “The postage is going to cost more than the contents are worth.  If the postage is over $50 I’ll just unpack it and send the cash.”

But no.  That didn’t seem right.  Because you can’t put a price on Love.

This package is for my daughter Rebekah, at Bible College in Fort Worth, Texas.  She has friends coming for a tea party and a movie, but no tea things, no bedding if they want to spend the night on her air mattress, and no movies to watch, which is what they’ve suggested they want to do.

She has one plate, and nothing on her walls.  “Mama, I want you to come and visit and help me with my little house,” she said over Christmas break.  Code:  “Mama, I want you to come and visit.”  (She calls me Mum via e-mail, Mom in person, and Mama when she’s lonely.)

Well, OK.  I will.  But for now I’m sending Love in the form of a package.  And now that it’s all packed and addressed, I feel that ridiculous sense of joy and accomplishment that sending Love in the mail always brings.

I’m thinking over what I’ve sent:  two sets of sheets, a lovely kitchen painting of a giant red pepper, and then a sacrificial gift –  the collage Rebekah made as a child that shows me her heart every time I look at it.  It brings me joy, but it is now hers.

Then there is a tea set, a Pioneer Woman plate (also VERY sacrificial giving) to match the one she has, two other personality plates, a sack of hanging paraphernalia (stick pins, hooks, nails) along with safety pins, tape, scissors, and a Leatherman-type tool.

What else?  There is some gourmet summer sausage, canned meats, two beautifully wrapped gifts from a friend (I know what’s in them, but I can’t say), and a book she’s going to love.

And then a favorite movie per her request:  Amazing Grace.  Well, why not add two or three others?  I chose National Treasure, Letters to Juliet, and Enchanted.

There are a few more items for decorating, and a love note to go with the Love.

So, as I have now convinced myself that I will send this package regardless of the cost of postage, I will also urge you to put a little something in the mail to someone you know.  Someone who might enjoy a bit of Love.

It costs fifty cents to say, “Hi.  I love you.  Bye.  P.S.  Please write back soon.”

“Father, Anoint Us as Parents.”

When the kids were growing up John and I prayed this daily:  Father, anoint us as parents.  

But even though I vehemently disagreed with the idea that kids are adults at eighteen, that our job is finished, somewhere along the way I started acting like I believed that rot.  Somewhere, for some reason, we stopped praying that powerful prayer.

Sure we still prayed for our kids, sure we were still very available, but we thought, what?  That they no longer needed parenting anointed by God, that we no longer needed His help, that the battle was over and won?

The words began whispering themselves to me a few weeks back:  Pray for anointed parenting.  Finally, last night, after listening to my kids’ conversation and seeing the evidence of needed peace in their hearts, I said to John, “We need to pray for anointing as parents again.”  He immediately agreed and we IMMEDIATELY did it.

NEVER, EVER, EVER WAIT TO PRAY.  Do it then and there, or that very important opportunity will escape.

You may be asking, “What is this anointed parenting stuff?”  This is parenting with the power and wisdom of God Himself, wherein your child’s heart is revealed, and the words coming out of your mouth are words of life, rather than words of nonsense and destruction.

After listening to the prideful disdain for others coming out of my child’s mouth last night, and keeping still until I prayed, I received revelation about what’s really going on in his mind.  Rather than being aggravated with him, my heart became very tender toward him.  Rather than being afraid of the tendencies I see him learning toward, I became warlike in my desire to fight for and with him.

I began to strategize.  I went to the Word and then got on my knees, and I realized something:  I haven’t been showing the humility necessary to get his attention.  I haven’t been humble enough to realize that apart from Him, I can do nothing.

I can sense the Holy Spirit ordering my thoughts, cleansing my heart, and strengthening me for the task at hand.  It’s exciting.  The call to battle of motherhood is a continual call and a continual battle, and in Him, we win.

Amen.

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.