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.

 

Hands-on Parenting is NOT Evil!

It comes from every direction.  My daughter is encouraged to drink by our “friends.”  She is on her way home and tells them that her parents wouldn’t be pleased by her driving and arriving under the influence.  They assure her that it’s time to be her own person.

She just proved that she is.  And that she’s not dumb as a post.

She leaves home and supposedly Christian women make fun of her for calling “your mommy” every day.  “You need to grow up,” they say when she won’t take their negative and decidedly unChristian advice.  No, they need to grow up to the point they can actually keep their mouths shut about that which is none of their business.

She is grown up, and yet still a child.  Aren’t we all?  I call my parents when I need to hear the voice of one who will always love me, one who will not belittle me for being a bit sad or needy or unsure.  Does that make me defective, immature?  No, it makes me human.

My daughters communicate with me – when they’re feeling on top of the world, when they’re under a cloud, when things are rolling right along fairly smoothly.  Why should they not?

Rather than apologizing for having a good relationship with a parent or a child, we should thank God for it, and continue to do those things that brought us to this happy outcome – be there for that person, pray with and for that person, and let them know we will be as the Lord Himself is, the one who will never leave them nor forsake them.

It’s called giving them a strong foundation on which to stand, as well as wings for flight.  It’s called love.  And because of that love, my child feels free to let me know when she wants to handle things on her own.  I have such faith in her and respect for her, that I always ask her how she wants me to proceed, what she wants me to do or not do.  

We prayed this morning about a difficult situation, and I read scripture aloud to her, and encouraged her.  But when it comes down to the tough part, she must walk this walk alone.  And yet, when a child knows that she knows that her parents and Jesus will never leave her nor forsake her, how can she be alone?

Something about such a person really gets to people who don’t have this kind of surety.  Is it jealousy, or is it simply the all-pervasive societal view that parents are inherently stupid and faulty and should be sidelined and ignored in pursuit of . . . what?  The lovely mess that these anti-parent folks have made of their own lives?

What is this unholy desire to separate children from their parents?  What is this need to control and convince and influence?  And why is this invariably from people who have little or no control or success in their own lives, and with their own children?  But I must say in our case, most of our most vitriolic critics are themselves childless.

And yet, no need to fret.  My daughter, the one accused from every direction of being “too dependent” on her parents, is so much stronger than her accusers.  She goes on about her merry way, and forgives.  And she prays for those who show her nothing but disrespect and contempt (that after a bit of exasperated venting).

Just as I communicate with my parents and with my Savior, I have raised a child who does the same.  So to all these busybodies, I say, “Just mind your own business,” or as my mom says, “Tend to your own pea-pickin’.”

 

Fabulous Fatherhood on The Home Front Show Today!

John Parker and Pastor Mark Williams will be joining me today on The Home Front Show, and you can join us at 1360am.co for great exhortation and inspiration about fatherhood.

Go to :

1360am.co , wait for the page to load, then click on “LIVE RADIO”

at 2:00 Mountain Time this afternoon, Friday, May 5 for an hour of non-stop blessings.

John and Mark will be sharing their stories of redemption and restoration and I’ll be adding thoughts from our Founding Fathers on FORGIVENESS.  

As always on The Home Front Show, there’s much more than I can express in a few short sentences, so join us and encourage others to do so as well!

Thanks very much,

Bev

I Did Not Need My Economics Degree to Figure this One Out

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Just as I predicted, with the election of Donald Trump, the American economy is exploding.  And I believe that will mean fewer marriages ravaged by financial stress, more opportunities on all fronts, and most of all, I hope it means more moms will be able to be at home.  Homemakers, homekeepers, hearthtenders.

I not only hope, I earnestly and diligently pray that we are about to, once again, become a society where people are nurtured in the most excellent place of all – home.  And by the most blessed and privileged of all people – homemakers.

I wasn’t so privileged when I got the “education”, bought the Italian pumps and sported the chic haircut.  I had a fancy office all my own and a degree – a piece of paper – to prove I was somebody.

But now I have “medals”.  “You and John have medals,” a lady at church recently said to me after we stood together as a family before the congregation.  The pastor had asked our oldest son to come forward for prayer, along with John and me, before leaving for officer training in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Our other three joined us as well.  The pastor prayed, John prayed, and I managed to pray through the tears of an utterly full heart.

There were other words spoken and joys shared and then those words from a lady I didn’t know.  “You and John have medals.”  She paused and I waited as she gazed at our children.  “Your children are medals.”

Indeed.  And we fought for them.  We fought financial fears when I chucked that fancy job to stay home with Benjamin.  “It’s an opportunity to trust,” I said to John when the doctor said if I didn’t abort Hannah I would not survive.  Told I would miscarry Rebekah, again we donned the full armor of God and we fought.  Recovering from the C-section that brought us Seth, I battled for my health and vitality, and John prayed me through those wearying days.

Attempting to hear God and not our own insecurities or preferences, or the opinions of others, we stood our ground when we decided to home school.  John prayed as I sought self-discipline, self-control and patience.

Always, we suited up for battle with the Word of God in our mouths, saying what He said about our children, rather than what we wanted to spew out of our mouths.  This child is impossibly strong-willed, stubborn, willful, and I am at my wit’s end with her!  was the thought.  The words were prayers and positive scriptural confessions:  “This child is my great and glorious gift, fearfully and wonderfully made for God’s purposes and she will live in the light and bring blessings all the days of her life.”

And so on.  Through the years I have made the most powerful and eternally profitable investment a woman ever has the privilege to make:  I have raised my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I have been a homemaker.

For John, the husband who supported my determination to do whatever it took to raise my children (for a time we took all four of them with us on our trim and tile jobs) I am grateful beyond all measure.

Because I raised my older children as a single mother, or rather they were raised by the daycare center and the public school system, I know the immeasurably high cost of a “real” job, of a society-sanctioned career.  I know the ever-diminishing returns on that kind of investment – investment in the world’s ways.

“I simply can’t go through that again,” I said to John when we talked about my returning to work and finding childcare for Benjamin.  It wasn’t just about my baby, it was about me, and my peace of mind.  It was about that deepest of needs in my heart, the need to make a home for my family, to be a homemaker.

A homemaker who is also a homeschooler has it made in the shade, especially if she has a strong and good husband.  Her life in no way resembles the stereotype of the harried and frantic chicken-with-her-head-cut-off mommy.  Rather, if she seeks the impartation of wisdom freely given via simply asking the Holy Spirit and reading God’s Word each and every single morning, she grows ever more skillful in battle, ever more confident and in full receipt of her rewards.  Her life is lived in rhythms of grace, rather than in sorrow and regret.

If I had it to do over in what I call my “first life” I would have cleaned houses and taken my babies with me, or lived in a tent by the river, or moved in with family.  But I would not have sacrificed my children on the altar of career, I would not have bought the line that I “couldn’t afford” to do otherwise.

I would have said, “What I can’t afford is the breaking of the little hearts and spirits of my children by leaving them in the care of, at best, indifferent workers while I go and chase the almighty dollar.

I am eternally grateful for this second chance, but regarding my older children, there are no overs.  I urge and exhort you, if you have young children being raised by others as your heart yearns for them, pray and believe God for the highest of callings and privileges, that He will make the way, that He will be the author and the finisher of your parenting, your marriage, your family.  Your home.

Then say joyously to all who ask who you are and what you do:  I AM A HOMEMAKER.

“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.

little girl praying