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.

What Would Smith Wigglesworth or a mom do?

The March 21 offering in Devotional by Smith Wigglesworth is the tale of a miracle healing, wherein before Smith came on the scene God prepared a woman’s heart to receive. This was a handy thing for me to be reading, as my son came to ask for healing prayer just after I finished. My heart was prepared to pray, and I wanted his heart prepared as well.

“First,” I answered, “Sit down and do me the honor of letting me read this to you.” Benjamin sat and I read Smith’s marvelous story, beginning with Matthew 8:17: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

After finishing the devotion, I took Benjamin’s right hand and wrist (where the pain was) and began praying, during which action I was impressed to remind my son that his name means “Son of the Right Hand.” There was much more, and he received more than healing. He received encouragement.

I didn’t wake up encouraged today, and I was in no mood to encourage anyone else. But then there came that miracle thing called Quiet Time, and I was encouraged by the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John; then by Paul in I Corinthians with Love words, and David speaking straight to my heart in Psalms.

In Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest I was struck by the statement, “I have been identified with Him in His death.” Pondering this, I read from Smith Wigglesworth, focusing on the fifth verse of Isaiah 53: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

I choose to identify myself with The Healer.

The final thought in this devotion is, “One bit of unbelief against the Word is poison.”

He IS the Healer. Amen.

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.”