Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flowing with Milk and Honey ~ All Over Nourishment

"He brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . ."
~ Deuteronomy 26:9


The day He saved my soul, He brought me out of barren land and set me in a place flowing with milk and honey.  It is there for me - always - waiting to be enjoyed, savored.  It flows; will I drink?

The Word of God:  milk and honey to the soul.  Regular time, set apart to read, to drink it in. . . nourishes my soul and grows me up, builds those spiritual bones and makes me strong.

The Word of God:  milk and honey to my soul.  I meditate upon those Words, let them saturate my day and coat my soul with the sweetness - let them stick like honey.


As I drink in milk, I drink in Calcium and Vitamin D - the bricks and mortar of my body.  They make the bones strong, replenish all I lost during four childbirths and years of nursing, depleting.  I drink so I don't break.

And in those winter months, when energy lags and throats sting and sniffles and aches hit with a vengeance, honey soothesIt coats the throat, soothes the belly, builds up the body.  I swallow it down in all its sweet goodness so I don't fall.


Once a week I stand at the kitchen counter and stir it up - my bowl of beauty.  I squeeze about a tablespoon or two of honey and mix it some cream or milk. . .  Stir it into a sticky liquid and head to the bathroom.  Before I turn on the shower I coat myself in this honey-milk.  From head to toe - covered in a thin, sticky film that smells so rich.  But I save some.

After I get in the shower, I rinse hair and pour the rest of my concoction over my head and massage it into scalp and locks.  And then I rinse body and shampoo hair.

As I dry off, I see it - all that dead skin just flaking off so easy.  And my skin is soft and glowing once more.  And my hair curls up and thanks me for the rich drink.

Milk and honey:  body and soul.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving Me from Myself ~ A Personalized Telling of Psalm 91

When I step outside my hectic day to spend a quiet moment with Him,
I find the way to stay with Him. . . all day.
Then I can say, with laughter on lips, "He's here!
A refuge for me. . . all day!"

He saves me from myself: the sins that trip me up and throw me down,
The sins that make me sick in mind and body and soul.
When I'm most deeply submerged in those sins, He spreads His wings and beckons.
I can hide there, in Him.
I can find protection in Him, in the truth of His Word.
I can find relief from my sins, the anxiety that makes me watch the night clock,
The worries that go right to my heart when I rise,
The panic that makes me weak and stomach sick,
And the fear that wrecks my day. . . if I will just take that moment with Him.

All around me, they fall in their sins. . .
Family and friends, even, collapse in a pile of sorrow and self-inflicted grief;
But I can be saved from this - I need not be swallowed whole.
I look around
And I see what comes of sin - of giving oneself over to the pull of it all.

I must make the Lord, alone, my refuge;
I must dwell in Him, dwell on Him.
For with my mind set on God and my soul finding rest in Him
I am saved from myself - that sickness, that sin, no longer has a hold on me or my home.
Angels around me, surround me
To keep watch over me, to help me.
Just as I fall, I call out and they catch me,
Providing a buffer - saving me from myself.
I can face these anxieties!
From the greatest fear to the smallest worry, I can face it all. . . if I'll just take that moment with Him.

May the Lord say of me, "She's oh so human and falls again and again;
But she loves Me.  I will help her; I will love her.
She calls on My name each time she falls; I will lift her up out of this. . . again.
I will be with her through every temptation;
I will deliver her.
I will show her the satisfaction of a life lived in Me.
I will save her from herself."

Monday, July 25, 2011


Fear, anxiety, worry, depression, sadness. . .  All these emotions, these regular plagues. . . I fight them with gratitude. . .  I make the choice to set my mind on His gifts:

* Red, metallic nail polish on little bitty toes.
* Being listened to.
* A husband who tells me to "say no" to myself.
* A cuddle after discipline.
* Time alone - quiet - slow thoughts.
* Gray, hot haze.
* Sunflowers coming into bloom.
* What to do with all those tomatoes!?
* Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. . .
* Spouse and children. . .
* Cheap treasures at the thrift store.
* A found bike.
* Faith:  it's all that holds me up sometimes. . . Even when I doubt, I cling to faith.
* Knowing myself.
* Borrowed books.
* Listening to a good dad. . . gleaning.
* Hammocks.
* Sweaty, red child faces.
* Child-rigged tree swings.
* Pyrex - a new old love.
* Feeling slightly more refreshed than the day before.
* A belly-ache that turns out to be nothing.
* Kids telling the days of the week by family rituals.
* 3yo bringing me the prayer book.
* 5yo asking me to do morning prayers again after he wakes late.
* A rough day that finally comes to a yawning end.
* Weekends.
* Benedryl.
* 3 skillets to cook Saturday-morning pancakes on.
* Time alone with my 3yo.
* Answered prayers.
* Lightening that just missed - up-close - pretty awesomely beautiful!
* Milk and honey.
* Finally getting to talk to my mom.
* A cat nap on a Sunday afternoon.
* Warm popcorn, fresh of the stove.
* The loud clap of thunder that scares me into the arms of God.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Sane Mom's Manifesto ~ #1


Asking someone if they would do something and telling someone they must do something are two entirely different things.  I will not ask my kids if they would do something unless they actually have a choice.  If I expect them to do something, I will tell them they must do it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Thanksgiving Should Begin in Mid-July

There's a fight over the carrot patch - kids pushing a shoving and clamoring to see who'll get to pull out a bigger carrot.  We form a line and take turns, oldest to youngest.  Each carrot pulled brings squeals of delight and an analysis of the 4' x 8' plot on which we laid down seeds back toward the end of spring.

They hastily rip off tops, pile carrots high in their box, run them to the kitchen sink to rinse and then chomp on in.

They come back for a couple red tomatoes and to snip a zinnia each.

Oranges, pinks, reds and yellows. . . sweet tastes and sweet smells. . . the feel of dirt beneat the nails, caked thick on finger tips.

We celebrate a Thanksgiving for the harvest at the end of it all - when the last bit's been gathered in - late autumn.

I think I'll start my Thanksgiving in now in mid-summer when we begin reaping the bounty.

* Lightening in the distant cloudy night sky.
* A reminder to hold plans loosely.  I always need that reminder.
* Gooey, half-melted chocolate chips in cookies.
* Visit with old friends - lots of hugs - lots of laughs.
* Plump heirloom tomatoes in abundance. . . turn red, little guys, turn red!
* The tired that makes me rest.
* Husband so quiet in the morning, I don't even wake.
* Baby ears of corn with blond and red hair.
* Splashes in the cold water.
* Kids snacking on carrots just pulled out of the earth.
* Brothers wrestling. . . laughing.
* Digging up carrots with the kids.
* Fresh-cut flowers on the kitchen counter.
* Ceiling fans.
* Inspiration and comfort food.
* Grace for my scattered inconsistent brain!
* The peace that come with just stopping it all for a minute.
* Pencil + Paper = Flexible To-Do List  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Desiring the Kingdom: Habits for the (Home)(School)

After gleaning a dozen personal habits from my reading of James K. A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom, I remembered that the book was written (and shared with me) to address education - Christian education.  How could a mother or teacher take these ideas and work a revolution in her home or class room?  How was I going to use these concepts in our own homeschooling?  What would these heart-forming habits look like for kids?  I've adapted the afore-mentioned habits to work with my kids on a home/school level, and I think any teacher or parent (homeschooling or not) could do the same with the children in his or her care.

  • Live a liturgical week.  Stopping to rest and worshiip with others on Sunday.  Also attending other, regular church functions throughout the week.
  • Live a liturgical year.  Develop in your children a desire for God through the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent and a celebration of Him during the seasons of Christmas and Easter.  Schedule times of seasonally-based worship and learning into your days just as you do other activities and curricula.
  • Shepherd your children toward baptism into the church.  Encourage their membership in the Kingdom and Family of God.  Teach them to prioritize this citizenship - this family.
  • When your children do make that step of faith into a new Kingdom and Family, welcome them and pray for and encourage them in their role as a fellow citizen and heir with you and the Church.  Make service to and within the community of believers accessable to them.
  • Every morning, before the day officially "begins," gather together to pray and ask God for His mercy and grace throughout the day.  (We do this at breakfast.) 
  • Gather again at other times of the day to pray.
  • During your morning gathering, also pray for God's guidance through the coming day.
  • Post The Two Great Commandments somewhere near your "gathering place" as a reminder for all.
  • Along with your regular Scripture memorization, have your kids memorize The Apostle's Creed.
  • Every morning, when most U. S. children are reciting the Pledge of Allegience together, lead your children in reciting The Apostle's Creed - our pledge of allegience to God and His Kingdom.
6.  PRAY
  • Set aside times throughout the day to pray together.  Pray for the needs of others.  Pray for guidance and wisdom for yourselves.
  • Set aside times throughout the day to read God's Word together.  Read it as a story from beginning to end or as segments picked out and read for instruction.
  • Give your children the time and resources to read God's Word daily on their own.  Encourage them to surround this time of Bible reading with prayer and praise to God.
  • Sing to the Lord together throughout the day at regular times.  Teach your children hymns and help them memorize Psalms.  Meal times and bedtimes are great stopping points to do this, but any set time of the day will do.
  • Play praise music during down times or during chore times.
  • Spend time talking with eachother.  Just because you are with eachother all day doesn't mean you need to neglect communication.  Make a point to spend time conversing and listening and teaching the children to do the same.
  • Make your house a welcoming home.  Regularly invite others in, and teach your children to be hospitable and inviting.
  • Make family meal times a priority.  And don't just content yourself to sit together in front of the TV to eat.  Most of the time we need to making meal times a gathering around a table in which we share both food and conversation.
  • Try very hard to not rush these family meal times.  Take time to enjoy both food and fellowship.
  • If there have been on-going skirmishes amongst family members during the day, consider having a time before the blessing of the meal during which forgiveness and reconcilliation take place.
  • Again, practice hospitality with your children. . . have regular meal-time guests.
  • In the middle and / or at the end of the day, sit together for a time of confession.  Children and parents (or teachers) alike should all be encouraged to confess their sin struggles to eachother, ask forgiveness of eachother if needed, and pray for forgiveness and help from God together.
  • Be sure to end these times of prayer with a word of assurance of God's forgiveness.  Perhaps learn and recite 1 John 1:9.
11.  GIVE
  • Encourage and teach a habit of sharing.  Do not allow anyone in the family to easily take the attitude that certain things belong to them.  Teach your children that all we have is God's and that we are stewards of the things He has blessed us with and that one of the ways we do a good job of this is by sharing His blessings to us with others.  Begin the habit of giving inside your own home.
  • Next, teach your children the importance of giving to others outside your immediate family.  Have kids get involved in either taking some of their own time to make gifts for others or taking some of their own money to buy gifts for others.
  • Next, teach your children to give to those they may not even know.  Decide, as a family, ways to give to charitable causes - a local faith-based organization or a national organization that provides for those in need.
  • When your children begin earning their own money, teach them good stewardship of their money.  Teach them that this money, though they earned it with work, still belongs to God.  Teach them to give, in gratitude, to God and then to manage wisely what they keep.
  • Flee the temptation to shelter your kids completely from the world.  Having entrenched them in all the above habits, make a habit, now, of going out into the world.  Cover them in prayer and let them out into a suffering world.
  • Get the kids involved in community sports, clubs and groups.
  • Voluteer your services as a family to those in need.
  • Let your children get paying jobs and / or voluteer their time to do work for free for people in the neighborhood.
  • Teach your children how to form healthy and safe relationships with those outside the Body of Christ, and teach them how to bring the lost into the Family.
Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 1
Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 2
Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 3

Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 3

It's simple really, this formation of habits - Christ-centered habits.

We incorporate the church year and its seasons into our plans, celebrate and mourn together with the church. We gather together with other believers on a regular basis. We accept God's invitation to commune with Him and invite others in to do the same. We sing. . . together. . . psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We seek and submit ourselves to the will of God. We confess, regularly, to God and eachother, those sins that so easily ensnare us and weigh us down. . . and we forgive and accept forgiveness.

Here are a few more habits to help us along in our quest for a true heart-desire for God:

THE HABIT OF ENTERING THE ROYAL PRIESTHOODEnter into covenant with the body of Christ through baptism into a church. Says Smith, "Baptism is not just a picture" of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. . . It is the formation of a new citizen - a citizen of the the unified body of Christ. When we are baptized into the community of believers, we swear allegiance to the Kingdom of God and the Family of our Heavenly Father. But we must go beyond being baptized ourselves. We must also receive with prayer and encouragement others who are baptized into this Kingdom and this Family. We open our lives and homes to our new family, fellow-citizens of this new Kingdom.

Recite, regularly, the Apostle's Creed - memorize it, even.  Having become citizens of the Kingdom of God, we make our Pledge of Allegiance to God and His Kingdom when we say (together) The Creed - our statement of shared beliefs.  By so doing, we remind ourselves of our allegience to God and His people, remind ourselves of our Christian heritage, and remind ourselves of our beliefs.

Pray, habitually, throughout the day, both individually and with other believers.  Intercede for others in prayer before God.  Pray for guidance for yourself.  Every time we pray for others, we take a step outside our own concerns and interests and follow God's call to give, sacrifice, and serve others - to have compassion and consider the needs of others over our own.  Every time we pray for guidance and wisdom, we recognize our own humble state and our need for God.

Read the Word of God.  And listen to it being read.  Get caught up in the story of the Gospel, from the beginning to the end.  Smith proposes that "imbibing the story of Scripture is the primary way that our desire gets aimed at the Kingdom."  When we get wrapped up in the Story, we see our place in it - our purpose.  The Word of God also sets forth for us an idea of how we should live. . . it shows us "the kind of people we are called to be."  Reading and being taught the Word of God - the Story of the Gospel - colors the lense through which we see the world - regular, habitual reading naturally leads to a Gospel-centered view of the world.

It is easy to just go through the motions of communion, especially in churches where the Lord's supper is celebrated every week.  But do make an effort to bring your whole self into the experience of the Eucharist.  Listen to the words your minister speaks and reads - get drawn into this chapter of the Gospel story.  Allow yourself to use every sense in partaking of the bread and wine.  Look at the colors and textures, feel the bread, smell the wine, taste each element and savor while you meditate on the body and blood of Christ.  Consider what the Eucharist means to the Body of Christ:  God's blessing, His provision, His forgiveness.  When we focus our whole body and mind on the Lord's Supper, a weekly participation in this sacrament actually becomes quite a blessing - a time of restoration and an opportunity to examine our own demonstration of forgiveness and reconcilliation.

The act of habitually giving to God and His Kingdom is a way of thanking Him for His blessings in our lives.  When we give, we "feel" it - or, if not, perhaps we should make sure we are giving to the point that we "feel" it - and thereby reinforce in our minds our covenant relationship with a generous God.  Habitual, consistent giving of our money and / or earthly possessions into the Body of Christ also solidifies (as so many of these habits do) our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are sharing, giving what is deemed ours to those who have need of it rather than storing it up for ourselves as is the way of the world.  We are recognizing that nothing is our own - it is God's and as such it all belongs to the Kingdom of God.

Obey the Great Commission.  Go into the world, interact with the culture, and then invite them into to the household of Faith.  Pray God's blessing on every interaction you have during the day - coat your humanity in prayer.  Then, by going forth, you take the blessing of the Kingdom of God into a lost world.

Twelve habits - rituals that form our hearts and desires. . . that have to power to turn our hearts toward God.  This is not a works-based theology. . . we are not earning the free gift of Salvation.  Christ did that on the cross.  We are merely choosing a better way of life - a life centered on Christ - a heart devoted to God.

Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 1
Desiring the Kingdom ~ Part 2
Desiring the Kingdom for the (Home)(School)

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Introverted Thanks-Giving

I'm an introvert.  That's the technical term for shy, right?  Up until I met my Myer's-Brigg's obsessed husband I was merely shy, but he upgraded me to introverted.

Getting together with people is, well, a chore for me.  It is hard work - emotional work - and it takes its physical toll, too, the preparing to be with others.

Bible studies, church and church dinners, get-togethers with friends. . . they all leave me gasping for air at some point before-hand and wringing my hands till they're numb while we're together.

But always, always, always after. . . I'm thankful.

Because people, for all the anxiety they bring me, are truly gifts from the Lord.  And every woman I've shared my heart with at a Bible study, and every friend I've laughed with over dinner. . . each one is a blessing.

* They still like to snuggle with me. . .
* Bright bursts in the sky.
* A day to celebrate - together.
* Old men yelling at baseball game.
* The thrill of a good play.
* A LATE night of TV and hot wings the night before the last day of vacation.
* A crying 5yo who wants me, his mom.
* Kids in baseball caps, hot dogs in hand.
* Freedom in Christ - the most important and hardest-won freedom of all.
* Sweaty summer evenings.
* A 7yo who hasn't cried for me in quite a while. . . And now. . .
* Feta. . . and sweetened whipped cream. . . yum.
* Cold, orangy pops.
* The quiet beauty of an early summer morning.
* Personal pizza with the kids.
* Encouraging husband and sharing struggles.
* Trusting God to give what He thinks we need, not what we think we need.
* 5yo whispers in the middle of the night.
* Early morning bunny-sighting with 3yo.
* 5yo on  a bike.
* Fellowship with good friends.
* Waiting for things to ripen.
* Picking our own home-grown blackberries.
* Sweet sleep. . . finally.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Falling into HIS Plans

"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps."
~ Proverbs 16:9
I'm a lister - a planner.  I fill journals, notepads, scrap paper, word docs and anything else I can find with lists and plans and lists of how to accomplish my plans.

And then it happens.  I'm knocked straight down off my list by the hand of the Lord.

I get upset.  I cry and stomp my feet (sometimes literally).  But I always hear the humbling voice of the Lord whispering (okay, sometimes He shouts), "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that will prevail." (Proverbs 19:21)

I think I know it all - how it all should go.  How my day should be laid out, what a perfect house looks like, what a perfect child acts like, what a perfect marriage is, how a perfect mom / wife behaves and thinks and talks. . .  And I write down my plans and lists accordingly.  And God shows me that I know. . . well, not a whole lot after all.

I'm humbled.

And it hurts.

But it's also pretty freeing. . .

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD, "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
~Jeremiah 29:11
If I can just be humbled, just be okay with it. . . I can fall into the freedom of letting Him who really knows best plan my days, direct my steps. . . I can fall into the peace that comes with that freedom.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Hard-to-See Blessings

Two little twin boys - miracles to their mother - answers to prayers, so many prayers of so many people prayed with so many tears. . .  They are truly gifts from God.  They are gifts He gave each to the other.

I watched them today at church, just turned a year old.  They crawled after eachother, looked for one another when sad or worried, played with eachother like the best friends they are.  I wonder if they will ever realize the blessing they have in one another.

Sometimes the most obvious blessings are the hardest to see.

* My garden.
* Chicken pasta salad - a summer staple at our house.
* Berries.
* Frozen fresh fruit - yum.
* Sweet fellowship with a small few after the crowd goes home.
* No more credit cards!
* Lyme disease test - NEGATIVE!
* LONG hike through the hilly woods - single file - crying finally stopping and root-hopping beginning.
* Cold water.
* Italian - yum.  Juicy pear water ice - yum.  Eating both with good friends - laughing, sharing - happy and warm.
* Quiet reading out back at dusk.
* Saying, "No."
* The smell of tomato vine on my hands.
* Generous strangers that give coupons so six treats at the water ice shop only cost $5.
* Colors.
* Warm sun first thing in the morning.
* Snuggly sleeping bag in the family room - all ready for a 3yo.
* The joy a yellow pad of paper brings to a 5yo.
* Family.
* A dripping hose.
* Blooming zinnias and poppies.
* Baby watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes and carrots.
* Pepper plants having a growth spurt.
* Dirt - you can't messy it up.  :)
* Golden hay lying across sunny fields.
* Book browsing.
* Voice of an old, dear friend just dripping Southern charm - a reminder of "home."
* Smell of herbs in the garden shop.