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Faith's Firm Foundation: October 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Little Words "Just Try Again"

I bought a wall plaque recently at an antique store because of its encouraging message.  "Just Try Again."  Who doesn't need to hear an encouraging word like this?  Here is the full message:
Try Again
Three little words "Just try again."
Their meaning is so very plain.
Make use of them,
they'll stand by you.
"Just try again"
and you'll get through.


Some Women Just Know How To Get What They Want

  Some women just know how to get what they want.  Women are born manipulators.  If you don't believe me, just watch your little girl as she wraps her Daddy around her little finger--you know what I mean!  Women don't have to be taught this.  We are born knowing how to get what we want.  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9  We women have it refined to an artform.  You say, "What?  I'm not deceitful!"  Well, maybe not.  How about just a little bit manipulative?  I know I have been guilty of this in my marriage: I wanted a favorable response to some request.  So, I made sure the house looked nice, and everything was in order, the kids were duly instructed to play quietly in their rooms and not bother Daddy.  Sweetly I met him at the door, looking nice, served him his favorite meal that night, made him happy and comfortable, and after I'd buttered him up, I said, "Oh, Honey?"  And, if I didn't get my way, look out.  Not that there's anything wrong with making your husband or father his favorite meal and making him comfortable.  It's the motive of the heart and our response when our will is thwarted.  And it's a sin of the heart from the day we're born.  It's easy to see this in our children, when they throw a tantrum (and for their sakes we should train them to submit their will to their parents, which will make it much easier for them to submit to the will of God).
     But what happens when you don't get your way? Do you pout?  Shut the door just a little harder than usual?  Resist your husband's warm embrace?  The only way to kill the flesh is to starve it to death.  You can beat it down, which is somewhat effective, talk to it like a 2-year-old and tell it "No!" But there's only one way to make the flesh die and be able to live in the Spirit. ("But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Romans 8:9  "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Romans 8:13)
     We must starve the flesh and feed the spirit.  Starving the flesh means we don't feed it.  We not only don't encourage ourselves to get our will and way, we purposely give others their way and deny ourselves *cheerfully*--we deny ourselves sometimes even when it would not be sinful to have it go our way.  "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Philippians 2:4  Deny yourself and take up your cross.
     When we manipulate circumstances and people in order to get our way, we are not being like Jesus.  Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. ("Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Hebrews 5:8-9)
     I don't think that the garden of Gethsemane was the first time He had to die to His will and submit to His Heavenly Father's.  One time we know of for sure, recorded in Luke 2:41-52, was when Jesus was 12.  He thought His time had come to start His earthly public ministry, but His parents thought differently. (v. 51 "And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them")  Jesus had to do what His earthly authorities said, even when He thought He knew better.  Being both God and man, His flesh had to die, His earthly nature had to submit, even if sometimes, being God, He knew better than they did.  We are not God.  We often, though, still think we know better. We know just how it should go.  I am guilty of this, and it gets me into trouble every time.  I assume and presume.  In my mind, it is obvious how it will go and what we should do in such and such a situation.  I am far down the road in my thoughts and planning, and all of a sudden, "my" plans are changed or thwarted.  I would love to say that I always handle this with calm submission.  Jesus had to come under His authorities.  In little ways, He had to die to His will every day until one day, the ultimate test was faced in the Garden.  If Jesus had to die to His flesh, how much more do we.  Daily.  Not my will, but Thine be done, Lord.

Galatians 5:24 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit." (Read also Galatians 5:13ff)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Voddie and Jasmine Baucham's blogs

     Something surprising happened today.  At first I wasn't sure whether to be proud or embarrassed.  My 20-year-old daughter, Kelsey, has been following Voddie Baucham's daughter Jasmine's blog, Joyfully at Home, and really enjoying it!  Jasmine encourages girls in their role of being a Daughter at Home, in preparation for being a wife and mother, and a Keeper at Home, as it says in Titus 2.  She, together with her dad, appeared on the video "Return of the Daughters," a really excellent DVD helping girls to gain a clear and Biblical vision for their lives while still at home and as it relates to their relationship with their fathers specifically. It was here that we first heard of Jasmine.
     Yesterday, her father, Voddie Baucham, started a new Regular Feature on his blog of, once a month, sharing one of Jasmine's blogposts.  I follow Mr. Baucham's blog, but didn't get around to reading it yesterday.  Today, I was home alone, not feeling particularly well, not even well enough to check on my blog, which you know says something!  But I thought I would check out what Mr. Baucham had to say.  I really appreciate his wisdom, his boldness, and frankly I'm a little intimidated by him (I've never actually met the man, but he's so revered in our circle, and quoted, and if he writes something, everybody's reading it, and if he's speaking somewhere, everyone wants to go and hear him.  So, he's kind of...Famous in my circle)  Anyways, Kelsey has been telling us wonderful things about his daughter's blog, and I have noticed that she will make a point of reading Jasmine's blog, even if it is a busy day, and it's late, and that she is so engaged in her reading, and sometimes I'd hear her laughing delightedly while reading.  So, I noted that the post by Jasmine's father said, "Daddy's Little Girl" and I thought it would be about his daughter, Jasmine, who I was looking forward to reading about.  So, I guess it was kind of a shock when I scrolled down the page of Mr. Baucham's blog and read my daughter's name, Kelsey.
     The title read, "A Reply to Kelsey's Question." You know that feeling when you just know, without having to be told, that it's not just any Kelsey--it's my Kelsey. Kelsey didn't tell me that she had been commenting on Jasmine's blog--she thought that she would ask a question and get an email reply back. So, she was surprised, as well.  My first reaction was, "My daughter's on Voddie Baucham's blog!"  At first I was shocked and well, a little maybe when someone important notices you in a crowd and smiles at you or talks to you.  Without reading any more, I clicked on Kelsey's question from yesterday just to make sure it was really her.  Reading the question was a little humbling.

     Then, I began to read all the comments, and it was so amazing, because they were talking to us! and some of the comments made me cry, they were so right to the heart of the matter, and there was wonderful counsel for Kelsey. And the insights touched my heart deeply. What a blessing!  If you go to Voddie Baucham's blog, Truth in Love, you can read Jasmine's reply and also click on the link there to go to her blog, (or click above on "Kelsey's question from yesterday").  I appreciate so much the comments.  The discussion, I hope, many will find beneficial.  I encourage you to read Jasmine and Voddie Baucham's other posts on their blogs--these father and daughter's blogs are very different, naturally, but I highly recommend each of them.
     A note to Jasmine: I want to thank you for your blog and the maturity and wisdom with which you write, well beyond your years.  Your thoughts are very Biblical and well-articulated, and in the case of Kelsey's question, I want to thank you especially, and your readers, for your caring, wise and thoughtful comments and advice to Kelsey.  All the comments were amazingly helpful and insightful.  I shed a few tears, especially when reading Amber, Elizabeth and your (Jasmine's) words.
     Thank you so much, Jasmine, for the time and thought that you put into answering my daughter's question.  We've read and discussed not only your answer, but all the comments and they have been extremely helpful. Thank you to each person who took the time to post a comment and for the thoughtful and wise counsel that was given.  I know that our good relationship will only be better for it!  I am grateful for a daughter who loves the Lord so much, serves her family and the Lord with all her heart, seeks to grow in her relationships, and is not afraid to ask hard questions and humbly seek counsel from Godly sources.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Most Important Thing in Your Homeschooling

Walnut in the Jar Analogy
I was thinking today about the walnut in the jar.  Perhaps you've seen the cute little decorated baby food jars that are to help us remember to order our days and lives, carefully choosing to put in the most important first.

The Order Is Important
There is the walnut, which is a symbol of the "Important eternal things."  Then there is somewhat lesser things, but still "important" represented by rice.  Then there is the sand.  The countless "grains" represent the thousands of minute details that can fill a woman's day.  And water.

The way it works, try it yourself, is that if you put the walnut in first, then the rice, then the sand, then the water, it will all fit, but if you try to put in the millions of little details, obligations, meetings, urgent, but not "important" in the eternal scope of things, and then try to fit the walnut in last--the Important Things and Eternal, especially Time sitting at the Lord's Feet each day and Prayer--it won't work.

Eternal Impact of Scheduling
I was thinking about this analogy and how very, very important it is--I constantly have to work on this--to put the important eternal things into my day first.  I have to go to the Lord and ask Him what He wants me to do, and revamp my plans and schedule whenever a new thing comes in.

It is so easy to get off track and suddenly realize that the more "important" things are getting neglected.  Satan desperately wants to get us side-tracked, so that we fill our days and lives with, well, anything but what God wants.

Good Things or Best
Even "good" activities will suffice if they keep us from the "best" that God has for us.  The walnut illustration came to my mind today, and it's such a great analogy, because if I spend time with the Lord in His Word first thing every day, and pray over the plans, then there's time and order and direction in my home and life.

He fills my heart with peace, He answers my prayer as to the order in which He wants me to do things.  He places His desires in my heart and gives me His eyes to see what's important.

The Walnut in Homeschooling
Taking this analogy one step further, I thought about Homeschooling and little children.  God places a great importance on "first" things.  In Homeschooling, we always tried to get the most "important" things done first.  Then if we didn't get to everything, as often is the case, we would have done the important things.

I always try to encourage young Homeschooling moms that about 90% of Homeschooling is Spiritual, 10% Academic.  The most important thing is to teach your children about the Lord, to spend time in the Word with them, to help them memorize Bible verses (and chapters and books).  To teach them to love the Lord Jesus, and to trust Him with their whole lives.  Character and Godliness.

It's So Important
Starting their day in prayer and Bible reading is so important.  Little children memorize almost effortlessly.  Repeating Bible verses to them is all it takes for them to remember them, it seems.

A Story
When our children were little, we would also read at night during our evening bedtime ritual.  We had read the Christmas stories, put out by Arch publishing, so many times before bed, that when Dane was three, he could recite one of the books entirely, turning the pages at exactly the right time. (It helps a lot that Arch books are all written in rhyme :)

We would sit on "Mommy and Daddy's bed" (it was bigger so everybody could fit) with our stack of books, and snuggle under the covers together and read and read and read.  Then we would pray, I would sing Lullaby and Goodnight and Jesus Loves Me and put them to bed.

Socialization and All That Stuff
The world would tell you to get all stressed out over "socialization" and your child's test scores, and try to scare you until you're a wreck thinking that your child is never going to make it because they can't recite the Pythagorean theorem by age 6, etc., etc., etc.

Tell me what you really remember from what you learned in school.  I am not advocating slothfulness or irresponsibility.  I am saying, "Go to God and He'll show you what's important in your school day.  Listen to Him, follow His direction.  He'll give wisdom." 
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." 
James 1:5-6

You can go back and learn what you missed academically, but you can't go back and re-lay the spiritual foundation and the training in Godliness.

Redeeming the Years the Locusts Have Eaten
God is gracious and can redeem the years the locusts have eaten, but if you have small children, everything you're doing with them to train them in character and obedience to God's Word, all the time that you're spending answering their questions (sometimes seemingly endless questions) about God and His creation--"Why can't we see God?"  "Why do zebras have stripes?"--it is not wasted time.

"And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  
Galatians 6:9

If You Read Nothing Else, Read This
Let's remember to put the walnut in first--
in our children,
in our day,
in our life.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:33

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hospitality: How to Be a Good Guest (continued)

     Ok, so we said it makes your hostess feel good when you respond with joy to her invitation, even if you have to decline it.  Also, if you receive a written invitation to a gathering or party, make sure you respond to the RSVP that is included.  In order to remember to do this, I try to do it as soon as possible.  If you know that you cannot attend, call the hostess immediately and let her know how sorry you are that you will not be able to attend.  If there is another engagement that you are committed to, briefly state that; you don't need to go into great detail.  The goal is to leave her, again, feeling glad that she at least tried!  Assure her that you regret not being able to attend, and, if appropriate, that you hope to be able to come the next time, or to be able to participate should there be another event in the future.  If you are not sure if you can attend, or need to talk to your husband first, put the invitation in your planning notebook or where you keep your things to attend to the next day.  Make a note on the day on your calendar, if necessary, which is a couple of days before the "RSVP by" date.  Include the phone number right there on the calendar and write the event tentatively on your calendar.  (I always put a small ? by it to indicate to myself that it isn't finalized yet.)
     Now!  The evening has arrived.  You have prepared your salad, dessert, or whatever you agreed upon to bring.  Arrive on time.  Do not be late and do not be early.  (If you know the host family well, and there are circumstances for which you cannot be held responsible that will cause you to be a few minutes late, it's not the end of the world...)  And five minutes early is ok.  But do not make a practice of coming late--or early!  Being too early is almost as cardinal a sin as being too late!  Amazing things happen inside a house when the doorbell rings 15 minutes before the guests were supposed to arrive!
     If you were invited a week or two in advance, be sure and confirm with the hostess on the day before the event.  Confirm that everything is still on for your evening together, confirm the time and what you are bringing, and reassure your hostess how much you are looking forward to your evening together (or whatever you will be doing), and express your confidence that it's going to be "so much fun"!  Your hostess is, no doubt, nervous about having you come, no matter how many times she invites people to her home, and reassuring her and predicting success for her event is a gracious way of helping to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy!  By saying so, you will unconsciously be assuring yourself, as well, and you will automatically begin to, if you haven't already, expect it to succeed.
     Now, you have arrived.  At the door, shake hands with your host and hostess and smile!!  Look them in the eye and say, "I'm so glad you invited us!" or "Thank you so much for inviting us!"
     Children should be instructed to be friendly, but quietly wait to be spoken to and then answer politely any questions put to them directly. (They should be taught to respond when an adult speaks to them. When very small, smiling is acceptable, but as they get older, especially, the boys should be taught to reach out their hand, look their host and hostess in the eye, and to give a firm, manly handshake, and say, "Hello, Mr./Mrs. __________." or your children can call a man, "Sir" and a woman "Ma'am".   (If they are meeting them for the first time, you could even teach them to say "how do you do.")  Train your children to look people directly in the eye.   Teach them, at home, in practice sessions, how to meet someone, shake hands (yes, start very young!)  and to ask how the person is--to give a polite greeting.  Teach them how to have a conversation with an adult.  Practice at home.  I'm not talking about waiting until you have a teenager in your house!  Teach your child the minute he can talk...Before he can talk! how to respond when someone speaks to him or her.  If your child doesn't respond the way you would like him/her to, just say to the person, "We're working on that," and leave it at that.  (And do be working on that at home!)
     Take your shoes off and place them neatly out of the way, on a rug, if there is one.  If they are dripping with water or snow, etc., wipe them off well before leaving them so they don't form a giant puddle on your hostess' floor.
     Your hostess may offer to take the dish you are holding in your hands, but, if not, hand it to your husband while you take your coat off.  Wait to be told, or ask politely, "Where would you like us to put our coats?" (if it's not obvious)  Your children should wait by your side politely for you to help them with their coats, if necessary, and your older children should be offering whatever help is needed by you, and then step out of the way.  Try to avoid congestion in the doorway, but don't allow your children to charge on in to another person's home.  Children should be taught never to throw their coats on the floor.  They should hold on to them until you've been told where your hostess wants them.  If you live where there is cold weather, and heavier coats are necessary, move into the room, or entry area, as quickly as possible and close the door to the outside, to prevent cold air from entering and heat from escaping from your host's home.  Always close the door behind you unless instructed to do otherwise!  It all comes down to courtesy and the Golden Rule!  How would you want to be treated.  Now, go the extra mile.
     Tomorrow:  How to Behave in Someone Else's Home

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Beautiful Fall Day

Freezing Corn
Today was a beautiful fall day, and here are some of the things we did with it!
     I had the blessing of helpers to take care of about 5 dozen ears of free sweet corn we were given which needed to be frozen.  Grandpa had just shucked all of them and I'd been cutting it off the cob, when my wonderful husband came in from mulching leaves and joined in to finish the job!  (Kelsey was making cookies to serve during the break at tomorrow's seminar.)  Of course, for Grandpa, this amount of corn is a drop in the bucket to what my mother-in-law used to do!  After all, she did have an acre of garden!!  He tells us that to cool all the corn, she would fill the bathtub with ice water and then put in large metal pans filled with corn.  The last few years they would shuck the corn in the fields.
     The result of our efforts today was 12 pint-size bags of corn in the freezer!  Not a ton, but I was grateful to have it and I was also able to share some of the additional corn and free produce we received (squash and watermelon) with my mom and a neighbor who's been very generous to us in the past.  What a blessing!!  Thank you Hendricksons!!

Jumping in the Leaves

Should we just look at them?
No!  Let's jump in!!

   Breezy, Jeanie and Doug--just havin' some fun

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Field Trip to the Mill City Museum

     Yesterday we had a fun day!  Jerry took the afternoon off work, and Dane took the day off, and our whole family took Grandpa to the Mill City Museum!  It was very interesting! This museum is built into the ruins of what was once the world's largest flour mill. And it is located on the Mississippi River.  Even though it was raining, it was fun to look from way up on the 8th floor out at the river and the city far below.
This history is recorded on the museum's website:
Beginning in 1880 and for 50 years thereafter, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” At the industry’s peak, the Washburn A Mill was the most technologically advanced and the largest in the world. At peak production, it ground enough flour to make 12 million loaves of bread in a day.

The city grew up around the mills, which received grain via rail lines stretching across the Northern Plains grain belt into the Dakotas and Canada. Trains also carried the milled flour to Duluth and to eastern U.S. destinations both for export and domestic distribution. In 1870, the city’s population was 13,000. Twenty years later it had grown to nearly 165,000.

After World War I the milling industry in Minneapolis began to decline. As the industry moved out of Minneapolis, the old mills fell into disuse. The Washburn A Mill closed in 1965. In 1991 the mill was nearly destroyed by fire.

Working through the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, the city cleaned up the rubble and fortified the charred walls of the mill in the late 1990s. Shortly thereafter, the Minnesota Historical Society announced plans to develop Mill City Museum.
 The Flour Tower 8-story elevator show was one highlight of our tour.  A large elevator with padded bleacher-type seating took our tour group up and down from floor to floor, opening its gigantic door to show different aspects of the original flour mill workings, with superimposed scenes of workers handling 100-pound bags of flour, machinery and some of the dangers faced daily, (flour dust is highly explosive--in the right environment--even more so than dynamite, and there was a huge explosion before they established safety measures), scenes from the original mill, etc. all the while there were voices of "employees" talking about what it was like to work at the mill through the years.  The employees became very good friends, on the job and off; "Life at the mill"--the people lived and worked closely together, and many, many of them worked their whole lives (20, 25, 30 years) there. 
     I found the Betty Crocker exhibit very interesting also.  Here is a picture of an old cook stove (Grandpa says they used one quite like it for many years!) 

What amazed me, too, was the story of a woman, Mary Dodge Woodward, who at my age or a little older, went with her grown son and his family (he owned and ran a huge farm--1600 acres I think, which in that day meant work for a lot of men, especially during harvest.  This woman had to cook for all these men!  In the exhibit, there is a table set with food (not real, of course), and on the plates there is information.  This plate said, "I baked 17 loaves of bread today, not to mention 21 pies, and puddings, cakes, and doughnuts."

Here is how Betty Crocker has changed over the years!

I also highly recommend the food at the cafe there.  I had the half sandwich and soup: Cream of Asparagus and Club Sandwich.  It was delicious and plenty of it!  They have homemade desserts, too.  The guys who served us were interesting, fun characters, too!

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Friday, October 23, 2009


     I feel angry, sad, sick.  I just watched a video on YouTube (click here ) of a speech given by the leader of our country to a group, the largest group, of those who believe sin is a right. He spoke to them in supportive words and tones, and would have us not only accept the enactment of sin, but he called for "admiration" of sin.
Violation of Scripture, deviant called normal, right called wrong, wrong called right. Appalling.
     I share this with you, ONLY because you must see and hear it for yourselves directly from him.
Romans 1:22-27, 32:
     "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:

 Who changed the truth of God into a lie,

and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
     Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hospitality: Being a Good Guest

I was asked a question regarding hospitality the other day that got me thinking.  The question regarded guests with children who haven't been taught proper respect for other people's things.
     Rather than answer this question directly, (I will talk about it later), I thought I would make some suggestions on how we can be good guests in other people's homes.  I love to invite people who, when asked, sound excited or pleased to be invited!  They genuinely want to accept the invitation, you can just tell!  Even if they have to decline the invitation, they leave you feeling glad that you tried.  It is a thoughtful gesture to offer to bring something to contribute to the meal.  When we invite someone and they offer to do this, I always ask them to bring either a salad or dessert.  Even if I haven't decided what I'm having yet, whatever they bring will usually "go," and it is a big help to me.  Do not insult your host by trying to bring half the meal, though!  You can ask her what kind of salad (green, fruit, etc.) or dessert (will it be a heavy meal where a light dessert would be appreciated perhaps) or you may ask her, if she knows yet, what she is planning to have.  This is more appropriate if you know the hostess well.  Make sure to ask her how many people to plan for in what you bring; will there be other guests attending?  That way you will have enough for everyone.  You might also ask if there are any food allergies or things they especially don't like--you wouldn't want to bring a dessert or salad with nuts in it if someone is allergic to them!
     It is a nice gesture of appreciation to bring a small gift for your hostess.  It doesn't have to be expensive:  a package of napkins that are especially pretty, tied with raffia or a ribbon, is nice.  Some hostess gifts that I have received:  napkins, a candle, (in the fall) a jar filled with a mix of candy corn and dry roasted peanuts and, tied around the cover, raffia held a small square card stamped with a fall design and expressing gratitude for our invitation.  I have received flowers (both from the guest's garden and picked up at the local grocery store).  Packages of tea are appreciated hostess gifts, and you can add a small tea basket, if you like.  I like to keep a few gifts on my gift shelf (I try to find little things inexpensively throughout the year).  Then, if an unexpected invitation comes, I'm ready to bless the hostess without having to run out at the last minute, which usually means spending more money than is necessary.
     Before you go is the time to prepare your children for what is expected of them.  Training our children means that others will enjoy our children and not dread their arrival and wait expectantly for their departure!  We want to be a good testimony to our family, friends and neighbors who are not saved, as well.  This is a whole topic in itself, so I will devote a whole post to it in the near future.
     When you arrive at your guest's house, be courteous of their neighbors and them.  Park where you will not be a bother to anyone; do not park in their driveway if your car is leaking oil, don't park in front of their mailbox, etc.  Do not get out of the car in such a way that the whole neighborhood wonders what on earth is happening!  Quietly get out and go to the door, greeting your host and hostess with a handshake/hug and a smile.  This is not the time to tell about your awful day, how terribly the children behaved today, etc., etc.
     Next post I will cover polite behavior suggestions for inside someone else's home and table manners. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hospitality: Pride or Prejudice

My Mom Showing Hospitality

Left to Right: Dane, Kelsey, my Mom, Jerry and his Dad

     Let me tell you about my mother.  My mom, at 88, is still one of the best hostesses around.  But, when I was growing up, you would have loved to visit our home.  Did we have a fancy house? No.  It was not fancy at all.  Were you served the most exquisite food you'd ever tasted? No.  She was a very good cook, but it was normal everyday fare.  So, why would you have loved to come to our house??  Because my mom (and my dad) would have made you feel so loved.  When you came to our home, you felt welcome with a capital W.
     When a drop-in visitor would arrive, my mother would say, "Well, who on earth can that be?" (From our living room, she couldn't see the person at the door, and usually people parked on the side of the house, so the first thing announcing a visitor would be the ring of the doorbell.)  So, she always spoke her wonder out loud, as she got up to see who was at the door.  But, followed very closely on the heels of that question would be the most genuinely warm and excited exclamation when she found out who indeed was at her door, "Oh! It's Joe!"  And she would rush to let you in, or tell one of us, if we were closer to the door, to let you in quick!  We had a very old and heavy front door with an old fashioned lock that you had to turn while putting your weight against the door, and then you had to pull the heavy thing towards you to open it and once having accomplished this, you entered the three-season porch, which would be very cold in winter, and there you had to unlock a second door, with two locks, which you might find locked or unlocked at any given time. (We lived in the city on a corner :) so this was just standard procedure)  But there was no thought of delay or letting you stand out there waiting while she checked the neatness of the room, or looked at herself in the mirror, or picked up anything on her way to the door. No.  She had only one purpose, and that was to open that door and give you a welcome that made you sooooo glad you came!  "Well, Joe, how are you?  Come on in!  We were just talking about you the other day! What brings you to this neck of the woods?  Come on in!  Would you like something to drink?  Have you eaten?  I've got some (here she would list off sandwich fixings, or leftover goulash, or whatever she had in the fridge, heading towards the kitchen unless you stopped her--surely you must be hungry!) "You'll eat a sandwich won't you?" You would be answering, or trying to answer, some of her many questions, explaining why you stopped, and how long, or short, you could stay, but there would be No Question in your mind that you were the most welcome thing that could have happened to my mother at that moment.  She didn't embarrass you by beginning to pick up her house, (her house was always pretty much picked up, with only one or two small items left out of place. But it wasn't fancy, or stiff in any way, shape or form.  And if it wasn't neat, she would just explain briefly with a laugh what we were in the middle of, and then clear a comfortable place for you to sit, and you would be the important thing again. The only notice she would ever give to the state of the house was to move something, if it was necessary, so that you could obey her prompting to "sit down and tell us all about yourself.  How's Joan?"  She would get the conversation going so effortlessly, sincerely wanting to know how you were.  While you were talking, and my dad was listening carefully, and now would be fully engaged in the conversation, she would disappear into the kitchen, bringing back coffee, perhaps water, depending on what was your answer to "What would you like?" and cookies on a plate, from the never-empty cookie jar, just in case someone stopped by.  If you had hesitated even a second in your answer to "Are you hungry? Have you eaten?" she would now be putting together a light lunch.  She always had sandwich fixings on hand (turkey or ham slices, cheese slices, bread, lettuce pieces, tomato slices--from her own tomato plant in summer)--and now would be placing them on small plates on a tray along with a little dish of mayo, the butter dish, a medium-sized dish of potato chips, a bowl of pickles, a plate of a little fresh fruit, perhaps a jello salad and the aforementioned cookies.  All would be brought out to the dining room table (our kitchen was about 4x5 feet) and set out along with her mother's china luncheon plates, or nice paper plates (I think this depended on how relaxed she felt with her guest, though you would never know the difference by looking at her!) and now she always uses paper!  Glasses and a pitcher of water or lemonade would be there, too; I always helped her.  Now she would call you to come and have a bite.  "It's not much, but come and have a bite.  Do you like salad dressing? I have a little mustard, too, if anyone wants that."  She would hover a little to make sure that everything you could possibly want would be offered to you, all the while also offering you options for seating: "Would you like a tray table?  There's trays there (trays for you to put your plate and glass on were first on the table before the plates), "but if you'd rather, I can get you a tray table.  There're coasters there on the table for you to use, but don't worry about that old table; we've had that since, when did we get that?  Well, anyway, don't worry about it, but if you want to use them, you can.  Is there anything else I can get you?"  She didn't pelt you with these questions, or talk in an annoying way.  Rather, she anticipated your every need, and was there with one or two options to satisfy it.  "Oh, here, I'm sorry, let me get you some ________."  "It's not much, but...."  And you would be quick to say, "Oh, no, it's wonderful!  Thank you so much!  You really shouldn't have."  And she would say it was nothing, and did you get some lettuce on your sandwich?  Then the conversation would flow again.
     When you had to leave, she would say over and over how glad she was that you stopped, and if you're ever over our way again, please stop in again!  And bring Joan next time!  And greet the rest of your family.
     When you had departed, she would say how nice it had been to see you.  She would tell everyone she talked to in the next couple of weeks about the nice surprise she'd had, "Did I tell who stopped by the other day?"
     You would leave feeling so warm inside.  You would have laughed and shared the good and bad of your life with someone who you knew was genuinely interested.  You would know that you would get the exact same treatment each and every time that you came, even if you dropped in unexpectedly.
     Pride didn't enter into her thinking. She simply served you. She had a few food items always on hand, and kept her house orderly enough, ready enough, for the possibility of "unexpected" company.  And she would not prejudge your motives in coming.  She would openly receive you and let your story unfold.
     You would have loved to come to our home when I was growing up.  You would have felt so loved.

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Hospitality Excuses

     A lot of women think they can't have people over because they don't have a nice enough house, or table, or space.  Here are some things we have done:
     To cover a wooden table which was in bad shape, but large (we had bought them cheap at thriftstores or received them as giveaways) I used tablecloths which I picked up at thrift stores, or I would put them on my Christmas and Birthday "wishlist". But flat sheets also work very well. I have also used "afghans/blankets."  I love the way texture in fabric warms up and gives visual excitement to a table.  When tables weren't available, I have put a sheet on the floor and let the children feel like they were having an indoor picnic! And the adults sat on folding chairs.  I never waited to have "house beautiful" (it will never happen) and once hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 50 in our empty unfinished basement! Open rafters, cold cement floors, and pretty dark!  But the fellowship was so sweet, and everyone helped by bringing food, and we didn't have to worry about spilling on the floor :) because it was cement, and the warmth of the friendship and overflowing thankful hearts overcame our cold environment! We sang hymns of thanks, gave testimonies, and prayed together holding hands.  A wonderful memory!
     We, as well as a couple of other families we know, have over the years accumulated items helpful in serving very large groups, such as long plastic and wooden tables, extra folding chairs, large 5-gallon drink containers, large coolers, etc., and we share with one another. As our children have gotten older, we have also started picking up items at garage sales very cheaply, that we have used to decorate when hosting wedding and baby showers, and wedding receptions!  It has saved a lot of money, and we know we'll be using them time and again in the future, so it has been a good investment.
     You might ask, "Where do you keep it all?"
     As I have been picking up things at garage sales and thrift stores, such as serving dishes, etc. I've had to become creative in storage, too.  (Only a few months ago did I get a china hutch, which I still don't have any dishes in.)  I am constantly getting rid of things to make room for other things and reorganizing what I have to make storing and using my dishes easier.  If you are going to keep one thing, another has to go.  If you're going to practice hospitality, it's a choice.  With that choice, space has to be dedicated to the storage of "the tools" necessary in order to "practice" this art.
     Some ideas that have worked well for me are:  storing table linens in an old antique dresser (it sits nearby in the family room at present); a deep hall cupboard has all my extra dishes.  One of my cupboards goes way up into the ceiling, and I use that space for less frequently used dishes.  I use old boxes to house like items, and protect glasses, and cut cardboard to make dividers, so I can stack without breaking anything.  I now have more seasonal items, and I have a box with fall decorations and dishes stored away where I have the Christmas boxes, but in the front, and keep the hall cupboard for things I am using "right now."  I do not believe in storing things that I don't use.  I feel that if the Lord has allowed me to have a beautiful dish, I can bless others with it.  I don't save all the beautiful things for "others" either, but try to make a pretty table for our family, as well.  Of course, small children are given "training dishes," pretty glass things that I got for 50 cents at the thrift store, or "pretty," but plastic, dishes.  I like to follow a color scheme.  Color makes things look more beautiful even when they are plain.
     But even when our children were small, we used the good dishes so our children would get experience once in awhile.  We used the china for company, and they used it, too, as soon as they were able, because I wanted them to learn how to have good manners and be able to know how to act at a nice dinner!  (We couldn't afford nice dishes and I didn't get them for wedding presents, but I had a set of china.  All that I did have was my china in the early days of our marriage! My husband had been in Vietnam, and was able to purchase whole sets of china in Asia for "dirt-cheap" prices, so he bought sets for his mom, sisters, and me, though he didn't know me at the time.  At the age of 21, with no bride in mind, he looked forward one day to marriage, and bought a service for 12 of fine china--beautiful--all the serving pieces, a full service of stainless silverware in a case, and a matching tea service with luncheon plates.  Yes, I feel very blessed.  I used it very often in our early years of marriage, because it was all I had for "company," until I had the money to buy enough more "ordinary" dishes to serve more than just us.  I found sets at thrift stores--they are wonderful sources for dishes.)
     Ordinary dishes can be made more special by using cloth napkins, which you can make yourself, or buy inexpensively at the thrift store.  Only in the U.S. do we think everything has to match.  I don't have everything match everytime.  If I don't have enough glasses or dishes, I will have four of this and three of that.  Be creative!  You can use canning jars for glasses, and also for holding flowers as a centerpiece.  A ribbon or piece of raffia adds a splash of color and interest.  A quilt makes a unique and pretty tablecloth.  I try to tie things together with accessories, or group things by color.  I might have a table in the living room with one kind of dishes, and another in the family room with another kind.  Paper plates are fine, too!  Be relaxed, have fun, and your guests will, too.
     The idea of hospitality is to show love to others.  Be interested in them.  Think of questions to ask.  Don't be worried about yourself.  They will be blessed.

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Hospitality How-To's

     Thanks to Kim and Life in a Shoe (click here) for the ideas on showing hospitality in a small space!!  Since I grew up in a very hospitable home, (and so did my husband)--we called our house a "big" house at the time, but now I think of it as small :)--and as the Bible commands us to "practice hospitality," there was never any question whether I would show hospitality, only how.  I started out with a tiny amount of space, but even as our space has expanded, the size of the groups we have hosted has grown with it, so that it still takes creativity and organization. So, here are a few thoughts on hospitality.  My goal is to show you that anyone can do it, and pass on some ideas that have helped me!
     For larger groups, I frequently set up an additional table in the living room, (it helped when I only had two chairs in there and no sofa) and also downstairs, and in summer we spread outside to the deck.  We were blessed to add a large deck and sliding glass door to the house a few years ago. Before we had even a table, my husband made one out of the scaffolding he had used to paint the house:), and put a board over it--I threw a tablecloth over it and we used it for quite awhile actually--it was very sturdy!  When we host larger groups (35-50), we serve the food on the wider part of the counter, or on the table, and route a path around that takes you from one side of the kitchen, getting your food, past the desserts on the other side of the sink, and getting your drinks from a large 5-gallon container for water on the other side of the stove, with plastic cups, and a marker to put your name on the cup.  There's a space to set your plate while you write. We put a large coffee pot full of hot water on the counter and a large basket with assorted teas next to it and cups for hot drinks.  People help themselves.  At Christmas, when we have our Skating Party and Christmas Carol Sing, I will put additional water and cups downstairs, and hot chocolate so that the skaters who come in from the lake, through the back door downstairs, don't have to come up to get something to drink.  That's also where we end our evening sharing testimonies of God's goodness, and singing Christmas hymns, so it's nice to have the drinks nearby.
     Normally, I keep the youngest eaters sitting at a table in the kitchen (on a tiled floor) or in the tiled area downstairs, or I have put a sheet down to protect the carpet, when necessary.  It's not the end of the world if someone spills on the carpet, but a little precaution goes a long ways.
     When we have a church service in our home, which is about once a month, (we have about 30-35 people here) and need to set up a lot of chairs downstairs, we move the sofas to the outside wall, move all extra furniture to the bedroom, pile it on top of the bed, etc., and set up rows of folding chairs. We face the people away from the stairs, so that those who have to take a young one out to use the bathroom upstairs do not distract everyone. We close up our pingpong table and pin over it an afghan with a grand piano and a Bible verse on it. This gives a focus, and it's a very effective wall which hides anything that I need to get out of the way to make room for people.
     Dealing with the extra traffic in the bathrooms, we set out two or three absorbent handtowels in each bathroom, and put extra toilet paper in a basket in the corner, and set a small stool by the sink for the little ones.
     When food is served to a larger group, extra garbage containers with plastic bags are positioned up and downstairs, and even outside, if the group is very large, and it is summer.  In the bottom of the garbage containers, keep an extra garbage bag or two, so that any generous soul who decides to empty the garbage for you, doesn't have to come looking for you to give him a garbage bag.  (This also helps your son when he takes out the garbage.) When the number of guests is over 75, which usually only happens rarely, and in summer, I put an extra 5-gallon container of water on a table outside, and a garbage container in an appropriate spot, to reduce the traffic in and through the house, and to cut down on garbage pickup later.  With that large a group, we'll expect lots of kids, so we set up outside games such as volleyball, "Polish" golf, a homemade mini golf game that a friend has made, and we sometimes have set up the pingpong table in the driveway.
     In winter, we like to plan get-togethers around ice skating on our lake.  If the group is over 35 or so, we take all the coats to the bedroom, but our present home has a "not beautiful, but functional" entryway with about 25 hooks for coats.  Everyone just takes their coats, and shoes or boots off there, and yes, it is an amazing pile at times, but it works. I have a bench there to sit on to put on shoes or boots, which also holds hats, mittens and scarves. We encourage people to take their skates to their vehicles before we eat, so we don't have anyone tripping over, or getting hurt on, a sharp pair of skates.  We put up a bench (sawhorses), down by the lake for putting on skates.
     When we are having a small group or a family over, I have a few standby recipes that I make for the first time someone comes to visit.  They are tried and true, delicious, easy, and can be prepared mostly ahead.  I like to invite 2 families at once, so that they also can get better acquainted, and the burden of conversation is spread out.  It makes for a fun evening!  When I was a young bride and I was having company, I used to clean the whole house, cook everything, and set the table the day of the dinner!  I would be exhausted by the time the guests arrived!  I have learned a few things since then!  Now, I choose a dessert that can be made ahead, I clean the house days ahead--it's not going to get that much dirtier in just a few days--I try to use crockpot recipes, or recipes where the majority of the work is done beforehand, and little work is done at the last minute. e.g. I rarely serve mashed potatoes and gravy to guests.  I almost always set the table the night before.  My goal is to leave as little as possible to the day of the dinner. All I do the day of is touch up the bathrooms, if needed, and make finishing touches to the meal.  This way, I am much more able to visit with and serve my guests, and enjoy the evening myself.  The children and the guests' children, if old enough, clear the table and load the dishwasher.
     I like to have my guests share their salvation testimony with us the first time they come to our home.  We will often ask them to share while still at the table.  We include our children, so they have heard wonderful testimonies over the years, that have greatly increased their faith.  This has made for memorable and spiritually enriching times! (If a person is not sure of their salvation, you will probably find this out, too, and have the joy of sharing with them how they can be certain that they are saved from hell and their sins, and going to heaven when they die.)
     These are just some of the ways we have learned to show hospitality.  The goal is love.  Remembering that will bless others, and you will be blessed, as well.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Grandpa's Here!

      Grandpa's here for a visit!  We are so blessed to have Jerry's dad staying with us this week!  Since Grandma's passing, we've talked about him coming to visit for a week or so.  We met Jerry's brother and sister-in-law last night to pick him up.  Today Kelsey and I had a wonderful time visiting with him.  We had some apples to prepare for dehydrating, so he sat at the counter using our apple peeler-corer-slicer and enjoying being a part of everything!  He is used to being in the kitchen, since he was Mom's right-hand-man for everything from peeling potatoes to cutting the homemade noodles for Mom's wonderful Chicken and Noodles casserole!  Since she made more goodies at Christmas than you could shake a stick at, he was called upon to help wherever he could with that, and when the garden produce needed shelling, peeling, or slicing, he was there!
     I noticed he wiped a tear away before lunch. I asked him to say the blessing, (his prayers are the most precious talks with His Lord:  simple, heart-felt, real), and often at Thanksgiving or Christmas, everyone is wiping a tear away when he's done, especially if he's added a prayer for safety and blessing for one of his children who was not able to be with us, and his voice breaks while praying.  This prayer was no less precious, though short, as he thanked the Lord for the privilege of being together and asked the Lord to bless our time together.  It's the first time he's ever come to our house without Mom.  He said you get used to it, but it's just that everywhere you go, you're alone.  They did everything together.  I'm sure he misses her dreadfully and he longs sometimes to go home to be with the Lord and her. 

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Summer, Winter, Fall

Scenes of Winter
In October

These are the scenes that we awoke to earlier this week!  The snow has now all melted, and we have returned to the colors and temperatures that we think of as more appropriate to fall!  My husband, who just returned from summer-like weather (85 and beautiful!) in Arizona, has experienced summer, winter and fall all in one week! 

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Going to the Library!

     Yesterday, Kelsey returned from the library and exclaimed, "I love the library!"  In her newfound freedom as a driver, she asked if she would be allowed to go off to spend time at the library, and I told her, "Of course!"  We don't so much, anymore, "go to" the library.  Unfortunately, the library has changed.  The old, wonderful books have been replaced by "modern" stories, the latest book addressing the issues thought to be faced by the modern child in a dysfunctional society.  And computers have been added to many libraries, noisy games and characters onscreen instructing youngsters how to use the computer, speak to empty stools in front of them.  Books with titles and subjects inappropriate to be whispered in private, sit boldly in the middle of aisles on special displays. So, mostly these days, we do book searches at home online, order our books to be sent to our local small-town library, and we pick them up.  Fortunately, in the country libraries, the wonderful "old" books are still available.
     As she effused over the wonderful books she'd found, she marveled at the privilege we have!  Other countries don't have this privilege! She was suddenly awestruck at how wonderful it is, and how much she loved the library!
     "There was a little girl there and when her mother told her that they had to leave, she screamed!  She didn't want to go!"
     I smiled.  It did my heart good to see the fruit of my efforts and training to make my children lovers of books.  And hearing about the little girl reminded me of the library-training that made it an enjoyable experience (mostly).
     "Do you remember our trips to the library?  I asked her.  "When you were little, I would stop before we'd go in the door and remind you, 'Alright, no running, stay by me, use a small voice, and if you don't obey, I'll have to take you into the bathroom and you'll get a spanking.  OK? OK.'  Then we'd go in.  At home, we had gone over the full instructions.  I was very strict, but it was worth it!  We had so much fun going to the library!
     We started with just a couple of books.  We kept a basket by the door in the living room where the library books had to be put away every time, so they wouldn't get mixed in with the other books.  I wrote down on a notebook page in my Master notebook the books we'd checked out, including author, when they were due, and which library we'd checked them out of, and then put "Books Due" on the date on the calendar when we would need to return them.  Before we established this system, we had many library fines, which was very frustrating, but if I followed my plan, everything worked very well.  After they proved that they were able to take care of these books, and return them to their proper place and we returned them to the library on time, then we upped the number to 5, and then 7 (each!)  I had large cloth or leather bags with handles that I bought at Goodwill that we carried our books in.
     "Yes, there were times when I had to take you into the bathroom for discipline, but not too many!"  I mused to Kelsey.
     I would set Kelsey down on the floor with a few board books when she was very little, and then I would help Dane find his.  Constant reinforcement of the rules, and meting out the consequences quickly and unemotionally, helped.  Shorter trips at first, lengthened over time, worked best.
     They learned fairly quickly that it wasn't worth acting up in the library.  If you wanted to go again, you'd better behave.  I also, once in awhile, rewarded a really good experience, in which they'd behaved exceptionally well, with an ice cream cone or some treat like that.  And I would sometimes dangle that carrot out in front to give them an incentive.
     First I taught them what appropriate behavior in the library looked like.  I explained why it was important to the enjoyment of everyone to follow these rules.  (Libraries were quiet places, places to study and read.  You might knock an older person down if you were running.  It was certainly disturbing when a child cried or threw a tantrum in the library--they witnessed this in other children, and would look genuinely shocked when it happened :)  Taking care of the books meant that others could enjoy them, too--But we always taught them to take care of everything, because we love God, and everything belongs to Him, so we want to be good stewards and treat it carefully out of love for Him.  The librarians are our friends, and are there to help us if we need help.  You may ask them a question about a book, if you ask very politely.  Say "excuse me, please." Don't interrupt.  Listen very carefully to what she tells you and say thank you when you're done.) We had discussions about libraries and we even visited the downtown Big library on a field trip, which was very fun.
     Based, then, upon this teaching and our own family discipline, the rules were: if you don't obey when I tell you something or you behave inappropriately, (e.g. run away when I call you to come, say "No" to me, go roaming out of the room where you've been told to stay, mistreat the books, scream or cry loudly, etc.) we will go into the bathroom where you will get a spanking. If this happens twice, we will leave and take no books out.  You may take out 3 books, to be approved by Mom. You stay right in this area, and when it's time to leave (I would always tell them how long we were going to stay, and give them a 15-minute warning to checkout), if you make a fuss, whine or cry, you won't be able to take out any books next time.  And you must stay right by me in the checkout line and if I have to talk to you about behaving, you won't come next time!  Yes, I was very strict, but it was worth it!  They knew what was expected of them, they behaved very well (after awhile) and we had so much fun going to the library! 
     When I was a little girl, my father was the janitor-engineer at the Minneapolis downtown library, and on Saturdays when he would clean, sometimes we children would be allowed to go with him. What a wonderful memory!  The shelves upon shelves of books seemed to be giants to me!  The long rows between the books seemed to go on forever!  The building was old, the ceilings high, the architecture of a bygone, more respectful era.  The massive staircase to the second floor so wide that you could run back and forth on one step if you wanted to.  Surrounded by books without number, thousands upon thousands.  Your footsteps rang out, and your voice echoed in the hugeness of the buiding.  The experience of its vastness was only intensified because we were the only ones there! The library was closed and we were allowed the excruciating joy of being there all by ourselves! I'm sure this was the beginning of my love for libraries. I'm so glad it's something I've been able to pass on to my children.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Principle of Ownership

     Ok, I'm going to be very vulnerable today.  I'm going to share things with you that aren't very flattering about myself, and I hate to admit them.  But, I think that by doing it, you might be freed from some burden you're carrying, and so, I think it's worth being a little vulnerable with you--worth taking the risk that you'll think I'm a terrible person.  We heard at the Seminar yesterday that when we get angry, it means that someone has just stepped on one of our "rights."  (This is, by the way, an extension of the whole subject of bitterness.)  We were encouraged to write down what we think our rights are.  We all have a lot of them.  Some of them are "right" and some of them probably aren't, but writing them down is kind of revealing; at least it was to me.  Once we've written them down, we don't just give them up.  We give them God.  And while we're at it, he encouraged, why not give Him our possessions, as well. Might as well. Sometimes it's our possessions that we're holding onto tightly that causes us to get angry.  How many families have been divided by bitterness and anger over an inheritance or, a lot of times, a small "thing" that's not even worth much.  Give Him everything that's in your hand. He really owns everything and is in control of everything anyways. Like Moses when God asked him, "What's that in your hand?"  A rod.  Throw it down. (It turned into a venomous snake.)  Pick it up again. It never was an ordinary rod again. And Moses always thereafter referred to it as the rod of God.  When we give over everything to Him, He may give it back to us. But when we wait for Him to tell us when to pick it up again, then if He does, He will use it mightily as we can't even imagine.  When we give something to Him, now He has the primary responsibility, and we just have the secondary responsibility, for it. An example he gave was of a girl whose younger, but bigger sister, borrowed her clothes without asking, stretched them all out of shape, and then rolled them in a ball and stuffed them under the bed.  The older sister decided to give her clothes to the Lord.  God takes very good care of what is His.  As long as the clothes were no longer hers, she didn't have to worry about them, or get mad if they were mistreated.  It was God's responsibility.  And she was prepared to thank the Lord in either case. But the sister, for the first time, washed and ironed the blouse and put it away.
     I was immediately reminded of "my" house.  It really irritates me sometimes to have to pick up after others.  I think, "If everyone would just put their own things away, everything would be so much better--and I would have so much more time, and there would be so much more peace--wouldn't that be nice?  And then I could concentrate on just taking care of my own things, which I have a hard enough time doing."  Well, another story shared in the Seminar helped me to see something else God was trying to show me.  He shared that when he was growing up, he wanted a neat bedroom, but his brother didn't care, and would never make his bed.  This really irritated him, until one day God said to him, "Do you love your brother?"  To which he thought, "Sure, I love my brother." And God said, "Why don't you prove you love him and make his bed for him."   And he did--and while doing this act for his brother, God gave him a new love for his brother!  But he thought, what if I have to make his bed for the rest of my life, to which God said, "Aren't you planning to love your brother forever?"
     So, this is how that related to my house.  Let me explain to you something. Years ago I trained my children to clean the house--A Long Time Ago-- and they've been doing it ever since, every week--sometimes the schedule was different, but for a long time now it's been: Tuesdays are bathrooms, Thursdays and Fridays everything else, Dane dusts, cleans one bathroom and vacuums Everything, up and down, because we have a very heavy industrial vacuum; Kelsey does what we call "Glass Plussing" (everything that can't be cleaned with a wood cleaner) because that's what we used to use when they were little, and cleans 2 bathrooms, sweeps and washes the kitchen and entryway floors. They used to also take turns doing the dishes every night, Thoroughly cleaning up the kitchen. (Well, I help, of course, but they have responsibility for the large chunk of it)  Everything went along very smoothly after awhile, and I got very used to it, and I started to do other things and we started having lots and lots of large groups at our home, and many other things we were able to host, because I knew my house would be clean, and I could work on other things. Everyone knew their responsibilities, and did them. Well, Then, One day, All of a Sudden, my children grew up. And they got busy and my son works every day and... so it's not getting done routinely, the way it used to. And there's a temptation to get angry when things aren't done completely, or I'm counting on it getting done, and it doesn't, because things aren't getting done the way they should be (yes, there's that expectation with a capital "E"). It's not too bad if you're not expecting anything, but...And this is just what he was talking about in the Seminar--expectations not given to the Lord cause anger when not fulfilled! So... the Lord convicted me and I gave my house, and my right to have it cleaned by my children who still live in it, and my right to have a clean and orderly house in the first place, and every other "right" related to that house, to the Lord.
     I couldn't help but hear God saying to me, "Do you love your family?  Why don't you prove you love them and clean the house for them?"  I pictured myself keeping the house clean and creating a loving, orderly environment for them, and I pictured myself smiling.  God said to me, your attitude makes all the difference!  We need to stop "expecting" them to do things, and getting angry when they don't!  Instead, I we will be sweetly doing things for them, out of love in our hearts, and love towards God, and it will be an act of love, not a burden!  Also, giving the house to God, then whether "He keeps it clean" and repaired or not, that's His problem (I am not the primary one responsible:) and I'm prepared to thank Him either way, knowing He is the One in control, and has some purpose for me in allowing it if He doesn't--How freeing!!
     One other note on that was that it was pointed out that there's a difference and a balance needed between a "right" and a "responsibility":  Example: I have to give to the Lord my "right" to be honored by my children, but still fulfill my "responsibility" to train them to honor their father and mother.  When children are little, and they have responsibilities that they are "expected" to do, there needs to be a consequence for not doing them.  But anger from mom or dad is not the consequence!  James says, "The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God."  And that is very true.  We should "expect" first-time obedience from our children, and should have clearly spelled-out and understood consequences for disobedience (and have defined what "obedience" means) and then let the consequences do their work.  It is when we find ourselves repeating and nagging that we get angry!

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but Words can never hurt me

     I was thinking just now about ways others encourage me in my walk with the Lord.  A few days ago my good friend Lynn and I were talking over lunch.  She took me out belatedly for my birthday.  We always have a great time, and we laugh a lot, but I appreciate when a friend is "iron sharpening iron." "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17) 
     Lynn is the kind of person who by her very life encourages you to speak wise words.  She doesn't want a flippant answer, or to hear what the world has to say about it--when she shares something heart to heart and leans forward and asks, "What do you think?"  she wants to know what you think in light of Scripture.  "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things." (Proverbs 15:28)

     Are you able at a time like that to share something you read that morning?  Or do you have to think back a ways because you haven't been spending much time in the Word lately?  I love how the Holy Spirit brings to your mind a verse or chapter. He brings a verse to mind at just the right moment.  Whether it be during a conversation with a friend, or while training your children day by day, or when you have an opportunity to talk to someone about the Lord. 

     I've been working more on memorization. Something that's helped me is to have a musical alarm on my phone set for a certain time during my Quiet Time and when it goes off, I spend a few minutes going over my memory verses.  I try to memorize the reference with the verse, because it is helpful when sharing with someone, to be able to open up your Bible and turn to the verse with the person and even have them read it for themselves. It's no fun to have to say I know it's in there somewhere, and it says something like this, which I've had to do too many times. Sometimes I carry my Bible with me in my car, but it's much handier to have a smaller Bible in your purse or bag when you go out.  I've appreciated when we've been talking over lunch and Lynn has reached into her purse and pulled out her Bible and we've looked up the verses we were talking about. 
     I've been saddened by times when friends have gotten together and spent their time complaining!  It's as though they want to one-up the other in showing "how bad life is!"  What does that say about the Lord and His mercies.  How can we say, "Great is thy faithfulness!" and act like that.  Beware of those whose habit it is to complain and beware of it yourself.  I admit to falling into that dreadful habit at times, but we must not let it stay. "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." (Proverbs 15:2)

     Especially sad is to hear a wife complaining about or belittling her husband.    Psalm 15 talks about our words against someone behind their back, but also warns against listening to a bad report.  "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor...He that doeth these things shall never be moved."  ("taketh up" means receiveth, or endureth. ) Psalm 15:1-3, 4b 
We must never do that.  We need to be loyal, and love our husbands as we want to be loved by them, always putting them in the best light before others.  Give a good report, not a bad one.  "...whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think (and talk) on these things." (Philippians 4:8)  If a friend starts complaining about her husband, or begins to give a bad report, we can tactfully change the subject, or say an encouraging word on  his behalf.  And we can be a good example by our own speech.  We need to be loyal to our children, as well.  Let's be careful how we talk to others about our children.

     We can be ready to share truth from God's Word with our friends. Other advice and counsel can be very helpful for the time, and practical, but Scripture goes beyond that, because it's God's Word, and the Holy Spirit uses it in our hearts and applies it supernaturally. God's Word does not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)  "...the words of the pure are pleasant words." (Proverbs 15:26)
"The lips of the wise disperse knowledge..." (Proverbs 15:7)

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