Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Selfless focus is one of my goals this year. I realize how complacent I've been in the past year or so. I've let physical ailments become an excuse for indulging self.

This passage from James about selfless wisdom means a lot to me:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, twithout partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Many years ago, a wise woman I knew taught this acronym: Jesus first, Others second, You last -- which makes for Joy. Over the years, I've noticed that women who truly practice this are the happiest!

Wishing you a fruitful, peaceful, and wise 2012!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Letters to New Moms -- 2

Dear young mother...

The book of Proverbs contains the lament of a man who did not listen to instruction when he was young and who came to ruin. (Proverbs 5:12-24)

Godly counsel is gold! It's even more so if the advice or correction comes packaged with a dose of comfort and support. Even if it's not delivered in the sweetest style, however, it's still precious, nonetheless. Young wives and mothers especially need the counsel of godly older women.

Choose your advisers wisely. Ask yourself if this person's advice is in line with scripture, if it leads you to greater faith, and if it leads you down the narrow path, rather than the broad one. Consider the outcome of your adviser's faith, as well as his or her success in the area in which they offer advice. Your advisers won't be perfect, but that's ok. You can learn much from someone who humbly walks with the Lord and who humbly admits his or her mistakes. If someone's really blown it in an area, but they have learned from their mistakes, they still have something to offer.

We live in an age when we have an abundance of information at our fingertips. This has its obvious benefits, but it also has a downside. You may find yourself overloaded with information -- even good information -- to the point of paralysis. Remember that, in the end, the Bible is the only writing that serves as an infallible, unshakable foundation for life.

Consider someone's particular advice, but take the responsibility for deciding in prayer whether to implement it or not. Do not let pride or selfishness hinder you from taking needed advice; if you do not implement advice, let it be for other reasons.

Do not compare your life to that of someone you really don't know, especially in the blog-o-sphere. Learn from blogs or books but do not hold the writings of people as an inflexible standard.

Strive for depth of knowledge as well as breadth of knowledge. In our day, it's easy to acquire breadth of knowledge. Most of us receive educations undreamed of by earlier generations. We also can learn a smattering about everything just by searching the net, not to mention coming home from the library with a stack of books. It's important to grasp breadth of knowledge, though. A few precepts, carefully considered and implemented deeply in your life will serve you better than a scatter shot of ideas. In areas where you want to do your best, learn one thing deeply before racing on to the next.

Evaluate your and your husband's priorities in life. Learn what is essential and what is nice, but nonessential. Perhaps, Mother A makes all of her baby food from scratch with ingredients grown on her many acres of land. Perhaps, she writes a blog advocating that all mothers follow this pattern, and she urges her in-real-life friends to do so, too. You can learn from her heart to provide the best she can for her family's table. Yet, her activities in this area may not fit with your family's essential priorities. You do not have to live on a farm or plant a huge garden and orchard to be a godly and effective wife and mother. While processed foods are not the healthiest, it's not the end of the world if you don't make all of your own baby food from scratch. So, take the seed of good and leave the peeling, as they say. That's only one example; in many things, there isn't a right or wrong to consider, but what is best for you and your family.
What is essential is that you bring your child up in the nurture and teaching of the Lord. Strive to grow in faith and character and to build faith and character in your child. As a family, seek the kingdom of God first. Let other things fall into their rightful places in your life.

Seek advice from people who know you and who can give you sound advice based on your situation and needs.

Imitate whatever you see of Christ in others.

Be inspired by women of faith and godly influence.

Neither be too proud to take input or correction, nor so weak-willed as to be swayed off course by every wind of teaching or opinion.

Hold tightly to God's word.


Monday, January 16, 2012

What's your Happy Home Style?

When it comes to making a happy home, do you love

Neutrals or whites in decorating, with only pops of color?



Music playing in the background?


Quiet, plus some natural sounds, such as breezes through open windows or children playing or birds singing?

Lots of happy light?


Peaceful, serene, shaded rooms?

If you love to play music while at home, do you love

something upbeat and modern


soft and classical?

Open floor plans?


Designated rooms that can be closed off?

Dainty china?


Bold tableware?

Charming pretty nick-knacks?


clean, open surfaces?




There are many possibilities for creating happy home surroundings! Many home choices are neither right nor wrong, but what works best for you and your family.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Letters to Young Wives and Mothers...

Letter One: Should you carpe diem? Yes, if you think of this wisely."

Young mother, this letter is inspired by a blog post I read entitled, "Don't carpe diem". It was written by a young woman who is mothering young children. If I understand her correctly, she is not encouraged when older mothers smile and give advice along the lines of "seize the day, for your children will grow quickly." She feels that older women expect her to be blissful every moment of every day and, naturally, she knows that she cannot live up to this impossible ideal.

Believe it or not, young mother, I, too, was young once. I once was a mother of young children. Older women said to me and to my peers, "Seize the day. The years when your children are at home will fly more quickly than you know." This did not irritate me or make me feel inadequate. Yet, no matter how much I agreed with the concept, I understood it only in theory. I still had to live my life day by day, to journey through life to the point where this concept became reality.

Now, I understand this experientially. This time is shorter than you can possibly realize. The stakes are high. You are helping to prepare young children for life and for eternity. And, not so very long from now, there will be a day when you do miss your young babies and toddlers and even your teens! Oh, you will be so proud of the adults they have become, and you will enjoy watching them establish homes of their own. You will still love every minute you get to spend with them. You will not spend your empty nest years longing for a time that can never come again, or, at least I pray that you will not.

Even so, when you see a mother with young children, you will be surprised how easily these words will slip from your lips: "Seize the day! The years are short. I enjoyed every minute of being a mother." Some young woman, whose child is throwing a tantrum as you speak, will look at you with puzzled eyes. "You don't mean that you enjoyed minutes like this?"

I am glad to know that some of your peers find words like these to be irritating, for I shall be careful how I speak them. Still, if I could meet my younger self, this is exactly the advice I would speak. "Spend your parenting on the things that matter for life and for eternity and don't fret about the problems so much. So, your child is throwing a tantrum in the store. It's an opportunity to teach and to bond. And, one day, you really will miss even this."

I don't expect you (or my younger self) to walk around like some super-mother who has no trials to face. I remember sleepless nights and long days when every little thing seemed to go wrong. I suffered with my children through colic and skinned knees and the ups and downs of friendships and first broken hearts and learning to obey and learning how to make wise decisions. How else do you think I got these wrinkles and these gray hairs? In the living of these years, however, I learned that sezing the day meant two things: 1) to hold on to joy and 2) to invest in eternity.

Joy does not deny problems, but meets them with faith, gratitude, and love. It is possible to rejoice and sorrow at the same time, as Paul said he did. Our example, Christ, endured the cross for the joy set before Him, as Hebrews informs us. That joy was the joy of knowing that He pleased his Father and that he was pouring out his blood for our salvation. Following Jesus in any arena of life means that we take up our own crosses and follow him daily. (Luke 14). Motherhood is one tool God uses to help us die to selfishness and grow in sacrificial, Christ-like love.

On some occasions, it takes us a moment to tap into joy. The woman who wakes up with morning sickness, only to find that her older toddler is fretful from teething and the cat has thrown up on the carpet and the washer has stopped mid-cycle, may not feel like rejoicing. The trials of life, whether they are small or large, must be reckoned with. We do need to process feelings of fear, inadequacy, grief, and irritation. But, how do we process these feelings? By going to the Lord and casting our burdens on Him. The goal isn't to be blissful every moment of every day, but to trust that the trials of life are working a more Christlike character in us and in our children. Sometimes, our path to joy involves getting the help of others who have endured similar trials. If life hurts, young mother, say so. An older mother should understand.

Joy knows that life lived with respect for the Father is well lived and has meaning. What you do as a mother has great meaning, even if motherhood is made up of many daily, ordinary-seeming moments. Perhaps, this is the most important thing we older women mean when we says, "Enjoy these days." We are older warriors who appreciate the valor of our younger counterparts.

Joy also takes note of the many, many reasons to be grateful. Joy treasures up the many happy moments and the wondrous moments and the awe-filling moments.

To seize the day because the time is short can be viewed in two ways: with a sense of worry and pressure or with a sense of faith and peace. The woman who seizes the day well understands that the time is short, but she does not fret because of this. She follows Jesus' advice: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough troubles of its own." Matthew 6:33. Likewise, she heeds his admoition to place her treasure in heaven, where it cannot be destroyed by time.

God has set eternity in the hearts of man, according to Ecclesaistes. Perhaps, that is why we are not satisfied to merely exist, but yearn to spend our time on things that matter. Perhaps, that is why the passing of time brings some pangs. This is true for the mother of children, but it is also true for every person on the planet. Our days may be busy and full, and the time may either seem to fly or to drag. There are moments, however, when eternity breaks in and we ponder whether our priorities are on track or not. No matter what we set our hand to, the time flies by more quickly than we think it will.

In light of eternity, it makes some sense to evaluate how breif our earthly existence is.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

Seize the day!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

January Cleaning!

I don't know about you, but my house is worse for the wear after the holidays. January always feels like the time to me to dig in and get things in order, not that I'm a great example of always having an orderly house.

In our area (Tennessee), we do not have hard winters, but whatever wintry weather we have usually happens between January and March. I can't say for certain that we won't have some snow this year. But, we do not have the unbroken days upon weeks of snow, salted roads and dripping snow boots, as some areas of the U. S. do. Our coldest days are usually followed by mild spells that make one thing of spring.

And, what glorious, but brief springs we have! When those few weeks of mild weather arrive, sandwiched as they are between our winters and our long, long summers, it's a delight to be outside or going places rather than doing heavy cleaning. I'd rather have the intense stuff behind me. So, getting a jump on cleaning now makes sense for our area -- or, at least for me.

Spring cleanings and fall cleanings evolved in the days when houses became very dusty and grimy from winter heating methods. People did not have central air, with its circulating currents, and even the best of house keepers had to fight winter stuffiness. Periodic deep cleanings were essential in the cities, but also evolved along with the rhythms of farm life, as a greater percentage of homes were in rural areas.

Around our part of the South, women also used to keep grass cloth mats to spread upon their regular carpets during rainy spells, such as occur most frequently in the spring and the fall. This was a must in the days when gentlemen tracked the outdoors in on their boots.

In many parts of the U.S., people changed (and still change) curtains and bedding with the seasons. Other than throwing on or taking off an extra layer of bedding, this is not as necessary where I live as it might be in other parts.

Of course, we have many large areas in the U.S. where the weather is unvarying the year round. I spent my early years in Florida, where our roses bloomed best at Christmas. House keeping in semi-tropical areas, arid areas, or Mediterranean type climates is slightly different than in areas with four distinct seasons.

With the advent of central air and other conveniences, many people have dispensed with seasonal cleaning altogether and prefer to work monthly and quarterly and annual chores into their regular cleaning schedule. Others still find its valuable to designate specific periods for deep cleaning.

The need to keep our personal and family shelter clean hasn't changed over time. However, the different circumstances of our lives mean that we can tweak our cleaning habits to suit our and our family's lifestyles. This require thinking through our family's needs, rather than doing what our mothers and grandmothers did simply because they did it. On the other hand, understanding how they cleaned and why can help us adapt their wisdom about keeping a clean and orderly home to our practices today.

What about you? In what type of climate do you live? How do you handle non-routine cleaning chores? Do you set aside periods of deep cleaning? Or, do you work extra tasks into a weekly routine? What accommodations do you make in your house cleaning for the types of weather you normally have?


Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy New Year!!
Here's to another trip around the sun...
Love, Joy, and Peace
Blessings and Hope
Walking with Christ
Fresh start, fresh life, fresh home
Goals and Progress
Resting and Refreshing
Work and Stillness
Goodness Abounding
Steps in the Journey
On our Way Home

God's mercies are new every morning!