Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The "In Valid" Woman

You are valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you do, or what you have done, but simply because you are. Max Lucado.

It's a close companion. I take it everywhere. On those times I forget it at home, I am invariably sorry. When it's in the hands of Landon, he'll ask, "What's your password, Mamaw?" When little Camron has it, I find new games -- free or purchased -- on it. I, myself, have purchased books upon books to feed it. I love touching a word and finding its definition. I love carrying hundreds of books in my purse. But hearing the resident Kindle female reader -- sometimes not so much.

The book I'm reading now is centered around an invalid. And hearing chapter after chapter with the dear woman proclaimed as "in valid" almost makes me feel like she isn't important.  It was last night as I listened I realized why it frustrated me so much -- too many woman hear in valid through the earphones of life. Women who turn their house into a home, women who raise their children to love God, women who re-enter the work field to provide for their children, or women who work behind the scene in ministry. 

We all experience different circumstances. Some of us are single mothers, some are empty nesters, and still others are defined by our careers. When a divorce requires us to leave our children at a daycare, we hear the in-valid words from those who believe a stay-at-home mother is best. When we are a stay-at-home mother we hear the domestic engineer career sneered upon. When our faith career of mentor, choir member, mail encourager, right-to-life center volunteer, or the beautiful gift of hospitality, is disparaged upon, we see the in-valid word stamped on our forehead again.

But we are not in-valid! We are not unworthy! Wherever we are in life, God gives us validity. It takes courage to sample these words, to internalize their truths.  To truly believe that in this time, in this life you have, you are doing your best. To truly believe that in the ministry God has placed you, you are giving it your all.

We many never speak to hundreds. We may never write a best-selling book. We may never be awarded  mother-of-the-year. But if we are doing our best, in accordance with God’s will, where we are, we are valid! We are worthy! Claim those words. Write them on your heart and on the mirrors of your home. Think of them on those days when life is hard and you wonder if your life has purpose. My Kindle may declare you as in-valid, your critics may sneer and count you as unworthy. But God, your Heavenly Father, knows you are valid -- and He calls you His!   

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Goodly Heritage

It was on the news last night. Breaking news without many facts. Breaking news that made my heart drop like a cake baking in the oven when someone jumps in the kitchen. I caught the scattered words -- rescuing them from a burning fire – baby, fire, died. I tried to let go as they scorched my heart. The twenty-seven years sifted away like ashes, and once again I was transported back to another baby, another fire, another death.

In present tense, I look to the chair beside me to see if my husband heard, but he’s sleeping gently, tired from the weekend’s illness and day’s meetings. Later, lying in bed, his body curved into mine like the commas he adds to everything I write, I try to say the words, but they hide in the darkness, crouched in the shadows hard and unyielding. I fall asleep with images of that day in 1987 dancing around in my memory, poking my heart with hot coals.

It is morning, with the light beginning to filter through the draperies, that I share the words. Not in loud, clanging words, but in whispered grief, barely pushing them out, yet needing the comfort that can only come from a sharing of sorrow.

Later, when the bed was made, the suitcase half filled with overnight necessities, and my tea iced beside me, this man I love shared the morning news with more words -- five-month-old, smoke-inhalation, fire fighters. I spoke words that only the man who loves me deeply, who has held me in grief, who has counted every birthday from 1-28, could interpret. I-don’t-want-to-hear-it words. Words not whipping through the air like childhood kites in the wind, but words just loud enough to cross the room and land like daggers in my heart.

Later, it was my oh-so-handsome daddy grieving the loss of his two-months-shy-of-sixty-years wife who helped me stop the tapes in my head. “I can think about it for a while, then I just have to stop,” he told me. My daddy, my hero, once again my teacher. Me, with 57 years of living and learning, realizing again just how much I still lean on  his 79 years of life education. I remember the movie films of my chubby, red-cheeked self, apron  tied around my three-year-middle, dimpled hands patting my taffy, while Daddy showed me how to pull and pull until it was just right. I remember standing on the street corner of downtown Indiana, Pennsylvania, Daddy with his white bag filled with licorice babies or chocolate covered peanuts saying, “Come on, Pammy, if you stick your nose out, they’ll stop for you.” And they did, as I skipped across the street to keep up with my father’s long strides. We’d wait for my follow-the-rules, always-a-lady mother until the buzzer sounded and the walk sign blinked. He taught me to give without a “now what can you do for me?” attitude, to honor parents and respect elders.

When the sting of the daggers subsided, I stood by the sink and thought about my daddy. I found myself taking the remaining ashes of sadness and offering them to God as an offering of thanksgiving that in those ten-years-ago days, interrupted with yellow-tinged and liver-cancer verdicts and 5% chances of life, that my daddy is still here. I followed his example and “stopped thinking about it.” I focused on thanking my Heavenly Father for my earthly daddy. I have a good heritage. And I’m thankful.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ramblings and March's Free Printable

Ah, March! We know thou art kind-hearted, in spite of ugly looks and threats, and out of sight, art nursing April's violets!  ~Helen Hunt Jackson

March is just around the corner. Does it seem unbelievable that two months of 2015 have almost disappeared?  I admit, with negative 20-degree wind chills, March 20th can't come too soon for me.

It's usually the bright and cheerful daffodils that herald Spring. I find my spirits lifting when I spy the first one trumpet its way through the soil. 

Sue's Valentine's Day Dinner Carrots

How are you doing on your One Word? The worksheet is helping me stay focused.  I hope it's worked for you, too. The March worksheet is linked so you can start planning.

March Worksheet

One goal a friend and I are working towards is to read the Gospels in forty days. It's not difficult (only 2-3 chapters a day), and I've enjoyed our discussions and translation comparisons. Sue found the plan on Margaret Feinberg's website.

Imagine spending the next 40 days drinking in the teachings of Jesus, watching his jaw-dropping miracles unfold, and falling more in love with God with each turning page. ~Margaret Feinberg

Thank you all for patience as I dig out from winter's chill and spring my way back to blogging. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Holy Truths

Prayer is simply a two way conversation between you and God. ~Billy Graham

It was a bone chilling day, and I quickly jumped into the van as Melanie pulled up. Looking back to greet my littlest of grandchildren, I watched his face crumple into tears. As his sweet boy hand patted the seat next to him, I suddenly understood. “Do you want me to sit back with you?” Camron’s disparaging face transitioned to hope as I quickly exited the passenger seat and climbed in beside him. He chattered, smiled, and reached for my hand. Each time I think of it, I delight in the love of this small boy.

God uses our day-to-day ordinary experiences to teach holy truths. As I rise each day, I hear my Heavenly Father patting the seat beside His throne. He’s disappointed when I go about my day without taking time to sit beside Him. He loves to hear my chatter. He delights when I show my love to Him through my praise. His love language is time; God receives joy when we are eager to be with Him.

1. Be intimate in your conversation 
Approach the throne with a clean heart. 

2. Be effusive in your praise 
Praise God for what He has done, and for what He will do. 

3. Be consistent your petitions for others 
Put the needs of others before your own. 

4. Be confident in your petitions 
Exercise faith as you pray. 

5. Be honest in your needs. 
Be specific. Is it a need or a want? 

6. Rest in God's presence
Don't hurry through your prayers.

7. Claim God’s Word. 
Use the promises of God as you pray. 
"My God will richly fill your every need in a
glorious way through Christ Yeshua"
(Philippians 4:19)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Giveaway Giveaway Giveaway Giveaway

My love of and addiction to books isn't a secret, and I know many of you share the love and addiction. When I saw "The Artful Year:  
Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes" I knew you'd love it. "The Artful Year" is brand new -- just released on the 3rd. 

 And for those of you aren't the artsy mother type, you have the choice of "A Breath of Grace." This hardback book was released in November and embraces the spiritual gift of hospitality. 

The giveaway will go through the 10th. Just leave a comment to be entered, along with the book of your choice. The love I receive from each of you warms my heart day after day. In this Valentine month, I just want to return a portion of that love.


Family-Friendly Giveaway Linky

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Intentional Focus

Set a goal so big that you can't achieve it until you grow into the person who can. ~Unknown

We welcomed the newlyweds home and celebrated birthdays. We visited Daddy at his home for a weekend and relaxed in motels for RB to teach distant classes. We signed a contract for a new book and attended writer group meetings. We spent a delightful two days with Daddy, along with my brother, sister, and their spouses in Walnut Creek, Ohio. We met old friends for dinner and enjoyed a meal in Emily's new home. We had a sleepover for the grandchildren during which we sewed, gave art lessons, and played the Wii. We read and wrote, and memorized Scripture. We prayed for friends going through hard trials and sent cards to encourage those we love. We grieved, laughed, and loved.

We packed a lot into our January, but when I looked at the month in the light of my one-word, Focus, I wondered what I focused on.
It seemed more that my month slid by without conscious thought.

I read somewhere that a goal without a plan is just a wish. I can wish to focus on life, but without a plan, it doesn't amount to much. I created a worksheet to keep me on track. Five areas I want to focus on: Spiritual, Family, Social, Physical, and Work. I will intentionally focus on one (or more) ways I want to grow in each area. With a plan, I can cover the various aspects of my focus each day in prayer. 

If you are struggling to grow in your "One Word" for 2015, these worksheets are free. I'll be creating one each month. But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand (Isaiah 32:8). I'm striving for noble plans which will lead to noble deeds.

How do you intentionally keep your One Word?

Free template for One Word cover, January, February
One Word Worksheet

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Reading Plan

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.  –Paul Sweeney

Some were recommended by family and friends, others I read about on blogs, and still others I found on my own -- but all the books on my stack make me wish for a day to do nothing but read. 

This year I decided to get back to novel reading, too. I'm shooting for twelve novels. I'm a non-fiction reader, loving to learn how to serve God better, to be a better wife, to love people better. But I have come to realize that sometimes my mind needs a rest. So some evenings I'll be picking up a novel in an attempt to stop my whirling mind.

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."     --Lady M. W. Montagu

In previous years I purchased mostly Kindle books. This year I am purchasing print books so I can share them with others. Some don't like to loan their books, but I like well-worn books -- if a little wear and tear means the content has helped my family and friends.

A friend, Donna Nobles, from my writer's group published a devotional collection:14th and Central: Stop, Consider These Things. I love reading books from people I know and will continue this practice.

I also love purchasing books from blogging authors. Here are a few I've read this year.

I Never Saw a Purple Cow

Pure Eyes, Clean Heart

Bringing Home the Mission Linck

Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval - and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes

I cannot imagine my life without books. It makes me happy to see my girls read -- and now when I see my grandchildren with a book, wow! 

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. –Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

So pick up some new books and create a "stack." Choose a few from a different genre than you usually read. Schedule reading time the same way you schedule other activities. Hold the words up to the light of your beliefs. Keep the good; throw out the rest. And you'll start 2016 a better person.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles William Eliot