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February 20, 2011

Matthew 6:33-34

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I left off in my last post with the idea that the Christian home is one that is to be intentionally built up.  Proverbs 14:1 is a very challenging verse that I often think about: “The wise woman BUILDS HER HOUSE, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”  What does the Bible say, then, about what our homes should look like?  

First and foremost it must be built by God to have meaning.  Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”  We also learn in Matthew 7:24-27  that unless we build our homes on God as our foundation (house on the rock), they will not stand (house on sand).  The only way a house can be built this way is for all the decisions and actions to be “filtered through the grid of God’s Word” -as Pastor Bruce Ewing used to say.   If this is our blueprint for the house, then it only follows that Deuteronomy 6:6-9 will be true: ” These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Our houses become a place of family Bible study and instruction- a place where the father teaches his children the ways of God (Proverbs 4:3-5).  What a beautiful dwelling this is!  It is no wonder, then, that the Bible says that the Lord blesses the home of the righteous (Proverbs 3:33).

I am so thankful that the Lord gently and tenderly leads us where we need to go and shows us where we need to study.  He has taken me through interesting studies recently.  For the past few weeks He has been leading me to do my own study on what a home should be like.   Of course there are probably countless books out there written about homemaking, but it is so much sweeter when Jesus shares His heart with me through His Word.  I have written out 16 pages worth of verses in my journal that He has laid on my heart, so I am writing this post mainly as a way of putting my thoughts together because I am a little overwhelmed by all of  them. 

As I looked up the verses, I was expecting to find more verses using the word “home” rather than “house” because it seems like a much more personal word to me.  It was completely the opposite, though.  Home was used more in phrases like: “at home”, “to go home”.  House was used more to specify a place.   The verb I seemed to see a lot with home/house was “build”, so I looked it up on dictionary.com, and here are a few of the definitions that I liked:

1.  To construct (especially something COMPLEX) by assembling and joining parts or materials.

2.  To establish, increase or strengthen (often followed by “up”).

3.  To mold, form or create (…to build boys into men).

4.  To base, found:  a relationship built on trust. 

Knowing all of this, it seems clear that a home that honors the Lord is one that is INTENTIONALLY built up by the people who live in it.  It is something that we need to work at constantly because it deserves our best effort.  We dare not be complacent and think that just because we are Christians our house will be a place that glorifies Him.  Daily I need to evaluate all that is part of my home- my actions, relationships, clothes, decorations, food, entertainment- to see if they are pleasing to Him.  Ouch!  This is a painful and life-long process, but one that is supremely important.

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Introducing Clay Peevyhouse!!!

We have always thought that Clay was a pretty cool dude, but last night we really saw his generosity and servant’s heart!   I had my first knitting class (I am not sure there is much of a future for me in this, but I am trying), and Mike had to drop me off and pick me up since he and Daniel took Mike’s dad to dinner.  Last night there were major storms throughout Oklahoma, and when Mike came to get me it was raining REALLY HARD.  Being the gentleman that he is, he pulled up as close as he could, turned off the car and ran up to get me with an umbrella.  When we got back in the car, it wouldn’t start!   Oh no!  We had had no indication that there was any kind of problem with the car, and here we were stuck in an illegal parking space in the Jenks High School parking lot on a DARK AND STORMY NIGHT!  Who could rescue us???   Thinking about our location, we realized that the people closest to us were Clay and Holly Peevyhouse who lived on the other side of the school.  Thankfully they were home, and Clay agreed to come give our car a jump. 

It would be a great story if it just ended there, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, there is more!   Our stubborn car still wouldn’t start.  At that point Mike said that he would just call our car service to have them tow the car to the house since we didn’t seem to have any other option at 8:30 at night (did I say that it was raining???).   Clay, being the thoughtful guy that he is, didn’t go for that plan.  He offered to take us all to his house to gather up some tools and then drop Daniel and I off at our house and then take Mike to Wal-Mart to get a new battery and then put it in for us!!!  Wow!  How could we turn that down?  As we were driving around, we found out that Holly and the girls were sick, and Clay was getting sick.  Here he was out in the RAIN helping us out when he was not feeling great.   Not many people would do that!  It would have been a lot easier and more comfortable for him to just drop Daniel and I off while Mike waited for a tow truck.  This really touched my heart and made me so thankful for the awesome people that the Lord has put in our lives.  Clay is truly a servant, one in whom we can see Jesus, and we are fortunate to know him. 

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:25-28

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A good friend told me about “Hundred Dollar Holiday”,  a book by Bill McKibben, before Thanksgiving.  I requested it from the library, and devoured it as soon as I got it.  It is a great book to help you get a fresh perspective on Christmas.   Before I even read the book, Mike and I agreed that we were going to simplify things this year.  We planned to try to just spend $100 for gifts in order to keep consumerism to a minimum.  We wanted to make things, buy things used, and focus on the real meaning of Christmas.  We have done pretty well, but we did start a little bit late.  I have gotten a bit stressed here toward the final countdown just because I have had so much to do.  It is getting better now, so I am starting to relax.  I will post pictures of homemade gifts for family AFTER Christmas so that certain people won’t find out what they are getting in advance.  In the meantime I will show some snapshots of Daniel helping me make TONS of cookies for his classmates and teachers.  I am posting a long series of quotes from the book below so that you can be inspired.  🙂 

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From The Grinch:  “It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”  After puzzling three hours till his puzzler was sore, the Grinch was forced to conclude that Christmas came from no store. 

     And so I breathed a sigh of real relief.  Not only was I not a grinch trying to wreck the meaning of Christmas, it was abundantly clear who the grinches of our culture really are:  those relentless commercial forces who have spent more than a century trying to convince us that Christmas does come from a store, or a catalogue or a virtual mall on the Internet.  Every day, but especially in the fall, they try hardest to turn each Cindy Lou Who into a proper American consumer- try their best to make sure her Christmas revolves around Sony or Sega, Barbie or Elmo.

… It wasn’t because we wanted a simpler Christmas at all.  It was because we wanted a more joyous Christmas.  We were feeling cheated- as if the season didn’t bring with it the happiness we wanted.  We were Christians, and we felt that the story of the birth of this small baby who would become our Savior, a story that should be full of giddy joy, could hardly break through to our hearts amid all the rush and fuss of the season.  And many of our friends, Christian or not, felt that too much of the chance for family togetherness was being robbed by the pressures of Christmas busyness and the tensions of gift giving. 

     Christmas had become something to endure at least as much as it had become something to enjoy- something to dread at least as much as something to look forward to.  Instead of an island of peace amid a busy life, it was an island of bustle.  The people we were talking to wanted so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love.  And they realized that to get it, they needed less of some other things: not so many gifts, not so many obligatory parties, not so much hustle. 

… The point is to emerge from Christmas relaxed, contented, happy to have kept this season.  To emerge closer to your family than you were when Advent began.  To emerge with some real sense that CHRIST HAS COME INTO YOUR WORLD. ”

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By the way, here is an incredible blog if you want to be inspired to meditate on the real meaning of Christmas.  Make sure your speakers are on so that you can soak up the beautiful meaning while you read:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/

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Woweee- what an awesome morning I had with my Natural Mama’s friends!  This month we had a guest speaker, Shannon Spicer, who writes one of my favorite blogs:  http://allthingshealth.wordpress.com/.  I have been anxiously awaiting this meeting like a little kid looking forward to Christmas morning, and I was not disappointed!  I have read a lot of great books on nutrition, 3 of which she highly recommended:

Nourishing Traditions

Eat Fat, Lose Fat

Maker’s Diet

I love all these books, but my big problem is sifting through all that I have read in them, seen on the internet, discussed with 2 nutritionists, etc, and knowing what the truth is.  I am saturated with information, and it can be a little frustrating.  The biggest thing that I got out of our time with Shannon was how to filter all of this through the lens of God’s Word.  As a Christian, I am used to looking to the Bible for help in any and every situation, but I have to admit that I hadn’t really studied it like I would like in order to see what the Lord says about food and eating.  Here are the filters that Shannon shared:

1 Timothy 4:1-5   Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.  These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.

They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.  Everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Isaiah 55:2  “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
         And your wages for what does not satisfy?
         Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
         And delight yourself in abundance.

        (When sharing the above verse in Isaiah, Shannon pointed out that so many people spend lots of money on processed junky food that does not fill us up or ultimately nourish/satisfy us like whole foods). 

I am planning on spending some time in the next few days pondering what implication these have on what/how Mike and I eat, and I am excited to see what God teaches me.  I am so thankful that He promises to give us wisdom when we are truly seeking it.  I would encourage you to check out this post Shannon wrote months ago that helps you evaluate where you are in your food journey and where you can go next: http://allthingshealth.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/the-ladder-of-healthy-eating/

At then end Shannon let us taste some fun fermented items that she had made: kombucha, pickles (with garlic) and sauerkraut (with caraway seeds).  I loved everything and can’t wait to get some cabbage to make sauerkraut.  The batch I made long ago did not come out good.  I think it is time for round 2!  Hopefully I can do that in the next week or two.  When I was looking at the recipe again today in Nourishing Traditions I was inspired to try making some pickled beets even though I have never tried them, so I ordered some beets from the coop tonight (I’ll get them next week).  Mike, don’t worry, I won’t even try to get you to taste them!!!  I’ll post results when I have them.  -Update on November 14, I posted pictures above of my ginger carrots and sauerkraut that are fermenting.  Beet Kvass is next! 

 

I have to admit that I have been a little blue today.  Thankfully I have a Savior who listens to my every cry and hears every prayer.  I am thankful for the gifts He has given His Body, the Church.  He ministered to me through the words in an amazing song by one of my favorite worship leaders, Darryl Evans.  No matter who is in charge of our government, no matter what happens with the economy (especially since Mike works for a SMALL business), no matter how much or how little food we have to eat, God is in control!!!  I thought I would share the words with you! 

You Are My Portion
Father I will not worry about tomorrow or all of its questions
Father I will just trust you
And I will be waiting for treasures in heaven
My heart is with you for there my treasure lies
My eyes are on you for you are my delight(chorus)
Though I may not wear the garments of princes
You are my portion you are my portion
For you clothe me in your righteousness

You are my portion you are my portion
Though I may not sit at the table of kings
You are my portion you are my portion
For you feed me from the abundance of your hand
You are my portion you are my portion Lord

(bridge)
My everything you meet my every need
You cover me and make me be at peace

What a fun day we had with our minichurch family.  We all met and had lunch at the church and played games.  It is so neat to watch Daniel interact and play with the other kids.  Above he is riding on the trike with Joseph, the next-to-the-youngest Shoemaker.  Here are some other pictures from our day…

Diane Hood and Joy Shoemaker

Rick Shoemaker and Mike

Daniel playing in the sand.

Daniel was sneaky about the chocolate croissant I had gotten (yes, it was a very rare treat).  He figured out a way to open it up and then scoop out the chocolate filling in the middle.  He sure looked cute, though.

Little Isabella Mings and Victoria, the youngest Shoemaker (I can’t believe she is this big).

4 more Shoemakers (I guess I left out Julie Shoemaker in my photo shoot- oops).  Again, I can’t believe how old everyone is.  The reason I mention the Shoemakers so much is that Rick and Joy have mentored Mike and I, and we respect them immensely!!!  They are an amazing, godly, homeschooling family with 7 children.  Our minichurch overall is just full of authentic Christians, and we are so thankful to be in a great group of people where our faith is sharpened.

Daniel has been fascinated by the kids who live behind us.  We have a chainlink fence along the back, so he can see them playing on their trampoline or climbing a tree.  There are 3 kids, Michael (5), Brittany (8) and Emma (teenager).  The youngest two really like Daniel and would always come to the fence to talk to him when he was outside at the same time even though he isn’t really able to communicate very well with them.  Brittany especially likes him!  She asked me last week if I would ever let Daniel come over to play with them, and I told her that he is too small now for me to let him go over because he might get hurt.  -Okay, so that was only partly true… I don’t trust many people alone with my son.  I decided after talking to her that I need to be kind and invite them over so that we can keep an eye on them at all times.  Well, Brittany and Michael were thrilled, so they have been over several times in the past week, and Daniel is just as happy as a clam!!!  It is an opportunity for ministry literally in my own back yard since they do not go to church.  I am being nudged outside my comfort zone since I am not that comfortable with elementary aged kids.  Here is a picture of them playing even though it isn’t that great:

Daniel gave me a good visual reminder today that Jesus is the one on the throne and in control- NOT ME!  It is nice to have that reminder from a two year old!  🙂