peace of my mind

peace I leave you; my peace I give you… Jn.14:27


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Yes!…to friendship

13:31 days of Yes!

Last week my daughter, Amelia was registered to run a race, but she was reluctant–not looking forward to the path ahead.  She was visibly carrying a bit of dread. My husband encouraged her to do it anyway. On the morning went, and she tried to put it out of her mind and push through.  Nothing seemed to do the trick…until Emily came.  Unbeknownst to Amelia, her dear friend came to run the race too. And without missing a beat, my previously anxious daughter bounded off with her friend to enlist in the numbers at the starting line.  Not one doubt or fear remained when Emily came.

Isn’t that the power of a good friend? What seemed difficult and painstaking before can soon be done cheerfully and eagerly when a friend is there to walk beside. I didn’t value friendship much in my youth, but as I’ve grown older I have come to appreciate the sweet comfort and strength a godly friend can bring.  Friends of youth can easily corrupt and lead astray. They may fill a selfish want to bolster one’s reputation and perhaps even end up detracting from it. Though many of the friendships of my youth seemed deep and important, adding great excitement to my life, I see now that my understanding of their value was dim or altogether misdirected in worldliness.  As the years pass, God has blessed me with several godly friends who have walked beside and uplifted me (and I pray me, them).

Godly friendship is a gift from God which spurs us on in the race.  Confiding in a friend or confessing a struggle can help keep you following the path, keeping you from deception and danger.  Running together brings a measure of camaraderie and strength, making the burden lighter.  Friendship brings cheer and laughter, and a needed place to be restored.

I love the image of Christian and Hopeful in Pilgrim’s Progress.  When Christian is at a low point, God sends a friend, Hopeful.  Though they take a wrong turn, they find the narrow path and spur each other to stay on it. Eventually they are brought to their joyful end.

Therefore here Christian and Hopeful walked with great delight; they also drank of the
water of the River, which they found to be invigorating to their weary spirits. Furthermore, on either side, the banks of this River
had green trees that bore every variety of fruit; and the leaves of the trees had good medicinal value.

Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan

As busy women, our time is limited. We could justifiably say “no” to the time and effort friendships take. But if we find a friend like Hopeful, we would do well to invest: recognizing it is a treasure which pays returns.  Does this friend point me toward Christ? Does this friend have the courage to help me see truth when I am veering off the path? Does this friend help me speak words pleasing to the Lord rather than idle chatter, gossip or complaints? That is not to discount our many relationships which don’t meet those points.  But in life, to have a God-given Hopeful is a gift from His hand. The investment is worth the Yes! as it makes the run easier and keeps us faithful on the path to Him.

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day.  Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Forcing Spring

Another dreary Saturday in the midwest. Little tastes of spring have come, and some day soon, it will be here to stay…but not today!
Our kids are on spring break this week which means no more packing lunches, checking homework, grading pre-algebra.

Forcing bulbs

It may include a little sleeping in, sewing-I hope! and the most fun of all is that daddy will be able to enjoy some of it with us since Easter comes after tax day this year. Praising God for these good things!

Egg sticks

We worked on some “crack me” eggs by Not Martha which was also featured in this month’s issue of Family Fun. The color of these alone has brightened us all a little today.

Eggs

That and the little ones were enjoying decorating Hot Rocks with crayons.  If we weren’t short on found rocks today, I would have liked that one too.

Yogurt

We have made yogurt successfully in the past thanks to the help of my mom’s yogurt maker. There are many fascinating ways to cure it…heating pads, pilot lights and boiling water in coolers. We tried the latter method a few weeks ago, but had awful results. Pretty sure it had to do with the temps at which we warmed the milk.

Hblessings

While placing a book order recently, the Homestead Blessings DVD series was on sale. The West Ladies youtube promos are so enjoyable, they are sure to be good resources to have on hand. Their family lives “off the grid” and they show sweetly and competently how to grow in homesteading skills-which I confess I am completely drawn to! Their Dairy Delights DVD was most appealing, so I did get that. The rest, I requested from our library.  After implementing a bit of their advice today,  we’ll see if the yogurt yields better results.

Another homesteading resource a friend has shared is the magazine Mary Jane’s Farm.   I’ve read the copies she passed along cover to cover.  While I don’t plan to don a cowgirl hat anytime soon, the idea of using the space you have-whatever that space may be, to be productive and sustaining to you and your family is both inspiring and useful.  I have found the practice of maximizing what you have, to also hold many lessons in godly contentment!

I have another post brewing along these lines.  But for today, we are forcing spring in-doors while we know it’s bound to come any day on the out.


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Hungry Prayers

My friend Wendy has introduced me to a treasure in J.C. Ryle.  He pastored an English church in the mid-1800s, and though that was ages ago now, his words are no less poignant today.

In finishing “A Call to Prayer” this week,  Ryle instructs on the vitalness of prayer to the believer. At one point, he contrasts the lives of two saints: the “good ole’ glory days” Christian with the filled-with-glory Christian as quoted below:

There are some of the Lord’s people who seem never able to get on from the time of their conversion.  They are born again, but they remain babes all their lives.  You hear from them the same old experience.  You remark in them the same want of spiritual appetite, the same want of interest in anything beyond their own little circle, which you remarked ten years ago.  They are pilgrims, indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites of old; their bread is always dry and mouldy, their shoes always old, their garments always rent and torn.  I say this with sorrow and grief; but I ask any real Christian, Is it not true?

There are others of the Lord’s people who seem to be always advancing.  They grow like the grass after rain; they increase like Israel in Egypt; they press on like Gideon, though sometimes faint, yet always pursuing.  They are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to faith, and strength to strength.  Every time you meet them their hearts seem larger, and their spiritual stature taller and stronger.  Every year they appear to see more, and know more and believe more, and feel more in their religion.  They not only have good works to prove the reality of their faith, but they are zealous of them.  They not only do well, but they are unwearied in well-doing.  They attempt great things, and they do great things.  When they fail they try again, and when they fall they are soon up again.  And all this time they think themselves poor, unprofitable servants, and fancy they do nothing at all.  These are those who make religion lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all.  They wrest praise even from the unconverted, and win golden opinions even from the selfish men of the world.  It does one good to see, to be with, and to hear them.  When you meet them, you could believe that like Moses, they had just come out from the presence of God.  When you part with them you feel warmed by their company, as if your soul had been near a fire.  I know such people are rare  I only ask, Are there not many such?

Now how can we account for the difference which I have just described?  What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others?  I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer.  I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little and those who are eminently holy pray much….I believe that spiritual as well as natural greatness depends in a high degree on the faithful use of means within everybody’s reach….And I assert confidently that the principal means by which most believers have become great in the Church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.

This calls to mind:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for his righteousness, for they will be filled.  Matthew 5:6

To be hungry.  To be thirsty.  Not for the crusty molded bread cast off by the world, but to be full-up with manna and living water that quenches a soul.  And this promise says, they will be filled.  We seek it through disciplined, spirit-filled, private prayer.  Longer than a sentence on the way into the grocery store and more needy than a few wandering requests as I drift off to sleep.

But to hunger and to go hungry in prayer.  To be driven to my knees because I know where my needs are met.  Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.

We seek it not for our own glory–not for the favor of man, but to know God’s glory.  Because He is the essence of a life, and he sustains eternally.


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The Joy of the Lord

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is the most stirring book I’ve read in some time. It is pure glory and poetry plumbing deep the wells of God.

I started reading the first chapter on Ann’s blog one night and ordered the book right then.  Her writing is exquisite, and though some people may be put off by her lyricism, her command of language, history, and scripture combined are a treasure.  And her theology is every bit in place to undergird her poetry.  It is clear from the pages that she has wrestled with God on many matters and He has been victorious in her.

I recently asked for prayer from dear sisters that God would restore joy to me.  All I do can be for glory or vainity on account of one little word…joy.  Without joy, I am a clanging gong in my home, a resounding cymbal.  With joy, the hardest pressures a day can dish out shine their refining value and worth.  Abiding joy comes from Him, but soon departs when my selfish ambitions and vain conceits muscle Him aside. He is long suffering and abounding in love.

Ann weaves fine threads of understanding into what is true communion, or as she defines it, eucharisteo: receiving all He gives as grace, giving thanks in every situation, and then giving His gifts away to others.  The effect of eucharisteo (grace, thanks, giving) is joy.  Who can contain anything but joy when one sees all that comes from the Father to his children as his loving, refining grace.

So in chronicling  one thousand thanks, she finds God is met through gratitude and service which all brings joy.  This sounds textbook-easy, but it is in the actual living and walking out obedience that its true effects are found.

Ann’s gifts are abundant, and she excels in many ways.  I have followed her blog for some time now and thought, how does she do that?! on many occasions.  She is careful to give God all of the glory and praise.  And this too is commendable.

It is important to remember that  God is a giver of gifts to all who surrender their lives to Him.  His love song is to you and me just as much as it is to the most gifted of men.  He endows as he sees fit.  But in so much as it depends on us, I am challenged to find thanks in the details of my life and to praise him through the hard, refining thanks as much as the cup-to-overflowing thanks.  It spurs me on to “live my one life well”, fully surrendered to him.

This book was an answer to prayers.  Thank you God, for restoring joy!


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Precious Socks

It was when my oldest boys were toddlers that I fell in love with children’s books.  I could sit for hours with them nestled on the couch with a stack of fresh finds from one of our favorite places…the library.  It’s where I discovered the brilliance of Beatrix Potter and Eric Carle.  I learned how wonderful were illustrations by Ezra Jack Keats and Kevin Henkes’ hilarious Hooway for Wodney Wat! along with books about country living like A Year at Maple Hill Farm.  I love the authors who seem to get it just right.  A great children’s book can just about cure what ails you some days.

Knit socks

Last winter, after two bouts of sickness had run through our entire family, I was weary.  Concerns for many things weighed on my mind–health at the top of the list, but certainly not the only thing concerning me.  We had Warm as Wool from the library.  Recuperating on the couch, we read together about a pioneer mother who had real concerns for her family.  Cold, hungry and faint, her children looked to her for comfort.  One particular illustration instantly brought me up short.  I recognized the anguish in her eyes as she wondered how their family would manage to survive such a grave situation. Though my situation was concerning and real, it certainly didn’t compare.

This sketched and shaded mother knew the toil of caring for a family.  She bore the burden of her childrens’ hungry gaze which inquired of her for direction and comfort.  As I am prone to do when a book teaches me a lesson, my voice choked up and tears flowed down my cheeks. 

I held my children in my arms in our warm, heated home on our worn and welcoming couch.  We were ill, but we were very well.  There was food in our pantry and dinner in the oven.  My heart was suddenly grateful that my light and momentary troubles were just that.

In the story the family acquires one sheep and later a flock.  From their wool, the mother is able to knit precious, warm socks and sweaters for her family whom eventually thrive in their pioneer life.

Knit socks

These socks for Amelia took me an entire year to knit. One is bigger than the other. They are knit with the wrong type of yarn. And the toes are a bit lumpy. There is plenty wrong with them, but she loves them. And I do too. I love that I had the luxury of taking a year to knit them. I love that though they are different sized, they are finally finished and they both fit her feet. I know they aren’t as warm as wool, but they are pink so that makes up for their lack of gain.

I am afforded so many luxuries as a woman of this age. Why knit socks that take a year? Why not just buy some? I guess I’d like to think if I had to, I could knit some warm things for my family too. But I’m glad I don’t HAVE to.


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Covering for an Old Friend

I received my Bible from my parents when I was a Freshman in High School. It’s a Scofield Study Bible. I tend to recommend the Reformed Study Bible or the MacArthur Study Bible to friends today, yet this Scofield has served me well.

It’s where I zealously highlighted as a young reader and where I copiously took notes as a teenager. Some of the tabs have fallen off and the binding is worn like a good shoe. It now holds the scribbles of several of my children along with a coffee dribble or two in attempts to balance baby, beverage, and Book at once.

I’ve thought often through the years of replacing it. I’m sure someday I will, but then I would lose the history I have with it. It’s become an old friend with whom I am familiar and comfortable.

free motion quilting

A covering is my short term solution. I still want to add a handle and an enclosure, but for now this is serving well to protect and keep my old friend in one piece a while longer. I suppose if all else fails, there’s always duct tape!

Almost done


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Fresh Inspiration

Holiday Treats by Donata Maggipinto

I received this book recently and thought I would share some of the fun ideas that are making me happy. Scones and biscotti are two of my favorite coffee mates. These are currant scones, but cranberries will substitute just fine-I hope. I have a ton put up in the freezer.

Valentine Scones

I’m itching to try a Pavlova. They look so dreamy and cloud-like. As yummy as meringue cookies are and just meringue in general, makes me want to definitely give this one a whirl.

Pavlova

One gift that is worth it’s “salt” is Candy Cane Bath Salts. They are refreshing, easy and good for detoxing. This lavender version just looks so pretty. If you think you’d like to try them, here is the recipe for Candy Cane Bath Salts.

Bath Salts

And how cute are these little soaps? This might be a good snow day activity with kids. With any luck mine will get some on themselves–boys!

Soap