|I was awakened early this morning by a dream of too many kittens. It was really annoying, especially when I started thinking about the peas needing to be picked and the enormous amount of laundry that I need to do today because I messed around shopping yesterday.|
|So I got up and picked peas. It was truly gorgeous outside this morning at six. I don’t know why I don’t become an early riser by nature. Once I am up, I find the freshness and quietness so invigorating, but ohh, the getting up. That is the thing.|
|I have planted peas for 10 years now. (One year I did soybeans instead, which was fun. But they weren’t peas.) Every year I think that they aren’t worth the bother, and why did I use up so much garden space on such a small yield? It may have something to do with the feeling that I will never walk upright again after stooping and picking for about 200 feet.|
|Then the next spring rolls around and I go buy my Early Frosty seeds and try again. A friend of ours says one of his favorite bedtime snacks is canned peas, eaten straight out of the tin. Yuck. Somebody should introduce him to the poetry that is fresh peas, little orbs of spring and summer that burst as you chew them. I suppose that is why I plant them. And I did get about 28 pints off one pound of seed, so I guess the return isn’t too bad.|
|The plants are looking sorry and spent, some of which is due to the little guys who pick peas by pulling on the pods until something gives, either the pods or the roots. I will be happy to clear out the whole patch and roll up the fences until next year.|
|In other news, the lady cats have all given birth. That first litter that we thought was only one? Well, the boys took up a board on the porch and found six more. Then White Nose had five, all but one pretty calicoes. And Callie is skinny, but we don’t know where her babies are. The sign is out by the road, Free Kittens, but the markered words keep washing off when it rains. Still, the kittens are adorable and my girls play with them every day, like all day long. They would love to share with your little girls and boys. 😉|
|The lady cats look a little sorry and spent, too. I was thinking, this thing of fruitfulness is sort of hard on all mothers, apparently. As far as I can tell, only the human species is obsessed with looking like nothing ever happened after they have babies.|
|You know the phrase “spending your life…” That would seem to imply giving up something you have, even something you value, for something that you consider to be better. How very sad if I spend my life on vanity, what in the end will only be vexation of spirit.|
|So… today I plan to invest in my little girls’ closets, and in my laundry room, as well as in my weedy garden. I plan to do this with not one or three or four helpers, but five. So help me, Lord! They are the real reason for all this endless homemaking. I want them to face life with memories of a mother who cheerfully spent her life for them. I bet they won’t even notice if she starts looking a little ragged at the edges. 🙂|
- The state of the frying pan and the stove top after Gregory makes the eggs
- The way my linen shirts look after I forget to get them out of the dryer
- That moment when I finally discover what stinks in the basement
- The sensation of reaching right into a fat grandpappy slug in the strawberry patch
- The depravity of my heart without Jesus
And… switching gears a bit…
- The cup of tea and the moment of blissful quiet while children play with kittens, enough kittens for everyone without a single fight
- The realization that the child you thought would never learn, learned
- The overpowering affection for a small, squishy, sweet human, your very own miracle
- The gratefulness for a green world, a warm and fruitful world
- The joy of a Redeemer who restores my soul
Whenever I do a book report, I start wondering, “What if people think I accept, unequivocally, everything in the book?” Because this is such a public forum, I thought maybe I should give a few disclaimers. 🙂 For your information, you should never read a book gullibly, just because someone else recommends it. But as the one recommending, I will give you a few reasons why Just Do Something impacted me so profoundly, as well as a few questions I have.
One of the reasons it took me so long to read this book is because of the rather shocking, or should I say, illuminating way the author stated some of his thoughts. I read and reread and cogitated long. Take for example: “God doesn’t care what job you do, as long as you can do it in righteousness.” That “God doesn’t care” part had me stumped for a while. I thought God cares about all the details of our lives? But the longer I read, the more I understood what he was saying: Don’t wait around for years being idle, hoping your destiny will smack you in the face one day. Just do something.
The book is written with a huge emphasis on the sovreignty of God, (the author is a Calvinist) something I feel like I only dimly comprehend, yet which is tremendously comforting to me. I like to know things, understand them, ducks in a row, that sort of thing. I have whacked my head against the wall of the inscrutable. I have wailed WHY into an empty heaven and found no answers. Except the reality of Who God is, ever present. No matter what happens in the future, He is there!
I suppose that is why this book impressed me, the emphasis that the God of the Universe is present in my daily circumstances, not some distant Deity who amuses himself while I try to figure out just exactly what He wants me to do.
When I was younger, I had an opportunity to go on a short term mission trip to Africa. I pretty much drained all my resources paying for my ticket, paperwork, yellow fever shot, etc. The last week before we left, I found out about another expense, 55 dollars for a visa, or some such. Where was I going to get this money? Suddenly I remembered a jar of change I had on my dresser and I went to count it. It was 55 dollars and 55 cents.
I took that as a sign that God would be with me on our trip. And He was! But what I didn’t understand was that I didn’t really need a sign. As His child, I could simply lay claim to the outrageous promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.”
There have been many times in my life when God has been so kind as to reassure me of His presence through tangible ways. So I wasn’t quite sure about the chapter where he addressed signs and supernatural leading. I am still not quite sure. 🙂 However, I concur wholeheartedly with the warning that “God told me to do it,” (dreams, liver shivers, fleeces) in total disregard of the Bible, is a bunch of baloney.
I read these verses last week…
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him,
in those that hope in his mercy. Psalm 147:11
For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people:
he will beautify the meek with salvation. Psalm 149:4
The Lord takes pleasure in His people… not because they are always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. He takes pleasure in them because they are His righteous flavor on Earth, willingly presenting themselves to His service, whatever that may be.
I like that simplicity. What about you?
“We should be humble in looking to the future, because we don’t control it; God does. And we should be hopeful in looking to the future, because God controls it, not us.” (pg. 47 of Just Do Something)
So… how do you make your decisions? I think honesty compels us to say it is usually how we feel that helps us decide things. This is not wrong, necessarily. (What would women be without their marvelous intuition? 🙂 ) The problem comes in when we say, “God told me…” because we feel one way or another. It isn’t really fair to blame God, now is it?
When Gabe got terribly sick during nursing school, we wondered if this was God closing a door, or whether Gabe’s resolve and determination were being tested. There are endless second guessing conundrums like this for people who make all their decisions by their feelings.
If there is one overarching theme in the book Just Do Something, it is that God wants to show us His will in His Word.
Let’s take a look at the Proverbs, specifically chapter 2.
1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words,
and hide my commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom,
and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge,
and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver,
and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord,
and find the knowledge of God…
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment,
and equity; yea, every good path.
Proverbs is full of cautionary statements about those who just do life all wrong and the contrast with those who live in wisdom. I quote DeYoung, “In Proverbs, a fool is not an oaf or a moron. He is a person who doesn’t live life God’s way. Wisdom is knowing God and doing as He commands. Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening only to yourself… God doesn’t expect us to grope in the dark for some hidden will of direction. He expects us to trust Him and be wise.” (pg. 89)
If we could open the Bible and find information about what we should work, or who we should marry, or which house we should buy, things would seem so much easier. God doesn’t find it necessary to give us such specific information. His will is that we love His Word, become infused with it, and be transformed into the image of His Son.
When their are choices to make that could affect our lives drastically, DeYoung says we need to walk the way of wisdom.
- Read the Scriptures.
- Listen to wise counsel.
- Pray for illumination.
- Make a decision. (in faith)
Do you see how this approach could be more restful than worrying that you might end up living in Tallahassee when God really wanted you to be in Boston? What if you broke this down to praying about whether you should pick up a sandwich at McDonald’s or Wendy’s. (Probably neither one of those is wise. 😉 ) Of course, you don’t obsess to that extent. What God really cares about is that you are His representative wherever you go, and either place you go for your sandwich is going to have people who need to see that He is a beautiful Savior.
Is it really so much different whether you live in one geographical region or another? And what about jobs? Marriage? I laughed out loud when I read DeYoung’s recommendation for finding the will of God in marriage. He is speaking to men who are afraid that they are stepping outside of God’s will unless they have it nailed down who is the right one before they ever ask the girl out. I will tell you, I would have hated this when I was twenty, but now it amuses me with the ring of truth.
“Men, if you want to be married, find a godly girl, treat her right, talk to her parents, pop the question, tie the knot, and start making babies.” The thing is, from my lofty perch of nearly twelve years of happy marriage, I can tell you that any way you tie the knot, living with the love of your life is going to involve some hard work. There are no short cuts to great relationships, so you might as well spare yourself the angst of finding the One Soul in the Universe that completes you. Relax and trust that the God who starts a good work is able to finish it!
I will close this with one concluding quote:
“God gives His children the will to walk in His ways– not by revealing a series of next steps cloaked in shadows, but by giving us a heart to delight in His law.”
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecc. 12:13
I finally finished the book that I bought for my own personal celebration at the end of the school year, “Just Do Something OR How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc.”
It is not a big, heavy book, but actually a smallish manual, very readable and portable. It just took me so long to read it because, oh, never mind. Just because.
I kept thinking as I was reading how much sense this all makes, and how much I would have disliked his ideas back in my teen years when I thought decision making couldn’t possibly be spiritual unless there was a good deal of fasting and agonizing involved, trying to find the Best. Also, trying to discern who is The One, the Only One who is my Soul Mate was the subject of long and earnest debate between me and God.
Now I read this book and say, “It could all have been so much more restful and simple.” DeYoung is not advocating an easy, skate-through-life approach. Rather he says, “Often when we ask to know God’s will, we aren’t asking for holiness or righteousness or awareness of sin. We want God to tell us what to do so that everything will turn out pleasant for us… and we don’t have to take risks.” (pg. 40)
He emphasizes that God doesn’t have some hidden will of direction that we have to totally get nailed down before we ever take a step, for fear of walking down the wrong road and ending up where we weren’t supposed to be, therefore forevermore having missed The Best. Mr DeYoung addresses his book specifically to a generation who “have too many choices… Preoccupation with the will of God is a Western, middle class phenomenon of the last 50 years. People on a dollar a day just don’t have that many choices.” (pg.32)
“Jesus doesn’t treat obsession with the future as a personal quirk, but as evidence of little faith.” Matt. 6:30 (pg.56)
Coming soon: How then should I make decisions?
Once upon a time, about 2 years ago, a Lady saw a sign, “Free Kittens”. She was looking to replace a very special cat that her husband had rescued, crying, from the ditch beside the road. The special cat had, inexplicably, never gotten a better name than Cat.
Maybe because she was so grateful for her rescue, Cat had never scratched or clawed, no matter how much she was pulled and pushed and cradled by the inexpert love and care of a tot who stepped on her tail and a two year old who pawed more than petted. She had also, surprisingly, never produced kittens. She was a perfect cat. But she was gone, completely disappeared.
The lady stopped to check out the free kittens. They were nondescript, grey tabbies, just like Cat. It was a good sign, she thought. She took two little kittens home for her two little girls. One grew to adolescence and disappeared, just like Cat. The other one, the new resident Cat,was a little aloof and entitled. She didn’t like Meow Mix, only Special Kitty. With time she birthed a fine litter. In the family mini van. Everyone was a little surprised about that. The kittens were not too bright, apparently, for they self destructed on the road, all but one who went to live on a farm.
Pregnancy number two produced two girls, White Nose and Callie, and two boys, Atlas and Claude. Not in the van, but under the porch. The cousins from North Carolina took a shine to Claude and he moved to the mountains where he continues a sleek and happy existence.
Cat 2 was a very good mother. Her kittens thrived, although none of them had the happy disposition of the Cat they replaced. Nevertheless, they were petted and loved and they certainly kept both the mouse and the garter snake population down. Cat 2 got pregnant again, but those kittens were never found. Then Cat 2 got pregnant for the 4th time. She was quite faithful in that way.
The Lady’s husband looked at her and said, “This. Is too much.” She had a surprise for him. You see, Atlas had grown up and turned out to be a girl too, and Atlas was also expecting. Four ravenous cats go through a good deal of Special Kitty. And there were going to be more mouths to feed very soon.
“We will give away free kittens,” she said to her husband.
Cat 2 was the first… one kitten. Very prudent and sensible. She kept her baby out of trouble, under the front porch. Then one day the little girl on the swing jumped off and came flying into the house, “Mama, Mama, Mama! Atlas just laid a kitty under the slide! I just saw this bubble thing and then all of a sudden, there was a kitty!” Over the course of the next few hours, there was another kitty and another and another and another and another and another. Seven babies under the slide on the wood chips! The little girl felt sorry for their inhospitable surroundings and made them a bed of peony petals. She fed Atlas milk and lay there under the slide to watch the babies knead and paw their mother as they nursed.
The Lady started drafting a Free Kittens sign in her head, as attractive as she could make it, seeking to replicate the one that drew her down that farm lane a few years ago.
Because, you see, the thing is, White Nose and Callie are also about to pop.
I am all for penny pinching, you know, and I am also all for products that make life much easier for a mom. Sometimes the two do not mesh, in which case I have to decide whether I am going to be thrifty or just a tad extravagant.
It is summertime. Berry season. Stains on little white blouses. Verdant grass. Green knees on jeans. Glorious sunshine. Sweat rings on shirt collars. That is just the way it goes. Now I have never been happy with stained, grungy clothes on my children, even if they are just play clothes. Those of you who live in the South with that orangey red clay dirt, I know, it is impossible. But when I do laundry, I like it to look like my effort has paid off. I don’t mind faded shirts, or holes, or tears in hemlines as much as I do stains. That is just me.
Any how. My children know lots of creative ways to become just filthy, and I have lots of creative ways to remove stains. I have soaked gallons and gallons of buckets full of clothes in Oxy solutions of one kind or another. I have even come across a pretty dependable source for impossible stain removal. (It’s called Google, and go with the method that sounds most likely. ) I have rubbed my knuckles raw with that caustic blue soap from developing countries. I have sprayed Shout on mounds of stinky blue jeans. I have even bleached stuff on the washline for days. Lots of thing work when you use enough elbow grease and never give up.
But what if I told you that there is a product that does it all for you? Just toss it in the washer, throw the laundry on top and run the accustomed cycle? There really is such a thing. I got introduced to a free sample pack, and ever after I have had the ethical dilemma of whether I want to spend so much money on laundry detergent when I can mix up my own for pennies a load. The thing is, I don’t hire a maid to help me do my work, so I find myself a bit short on time to scrub. I call this product my maid. 🙂 Dilemma solved.
I don’t know how you feel about using a product with enough chemicals that they give away free “reseal” stickers so that the homeowner can keep little paws out of the dispenser. All I know is, for about 25 cents a load you can do the worst stained laundry effortlessly. I lost, or rather, my children lost both my scrub brushes, but it isn’t too great a disaster when I have this stuff on hand. For the record, Tide also sells a product that is just stain remover pods, as well as one that is just a whitener. I get the stuff that is detergent, stain remover, and brightener all in one.
Some of you may scoff, “What is 25 cents a load?” Well, I can easily do between 10 and 20 loads of laundry a week, depending on the weather, the state of the pond-in-progress, and the whims of the little guys. That adds up rather rapidly. On the other hand, that is just too much Oxyclean in buckets. So I buy Tide and use my cheap, homemade soap for the less soiled loads and drop these expensive chemical bombs into the unbelievably grimy loads. It comes out okay without breaking the bank or my back. 🙂
Give them a try. Be fearless. Go and scrub no more.
That concludes my mavenly love sharing for today.
I just mixed up a pan full of rhubarb crunch for breakfast and put it into the oven on time bake. It should be ready when my man walks in the door in the morning after his night of work. How he does it, night shift, I don’t know. I would be cranky and cross eyed, but he manages to stay happy about work, a true indication of how much he likes what he is doing.
I wasn’t quite done with the day. These days we are never quite done. We just decide when to stop moving and hold still. I decided this was the time to quit, set the bowl of freshly picked berries into the fridge, gingerly picked my way over the play dough crumbles on the kitchen floor, pushed the basket of unfolded laundry to the side and found my sweet spot at the key board, cuppa tea beside me, dark chocolate close by. 🙂
I was planning to post a photo of her with her cake, and then as I was putting the photo card into the slot at the side of the computer to upload it, something felt a little wrong. Too late, I realized I had inserted it into the CD slot. A careful attempt at extraction failed, and it is now lost in the bowels of our computer. This is not good. Very not good.
But, in any case, she is now four. I thank God that this resourceful little person is still alive and healthy. She has tried pretty much everything I have ever heard other mothers exclaim about in horror. It takes a lot to surprise me these days, although she still manages to startle me… the recent hair episode being a case in point. But she is full of affection, smothering hugs and kisses, and genuine remorse when she has done something dicey. And when I clean her room, she tells me I am precious. 😉
We had a party yesterday to celebrate Rita, all afternoon with friends, presents, cake, no naps, church in the evening. She wept about one thing or another during most of the church service. Turning four pretty much wore her out!
Last week I finally managed to knock out a project that has been in my dreams for a long, long time. When we moved into this house, all the walls, save two rooms, were the same off-white color. Over the years, I redecorated one room at a time, but the kitchen had been off-white for 12 years. I had wall papered a few of the walls some years ago where the dry wall was very cracked and scarred. Since I didn’t want to redo the wall paper, I scrolled through reams of websites until I found a wall paper border that would liven things up, tie them together with fresh paint color and the existing green checkered paper and red homespun curtains. Gabe helped me select the paint color, dapper tan, and it turned out better than I had even hoped. After I was all done, windows washed, curtains crisply ironed and hanging, I just kept going to my kitchen to absorb the ambiance. 🙂 I would post pics of that, too, only there is that bit of a problem of a missing photo card.
Alex helped me mulch our perennial bed today. It surely makes a difference to have a boy growing big and strong to help with those sorts of projects. (Last week he asked me if he is an adolescent now. 😉 “Well, you always tell me I am growing into a strong man…” And so he is! It is such a blessing to see the increased awareness of how choices affect life.) We were hot and tired after our mulching project, so we all trooped down to our nearly finished pond and tried out the muddy water. It is plenty deep enough to swim, but very dirty. They need showers every time they play down there. Don’t worry, there is a strict rule about wearing life jackets, too.
It appears to be time to wrap this up. The keyboard battery is dying and the “a” sticks occasionally, inserting random aaa’s while I am typing. It is very disconcerting. You don’t suppose… no, I guess the keyboard has nothing to do with bits of UFO in the computer. So that is what is going on. Life is energetic right now, but sweet and good and fresh with strawberries and asparagus. We are indeed blessed!