Friday, September 30, 2011

Souls Knit Together

Whenever I think on friendship, the Bible story of David and JOnathan comes to mind. Sometimes I think it is one of the saddest stories of the Bible. After all, David and Jonathan each loved the other "as his own soul." Yet David had to bear the loss of his dear friend. When I was a child, the story used to make me cry.

Now when I think on this story, I think on the gift. A friendship so deep that it is as souls knit together is truly amazing and rare. I have two close friends in my life who are to me as this. And even if one of us lost the other, I know how rich these friendships have made life taste. I would be so much the poorer if I had never had these friends. Even if my friends and I are not blessed to be on this earth for the same amount of time, I have the deep memories of friendship - of laughter shared, deep secrets and insecurities confided. We live far apart now but every time it's like we've all just picked up where we left off.

And I can't help wondering if on his days as king, David pulled out those warm memories of friendship and they made the world a little less cold for a while.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1-3


This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Buy Local Eggs

We love eggs here in this house. Hardboiled eggs in salads, scrambled eggs for breakfast, eggs worked into main dishes for dinner, you name it. In recent years, I've stopped buying them at the grocery, though. I get local eggs directly from a farm or during the off-season, I'll buy organic. Why?

Taste - Farm-fresh and organic eggs just taste better. It's easily noticed when eating them plain, and I can taste the difference it makes in my cooking as well. Far from being bland, fresh eggs have a wonderful flavor. It's fabulous when eating them on their own and dishes like pound cake really showcase it. Even though the shell color doesn't affect the taste of the egg, I also just get a little thrill out of seeing the variety of God's creation here.

Nutrition - Studies have shown that organic eggs are more nutritious. They are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. They are also reportedly higher in Vitamins A and E.

Local Economy - Some of you out there in blogland live on farms, so you already know that farming is hard work. It's not easy to make a living on a family farm, and I've seen too many people have to leave farming in my area. I like being able to support our local economy by buying eggs locally when possible. Also, when I buy eggs directly at the farm, I can see something about the conditions under which they are produced and I am happy to buy from neighbors who seem to be working hard to be good stewards of God's resources.

Allergies - For years, I would sometimes find myself getting really blotchy and flushed after eating eggs and dairy. I tested negative for allergies to eggs or to dairy, so my allergist suggested that I try buying local or organic products. He explained that the eggs and milk at the grocery came from animals treated with antibiotics and that some people had reactions to the residual medication that made it into our food. When we switched over to eggs and dairy from local farm and organic sources, this stopped happening.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Midweek Links - and a Radical Book Review!

Radical by David Platt
Multnomah, $14.99

By now, many of you have probably heard of the book Radical. It's been read in churches and book groups since being published last year and has been changing the way a lot of folks I know think about living their faith. Out of curiosity, I picked up this discussion of what it means to take up one's cross and follow Christ, and I'm very glad I did. This is one of those books that will convict readers and change how people pattern their lives for God.

It's obvious from the beginning that the author wants Christians to get back to living out biblical principles. He points out that following Christ's calling does not look like the classic American dream of moving up the corporate ladder and attaining material success, differing only from their neighbors by politely warming a pew on Sundays. The contrast between how the gospels describe Christ and call us to follow Him and how we actually do it is a stark one. The author not only points that out very clearly, but he backs up his allegations with Scripture.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Prayer in Many Voices

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

Having a Bible seems like such an ordinary, commonplace thing, doesn't it?  Many houses around the world have Bibles in them.  Some get read more than others, but they often hold pride of place on bookshelves here in America.

geheiligt werde dein Name,

However, nearly 340 million people in this world do not even have  Bible translation available in their own language.  That's nearly 340 million people still waiting to experience the Word of God.  And that's what the ministry of OneVerse is trying to change.

Да придёт Царство Твоё

What you see in this post is only a small sampling of the languages of the Bible.  And yet, according to OneVerse, of 7000 languages in the world, only 438 have a Bible.  Imagine all of those people waiting to hear God's Word!

fiat voluntuas tua

We speak of addressing problems of poverty, but how can we do that without addressing Bible poverty?  We need food and water to live our earthly lives, but we need Christ and God's Word for our eternal lives.

ارْزُقْنَا خُبْزَنَا كَفَافَ يَوْمِنَا،

At every missions conference I've ever attended, I've heard mention of "unreached people groups".  Can you imagine trying to reach a people who cannot even access Scripture?

Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain de ce jour

Can it really be done for $26 a month?  That's the amount OneVerse charges for sponsorship and when many Christians sponsor them with prayer and with funding, their translators accomplish so much.

y perdona nuestras deudas

The Ndamba of Tanzania have their translation almost fully funded, and so too do the Boma of Southeast Asia.

Assim como nós perdoamos os nossos devedores.

The Ache of Paraguay and the Meetto of Mozambique have fully funded translations in progress.  Imagine the impact that having the Word of God in their own languages can have for these people!

a phaid â'n dwyn i brawf

In college, I served on a short term mission in an Eastern European refugee camp.  We served people from many different countries who spoke many languages.


Thanks to the generosity of churches back home and contacts within Bible translation ministries, we had Bibles in many languages.

Kwa kuwa ufalme ni wako

Seeing the reaction of children and adults when they could hear Scripture read in their native languages was so heartening.  And seeing people moved to faith and growing in their Christian walks after being able to seek God's Word in their own language moved me.

És a hatalom és a dicsőség

Everyone should have the opportunity to know God.


And everyone, no matter what their native tongue, should have the opportunity to hear God's Word.  And that is why the work of translators is so important!

Amen...तथास्तु....ամեն....aamen...amin....아멘...AMIH...and Amen.


Though I'm already familiar with Wycliffe, I first found out about the OneVerse project through the Relevant conference site.  They're running a contest (and this is my entry).  The prize is a ticket to the Relevant '11 conference, which I'd love to go to.  However, I think the real prize is going to be getting word of this wonderful mission out there.  Note: If you should happen to tweet this blog post, I'd appreciate it if you could use the hashtag: #relevantoneverse

And I will be back to my usual homemaking and life posting tomorrow.  Though when you see what I have planned for tomorrow, you'll see that this entry isn't as off-topic for my blog as one might think at first glance!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We have a Winner!

Well, thanks to the wonderful, I was able to draw a winner for the Visionary Womanhood Gatherings giveaway.  And the winner is.....



Congratulations!  I will be putting you in touch directly with Natalie Klejwa to get your free copy.  And for those who want to read the book, but didn't win, you can purchase a copy HERE.

Friday, September 23, 2011

In the Garden

At times, my gardening tends toward the lackadaisical. There's always an excuse, if perhaps a thin one. Errand running makes me too tired to weed or my fair-skinned and redheaded self just doesn't want to brave the unrelenting heat of a Virginia summer.

Excuses have consequences, though. If I don't get out there and water daily or tend to the weeds and the bugs, things happen. Tomatoes will grow only so far and then stop, beginning to wilt and crumble in the dryness. Stunted plants will fail to bear vegetables.

It's rather obviously like life, isn't it? There are always days where I can feel so tired that I rebel against time in the Word or see it as chore rather than blessing. And I imagine everyone has times when they do not care to stand firm in the heat of public opinion about faith.

Yet, if I do not persist in seeking Him, will I not cease to grow? If I sit in silence and turn away from belief, how will I bear fruit?

This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

And one last note - today is the last day of my Visionary Womanhood Gatherings book giveaway. So, please be sure to enter!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is one of those classics that should be in everyone's cooking arsenal. If nothing else, it's the perfect side dish to bring to a potluck. I'm fortunate enough to have 2 good recipes - one from my mom's family and one from my dad's. I really like my paternal grandmother's version because the water chestnuts add an unexpected twist. Best of all, this recipe serves 14, so it's great for a potluck or for dinner with a large family!

Note: I halved the recipe for what you see in this picture.

Green Bean Casserole

4 boxes frozen French style green beans 3/4 pound grated sharp Cheddar
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/8 tsp. Tabasco
1 large onion, chopped 2 tsp. soy sauce
1 stick butter or margarine salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour 1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 pint half and half 1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1. Cook beans and drain well. Cook mushrooms and onion in butter until done, but do not brown onions.
2. Add flour, mix well, then add cream and let thicken.
3. Remove from heat (or turn heat to low), add cheese and stir until smooth. Add seasonings.
4. Mix in beans and water chestnuts.
5. Sprinkle top with chopped almonds, french fried onion pieces, or buttered cracker crumbs. [note: Since the water chestnuts add a fair amount of texture and crunch, I usually use the cracker crumbs.]
6. Bake at 350 until heated through.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Called By Name

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.

- Isaiah 43:1-4

How beautiful are those words? God tells us not to fear. He says, "I have called you by name, you are mine." Read that and tell me it's not reassuring.

When I was in college, I was a member of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and I remember singing a version of Isaiah 43 set to music. I loved this song and every time I revisit these words, the strength of them washes over me and seeps down deep into my bones. There is nothing in this world like the feeling that comes from being told that God has chosen us.

We're sinful, terrible people. Not only does the Bible tell us so, both early and often, but we see it in our lives. We have hurt people, we have failed to do things that we ought to do, we have fallen short of the glory of God.

God owes us nothing, but He has chosen us. He sent His own son to die for our sins, and He calls us out by name and makes us His. Neither water nor fire will part us from Him, and even in the loneliest of days, the knowledge that God has chosen me and poured out His love to me makes things seem a little less dark. And the knowledge that this is not my forever home and that He has chosen a place for me to spend eternity makes life seem lighter still.

When we think about where we belong, the pat answer "with God" isn't quite so pat anymore, is it? It's actually quite amazing and His grace seems even more so every time I think about it.


Sharing this here:


Turning Over a New Leaf

Thanks to the fantastic H.Rae of An Original Belle, I have a new blog design! Have fun exploring the new site. I just love it and hope you do, too.

And don't forget to enter the Visionary Womanhood Gatherings giveaway. It's open until Friday!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review + My First Giveaway!

Visionary Womanhood Gatherings by Natalie Klejwa
eBook available at, $4.99

When I read Natalie Klejwa's description of her book, Visionary Womanhood Gatherings, on her website, her enthusiasm for her subject and her love for the women to whom she ministers was apparent. And this made me want to know more. So, when I had a chance to read an advance copy of the book, I took it and now I'm happy not only to be able to review this book, but to give away a copy of it to one lucky reader (more on that at the end).

This book is first and foremost a mentoring tool. As someone who longs for good mentoring, I really appreciated reading this. Klejwa starts by explaining to readers what she means when she talks about "visionary womanhood" and she emphasizes why a vision for the future is so important. From there, she describes what she sees as necessary components for any mentoring group(she calls hers visionary womanhood groups) and then tells readers how they can take action and start similar groups of their own.

Those familiar with Max Lucado's Wemmick books will quickly grasp the points Klejwa makes in the first section of her ebook. And even those unfamiliar with these books will catch on easily as she does use clear language to explain her ideas. The author compares and contrasts those who have a vision and focus on putting God first in their lives and those who do not.

And that's where we hit the first part of this book that can make readers a little uneasy. After all, the people who don't have a vision for themselves and their families can look a little like people we know - or even like us. These are folks who love their families, but who spend lots of time watching TV, gossiping, and basically enjoying all the usual forms of 21st century American entertainment without stopping to think about them. Klejwa then contrasts this picture with a woman who looks an awful lot like a modern Proverbs 31 lady. However, I did appreciate the author's discernment here. She made quite a point of the fact that most of us carry bits of both examples within us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Joy in the Journey

So much of my life focuses on the destination. I can get lunch once I get to town X or I will stop for a stretch break when I finally get to town Y.

My whole life can turn into a road trip if I'm not careful. What if I wouldn't let myself be happy until I finished school? Or I met the perfect man for me? Or until my husband and I get a house? What if the life I thought I planned never happens?

God puts so many things into our everyday lives that are immense blessings and if I focus too much on MY destinations, I miss the joy that is my journey on this earth. The ultimate joy comes in being face to face with Him someday, but there is joy in this journey as well, and I want to remember to drink deeply of it every single day.

Think about it. One can find all manner of joy in the everyday blessings of God - birds singing, the immensity of the oceans, the smell of the earth after a rain. And then there are the joys found in good food and good friends, the joy of coming together to worship, the joy of seeing how, in our imperfect ways, God uses our lives to teach us and teach others.

Goals and destinations aren't important, but they aren't the only things. Wonders abound. Find joy in your journey. It's there, everywhere we look.

This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pasta all' Amatriciana

When I posted my White Bean Soup recipe earlier this week, I mentioned that I would be giving you another recipe to use up any leftover pancetta you might end up with. So - I went through my pantry closet and here's a really yummy one that I have made many times. When I was first married, someone gave us a 1 year subscription to Cook's Illustrated. I saved all of the magazines from that year, and this one is adapted from the Nov/Dec 2000 issue. My husband's not a huge pasta guy, but he really loves this one!

Pasta all' Amatriciana

2T. extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz. thick sliced pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
1 lb. spaghetti or linguine
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese (I like cheese so I use more)

1. Boil 4 quarts water in Dutch oven.
2.Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat and when oil is just shimmering, add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 8-10 minutes.
3. Use slotted spoon to put pancetta on paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2T. of oil from skillet and add onion. Saute over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and heat to release flavor, about 30 seconds.
4.Stir in tomatoes and salt to taste, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
5. While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta in the boiling water. When pasta is cooked, drain and return to empty pot.
6. When sauce is thickened, add pancetta to it and adjust seasoning with salt. Add sauce to pasta and toss to combine. Add cheese and bon appetit!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Midweek Links - More-With-Less Edition

This week I just had to tell everyone about one of my very favorite cookbooks. I have a rabid obsession deep fondness for collecting small, local cookbooks from churches, museums and the like. However, one other book that I absolutely love is the More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. This book not only contains fabulous recipes, but also excellent homemaking information. For this reason, I often give it as a wedding gift.

If you're looking for tips on nutrition, meal planning, economical ways to stock a pantry, or fantastic suggestions to reduce waste, you will find them all in the book. This book was originally commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee, and it is explained in the foreword that this church believed strongly that our beliefs should show through in how we are stewards of our resources. Though I am not Mennonite myself, I still think this book is full of many great ideas.

The cookbook opens with lots of fabulous bread and grain recipes. My most reliable bread recipes come from this book and I also absolutely love the Koinonia granola. You can find one blogger's tasty adaptation of the recipe here if you're interested. I make this stuff and put it in jars as gifts for faraway friends. I have several friends who love it!

Not surprisingly for a cookbook that deals with being good stewards of resources, one can find plenty of recipe using beans and lentils of all sorts as these are ingredients which stretch a meal rather easily. Monterey Beans and Cheese is a favorite of mine from More-With-Less and Junglewife, a missionary wife in Indonesia, seems to agree.

Pakistani Kima is my husband's favorite dish from the book, and Whole New Mom posted her delicious-sounding adaptation of the recipe earlier this week. I'd highly recommend giving it a whirl!

Now, if all of this has whetted your appetite and you want to explore the cookbook for yourself, you can find it HERE. You can also usually purchase it at Ten Thousand Villages stores.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

White Bean Soup

Soup season is approaching, and this quick, easy and filling soup is a family favorite of mine. My version is just scribbled down on a notecard, so I have no idea from what source I originally got it. I suspect it probably came from either a magazine or our local paper, but a quick search of Google brought me many variations on this recipe.

As I mentioned in my post on leftovers, whenever I use a somewhat out of the ordinary ingredient, I try to find other recipes employing it so that I can use it up. So - keep an eye out this week because I'll be posting another recipe to use up the rest of the pancetta needed for this one!

Easy White Bean Soup

6 oz. pancetta, cut into 1 inch cubes
2T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 small onion(yellow or white onion - don't use red or sweet onions), diced medium
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
4 cans (15 1/2 oz each) cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 1/2 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary or dried rosemary to taste
Balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)

1. IN large Dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until just golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove about half of the pancetta and either discard, or save to flavor salads, vegetables, etc...

2. Add oil to pot with remaining pancetta. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 5-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.

3. Add beans, 1/2 tsp. salt and water to pot. Increase to medium-high and bring to simmer.

4.Submerge the rosemary in soup liquid. Cover pot tightly and let it stand off heat 15-20 minutes.

5. When serving, this tastes good with a small(no more than 1 tsp.) swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar added to the top of the bowl of soup.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Using Up Leftovers

I've been doing a lot of cooking for others lately, and thanks to our crazy weather, I've got plenty of food on hand from cancelled events that needs to be used up.

I will admit that I used to be terrible about getting all the leftovers used up before things started going bad or getting stale.  I've always felt guilty about it, but guilt alone doesn't fix the problem.

Through trial and error and reading lots of cookbooks, I've come up with a few strategies to get those leftovers used up and out the door.

Read the books. First off, notice I mentioned reading the cookbooks.  The recipes are great, but some basic cookbooks have good hints on kitchen stocking and being a good steward of your food resources.  The More-With-Less Cookbook, which is one of my all-time favorites, is especially helpful in this regard.  It's not just packed with good recipes; it's a goldmine of good advice, including advice on how to plan your pantry and use up leftovers.

Think soup and sandwich time! Also, sandwiches, soups and stews are your friends.  If you have a leftover roast, there is probably some way to make it into a tasty sandwich.  Roast turkey?  Turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce.  Beef?  I'm a huge fan of making open-faced sandwiches with mushrooms and cooked onions.  Shredding up your beef and mixing it into an easy BBQ sauce makes for a tasty treat as well.  And that BBQ trick works on pork, too.

If you have plenty of leftover vegetables, soups and stews can be a good option.  For example, I have some leftover pork roast and succotash.  I also have tomatoes and fresh rosemary out in the garden and a cabinet full of spices, so guess what kind of stew will be showing up on our table this week?

Try a little stir fry, or a comfort food casserole. With leftover veggies, stir fries can be a good option as well.  If you keep cheese and/or cracker crumbs on hand, it's fairly easy to throw together an imprompu casserole, too.  We had a kind neighbor give us tons of green beans.  I'm going to can some, but it's also a good opportunity for me to simply throw together a green bean casserole tonight.  I already have the beans, and I keep cracker crumbs, at least 1 onion and cheese on hand most of the time, so I just need to duck out to grab some mushrooms and I'm ready to go.

Coordinate complementary recipes to minimize leftovers. So, what about those unusual ingredients you almost never buy?  You know what I mean  - that recipe you're dying to try that calls for something out of your ordinary such as capers or pancetta.  When I have something like that I want to try, I go digging through the cookbooks or I do an ingredient search online and find a second recipe using that ingredient so that I can be sure to get that all used up.  I'm actually doing that this week because I wanted to make an old favorite recipe of mine that requires pancetta, so I then found a tasty pasta sauce recipe that also uses it.  Voila!  Problem solved.  And I'll be posting both recipes later this week for anyone who is interested.....

And if you're wondering why you don't see any precise menus on my menu planning post, here's a little more on my menu planning philosophy.

And since I'm talking meal planning, I'm linking up here:

Desiring Virtue

and sharing here, too

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Moon Was a Ghostly Galleon

Trying to find something beautiful in the world was not difficult this past week.  Last night, I could see the moon peeking out from behind a cloud and it enchanted me:

As the moon emerged slowly from its blanket of clouds, I took the opportunity to play with the exposure on my camera a little:
And then just a little bit more:

Believe it or not, that last picture was taken with no flash.  God granted us a truly beautiful night after all those storms!

Linking up with

StudioJRU and

I'm a guest!

  The very kind Jasmine over at Far Above Rubies invited me to write a guest post for her blog, and I was very happy to oblige. You can find me writing here about God's promise, from the Beatitudes, of comfort for the mourning. I hope you'll check it out! And while you're there, check out some of Jasmine's writing about homemaking and encouragement for Christian living.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! I for one am enjoying the first day of sun all week.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A New Family

Voices in the telephone and the occasional photograph were the only glimpses I had had of these people. People who would someday be family to me. I didn't know what to expect but I got on a plane anyway and travelled around the world to meet them. Stress, excitement, apprehension and joy all at once.

It hadn't been the most usual courtship. My then-fiance grew up in an overseas mission. Though he came to the United States as an adult, his parents remained at work, ministering to the underground churches of countries I dare not name in print. And so they watched (and called) from afar while my husband courted me. We had occasional conversations and my husand's aunt, in whose home we had most of our visits, no doubt had much to report as well.

Not the same as meeting in person, though. I still remember that Christmas plane trip not long after our engagement. Would they like me? Would we have much in common?

And as we made our way out of customs, I got my answer. There with flowers and a great big welcome sign stood my fiance's family, waiting for us to meet one another. The voices in the telephone had become real in the flesh to me, and the chance to connect with the wonderful people I had met from far away began in earnest.
This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

From My Library: Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

There are some books that I read once, maybe twice, and that's enough for me. And then there are the books that I keep around because I know that I will refer to them from time to time or reread them until they are worn to shreds. Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot is exactly such a book.

When you first pick it up, this little book looks like it will be a deceptively quick read. Written as advice to her daughter upon marriage, each chapter is very short. What you won't realize until you start reading is that each chapter brims over with wisdom, the sort of wisdom that will make you want to savor every word. This isn't just a book about marriage; it's really a book about God and womanhood. The author acknowledges as much when she says things such as, "In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her."

The early chapters of the book don't deal directly with marriage, but talk more about being a Christian woman. We get to follow along with Elisabeth Elliot as she discusses what it means that God created us man and woman and the godly pride we should have in being a woman of God's creation. And even though this is a book of advice for a soon-to-be married daughter, there are several wonderful chapters on single life and how it too can be a gift. One of my favorite quotes is this:"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived - not always looked forward to as though the "real" living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow."

Elliot then goes on to discuss discipline and freedom, tying these ideas into what it means to be a woman. She very obviously sees womanhood as a high calling from God and states with pleasure, "For I have accepted God's idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be."

Some books about biblical womanhood can be offputting because they discuss biblical truths in rather harsh fashion, with an attitude that implies we may not like being women, but since we were born this way, we're going to have to take up certain duties. A life of dreary duty as described by an author who makes it sound like prison? Oh please - sign me right up!

What I truly appreciate about Elisabeth Elliot is her perspective. On the one hand, she sugarcoats nothing. She tackles difficult subjects such as self-sacrifice, humility, or the fact that a marriage relationship is a relationship between two sinners - and they will sin. She also talks about submission in marriage - a topic all but taboo in some circles. However, she also brims over with true joy for her subject.

The author's tone is firm but gentle, and one can tell after only a few chapters that she loves being a woman and that she sees God's calling in her life not as onerous duty but as a source of joy and identity. She does not shrink from giving advice but she shares her insights in an encouraging tone. Full of wisdom and written in beautiful style, this book is one I would recommend for every woman's library.

"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman."
- Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Midweek Links - Marriage Edition

It seems like lots of folks have marriage on the mind lately. There have been a lot of good posts out there on marriage this summer. Here are a few of the notable ones I've seen:

- A friend offline mentioned a blog series called Pray Truth that she found helpful. After some googling, I found it, and I really enjoyed reading it as well. There are some good ideas. The 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband article from Revive Our Hearts is another good resource to help us pray for our husbands (and future husbands!). I've noticed several bloggers using that one recently as well, including Becoming A Strong Woman of God over on Facebook.

- A recent devotional on divorce caught my eye as well. This author makes some really good points about why even a "biblical divorce" will not necessarily benefit one.

- Courtney over at Women Living Well is celebrating her anniversary this month, and she's kicking off a marriage series with this wonderful list of 14 Things I've Learned in 14 Years of Marriage.

- And last but definitely not least, here are two posts on marriage that just made me smile. The first is from Gypsy Mama and the second is one that Andrea Parunak wrote for At the Well. I think they'll make you smile, too!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blessings Overflow

It's been a stressful day. One of those sorts of days that makes one wonder why I even bothered getting out of bed.

The cat won't take her medicine, Mt. Everest has nothing on my laundry pile, and the county feels compelled to do something exceedingly loud in the street right outside my house. Nothing will go as planned.

We've all had these days, haven't we? You know exactly what I'm talking about!

And yet in the middle of it all...

...God is there. We have our Abba Father to whom we can go with all of our stresses and all of our cares. Our lives are full of messes and yet He is full of grace, forgiveness, and comfort.

When we bring our cares to Him, we are filled with His peace. And with that peace comes a reminder - He has fixed a place for us which is better than this. We have been saved from our sins and our focus now is shifted to something much bigger, much more eternal than the daily struggles of earthly life.

God's blessings are many and beautiful, more than we can count, but the promise of salvation is the greatest of them all.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Do You DO All Day?

...a woman's work is never done - from an English proverb

When people find out I've been transitioning from full-time work to being a wife at home, I suspect they think I spend my days lolling around. People who know me a little better think I get to read a lot. And sometimes people are brave enough to actually ask the question, "What do you DO all day?"

Believe it or not, I actually have a lot to handle.

Since my transition home is fairly recent (and still in progress), I have had lots of short term projects to do. In the bad old days, my husband and I both got home after dark. We live on an acre of land. Guess how much yardwork got done?

Yeah - that was my first challenge. I have mowed and gardened and retaught myself how to can. By the way, Grandma was right about canning. Once you learn it the first time, it's always easy to go back. And then there was the epic week of weeding and of rebuilding the collapsed side fence.

Now that I'm caught up on yardwork and the housework has developed something of a routine, I'm finding plenty to fill my days. I pretty much always have something to do around the house by way of daily chores. While we don't have children, I do have a husband, extended family and friends to care for and I want this home to be a haven for them. I consider my home my ministry and that is something which takes time. I'm also tutoring a couple of students for 3 hours a week in American History so I'm gearing up a for very fun year.

I have a huge extended family, several of whom are elderly. Most of my relatives aren't invalids, but when you're 80+ years old, it helps to have someone available during the day to run to doctors' appointments, take you to the grocery and so on. I've been spending a lot of time with elderly family and I really enjoy it. You get to know someone pretty well when you spend a couple hours a month killing time in a doctor's waiting room together and the little old ladies in my family are definitely worth knowing. I've gotten some wonderful recipes and housekeeping ideas as well as an entire wealth of family history.

In what's left of my time, I've been planning for the future and setting up to do some work from home.  I have no intention of completely checking out from the world around me; I just feel called to order my life a little differently so that our home life can be healthy and I can use my skills for God without losing my mind. My husband and I have been talking over several ideas for the future, some of which I love to talk about and some I'm not ready to yet. When I worked full-time, I practiced law as an advocate for children and disabled adults. There is some work in that arena that I can still do from home and which would be fairly flexible to schedule. This would allow me to help people who need it as well as bringing in a little extra income.

I also truly enjoy writing and blogging. I'm a new blogger (and still loving it!) and for the first time in my life, I have been given the gift of time. God has put me in a place where I have time to explore and to see where my love of all these words might take me and what I might do with them to serve Him.

Do I get to lollygag around and read books? Oh occasionally I do. All work and no play makes Amy a dull girl (and would probably turn me half-crazy besides). However, being a full-time homemaker entails something far from a life of indolence. As with any calling, we do what we do to the glory of God. Setting the tone here at home requires even more responsiblity than I envisioned when I set out to do it and is not for the faint of heart. And yet I wouldn't trade it for anything!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

In the Midst of a Whirlwind

Rest sounds so beautiful, so deceptively easy. We are told in Matthew, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Just reading those words makes my mind unwind a little.

But sometimes it's easier said than done. Somewhere in the sea of bills to pay, messes to straighten, people to contact and all of the things that fill our hours all day long, it's impossible to be still. And in the rush of activity, sometimes I forget to go to Him and rest. There's always more to do and an inability to understand how one can stop in the midst of a whirlwind.

Wouldn't it be lovely if rest just happened? If somewhere in the middle of the day, as if we were back in kindergarten, God unrolled our mats and told us it was time to rest? But it's not that easy. My rebellious and stubborn self sometimes keeps right on working past exhaustion, not heeding the call of that still small voice letting me know that it's time to rest for a while. Thankfully, the voice keeps calling and those moments when He unstops my ears and I can hear and obey in the middle of all my daily tasks refresh me.

This was written in five minutes with no editing for Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.