Thursday, May 26, 2016

Grace at Home No. 204


Wow--it's the last Thursday in May already! Time for our weekly Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some features from last week's party.

Roxanne at The Honeycomb Home transformed her builder-grade kitchen into a space that she's proud to have at the heart of her home.


Andrea at Living on Cloud Nine shared a recipe I'm going to try very soon: toffee pecan dream bars. Yum!

Anne at The Fitly Spoken Word addresses one of my favorite topics: grace! You'll want to read this post!

Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Soul Care


Rain, rain, rain.

I don't know what it's like in your part of the world, but around here we've had rain day after day after dreary day.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I recently prayed, "Lord, it's easy for me to feel blue when the weather is rainy yet again. Help me to be as thankful for the rain as I am for the sunshine. Overcome, dear Lord, the drought in my soul."

That pretty much sums it up for me.

One happy bonus of the rain is that, every now and then, we may have the great privilege of seeing a rainbow. I caught a glimpse of one recently and snapped a quick photo. I added the words to a beautiful old hymn to that picture for you.


How good it is to remember that God always keeps his promises!  May your day be full of realizing that Love divine does indeed come down.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Grace at Home No. 203


Hello, friends! I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some posts from last week's party that caught my eye:

Jamie from Anderson + Grant transformed a brand-new wooden bowl into a wonderful piece that looks like a treasured antique, and she shared her secrets for achieving that.


Jessica from All She Cooks shared a recipe for copycat Olive Garden breadsticks. Don't these look delicious?

My friend Marian Vischer shared some hard-won wisdom for overwhelmed mothers of little kids: 8 things she wishes she'd known. A must-read for young moms!


As for me, I've been reflecting on the fact that I've now been a mom for 25 years. Can you believe it? I'd love for you to read my thoughts about that!


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The spiritual discipline of being a parent


This is a picture of me exactly 25 years ago:


That's me with my two babies: Freckles the Basset hound and the one I hadn't met yet, though I'd carried him for 40 weeks.

Freckles looks disconsolate because I was telling him good-bye before I left for the hospital. And because he's a Basset hound.

That day 25 years ago changed my life. On May 17, 1991, I became a mother.


I'd been a Christian for many years before I had a baby. I was reared in a Christian home, attended a Christian college, married a Christian man. I couldn't imagine a life that didn't revolve around church activities. I loved Jesus and tried very hard to be like Him.

But boy, did I fail.

Oh, I wasn't blatantly sinful. I lived a pretty upright life. I wanted to be more like Jesus. But the Jesus I read about in the Bible was so loving. He welcomed all kinds of people with open arms. Me? I was critical and short-tempered. I wanted to love people freely like that. I tried, I really did--but people drove me crazy! Mercy, Lord, how could I ever learn to put up with, much less love, such irritating people as I encountered every day?

I reckon that when I asked God that question, He said, "Don't worry; I'll show you."


Although I practiced several of them, I'd never heard the term "spiritual discipline" when I became a mom. I remember so well when I first encountered the work of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. I learned from them that a discipline is an activity within our power--something we can do--which brings us to a point where we can do what at present we cannot do by direct effort.

That made sense to me. I knew people who had disciplined themselves to excellence in a particular pursuit: athletics, music, academics, etc. But I'd never thought about the place of discipline in the spiritual life. One of the biggest aha! moments of my life came when I learned that practices such as study, prayer, and worship are spiritual disciplines. "These disciplines are the main way we offer our bodies up to God as a living sacrifice," Richard writes. "We are doing what we can with our bodies, our minds, our hearts. God then takes this simple offering of ourselves and does with it what we cannot do, producing within us deeply ingrained habits of love and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

I'd always wanted to be a different kind of person, the kind of person who loved and appreciated people instead of being irritated by them. I tried. I wanted to change myself, and I was constantly frustrated. No wonder: I was trying to do God's job.

Then I became a parent, and no longer did I have time or energy for trying to change myself. Instead, I submitted to all the little things that a parent does. I fed and changed diapers and bathed and read stories and played with toys and picked up toys and cooked meals and washed dishes and taught manners and prayed. Day after day after day.

For 25 years now, I've been doing what I can do, one little thing at a time. Nothing big, just being a parent, depending on God to help me.

But recently I was having a conversation with my kids--not just that one boy born 25 years ago, but now three boys who have become men. We were talking about a difficult person one of them had encountered. I offered a viewpoint to which one of my sons replied, "Your opinion doesn't count, Mom; you love everybody."

Wait--what? Is that true? Me?

I've just been here, plodding along, doing what needs to be done, doing what I can do.

And God's been doing what only God can do: changing my heart. Changing me into someone who is more like Jesus today than she used to be.

That first little baby of mine is now an officer in the U.S. Navy. Just as I'll never forget the day he was born, I'll always remember the day he was commissioned. My heart caught in my throat when I saw an enlisted man salute my son and call him "sir."


My boy has changed an awful lot in 25 years.

And by the grace of God, so has his mom.

Joining these lovely parties: 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday soul care: celebrating wellness


Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and my heart longed to wish all of you moms a wonderful day.

Ah, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was terribly weak. Last weekend I got sicker than I've been in 20 years. I won't go into all the details, but I will tell you that I lost 5 1/2 pounds in 24 hours. After that I got better and only had fever, headache, and extreme weakness. Mercy! At one point I really began to believe that I would never feel better. Thankfully I did get better, because three days later my youngest son came down with it.

Anyway, I hope all you mothers had a wonderful Mother's Day and that all of you were able to celebrate your own mothers. My mom's been gone for many years now, so Mother's Day can be bittersweet, I know.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite passages of scripture, one that I cling to when things seem awfully dark.

These are the words of John the apostle, who spent years with Jesus in the flesh and then many years walking with Jesus after Jesus had ascended to heaven:

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin" (I John 1:5-7).


This is the truth, friends; I can attest to it!  May the knowledge of God's goodness fill your heart today.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grace at Home No. 202


Hello and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some features from last week's party:

The lovely Shirley from Housepitality Designs showed us her upper porch all decorated for spring. Shirley's home is so lovely, and this outdoor space will inspire you!


Tara from Lehman Lane showed us how she and her husband created a built-in bed for their son's room. This is brilliant!
Jessica from Sweet Little Ones shared a delicious looking recipe for Amish Strawberry Shortcake. It's strawberry season here, so I'm eager to try this recipe.


Beautiful Laura from Decor to Adore shared a wonderful article that only she could write. If you've ever met Laura, you know that her name is "Laura Ingalls Gunn." That's no accident--her great-great grandfather was the brother to Charles "Pa" Ingalls. She gave us a tour of all the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder. You will love this!

As for me, I'm happy to say that the work on my front door is completed--and boy, have I learned a lesson from that journey! I'd love for you to read about my evolving front door.


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!