A Message To My Sisters

In this day and age and this culture, family is an ambiguous word. I think that’s partly good and partly a terrible mistake. If we keep chipping away at the core values of our families in this society what’s left? Our identities are in danger of being dictated by a few, and I don’t trust their motives. Or their sanity, at this point.

Some of you may not understand this yet, but allowing ourselves to be lead around the nose hairs by pop culture and the liberal-run media means we will eventually-if we’re not already-be a lonely bunch of people. It’s hard to have a village when you just have a bunch of empty huts.

To me the word family denotes stability, safety, comfort, learning, some laughing and crying and all the messy stuff of life. I’m certainly a family-centered and home-centered person. But I’ve had to stick with one man through thick and thin, trust God, and build this. That takes effort, and skill, and help. Blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights and an occasional complete loss of my mind and dignity has been the cost, but the reward has been a full life, rich with laughter and love.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14:1
Contemporary English Version
A woman’s family is held together by her wisdom, but it can be destroyed by her foolishness.
Good News Translation
Homes are made by the wisdom of women, but are destroyed by foolishness.
NET Bible
Every wise woman builds her household, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
GOD’S WORD® Translation
The wisest of women builds up her home, but a stupid one tears it down with her own hands.

I love to do word studies from the Bible, especially Hebrew words. I found the words for “build” and “house” quite interesting. Maybe you would like to see?

These are just screen shots of an app I use on my phone for Strong’s Numbers of words in the Bible and their definitions.

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Our homes are our families, and we “build” by obtaining children. Either by bearing them biologically, adopting, fostering, or sheltering them. This is appealing to me. I had decided at some point in my adult life to become what I had needed as a child. I had decided to build a family, before I knew that it was biblical. And I wouldn’t have gotten very far without my Bible and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been a fool, and I’ve torn down my family from time to time, but haven’t we all? In time we hopefully see our folly and wise up, pick up the pieces and get back to building. If that’s where you are, my advice is dust-off and get your mind right. Family is worth everything.

As a child my immediate family was small; a single mom and a sister. We had a large extended family- a bunch of nuts fallen off a tree really, but people I very much love and value. They somehow taught me that family sticks together. When you are a member of a family you have a place-you belong, no matter what.

I knew that being a mother (and now a grandmother) was going to be a priority in my life, and that I wanted a family of my own with two parents, but I had no vision for this really, and no tools to hold a house together. Neither did my husband, but we had the same values and the same Savior and so even though we failed time and again, God didn’t. He never once failed us. He always brought us to a place of reconciliation and growth- in us and in Him.

We dug down roots together and He produced the fruit. He still does, and we still do.

Our anniversary is coming up in less than two weeks, and as I reflect on the years past and what family and marriage mean to me, I see the need for encouragement to people like us. You. You’re trying, you’re striving. Let me tell you, without a firm foundation in truth and deep roots in the soil of God’s love, your’e up against a culture that devalues you and your family. Unless you know what and Who you believe and stick to that in good times and bad, battle to keep your promises and vows, you can’t make it.

Our roles as women have been blurred and are currently trying to be erased. I’m so sorry, but no man on earth can do what I do, no matter how he identifies himself. And I don’t want to be a man, no matter how much I like them. Women were told decades ago that they could and should “bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan…”, in other words, they should leave a home-centered life and “have it all“, and that really means, doit all and be it all. But no one ever mentioned how exhausting that would be.

Who can be everything to everyone, and do that well? Nobody, that’s who. And so there was the opportunity born for a plethora of experts to help us when we realized we weren’t so great at meeting all the needs of everyone. But the experts only shined brighter lights on our failures, right? We’re never good enough…at being parents, spouses, etc. So then came the “You are enough” campaign where we just stick our heads in the sand and give up trying. We just tell each other how great we are in the midst of our broken homes and self-serving life-styles and then we come to believe we are good enough as is. That things, how they are, are good enough. Even though our marriages are failing, (or never happen) never mind that our kids are selfish little monsters or depressed suicidal messes…or they become homicidal school shooters.

We have the feminists marching all over; but where are they going? I just have to ask what have they accomplished but destruction in our society? I think they should march, free-bleed, and rally right to the third world countries where women are truly oppressed and could use someone to defend the impoverished and enslaved there. There are true needs out in the world that they march right past in my opinion. I’m personally appalled at the feminists and the marches and all the “nasty-women” doings. They embarrass me and other women like me. They don’t empower me one little bit. The feminist agenda is always trying to diminish me, and my family. Shame on them. But this woman doesn’t get pushed around so easily. I’m writing this in the hopes that you will take courage and be who you are too, without someone’s agenda beguiling you to comply with a new world order. For the love! It’s getting crazy out there.

Maybe the feminists could be persuaded to use their abundant energies and focus on some real issues. I’d get behind that. Go girl! Empower women who have none, but we girls here in America, well, we are spoiled and entitled. #truthbomb

Anyway, I’m of the opinion that the feminist agenda has torn down our families, our values and the very framework of our society. We haven’t gotten healthier or better from their efforts, but sick. And tired. We medicate everyone in the family, including the dog, and numb our pain and move through our confusing days, but I ask you, is anyone really better off for all of the efforts of those claiming to liberate us women from our homes? How about we empower our dang selves and liberate ourselves to our homes and families? Sign me up for that one. I’m all in.

I know there are women who need to work and I get that, I used to be one of them.

This post isn’t about them. This is for the women who could have the choice, even if they had to make do with a little less stuff in their lives.

Juggling work, kids and marriage wasn’t easy for me. No one got my best, especially me. When I was able to quit working and stay home with my children, I got lots of flack. My change was seen as a come down. Sad, because I really bloomed once I got comfortable being at home. The choice to quit working and stay home wasn’t supported by many people in my life. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to encourage you if you need that.

Managing my home and being present with my children full-time was tough too. It is a legitimate career and it isn’t for light-weights. Maybe that’s the real problem for some people. And I don’t care that much what people think, if I think I’m right. One example would be this post. I’m positive I’m not making brownie points with a certain demographic. Ya, oh well. I’m pretty over the loud and proud few liberals and feminists running over the top of me and my life, my choices, and my beliefs.

My marriage and kids suddenly had my energies when I chose to go home. Life in general suddenly had more flavor and fullness for all of us when I learned to live at home instead of at my job. I used to just visit my home and family. I spent more time at work, while they were at school and daycare, and driving us all around to our various holding places, than I did at home.

I don’t miss working all day. I love being at home. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. I’m a strong woman, who doesn’t feel like she needs the feminists to give her permission for this lifestyle. So, if they try to deny me this, that doesn’t sway me either. I couldn’t care less, except that I’m distressed that other women feel they aren’t valuable without a career or at least hustling somewhere to make a paycheck. Because have mercy, we can’t just live off a man! (I’m told often)

I don’t see myself as just living off my husband, I work and so does he, the facts are he gets a paycheck for his efforts, and because of me and my efforts, he’s able to make a good living. We are partners. I support him and he supports me. One way is with money and the other ways have nothing to do with that. The dollar isn’t the only thing of value.

Money can’t buy a strong home life. It can’t buy what I have. There are so many voices telling you to get busy, be productive and make a name for yourself, but they whisper behind your back that you aren’t enough no matter what you do.

I just wanted to tell you today that as a woman you are important, irreplaceable, and your place in your home is of inestimable value. Don’t let someone take that from you without a fight. I’m a warrior in many ways, and I don’t mind sticking up for you, and myself against the feminist agenda and letting you and the rest of the world know that being a wife is honorable. Being a mother is powerful. Being a homemaker is a noble profession. It takes character and sacrifice. Anyone can go earn a paycheck in this country. But it takes a woman of courage and fortitude to learn to manage a home well enough to sustain it long term. Having said all that, I don’t think you’re wrong for working outside the home, or having a career. I just would like it if we could choose for ourselves and not be shamed into a job or out of our homes so we don’t feel judged by society.

Society is getting mental anyway.

So, to my husband, I say, “Thank you for this opportunity. You’re a strong man for encouraging me to take up my rights as a homemaker, and be willing to forfeit a bigger home and luxury vacations so we can have the kind of life we live. You’re a loving father for considering the children’s need for a full-time mother ahead of your own desire for a bigger bank account. I admire you for being a strong enough man to help me be a strong woman at home.”

To my children I say, “Value your spouse and children, build your home, and flourish!”

To you I say, “Build a life you are proud of and follow your convictions. If you know Jesus and are a woman who loves the Word, then don’t be afraid to live the life you believe is powerful and honorable and healthy. The world is full of liars. Don’t be harassed by popular opinion, and develop your character so that you are satisfied with good things.”

Protecting your family takes valiant effort. It means daily doing small things that make a big difference later on. It’s like planting seeds and tending flowers you won’t see for a long time, and in the future ensuring those flowers remain long after your gone.

Life would be more secure and stable if we could commit to living for the next generations instead of only our own pleasure and entertainment. We don’t stay young forever. One day we will wake up and we will be old. One day, depending on our choices yesterday, we may be surrounded by the people we nurtured and loved above our own ambitions for a time, or else we will be empty.

I encourage you to do some deep soul searching (after you get over being offended by what I’ve written here) and see if what I say isn’t really so. Ask yourself how things might look if you were dedicated to building up your family and influencing the next generations in it.

What would it look like if someone was home?

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My Piece of Peace

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You know this world is an ugly place full of evil people. But it’s also a beautiful place full of wonderful people. It all depends on the day, right? Our perception changes with our moods, circumstances, blood sugar levels or hormones. Embarrassingly so.

That’s why I think it’s important to tend our perceptions and adjust them to come back into line with our core beliefs. For me that means, being a Christian, I want my actions and words to match, and not only that, but to match with the what the Bible tells me about this world, myself, others, and God. There are so many loud voices here now though, that I find it increasingly more difficult to sort them. I find I need times of pulling back, and just breathing, more and more often.

I am so grateful for our ranch, and the peace I find living there. Almost anyone who visits remarks on how peaceful it is, and it’s just true. God has left a mark on it, and it’s rugged beauty harbors so much life. The wildlife is abundant and fascinating, but I am more and more in love with the symbiotic relationships of our domestic animals. Everything learns to live in harmony here. When I need some rest and quiet strength, God meets me in the barnyard. Or in a lawn chair surrounded by the livestock. I like to park myself right in the middle of them, and just “be”.

They aren’t worried. They trust me. I trust God, so I’m reminded of this there, and I can release the sneaky anxieties that weight me down and simply relax. Have you ever had a nap in the sunshine outside surrounded by pecking chickens, grazing sheep and scampering goats? No? Well, you might want to try it. It’s bliss.

When this world gets too heavy , because I’m bearing loads not necessarily mine, like an ass (pun intended), I can slip them off here in my piece of peace.

I hope you have some place to rest as well. Someplace that nourishes your soul with beauty and speaks to you of God’s grace and provision.

Cancer Sucks

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#cancersucks has been a frequent hashtag of mine lately. Well, it does. I’ve spent the better part of January in the hospital, at a bedside of the dying, or at a hospice center. I’ve lost two people very dear to me, and it has been painful.

Cancer is an ugly, heartless, and cruel beast. A devourer of beauty, and an instrument of pain and death, brought to this beautiful but cursed planet by an enemy bent on our destruction. It’s pretty dang effective so far unfortunately.

But like everything left in the fingers of God, beauty has come from what is cursed, broken, and filthy. Because He has that kind of power, that kind of love.

When I was a seven year old girl, my sister 5, my mom brought home another boyfriend. By then we thought not much of such an event and didn’t ever get attached. We didn’t expect this one to stick around long either. But then, we didn’t count on him falling in love with us just as much and more as he did our mom.

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Over the years they broke up time and again, but he never broke up with us girls. No matter how far he moved or where his life took him, he always came back.

I was especially close to him as we got older because my sister had a father, whereas I had never known mine. (I had thought, and was told that my sister and I had the same father until 6th grade, when I got into trouble, and was informed that man wasn’t my father. From that point on he stopped pretending too. But that’s another story for another time.)

Bobby D taught me to drive. Usually while he was drunk, if I’m honest; but learn I did. He wiped my tears, he stuck up for me when I was wronged, and he never pretended to be what he wasn’t.

In his latter years, he had quit drinking altogether. He puttered around the farm he built with his wife, graded the dirt roads in his neighborhood for his neighbors, and built an addition on their home. A custom job that would make any magazine, it was that nicely done. The man could do anything.

I knew he wasn’t my father, and I didn’t call him dad, but you know what, looking back on our history over 42 years together, he was in it for the long haul, and what more can I say, but he stayed close and did the things a father would do. For all intents and purposes he was my dad. He was a grandfather to my children. They all loved him and were able to travel to his bedside and say good-bye.

He told me repeatedly in the last several weeks that he was my dad. He introduced me to medical staff as his daughter with full disclosure privileges. That spoke volumes to me, and it made me even more devoted to him in the end.

At the end of his life I had the privilege of staying close to him, and looking out for him. I had the ability to stick up for him, and help keep him comfortable when agonizing pain engulfed him. I held his hand, a straw up to his lips, and stroked his head to calm him down until the pain meds kicked in. I’m so very happy to have been able to do those things.

I was able to share the truth about what the Bible says about our human condition, and it’s remedy in Jesus. We had deep and meaningful talks all of our lives, but none so important as at the end.

He fought like a bear with stage four bone cancer for four years because he wanted to make sure his wife, Betty would be okay without him. He was also worried about his biological daughter and myself as well. He didn’t quite know how we would get along in this life, and felt he needed to stick around to watch over us.

Bless him, Lord.

A tough man, but oh how tender with animals and children he was. He grew up feeling worthless, and yet was vain about his looks. And he was a good looking man. Twinkling blue eyes that had women after him in droves, and made his daughters laugh.

Bobby D was a man’s man, but he was jelly in the hands of a child or dog. He joked around about everything, but boy, you better not get him mad, and you know, he never got mad at us kids. He gave us room, liberty to learn life skills and make mistakes, and he was  a shoulder to cry on. He held a very special and sacred spot in my life, and I will miss him terribly.

The photo below shows him just about 3 months before he died. He had helped pack up the moving van, he and his wife, for my mom when she was headed to New Mexico. See, we all stayed close. We were family, and never mind the titles.

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I won’t forget how frail and dependent he became at the very end, but neither will I forget the thread of steal in his veins until the end. I will choose to remember a man built like a bull, with a tender embrace and twinkling blue eyes that were proof he was often amused. He was the man who became my father, long after he and my mother broke up for the final time.

I hope I was a good daughter, and I hope he could tell how profoundly I loved him.

I will honor his memory by talking nonsense to my dogs, and sweetly telling them, as he did, that I will put rocks up their nose holes so they will die, all the while petting them and using a soothing tone. His dogs adored him, and actually lived longer than the average dog. I think he took excellent care of them, but also he genuinely loved them and was attentive and kind to them. That the big, strong man was tender with things helpless and looking to him for protection should be an example of what kind of a person he truly was. He talked baby talk to his dogs, and all dogs, but he was a brave man until the end.

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The Masterpiece Review

Francine Rivers has never disappointed me, and her newest novel is no exception. Mrs. Rivers has created strong characters and woven a skillful story with a strong gospel  message of redemption. She explores the big questions in our culture, like how damaged is too damaged for a person to be saved and made whole? How does grace draw a person to Christ? When is a hard heart too hard for God to deal with? For me to deal with? Is a child with abandonment and attachment issues a lost cause? Is a violent person in need of grace and love, or punishment? Or is it both?

If we’re honest, these are questions we all have. Especially if you’re like me and live with these kinds of realities in daily life.

The Masterpiece was a glorious work by a gifted author. I enjoyed it, was reminded of a few truths, and was nudged and inspired to do a couple of things differently. That’s quite a bit from a novel, don’t you think?

Francine is a strong believer who writes fiction artfully and tells truth while doing it. She writes edgy sometimes, going where other Christian writers don’t, but I like her stories all the more for it. They are meaty and deal with hard things. And often they are stories of redemption. Who couldn’t use a little more of that?

I ate this book up and got attached to Roman. I’d love to start it all over again, and maybe I will this summer when I have more time. If you’re one of my local friends and would like to read The Masterpiece, let me know and you can borrow my beautiful hard copy. There’s a powerful note from Francine Rivers at the end of the story and discussion questions as well.

*I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in order to write an unbiased written review.

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Read 1st chapter (PDF)

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.