Tuesday, December 15, 2015

And So This Is Christmas

And so this is Christmas,
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun . . .

 This song, much like this season fills me with conflicting emotions.  

It's Christmas time.


Christmas comes but once a year,
And when it does, 
It brings good cheer. 

Or massive amounts of confusion, depression, materialism, alcoholism and all around humbug.

It's not that I'm against Christmas.  I love the holiday season!  (as defined by Starbucks as beginning in September with Pumpkin Spice Latte and ending in January with the Gingerbread Macchiato)  

It's just that I suffer from Christmas Identity Confusion.

It's a thing.

And I know I'm not alone out there.

So, what is Christmas, exactly and how do I, as a Christ follower observe the day in a way that glorifies Jesus without going insane?  Insanely in debt.  Insanely exhausted.  Insanely guilty.

 What I am going to say next might shock you.  Unless you are my sibling or grew up with me, in which case, you know exactly what I mean.

My family did not celebrate Christmas.

Not until I was seven, and then it was sparingly.  Yet, my dad loved Christmas!  He missed Christmas.  But it was a point of conscience to not dishonor Christ by celebrating His birth in a way that was un-godly.  This had many roots and evolved through many different stages as our family grew.  That confused me.  But behind it all was the same desire, to glorify Christ.  This has anchored me.

So, what is so bad about Christmas?  There are a lot of scholarly tracts and articles and blog posts out there.  This is not one of them.  This is just me recounting what I was taught as a kid.  And citing hasty Google searches.  Take it for what it's worth.

 * To begin with, you might be shocked to learn December 25th is not actually Jesus' Birthday.  Well, it could have been.  We really don't know for sure when he was born.  Some algorithms place his birth sometime in the Spring, others have finagled a way to reconcile with the traditional December date.  Do you want to know my view?  There is a 1/365  chance that December 25 was the exact Christmas morn, a 1/12 chance that it was in the month of December and a 1/4 chance that it was a wintry cold Silent Night.  In other words, the date does not matter.  What does matter?  That "When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Galatians 4:4-5   

It is an absolutely 100% certainty that Jesus was born!  At just the right time, in just the right way to fulfill all the prophecies made in the Old Testament.  Here is a wonderful article about some of these ancient prophecies come true.  This truly is cause to celebrate!

* Or is it?  Have you ever read the 11th Commandment that tells us to Deck the Halls or Celebrate Me Home or even sing light a birthday candle on you-know-what day?  No?  Perhaps this is why the actual date is never recorded.  Maybe having special feast days was a custom from the Old Testament that God intended to phase out?  (see Galatians 4:9-11 and Colossians 2:16-22 which seems to me to be speaking of Jews looking down on the Gentiles that did not follow the dietary restrictions and observe Levitical feast days)  

The only days that are mentioned for special consideration in the New Testament are the Lord's Day and the observance of the Lord's Supper.  Lord's Supper, is held in solemn remembrance of Christ's death and atonement.  It is to be observed "often" but left to the individual church's discretion.  Christ's resurrection is celebrated the first day of every week.  Although Easter is mentioned in Acts 12:4, it was not in the context of a church sanctioned celebration.  Rather it was giving a time reference for when Peter was to be executed.  This was the season of Passover, which is also around the same time of the celebration of Ishtar, a pagan goddess.  Yes, the etymology of "Easter" traces back to the Babylon goddess of war, love, and fertility.  Hence the fecundal symbols made of marshmallows every spring.              

* Which brings us back to That Day, 12/25.  Why is Christmas held on that day or thereabouts, depending on where in the world you live?  Most people already know that Constantine started that tradition along with many other Roman Catholic traditions.  Depending on where you attend church, that could be a good thing or a bad thing, but that's another story.  Before Constantine became a Christian, he was a pagan.  The Pagans had all sorts of celebrations throughout the year that have become incorporated into the Catholic church and hence modern society.  That in itself is not the kiss of death.  I don't refuse to use the name March because it came from the god Mars or Wednesday because it was originally Woden's Day.  But, it is useful to know where these customs come from.  It definitely made my dad blanch at the thought of having a pagan Yule Tree decorated in our home.  We did sneak out on Christmas Light viewing excursions with dad, egg nog in hand.  BUT!  We didn't call them "Christmas Lights" you see.  They were simply known as Pretty Lights.  Which was definitely a step better than calling them Pagan Lights.

* This brings us to the rank consumerism, materialism and downright greed that has grinched the Holy-Day spirit.  Songs such as Santa Baby, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart (But The Very Next Day You Gave It Away)  shine a black light over the once peaceful Silver Bells scene.  Things become grotesque and distorted with the never ending obligations and expectations we are expected to fill.  I feel this rather painfully in Cindy-Lou Who's poignant song "Where Are You, Christmas" and in Charlie Brown's search for his lost Christmas Spirit.  The traffic, the crowds, the crushing weight of making the season perfect for everyone, it's like winding up thirty music boxes at once and letting the cacophony seep into your very soul.  And that's just in the Sock Department at Walmart.   

It's no wonder people get depressed this time of year.  When you remove Christ from society, but leave the obligation of being merry, there just isn't much hope.  Santa is a poor savior.  He might reward good behavior with good presents if your parents are rich enough to afford your alphabetized and cross-referenced list.  But even the most magnificent of gifts eventually lose their luster.  You can't buy happiness.  

O come, O come, Emmanuel, 
And rescue captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Here is where the true Gift comes in.  I think this is the place my dad came to in his search for the Christ-like spirit of Christmas.  Jesus is so much bigger than a day.  The entire season from Thanksgiving to New Year's is not enough time to fully appreciate the Incarnation of Emmanuel.  God With Us.  Peace On Earth, not to men of goodwill, for there are none.  But God's good will to undeserving men!  We need to spread this word of hope every single day of the year.  But, people are  more likely to listen when it's Christmas "time".  Co-workers, friends and neighbors, family members will accept gifts, engage in conversations and
sing gloriously truthful words THIS MONTH!  This is truly a Holiday of Opportunity.  Who knows, you might even get to invite someone to church.  And better yet, they might actually come!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove 
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it.  He has created all things for Himself.  This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad in it!  There is no need to let the worldly misrepresentations of Christ and His birth rob us of joy for three months out of the year.  Let's face it, we all know someone who starts decorating in October.  It used to bother me that people roll right over Thanksgiving in their haste to get Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree . . . 

* Until I found my personal reconciliation.  Now, this is just me.  I don't expect anyone else in the world to see things the way I do.  Here's how it started: 
Robert and I began giving gifts to our family on Thanksgiving.  It should have worked like a dream.  Except it didn't.  It was horribly awkward.  Our families were surprised and unprepared and slightly embarrassed.  Then on Christmas Day, it was our turn to feel surprised and unprepared and slightly embarrassed as our family sheepishly gave us gifts.  That's when it hit me.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are really one season.   
And, that's a good thing.  A couple of days is just not near enough time to give thanks to God and express appreciation to the folks I love.  We're going to need several months!  

Also, there is something very important that I have learned about loving others.  You have to love them in a way that they can receive.  Gifts at Thanksgiving is weird.  Gifts at Christmas is warm and cozy.  That was my second revelation.  There is a certain magical something in the air all December long.  Houses and storefronts are spruced up with, well, Spruce Trees.  Everything is glittery, even the air sparkles.  Children and parents fairly crackle with anticipation.  Of gifts?  Yes, but there's something more.  It's not just the gifts.  It's the wacky family traditions.  It's going to a certain park to see lights.  It's baking cookies.  It's having friends over to sing and reminisce.  It's feeling loved and thankful.  It's looking back on the mercies of the past year and looking forward to the certain grace that will supply the future.

For lo, the days are hast'ning on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

     As I grew up, our Holiday traditions grew with us.  From a pinata at my Grandma's to drawing the names of siblings to the rollicking Dirty Santa gags, every year became a little more festive.  The first several years of officially "celebrating" Christmas, our only decorations was the ceramic village that we painted with dad while listening to Handel's Messiah.  How we treasure that village now!  Then dad allowed small touches of pagan greenery about the house with a few Precious Moments ornaments interspersed.  But, we weren't ever going to have a tree.  Lights on the house was another matter entirely!  One of my favorite memories of dad was of him, all tangled up in lights, on the roof, in the dark.  The lights would blink on, revealing the epic struggle, then blink off, leaving us kids on the ground holding our breath.  Then blink on again.  Then off.  It's a marvel he ever got them untangled and found the one burned out bulb!  

The older I grew, the sicker dad became.  My brother took over hanging the lights.  One year, after I was married, I was astonished to find a fully decked tree in the living room.  Well, how do you like that?  The night my dad passed away, there was a small tree in his hospital room, furnished by one of my aunts.  That was an interminably long and silent night for all of us.  

It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men, From heav'ns all gracious King!"
The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.

Still thru the cloven skies they come With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav'nly music floats O'er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains They bend on hov'ring wings
And ever o'er its Babel sounds The blessed angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load, Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,  And hear the angels sing.   

That December night, my dad heard those angels sing.  He met his long expected Jesus.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.

Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel 

Life and Death.  Endings and Beginnings.  Friends and Family.  This is the Holiday season for me.  From October to January.  Pumpkin Spice Latte to Gingerbread Macchiato.  Halloween to New Year's.  Every day belongs to God.  There is a time and a season to every purpose.  The particulars are different to every family, but I would urge you to enjoy your God and enjoy your family with every fiber of your being!  However you feel led to celebrate this season, let it be with your heart and soul.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.  Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it . . . For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.   

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.  Romans 14:5-8

I don't do Christmas cards. It's a pagan tradition.  No, just kidding!  I just haven't made it a part of my personal tradition.  I much prefer to bake pumpkin bread for every person I know.  Except I haven't managed to get that done for several years.  Maybe next year though . . . What I'm trying to say is:
 Merry Christmas!
 Happy New Year!
Thankful Thanksgiving!

I pray you and your family are blessed.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Be Thou My Vision - The Life Changing Magic of Looking Up, Part 2

"Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
 Not be all else to me save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought by day or by night, 
Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true word.
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord.
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise.
Thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won.
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun
Heart of mine own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all."

* It has been a golden Sunday afternoon.  For the first time in weeks, the whole family was able to go to church.  I feel like I have finally found a toe hold and can rest for a few moments.  It's a lovely feeling to be able to breathe!  I have luxuriated in this restful state of mind for the last five minutes at least.  Until a certain little girl crashed through the door on an urgent mission to find a bathroom.  She refuses to use the boy's bathroom.  She might be only four, but she has standards!

The past week has been an interesting hybrid of Sick Day operating procedures and Get Your Butt Out Of Bed And Do Something Productive bootcamp.  Cy is down to taking his medicine throughout the day and sleeping through the night, which has been a huge relief to me.  He is still not a hundred percent, though.  He has a visit to the Pulmonologist on Tuesday.  Robert is back to work, which is also a huge relief.  I love having him home, but it is hard to keep the house on schedule when daddy is about!  Most of our time this week was split between various doctor's appointments, assorted school work and The Project.  (Cue ominous music - dum dum dum!)

*I have to make a full disclosure here.  I actually wrote this last week.  But, the description is pretty much still accurate and current.  Except it wasn't a golden autumn day.  It was cold and wet.  But still restful.  Oh, and yes, The. Kids. Are. Still. Sick.  Sigh.  Back to the ominous music-

Why the ominous music?  Just take a gander what I am up against:

Behold the boy's room!

I'm speechless with horror. These were all clean clothes!

The girl's room is even worse
Ah yes, The Project.  The Japanese-Feng Shui-Tidy Up-Inner Peace-Fest Of Doom Project.

There are a couple of steps you have to take to prepare yourself for such an audacious undertaking.

First, eat Chinese food to set the mood.  I know, Chinese is not quite Japanese, but at least I'm on the right continent.

Second, light a candle.  Oh, wait.  I'm not allowed to light candles anymore.  They might trigger asthma.  I don't think I can do this!  Deep breaths, Mary.  Deep breaths.

Third, ask yourself why you desire a clean and tidy house.  I mean it.  Conduct a regular 60 Minutes interview.  It's always helpful to define what you want and why.

Myself: "Why do you want a clean and tidy house?"
I: "I don't want people to get the wrong idea that we actually live this way."
Myself: "But you actually do live this way."
I: "Shut up."

Let's try this from a different angle.  Obviously false pride isn't such a great motivator.

Myself: "So, what great and noble value is motivating you to put in order your ungrateful progeny's chamber?"
I: "Safety.  It's my goal."
Myself: "Safety?  Explain."
I: "What if we had a fire in the middle of the night?  Maybe the dirty underwear in the corner spontaneously combusted. We'd all break our legs in the smokey blackness.  We'd stub our toes and step on LEGO's and trip over shoes and get twisted up in the laundry.  Then the firemen would have to break their way in with axes because rubble would be piled up against the door.  Maybe they would get lost in the blanket fort that never was put away.  We could all be overcome with smoke inhalation before they kicked through the stacks of diaper boxes that made up the wagon train earlier in the day.  We'll make the evening news.  I'm going to go to jail.  My children will be raised by hippies in California!"
Myself: "Oh brother."

The fact of the matter is, I have tried giving myself any number of pep talks and hard hitting interviews.  I have gone through about sixty different reasons why I should keep my home nice and orderly.  They range from the reasonable to the ridiculous.  But it really all comes down to Proverbs 30:8

"Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me."

Enough is as good as a feast, so Laura Ingall's mother used to say.

I don't want more.  I don't need more.  I just want to take care of the people and the possessions that have been entrusted to my care.  I want to be a wise steward with every available resource.  This includes  my
* time

Why would God bless our family with more of anything when we don't know how to care for what we already have?

What if we discovered just how fun life can be when we don't have to slave over taking care of stuff?  What if we actually dropped off nice things at Goodwill, instead of broken junk?  (I'm sure the Goodwill crew shudders when they see my van pull up.  "There's the girl who only donates holey shirts.  Hide!" )  What if we discovered that the less we have, the more we actually do?  I would like to find out!

I pray that God will teach me to number not only my days, but my shelves, my socks and my cookbooks so that I can apply my heart to wisdom and my home to peace.

Back to those disaster areas I call bedrooms.  The first step was to fold all the clothes, storing the in-between sizes in plastic totes and getting rid of everything that is worn out and stained.  Did you know that plastic bags really stink at storing clothes because they WILL be used as step stools and bean bag chairs and they will spill their contents all over the floors and will co-habit with the dirty clothes and be fruitful and multiply? 
Well, you do now.

   I had to really re-think our storing method for the clothes that we are currently using.  Marie Kondo recommends folding everything except formal wear and storing in drawers or on shelves.  It just so happens that we have three shelves on each end of the boys closet.  Alvin and Dee get each of these 

This is the new and improved Boy's Closet!  I am SO pumped!  The only items hanging are the suits and dress shirts for all three of the boys.  Later, I moved all their winter coats in, since we had so much room. 

These are what Dee's shelves look like.

Just keeping it real.  After a week of putting away his own laundry, it's a little messy.  What is astounding to me is that all of his clothes are here.  There are 19 short and long sleeved shirts on that top shelf, y'all!  All the pants and shorts he owns are nestled up on the bottom shelf.  Not pictured are the socks, underwear and pajamas on the shelf above.

Cy gets the fancy "armoir" thingy all to himself, since he's the oldest.

This includes all of his t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, shorts, socks and underwear.  The whole nine yards with room to spare!

The finished Girl's Room nearly makes me weep. 

This is truly a case of Less is More.  I removed the toddler bed, changing table and toy box. I got rid of tons of trash, old clothes and junk.  There are no toys left in either bedroom, other than the two you see pictured here.  I want to keep these rooms easy to clean!

The only items I have purchased so far have been the white set of drawers here and a few plastic totes.   I haven't even needed all the totes yet.  The folding system has been so efficient, I have tons of room left!  In this closet we have all the clothes worn by my two girls, both summer and winter.  All their shoes, diapers, wipes and pullups, coats and jackets, as well as the one tote of shoes for the two of them to grow into and one tote of clothes for Ana to grow into. Oh yeah, and one tote of gift bags!  And two crib sized mattresses.  It's a nice closet, but not unusually large.  Origami folding is like magic!

One last closet pic, I promise.  Maybe.

Robert was so excited to come to this on Friday!

Why did I move all of our coats out of the hall closet and into each child's space?

So I could do this.

The unwieldy closet organizer that used to hold Ana's clothes, (and very poorly, I might add) is perfect for holding all of our winter mittens, stocking caps, scarves, shooting safety glasses, vacuum bags, and extra Kleenex.  The ex coat closet now houses the vacuum and ironing board.  No more coats littered across the entry way!

I have big plans for my walk-in closet.  I am going to do something radical!  I will move the bulk of my clothes OUT of the closet and re-purpose the space as Robert's "man cave" for his birthday.  I can't wait!!! 

This isn't quite the polished post I had hoped to put out.  But hopefully it will provide some encouragement and inspiration to think out of the box and beyond the hangar when organizing closets.  I am encouraged that I have made it nearly two weeks with these changes and the bedrooms have yet to revert to chaos.  Maybe, just maybe this will be the configuration that brings peace and order to our lives.

Okay, it probably won't.  But, I love the OCD high it's given me this week!  And if I can teach the boys to be better stewards with their clothes and bedrooms, maybe my future daughters in law will rise up and call me blessed.  That would be something!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Life Changing Magic of Looking Up

I'm a sucker for self help books.

Actually, I'm just a sucker for the written word.  If you want to get through to me, write it down!  I refuse to listen to a podcast.  I will skip the video and go straight to the transcript below.  And if there is none, well, it probably wasn't too important to begin with. 

My whole life pretty much revolves around books, articles, blogs, newspaper clippings, cereal boxes.  I devour whatever my eyes come across.  This is how I learn, relax and find inspiration.

I am often in need of inspiration.

In August it was Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman.  These simple but profound gospel meditations exhort mothers to seek the all sufficiency of Christ through every challenge.  It was like a drink of cold water on a summer's day.
Last month it was The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  It prompted a few panic attacks and an Amazon buying frenzy in an attempt to get my sloppy school up to Classically Inspired standards.  I have yet to recover.

This month has been all about The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Since school has started, the house has definitely been neglected.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I haven't dusted regularly since my second child was born.  I need help!

I first heard of  TLCMOTU when my friend, Rebbecca showed me this really weird way of folding one's garments.  It was like origami, for jeans!  Then I heard how this quaint Japanese lady thanked her socks.  Every day!

Like a cherry blossom, the KonMari method of decluttering, folding and organizing began to blossom across my consciousness.  She was everywhere!  When I finally looked into borrowing it from the library, there was an eight week waiting list.

The timing was perfect.  I could not have dreamed what began as a remodeling project would end with my ten year old in the hospital and TLCMOTU was going to be the key to pull it all together.

Cy has asthma.  Unusually well  behaved asthma, ninety percent of the time.  This is the other ten percent.  When his airways react, they are stubborn!

We have been planning on getting rid of our nasty carpet for years.  But, you know how it is.  Projects are daunting.  You've heard the old proverb, "It's easier to live with the carpet you know then take a chance on the tile you don't".  Or something like that.  But Miss Sherry upset the whole thing when she gave me re-upholstered chairs as a birthday present.  After that, the dining room just HAD to be painted!  And so it went, one change fostered another until at last, we had the ancient carpet removed and wood styled tile installed and the living room painted.  My hope was that this would eliminate the heavy, dusty air in our home and be much healthier for Cy.  And I think it will do just that.  But at about the time we did all this is when Cy started having allergy trouble.  Which led to Strep Throat.  I could see him declining every day.  I gave him his rescue inhalers faithfully.  We went to the doctor repeatedly, but it wasn't enough.  I couldn't keep him out of the hospital.

So, what does all this have to do with TLCMOTU and origami for jeans and the twisted title?

You see, in the hospital I had time to reflect on the book I had just finished.  I was uncertain while reading if it would do me any good.  I mean, some of her requirements are just too wacky.  She actually communicates with her stuff !!!  But, I have been seriously and literally asking God for wisdom to get my home in order.  I have felt convicted for not better utilizing all my resources and for all the waste.  I have been chafing under the distinct  impression that things were not the way they were supposed to be.  I was missing something.

And now, I'm being reminded that it's my duty to keep my son's room the cleanest room in the house.  I remonstrate with myself for being too lax to enforce strict medication regimens.  I am bewildered to learn that my open window, line dried clothing, candle burning, flower child policies might have contributed to Cy's locked down airways. 


Something has to change.

And so I look up.

Because the only Life Changing Book is God's Word.

There are no rules to life other than the two great commandments: Love God and Love Others.

I don't have to do things exactly the way it is written in some old book.  It's not the power of words on a page from a guru of education or from a guru of organization that holds sway over my life.  It's the power of God's revealed will in the Holy Bible.  It's the power of the Holy Spirit, indwelling, nudging, guiding me through this mess we call life.  And, sometimes, He guides me to interesting books that have applicable tips.  Have you ever prayed over what book to read next?  Try it some time! 

What I am learning right now is to pray over every. single. thing. 

*The grocery list
*The grocery sales for the week
*The menu
*The To Do list
*When to chuck aforementioned list
*School curriculum
*When to panic over children's reading levels
*When to chill over children's reading levels
*What color of tile to choose
*How to remove gum from the dryer
and last but not least
*How to organize my home

God cares about each and every one of these issues.  He created me for this job and He created this particular job for me.  He has promised to give wisdom to everyone that asks.  Habits of thrift, industry and excellence are praised in His Word as virtues to be cultivated.  Why not look up and ask your Father?

And so, I know things have to change.

I look up.

Here is the game plan, subject to change as God leads:

I will embark on an extreme purge of our junk worldly possessions.  Armed with the KonMari secret to letting go of the superfluous, I will no longer be held to my junk by guilt.  The Japanese mindset is very mystical.  The objects have personalities and souls.  Miss Kondo brings this to her closet by treating the shirts the way the shirts want to be treated.  She has no guilt for releasing an item that no longer brings her joy.  It has fulfilled it's purpose, either as a gift to bring joy or as a purchase to fulfill a need or maybe just to teach a lesson such as, "I hate that color and will never buy it again."

 So, am I saying that I should adopt this Eastern mystical view? 

No!  It is an Animist and Shinto superstition.

But what if I held each object in my hand, thanked God for the purpose He had for it in my life and then either carefully put it away to be used and enjoyed or thankfully released it as it's purpose has already been fulfilled?  What a different approach to cleaning!  No more guilt.  No more hanging on to things that have no purpose in my home.  Keeping only what is needed and treasured.  Taking care of each treasured blessing, instead of tromping all over the fallen clothes on the bedroom floor. 

This is my vision.

This is my mission.

My family's health depends on it.

My sanity depends on it.

I hope to keep you updated as I implement this exciting new outlook in our home.  I can hardly contain myself over the laundry origami!

Cy is home now, after two days in the Pediatric Hilton.  We enjoyed the time together, one on one.  We, or at least he, had great food, cable TV to watch Walker, Texas Ranger and the History channel and a seriously gorgeous view out the window.  It almost felt like a retreat.  Now that we're home, I'm getting up every four hours to administer breathing treatments.  My darling husband, who held down the fort while I was gone, is snowed under by the flu.  I'm exhausted and overwhelmed.  But, what else can you do when weighted down, but look up?

The view is worth it!

Friday, October 23, 2015

In Which I Tidy My Unmatched Socks

I began Marie Kondo's cute little tome, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, this week.

I must say, it is a very timely book as my house is currently a wreck.

I must also say, I am torn betwixt eagerly embracing her method with all my heart or tossing her book into the library return cart with greatest disdain.

Once I decide, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I am feverishly reclaiming my house from the twin vortices of remodeling and a major family trip.  Because, you know, Elle's 4th birthday party is TOMORROW and I'm having about thirty family members over for a girly tea party!  I don't have time for stinkin' tidy and toss.  I'm full on stash and dash!

Or at least, I should be.

There is so much for me to do and I can't settle down to do any of it, hence I am sorting my socks and blogging about the experience.

Marie Kondo actually has a theory about such behavior.  It explains why we have to feverishly tidy instead of studying for exams and such.  She says that instead of addressing the inward turmoil in our heart, we futilely address the turmoil in our surroundings.  Hmm, I'm going to have to think about that one for a bit.

Anyways, I know you clicked on this to hear about my socks, and I am loathe to disappoint.

Imagine this basket, full to overflowing with lonely socks
This was my official home for displaced socks.  A broken down laundry basket.  I would toss all single socks into it.  Once we had all run out of clean and matched socks to wear I would call a sock party.  Sometimes we would play Go Fish . . .

"Do you have a white ankle sock with a green stripe on the toe?" 

"Go Fish!"

I can't imagine Ms. Kondo doing such a thing with her socks.  She insists they be treated with respect.  Since I haven't actually read her sock strategy yet, I'm forced to improvise.  Because of intensive re-arranging in my room, I have recently lost my designated "sock nook".  Beside, broken down laundry baskets full of errant socks don't spark joy.  At least, not for me.

What does spark joy?


My shoe box of socks!
This is the latest and greatest in sock matching innovation.  Behold, a shoe box filled with ziplock bags filled with sorted socks.

Here it is, all broken down . . .

1 bag of men's dark socks
1 bag of men's white socks
1 bag of boys mostly dark socks with some assorted color
1 bag of boys mostly white socks with some assorted color
1 bag of boys once-upon-a-time white socks
1 bag of girls socks
1 bag of MY* socks

*there are only two in there.  I respect my socks.

I will, theoretically, compare each newly recovered unmatched sock against my organized sock data base, hopefully matching Bonnie with Clyde and restoring them to circulation.  After a few months, I should know which socks have mates and which were tragically eaten by the dryer.

There you have it.  The broken down laundry basket with the hopelessly lost socks will be thrown out.

Because broken down laundry baskets with hopelessly lost socks just don't spark joy, doggone it!

But shoe box data bases do!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Summer Summary

Alvin, the Bee Keeper

Summer tends to intimidate me.

I feel this crushing pressure to make the season magical with campouts and homemade ice cream and fireworks and lightning bugs galore.  Then there is the awesome garden that I will manage along with educational opportunities that I will craft.  And, I will rest and recharge and be raring to go when fall arrives.

It's not too surprising when I burn myself out around the 4th of July.

It happens every year.

This year I decided to try a slightly different approach.  It's not that I scaled back as much as I tried to be more intentional in what I did and recognize when I actually achieved a goal.

To begin with I made a list of all the things I wanted or needed to do this summer, a bucket list, if you will.  I wrote it all down on two pieces of paper and duct taped them to my bathroom mirror.  (I can never find normal tape when I need it!  I don't mind using duct tape, though.  As they say, "Duct tape is silver, silence is golden." )

I really enjoyed writing my goals down and having them where I could see them every day.  It helped me not forget about some of the important events.  In the throes of VBS I could look at my list and say, "Oh yes, this is really important to me.  I am accomplishing something that I value.  Here it is on my list."  Same thing when we hit a day where we did absolutely nothing.  Instead of wondering if I should be up and doing I just looked up at my list and said, "Nope, I'm right on plan."

Summer Goals

* Math games and reading daily - Hahahaha hahahaha!  Nope, that did not happen, self congratulating post in early June notwithstanding.  My summer school program withered on the vine, just like my cantaloupe.

* Weekly Nature Hikes - My sides are too sore from laughing at the first point to be able to do this one justice.  No, we did not go on weekly nature hikes.  I tried not to step foot out of doors after the temperature hit 90.  However, we have gone hiking at various nature trails all throughout the year and it has been tons of fun.  I will definitely make the weekly hike a feature of my Autumn Goals. . . ha!

The Pond at Turkey Mountain

*  Boys Shark Party -  Now this one we actually did!  It was so much fun to celebrate all three boys birthdays at my Mother-In-Law's house.

Dee with his Shark Eye Roll

Aunt Brenda makes the most amazing cakes!

The Three Stooges

  * Family Vacation -  This one was all Robert's idea.  And it was a blast!  Deathly hot, but a blast.  We piled into the van, drove to Murfreesboro, Arkansas and dug for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park.  It was epic!  From the Heavener Runestone to the Spiro Mounds, through the Winding Stair Mountains into Southwest Arkansas, we visited a Civil War fort, swam at a water park, drank way too many orange sodas and got absolutely filthy.  It was road trip heaven.

Picture a vast field of volcanic ash

Imagine a band of intrepid prospectors in Civil War slouch caps
The heat index was 115, but that didn't deter Cy
We didn't find any diamonds, but I took home five jewels!
* Church Camp - This was an absolute wash.  Literally.  Due to historic flooding, all the campgrounds in the state of Oklahoma were underwater, so we just had to cancel it this year.  I was a little relieved.  It tired me out just thinking about it.

* Vacation Bible School - We did get to participate in VBS this year.  The kids had a great time learning about wisdom.  The highlight of the week was playing kickball with slip'n'slides and wading pools as the bases.

* Swimming Lessons - My gracious and generous Father-In-Law insisted that the children take swimming lessons this year.  So, for two weeks Cy, Dee, Alvin and Elle ventured forth to our instructor's house ALL BY THEMSELVES.  That was huge for me.  I'm so thankful for all they learned.  Elle has morphed from a tick that clung to my legs to a little dogfish bobbing around in her floaties.  Alvin and Dee both made huge strides in swimming independently.  It was definitely worth it.

* Library Program - I managed to haul my brood to several of the library events this summer, but not near as many as we used to.  But that is okay.  I did just enough to check it off my list.  Everyone earned their summer reading coupons, which was awesome.  But half the coupons wound up lost, which was tragic.

* Shakespeare In The Park - We didn't actually go to this.  And that was a win.  After a hectic week, we really needed to just be still and rest. We had a quiet night at home and watched Star Trek.  Boo-yah!

*Symphony In The Park and Old Fashioned Picnic - We weren't entirely uncultured swine, though.  We made the Symphony which is a free event at the Gutherie Greens every year.  The kids love orchestral music!  Especially when it's a fun program with plenty of Disney songs.  Cold fried chicken with grapes and Triscuits are magical when packed into a wicker picnic basket.

* Bowling - Every year I sign us up for Kids Bowl Free and every year we only bowl once.  On Alvin's birthday.  And speaking of Alvin's birthday, it was a fun packed day.  It was non stop action all day long.  And it was very low cost.  First we met up with several families for a Nature Hike at Oxley's Nature Center. Then we stopped at the park for sandwiches and to play in the water.  After that we met some more friends to go bowling.  After bowling we all went for fried pies at Fulton's Pies and Pies in Broken Arrow.  One more stop at WalMart for a Star Wars cake and we finished the day at Wednesday Night services with our church family.
This is one sticky, tired six year old.
  * Preserve Produce - Does eating your weight in fresh Pico de Gallo count?

* Movie Marathon - We watched Gods and Generals and Gettysburg to go with our Civil War summer.

* Read Aloud - We read Rifles For Watie on the porch swing all summer long.  Cy is plotting how he will write a sequel someday.  A great book that blends Civil War with Oklahoma and Indian history.  I love this story!

* Stock Up On School Supplies - Note to self, Dollar Tree is NOT the cheapest place to but notebooks and pencils.  But, at least I got it done!

* Clean House - Define "clean" . . . I did utilize some old diaper boxes to organize my pantry


* Birthday Camp Out - Dear Sons, I am so sorry that the promised camp out never materialized.  I had the best of intentions, I really did.  But the plain truth is, I pooped out.  However, I promise that each one of you did have fun and do something special on your birthday.  Here is the proof:

Discovery Museum on Dee's birthday, a la library reading coupons
Slide made of packing tape
Ultimate Jenga
Mt. Rushmore LEGO sculpture.
As for you, Cy, we celebrated your birthday at the OKC Zoo.  It just happened to be $1 admission day, too!  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of us at the zoo, so I'll just stick one in of you in your toga addressing the Roman Senate.

Beware the Ides of March!
* Grandparent Week - The second week of August has been officially set aside as Grandparent week.  In that one week, there are two grandparents with birthdays as well as Cy.  It's typically the last week before we start back to school.  It just seems right to spend one last week in OKC and just focus on having fun with all the grandparents and great grandparents.  I absolutely treasure this time.

Grandma Joan reads the best stories!
"Sugar Daddy" accompanied us to the zoo.

Grandma Kimball gave Alvin this fan that belonged to my dad. He was tickled to own an "invention" made by the grandfather he will never get to meet.

* Planned Days of Doing Nothing -  There were about three . . . No, really, there was plenty of down time for important things like,

Tipi construction

T-Shirt Decorating

Standing Up For A Cause We Believe In

#drawthelinechallenge to end abortion

 And some really awesome naps!

So, that's our summer in a nutshell.  There was nothing really fancy.  No Disney World.  Just lots of simple and low cost fun.  I hope it generated many memories.

I know I treasured every moment.

I really enjoyed writing my goals down and having them where I could see them every day.  It helped me not forget about some of the important events.  In the throes of VBS I could look at my list and say, "Oh yes, this is really important to me.  I am accomplishing something that I value.  Here it is on my list."  Same thing when we hit a day where we did absolutely nothing.  Instead of wondering if I should be up and doing I just looked up at my list and said, "Nope, I'm right on plan."

What's The Point?

Howdy, folks.

I've missed y'all like crazy!  I do believe this is the absolute longest I have ever gone without writing.  But, you see, I've been so busy this summer doing important stuff. 

Like really important stuff.

There was a mission trip to Antarctica.

I traced the Nile to it's source.

The Nazi's never did succeed in stealing the Ark of the Covenant.

Oh, and I shined up the Holy Grail with some leftover silver polish in the junk drawer.

How was your summer?

Sigh.  Who am I kidding?  I might as well come clean and confess.

I forgot my Google password.

It's a little embarrassing.

My conscience is still bothering me.  There's more to it.  I really did forget my password.  And it really did take me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to reset it.  And I really was busy this summer (although I don't actually own any silver polish, neither own I silver to polish) but there is another reason why I have not written a thang in over two months.

I got to reading all these Other Blogs.  Blogs that are professionally designed.  Blogs that go viral on Facebook.  Blogs that are written by exalted beings that begin with "Dear Sisters" and go on to dispense timely, relevant and convicting pearls of wisdom to the unwashed masses of overwhelmed mothers huddling in their closets.  And I think, "Who am I to write anything?  I haven't even showered today?  What could I possibly say that these ladies haven't already said in a much pithier way?"

In other words, I'm jealous.

I'm comparing myself to others and finding myself wanting.

But that is wrong.  If God uses this web log to encourage somebody or make them chuckle, then my day has been made.  Bu, I really can't pretend that I'm out here on the blogosphere writing life changing stuff that everyone around the world MUST read.  It's too much pressure.  There's too much I am struggling with myself.  You see, I kind of lost focus what this blog is really all about.  I started feeling like every post had to be profound or spiritual or have a life changing homeschool tip or have gorgeous stock images of barefoot toddlers amongst wildflowers and sunbeams. 


So, let's get back to the basics. 

Why am I even here?

 I exist to glorify God.  I'm still a work in progress.  I am NOT some spiritual guru like Beth Moore.  I don't have answers.  To anything.  I can't tell you the best homeschool curriculum.  I can't give you 7 Weird Tips To Get Your Husband To Pick Up His Dirty Socks (you won't believe #5 is even legal!) 

Here's what I can do.  I can look up to my Father.  I can laugh at myself.  I can write about all the ridiculous things that happened so you can laugh with me too.  Every now and then I might have a really cool insight that I want to share.  Or maybe I'll just copy out a poem from Kipling because my brain is fried and the closet is dark and I just ran out of chocolate.  Something, anything is better than nothing.  Because I'm a writer. And a writer has to write or shrivel.  And I get really ugly when I'm shriveled.

So from now on I hope to write regularly.  It may not be the stuff Pulitzers are made of, but it's my life.  And I'm thankful for it.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Radical Rules

It has been nearly a month since I have begun my experiment in "Radical" living.  I absolutely, 100% believe and stand by everything I wrote in Rules For Radicals.  It's the carrying out this Radical Christianity that has befuddled me.

In the past month I have jumped into the middle of every Internet fray I could find.  I called total strangers to repent and believe the Gospel.  I engaged all sorts of people, from Universal Unitarians to Atheists and Agnostics, in brisk dialogue as to why they were wrong and headed to hell.

All in the very nicest way possible.

They still got mad.

I have had other, more positive encounters.  Most of these were in a personal setting where I could actually see the person I was speaking with.  Or, I had something positive to say to a random stranger.

This has all got me thinking.  What does God want me to do?  Am I doing things with the right heart, but in the wrong way?  I am just as determined as ever to use my freedom of speech to glorify God, but could there be some rules or guidelines that would help me be more effective?

The truth is, I wore myself out.  I felt like I was literally taking on hell with a water pistol.  I was getting into things way over my head and losing my peace.  My family was feeling neglected.  These are all huge signs that I'm on the wrong path.

When my friend, Brother Sam Pitrone posted a favorite scripture verse, I felt this wave of longing wash over me.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Yes, I have been laboring in my own strength.  I am heavy laden and wearied by the results.  I have need of this rest that Jesus promises to those that come.

I have fond remembrances of Bro. Sam and the Evangelism conference he preached at my home church when I was just a teenager.  I figured he might have some wisdom for me.  This is what he said:
"I try and focus on what God is doing in the people I know, not on what he is NOT doing in others."

That makes a lot of sense.  We know that God is Sovereign.  The results of Evangelism are up to Him.  And I'm so thankful!  I would be a basket case if I thought someone's eternity was resting on my tact or debating skills.  I would be a basket case if I thought that their eternity was resting on their own free will to choose or reject the Gospel.  The truth is, we are all dead in our sins.  As dead men we cannot stir ourselves up to cry out or to take the first step.  Jesus has to impart life first before we can even begin to respond.  Lazarus did not realize he was in a tomb until Jesus called his name.  As he opened his eyes, realization of his state took hold and he said, "Yikes! Get me out of here!" (A loose paraphrase.)  He obeyed his Master's call and stumbled towards the light.  His neighbors in the surrounding tombs slumbered on.  Why?  Because they had not been called.  They were not glancing longingly at Lazarus and wishing they too could leave the abode of the dead.  They were insensible to their condition.

So, what does this mean for Christ followers who take the Great Commission seriously?

What do you do when you want to stand against evil in high places and call the world to repentance?

How shall we then live?

Here are a few principles with scriptures that came to my mind this week.  I am already feeling more peace about my feeble, free-speech-as-evangelism efforts.

1. Don't be shocked by how wicked America or the world in general is.  The majority of Americans are no longer born again believers.  The natural man is at war with God.
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Timothy 3:12-13 

2. Don't be discouraged.  You may think it over the top that there are so many verses about suffering tribulation.  Thanks to my dealings with a couple of Atheists, my eyes have been opened.  They really do hate me.  It's because they hate God.  And really, if haters of God all loved me, I would be concerned.  But still, I had never experienced someone's literal hatred of me before.  Looks like I better get used to it, though.
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!" John 16:33  

3. Don't get all high and mighty with your "martyr status". There's a fair amount of pride and rebellion in me that gets all stirred up when I see injustice in the world.  I love to champion the underdog and the Lost Causes.  My inner pugilist is just dying for a fight.  But this is not my fight.  I represent Christ and He certainly does not need me throwing my weight around to accomplish His purposes.  Paul reminds us:
"Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Philippians 2:3

4. Don't go looking for trouble.  This is a tough one for me.  My modus operandi was to speak to anyone that crossed my path (in the real world or on the Net) about Christ and how they need a Saviour.  While that may be true, I am not necessarily the best person to reach them.  Unless they reach out to me with a comment or question (a true sign of Providence), I probably should not be waylaying friends of friends.
"He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." Proverbs 26:17

5. Pray without ceasing!  This might should be number one.  I just finished reading Unplanned, by Abby Johnson.  Her story of God's dealings with her is a prime example of the power of prayer and kindness.  Throughout her entire tenure at Planned Parenthood, she was surrounded, literally, by prayer warriors.  These people prayed for her by name.  They built a relationship of mutual trust and respect.  When the time came for Abby's delusions to crash down around her ears, it was smack dab in the middle of a 40 day prayer vigil.  She ran out the door of the abortion clinic and around the corner to the door of the Coalition For Life clinic.  It was the one place where she knew she was unconditionally loved for exactly who she was.  So, how should we be praying?  Paul gives us a handy list:
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good acceptable in the sight of God our Savior . . . I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." 1 Timothy 2:1-2 

6. Kill them with kindness.  Abby stresses time and again that Planned Parenthood has no defense against kindness and openness.  They depend on a victimhood status to get sympathy and to get funding.  Whenever a crime is perpetrated against an abortion clinic or abortion worker, it strengthens the martyr narrative. (Besides being terribly wrong and against Christ!)  And so it is for every evil cause and movement.  Peter tells us how to demolish this tactic:
"For so is the will of God that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.  Honor all men.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the king." 1 Peter 2:15-17 

7. Do speak up.  Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words!  People aren't going to telepathically look at us and figure out by our lifestyle what they must do to be saved.  They might look at us and wonder why we live the way we do.  Hopefully they will feel drawn to come ask us questions.  Be ready!
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15

8. Be thankful!  "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18  

Something that surprised me this month has been the opportunities to be outspoken in thanking others.  I am convinced that a large part of standing up and speaking out needs to be positive recognition of those who are doing well.

Thank a veteran, who gave the best years of his life and watched his brothers give their lives for our freedoms.

Thank a friend of a friend on Facebook who has gone the extra mile to respond with grace to hateful comments.

Thank a friendly cashier or the young man that carries out your bags and tries his best not to squish the bread.

Thank your Congressman who is taking fire for standing for his constituents convictions.

Thank your Pastor.

Thank your Mom.

Thank the best friend that has always been there for you.

 It is in this way, living the life God has given us in the best way possible, day in, day out.  Being faithful in prayer and in love.  Being respectful and thankful.  This is how God will work to touch the lives you invest in every day.  The people you witness to, in word and in deed, may not ever come to faith in Christ.

Or they might!

Either way, God is glorified.

And that is whole purpose of man!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Painter's Gospel

Well, isn't this a cozy room?

Deep burgundy with white crown molding and wainscoting.  A generous, ten foot ceiling.  Tasteful homemade decorations.  A couple of framed pictures.

Any guest could be comfortable here. 

True, it won't ever rise to grace the cover of Home Beautiful.

But still, it is a very comfortable and if I might say, pretty room.  A room you could definitely live with.

As long as you looked no closer . . .

If you peer beyond the distraction of our ornate table with seven matching chairs (and one folding chair!), you might see several holes in the drywall.

If you glanced beneath the large painting, you would find greasy fingerprints and hardened food that no amount of scrubbing will ever remove.

If you took all the pictures down, then you would see things as they really are.

My naked wall.

You would discover two large nails spikes lodged behind the custom framed work of art.  They won't budge.  You can't pull them out.  Any attempt to do so also pulls on the stud and causes cracks and bulges in the drywall six inches above.  You can't pound them in.  They bend either upward or downward, making ever larger gashes.

So, you just hang a pretty picture over them and do your best to forget.

 Until one day, you can't live with it any longer.

Wait a minute.  Are we still talking about interior design?  Cause, for a moment there, it almost sounded like my life.

You see, I was a "good girl".  Lots of distracting, ornamental features.  Didn't get into trouble.  At least not much.  As good as most, maybe better than some.

Until you start stripping away the homeschool decorations, the "church girl" artwork, the fancy table and the lone folding chair that showcases I'm still humble.

And then you are left with holes and stains and stubborn sins that just won't budge.

And that color!  Can anything cover this dreadful, bleeding burgundy?!

"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18

This is the stage of Salvation known as Conviction.

You move out of the "I Can Live With This" era into the "Something Must Change" mind frame.

And so you start tearing things down and researching.  Maybe you check out self help books at the library.

This is where things get critical.  Every single person that has ever lived must come to this place.  The place where you realize you are in over your head.  The place where you give up.  The place where you call for help.

And I don't mean Ace Hardware.

The religions of this world are basically arranged like aisle's at your favorite home improvement store.  Let's call this store Self-Way.  Every tool for self improvement is at your disposal.  There are texts you are expected to follow to the letter.  There's paint and sand paper and gadgets.  Oh, and baubles!  Tons of baubles and doodads designed to cover up and distract.

But there's just one problem.  The best paint in the world is no match for that bleeding burgundy.  The patches gloss over the holes, only to sink into them a month later.  And no wire cutter can ever cut through those two stubborn spikes still lodged behind the art.

I need the Carpenter from Nazareth.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Jesus doesn't cover over holes.  He fills them.

Most of the holes in my wall are from nails that I pounded in myself.  First you have to pull the nails out.  Every sin, no matter how small, leaves a hole.

Some of these holes, however, are wounds, inflicted by others or by circumstances, compounded by my own bitterness and anger.  Just watch my six year old pull out the chairs so that he can sweep under the table.  A thoughtless yank and Whack!  There's another six inch gouge.

Jesus fills these injuries with special care.

"A bruised reed shall he not break . . . He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth." Isaiah 42:3,4    

Jesus, along with his Father and the Holy Spirit, handle all the preparation.  I can add nothing to this work.  If I tried to help, I would only get in the way and smudge it all.  All I can do is stand back and let God do His work.

Finally, it's time to get rid this awful color.

"My sins are blotted out I know!"
 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:9-10

Christ's atonement is two fold.  First he takes our sins and he pays them all himself.  I go from being in debt by a gazillion trillion times infinity, to "paid up".  This is like applying the primer.  It covers everything.

" . . . without the shedding of blood is no remission {of sin} . . . and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 9:22,  10:17

But, he doesn't just leave us with a zero balance.  As my brother warned me, primer is very fragile.  It scuffs and picks up dirt quite easily.  I was amazed to find dirt stuck in my primer, way up by the ceiling.  No, having the sin covered is wonderful.  But it's not nearly enough.

"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Titus 3:5

Jesus covers us with his own impeccable righteousness.  When God the Father looks at us, all He sees is His precious Son.  We are accepted, not because my drywall is better than my neighbor's drywall.  It's because my drywall is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and His right-ness has been applied over it.

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." Psalm 32:1-2

So, where am I now?  I have been stripped bare, sanded down, patched, primed and painted.  It doesn't even look like the same room anymore.  But for what purpose?  So that I can stand around and admire the walls?  An empty room meant only to be gazed at belongs in a museum.  You can look, but you don't dare touch.

Jesus has a much higher purpose in mind than simple decoration.

"What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Jesus, Lord of all, came not to be served, but as a servant.  Even so must we not expect to be served and catered to, but to be an instrument of service.

"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28

You would expect a Dining Room to be filled with Dinners and Diners.  And guess who promises to be our guest?!

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

This is it.

This is the purpose of life. 

The reason I was created!

Jesus bought all the supplies, he made every preparation, he accomplished the work, just so that we can sit together in fellowship, (sharing a cup of coffee, if you will)  for all of eternity. 

Thank you, Master!

P. S.  I rehung my pictures yesterday.  I know I made a few mistakes that are going to leave holes.  The kids have whacked the corners a few times already.  But there is a can of touch up paint in the garage.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16

Did I mention this is scrubbable paint?  'Cause we're going to need it!