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If you build it, they will come

Sally - Lord I believeAnd someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” ~ Mark 9:17-29

 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Matthew 21:21-22 

Few people are 100% optimist, 100% pessimist, 100% realist or 100% idealist or 100% fatalist. Most of us have a mix of isms—depending on the issues—sometimes it might be only a touch and certainly many may lean in the direction of one or another. Some people just can’t stand isms at all and that’s okay, too.

Indulge me. This will be important to know. I like to think of myself as a healthy mix of realism and idealism. I’m not an unhappy type so I’m really not a pessimist, but I am a cynic-of-sorts, so sometimes my viewpoint may appear pessimistic. Sometimes I even fight fatalism. I do appreciate optimism in its many forms, but I’m not naïve enough to be a die-hard optimist (translated as I’m not exactly Pollyanna). One of my favorite movie lines is, “The Ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted. And the ring of power has a will of its own.” More recently, I laughed and shook my head when a character said, “People will always do the stupid, selfish thing. Ten times out of ten.” Seriously, I want to believe better of people and I see people make good choices over and over and over. Still, I suppose I fight off hoping for the best and expecting the worst more often than I should. more »

Once again…Welcome to my house…

Sally - our homeDo you believe in hospitality? How much time do you spend opening your home to others? How often do you invite others to your home for meals or studies or simply to spend time building relationships? How do you feel when you are welcomed into someone’s home? Have you ever been invited into a home to eat a meal, pray, sing, or study?

  • There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt and puts the stranger at once at his or her ease. ~ Washington Irving
  • There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to one’s good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion.  We must be as courteous to a person as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson more »

The beauty of intimate love in marriage: loving your husband

Sally - Burning-love

Wives are created to be helpers to their husbands to fulfill God-given needs. This study is designed for wives, not husbands. This means that, while there are a great many things God says to husbands, the focus is on what we should do as wives, whether or not our husbands are fulfilling their parts. This is written for wives, and for those who hope some day to be wives! Obviously, the subject matter is mature, but I have made every attempt to be discreet and what follows is certainly appropriate for young ladies who understand that physical intimacy is a part of the marriage relationship!

My husband needs to feel that I desire him. Sometimes experience, circumstances, hormones or health issues might make intimacy challenging. I need to communicate to my husband that I am truly on fire for him, but that fire might need some extra help being kindled. Husbands and wives need to communicate effectively to kindle that fire and keep it burning! Lighting my fire for my husband isn’t optional, it is absolutely imperative. It is part of our relationship and must be nurtured. This is true for all wives. We need to see intimacy as a beautiful gift from God.

Seeing intimacy as God designed it will help us to love our husbands as we ought to love them and as they need to be loved. Sometimes loving one’s husband and nurturing the marriage relationship comes naturally and sometimes these things needs to be taught. If you need help loving your husband, seek wisdom from God’s word and from happily married wives!           more »

Parenting proactively: the way we treat our children

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMercy and judgment must be a part of parenting… justice cannot be served without mercy. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Parenting is a mix of the greatest blessings and the greatest challenges. Most of my readers who are parents love their children and want to see their children love God. They also make different choices about a plethora of things, and yet they have a similar vision for families. It is always interesting to me how different people can use different methods and have similar successes. Sadly, it is also often true that different people use similar methods and experience failure.  The bottom line is often a failure in application. What works for one may not work for another because it is a faulty method. It also may not work for another because it is not applied correctly. Once I tried to implement something that I knew worked for others, but I, unknowingly, left out a critical ingredient. It didn’t work for me! Any time we try to emulate good examples, we have to be careful that we fully understand what it is we are emulating!

Too often, parents are encouraged to spank more with little other instruction. We’ve all heard or read a diatribe about some poor child at the local discount store that ‘obviously’ needed a ‘whippin.’ There is often the assumption that spanking is a cure all for the ill-behaved children of the world. There is a misguided belief that spanking is somehow the answer to all poor behavior. Might I suggest that another answer is TRAINING? When small children transgress the laws of their parents it is often because they have not been trained well. We live amidst an epidemic of parenting failures. It is unjust to fail to train a child and then to punish the child for your own failure. However, that very thing happens all of the time. Parents become furious when children disobey or don’t follow instructions carefully BEFORE they have even trained their children. This is yet another parenting fail=out of control anger disguised as righteous indignation.

Though we are still in the trenches raising our six ‘children’ (three of them are adults) there is something I am absolutely convinced of – parents need to train more and punish less. Parents need to train well and punish when needed, but never reactively in response to anger or irritation. Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” more »

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Sweet to the soul and healthy to the bones

Sally - honey

I have always loved words, perhaps that is why I love to read and write. Somewhere in my head are memories of hundreds of wonderful words spoken to me by others, memories of words I’ve heard or read. I hold words close to my heart and repeat them over and over. When words are lovely and encouraging, remembering them is precious. Yet, as many times as I’ve been inspired, encouraged and admonished by words, I’ve also been wounded by words spoken carelessly (haven’t we all?). Even with our best efforts, we may remember careless words and struggle to keep bitterness from growing from the seeds of ugly words.

Isn’t it strange how a thousand beautiful words from wonderful people can be seemingly erased by a few hurtful words from a near-stranger?  In the midst of being deeply hurt by ill-informed words of a stranger, it occurred to me that I did not have it in my power to change others’ words, but I had it in my power (with God on my side) to control my own words, to use my words wisely, to remember to have the law of kindness on my tongue. Sometimes we use our words most unwisely with the ones we love them most. Our spouses and children are often the recipients of our uninhibited speech, our reactions (mostly over-reactions), our badly chosen responses — all accompanied by unkind words spoken in ugly tones. No matter how we validate our venting unkindness, it is ungodly — plain and simple!

It was after realizing how much power words had to do good or evil, that I began to make it a top priority to season my words, control my tongue, and encourage others to speak with love and kindness. It doesn’t end with word choice, either. So much is in tone. While it is difficult to illustrate with the written word, it is absolutely true that the same sentence can be uttered in a kind tone, a questioning tone, or a sarcastic tone. Kind words can be enveloped in poisonous tones that pierce the heart. Often when attempting not to raise voices, speakers can speak in vehement and angry tones that end up being even more damaging than yelling. “The quietness of his tone italicized the malice of his reply.” (Truman Capote). Consider your speech… your word choice and your tone!

Is the Law of Kindness on Your Tongue? more »

Something with tears

Sally - dystopia 1

In 1931 a man named Aldous Huxley wrote a shockingly prophetic novel, Brave New World, considered by many to be one of the best dystopian novels of all time. The façade of a peaceful utopia masks a world soaked in hedonism, pharmaceuticals and conformity – a world in which the beauty of culture in all forms is lost, in which true humanity is nearly non-existent. First introduced to the novel in AP English in the 80’s, I found it truly horrifying and amazingly profound (Disclaimer: the novel has mature subject matter). Over the three decades since I read Brave New World for the first time, I have often found myself pondering it and observing how Huxley would have shuddered to see how close we’ve come to his dystopia. I have found that dystopian literature, as well as post-apocalyptic literature (which focuses on a cataclysmic event and the survivors fight to rebuild in the aftermath, often resulting in a dystopia) can be some of the most compelling and thought provoking literature. There is much to be said about these types of novels and this is certainly not meant to be thorough! Rather, this is my attempt at an explanation for those who have requested my thoughts on this topic!

Even if you aren’t familiar with any of the dozens of dystopian novels (which are often, but not always science fiction), you have probably heard the phrase, big brother is watching you taken from another of the most popular dystopian novels of all time, 1984. Other popular dystopian novels include: Ender’s Game, Lord of the Flies, A Handmaid’s Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Do Androids Drea of Electric Sheep, The Running Man, The Time Machine, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent trilogy, The Giver. For those not familiar with dystopian literature, I found this handy explanation written by Joseph Adams, an editor of anthologies, and coined the reigning king of the anthology world by Barnes and more »

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Finding the beauty

Sally - beauty in snowHave you ever noticed that encouraging others to find the good, the positive, and the lovely and focus on those things instead of the petty, the disturbing, and the tragic is often met with criticism? It is somehow lacking compassion and superficial. Somehow ugly is more real than beautiful. Not in my world! It isn’t always easy to find the beauty that surrounds us, yet it is critical for our wellbeing! As I think about the people that have profoundly influenced me for good, those I seek to emulate, I realize that they share this one thing in common: they live in world where beauty is real, a world where they rejoice each day with thankfulness to God!

Many times social networkers are criticized for sharing the positives more than the negatives. The masses cry out for the ‘real’ – the venting, grumbling and complaining – often in a need for validation of their own feelings. Those who don’t share the negatives are apparently misleading the public about their lives. Somehow, by avoiding grumbling, complaining and venting statuses – one is failing to let others see the grit and grime (literal or figurative) — thus guilty of misleading people about life. Life is perfect statuses are the topic of one diatribe after another. In this reality, pictures of homemade goodies, smiling children, loving couples and written tributes declaring good days, loving friends and happy moments are presented as a façade hiding a life of self-delusion, dark secrets, or (in the very least) superficial reality.

This is my reality. When I take selfies with my husband or children (is it even a selfie if there are others in it?), or post pictures of our baking or our home, or write a study or an article, I am not saying, “My life is perfect! Hear me roar!” I am sharing happiness and joy. I am writing from my heart. I write because I love to write. I write because I love to share.  Sometimes I may share struggles and grit and grime, but that is usually more often when the situation arises and I am speaking to someone about specific issues or dealing with a topic that is weighing on my heart. Venting in prose about petty daily struggles isn’t edifying, encouraging or therapeutic for me and actually has quite a negative effect – it only feeds the wolf within that I want to starve (see Cultivating a Joy-filled Heart). If I have a problem, I discuss it and fix it (with help, if needed) or, if there isn’t a solution, I suck it up and deal. Sometimes it is quite challenging to find the good in the midst of the irritating, frustrating and annoying. We may need help finding it! Find a fellow beauty-seeker! I’m so thankful that my husband is my best friend and helps me when I’m on a quest to find the good (or when I need to be directed to start one)!! more »

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The time that is given us

Sally - hourglassAll we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. ~Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien)

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking. ~ Sir John Lubbock

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to’. ~ Lao Tzu

No one knows how much time they have to be with the people that are the most important. Enjoy it. ~ Balthazar Blake (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)

Every day you have T-I-M-E!

To mothers of children of all ages: you have time to pray for your children, to play with your children, to listen to your children, to talk to your children, to teach your children, to show your children the love of God, to share God’s word with your children.

To mothers of babies and toddlers: you have time to nurse and nourish your little one, to snuggle your little one, to rock your little one, to sing to your little one, to read to your little one, to play with your little one, to let your little one learn about the big world from the comfort of your loving arms.

To mothers of older children: you have time to play a game, to discuss a book, to listen to your little author’s story, to look at your little artist’s picture, to watch a YouTube video that your child wants to share, to listen to your child’s dreams, to listen to your child’s favorite new song, to hear about a new level in a game, to read a tweet, to see a status, to discuss a blog, to hear about drama at work or school or daily life.

To all mothers: You have 24 hours in every day. That is the same amount of time that every other human being has and it is up to you to choose what you do with that time. Seize the moments to love your children, to show that love by your interest in them and your genuine delight in having them near you. Make the time!

Every moment with your child is a precious gift. Make the moments count.

Day to Day Living: Lessons I’ve learned from my children

Sally - kids5 Sally - kids4 Sally - kids3 Sally - kids2 Sally - kids1and6

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that History has to teach ~ Aldous Huxley

Several months ago, I wrote on lessons I’ve learned from my husband.  I also wrote on lessons I’ve learned from my parents.

Day in and day out the six children I’ve been blessed with have seen the best and the worst of their mom! Some of the lessons I learned from my parents and my husband have helped me to be a much better mother to these six blessings. Still, I am human and prone to mistakes! 21.5 years ago I started this journey with a lot of confidence and absolutely zero experience with parenting. I had a lot of great ideas and strong convictions. I also had way too little patience and understanding. I had a vision for our family, but very little practical ideas to make it work. Here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned from my children:

more »

Day to Day Living: Planting strong seeds of faith in little ones

Sally - faith2

When we love God deeply, we want to instill that love in our children. We don't want them to adopt our faith, we want them to build their own faith! We want them to experience God's love and feel His grace and mercy. We want to see them walking in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth! How in the world do we do this? We are mere mortals: we are weak, we stumble and even fall. In spite of the best of intentions, we make the worst of mistakes! Still, God wants us to raise up godly offspring and with Him it is certainly possible! We can only show them the way, if He is leading our way!

more »

Category: Musings  Leave a Comment
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