Milk and Honey II…

21. A beautiful twilight sky.

22. Sweet potatoes.

23. Giggling with my sister.

24. A glass of water (or two or three…).

25. Freshly-vacuumed floors.

26. Little reminders of my Savior all around me.

27. Two-lane highways and fields alongside them.

28. Kneading bread.

29. T-shirts and shorts.

30. Sunglasses for bright days!

31. An evening spent in DC with dear friends.

32. Family in our home.

33. My delightful husband’s way of cheering me up.

34. Dinner for two in the freezer for some future night.

35. An unexpectedly lovely conversation with a coworker.

36. An apron with cupcakes on it from dear little friends.

37. A new broom.

38. Lamplight.

39. A beautiful tablecloth spread with our china.

40. A friend who asks me how I’m doing in the Lord.

Everyday beauty…

Image

I thought I’d take a quick moment this afternoon to share the delightful view I have as I wash dishes and work in my kitchen. Though the screen is a bit streaky (apologies for my mediocre photography!), you can see the alpacas’ pen, behind which is the great stand of trees, behind which are the mountains. You can also see a corner of the porch swing where I have spent so many happy moments reading, praying, and basking in God’s goodness. The walkway leads down to our door, which means that I can also see ahead of time whenever guests are coming!

On the inside, I have the two delightful teacups procured at a white elephant party, along with two sets of creamer and sugar containers–one from my mother-in-law, and the other from my dear husband’s great-grandmother. Our sweet little singing birds could also function as salt and pepper shakers, but I prefer seeing them as I wash dishes. Our oregano sprig, meanwhile, is making an excellent recovery. As for the wedding bands, well, … I’ve been working with bread dough for the last hour or so.

This little window and sill is a delight to my heart as I work away in the kitchen, fulfilling the calling I have as homemaker. What an example of how God blesses us in the work that He gives!

Meanwhile, I have a few more dishes to wash, and bread dough to watch…..

The beautiful joys of daily life…

Our refrigerator full of bounty…

What a delight it is to see the Lord providing so abundantly for all of our needs! In our little home, His faithful provision has been most vivid to me in the daily business of placing food on our table. We are so very blessed. It is truly a joy to have the task of grocery-shopping, meal-planning, and working in the kitchen–and to see the bounty that God has given! I find myself quite exhilerated by the victories of sales-shopping and successful meals.

As of last week, a new adventure began: our little town added a third grocery store! The upscale Harris Teeter looks very fine indeed in the new shopping center across from campus.  My dear husband and I ventured into the store tonight, and it was lovely–it reminded us both so much of home and the Harris Teeters we’ve known so well (I can remember multiple walking trips to the HT near my family’s home!). AND the produce prices were fabulous! Local squash for $.99/lb, sweet potatoes for $.79/lb, and peaches for $.99/lb! I am so thankful for the means to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

The picture above is the delight of a refrigerator full of goodies after our Monday night shopping excursion. Since we are up to three grocery stores in town, I now have three sales to pick and choose from each week! It was quite the thrill to tally up the savings from all three stores! How glad I am for good food which can be prepared into tasty meals which can then be a means of fruitful fellowship. Isn’t God good?

What is one of the beautiful joys of daily life for you?

Milk and Honey…

My boundary lines are laid in such pleasant places (Psalm 16). In keeping with the wonderful mercies of my Savior, I thought I would start up a record of gratitude that I can keep going, as a testimony of God’s rich goodness, which does not fail. The list begins today:

1. The glorious longsuffering grace of my Savior. How does He still love me?

2. My beloved husband and the way he makes the ordinary things special.

3. A home of my own, with a kitchen chock-full of adventures waiting to happen!

4. Mountains. Outside my window, in the distance, blue, hazy, strong ….

5. A porch swing looking out on said mountains.

6. The means to buy fresh produce. It is wonderful. (Strawberries, peaches…)

7. My favorite Schubert symphony playing as I worked at home this afternoon.

8. A quiet morning working for another family, leaving their home in good order.

9. The sweetest little pink dress found in town for a friend’s baby shower.

10. Coupons and grocery sales that enable me to use our money well.

11. Half-and-half in coffee. The little things, you know?

12. Cool temperatures that are so refreshing and lovely.

13. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne books. They delight my soul.

14. Dear college friends, laughter, beautiful memories together.

15. Two evenings with friends this week!

16. A lovely phone conversation with my dear mother while sitting in a gazebo.

17. Our dear church and its ministry.

18. Early mornings with their quiet peace.

19. Falling asleep with my book (the most relaxing thing in the world!).

20. Fresh-milled flour.

And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey… (Exodus 3:8)

In Which the Gospel Makes Sense… Again!

Life has been busy of late… A full, exhausting, all-encompassing pace that accounts for my absence in certain writing circles! The whirlpool of my work outside the home has been spinning faster and faster, sucking me in as I reach the office and often remaining with me as I return home. It is a wonderful opportunity to be employed by an organization that works on behalf of homeschoolers everywhere, but one thing is certain: there’s a lot of work to be done!

In the midst of balancing work and home life, though, I have been learning so much about Christ, about myself, and, yes, about the gospel. It has been a tremendous challenge to view my work rightly. In the strait-jacket of my flesh, I often inflate my work to be the catalyst for my friendship, self-worth, and identity. If I do my work well, then of course I should feel satisfied and fulfilled, esteemed by my supervisors and coworkers, and a very good person in general. And that same thought process extends to my home life as well! Let me use every coupon and discount available to get the very best grocery prices, and always have my bathroom spotless, and keep perfect suppers on the table for my husband. Then I’ll be a good wife and homemaker, naturally.

Oh, what a falsehood. I am coming to see what a prison it is to hold myself accountable to my own “standards” of perfectionism. A dear friend reminded me recently that my “best” will never, ever be enough. Only Christ’s best will do. And that is exactly what He gave us in the fullness of His incarnate sacrifice. Yet I continue to stumble along, willfully forgetful of grace, striving in my own strength to accomplish wonders and miracles. How silly!

A few weeks ago, for instance, I was scrambling about on a weekday afternoon, trying to get plenty of work done before going to pick up my dear husband from work. I was tired, and the afternoon had been less than stellar. The coupons I had saved got lost in the printing process, supper was not coming together quickly, and on top of it all, I had run my broom through an unseen puddle of water by the bathroom tub and smeared hair and dirt all over the bathroom floor. “I just can’t DO it, Lord!” I stormed. “I just CAN’T!” And then I stopped in my tracks. It was TRUE. Outside of grace, I can’t do it. In my own strength, I will fail.

That same truth came forth a few weeks later in a conversation with my boss. I was in her office over a small misunderstanding with a phone call, in tears because I had done “yet another thing” the wrong way. Gently, firmly, lovingly she reminded me that I wasn’t going to be perfect. It wouldn’t all be right. I would make mistakes. All I could give, she told me, was my best. And that was enough. Anything more, anything that ascribed toward perfection, would only be detrimental to my own attitude and my interactions with my coworkers. Better to be humble, flawed, and open with others than to have a self-righteous pursuit of perfection that alienated others.

Can you see how painful this sanctification process was getting?

And then, after the ups and downs of a few weeks in between, I ran into the proverbial brick wall. My responsibilities had escalated, and I was working under an end-of-month due date that seemed inflexible. My task was simple: writing cards to first-year members. Easy enough, right? So I brought them home with me over the long weekend. With family in town and multiple events, I didn’t begin writing until my so-called day off– in which I worked myself into a dither over getting lots of cards written in addition to the baking and laundry on the to-do list. I finished the day well enough, content with what I had done, but what was I doing the next morning at six? Writing cards, of course …. all day long. After all, it was the “last” day to do them. And what happened? They didn’t get done! After a ten-hour work day, I came home deflated, exhausted, and defeated. And then came the brick wall.

My beloved husband, as is his calling, told me the truth. The truth of what happens when I view my work wrongly, bringing it (and all its stress) home and making an idol out of getting it done. How work should not be the source of my self-worth or the basis of my friendships. How work, essentially, doesn’t get me anywhere on my own. Sounds familiar? It was the gospel all over again. My own hopelessness. Christ’s full atonement. Grace. Forgiveness. Freedom. Faithfulness. Contentment. And it finally made sense.

I must admit that I did chafe a bit over how little I got done the next day on the job. And I will probably struggle to keep this perspective next week when I go back to work and all its stresses. But I can say that I don’t have one single card at home with me to write over the weekend, and that I am wonderfully content to be at home with my beloved.

God is GOOD, is He not? The gospel is a beautiful thing.