A New Season is upon me! I need your opinion!

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I don’t know if I have ever been so ready for spring!

I am inspecting my yard every day for evidence that spring will actually come to Monument! Has spring fever hit you, yet?

I am also entering a new season of evaluation personally, as a mom and wife, in ministry and as a writer. God is at work and I am so grateful for being refreshed in my own vision and values for the ways I want to invest my life at this season.

I have had  letters and emails and messages from so many of you about e-conferences and more possibilities for doing things online. I would love to know what you would be most interested in hearing. God has so kindly invested in so many ways in my life and I want to be a good steward in helping, encouraging and teaching the messages that are most needed at this time. So, if you have a longing or need or wish for what you would like to hear me speak about or write about, let me know.

I am going to be making some changes in my blog and presence in the public world, but more about that later?

Would love to hear your ideas–

Marriage?

Traditions and Home Life?

Motherhood?

Spiritual?

Keeping Going in the road of ideals?

Home Education? What aspects?

Specifically what is on your heart? Other issues?

Sarah and I will probably be doing an e-conference next week –I will speak about Developing Mental Muscle in your children–cultivating the ability to think, reason, solve problems, think Biblically, and be academically strong and Sarah will be speaking about how to cultivate a strong literary presence in your home, developing a story-formed life. (Lots of women loved this talk at the mom conferences this year, so we have heard your requests and will do it very soon.) So stay tuned for that tomorrow!

Let me hear from you! Hope your Easter was wonderful!

Easter Ponderings Love that Gives and Forgives


Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a

When I graduated from college, I worked on the staff of Campus Crusade for 2 years at the University of Texas and then I moved to Eastern Europe to travel in Communist countries as a missionary. I had the illusion that because I had a committed heart, I was mature.

But since the Lord is a good parent, and He wanted me to grow into the likeness of Christ, and he saw that I was quite young, immature, self-centered and full of pride, he knew I needed more practice and training to become more like Christ.

So he gave me a husband and children, so that I could really find out what sacrificial love was all about. It has not been easy to pull out the weeds of expectations; to fight the storms of giving up my rights; to endure the drought of feelings that did not always match up to what I thought a loving wife and mother should feel in a happy home. But, I kept holding on to Him, pondering His life and seeking to be loyal through faith in His reality and presence, even though I could not always see Him.

Now, though still growing, I have learned so much more about true love, self-sacrifice, commitment. long-suffering–and it has all made me love Him more because I see how much of my life has required that of Him–as I have tested Him, misbehaved, thrown tantrums, and pulled away at times. But still He loves me and still He sacrificed for us while we were yet sinners.

Love, like the beautiful rose garden at Glen Eyrie Castle above, must grow over years and years to become mature. It must be cultivated and watered and nurtured and protected and worked again.

Thank you, sweet Lord, that you showed me the way and went before me to model real love.

“Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends.”

Jesus, our gentle savior, He who said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do, as he hung, bleeding, fainting with pain, compassion and love still above all the dyer circumstances, He forgave, He gave up His life, He lived in gentle peace with the ones who did not understand.

Love slowly dawns on my soul as I watch You  throughout my life, and I am humbled and brought to worship of you, the great Lover.

Dining Biblically

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Today’s article is from the heart of my daughter-in-law, Rachael Lee Clarkson.
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“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

There has always been something so beautiful about preparing delicious food and opening up my home to others, no matter how tiny my Hollywood apartments have been. The reason I love cooking, preparing fun meals, and having people in my home, is not out of necessity. Isn’t it amazing that while we need food to live, God made it so much more than filling up and sustaining our bodies?

God made food creative, beautiful, unique, versatile, exciting, and has a way of bringing people together.

As a creative spirit, I enjoy nothing more than preparing something new. This past weekend, my husband, Nathan, and I had friends over to our home who are vegan. While some may have seen this as an obstacle, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to try something different. Challenge accepted.

While we decided to prepare a vegan tapas meal, the more we started putting things together, the more it became clear to us: this seems like a meal that Jesus would have eaten! Now, before I share our meal with you, just know that this was an accidental-biblical meal, meaning that it probably isn’t 100% like what would have been eaten in those times. However, many elements of our meal allowed God to shine through, and allowed us to remember Jesus as Easter is so close.

There are many reasons why trying this meal in your home will be a hit:
1- Encourage your children to try something new. Perhaps your children have never tried a vegan, Mediterranean, or tapas style meal. This will expand their palates and introduce them to brand new flavors.
2- Get comfortable and change things up! Grab your coziest pillows and place them around a small table (it can be a coffee table). We find that sometimes our guests feel immediately more welcome in our home when we make them feel at home by everyone taking off their shoes and sitting on the floor together!
3- Talk about biblical dining. This is an amazing opportunity for you to discuss with your children about breaking bread, pondering what Jesus would have eaten, why God created beautiful, colorful food, and more! Endless wonderful discussions are available simply through what is on the table for dinner.

Our vegan tapas meal included:
-Pita bread
-Hummus
-Avocado salsa
-Green olives
-Roasted almonds with tamari
-Dried mango and figs
-Marinated peppers
-Kale chips
-Grape juice

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God is so creative. Just look at the color, vibrant beauty, and life in this meal! And the best part is, it’s so easy!

In scripture, Jesus attempted to eat figs from a fruitless fig tree on the road to Jerusalem, which leads me to believe that he probably liked them! Figs and dried mango add that pop of sweet flavor to this delicious meal.

A great child-friendly idea for biblical dining would be to serve grapes to munch on. You can even share with your family about how many vineyards are still in Jerusalem! What a fun and beautiful thing to imagine.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.” -John 15:1-6

With your grape juice and pita bread, your family can have an intimate communion time.
“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” -Luke 22:19-20

Another wonderful thing about this meal is that it is an opportunity for your children to eat healthy, fresh foods! Not everyone is fond of kale, just yet. I used to be a nanny, and I am convinced that I can help anyone fall in love with kale. I made homemade kale chips for our guests the other night, which is so simple. Just grab a bunch of kale {I go for the thicker, larger leaves}, wash them, and place them in a bowl. Toss with some sea salt to taste, and two tablespoons of olive oil.

Allow older children to assist you in the kale-chip-making process, and talk about how it is believed that the “sop” used to dip bread in during the Last Supper may have been olive oil.

Spread your kale out evenly on a baking sheet, or two depending on how many chips you’re making, and bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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There is great value in meeting in homes, breaking bread, sharing meals, and living in community with one another. Spring, and Easter, is the perfect time for a light, vegan, biblical, tapas meal. Try something new, be vegan for a day, explore the culture and color of biblical food, sit on the floor, and enjoy the flavors that God puts on your plate!

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For more on Rachael Lee Clarkson, you can view her blog for young women by clicking this link.

Becoming Civilizers and Life-Givers through Relationship

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“’You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”
Isaiah 41:9-10

In all generations, when human beings turn their hearts away from God and do not build godly character and act with integrity, there have been chaotic consequences for nations and the history of the whole world.  Recently, I recalled one of the first times I felt “panic” about the difficult circumstances of my life. There had been lots of tension in Poland between the Polish workers and the Russians who controlled the country, and I was a young missionary living there–illegally. People had begun to riot and rebel, and Russian tanks began to roll into Warsaw, where we lived. Many of the streets were lined with soldiers and the threat of war was in the paper and on the news every day. I remembered thinking, “What am I doing over here in a time of war? I am not sure if I am ready to die in this conflict just now.” We had been ministering in Hungary and touched the bullet holes in apartment buildings of people we had worked with, where a similar revolt had caused the loss of hundreds of lives.

It was one of the first times I remember coming across this passage in Isaiah: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I camped on that verse, pondering and praying it. I resolved that I would stand on it emotionally and spiritually. The Lord was faithful, and we came through the conflict with Him holding our hands.

There have been so many other times and seasons where fear threatened to take away my peace. Yet, I have a pattern of remembrance now. He has been faithful through all the seasons and hard times.

God is still with us. He still loves us. He will always be abundantly faithful. Women are especially designed and equipped by God to dig down deep and bring beauty, faith, peace and hope to nations. A woman is at her best when she is creating life from the richness of her soul. I believe moms are true heroes who will be the bearers of light when shadows threaten to overtake. They weave peace and love in homes where burdens are weighing on the shoulders of husbands. They sing songs of faith in the midst of life’s calamities. They can model a child-like faith and rest in God when they live in the Sabbath rest of His provision, even when physical provision is scant. I believe that moms can be the determining factor in our country during difficult times, to bring courage to families and nations as we wait on God and follow His ways.

In these days of the shaking of moral foundations and volatile uncertainties, in an era of confusion, when biblical motherhood is often disdained or dismissed as irrelevant or unimportant in a post-modern culture, we are ripe for a movement of the Holy Spirit. There is need for an intentional movement of godly women to hold forth ideals, to inspire confidence, strength, faith and good works, and in the midst of all that, to develop deep friendships with other moms. God created women to be the wisdom bringers, gatekeepers, and civilizers of culture through relationship.

My wonderful friend Phyllis is such a joy to me. She is 72, and yet her desire for bringing life and beauty and love to women so burns in her heart that she is always alive, energetic and engaged whenever I see her. She has made her home a haven, so that just to be inside her rooms is a pleasure. There are soothing colors on her walls, pictures, small relics and treasures throughout her home that speak of the many places she has lived and traveled, her love of the Lord, and the great value she places on family. And always there is a candle lit, soft music playing, and a pot of fresh tea ready in case someone might want to come by for a few minutes of fellowship. There is a lovely little bedroom in her basement, just ready for someone who needs to get away–two single beds waiting for the next guests.

Every week for the past nineteen years, she has opened her home to young moms. Her “cuppa” is shared, along with sweet fellowship for the first few minutes, followed by prayer and scripture opened and taught and discussed. Literally hundreds of women have passed through her doors in these studies, including me. Each week, women leave with hope, conviction, ideas, love, and renewed and refreshed spirits.

Where there are real relationships and real love and heartfelt devotion to the Lord, life takes place. God built us for relationship. God built us for love and friendship and intimacy–the desire to be known and still loved.

When we as women experience this kind of relationship and warmth, our whole demeanor is different, our emotional and spiritual cups are filled and we become better at everything–walking with God, loving our children and husbands, bringing beauty in our homes and in reaching out with God’s grace to others. It is what we were designed to do.

If you have the desire to go deeper today, take a moment to complete the reflection and application below:

  • ”But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things …” Luke 10:41 Do you find yourself worried over many things? Make a list. Then write at the top the scripture here from Isaiah … and throw the list away.
  • “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9 If you have an introverted personality, it may be difficult for you to even think about purposefully inviting someone into your home! But making the effort is worth it. Ask the Lord if there’s someone you could invite over for a cuppa—and maybe share this little exercise with them, too!

I birthed a new book! And now I can finally decorate for Easter!

Clarkson Traditional: An Easter Egg Tree

Now let the heavens be joyful,

Let the earth her song begin:

Let the round world keep triumph,

And all that is therein;

Invisible and visible,

Their notes let all things blend,

For Christ is risen, Our joy shall have no end!

St. John of Damascus

Tonight, I finished writing a book I have had in mind for a little over a year. I turned it in just before writing this blog and it will go through a process and come out sometime next January. When I write a new book, it always forces me to examine my life, to remember God’s faithfulness, and to plan/pray about living even more into ideals, so that I may end serving Jesus to my very last breath.

The title of my book will be revealed when it is final, but the subject is about taking responsibility for your choices, your faith, the legacy you will live and your actions. Getting to the end of this book makes me realize that God has indeed worked amazingly in my life. Not because I am in any way especially gifted. But the secret is that I was challenged to give my all to Him, to believe He would partner with me to work, to live by faith and to take risks and to follow Jesus’ life and model to live a life of generous love.

Being at a funeral lately caused me again to reflect on the legacy I am leaving. What will people say when I go to see Jesus? You will have to read about it in the book! :)

But as we ponder His reality this week of celebrating His resurrection, we must understand again, that if this event was true, His being raised from the dead, His total forgiveness of our sins, His kingship over the whole universe and call on our lives to invest in His kingdom, then today is the day to live to the fullest, to show His reality, to believe that our faith matters, to be true to teach our children of his message, His forgiveness, His call on each of us to be stewards of His light, His life and His love.

I love Easter! The message encourages me every year. I love Jesus and his story and celebrating my adoption as His child. I love the grace that pours over my soul. I even love Easter Egg hunts and celebrating the day with friends and family.

We celebrate big in our family. (We even always have a hunt even for our 20 year olds–each child in our family has their own color of plastic egg with goodies inside–now gift cards and money!  and we would color code the eggs to be more difficult for the older and less for the younger so that Joy would have a chance to actually find hers–though sometimes the younger ones were better scouts than the older.  Sarah would always look for pink, Joel–blue; Nate red and Joy purple. So much fun.

Now, a few pictures from the past when Joy was in an Easter production we held at our church.

For now, I am going to sleeeeeeeeeep and take a day off. And then I will shop for food, finish decorating the house with our special Easter treasures collected over the years, and live into the moments God has given.

It is truly my wish that it will stop snowing and give us a hint of sunshine. Have a lovely week and live this week for eternity. This is the day you have to live a story worth telling.

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I was working on my book in a hotel, because our internet went down and saw this! I adore roses.

It was so pretty I just had to take a picture. So this week, I wish you roses!

What is your favorite flower?