What is more fun than…..

A handful of women, eating delectable, adult food–crab cakes, spinach feta salad, chocolate mousse brownies, by candlelight in a hotel room, sharing stories, secrets, funny antics, discussing, praying and delighting in being friends.

What fun it is for me to be upon the verge today of our first mom’s conference of the year. I was greeted last night by a sweet friend with a lovely fresh floral lei, fresh from Hawaii from where she had flown. Another toted a large box full of baskets in which to put the chocolates that we give out as women come in the door. Several women thought I needed to add flowers to our registration table and to our mom’s leader’s tea this morning. But all, with me, are a part of the Lord’s hands, voice, message and inspiration for building women into the gracious, wise civilizers He made us to be.  

I adore the women the Lord brings into my life, who work shoulder to shoulder with me in ministering to and reaching out to women. They all come from different walks of life and different cities–some are married with a thousand children, some are single women, some with one child, but all devoted mothers, intentional about raising a godly heritage in their home and teaching and training other women the vision and how to’s of such a life. 

One of my sweet friends here, who will be sharing about why she leads a mom heart group, said this, 

The Lord showed me how being part of a Mom’s group is fulfilling His purposes for advancing His Kingdom on earth, by building a godly heritage right in our home, for a future generation that will influence the world for Christ.”

And so we are off to greet, speak, love and encourage here in Denver and are so very blessed.

Home–a sanctuary for celebrating the life of Christ

As we began the events that took place in our home this Christmas, stories began to emerge with every person who was here–a woman whose brother attempted suicide the night before; a single mom whose husband abused her daughter and she had to leave the state in which she lived to protect her daughter; an exhausted mom who hadn’t slept in months because of her 3 babies under 5; a young teen who had been rejected by her parents and closed out of her home but who kept walking around our home saying, “It is so peaceful here,” amidst the noise and conversation and getting food on the table; a woman who was just tired and exhausted and felt forgotten, a woman whose husband had cancer; two women who were vibrant and filled with hope and encouragement who prayed and encouraged those who needed an extra measure of love. And the stories go on.Jesus sees each of these precious ones and He sees you and cares for you and  your concerns. Jesus came into the world because the people of the world desperately needed hope, comfort, forgiveness, wisdom, love. He was humble and meek–in other words, he came to slip right into the mundane, the normal people for whom He came. When he looked out to the multitudes, like those in my home, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9

He was a servant-king, he washed feet, held and blessed children, loved the downcast–the lepers, the prostitute; the poor; the sick, served meals, washed feet. He was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” as we read in Isaiah.This was His message, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty  to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Interestingly, when Jesus came to open his ministry in the temple, it is this very passage that He read. He was on a mission–he was here to heal, to save, to encourage, to proclaim God. When we love Jesus, we will be overcome with His compassion. Our words will be full of power and life-giving and hope. No one will leave our home without having a sense of His hand of love, His voice of truth, His comfort, His strength and calling.

But our homes are the arena in which we can build the life of Christ, and in which the life of our home becomes a sanctuary for those who need to feel His life by being welcomed, to receive a “cup” of cold water– a home cooked meal, a focussed conversation, a healing touch. We celebrate the traditions of home, not because we want to be busier–no one needs that, but to make the life of Christ come alive, to show the beauty of God, to give our children an live picture of His beauty, His reality, His truth, His words and His outreaching love.

We still have this Christmas day to give Him our responsive gift of love–to serve and love and comfort and reflect His spirit alive to all who are in our arena–first our family and then those whom He has providentially placed there.

Homes are the foundations for society. When the life of Christ flourishes there, then the life of Christ will flourish in our nations. But we cannot imitate His life, unless we ourselves are spending time in His presence. The older I get, the more I love Him, the more I admire Him and understand the heart of this servant king, who humbly lived His life to pour out for the benefit of others because the very essence of His being was to redeem, to give, to serve.

And, so this is the source of our strength in tirelessly giving and serving, Christ in us, Christ giving us His strength, power and resurrection life, lived out through rocking of children and listening to their starry eyed wishes and stories and giving grace to the unlovely in our lives, because we are unlovely–but accepted; the making of meals served in grateful appreciation to Him who is preparing a future feast for us; the giving of our love and gracious words generously because He has so given to us.

When we spend time in His presence, we fall in love with Him more, and then the love spills over to our children, our husband and our friends. Jesus himself said, “He who follows me, from His innermost being shall flow springs of living water.”His life, overflowing through us. Someone, many in your life today, need to feel this touch, these words of encouragement, this life, the actions that say, “The peace and grace of the Lord be with you–for He has given it to me and I, by His healing love, am so happy to give it to you.”

May His life fill and fuel your days as we celebrate this week the magnificent reality of His life in the sanctuary of our sacred homes.

 
Some of my own beloveds, with whom I am celebrating His reality.
Sarah, Gwen, my sister friend, and Joy

Delight, Anticipation and Wonder

Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree, …. Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls my mom made for me 50 years ago.

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Flickering candlelight, shimmering slivers, golds, reds, greens and blues sparkling on a real tree inside the house; familiar songs that beg swaying and dancing; the smells of pine boughs, vanilla, sugar, spices, cookies, coffee, breads filling the air with invitation each different time of the day, lots of friends and family and hugs and kisses and celebration and presents,stories to stir up imagination of babies, wise men, young mothers, animals–all of these wrapped in one short period of a few weeks–all to fill the heart and stir the imagination to new dreams and the heart with lots of love—what’s not to love about Christmas?!

I have had many women write to me and ask if I thought it was pagan to celebrate Christmas and have trees and presents. Of course Clay and I pondered this many years ago and studied the Word and we came to our own conclusions as each family must do. But, we now see even more, how it was the delights of our home and the filling of emotional cups and the fun and making of memories and cherishing Christ and carols every day, that gave our children even more love for Him. Since our family is not pagan, the celebrations in our home are not pagan–nor the ways we choose to celebrate.
And I so love the family togetherness. When my children have lived far away, and now the boys do, coming home to celebrate together–to celebrate all that it is–is something they can hardly wait for–it is another of the invisible strings that ties our heart so strongly together..
When I think about the wonders of the first Christmas–astonishing, bewildering, unimaginable beings appearing on the earth; terrestrial choirs filling the heavenly sky; a heretofore unheard of star filling the night sky; wealthy, learned kings traveling from afar; a virgin birth in the midst of a love story; an old woman and an old man marveling and speaking of the messiah as the baby is dedicated- with celebration and feasting;–our Heavenly Father was the first to celebrate. He was the first one to document the birthday of Jesus–supernaturally with music and feasting and amongst the humble and the kings.
I love seeing the feasting–usually for days–in the old testament. God is a God of celebration. Christmas is a time when we bring friends and family into our home to be refreshed. It is a time of personal worship as I mentioned yesterday and a time of joy-work and preparation to say I love you to our family, whom God designed for the passing down of His story and of His love.
I think that sometimes people are afraid to have too much fun or to celebrate life. Yet, it is only when we do this fully, from our heart that we understand the joy of the Lord–the God who gave us the ability to be satisfied, to laugh and play games and eat merrily.
So, our family makes time to delight together. It is the organic life of Christ, the tastes, smells, fun, love and theology that gives the whole picture of this baby become king and savior. And so in a spirit of love, we celebrate Christmas–His coming to earth–fully and happily.
Some happy photos  friends sent me from the  coming and going in our Christmas festivities. Pictures of Christmas spaces in my home.

Living room coffee table–the stocking my mom made for me when I was a little girl. I love glass jars to put all sorts of things inside. (A good source is pickle jars–the big kind– from Sams. Good Will is another spot, and Hobby Lobby with great half-price sales.) 
 
Kitchen nook table–old Austrian table cloth on table with little snow houses collected through the years.

Den coffee table with Romanian hand-stiched cloth.

Living room hearth

Friends and food and feasting in the kitchen!
 
and of course sweet babies
 
and children delighted with food and a full house!
 
the dining room table and talking

The gathering room–living room from the stairs above.
 
Ending on the Word,….,
and a good time was had by all!

Joy to the World indeed the Lord has come!

 

A blurred but artistic picture Joy took of our mantel before a Christmas party at our home in our living room!

Oh, my! As usual, the days are flying by! I have so much to write to you in the next few days that I may just write a blog a day for a while! But I haven’t been writing because I have been making family and friends a priority! And of course having lots of fun myself. 

First, Joy and I are reading every day in our devotionals a wonderful advent book, called The Jesse Tree. We are loving it. A very sweet friend sent us a bag full of wrapped little presents that we open one day at a time and read the verses that go with it! Loving my time each morning, staying in our gowns and eating home made mcmuffins with home made bread, sipping our juice and sharing our wisdom in scripture over candlelight and fire place. What a luxury to have the opportunity to have leisurely time talking to my sweet daughter about our wonderful savior without having to hurry this memory. (It has been quite cold!)

Flying to Nashville and on to Earlington, Kentucky to visit my sister-friend! We are not really related, but I never had a sister and neither did she. She flew to my home for 28 years in a row over the Christmas holidays to keep the commitment to be family to each other we had made as single missionaries. So now, the past few years as she is homebound, I fly to Gwennie’s house to celebrate Christmas. She has been the family God knew we would need when we didn’t have many around to love us. She always wraps mounds of tiny gifts to delight each of my children and me–even if it is tiny, like a flashlight or pocket knife or pair of pretty socks. We go one gift at a time and ooh and ahh! It is like really having a real live auntie or grandmom for my sweet ones.

 
Mrs. Janie’s tea room–Sarah, Joy, and Gwen enjoying the civility!

Our trip included a luncheon to a tiny town in Sacremento, Kentucky to Mrs. Janie’s, a tea house in a Victorian home that serves on the weekends only. We had 3 courses–ambrosia with pineapple scones, buttered asparagous with a baked chicken breast in herbed cheese and wrapped in phyllo dough and a baked potato casserole with cheese and chives and red velvet cake and ice cream for desert with a cup of tea–all girlish memories. I love making memories with my girls around other like-minded, godly women who are life-giving and build into their souls. Gwennie loves them and models Christ to them and on the side is just a lot of fun.

After this, we celebrated Christmas and I got two blue–blue shirts and a cd of great music. We ate coconut pie–a classic that Gwen’s mom always made! And then one of my best times was attending the Messiah with all the girls. I dearly love the Messiah and always marvel at the way God stirred Handel to gather all of the scripture in such a way as to tell the Great Story. Everyone should gently lead their their family to love the Messiah. Joy and I were humming under our breath, Sarah and Gwen were living in ecstacy during several of the choruses. Such beauty in words and music.

Finally, went to Nashville to visit with precious friends who have shared life and history with me since our 25 year olds were wee ones. Such a fun time to pray, talk, share, have lunch at Puffy Muffin and watch our girls catch up with each other. Of course there were lots of, “I can’t believe how much you have grown up!” on all sides.

 
Nate driving off to California in front of our home with his car. I was so brave! till I went inside! :)

Having Nathan on my mind. Would you pray with me for the Lord to show Him favor and find him a good job that can help to pay rent– And to find  favor with his agent so that she can get him auditions and also that the Lord would specifically direct Nathan in a place where he can find a good community in this work and have a settled, long term job or one good commercial!  Nathan loves the Lord and is hoping to serve Him in the arena of music, acting, speaking and writing–but at this moment needs our wonderful Lord to open doors for him and give him favor with the right people. Would so appreciate your prayers for my dear, fun, loving Nathan boy! Can’t wait to see what God will do as I have seen Him love answering prayer the past few years and He is the Lord of North Hollywood. All this mothering is a continued walk of faith and labor in the gates of heaven.  And of course it is the training grounds of my sweet son as well. Thanks ever so much.

Oh so much more this week, but it will have to wait till tomorrow. May God bless you, every one! I have some cookies to get out of the oven! Preparing for our two book parties for Sarah and there will be such treats. More later this week about the pictures of my home during this season; weathering the blues and storms during this season with Him, our humble king; recipes, babies, favorite catalogues and things to order and traditions for all ages. Oh, I am blessed today.

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Forgot to mention that the winners on December 1 for the drawing from all of you who promoted our conferences were:
 
  Kristin Kerley (TN)
  Jennifer Tammeling (CA)
We will have another drawing on January 1 for $50 in books and cd’s or free conference registration for all those who advertise our conference in their newsletters, on facebook, on blogs
and in support groups or Bib
le studies. Just write Jennice to let her know where you advertised. We so appreciate your help in getting the word out to as many moms as we can reach as we see the Lord change lives, encourage and give inspiration to so many every year. 
For more information and to get links for your area, go here
You can click on the different conferences and then open the folders at the top for flyers and information to copy for the conferences.

You can also get a link to read our most recent Whole Heart e-letter by connecting here

Have a great Friday!

An Inklings Christmas celebration


For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There can be some sad times at Christmas–perhaps for family far away, or broken relationships, or difficulties. Yet, as those filled with the Spirit of Christ, we are called to bring redemption, community, love and feasts into the life of our home so that we can remember the Life of Him who came into darkness to bring light, beauty, love and redemption. We miss our family and have missed close family relationships over the years, as circumstances have separated us from those we love and are our relations. 

We have learned, in the midst of these years, to bring into our home, that, though they will never replace our family, will instead be those who bring the love of Christ’s family to our lives and hearts.

What fun we had last night as we celebrated with our new friends–the Inklings reading, writing and discussion a precious friend, Deb Weakly,  and I started for our teens this fall. There is always great discussion over a book by an English author, food and fun. Last night, we decided it was time to get to know the parents of these stalwart, civilized, hilarious teens
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First a feast and talking about family history.
 
Then a reading outloud of Tolkien’s Christmas letters to his children.
(Joy was particularly fond of her purple socks that matched her shirt. :)

And finally an ending with singing of Carols. What fun we had as we made new friends and celebrated life together. 

Please tell me what some of you are doing this Season to celebrate with your friends!

Now I am off to Nashville to celebrate Christmas with Joy and Sarah with my sister-friend of old, Gwennie. She came to my home for 28 years, so now that she is with her sweet elderly mom, it is our turn to repay the favor! Better go pack! Have a great weekend!