Tag Archives: homemaking

No Limits

Recently I began cleaning out boxes of old photos, cards, and papers. There is such a painful sweetness about looking at little faces all grown up, the penciled “I luv u momy” scrawls and handmade birthday cards offering bike shows for a gift or “brekfast in bed.”Sept 2015 002

Moms are especially blessed in that our lives “pass before our eyes” every time we clean the house. The process sparks not only memories but evaluation–a chance to think, to confess, to address, to rejoice.

We sift through books, report cards, term papers, chore charts, prayer lists, and letters. We unfold a paper found on the floor and quietly tuck it into our son’s bookshelf when we see it’s a heartfelt letter to his girlfriend, not meant for our eyes.Sept 2015 118

We find beer bottles from an unauthorized party that occurred when we went on an anniversary trip and we discover how to pray more specifically for that child.

We sweep leaves off the trampoline after the Perseids meteor shower with our nature-minded son and order a new closet door after the skateboard went through it with our more impulsive son.

August 2015 115We file receipts from Easter shoes that prompted tears because they were black and shiny like our dog that died; and receipts from volleyball uniforms and slippery fabric for another daughter to wrestle on the sewing machine for her first boy-girl banquet.

The procession of mundane tasks in a mother’s life also fosters a closer look –who is this child? How is she made? What are his strengths? What is he afraid of? What are her weaknesses? How do we listen better to this one? How can we best pray for that one?August 2015 056

But this recent cleaning was different—a time travel back through decades—and I was privileged to find this poem written by one of our precious daughters many years ago as she stood at a crossroads wrestling with how much control to give God over her life.

It comes at a perfect time.

I like it because it’s honest and wise and cuts me to the quick. It highlights the stakes. It forces us ask ourselves how small a box we’re offering God in which to put our futures, when He has no such boundaries.

I can’t figure out how to format the poem properly but here it is, for the crossroads in all of our lives:14932_10151349341009214_1835112752_n

No Limits

I invited an artist to come to my house–“Paint me a picture,” I said. “Make it a field with flowers–Yellow, blue, and violet.” So he painted a field, just as I’d asked. And it was pretty.

I invited a chef to come to my house–“Cook me a dinner,” I said. “Make it a pasta with herbs–Parsley, basil, and thyme. So he cooked me a dinner, just as I’d asked. And it tasted good.

I invited God to come into my life–“Give me a future,” I said. “Make it a house with a family–husband, two kids, and a dog.” So he gave me a future, just as I’d asked. And it was nice.

My next-door-neighbor invited the artist to come to hiSept. 2015 076s house. “Paint me a picture,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just watch.”  So he painted a picture, as he saw fit. And it was breathtaking.

My next-door-neighbor invited the chef to come to his house. “Cook me a dinner,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just watch.” So he cooked a dinner, as he saw fit. And it was delicious.

My next-door-neighbor invited God to come into his life. “Give me a future,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just submit.” So he gave him a future, as He saw fit. And it was amazing.

OldCompBackup 038One day my neighbor invited me over for dinner. I looked at his painting. I ate his dinner. I evaluated his life. “I don’t get it,” I said. “I had the same artist, the same chef, the same God. Why is everything you have so much better?” 

And my neighbor just smiled and nodded his head. “The secret,” he said, “is no limits.”


How to Make a Celebration Branch

Nehemiah had guts. As cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes during the Babylonian exile of the Jews, he was the king’s last defense between a poisoned drink and death. Every day Nehemiah’s life was at stake.August 2015 163 (2)

Every day required supernatural courage to perform his duties. And Nehemiah knew where to find it.

So when he went to Jerusalem and finished rebuilding the wall with the returned captives, he could hardly wait to share the book of the Law of Moses with the people. But when they heard it, they wept.

Nehemiah said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

It’s tempting to focus on weaknesses and dangers. But that’s like focusing the beam of a lighthouse so narrowly on the shoals, we can’t see the safe harbor just ahead.

Nehemiah reminds us to open our eyes to enjoy God, to share His gifts with others, and to rejoice because He has accomplished all His purposes. Our joy is in His sufficiency, and in that joy is our strength.April 2015 049

In keeping with Nehemiah’s instruction, here are info and directions for the Celebration Branch, as promised. The idea of a branch comes from Leviticus.

Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches, and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:,40)

The people of Israel gathered branches to make shelters for the Feast of Booths,   a week-long Thanksgiving celebration after the harvest.

Our Celebration Branch is a little different. We hang a branch above our kitchen table, and decorate it to reflect times of thanksgiving and joy in our family year-around.August 2015 399


To celebrate the arrival of a newborn, foster, or adopted child, hang photos, shoes, rattles, toys, words of welcome, etc. For an exchange student,  add welcomes in English and their native language, and brochures about places to share.

In Autumn, use artificial leaves, pencils, crayons, grades and photos of each school child and phrases about their hopes and dreams for the year.

At Thanksgiving, hang photos, drawings, or lists of things you’re grateful for, along with hand print or pine cone turkeys, strings of candy corn, etc.

The Celebration Branch is a perfect place for Jesse Tree,  Advent, or other traditional Christmas ornaments including candy canes, stars, evergreen sprigs, snowflakes, Nativity figures, or gold ribbon.Nov-Dec 2014 023 (2)

Small cards with Easter promises can dangle amongst fresh or artificial flowers such as forsythia and lilies, along with other symbols of new life such as eggs and chicks.

Birthday or baptism celebrations might include the photo of a child, interests, strengths, testimony, favorite things,  and other clues of how God has made them, such as small toys and books.

For summer vacation with the cousins, we hung crayon resist watercolors of flowers, frogs, and butterflies (See my post, “How to Make a Luscious Crayon Resist).

As you can see, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Here’s how to make your Celebration Branch:

  1. Take a walk in the wSept 2015 026oods and look for an interesting branch with lots of smaller twigs. Mine is a fir branch about five feet long, but yours can be longer or shorter as you desire.
  2. Remove leaves or needles from the branch and trim the side twigs until your branch is a pleasing shape.
  3. Hang the branch from your ceiling with several large eye hooks and strong string, making certain you screw at least some of the hooks through drywall into wood at each end so the branch can’t fall and hurt someone.
  4. Jazz up your branch with ribbon, bias-cut fabric, vines, lights, or glitter glue before you decorate it.
  5. Poke tiny holes in your decorations and hang them from your branch with light string or thread.
  6. Finally, friends, when you look at the branch, remember to rejoice in the God who gives you courage for each day, as He gave Nehemiah.

“Rejoice in all you11147035_10153285429579214_4948497860104946008_nr doings in which the Lord Your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:7, The Fifth Book of the Law of Moses)

Pups, Peas, and Time

I stood in the yard this morning, smiling at my mistake. I’d thought I’d be standing around a lot since our 10-week-old puppy, Skipper, is still eagle bait. And not eagles only–we’ve had a hawk and an owl peruse the fuzzy little morsel as he scampers through the grass.Apr-May 2015 269

What I’m learning as I take the pup to the yard 200 times a day and watch for raptor shadows is how to redeem the time. I’m learning how to use the minutes outside and appreciate life’s close-ups as I pull weeds and plant seeds.

In those minutes, so far, I’ve cleared a rectangle of dirt inside the picket fence that (mostly) keeps the rabbits out. I’ve propped tomato cages over tomato starts in front of delphinium spikes and clouds of peonies. I’ve patted dirt into hills for my little granddaughter to poke her beloved cucumber seeds in the ground.

The bean seeds sprout in wet paper towels beneath the kitchen window. The Brussels sprouts, peppers, and nasturtiums snuggle along the edges of the tiny garden. I picked tent caterpillars off the raspberry vines and watered the side gardens I usually forget.

But when I walked past the pea patch today, I stopped short. In barely two days since I  last tended them they’ve doubled in size, fallen over, and wrapped themselves in knots aMay 2015 012round each other.

I squatted down to tease the tiny tendrils apart. If you’ve ever done this, you know how difficult it is. The tendrils are thinner than a thread but strong in their coil. I thought about the power of little prayers, of clinging tightly to God moment by moment.

The pea plants grow joint by joint, short sections and long, always their tendrils reaching out. My life and yours grow season by season, short ones and long, with grace to reach out to God in the little moments, even when we feel thinner than a thread.

I tug gently at the little vines. I know if they remain tangled in the dirt they’ll rot. They need to stretch upwards to the sun to make space for plump pods–plentiful, tasty, and tender.

Sometimes we get tangled up in circumstances until we’re just a rotting clump of ourselves. But God doesn’t want to leave you or me that way. He wants to untangle us and point us toward the Son. He wants us to reach for the beautiful idea He had when He made us.

Taking pea vines apart, eveMay 2015 024n gently, makes them go limp for a while. Sometimes we lose our grip on God but God never loses His grip on us. His love is both timely and timeless. His eye is ever on us. He tends us gently and lifts us up. He makes us strong and complete.

This morning, I propped the pea vines against the lattice. With faithful tending, they’ll rise up to the sun and grow strong, too. In fact, it’s probably time to check them again. Are you ready, Skipper? I have some valuable minutes to redeem!