Being Fruitful

Quick! What is the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase, “…be fruitful and multiply”? For most of us we think of pregnant bellies and sweet squishy babies and obviously it is a right thing to think. After all, we know that is what God was saying to Adam and Eve in the first chapter of Genesis and the word multiply literally means to grow in number. Here, Adam. I made this woman for you. And I have made you both in such a way that you can make more of you. Now go fill the earth with more of you and take dominion over everything.

I want to point out a couple of things on the baby having side first and then back track to look at something I think is often overlooked or overshadowed in that verse.

Firstly, in this day and age that is abundant in birth control options (some that are outright sinful and others that aren’t) I do think as a society, even among Christians, childbearing has seemingly become an option that one can exercise or not depending on how you might feel about it. But I think it is pretty clear that choosing to be willfully childless is not the way of God’s people. Anyone can have babies. But for Christians, why we have babies and how we raise them, should be vastly different from unbelievers. In reality this is true about everything. We christians do the same life things, the same activities, as people who do not know Christ as King. But because we do know Him as King it is supposed to look different in our lives. It is glorified…we reveal Christ in what we do because we do all things for His glory, to make Him known.

I do, however, believe there is a lot more theology behind “be fruitful and multiply” than just having babies and that brings me to a second thing. I do not believe this is a command to everyone to have all of the babies. We have five children. To some that is a lot. To others that is about half of a lot. But here’s the thing. God doesn’t prescribe a specific number of required offspring. To some couples He grants life for one child. For another He opens the womb for more. Sometimes someone may wish they had more. For others God seems to let them decide how many and for still others He closes the womb and opens their hearts to adoption. I certainly cannot fully grasp His providence in these matters but I know that He graciously invites us in and allows us to use wisdom and discernment in planning the size of our families so that we can faithfully tend the children we are given.

I realize a lot more can be said and teased out on this subject but I’m going to leave that part of the verse now and back up to what I have been thinking through this past week. It’s the phrase, “be fruitful” that has been tumbling around in my head.

You see, I think it is a mistake to lumb that in with the multiply part as if the whole thing is only talking about having babies. It would seem to me that if we do that we are condensing down the mandate to what is a relatively few short years out of our lives. At fifty-one my child bearing years are done so if the mission God gave humanity all the way back in the garden is just about having children what does that mean for the rest of my life? What did it mean for the years before I could have children?

A definition for the word fruitful is abundantly productive. If we are looking at it through the Genesis chapter one lens then we know we are made in God’s image. God, the Creator, is telling us to be creative, to produce something. But what? We are not all artist or musicians and what have you. Not everyone is a gardener or an accomplished cook. Are we exempt if we aren’t talented or skilled? I don’t think so. I think we may just need to think a little outside of the box in ways we can be produce fruit in our lives.

I find this quote by Edith Schaeffer very helpful in thinking creatively in how we can produce fruit in our lives ~

There are various art forms we may or may not have talent for, may or may not have time for, and we may or may not be able to express ourselves in, but we ought to consider this fact-that whether we choose to be an environment or not, we are. We produce an environment other people have to live in. We should be conscious of the fact that this environment which we produce by our very ‘being’ can affect the people who live with us or work with us.” 

Can’t play an instrument? Cultivate an appreciation for music by listening to good music. The kind of beautiful music that has lasted for hundreds of years or at least four or five decades. Do the same with art. Expose your children to that sort of music and art. Read the classics to them and yourself. But I don’t think we should limit ourselves to just understanding and appreciating good art, music and books and not actually trying new things. We should challenge ourselves to do things that are difficult if even just slightly so. Go ahead and plant something in the dirt. Choose a new recipe to try. Learn to do a skill that you haven’t done before.

Create balance between those tangible and intangible ways that produce fruit in our life.

We create with more than clay and paint, or words or music notes, fabric or photographs. Everyday we create. And everyday we make choices to imitate what has already crafted by the Master.

We create homes that are a refuge the way He created an ark.

We create new culture when we resist the world’s culture, the world’s way of doing or being.

We create a world of reconciliation when we imitate the dark art of death in dying to ourselves that produces the kaleidoscope of color and light found in the resurrection.

We create peace when we turn the other cheek and offer the glorious poetry of forgiveness.

We create a symphony of mercy when we love and esteem others more than ourselves.

We create places of hospitality as we open our door and beckon in the poor and hungry.

We create a tapestry of grace when we weave longsuffering through our relationships with husband and wife, child and friend.

We all produce something. We all create. The question is whether it is worthy of presenting to our Creator.

In her book Loving The Little Years Rachel Jankovic makes the point that the more fruit we make the more of that fruit God will use.

“Some of those apples will fall to the ground and rot. But God uses rotten apples ~ to fertilize the ground, to start more apple trees after little animals plant them, and just to make the air smell sticky sweet. You cannot know the depth of His plan for your fruit. So throw it out there on the ground when you have no plan for its future. Waste it. Waste homemade pasta (and the mess it makes) on your family. Don’t save cloth napkins for company only ~ sew a dress your daughter doesn’t really need. Be bountiful with your fruit and free with it. The only thing you can know for certain is that God will use it.”

I don’t know about sewing a dress but I have spent some time over the last month buying up packs of fat quarters each week when I go to the grocery store. It’s probably been a dozen years since I tried to piece together a quilt and if I am honest my previous attempts, although well loved (it was a napping quilt for Claire when she started school) were less than lovely. We don’t really need another blanket either. But the fabric was so pretty and it caught my eye and on a whim I decided I wanted to do it again. It won’t be anything uber fancy but I want to work at it. I want to make sure my seams are straight this time and that my binding is even.

I’m going to use the new cake pan I got this weekend and make something pretty and delicious.

I’m going to keep taking pictures of anything and everything. I’m going to keep making cards and such with the pictures and putting them in my Etsy shop.

I’m going to keep stringing words together and blogging.

I’m going to drive Rob crazy picking out plants and flowers and designing garden beds.

I’m going to keep blowing bubbles for the puppies to chase and watch silly video clips with the girls and let Sam show me all the different bits and pieces to his latest LEGO creation.

I’m going to keep finding ways to produce truth, beauty, and goodness. And joy and laughter. And prayerfully it will also produce a deeper love and thankfulness for our great kind God who did it all first.

Join me, why don’t you? Tell me about the fruit of your hands.

Friday Favorites ~ Emily & Hays

15 days to go!

We are so excited for Em and Hays’ big day but it seems a bit surreal to be staring down the barrel of barely two weeks until the wedding. I have people asking me frequently how I am handling everything and if it’s all crazy stressful. Honestly, that stressed me out more because I wasn’t and it made me wonder if I was supposed to only I wasn’t because I wasn’t doing something I was supposed to be doing.

I’m sure the next two weeks will get a bit chaotic as we finish up some last minute little things but it has been a fairly easy process. Partly due to Emily not being anything other than a laid back low maintenance bride and partly because of our wonderful friend who is the creative talent behind Soiree by AJ who is our wedding planner and coordinator. I just know that everything is going to be beautiful.

Sweet Em is a bit exhausted from all of the running back and forth and she is completely over wedding planning. We laughed because when they got engaged we thought 6 months was so quick but goodness, people who take longer are either completely crazy or something. Enough already, let’s have a wedding instead of just endless conversations and decisions!

We were originally going to do Emily’s bridal portraits this weekend while I am in Monroe for a bridal shower given by Hays’ church but the weather has not cooperated and there was a snafu with her bridal veil not arriving. But talking about it did remind me that I shared very few of the engagement pictures I did for them back in November. So today’s Friday favorites are a few of my faves from that day. In no particular order…

I love getting shots like this when a couple is really laughing. Add to it being black and white and I am in love with the final result.

If I had had any doubt about the beauty of the state of Louisiana it was put to rest the afternoon we did their pictures. The bayous are simply gorgeous and Hays & his mama knew exactly where the best spots were for pictures. Especially that time of year with the gorgeous colors.

My girl seems to have a wee bit of sass going…

And thank you to whomever lives on the other side of the bayou and thought it was a good idea to put those little lights along your decking. It was and I love this picture the most I think.

We are so excited for Emily and Hays and we are looking forward to celebrating God’s kindness in leading them to each other with the ones we love. See y’all in a couple of weeks!

Think On These Things ~ Psalm 37: 10-20

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
    though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
    and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked plots against the righteous
    and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he sees that his day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
    to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
    and their bows shall be broken.

Better is the little that the righteous has
    than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.

The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
    and their heritage will remain forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times;
    in the days of famine they have abundance.

But the wicked will perish;
    the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
    they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

On The Bookshelf

We are a house of book lovers. The affection runs to varying degrees depending on work schedules and school load but we’re all readers.

I have been a reader since around middle school when our family moved to a new neighborhood that didn’t have as many kids on my street. It was around that time my mother introduced me to the public library and I fell into stories with great gusto. To this day I would rather read a book than watch a movie.

Because I read so much as a teenager I read pretty fast, at least according to my mister, and I retain a pretty good knowledge of what I have read and I always scored well on vocabulary tests. In a bid to make reading more than just a form of entertainment though I have tried to become more discriminate in what and how I read. Instead of just reading whatever popular fiction was easily accessible I have broadened the scope by reading things that Rob was reading for various bookclubs he was part of, incorporated more of the classics, and, this is a biggie, I try to be reading more than one thing at a time. To that end, if it is what I call my serious reading I need to do it in the mornings and save the lighter just for enjoyment books for afternoon or evenings. (Basically because I am of a certain age I can be too tired at night to really get much from the heavier readings 🙂 )

My mornings usually involve whatever personal reading I have going at the moment and Scripture in general and specifically the Psalms and Proverbs everyday. I love this set of books my friends gave me for Christmas and use it throughout the week alongside my Bible. They combine visual imagery with Scripture and I find them to be beautiful. I hope to keep adding to my set but was delighted to start with the wisdom books.

Right now I am reading these two books with the church ladies. This isn’t my first reading of Eve in Exile and I just get so much from it every time I read it. Chapter twelve is so darn good! Loving The Little Years has been around for a while but as I have not had littles in a while I just never read it. Now that I am reading it I so wish it had been available when my kids were little! I think it may just get included with every baby shower gift from now on. And, being perfectly honest, I have found it quite beneficial even though my youngest is fifteen.

Sam loves to go to the library so I have a steady supply that leads to a stack of books to work through. Right now I am about four pages into this book. When it comes to books I am a sucker for the cover art and also apparently the author’s name. Ellery Adams is such a lovely name, isn’t it? From what I have read so far I think this will be pretty good. I will report back when I have finished it.

My last fiction novel was this one and I was drawn to pick it up because someone mentioned it was a bit Downton Abbey-esque in the sense of an upstairs/downstairs portrayal of Victorian England. I did not find that to be exactly true but it was still very enjoyable.

I really enjoy thrillers and mysteries, and while this was a mystery it moved at a much slower pace than books set in a more modern time. It took me a minute to really get into but I did enjoy it. Enough so that I searched out the other books in the series and will probably read them over time. I was surprised though by some of the other titles from her. They look to be a bit more, how to say it…risque? Not sure if they match their romance novel covers but I probably won’t pick any of those up. But this series is one I would be willing to let Claire read.

I don’t typically listen to audiobooks because I seem prefer actual physical books that I can hold but two that I have listened to and highly recommend are A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court read by Nick Offerman of Parks and Rec fame. He does such an amazing job! Pretty sure it is found on audible. The other book is The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald. What a delightful story! Even though it is considered a children’s novel I found it to be thoroughly entertaining. I think it falls into the category of what CS Lewis meant when he said, “One day you will be old enough to read fairytales again.”

So what are you reading? Do you have any book recommendations?

I am probably going to be in so much trouble for this but here is a quick picture I snapped of my love as I was writing this post. Please don’t be too angry, love. You looked so cozy and content to have fallen asleep while reading.

What You Ought To Remember

You know what’s embarrassing? Slamming the toilet lid down in a public restroom because you forget that all toilet lids are not self closing like the ones at home.

You know what’s painful? Forgetting that you chopped jalapeños a few hours ago and rubbing your eye.

You know what is not embarrassing or painful? God’s forgiveness. The teaching of Scripture is that when we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us. Not just forgive either but to cleanse us from the dirt and mess of our sin. And if that were not enough, we are told He throws our sin away as far as the east is from the west.

You know what God doesn’t forget?

Us.

Me.

You.

He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are His people and He is our God.

He remembers His promises.

So many promises! But this morning I woke up thinking about forgiveness and Psalm 139. Such thoughts are, indeed, too wonderful.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (Verses 5 & 6)

I hope you begin your week thinking of the promises God gives to His children. And may you walk in them.

Happy Monday y’all.

It’s The Weekend, Y’all

We have friends coming to visit us from Florida tomorrow and we are so excited to see them! We have settled in and found a home here so much faster than we expected and it gives me much joy to introduce my Florida people to my Louisiana people. They will even get to be here for church on Sunday.

In somewhat related news, Emily has just about all of her stuff out of the apartment so I will take today to wash linens and get the space ready for Al and Mary to stay in. Bless her heart, Em has been driving back and forth a lot between here, Monroe, and Pensacola and I know she is ready for the wedding and to finally get settled. I am excited for her but at times it also makes me sad…somehow I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly we arrived here and I naively thought because I had already gone through having a daughter move out that I knew what to expect. I didn’t, mainly because when Sarah moved into her apartment she was still only 20 minutes away. I’m adjusting though. Being mindful that this is the normal and right way of things. It helps that Hays is such a godly young man and I know he will love Emily well.

And this brings me to the first of this week’s Friday favorites. When we were in Monroe for Em’s birthday we were talking about how difficult it has been for my very homebody child to basically be living in limbo since our move in November. She knew she wouldn’t be here with us in Sulphur for long so it really hasn’t become her home in a settled sense. She also knows that despite Hays moving into the apartment they will share and being able to decorate and set it up that that is not yet her home either. Throw in trips back to Pensacola for wedding dress fittings and meetings and you can see why she is just sort of over it. I joked something about her being a woman without a country and Hays quipped back without any hesitation that she does indeed have a country, she is just waiting on her visa. Y’all may not find that as funny as I did but it really made me laugh. I think he might be ready for the actual wedding to get here too.

Here are a few favorite images of some yellow tulips I had recently. I love tulips, don’t you? I love flowers in general and cannot wait for spring to get here so I can start playing in the dirt!

Another favorite thing I came across this week is this cartoon. I get confused by all the texting abbreviations and this were quite funny to me. I think my favorites are ROFL and MOG.

The article I was reading about the cartoonist also used the word pithy and that fell into the favorite things category too. Sarah just returned from a trip to England and one of the biggest things she noticed was the differences between the way Americans speak and the way the English speak. It was more than the obvious accents; she said they just use nicer words in general and sound so much more pleasant. They probably use the word pithy more than we do.

Last favorite thing for this week. You can go here and get the recipe for a delicious sweet treat that I took to the superbowl party we went to last Sunday. This cookie dough dip is made with cream cheese and melted brown sugar and butter and is just so tasty and a little unusual from normal sweet treats. You should make some.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Think On These Things ~ 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,

but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 

or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 

but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Ponderings

I’ve been reading some really good thought provoking books, having some really good discussions, and Rob has been preaching a really good sermon series on our churches liturgy. All of which combine with other random thoughts in my head.

In no particular order…

A dear friend of mine is working on a talk she will give this summer at the ACCS (Association of Classical Christian Schools) conference. Her topic is titled From Wonder to Wisdom and I am utterly smitten with the concept. For as long as I can remember I have loved Proverbs 8, in particular verses 22-31 “then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man
Lady Wisdom herself wonders and delights in created world so who are we to not do the same? It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to view wisdom and wonder as two golden strands that are intertwined swirling one into the other over and over again. Much of today’s science (worldly wonder) seems to be severed from wisdom leaving it futile and surely lacking in wisdom. Thinking about this makes me wonder how it might connect to the teachings of Jesus telling us that we must come to Him as a little child? I think there might be a connection, don’t you?

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Speaking of wonder, I was walking the pups last night and sneezed. Oh my goodness, it was hilarious! They both froze for a second and then came up to me as if to make sure I was okay. They have been so fun to have around. They react adorably to singing too.
They keep a close eye on the horses behind us. Lucy is pregnant and due anytime now and we all are eagerly awaiting the arrival of her foal. I’m more than half way hoping she has it during the day and I can photograph it.
I feel like the foggy mornings make for a rather fairytale look, don’t you?

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We’ve been slowly introducing the pups into the house for short periods of time. We try to make sure the cats are tucked away but every now and then there is a stare down and as long as one of us is there to keep a hand on the dogs so they stay calm it goes okay.
Do you ever watch a cat and wish you could stretch they way they do? Or sleep? They can sleep anywhere it seems!

Other stray thoughts.

Angry people don’t always look angry.

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I want to be known as a hospitable person. Not just when feeding people, although I do delight in that. But the word hospitable means more than being generous with food. It also means “promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome; offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.” I want to be a hospitable wife and mother and friend. Meaning I want my people to find in me a welcoming place for their hopes and dreams and stories of their day. I want them to know I am delighting with them in those thoughts and dreams and stories of how their day went.

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Nothing feels as nice as freshly laundered sheets when you get into bed at night.

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Last random thought of today. The first picture in this post I took the other morning because I was up early enough to see the sun shooting through the trees in all its glory. This last image I took of the sunset the other night while at a Super Bowl party at some friend’s house.

I highly encourage you to make the time to watch the occasional sunrise and sunset. Wake up early just to see the start of a new day. Stop what you are doing just to see the end of a day. I promise it’s good for your soul.