Bountiful

Last weekend started off low key but with plenty of work to put our hands too. Rob and Sam worked really hard to dismantle the horse ring left by the previous owners. I literally climbed on the counter in my bathroom to get a good view of them because Sam was using power tools for the first time 🙂 Rob and I took the drone up for a few minutes before they got started because we want to document our progress as we work the land.

Dinner Saturday was delicious and right in the middle of it I looked up to see Emily and Hays pulling into our driveway. It was a lovely surprise for Mother’s Day! They also gifted me with some homemade vanilla that I cannot wait to use.

Sarah and Devon sent me the absolute best card along with a beautiful new addition to my Willow Tree figurine collection.

Rob and Abigail, Sam and Claire gave me the one thing I have wanted for literally years and years and we finally have the best place for it here…a swing to hang from one of our beautiful oak trees! I can hardly wait to sit in the mornings with Rob and drink our coffee together.

Speaking of coffee, my sweet friend and I went to a really lovely bakery in Lake Charles called The Bekery as a way to wrap up a book we’d been reading together. The food was scrumptious and I enjoyed a yummy lavender and honey latte. We are already planning our next read and decided this will be our tradition every time we finish a book.

Another favorite this week is this book.

We are looking for ways of using our property instead of selling parcels of it. Currently we are researching raising chickens and/or pigs and cultivating a flower farm. I am more excited about laying hens and their beautiful yard eggs rather than raising meat birds. And I like the idea of pigs more than meat birds for some reason. But I am positively delirious with joy at the idea of a flower farm! I almost always have fresh flowers in my house and if you pay any attention to my photography it’s easy to see how much I enjoy floral photography. I have a lot of reading to do to be able to really make things thrive in the ground here but I’m eager for the challenge.

Currently we have a huge blackberry bush growing and producing like gangbusters so I know the land can be fruitful. Trying to harvest ripe berries earlier in the week earned me and Emily some scratches but no pain no gain, right? Totally worth the yummy hand pies Claire baked yesterday. There are a ton of almost ready berries and I realize I am going to have to check it daily if I don’t want them going to waste. It’s already frustrating because of some of them are out of reach already but the bush is so beautiful.

Since we are talking about sweet treats I am going to wrap up this week’s Friday Favorites post with a link to a recipe I made a few weeks back for church. My mother shared it with me years ago and until recently I had forgotten all about it. For some reason the original recipe was called Italian Bakeless Cake which just doesn’t sit right with me. I have no idea what is Italian about it but the weirder thing to me was calling it “bakeless” which is just an odd sounding word to me. I promptly made it Italian No Bake Cake but no matter what you call it just make sure you get called to the table to enjoy it!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Come On Over

Sometimes I visit this space with a plethora of words and ideas that tumble over themselves as they escape my brain. Sometimes I sit down here to work through a knotty problem out loud. I talk to myself in real life too but there is something about being able to see my words and rearrange them, moving them to their proper place and finding the right order for my thoughts that satisfies.

Sometimes people read what I’ve written and agree or enjoy them and a conversation blooms. Other times a post I am particularly happy with does not get much traction. But the same thing happens with pictures so I don’t sweat it much. I realize I am not writing anything new or taking pictures of things that no one else has ever seen or taken a picture of before. There is a lack of pressure in that knowledge which allows me to slip in here as if we’re grabbing a cup of coffee and just visiting. Or maybe a better description in sitting down with a cup of coffee to read a letter from a friend.

The weather here this morning is pretty blah with a significant storm system moving through later. We took down my hanging plants and moved all my recently potted flowers onto the porch last night in preparation.

Did I tell you about my first experience with planting flowers here in my new lovely home state of Louisiana? About a month ago Rob and I took advantage of a local hardware store’s no tax weekend and bought lots of plants for me to put in the ground. Since my success with flowers and such last year I have been chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. Well, let me tell you…the ground here is nothing like the ground in Florida!

I dug and dug for about twenty minutes and barely scratched out three inches of earth. The ground is so hard here, especially it seems in the area of Carlyss where we live. I decided it would be messy to use the hose but I have rain boots so I could soften the ground with water and dig my holes.

😳

The ground is a dark hard clay that doesn’t absorb water the way the sandy soil in my old yard did. I ended up with a nice ol’ mud puddle for my trouble. Hence I now have about sixteen potted plants and Rob is going to have to get cracking on building me some raised beds.

The people we bought our home from are finally moving to Nashville and slowly but surely getting their stuff out of our pasture. Which means I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about the garden space Rob is letting me design and we are trying to figure out where to put the vegetable garden and a chicken house.

So many projects and plans! My beloved has to keep me reigned in because I can go shooting off in a dozen different directions at a time. My mind hops from flowers to looking at chicken coop plans to knocking down walls to reconfigure the apartment space for Sam now that Emily lives in Monroe. (That was a weird minute for me. Realizing that when she got back from her honeymoon she would not be coming here again. She doesn’t live with us anymore. I mean I was at the wedding. I knew this already. But it just sort of hit me.)

It’s been great having a space for friends to use when they’ve come to visit. I enjoy getting it ready and stocking the little mini fridge and having a tray of snacks ready.

We haven’t started renovating the space yet though so you can come for a visit if you like. We can sit down and have a cup of coffee and conversation in real life.

Of course my Louisiana people are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime. The door is open and the coffee is ready! Y’all can teach me how to grow things around here 😊

A Friday Favorite

Wasn’t yesterday simply glorious? The weather was so perfect! The only issue I had with it is that the perfect spring day really shouldn’t show itself in early January but what is there to do other than enjoy it?

The puppies had a great day and Rob worked on building them a sort of dog run/pen that will be great for them. It is amazing how quickly they are growing and running out of good space in the laundry room. (While I am somewhat sure they could safely be inside the main part of the house without accidents now they have no self control around the cats. We tried. We will not be doing that again anytime soon.) They love being outside though so the space Rob is making for them will be perfect. Plenty of sunshine but around a tree and safe from scooting under the big fence into the horse field behind us and eating things that ought not to be eaten by anyone.

I took advantage of the beautiful weather to repot some house plants I recently bought. Over the last five years or so I learned that I could actually keep plants alive but unfortunately when we made the move from Florida I didn’t have room to bring all of them with me. I brought a few of the ones I had had the longest and now I am working to add more to our home. I love having fresh flowers in the house but I also really enjoy nice green plants. They add such a touch of life to a home, don’t you think?

I rescued this little guy from the clearance section at Walmart a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure where I am going to put him yet but I am sure I will find the right spot.

Even though I have been working with houseplants for a few years I still consider myself a novice. Because of this if I am not careful I end up honing in on one or two types of plants and only using them but I really want to broaden my green thumb. I didn’t have one of these (Please don’t ask its name…I forgot to keep the little plastic thing that came with it with that information.) I choose it because of the variegated greens on the leaves. It’s so bright and lively.

It found a nice home in our entryway which is still a work in progress. Rob is going to paint it using the same color he put in our bedroom; and we are looking for just the right table or hall tree to be a focal point. Then a rug and stuff on the walls but we really don’t want to rush just to have something there so patience is called for. But until then I wanted something to make it look less empty and undone.

The last plant to be potted is one that I already have that does well. He adds just the right color and look to our fireplace ledge. Most of the time I stick with white pots but this little guy came with the additional turquoise~esque one and it ties in nicely with the couch pillows so I decided to use it.

I’m thinking there might still be a few things to tweak yet here but I like how things are right now so I am content to make changes only when the right thing shows itself. I’m learning the value in waiting even as I balance my nesting and the desire to have everything settled and done.

I think one of the reasons I love house plants so much is the simplicity but gentle vitality they add to a room. Someone once said that having a beautiful plant is like having a friend around the house. I like that thought, don’t you?

The Fruit of My Hands

One of the most amazing gifts we have in the Scriptures is its timelessness and never ending unfolding of truth. Passages that I may have read a bazillion times can suddenly come alive, be a balm, shed light, convict, and nourish in completely fresh ways.

It’s why we can read it again and again and again and again and still be shaped and formed by it. We’re told in Hebrews that the Word is alive and active. We’re constantly changed by it as our understanding is deepened and matured.

An amazing gift right?

I think if you spend anytime in Christian circles you are at least somewhat familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman even if it is to just note that you fall somewhere between her and Madea. Or maybe your only acknowledgment is a nod to what you can never hope to attain or what is an old fashioned reminiscing not really applicable for today’s modern woman. In my own particular reformed circles it is a passage that most of us have a great familiarity with but over the last several months I have been bumping it around and seeing and learning new things about it. New to me because you might very well read this and think, “What? You didn’t realize that?” so, yes, new thoughts for me. And even if they aren’t new to you I hope you will be encouraged to dig into it a little deeper and see what nuggets you can mine…because they’re there for you as well.

Before I get into that though I want to bring up an old truth from this passage that shines just as bright and beautiful in my eyes as it always has. The passage, a childhood lesson from mother to son, being recounted begins with, “A virtuous woman who can find?” Sometimes the word excellent is translated virtuous but what I really love about the word is that it is used in other places in Scripture in relation to a soldier prepared and ready for battle, men of valor. In essence from the very beginning the picture is being given not of some fair damsel who is everything that is chaste and softly feminine in a Thomas Kinkade~esque manner but rather a woman who is a kind of domestic warrior. I love how Peter Leithart speaks of verse 25 painting a picture of the laughter being that of a victorious warrior. When you read the passage with that in mind it strips the ho-hummness just doing my chores mentality away, doesn’t it?

Okay, on to the first and rather obvious point I should have really recognized a lot sooner. To be fair though I knew it in thought but recently the ramifications of understanding this point and how it affects my understanding just clicked into a more clear focus. In case that doesn’t really make any sense keep reading. Hopefully it will.

So I knew the passage was a mother’s instruction as for what kind of wife her son should be looking for. But a few months back I really honed in on what that meant. That industrious victorious heroine is to already be in existence for him to seek out. Meaning, and this is the obvious part, we don’t magically become the Proverbs 31 woman after we marry. Nor are we to only strive to be her after the wedding band is on our finger because frankly, waiting until that moment creates a rather steep learning curve! We are to be exhibiting that character, those qualities, beforehand so that as a godly young man looks for a wife he will indeed find the woman whose worth is above rubies. I don’t know why that has struck me so sharply lately but it does. Maybe it’s because the vast majority of time that the passage is referenced it is directed at those of us who are already wives and mothers. Or maybe it’s because my two oldest daughters have entered into the phase of life where life where as single women they are exhibiting this kind of fruit. This passage is as much directed to single women as it is to married ones and it can be helpful to consider that, not just for our own daughters in our households, but also within our church communities.

The most recent way this passage has worked on me is found right at the very end.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

I’m a visual person and I have long held an image in my head that I want to take of my children. They are the real and lasting work of my hands, the fruit that I tend and cultivate daily and I want to take a portrait of them in front of a gate as a reminder to me that my work in them and on their behalf is a public reflection of my faithfulness to being the kind of domestic warrior we are called to be. The idea is humbling to me because I know where I have fallen short and failed but God is still gracious and faithful to take the work of my hands and bless it in the lives of my children and to see that induces a wealth of gratitude.

But recently I have come to realize that while seeing my children as the fruit of my hands is well and good, I also need a more present understanding and realization of that verse.

Last week Rob had Abby and Claire in Texas at a summer camp which meant that my normal daily time constraints were lifted because, you know, he wasn’t going to be coming home at 5:30 in the afternoon which meant I could be a little more relaxed in getting things done and by when. The change of pace was nice and one of the few side benefits to him not being home. (Maybe the only benefit.)

In a facebook group that I belong to several women shared posts that started with the phrase, “The fruit of my hands today…” and then either a picture or a description of what work they had accomplished in that day.

And I loved it. Instead of just marking things off my to do list I started looking at the result of the work I had put my hand to and it fanned the flame a bit in tending my home. To be honest, I love being home. I love being able to be home and do all the stuff that the feminist society says is demeaning and prevents me from reaching my full potential.

But sometimes I can get lost in the day to day mundane work and forget just how powerful and liberating my sphere is. I can forget to enjoy and savor the work itself.

So I have decided to challenge myself each day. To look back and see what fruit was produced. Sometimes I think it will be immediate and clear when things are neat and tidy or freshly organized. Other times I think it will be the visual of well prepared soil for a work being done in the lives of the people around me.

It will be the work of my hands and the work of my heart and mind.

And I want to value each task knowing that even as I tend the work I am given He is at work tending my soul, faithful to complete what He has begun.

What is the fruit of your hands this day?

Autumnal Goodness

I am so ready for cooler weather!

For about a week it seemed that we were headed in the right direction but then this past week has just been icky and warm.

I hear that this weekend is supposed to bring lower temps though and I am so excited about it!

Normally I am all about the colors of autumn. The rich hues and deep tones are just beautiful to me.

But a few weeks ago my friend and styling wizard, Jessica, asked me to come over and do a photo shoot of her beautiful fall home decor for her blog and her neutral color palette was just so gorgeous!

You can check out her post here but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite photos and things she did to welcome the season into her home.

Little side note…I am a sucker for HGTV and Claire was home sick this week and for the first time I watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper. What a neat show although some people’s budgets are eyebrow raising! (I am also a sucker for baking shows. Even, if not more so, the kids baking shows. We watched some kids bake off show that is hosted by Valerie Bertinelli and I have made pie crust from scratch, homemade bread, and an onion tart.)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Like most of us Jessica and her family live in a nice neighborhood in a track home. Meaning the houses all look very similar. When she had me come over one of the things I noticed right away was a change they had made to a wall in their dining nook area. The simple shiplap board added so much texture and character to that space! This is how she has it normally decorated.

For autumn she added just a few touches that add a little zing without being too much.

 She also kept it simple when it came to her table settings but I love the elegant look she created.

The whole thing came together in a picture perfect fashion that thrilled me and my camera. I mean, seriously. Look at this.

The thing that I really loved about Jess’s style was how she incorporated little touches throughout the open floor plan of her house. On one side of the living room she has the piano she painted and graced with some lovely fall tidbits and on the other side of the room on her fire place she added a smattering of autumnal fun.

In her formal dining room she kind of upped the classy with her beverage cart. A mix of textures and sparkle add just the right amount of pop.

My favorite (just slightly beating out that wonderful glittery pumpkin on the bottom) is the white pumpkin with white hydrangeas. The little bit of green from the leaves and that fabulous wooden pedestal bowl just pair so well together!

Autumn_decor_decorating_with_pumpkins

The really great thing about all of Jessica’s fall decorating is that she remembered that she has two little boys and made a special place for them.

This little tepee creates the funniest spot for the boys to play and read.

She also added a cute little colorful thankful banner for their space too.

All in all the house is welcoming and full of beautiful little touches of autumn. I can’t wait to see what she does for Christmas!

Where There Are No Oxen

Thursdays have become something of a refuge for me.

The three older kids have running practice and a sweet friend keeps Claire until it’s over.

And that, my friends, means that I don’t have to pick anyone up until 5:15 in the afternoon.

That is glorious is what that is.

Today was particularly productive. I got a ton of work done on a project I am helping the kindergarten class with and I mopped my floors.

Glorious, I tell ya.

I passed Rob coming home as I was going to pick up the kids and thrilled at the idea he was going to get home before all of us.

Before backpacks exploded on the kitchen table and in the living room.

Before there were landmines of sneakers and socks.

Before lunch boxes were haphazardly taken care of.

Before step stools were pulled out to block the pathway so that the whiteboard could be used for chronological order studying.

Before something got dropped or spilled on the newly cleaned floor as starving children descended as if they had not eaten in, oh, I don’t know, forever.

In short, he was going to walk into a quiet, peaceful home before our very own level four hurricane made land fall.

I was excited because he usually doesn’t get to see the fruit of my labor when it is at it’s stellar best. It’s usually visible under the aforementioned piles of child produced shrapnel.

And even though I was excited I remembered Proverbs 14:4 and chose to also be thrilled at the noise of my kids talking about boni libris and common place quotes as I scooted around the step stool, tidied up the kitchen from dinner and tripped over back packs and sneakers.

Life may be messy with the our level four hurricanes in residence but I wouldn’t trade it for a clean manger.

At least not for long anyway.

PS If anyone has a large cabinet that they no longer need and/or want and it would fit right there in that spot under our television just let us know! We’ve been looking for months and haven’t found one yet!

PPS Sarah still lives at home and does bump the hurricane category up to a level five with her college stuff but she is house sitting for some people so she isn’t pictured here. She’s doing it all week. My apology to my friends who have had children move away but I imagine this is a glimpse into how life will seem when she does move away and can I just say that I am not much of a fan of not seeing one of my kids everyday?

We Now Have a Microwave

I understand for most people that living without a microwave seems utterly barbaric but we’ve managed it for five years without much trouble. Although I think it has caused a little hiccup here and there when family and friends have come over for some gathering or other and they couldn’t just warm something up.

We also did fine for several months when the dishwasher died. I found washing dishes to be quite therapeutic but I also found that I must be a better parent than I thought and I haven’t messed my kids up to the point that they need therapy. At least they don’t think they need dish washing therapy.

I kept a pretty stiff upper lip when the oven died figuring I could make the grill and stove top work if I needed to. But thankfully Rob found a really great deal on a set of appliances and some friends had an extra stove that we could use until our new stuff arrived.

Much to the joy of our offspring the deal Rob found included a microwave that could be installed above the stove. Losing counter space was my main reason for not having one. Rob still isn’t sure that they don’t give off gama rays that can cause bodily mutations but sense just about everyone we know seems to have one with no lingering ill affects he got it.

The kids have microwaved everything they can. Even hot dogs. I’ve never seen them move so fast to get lunch. Really, boiling a little water for a hot dog takes too long? Can you see my eyes rolling?

Popcorn? They are blowing through the bags like they’ve been endlessly deprived of nourishment.

I’m pretty sure Emily has pinned a gazillion cake in a mug recipes and it won’t be long before that gets tested. Hmm, maybe a pinterest test kitchen blog post on the best ones?

I did enjoy being able to heat up Rob’s dinner the other night when he was out late with a board meeting.

And reheating that cup of tea I forgot about has been pretty nice as well.

It’s kind of nice joining the microwave club. But it’s not nearly as fun as seeing the looks on people’s faces whenever I told them we didn’t have one.

Barbaric, indeed.

(The dishwasher works fantastic, by the way. Unfortunately, the oven had a huge dent in the top at

delivery so we declined it. A new one should be delivered in a couple of weeks.)

Any tips and tricks for keeping stainless steel appliances clean and shiny is appreciated!

All Cracked Up and Other Randomness

I am forty-five years old and until just a couple of months ago I did not know how to properly boil and peel eggs. I am blaming my lack of knowledge and skill on the fact that I like neither boiled or deviled eggs. My sister makes deviled eggs that are, from all accounts, quite tasty which means that family functions and gatherings were covered so I really haven’t seen much need to change my status on the whole issue.

I mean, I’ve boiled eggs before but since I don’t eat them I didn’t really care if the dyed Easter eggs were cooked all the way and didn’t give a thought to how easy they would be to peel.

But Rob recently mentioned that he would like some to take to the church to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack and, it turns out, Sam likes boiled eggs. Not the cooked yolk but the egg white. Anything that boy is willing to eat I am willing to make.

So I  asked my mother about this whole egg business and she shared the secret that her aunt taught her about making the perfect hard boiled egg. No more guessing if it is cooked all the way…no more boiling them for too long and having them crack and burst out of the edges…and easy to peel shells.

(Psssst…I know I am probably about the only person on the planet who has waited almost half a century to learn how to boil an egg but the truth of the matter is that we have friends that we buy fresh yard eggs from and they are just so pretty that I love taking pictures of them and if I just randomly posted pictures of eggs like I did some kind of portrait sessions with them people would quite possibly think I am weird. I am going to ignore the fact that I run the risk of people still thinking I’m weird because I over thought the process of boiling eggs to the point that I just chose to not boil eggs. I am hoping you will be distracted by the prettiness of the eggs to be overly concerned about my egg crush. And who knows? Maybe someone will find these tips helpful.)

So here is the sure fire way to get perfectly boiled eggs according to my *grandaunt.

After adding eggs to a pot, completely cover them with water.
Bring to a full roiling boil and then turn off the heat.
Cover the pot with a lid and let them sit for twenty minutes.
Carefully drain the hot water and then run cold water over the eggs until cool.

As for peeling them I have observed a few things that might be helpful. In my experience the green and brown eggs peel easier than the white eggs. Not sure if there is an scientific reason for this or not but that has been the case for me.

I also discovered that if I crack either end of the egg and not the side I can get an easier peel. Turns out the ends have these little gaps between the egg itself and the shell that helps make sure you are peeling off the thin almost invisible membrane that separates the shell from the egg white.

*Now, as if I haven’t flown my freak flag high enough in this post with odd confessions and weird random stuff, I am going to confess that yes, I did indeed look up the proper way to address various relatives on the family tree because actually having to state a relationship with my mother’s aunt seemed a good excuse to look it up. It also helps that I now know how to properly cite the children of my nieces and nephews. (Please tell me other people have wondered about this because I don’t have any pretty pictures to distract you with on this one 😉

So is it great or grand? I think I have always referred to my parents’ aunts or uncles as my great aunt or uncle but after researching for a minute it turns out that while that is the more commonly used term, the correct term is actually “grand”. Which totally makes since if your mother’s father is your grandfather then his sibling would also be your grand aunt or uncle, right? The term “great” is supposed to be reserved for relationships that are more than one generation away.

So there you have it. The proper way to boil eggs and address your ancestors.

Oh look, it’s another pretty picture of eggs!

If My Children Only Read One Blog Post of Mine

May it be this one.

Maybe you have kids and this will be the one blog post of mine that you want them to read too.

Or maybe it’s the one blog post that you read.

Maybe it’s the one that will encourage you to keep reminding them…keep after them to pick up behind themselves.

Or maybe you’re the one that needs reminding to pick up. There are days when I know I need that reminder.

Whatever the reason you may or may not read this post here is where my head is at and what I want my kids to understand about why I am constantly after them to keep their room clean and help out around the house. (And just for clarification I am talking about neat-and-tidy-won’t-be-embarrassed-if-friends-drop-in clean. Not pinterest-picture-perfect-looks-like-no-one-actually-lives-here clean. There’s a difference.)

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Your father and I have always wanted home to be a safe happy place for you kiddos. A place that you wanted to be and a place that you wanted to eagerly return to when you’ve been away. We’ve also wanted it to be a place where you felt comfortable inviting your friends over to hang out.

Over the years we’ve guarded your time fiercely making sure that you never came to view our home as a hotel that you came to for showers, sleep, and the occasional meal before jetting off to the next event on the schedule. And let me tell you with five of y’all that has been no easy feat! At times it has meant disappointing you by not allowing you to participate in some things but we are thankful that you’ve trusted us and accepted our decisions. Home is about much more than the drop in place to regroup before heading out the door again.

But there is much more to loving home than just enjoying being here…feeling safe here…and inviting your friends over. What happens in our home and how we tend it and take care of it says much about who we are as a people and what we believe about stuff and life and God.

I know you probably get tired of hearing me remind you to clean your bathroom. Lord knows I get tired of reminding you only to still find rocks soaking in a sink full of water, or forty two towels hanging from the hook on the back of the door, nineteen empty bottles of shampoo and body soap in the shower beside six sopping rags on the floor of the tub. And just when I want to scream with frustration and lament that I am constantly reminding you over and over again to do the same things all the time He reminds me that the book of Proverbs is full of  the gentle repetition of His commands. And how many times are we told in the New Testament to love one another? But sometimes that is hard because it means we pick up someone else’s dirty undies from the floor.

And what we really want is to do as little as possible. Or maybe just take care of our own mess. That makes sense right? And it only seems fair. But here’s the dealio. It really doesn’t matter who you think should be responsible for what. We live in a house, in a family and that means we all take care of each others stuff. It’s what gives you the right later on as grown ups to be in each others business…to help one another…to encourage one another in doing good. We don’t live alone! Not now and not twenty years down the road so we pick up some body’s dirty dishes and take care of them because they are overwhelmed by homework. And we maybe drain the sink and put the rocks on a towel to dry while we go remind the one who got distracted to come finish up their task.

I know life even at your ages gets busy. Your father and I are thrilled to see you working so diligently on your homework. Volleyball and soccer games are lots of fun (and we really are happy to let you go cheer on the teams!) and we’re delighted that you want to go to Bible study and small groups and involve yourselves in those kinds of activities. We’re so proud when you really push yourself at the piano and practice really hard to learn a new piece.  And guys, y’all have some seriously great friends and we are so thankful for the people you get to spend time with and doing things. But if there is time for all of those things then there is time to keep your room tidy.

I am resigned to the fact that as yet at this stage in your life you do not appreciate the calmness that results from a fully made bed. It’s okay, really. I didn’t either when I was your age and I am guessing that at some point in your life you will. But right now, the way you take care of your things makes some pretty bold statements about what you really think about what you have. While we cannot read your mind to know for sure what you may really think your actions shout a pretty clear message.

When you leave your stuff strewn about your room you are saying that it has very little value and that you don’t really appreciate what you have, be it provided for you or because you were blessed with the means to buy something for yourself. There is a certain amount of contempt being declared when things are just shoved to the floor and piled up. It’s a declaration that what you have isn’t good enough or worth your care. As you discipline yourself to take a few minutes each day to put things in their place you will also be cultivating a heart that is thankful for what it has been given.

Whether it is a result of being ungrateful or a lack of tending your room results in a lack of gratitude I’m not sure. But it does bring me to the next thing. What happens behind closed doors doesn’t stay behind closed doors. This is why it matters that you can step over the pair of shoes literally on the floor of the door way or walk past the hair ties and bobby pins laying on the mantle, the computer desk and the counter tops of every room in the house. You should not be able to overlook these things as if they aren’t there but rather see them as an opportunity to imitate the Gospel in our home by putting things to rights and restoring order. Walk into a room and look around. Is there anything you can do that will leave it better than you found it?

In our home you are safe, loved, provided for, and part of a family; something larger than yourself. But there are responsibilities that come with that birthright and they should be accepted gladly. It’s ok not to notice every little thing but when someone else notices and asks for your help in taking care of something do it with a good attitude. Be helpful but not begrudgingly so. Don’t hesitate when asked to do something so that everyone knows you had other plans but you are willing to be imposed upon to do something else. Never allow your attitude to be one that conveys your disdain to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. Your need before God is an undeniable fact and should cause you to have a humble and willing heart since even the very breath you draw must come from Him.

The truth, my sweet children, is that your well being is connected to the well being of those you are in community with right now…with us, with each other, with your friends and church family that He has given you in all of our shortcomings, utter failures, and outright sins. Like the exiled children of Israel you are called to work for the good of the city, the community where you live, because that is where your well being will be found. Happiness, the right kind, comes from delighting in the gifts that He has given you right here right now. Don’t despise those gifts by not tending them and caring for them as you ought.

And remember, that just as your well being is connected to ours, ours is connected to yours. We want you to live well and prosper in all that you put your hand to. Don’t tire of being faithful in the mundane tasks because that is where you learn to truly rejoice no matter your circumstances.

Sharing over at Titus 2 Tuesday