9.30.2014

Autumn Glory

Hi! You caught me sitting here at the bench sighing with contentment. Afternoon is preparing to slip into something more comfortable while evening shadows anticipate sliding into their favorite places before night covers everything with its sparkling blanket of stars. And me? I'm sitting here savoring every precious moment, from inside the house. The wind is ferocious out there!

This afternoon has been one of rarest beauty. A beefy potpie awaits in the freezer for a future supper while a pan of cherry pie bars sits cooling on the counter. The bars will provide a bit of sweet to round out our supper of roast beef sandwiches and cheesy green beans. Pretzel buns are raising on the stove. The shiny brown buns will make a nice bed for the roast beef in our sandwiches.

Last night before going to bed a crockpot was filled with onions, carrots, potatoes, minute steak, cream of mushroom soup, and a variety of spices. A roaster turned way down low began to slowly cook tonight's roast beef to tender perfecton. Another bed of carrots and onions was made for the roast, just for a bit of extra flavor. All awoke to the delicious aroma of simple food being cooked with love.

The forenoon found the littles and I eagerly transporting their books into several new homes about the TV room. After reading through book after favorite book until mama's voice was almost gone, we trooped downstairs to a ready and waiting lunch that was not only filling but yummy as well. Amazingly, one of the rarest of rare treats followed lunch, there was enough smothered steak, potatoes, and carrots leftover to fill a potpie!

And now. Now, late afternoon finds this mama heaving a contented sigh while a smile plays about my lips. There is something so indescribably satisfying about completing a day successfully. Ahhhh, it is almost as good as a bubble bath. Almost. Too often, due to my lack of planning and preparation we fly through the day by the seat of our pants seldom, if ever, truly accomplishing a fraction of what ought to be done. School, housework, or meals are the choices, one or the other but rarely ever all three. Days like today when everything falls into place so pleasantly are a treasure to hold near and dear. For truly, these days are a gift straight from Heaven.

Young children may not realize they were being introduced to and expanding their knowledge of fractions when they were "helping" me make pretzel dough and cherry pie bars. Nor did they imagine that their vocabulary was intentionally being expanded as we conversed amid clouds of flour. And I am almost certain that not for one second did they guess that handwriting was their teacher's "plan" when she sent them out to play with sidewalk chalk this afternoon. Counting building toy pieces when picking them up may not be a traditional method of teaching counting, but it certainly works well. Besides those little bits of plastic fun had to be picked up after the tub got spilt. Big brother also learned that perhaps it would have been better for him to have taken those tubs upstairs last night after he picked them up rather than leave them to be dumped by little brother again today. Picking up little bits of plastic really isn't that much fun.

Even little cowboys must learn to read and count if they want to go to "work" with Papa. For Papa surely cannot have cowboys working for him who don't know their letters and numbers:) His workers must learn their lessons. And may I just say a quick, yet heartfelt, thank you to God right now for cowboy style ABC books? Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. And that big sister mode that kicks in sometimes? The mode that so diligently informs all present how much more it knows that the little brothers? Yes, for even that I am thankful. It is that often unpleasant desire to be bigger and smarter that inspires and motivates even the most reluctant learners sometimes, and mama teachers sometimes need all the help they can get motivating learning children. Especially if one of those learning children might possibly be an eight-year-old daughter determined to plot her own course of study.

Yes, a day filled with all of home's cozy warmth, rich learning, and almost completed laundry is a rare and beautiful treasure to fully savour. My dear Oklahoma friend says "No Wimpy Prayers! No Wimpy Praise!" Another woman I heard said words like this "Your prayers should scare you!" Well, that is what I have done dear sisters in Christ. I have prayed out of the depths of my heart that which seemed impossible to change, and God? God heard my cry and answered! He truly, truly answered! Today is His answer! Today is proof that God cares for His children, and He answers their prayers. I asked God to show me how to order my days, to give me a love of teaching, to help me enjoy the life He has given me, to make it productive rather than chaotic, and He did! He has!

The shadows are lengthening. Afternoon is slipping out while evening slides gently in. The wind? It's still blowing ferociously. Thankful we could meet inside today dearest friend. Ummmm, you give the best hugs! Thank you for meeting me here! Maybe we can talk about meal planning one of these days. I won't bore you with how-tos, will just share how much it has helped me out. I'll try and remember to bring along the recipe for the Beefy Pot Pie too, just in case you want to make one at your house. It's the perfect time of year for it. Carrots, onions, potatoes are all about ready to be harvested right now. You should see how beautiful my carrots are! Maybe next time, right? Have a wonderful evening!

Love in Jesus,
Abundantly Blessed @ Abundance House blog









9.19.2014

Newest Reads

Young Evergreens


It's a hot afternoon for sure. Something cold to drink? Iced tea? Water? Iced coffee? What have you been up to on this warm tail end day of summer? I took advantage of a few moments alone to finish up one book and start another.

Love Does by Bob Goff is one of my newest favorite reads. ever. Or so I thought until I began Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. Mr. Goff shares how to "discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world" while the Eldredges reveal the art of "unveiling the mystery of a woman's soul". Both books find me longing to gather a group of friends together with the express purpose of reading through these books together and digging into each one deeper than possible all by myself. Both reads have immense blessings in store for not only female readers but the males who pick them up too. As a matter of fact, I am contemplating purchasing extra copies of Captivating to give as gifts to a number of brave Wild at Heart(another book by John Eldredgemen I know.

After beginning Captivating, I now find myself wanting to read everything the Eldredge's have written. It's a hazard readers face with great regularity. With our weekdays filled with the words from The Storybook of Science by Jean Henri Fabre', A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth by Ann Voskamp, Phonics Pathways, Grammarland by Nesbitt and Waddy, In the Beginning by Wile, and other school time tales to learn from seldom does the opportunity for personal reading present itself. I am learning all over again that the lifelong discipline of quiet time in the Bible requires a conscious determined decision on my part. The opportunity for Bible reading and study won't show up on its own; the time must be made.

I think perhaps that a shady hide away such as the structure almost hidden by the trees in the picture above would be a lovely spot to soak in the truth of God's Word. Children could play among the trees while mama soaks in more of The Lover of Her Soul, God Himself. Ahhh, now that would indeed be a lovely way to spend summer's final days. Wouldn't it?

Once more supper time is approaching with an almost ferocious rapidity. Where do the moments of each day fly to? They surely must have wings so quickly they depart. Even meals know of autumn's approach. Appetites for the simple ease of grilled meats and fresh vegetables are beginning to desire the warmth and comfort of meals best eaten during seasons of cooler temperatures. So deliciously do baked potatoes liberally laced with butter satisfy when cooler breezes blow hot winds away. Fresh salad greens are replaced by hot, steamed green beans.
Is your garden still delivering the season's bounty? Mine still has much to give yet knows its time is limited. This extra warm day today is a blessing to the tomatoes tucked snuggly behind the protection of the trees. Carrots, beats, and onions will soon be settled in under a thick layer of hay. With such a warm blanket on the cold winds of autumn and winter won't bother their sections of the garden.

Time for heading home from our bench has come once more dear friend. Thank you for coming today. If you have an opportunity to read either of the newest reads you will want to open yourself to God's loving message each one contains. Hugs before heading out! Love you bunch and pray over and for you often.

In Christ's Love,
Ever Abundantly Blessed


Eighteen

My Miss Mustard Seed or Babbling Brooke as she sometimes is called turned 18. Eighteen Autumns have wound their way around. Eighteen times the tale of my friend bringing three flavors of milkshakes to the hospital when she visited, because she didn't know which flavor I preferred, has been told. Eighteen times I have wondered at how rapidly another year has flown by, and How? How is this my third child this age already? Why does this child seem to grow so much more quickly than the others? Why does my time with her fly so much faster than the years with her siblings?

This girl hasn't ever been like any of her brothers and sisters, ever. Her own person, she has always, and I do mean always, lived life her own way, marched to the beat of her own drum, and fought ferociously to be her own, unique self. And I love her for it. Truly I do. Yes, it has made discipline and life lessons more challenging, but I don't care. I love her for being her. Of course, being mama, I love her no matter what. That's the best part of being mama, this loving always and forever no. matter. what.

As I sit here with my fingers poised motionless over the keyboard the words remain aloof. How does a mother put her heart into words? How do you share those innermost inner lovings with the clicking of keys? Some words, some thoughts, some feelings, they go too deep, are too strong, they just can't be said right out loud. Others, however, flow swiftly, almost as swiftly as the passing years have flown. Those words though. Those words aren't for here. They aren't for a blog read by anyone in the entire world. Those are for us, for her and I to share. Mamas and daughters need each other just like the flowers need the rain and the rain needs the clouds.

Who else but a daughter would know her mama who writes so much about meeting at a bench needed a bench in her garden? And who else but a daughter would know that an antique coffee pot filled with wildflowers would look just perfect on said bench? Somethings only a daughter knows, and somethings only a certain daughter knows. God has given me a daughter for every season, for every quirk, for every part of me. There isn't any part of me that one of my daughters doesn't "get". This Babbling Brooke of mine is no exception.

Of course there are also some buttons that only certain daughters know how to push so perfectly. Some parts of ugly that each one best brings to the surface. We believe in letting love cover over those parts. Love is the best cover up of all. And love, love is what caused this little girl following birth to cry until the other babies in the hospital nursery were being woken. This little girl she wanted her mama right from the start. Being baby number three for me when most of the other mamas were having their first, Babbling Brooke was sent back to me. "Could we please bring her back? She's waking all of the other babies, and the other mothers are all first-timers. Would you mind if we brought her back to the room? We're so sorry, but we can't get her to settle down, no matter what we do." I didn't mind at all and welcomed having my newest little one in the room with me. Of course she may come. She just needs her mama after all, and that is exactly what she wanted, me.

Odd how the baby who wanted mama from the first was also the one who was the first child to tell this same mama that she could find her own way to children's church and no, she did not want mama to walk her to her first Sunday in a new Sunday School class. Independent? Yes sir. Yes ma'am. Most definitely. She is, after all, the child of My Beloved and I. She is also the child who loves rough rides, wants to go mudding, and any number of other rough and rowdy ventures called fun. Paintballing, hunting, yes, yes, yes to it all. But don't mistake the love of the wild for a lack of femininity. Pearls and lace are among her very most favorites, and the favorite clothing of choice right now is a tutu skirt. Well rounded is the self-description she provides. Indeed Babbling Brooke, indeed. May you always be complete, whole, and full in Jesus the Author, Finisher, and Perfector of your faith. Oh! And may you also always be generous and share your Highland Grogg coffee with your mama too:)






9.10.2014

Here At Our Bench

Hi! You're already here at the bench! Good. Hugs! How is the end of summer and beginning of fall going for you? Is it busy? Harvest time always is, isn't it? Good, busy, crazy, wild, comforting, hard, wonderful, all of that all mixed up together in one amazing season of joyous crazy, that's harvest all right. The days and nights have been much cooler here at Abundance House. My bench buddy in Oklahoma said she was going about in a humid 90 degrees at her house this morning. That is exactly twice the temperature I was in here. Wild, isn't it?

So, I have been waiting until I felt like God gave me words to bring to our visits rather than just showing up and hoping He dropped something in our laps. And, well, the words I thought were from Him vanished by the time I got over here. Ugh! Oh yes! Fear. Fear, that ugly force each of us comes face to face with at some point in our lives. Fear wears many faces, speaks through many voices, even presenting itself as our friend at times.

Why on earth would I feel led to write about fear? Because so many of my dear sisters, and maybe brothers, in Christ are being run ragged spiritually by this bully, and this sista senses God Holy Spirit saying "That is ENOUGH! No more! No more fear in the children of God!" The bullying, the unnecessary torment must stop! These are children of the King, the King of Kings! Fear has no legal right to them and their minds! They are to be children of faith and love, not fear. Fear must go! In the name of Jesus, fear must get out of God's children! These are Kingdom children. They must be told the truth and freed from the power of fear, in Jesus' name. It is rising up within me. Can you hear it? Can you feel it dear friends? This rising surging that says NO MORE FEAR! My sisters and brothers must hear this message of freedom. They must know the truth. They must be freed in Jesus' name!

I know fear well. I lived with fear as a close and constant companion for many, many years. Years filled with torment, ridicule, and shame not from people around me but my own thoughts and feelings. Fear is a spirit, and it doesn't fight fair. It will come in and do its work in whatever way it can. Just as God is love, the kingdom of darkness operates out of fear. For fear is the same spiritual force as faith. It just works in the opposite direction. Fear is faith in the devil's ability to do harm.

While a younger mother than I am now, approximately 16-17 years younger, I began to learn the truth regarding fear - and faith. I also began to learn how to combat this destructive force and send it packing out of my life and thoughts. It has been quite a journey since I learned the truth regarding faith and fear, love and truth. As a matter of fact, the journey isn't over. I am still learning. Not only learning but allowing what I learn to change me, to transform me through the renewing of my mind.

Dear sisters and brothers, we don't have to live in fear. Fear has no authority or control over a child of God, unless it is given. Fear is NOT of God! God is love and perfect love drives out ALL fear! If I could say one thing to the body of Christ right now it would be DO NOT FEAR!!! There is no fear in love, and God is love. Therefore, we can rightly conclude that there is NO FEAR IN GOD. This doesn't mean fear won't attempt to derail our thoughts or intrude in our lives. It will. Like I said earlier, fear doesn't play fair. However, when fear does come we need to know that it is an illegal intruder and tell it to GO, in the name of Jesus!

I know, I know, easier said than done. That is a fact. It is much easier to type these words on my computer than it was to fight the actual fight of faith and conquer this opposing foe. However, knowing the truth, that God has already conquered fear, and that I have been perfectly equipped with the armor of God so that I can fight, knowing that fear has no legal authority over me, my family, or any other part of my life has been huge for me personally. The freedom I have experienced since learning the truth and fighting for it in my life is indescribable. Words can't tell the release of faith and trust that have grown deeper, stronger, richer. The intimacy God and I share that was impossible when I lived in fear is so dear and sweet.

Was the fight easy? No. Was it hard? Yes. Was it down and dirty? Yes, it was. Did it get downright nasty? Yep, sure did, still does somedays. Was it worth it? You betcha, worth every bit of effort, every tear, every drop of sweat, every shout of scripture, every swing of the Spirit's sword (The Bible), definitely worth it. Worth not fitting in, worth not being understood, worth every ounce of self-control and patience, worth. it. all. Worth every trip made by myself downtown with small children, worth every week day and night spent alone with four small children while my husband worked out of town, worth every event I forced myself to attend, worth years of social isolation and few friends, worth every price paid.

Some days there are still areas of living that reveal fear's continued existence in me. As soon as that area of fear is revealed, I jump on it and get it out by whatever means necessary. All fear must go! It is an enemy not to be tolerated. It is not to be used as a motivation for obedience while training my children. Nor is it to be a motivator for me to do what I ought. The scripture says that anything done without faith is sin, and I do NOT want sin to be present in me at all. As soon as God reveals sin to me, I want to treat it like a rattlesnake and GET IT OUT  - NOW. A minister has said that sin tolerated is faith contaminated. Contaminated faith? No thank you. I want to be an imitator of God as a dearly beloved child imitates the father they love. No fear here.

Now, inevitably when discussing the topic of fear, some dear person, bless their heart, will bring up the fear of the Lord. That is NOT the type of fear we are talking about here today. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It is a good and healthy thing. That is all we are saying about that during this visit.

Today we're sharing our hearts of faith with each other. Today we are looking each other squarely in the eyes and from the deepest part of ourselves we are telling one another that we are children of the Most High God. Jesus paid the price to set us free from fear. Fear has no place in our lives and thoughts. It is an illegal intruder. We are not alone. We are not overcome. We are not failures. We are redeemed, saved, healed, vessels filled with God, who is love, to flow through out into a dying hurting world. And somehow, miracle of all miracles, God takes these broken messes called us, transforms them through Himself, and flows through us to extend His love and healing to others lost and broken just like we used to be, before Him. That's what we're doing today loved and prayed for friends. Today, we are pulling the wraps off of fear's lying tricks and exposing it to the light of truth, of God.

I know it's time for us to leave our bench, to go our own ways again, but today when we go friend let's hold each other close to our hearts, even closer than we ordinarily do. Fear is trying its best to stall us, to keep us all locked up inside of ourselves so that we don't open up and share healing with one another. It's an age old trap this locking up of our weaknesses, failures, and messes. A trap that no longer has the power over us because we are real here. Here at our bench we know there are messes. We are very well aware that all of us are real people, that isn't a secret to be kept. We are real, and real is oftentimes messy, very messy.

We'll say good-bye now, but know dear friend, please know that you are being held close in heart, so very, very close. Prayers are surrounding you. God is holding you close and loving you more than any of us can imagine. We will win this fight of faith. No matter how hard, how long, or how nasty. God in us has already won the war. Today's battle is already won in Him, and we are holding each other up in prayer. Here at the bench we are loving and praying and hugging and holding each other tight in God. Here at the bench we can come and cheer each other on. Here there is always a hug and love.

Until our next visit dear one...an extra long hug from a friend who loves you so

9.03.2014

Thankful Appreciation For You Here At The Bench

VinesHi! Aren't these grapes just beautiful sitting here beside our gathering place? What a beautiful reminder of the richness of Fall's coming harvest! Is it looking like Fall at your house too? It is at mine. Here, let me grab a hug before you sit down. Ummmm, I just love our visits. So what do you think of the new pictures popping up in posts here and there? Do you like them? It is so much fun finding them and popping them in our times together. 

Before we visit any more I have to stop and say Thank You, dear friend, for your patience with the re-run posts that have been coming your way during the past several weeks. Sometimes it's good to revisit conversations, not all of the time, but once in a while, it's good. So thank you for stopping by even though the conversations weren't fresh and new. I so appreciate that about you, how you keep on coming to gather together with me so faithfully day in and day out. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you also for all of the lovely comments you have been leaving below. You have been leaving comments, haven't you? If you haven't I'm certain you will. Won't you? Please? I so want to listen and hear from you. It's why we are gathering together, to be there for and listen to each other. Our bench has become A Gathering Place of Refuge in a world busy with shallow acquaintances and careless quips thrown about, a safe place filled with genuineness. 

I know it's time to be heading down the lane towards home. Time for entering the house and getting ourselves all tucked in with our family is upon us. As we enter the cool of the evening here at Abundance House please allow me to say it once more, Thank You. You are loved. You are appreciated. And most of all, You are hugged and prayed for. 

In Christ's Love,
Abundantly Blessed