Thursday, February 22, 2007

Freeing Mr. Visionary

Where I come from, "It's snowing down South", is the common phrase to communicate to a woman that her slip is showing below the hem of her dress.  As grateful as one certainly is after receiving such information, it is still rather disconcerting to realize that the thing has crept down on you without your knowledge. Life is like that sometimes, though. Just like that undergarment that quietly slides when our attention is elsewhere, we slip into patterns of living that honestly, are just boring and without life. Survival mode on auto pilot becomes the norm as we lead lives of quiet desperation, not knowing what it is that is missing.

After becoming convinced that the Lord wanted to do a work in us regarding the mortgage, I didn't wait until a great "talking moment" to cautiously mention it to Mr. Visionary. I did not bait him with a, "By the way, I have something big I want to talk over with you" set up. But one day, when I was kissing him goodbye, I whispered that I'd be perfectly happy if he wanted to sell this house and move to Nowheresville and live debt-free. If this was the Lord's will, I believed He would speak to Mr. Visionary and confirm what I had heard. The Lord I know, although He uses means, and often does speak through people, did not need my help. Anyway, this was not about getting he and I on the same page. It is about each of us being on God's page.

It was the spark he needed for the Lord to kindle his smoldering embers into a burning desire again. Mr. Visionary was no happier than I was about the way life was going. He, too felt that there was something more that the Lord had for us than just existing, but he was trying to do what he thought the family needed. I knew that a Visionary any man (or woman for that matter) who is not actively pursuing the dreams and calling the Lord has given him is dying.  I had forgotten...but the Lord had not.

That one statement, or rather, the Lord's confirmation of it, freed my Mr. Visionary. Newly reminded that I was on his side, that I had his back, and was prepared to follow him wherever the Lord leads, Mr. Visionary began to hear, and the dreams began to flow. He has been working on plans for a new house that will be off-grid, with himself working at home, because he truly believes it is God's will. The moving and  being debt-free are all means to the end of having Dad back home where he belongs ~ where God originally put him.

All I want is to follow the Lord with my husband and children. I believe He has a work prepared for our family to do as a unit. Culture Smulture. The Lord never intended for Daddies to be away from their families all day (or night for that matter). He never meant for Mammas to raise the children alone all day, either. Not a homeschool-friendly statement, I know ~ but it is true.  I have had folks argue this point with me from a cultural perspective or a 'practical' one, but a truly biblical case cannot be made to refute this. I know this because I have read about the Garden ~ Adam and Eve were together by design.

Father brought this woman and this man together because He wanted us to BE together. Father put these children into this family because He wanted them to be raised by the two of us together.  We only have one opportunity to raise the sheyna kepelahs (pretty heads) the Lord has given us. That is freedom, not pressure. Focusing on how we want ourselves and our children to have a rich relationship with Him ~ to KNOW Him, makes it easier to slough off all the extraneous baggage of life and get back to basics.   Knowing that He leads us to want to do His will and then to do it, means that we don't have to worry about how it will happen.

We can trust that if He leads us to something, He will lead us through it as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Dream

I was walking along, minding my own business, when it happened. Two Autumns ago, during my early morning driveway walk, I had my two partners: my gun (because of lions, tigers and bears) and my Walkman. The day in question, I happened to be listening to a Jonathan Lindvall tape ~ nothing unusual there, I often listen to a tape or music on my walks. I like to listen to something on the second lap so I can hear something besides my own loud breathing. It is a golden opportunity to listen to my choice of music at my choice of decibel, which at almost all other times are outvoted by the rest of the family. But I digress.

On said tape, Mr. Lindvall was discussing how he and his wife felt led to get completely out of debt , to include having no mortgage, and went on to discuss their method of achieving exactly that. Upon the first listen, I smugly dismissed the idea as super-spiritual, unnecessary, and not a possibility anyway, thank-you-very-much. We had just moved to this farm that spring, and had gutted, remodeled and added on to this house to make it just what we wanted. This house and farm were, for all intents and purposes at the time, my dream.

Enter the Holy Spirit. After several days of being either too lazy or too hurried (I will not disclose which), to get a new tape on my way out the door , I was stuck listening to said tape for about two weeks in a row. As I listened and argued with the tape day after day, the Holy Spirit nudged. Mr. Visionary was working five very long days at the time, and in truth, we never saw him. Saturdays were spent doing farm work from sunup until after dark, and Sundays were spent on church and naps (to help make up for the other six days), hence weekends were gone in a blink. I wanted my husband back, and we all wanted our family back. I was beginning to see that the mortgage had to go.

In the meantime, the Lord was also revealing to us a new dream ~ that of being able to have enough land to give to our children to help start them off better than we were started. Since our current farm is only fifteen acres, this dream would involve having a much larger chunk of property. And moving. I tried to remind the Holy Spirit that I had previously, proudly and loudly announced that I would not move from this house unless the Lord called us on the mission field. He replied with a question, "Did you get that from ME, or was that your big idea?" My wanting it to be the Lord's idea didn't count. It never does.

Providentially, the housing market in our area has skyrocketed. Our house is now worth twice what we paid for it three years ago, which is good news and bad news. We can sell it, and make enough to buy property debt-free...but not around here. We will need to move across the country to find land inexpensive enough, unless the Lord intervenes. We are praying for an opportunity to find land in our same state, as Mr. Visionary is an only child of aging parents, and my family has just this summer migrated back  to the same state for the first time in fifteen years (and who knew cousins could be so much fun!).

So, we're working toward getting our house finished (with a schedule like ours was, there was never time to finish all the remodeling), and putting it on the market this Summer, and saying goodbye to a mortgage forever. What happens next is in His hands. It is our goal...our dream, if you will. But the real goal is to always listen and obey what the Lord's will is for us. Speak, Lord, for your servants heareth...

Use the Walkman if necessary.

*I don't expect to agree with every detail of everyone to whom I listen. Use the Grocery Store Approach to Jonathan Lindvall, take what you can use, leave the rest. I don't necessarily condone everything he ever says, but I don't discount it outright, either. Remember the Bereans SEARCHED the Scriptures DAILY. We should as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Room Cleaning By Grace

I know practical. I am a boring, no nonsense kinda gal. Although I can usually get the job done, there is often much to be desired in my fleshly modus operandi. I assess the bottom line and trudge in headlong without noticing or caring about the people in the process. But I am learning ~ or rather, the Holy Spirit is teaching me that every step in the journey IS the journey. And practical is not always best.

I like need order, too.  I used to think I was a control freak, and, while not discounting that completely (Mr. Visionary made me say that), I have learned that most some of this is just the way I am wired. I can't handle visual cacophony with my mental processing ability intact (I can't think in a mess). All of that is to say that I like things neat. Even with seven children, this desire has not abated. It hasn't materialized either, but that is another matter.

My old method in getting the girls to clean up their room was to come in and elbow-to-elbow with them, help them find order, fussing all the while, focusing more on the job than the little hearts. Partial enlightenment came, and I changed this method to: "If you can't keep it cleaned up, you can't keep it". That wasn't being mean, just...(here's that word again)...practical. If they couldn't keep it clean, they must have had too much stuff, so I'd help them get rid of stuff. Originally this method was met with weeping and gnashing of teeth, but over time, as they realized they never missed the extra stuff, the girls came to love getting rid of more stuff. It really was easier, they found.

But there are times now, even with very little clutter, that it is still a burdensome task for them to keep things orderly. Through praying for an idea to help my ladies, the Lord led me to a plan that blesses them even more than my help with the cleaning (although they still welcome this act of service). I came in today following the usual plan, "When the timer goes off, whatever is not in it's place goes in the bag", when the Lord whispered to me to rearrange the furniture. Huh? I didn't really get it, but I obeyed.

I made a few little changes here and there, only moving pieces that Mr. Visionary would approve of our moving without his help. A new doily, a new plant, and some of my Valentine's roses...and my girls were blessed. Oh, so blessed. It inspired them to feel good about their room, it encouraged their femininity, and if not giving them a new lease on life , then at least a new lease on their day. Smiling and encouraged, they flitted about, making their own changes, adding their own new touches, and the whole matter was concluded in half the time as usual.

These are good girls who sometimes get weighed down by their burdens. I don't need to add to it by being so practical. (C'mon, Mom, remember what it feels like. Weren't you feeling this way just yesterday?) Dawn is right, people and relationships  really are more important than everything else.

Thank you Lord, for letting blind eyes see... One. Moment. At. A.Time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Too Quiet

During a too-quiet-for-comfort moment this afternoon, Doodle was discovered scaling Mr. Visionary's bedside refrigerator, atop which is a month's supply small stash of dark chocolate.

Flower Child: 'Doodle, what are you doing?'

Doodle: 'I'm keeping myself interested.'

Flower Child: 'Well, you need to get down before I tell Mom. You know you're not allowed up there.'

Doodle: 'Well, what do you expect? Literary Lady wasn't watching me.'

I'm afraid I see politics in this child's future.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Seeing The Good

I am always, no...frequently reminded by Mr. Visionary that I never see the good in a situation. After almost 17 years of marriage and many circular conversations, I have learned to not argue this point . My casually mentioning the fact that said visionary does not allow extremist words from myself the antagonist, as these words are inaccurate black and white descriptions of pictures dappled with black, white and (gasp) grey, can be risky. Anyways, he's right. So I am making a concerted effort to discipline myself to see clearly 'whatever things are lovely' in my daily life. Hence the new category I have added, 'Seeing The Good'.

I had my first opportunity to put the category (and the hopefully de-scaled eyes) into use this morning. Our family is in the middle-to-end of our second stomach virus since the first of the year. Last night, as we realized that Little Napoleon had yet to succumb, we planned to keep him home from church with Mom, who is currently enjoying the virus, 'just in case'. We awoke to find that during the night, that when the virus began it's work on Little Napoleon, that the Engineer woke up with him, put N in E's bed, and read Amelia Bedelia to him. Further down the hallway, Literary Lady was awake, and no doubt led by the delights of fine literature read aloud, checked on the boys. She got a hot water bottle for N, tucked them both in, and went back to bed. Neither the Mommy nor Mr. Visionary were any the wiser until daybreak.

My children care for one another. They serve one another sacrificially, and they do it with a happy heart. Do they fight? Of course. Do they want to strangle each other at times? More times than I would like to deal with. But they also love deeply. And it is lovely.

Thank you , Lord, for eyes to see.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


It was a sucker punch.

Sneaking up out of nowhere, December grabbed me from behind, clobbered me and threw me to the ground. Too stupid to land on my knees, I landed on my feet and tried to keep going. Staggering, barely able to catch my breath, and with my vision impaired, I was determined to keep going. I had my seventh baby in September, and was adjusting well (at least I had the appearance of such). I made it through Thanksgiving, not exuding grace, by any means, but at least I made it. Although I am not sure exactly what it was I was trying to accomplish, I knew could do this. The Lord could count on me.

Or so I thought.

Waking up New Years's morning with a stomach virus was the best thing that could have happened to me. Even better was that Mr. Visionary and I came down with it simultaneously - I couldn't get mad  at him for not 'getting me out of this mess'. Flat on our backs for almost three days with seven children to care for, we were in a position to do nothing but trust the Lord and allow our friends to take care of things for us. Humbled does not even begin to describe my position. It was the introduction of a rich, but painful season of the Lord dealing with me about the lie of self-sufficiency and the fruitlessness of determining my own goals. Enter January where I have spent much time in absolute meltdown, surveying the carnage in the wake of one bad month. My laundry and home were a piece of cake in comparison to the relationship damage that had been done in one short season. Wondering why 'the Lord' has me in such a difficult season of having so much on my plate, I have been doing much praying...and eventually...listening.

It is amazing sometimes how complicated things can become when your goal is to 'get back to basics' or to 'live simply'. It amazes me more how I can so quickly point a finger at my Lord and question His plan. But all things work together for good, and even my questioning was an instrument in His hand. Or more aptly, His answer was. Whether or not this journey started out as something we were led to by the Lord, it had evolved into something far divergent. I've recently had the opportunity to see have my eyes opened to how foolish my lifestyle and fleeting my goals had become.

As I laid before Him a list of everything that was on my plate, truly desiring to hear from Him about each line item, conviction fell in the form of hot,  sobbing tears in recognition of the 'wretched man that I am'. I wish I could say that I held high my list upon open palms and allowed His Spirit to blow away the extraneous items like chaff. I did not. My flesh fought hard to justify why each thing just 'had' to be done, that this was what 'good ____ (Christians, mothers homesteaders...) did'. And yet...I kept hearing Him say, 'I never gave you that. I never gave you that, either. As a matter of fact, I never gave you that, that, that, or that... Only one thing is needful. Only. One.'

Exactly how does one wage war against a still small voice?

Spiritually I had become deaf, dumb, and blind in many areas. But once again, His grace made a way for me to come home. I experienced the truth of Acts 3:19 anew, 'Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord'. Peace and rest in Him are beautiful things. Recently I've learned they are the only things.

Now you know where I have been. I wish it didn't take so long for the Lord to get through to me each time, but I'll take that over not getting through any time. I'll be explaining in more detail some of what Father has shown me recently, and hopefully, some of the lifestyle changes I am making in obedience to Him. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged in the area of listening only to Him...

Because only one thing is needful.