Home Sweet Home--the culture that keeps on giving!

It is so wonderful to be home and to sleep in my own bed and to be surrounded by familiar everything. I feel so blessed to have a home that feels like a haven. I also feel blessed, though, to have been able to meet so many wonderful women while on the road this season.  I have lots and lots of thoughts swirling around in my head that I will be sharing over the next weeks. One thing that has been at the forefront is a book I have been reading called "Culture Makers." First Clay read it and then Sarah and now me. Books tend to get passed a lot in our family. I love the concepts presented because it is so much a picture of motherhood. We are Culture Makers in our homes when we teach the truth about God and His word, but then it can't stop there. We must embody the truth in the way we behave, the way we set up our homes, the way we speak, the way we cook, the way we relate and so on. 

So many treat God as though He is an idea or thought to be understood--that the thinking of God is superior to everything else. However, it is the incarnation of God--God living in our flesh--living and breathing through everything we do, that makes Him real to our children. 

Once I was in the kitchen with one of my children when they were making a cup of tea and waiting for it to steep as we all moved toward our hour long reading time in our own areas (a habit I started when they were very small--the rule was that everyone had to stay relatively quiet for an hour--they could either read or take a nap!) But it is how I helped the kids develop the habit of reading--I would bribe them with rewards as they read through their basket of books-but that is for another article.)

Each one of us could take hot chocolate, tea, coffee or whatever to our reading time to make it a little more cozy. Anyway, this child said, "You know, a lot of our friends act like God makes them unhappy and sour." What do you mean, I asked. "Well, they have a stern look on their faces and say no a lot and look like having fun is against the rules. But in our house, God is the one who made Chile peppers for fajitas and Celtic music to dance to and stars to sleep out under on our porch and holidays to celebrate and jokes to laugh at and backs to scratch and tickle--our God is big and fun and good and interesting and loving and true. I like that kind of a God better."

As I have been reading this book, I have realized again, how true my child's statement is. If you want to build a value system and cultural values into a person, you can't just tell them what they are supposed to do--you have to model it--live it out. In other words, you can't just say, "Jesus said the most important thing we are supposed to do is to love one another," But if you want it to sink in, you have to spend focussed time with the one you love and listen to them; give words of life and build them up; have fun, shared experiences with them; minister to them when they are sick or tired; appreciate their dreams; support them and forgive them when they have failed--then they do not just hear love as a word--but they experience love as a reality and capture in their own lives what it means to love.

Similarly, if we want to change our own culture (which is very liberal and post modern), we can't just say, "People should be married for life and love each other and raise children and avoid sexual immorality." We can't just tell people what is right and wrong, they must experience it in our lives and see it and know it in their mind and in their experience. We show people the reality of family and marriage by inviting them in our home for meals, by loving them actively and serving them as a family when they have a need; by hosting them on holidays and by sharing Christ with them in our words and with our cups of cold water.

I have thought long and hard about why we live in such a post modern culture and how people can so readily accept a liberal, non-traditional paradigm. I think, to a great degree, it is because paradigm of home is changed. There used to be a mom who cooks real meals and nurses her children and creates a life-giving atmosphere and reads to her children and plays with them and makes chocolate chip cookies for the neighborhood children in the midst of teaching the truth of the gospel and praying in front of her children and serving others as a part of family life. 

However in the last years, many, many moms have gone to work and moved across from their own families, so there are few relationships and less traditions. Women put their children in day care or lots of activities and pick up fast food and place their children in front of the tv instead of having real conversations at dinner time; and their children, who long for relationship and affirmation, attach themselves to their peers and whoever has the time to spend with them and show them love. Consequently, when it used to be parents who passed on morality and faith; now, it is the outside culture--peers, tv and movie culture--but not primarily the family or community of believers who are close and share life together. I don't think it is necessarily an issue of a mom working or not--as a matter of fact, as I read more history, I see that moms have worked throughout the years--some had gardens and sold their produce; some took in laundry or sewed or  ran a country store with her husband. But the issue was that the home was the center of life, the moms were devoted to serving their children and the children worked side by side with their parents and learned about life with them. The outside influence and peer dependence was so much less and not a way of normal life--and the media interruption of the family hours together was non-existent. 

So, whereas a hundred years ago, most people became Christians through their homes (as a survey of 1898 shows) and it was because that is where they logged time and built relationships. Not so in modern times.

That makes the role of motherhood extremely important in our days--that we build life culture in such a way that it builds anchors from our children's hearts to our hearts; that it gives them a reason to always think of home as the best place to be; that we are inviting others into our home so they, too, will catch the family culture and then seek to build it for themselves.

It has given me even more reason to do the mom heart ministry. We want God to raise up leaders all over the world who cannot only teach the Biblical foundations of motherhood and the importance of passing on righteousness to the next generation. But we need there to be leaders to teach and then serve a cup of tea and light a candle and invite these moms into our lives and homes so that the younger moms can hear it and taste it and be served by us as Jesus served His disciples.

That is why Jesus didn't just give lectures to His disciples. He taught them and then lived with them; traveled with them, served them, healed their family members, cooked them meals and fed them. They heard Him and they felt His nearness and love--and that is the reason His disciples were willing to follow Him to their death, serving Him and His kingdom.

May the Lord bless you in your own little kingdom of life today and give you the grace to teach it and then live it well and with joy.

Love and blessings to all of you.

 I have been so blessed by angels this season who gave us little blessings--someone has cleaned my home while I was gone, others have brought meals, others gave a love gift so that I was able to have some treats in Asheville and Clay was able to take all the kids out in New York City to a fun cafe while the older three kids rendezvoused with him there. we have had prayer warriors and cards and in so many ways we have been strengthened--all have given life-giving grace to us. I have to say, I have never traveled so much and I have never in any other year felt so strengthened and helped in our ministry. Thanks so much to so many of you who have made a difference for us.

So again, love, grace and peace to you all!


PS I still don't have a computer and we are waiting to see if I have all my hard drive stuff on another storage place online. Clay had an emergency in his family and so was gone for a week before our Dallas conference, then 2 weeks on the road and then another week in Texas trying to take care of the emergency--so we have not been together to figure out what we are going to do about computers until this week. I am on Joy's computer and so don't have much time to answer my mail or respond--as she needs it and she had it while I was away. I have read all my letters and do pray for the moms who write--but I haven't had the time or means to write back!All that to say, please forgive me for not responding to emails or comments! I haven't had the means! Thanks for grace!