Restoration and Maintenance

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Play Episode on iTunes & Stitcher

“Years of deferred maintenance can make sites vulnerable ... an emphasis on preventive maintenance, attention to changes in conditions, and constant care are the best defenses against disaster.” ~restoration expert regarding Notre Dame

Our team watched unbelievingly as the drama unfold earlier this spring, when the roof of Notre Dame surrendered to the flames. Then we closely followed all the discussion of what it would cost and the great time it would take to rebuild such a monumental structure, unable to avoid seeing some personal parallels. There seems to be a certain progression to a woman’s view of life as she ages. In our 20’s, it seems all things are possible. We wear rose-colored glasses, and have spent most of our early years noting mistakes other people have made and determining that we, of course, will be completely different! In our 30s, reality begins to set in as we realize how difficult life truly is, how imperfect we are (not to mention the imperfections of everyone around us!), and how tiring it is to do everything right, after all. The 40s often bring a settling in of resignation, as we look at our lives and think … is this it?

A crash will come if we do not exercise damage control along the way. We are organic beings, and have to feed life and health into our lives. A wise woman will monitor her health all along the way, not just when it is at emergency depletion levels.

It is wise to exercise self-care--it is foolish to ignore your needs. A wise woman takes care of her emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

As the restoration expert noted, emphasizing preventive maintenance, paying attention to changes in conditions, and constant care are necessary to our lives if we are to maintain our integrity—our ability to shelter and draw others into the beauty and worship of God.

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We hope you’ll enjoy our podcast today, as Kristen and Misty join me again for a summer conversation about restoration and maintenance in our own lives. And also—these lovely printables …

Printables:

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Books Referenced in this Podcast:

 
 

More Resources:

FOR MORE

  • Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

  • Leave an iTunes Review These are so important as they help our podcast reach more women with messages of encouragement.

  • Follow on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates.

  • Share with others. My prayer is that this podcast brings encouragement to women and families, and I would be honored for you to tell others about it.

  • Join my friends and me in membership at Life with Sally, a place for me to share more teaching from the Bible and messages on education, motherhood, discipleship, and more!

Dancing Through the Twists and Turns of Life (Dancing Chapter Four)

As a young woman, I told God I wanted to be his servant and to be used greatly in this world. It has been in living faithfully through count- less tests that God has fit me for ministry. Having struggled through the trials of life has made me much better suited to connect with a broad range of women. My heart is more compassionate because I have been humbled and tested through many roles of life—as a single woman, a married woman, a mother, a working woman, a woman tempted to depression, a woman with conflict from family, a woman with health issues and financial stresses. These tests exercised my spiritual muscles and increased my capacity to work And yes, now I am grateful for all the tests because they brought joy.

Of course, we each will face different tests in our lives. When I was younger, my best friend longed to get married, take care of children, and be domestic. It was what she most wanted. Yet she ended up being single and alone for her whole life. But because she responded to God's tests over many years by saying, as Mary did, "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38) and sought to live out her life faithfully, just as it was, she became one of the most loving, life-giving, mature people I know.

And yet I, who really had never longed to have children, got married and had four. I have probably learned more from the Lord about joy in the midst of trials by being a parent than in any other role. It is what I needed to become the woman he wanted me to be. And it's taken years to get there! God doesn't grow us in character and joy quickly. He has a long-term perspective for me. He sees the training process over a period of years and is always seeking to move me ahead in my character.

Often it seems we would rather have another life—any life—than our own. Somehow we think if we lived a different life, it would be easier for us to grow in faithfulness and spiritual character. Yet it is in accepting today with all of its issues, in accepting God's will and training grounds that we learn the secret of joy in his presence. It is in being faithful to our own set of tests that we become mature and fitted for the ministry he has called each of us to accomplish. If we aspire to be a general, so to speak, spiritually, then we must first pass the training and tests of life as a private!

Other friends have lived through the devastation of divorce, personal rejection, financial losses, illnesses. Whether it is dealing with a prodigal child, an unfaithful spouse, an angry parent, unjust accusations, the loss of a job, or any other kind of trial, we always have a choice to endure with strength or capitulate to the darkness of our souls.

Printable:

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Books Referenced in this podcast:

More Resources:

For more

  • Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

  • Leave an iTunes Review These are so important as they help our podcast reach more women with messages of encouragement.

  • Follow on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates.

  • Share with others. My prayer is that this podcast brings encouragement to women and families, and I would be honored for you to tell others about it.

  • Join my friends and me in membership at Life with Sally, a place for me to share more teaching from the Bible and messages on education, motherhood, discipleship, and more!

Let's Get Rid of the Idol of "Balance!"

I love the way this window decor looks. It’s calming, orderly, and balanced. It’s the way I wish my life were, more often! Seems I have never reached that magical point where my life is quiet, peaceful, slow, with all the details in my life organized. There are more balls in the air now than when our family was much younger!

I was thinking about this some time ago, as I was whizzing in the car to Kohl's (after all, I had a 30% coupon in my hot little hand) looking for jeans and a couple of things that Joy needed, all the while keeping in mind that she had a meeting I needed to drive her to in an hour.

I also needed to pick up some medication for the sinus infection I’d developed, along with an internal ear infection, and I had an appointment to pray with some friends that afternoon before I picked Joy up once again, so we could go back to Walmart for things she needed to buy.

Afterward I had scheduled a cooking class with Sarah and Joy, and then meeting friends who were flying in from out of town, then back home to finish packing and hopefully catch some sleep before leaving for the airport with Clay and Sarah at 7:30 in the morning.

I thought--my life is not in balance--but I can still walk with God, have joy, enjoy my minutes and the people who are in my life at each moment, and make it through one minute at a time.

My home is not in balance--I know when we are traveling or I am moving back to Colorado from Oxford, obviously my house will be messier than usual and need a good cleaning when I get settled back in. I understand that if I am going to be faithful to schooling and making meals and having quiet times, things will pile up and go by the way side--but I also know I have a plan for getting it all together, eventually.

I liked what a friend said to me, once: "The swinging hand on a clock is only in balance at one point while the fulcrum swings back and forth between the two sides."

And so my life goes--in perfect balance, rarely, once in a while--but always swinging between the two tensions.

My life wasn't in balance when I had 3 children under 5 and I had to nurse them and deal with ear infections and asthma.

My life wasn't in balance very often amidst the 17 moves--6 times internationally--it seemed often I was packing or unpacking, and I still am!

My life wasn't in balance when I had 3 teenagers and an elementary aged child who just wanted to play and read picture books,  while we were staying up late with our teens talking about all sorts of serious issues in life, and then getting up early with my wee, little fun one-with dark circles under my eyes.

And all the while these in my home wanted to eat, (which meant shopping, cooking and an endless stream of dishes) and wear relatively clean clothes, and messes abounded--always cleaning and messing--straightening and cluttering. No balance, but a lot of life and fun and discussions and work and corrections--a stream of life never ending, but flowing to yet another new challenge and season of life.

I think I would have been so much more content and joyful if I had just known at the beginning that life for me would not be balanced--but could always be meaningful--if I would just accept the limitations of each day, each season, each child, my marriage and my finances--none totally balanced or perfect--but all a blessing.

Jesus's life was not balanced, either--he always had people chasing after him and someone was always criticizing him amidst the feeding of 5 thousand, healing lepers and forgiving prostitutes, holding children and blessing them and saying scathing things to the Pharisees.

Paul's life was certainly not balanced or even-keeled--amidst prison, ship wrecks, beatings, and teachings. Peter was traveling, teaching, being persecuted. Yet the disciples had joy, full hearts, love, and time to reach out to and teach others.

If I can just see this day and all that my puzzle brings as God's will, I can be content and joyful in all the unbalanced moments of my days.

How to Flourish in Every-day Life

We are so glad to be bringing you today’s podcast, where we begin our Girls’ Summer series with Kristen and Misty joining me! We had such a wonderful discussion about how we’ve learned to last through our lives and what’s helped us over the years, and hope you’ll enjoy our discussion.

One evening at a Bible study, a sweet mama asked me, “Sally, how did you live through all the mundane boring days where one day melted into another? Did you ever just feel like you were overwhelmed with the mundane tasks of it all? I feel like a prisoner in my own home."

Sometimes I see that moms have lost their vision along the way to live lives of ideals. Sometimes they just get lost in the journey, feeling lonely, unappreciated, and unnoticed, and wonder if they are making a difference with their lives. Here are a few ideas for encouragement along the way of normal days …

1. Pay attention to your personality. Who are you in the core of your being? What do you love and what motivates you? What steals from you? What drives you crazy? Not the voices of who you think you should be but who you really are?

Many years ago, I realized that I needed to take my personality needs into account when considering what kind of life I would shape for my family so I could last better, longer. And so, I included in my life the things that meant a lot to me and offered life to my heart: music, experiences, adventure, interesting opportunities, personal relationships, creating community, etc.

I am limited. I run out of patience and need to do something outside of me that doesn’t require me to give more. So planning activities where I could take the kids and make them happy meant that there was pressure off of me. I personally love learning, love adventure, stimulation, am a sort of out of the box woman who is highly idealistic and takes risks and loves to really experience life. The more I cooperate with the personality God gave me, the more I flourish.

On hard days, if the kids and I were fussing too much and all felt like prickles, I would throw them in the car, give them some little snacks to munch on, put on a fun book on audio to listen to-exciting and adventurous or a wonderful sweet story—and just drive. I found places in my area that would get us all outside and be fun. Parks, hikes, bookstores, museums, frozen yoghurt places, an authentic English cafe, mountain national parks, interesting places where they could run or swim or engage their own little needs and personalities--even my little 5-star hotel where we could have a hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day. If we did not have enough money for five hot chocolates, I would get two mugs and make them share! Getting out on some impossible days helped all of us settle down.

I have not generally lived by the rules. Instead I question them. I am quite sure my mother hated to hear me say, one more time, Why? It is because of the very nature God gave me that I have by His grace built a ministry to others. To call them to live in freedom of God’s grace, to give permission to live beyond the box. Why do people insist on living by duty and so called "authorities”— voices that limit their own fun or interest? We have great freedom in the Lord to use our own brains and our own values to live into His will for our lives.

Sometimes our lives seem overwhelmingly mundane because we are choosing to live boring lives.

2. Get rest and refreshment If you are exhausted, take some time to sleep, give yourself a break from responsibility. Play and recreation can be so healthy for your well-being. And building it into your regular schedule is essential. Sleeping for 20 minutes in the afternoon actually lengthens your life, according to many researchers. It also frees your brain to solve problems to take a break from constant active stimulation. (And it does that for kids, too.)

Some of the refreshing things I have added over the years are: tea or coffee breaks every day, taking a French cooking class with my girls, going out to breakfast with my teen boys, playing tennis as a family, having Clay take the kids out on a Saturday so I could do something fun with a friend (or just stay home and watch a movie or take a bath or whatever!) and of course, eventually the Saturday morning outings and walks with my girls.

3. Don't do life alone Whether  you are an introvert or extravert, you were made for relationships. Seek people who have your values or who can build into your life. I meet with an older friend I met from mutual Austrian mission experiences as often as possible when we are both in town. We share so many values, tastes and life appetites in common. When I am particularly down, I call her and we get together just to talk. I also have regular lunches and breakfasts with a group of friends that have been meeting for 9 years now. We are different ages, different in personality and go to different churches, yet we encourage each other greatly.

If you do not have friends around you, read books by inspiring people. Go to a seminar, volunteer in a ministry, do something--give of yourself and invest in others.

Walking miles each day, especially in natural, beautiful places, writing, playing music all the time, using my intuition to plan new ideas, projects, writing, speaking, traveling--and then figuring out how to pay for it--and regarding my children's needs and commitments as well as Clay's when I make plans. Making the mundane parts of my life as interesting and easy as possible has helped me to endure with grace. Simplify your expectations--you will never be in control, you will never get it all done, there are always new challenges around the corner, so prepare yourself for these life occurrences.

4. Make it a goal to seek out wise women, those more mature than you, those whose lives you would like to emulate. 

"He who walks with the wise will be wise, a companion of fools suffers harm." This verse is not just for children--it is for you. Don't spend lots of time on vanity, empty websites, television, books, or people who bring you down. You know if you are compromising your life--turn away from harmful influences and repent (go the other way) and ask for God's help. Jeremiah tells us if we walk after emptiness, we shall become empty. What you allow yourself to think will take hold in your life. The values you cultivate will grow in your heart. Determine to walk on the road to excellence one step at a time. Invest in the ideals you want to pursue--don't allow your heart to become addicted to women who pull you down, give you excuses to compromise your life in any way, tell you its ok to move in immoral directions. Avoid consummate complainers, those who criticize many people, those who always blame others for their difficulties or have a habit of shaking their fist at God.

Instead seek out the holy, the lovely, the good. What you seek after will determine what you become--where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seems to me that seeing results always took longer than I thought they should, but now when I look back I see how gently, strongly, intentionally, wisely God was directing and training and fulfilling his ways in my life.

5. Use your God-given imagination--it is part of the Holy Spirit to fill us with ideas, give us beauty, open doors, enlarge our boundaries. Part of being a mature believer is to use your mind, desires, convictions, dreams, enjoyment to create life in your own life.

Do it today--Own Your Circumstances, Own your design, Own your puzzle and make it an interesting, god-glorifying place to live or at least slowly move into that direction. Don't be a victim to your life's duties, find ways to make it personally fulfilling.

Off to work on bringing some color into my black and white duties of life right now. Praying blessing for each of you. Enjoy the podcast!

For lots and lots more ideas, read:

Books Referenced in this podcast:

 
 

Printables:

FOR MORE

  • Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

  • Leave an iTunes Review These are so important as they help our podcast reach more women with messages of encouragement.

  • Follow on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates.

  • Share with others. My prayer is that this podcast brings encouragement to women and families, and I would be honored for you to tell others about it.

  • Join my friends and me in membership at Life with Sally, a place for me to share more teaching from the Bible and messages on education, motherhood, discipleship, and more!

A Simple Recipe for Summer Breakfast- Homemade Granola!

Happy 4th of July weekend, to our American friends!

In our fast paced, fast food culture, a healthy lifestyle for your family can feel quite difficult. With children and adults alike all running in various directions at various times in the summer, a quick, simple, healthy breakfast can provide the start everyone’s day needs with little work! This nutty granola is the perfect go-to for bustling breakfasts in your home.

This recipe is not only delicious, but it is simple, quick, and something that you can prepare in advance and keep handy for those busy, hectic mornings, and late night evenings, in your home. Granola is also a wonderful, cost effective breakfast option if you are having numerous guests in your house at one time. Simply display your yummy masterpiece in your favorite bowl, and leave out milk, yogurt, and fruit for your family, or guests, to cultivate their own ideal meal.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup honey (or maple syrup--use a little less)

1/3 cup hot water

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

just a tad dash sea salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup sliced almonds (sometimes I add whole almonds)

6 cups rolled oats

1 cup craisins (you could substitute raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (if you chop them, they do not feel as obtrusive!)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the oil, hot water, honey and vanilla. Add a sprinkle of sea salt. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Pour the honey mixture into the oat mixture and stir until the oats and nuts are evenly coated. Spread out the granola onto 2 baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and bake 10 more minutes, or until toasted. Allow granola to cool completely before stirring in the craisins and dried cherries. Your granola will harden as it cools. Break apart any large lumps, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Enjoy a relaxing, healthy morning in your home with this delicious recipe.

Words are Powerful to Bring Life or Death! Sally's Membership Bible Study # 2 & Podcast

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Many of you know that lifegiving is a theme in my life. Often, I ask myself the question, is what I am doing, thinking, saying, planning, going to bring the life to myself and those I am with today or will it kill or destroy my soul or another’s heart or soul?

I arise early to go walking every morning. Yes, sometimes it takes a lot to get our of my comfy bed to face the cold or rain, but I wanted you to see a bit of my pathway. Springtime brings with it the greenest of green, life proliferating everywhere. This is a picture of how your words may influence others—you can create life that will grow into beauty in another’s soul, or you can create death.

Misty and I are back this week with another sneak peek into our membership site, Life with Sally! Every month, I record a new Bible study just for members. My desire is to leave a legacy of encouragement, trust and wisdom to those who long for it as I do. Consequently, I do a Bible study every month for my membership to encourage them from my own walk in scripture. We’ve been looking into the book of Proverbs recently, and today we are sharing the second half of a particular study on the power of words.

The words we speak reveal what we’ve been spending time pondering, and they have the power to shape the world around us. That means—the atmosphere in our own homes can be changed by what we say! Have you ever considered the ways Jesus spoke into the lives of the people around Him? He encouraged and uplifted, exhorted and corrected, all while expressing perfect love. But Jesus also gave us an astounding example by the times He did not speak. Scripture tells us that “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). How amazing that He held to His peace (because, of course, He IS peace!) in the midst of betrayal and unjust accusation!

Last week in our first sneak peek, we shared the printable outline and study guide from Sally’s teaching. This week we’re sharing another monthly feature: our wonderful team has created a lovely printable of this verse that we’re sharing with you today! Woohoo— click here to find and download it; we like to put these scripture reminders on our refrigerators or dining room walls so we can memorize them easily!

1 Peter 2:23 Printable

We hope you’ll enjoy today’s podcast, and consider some of the questions we’re asking ourselves:

Are you sowing a treasury of great words to those around you?

Will your children be able to recall your words of life as they look back on life in your home?

Words were important to Jesus. How does it feel to know that it is what comes out of your mouth that defiles you? Ask the Lord to grow you in maturity and self-control with your words.

Of course, this sneak peek is just a tiny bit of all the wonderful content available in membership! Book clubs, legacy talks, recipes, artist studies, the Bible studies, great composers … the goodness goes on and on! We’d love to have you join us. Find out more here: Life with Sally Membership

Building A Palace Takes Time: C.S.Lewis with Michael Ward & Podcast

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"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The Sitting Room where C.S. Lewis wrote his books at his home, the Kilns.

The Sitting Room where C.S. Lewis wrote his books at his home, the Kilns.

As I am going through my book, Dancing With My Heavenly Father in my podcast, I am reminded so very often that all of us have context to our story—where we live, our past, our present circumstances, our hurts and pain, our successes and productivity. But it is in our stories where God is building faith, character and commitment. Strength comes through training of muscles exposed to great pressure.

C.S. Lewis is one of my heroes. I love his writing and thinking. Yet, I appreciate him even more because of his very difficult life. He wrote great psychology of many characters not just because of his imagination, but because of the experiences of His life which taught him to forge through the dark times to strain into the light.

I hope you will enjoy my podcast today talking with my friend, Michael Ward, where we discuss the context and perseverance of Lewis’s life. His faith inspires me to have faith.

This weekend I will be repeating a very familiar trip—one from London to Denver and then to Monument. It is long, taxing, but the reward is home at the end. As I was packing, I was remembering another time when I had taken this trip. And it applies to living into the season of stretching towards godliness, as Lewis so deftly points out.

Flying Home to America

Twenty hours of flying and waiting and standing and carrying bags left me a bit weary and exhausted, but the feeling was a familiar one for me, and I knew that in a few days I would be over jet lag. But on my journey, I sat next to a young mother from Paris who had a 9 month old baby to wrestle with through out the wakings, feedings, playings and keeping her precious little boy sequestered in one seat on the plane.

As I was watching her in constant motion--changing, cajoling, nursing, bouncing, and doing it all over again, I was reminded again how much being a mother of my children has shaped, stretched and enlarged my soul.I could fairly see the soul and character of this young woman being stretched.

Often times we consider our tasks as being performed for the benefit of the children or babies.

But from God's point of view, he gave us children that we might learn how to become unselfish, to love generously, to work more heartily, to understand forgiveness, perseverance, endurance, graciousness, creativity, the skills of life-giving--because through this great work of motherhood, we are slowly being conformed into the image of Christ--and from this commitment of motherhood, we come to better understand His fatherhood, His sacrifice, His unmerited favor for us. His plan has a purpose that will create beauty of soul and heart and mind.

The very act of submitting to His plan for motherhood, became the long term instrument through which He shaped and crafted my soul.

But to become this vessel where He is willing to dwell and to become the soul that reflects Him and his gentle love and powerful reality, we must submit to the building and crafting that He has designed by making us mothers after his own heart and submissive to His design. I did not know that this journey was about soul-making, but now I see that in the shaping of my soul, He also designed the end result to be deep fulfillment and happy pleasure. For being with my adult children is my greatest joy and brings me the deepest happiness in my days of living on this earth.

Dr. Ward can be found at: http://www.michaelward.net where you will enjoy finding the books he has written, his speaking schedule and all things he is involved in. What a privilege to have him on this podcast.

I will have such great pleasure in being back where I belong, in the company of Clay and Darcy, in my beloved Colorado, in my own bed, sitting on my front porch watching the sunset. Yet, I will also have Oxford and the sweet memories I made with my precious ones, always in my heart--and it feels so very good to be in the place that I belong, here or there. My belonging is with my people.

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Motherhood: Beautiful Design

Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.

— Robert L. Peters

While traveling in Vienna one day, I was struck by the beauty and quality of design in almost all of the buildings downtown. Each building was constructed with an elaborate plan, that not only considered structural strength, but also beauty and detailed design that validated the skill and craftsmanship of the architect.

Our modern day homes lack the craftsmanship and artistic skill of historical buildings that were built to last for centuries. And so the pragmatic and common place has swallowed up the art, beauty and strength of the design of a dwelling crafted for beauty and visual design as well as structural strength and longevity.

Similarly, while walking the streets of Vienna, I was struck with how much we have lost the value for the beauty of God's original design for home and family. We have replaced the purpose, beauty and meaning of family, home and motherhood with the common and demeaning value our current culture has placed, by  devaluing of the original purpose and beauty of family and home. And so we are not always even aware of what we have lost because we lack a perspective or memory  of the beauty of the original design and what God intended it to be.

When God created the heavens and the earth, he created it with minute and detailed intricacy and order. There was color and form and beauty woven in every aspect of His creation, as an expression of His own life art.

The pinnacle of creation, though,  was crafting man and woman in His image. And with this image, and relationships amongst those who would be his children, sharing His image, he created order and beauty within the structure of relationships called a family--a father, a mother, and children, and generations of family connections.

God's purpose in giving order and structure to these relationships was to provide a community of security, comfort, pleasure, inspiration, purpose and belonging. When children are born into families where the structure is intact, there is beauty, strength, health and moral and educational strength. Family was the perfect design before the fall, before there was any sin in the world.

Mother was the first name of the woman. Mother, by its very nature, embraces the giving of life to another outside of herself--a real live human being whose life will have implication for all of eternity. Motherhood requires accepting children as a gift, and giving them life--both spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and moral--is the greatest civilizing and most beautiful work a mother can perform. And when she skillfully builds a soul, by taking the time to give structure, beauty, excellence to the life of her children, their souls will emerge with the design, the very imprint of God's image and capacity for excellence in their lives.

If we have lost the imagination of how beautiful and meaningful motherhood and family was designed by God to be, we will lose the value and ability to reconstruct the beauty of God's original design and settle for something much less.

And so that is why we must return to the original design of motherhood and family. We must get into the heart of God's design if we are to manifest his purpose in relationship to our children, and value them appropriately, as God intended us to do.

Read more about the beautiful design of motherhood here:


Clarkson Thoughts About Life in the UK & Joel's Music (podcast)

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Joel at the St. Andrews Cathedral Ruins.

As I look back on my life, I am sometimes amazed at all the places the Lord has allowed me to live, the people I have met, the experiences I have had that have shaped my life.

It all started when I made a quiet commitment to him. I was by myself in a very small, cheap hotel room. The Lord had put on my heart Philippians 3: 8-9:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

The Lord seemed to ask me, “Are you willing to give your life to me completely? Without holding back? To serve me? To do whatever you need to in order to get to know me?”

I wanted to be His, I wanted to serve Him with all my heart. I said, “Yes, if you will help me.”

And as I look back, many seasons, many passages have been more difficult and stretching than I could have ever imagined. But I also see that He has blessed me, stretched me, given me opportunities, helped me, deepened me through walking with Him day by day.

And this year in Oxford was another part of that journey—who ever gets to spend a year in Oxford. And yet, He led me here, by Clay initiating and finding an apartment for us to live in, by opening the doors for me to be able to support Sarah through the year of her scholarship at Oxford for her Masters of Theology, so that she could be more prepared to write the books that have been on her heart; that I would get to have a year with Lilian, my first grandchild and care for her during Sarah’s classes; that I could live with Joy and continue in bestfriending and mentoring together. That I could be stretched, grow, learn, meet dear friends and fall in love with Jesus even more.

I don’t take this year for granted and pray I will be an even better steward of all that He has allowed me to learn, know, think and grow in.

But today, Sarah, Joel, Joy and Joel and I share some of what we who are all a part of each others’ story, about what we love and what we have learned here in this God ordained place. I hope you enjoy.

And a bonus is that Joel just finished composing a brand new album that is quite wonderful. I hope you will consider purchasing this and enjoying it for yourself and with your family. (Thanks for your support of his music—it is how He is funding his way through His PHD.

To find out more about Joel, visit his website, www.joelclarkson.com, where you can purchase and download his album when it releases on July 1st, find links to his social media, and sign up for his newsletter.

Holy Joy! Cultivating A Dancing Heart DWMF 2 & Podcast

From the first, Satan has desired to reign over God's kingdom. There is a battle for allegiance. This fallen place we call the world, is the place Satan appears as an angel of light. He promises fulfillment through vanity, and materialism and power and extreme beauty and sex--but all of these, in the end, will disappoint and leave us longing for more.

But God created us to see the invisible fingertips of Him in our lives, the glory of His creation, the reality of His love manifested in countless ways and the generous and abounding love expressed throughout the story of His people.

But to see this glory and to experience the wild freedom He has provided, we have to look at our lives through the lens of eternity. We must develop ears to hear His true kingdom messages.

To be Holy means to be set apart--apart from the crowd--as David was. He saw the giant, Goliath, as an opportunity to show the glory of God and his reality and power. "Whereas David celebrated God as the One who created laughter, beauty, pleasure, music, food, and goodness, Satan would love for me to believe that God is a spoiler--one who looks for my faults, who delights in making my life difficult and in ruining my hopeful expectation fo what life could be. After all, didn't Satan start out by suggesting doubt in God's goodness to Adam and Eve? It seemed I had slowly forgotten that God was good. I had inadvertently bought into Satan's suggestion that God was only interested in my dry obedience.

What if, in truth, our God is the party Planner? (Didn't He say He was preparing a wedding feast for us and building mansions in heaven?) What if the same God who created a breathtaking garden, planned purpose and the love of family and friendship and the fulfillment of productive work, who delighted in children, who touched the sick and rejected, and who gave grace to the prostitutes and tax collectors is the God whose companionship we can enjoy each day?

As I thought on this, I realized that duty, forced obedience, and works never satisfied my soul or fooled my mind into thinking that dry acquiescence to spiritual dogma was equivalent to being a Christian who really knew and loved God. Knowing God deeply, intimately, personally within the borders of my own personality was what I hungered and thirsted for. I wanted to dance as David danced!

As I searched scripture for a model for what I was feeling, I found David to be a kindred spirit in this. He learned to dance before God with all of His heart. He trusted God in season and out. I hope you will enjoy this chapter and thinking about David’s heart of Holy Joy.

May your heart, today, be filled with the invisible reality of His presence, His wisdom and His ways even in this day and this place in your life.

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