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barnhouse

My husband and I were driving to town when we passed a white clapboard house nestled under big shade trees. Standing tall and sturdy next to the house, just the right amount of space to the left was a big, old barn. It reminded me of a knight standing ready to protect his lady.

A For Sale sign was in the yard.

“Your house is for sale,” my husband said. He knows how much I love old houses. This one was a red tin-roofed, two-story with a balcony above the front porch. A house with a porch – a real porch, wide enough for a swing and chairs. It had lots of windows, too. A house with lots of windows looks like a house where its inhabitants chose happiness. It seems like it would be filled with stories of people who loved life fully, both inside and out.

A house with a barn, or a barn with a house, would know of barn owls, chipmunks, barn cats and sparrows, goats, chickens, dogs, and cows. Maybe lambs, too. Wheel barrows, water troughs, muck rakes, forks, hammers and crowbars wouldn’t gather dust or get lost from lack of use. A weather vane, too – on top of the barn, along with a barometer. I wonder if that would be more reliable than television weather forecasters and radar.

Words and phrases like seed-time, reaping a harvest and storehouse would be common place. Plowing, gathering, threshing and winnowing, knowing how to collect wood for and how to build a fire – well, those would be every day living things, every day working out the physical examples of God’s spiritual principles. I think that would help his spiritual message plant somewhere deep in our souls.

About four weeks ago, they  tore down that white clapboard farmhouse that had stood beside its barn for longer than a lifetime – to make way for a new neighborhood. Bulldozers and gravel trucks bellowed freely now between where the house had been and the barn stood, its life companion gone. I pulled in and took a photo of the barn before they tore it down, too. What good is an empty barn in a field replaced with yards and houses? A few days later, it was bulldozed down. They didn’t take it apart to rebuild somewhere else. A heap of brokenness, someone burned it up a few days ago. It saddens me.

It saddens me, just like it saddens me that my great-grandmother and grandfather’s farmhouse burned down after my Uncle Jim died. The milk barn is overgrown with weeds and viney things that wouldn’t have been allowed to grow near either the house or the barn. The barn roof is falling in. Sometimes, I want to go back, to feel the stories, to sit on the porch steps worn with the footprints of those whose story set up mine, whose faith stories have become a storehouse of blessing, a rich spiritual inheritance that point to relationship with God. But the porch, along with the house, are no longer there for sitting and remembering.

The stories are being forgotten – and the buildings aren’t there to retell them. These stories, they’re the love and faith stories, these farmhouses and barns. If the walls could talk, they would tell over-coming stories, forgiveness stories, being born and born again stories, funny stories, loss and crying stories, cat and mouse stories, laughing stories, every day ordinary stories, growing up stories, feast and famine stories.

barnhouse848484dcThe farmhouse remembers the children’s bedtimes and where the jam, apples, butter and potatoes were stored. It knows what Christmas smelled like and what the cooling breeze in summer hotness felt like.  It knows the sound of big and little feet on the floorboards and which steps creak in the stairwell. It knows the goodnight stories and songs, and the sound of little ones breathing in sleep and the bigger ones sawing in sleep. It knows the challenges that spilled over, disrupting its peace, shaking its hope and faith.  It knows how the hard was softened, and that love which never gives up lasts a lifetime. The farmhouse, while a hive of activity, is where the place of refreshing lives, where the broken can be made whole.  It is where God’s word is read and then walked out to the barn, to the neighbors, and into town.

The farmhouse and the barn,
a boy and his girl,
a mom and a dad,
a grandmother and grandfather,
a barn and his farmhouse,
a farmhouse and her barn,

It’s a love story of give and take, provision and comfort,

of small town entrepreneurs in charge of their own destiny

where a full barn allows a house to become a home full of heart.

the barn is like the spirit of a man, the farmhouse the spirit of the woman

a symbiotic kind-of-love

He braves the harsh elements to fill the barn with the stuff comfort and security are made from. From the storehouses of barn he brings – and from the heart of the house, she gives. . . .

He gives her the grain – and she gives back bread.

He gives her the wool – and she gives back scarves, hats, sweaters and socks.

He gives her the cotton – and she stitches together crazy quilts for the bitter cold times.

He tears and she mends.

He gives honor and love; and she gives it right back.

He gives her trust to be who she is, and she gives him respect to be who he is.

He invites God into every dusty corner of the barn of himself,
and she invites God into every corner of the farmhouse of herself.

He gives her children, and she gives him a legacy,
but together they give their children an inheritance of blessing.

Each gives the other purpose; one without the other are incomplete.

Side by side,
storm after storm,
quiet after quiet,
year after year
the farmhouse and her barn
the barn and his farmhouse

They just might fade from memory, may even be exchanged for a different kind of living. The inheritance, though, it runs deep into the very fiber of a God-designed DNA. While the barn might be torn down, along with the farmhouse, and the faith and love stories forgotten, God redeems the faith, hope and love in story – he has the floor plan to rebuild what was forgotten, to redeem those who belong to the story.

The farmhouse and the barn,
a boy and his girl,
a mom and a dad,
a grandmother and grandfather
who built something more
than a barn and a farmhouse

“Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done” ~ Psalm 78: 1-6

**None of the farmhouses pictured belong to the barns in the photographs. The first barn above is the one I discuss. The first house is one that was torn down a few years ago.

barn2222222

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” ~ Proverbs 13:22a

 

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whitehall114

My Annual Ghost story, part of it passed down from Cousin Nancy, mixed with a story from my newspaper days. Pull your chair up to the fire, set your hot apple cider on the table, wrap the quilt around your shoulders. You wouldn’t want an unthinking draft to create a chill:

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place”
~ Emily Dickenson

The October day blustered its way to a stormy evening.  It was hard to tell what element bullied more – the wind or the rain spitting at anything in its way.  Baschum Sluckert slid down the wet oak tree, answering the coded call of Snuff Sparks.

Soggy leaves muffled their footsteps as they maneuvered through blackness down Boonesborough Road to the dilapidated manor house – their courage looking less promising with each wet step.

What could cause two 12-year-old boys to wander about on not just a forsaken, chilled night but All Souls’ night? A time it was whispered that all restless souls of evil character roamed free by the devil’s own decree until the saints sent them packing back to the netherworld the following sunrise?

Only a dare, of course.

Adley Bancroft, with his overly large head and punishing fists, had taunted them in nursery rhyme sneer that they weren’t men – they were just girls in boy pants needing their mamas to kiss their booboos and hold their hands.

Baschum and Snuff mustered up enough courage to be baited – and here they were. On their way to the abandoned Clay mansion up the road.  Back in their grandpa’s day, it had been a real showplace housing Cassius Clay, the notorious Lion of White Hall. Why, he had wrestled in political arenas from Russia to Kentucky.  He’d even wrestled the women folk in his home who wanted the right to vote.  So word said, he’d kicked them out, like an annoying cat.

Cassius Marcellus Clay

Adley’s ma and pa used the house now to strip tobacco in November and store hay through the winter.  Adley’s ma had found a statue, stuffed in a piano topped with salt licks for storage. The statue was a bust of old Cassius himself – and that’s what Adley had taunted them into taking. Not just taking it, though.  That would be too easy.  They had to stay until sunrise.

Not a soul would be there.  Adley promised.  At least, not a living one, he had snickered.

Snuff, breaking the quiet as they walked up the lane to the house, adjusted his back sack carrying a blanket and some marshmallows.  He asked “D’you believe in ghosts, Baschum?”

“’Course not,” Baschum answered, his courage insulted.  Sluckerts don’t get scared – he’d been taught that all this life.  At least, not the smart ones. “Besides, no ghost’s gonna bother me, even if’n that old Cassius himself steps out on that porch packin’ a rifle.  No misty piece of air’s gonna best me.”

“Adley said he locked his 14-year-old wife into his tie room, so she wouldn’t run away,” Snuff said.

“Don’t listen to nothing Adley says, Snuff.  Hes just tryin’ to get your dander in an uproar.”

“Adley said she jumped out of the window and some man on a horse carried her away.  Otherwise, she would’ve starved in that room.”

“She wouldn’t have, Snuff,” Baschum said, sticking his sweaty palms deeper into the pockets of his overalls, trying to stare down the white full moon.  The moon had an unfair advantage; it never blinked.  Sighing, he gave up, turning to see Snuff pointing frantically to the house.

“What’s th-that?” Snuff’s whispered.

A light blazed in an oval window, then vanished.

“That’s the room he kept her in Baschum. Adley said so,” Snuff reasoned.

“Now don’t let Adley go putting that fear in your head.  He don’t know beans with his head in the bag.  It was probably just him tryin’ to scare us,” Baschum calmly assured Snuff, albeit in a voice an octave higher.

Tugging Snuff’s arm, they moved up the brick sidewalk to the porch.  Rattling the door knob, the door opened easily. Earlier that day, they had gathered kindling for a fire in the hearth and cased the house to dispel any unwonted fears.

‘Anybody home?” Baschum called warily.  Black silence answered.  “C’mon, Snuff.”

‘Two hours later they were wrapped in blankets, roasting marshmallows in the front parlor.

“See.  There’s nothin’ to be frightened of Snuff.  Nothin’ here but us chickens,” Baschum laughed, his giggles rolling to echo beyond the parlor.

Suddenly, Baschum stopped laughing.

Chills shimmied up Baschum’s spine as the door beyond them creaked like leather.  His heart juggled up his throat.  Something rubbed against his back.

“Meow,” a cat trilled, stopping to sit by Snuff.

In disgust, Baschum spit into the fire.  Snuff spit.  The cat spit, too.

The cat looked at Snuff.  Snuff looked at Baschum, and Baschum looked at the cat.

“I don’t like this none,” Snuff whispered, his blue eyes wide as a meat dish.

“It’s just a cat,” Baschum said, bravado filling his voice.

“A black cat,” Snuff reminded in a hoarse whisper.

Baschum boldly picked up the cat, walked to the front door by the stairs, and threw the cat out.

Shutting the door, he turned around to the sound of furniture scraping across the upstairs floor and what-knots falling.

“It’s just Adley?” Snuff asked, hopefully.

Baschum didn’t say anything, just sat back down, pulling his blanket tight about.  The only thing upstairs that afternoon had been hay.

When nothing else happened, both boys stretched out, falling into a chilly doze.  Quiet – a heavy quiet resounded within.  The fire crackled comfortingly.

Snuff sleepily opened his eyes – to look directly into a pair of yellow-green eyes.  Hypnotic yellow-green eyes.

Frantic blue eyes turned to Baschum.  “I thought you put him out,” Snuff asked, nervousness edging his voice.  The cat just sat there, across from him, staring.

“I did.”

Baschum looked at the cat.  The cat looked at Snuff, and Snuff looked at Baschum.

The cat turned to the fire – and spit into the burning embers, causing it to hiss.

Baschum grabbed the cat, stomped to the door, opened it and tossed the cat into the spitting, blustery wind of the night.

Bang!

A door slammed within the bowels of the house.  Snuff lurched for the poker by the hearth as Baschum turned to look up the stairs.

Violin music wafted softly from the darkness above.

“C’mon Snuff.  We’re gonna give Adley the what for.”

whitehall300b_edited-1Moving quietly, they climbed the stairs.  At the landing, they listened at each door, trying to catch Adley. A pounding, thump, thump, thumping drew them to a room they had noticed early that afternoon.  A room trimmed in blue.

“One, two, three,” Baschum whispered before both boys slammed open the door.  No Adley. Just emptiness and a violin without strings.

“He must’ left somehow,” Baschum reasoned, not quite believing it himself.

Shoulder to shoulder in fright they walked back downstairs, practically holding their breath.

“Let’s just get that bust and leave,” Snuff offered. “I’ve had enough of this place.”

Sniffing, Baschum agreed. “It’s in what used to be the dining room.  At least that’s what Adley said.”

Walking carefully, quietly, they moved through the house until they came to a room used for stripping tobacco.

In a corner was a chipped, dusty bust of Cassius Clay.

Picking it up, they headed back to the parlor.

Looking into the room, they saw a little boy peering vacantly into the fire.  They blinked. And he was gone.

“I don’t like this Baschum.  I say let’s get out of here,” Snuff said shakily.

 Rolling up their blankets, they started to leave when out of the corner of their eye, they watched a black cat move to sit in front of the fire. “Mmmmerrrrrrr,” the cat growled looking at them, seeming to tell them to get out. Then the cat turned, spitting into the fire.

Screaming, Baschum and Snuff took off running, Snuff carrying the bust.

As they ran down the driveway, they saw a light flicker in the tie closet window above.  Horse’s hooves clopped, gaining speed as it neared.

Snuff dropped the bust.  A piercing keening sound echoed behind them as the head severed from the base, rolling to land by the gates.

Reaching, searching in pitch black night, Baschum grabbed what he could and ran. By Jove, he was not going to let Adley and the others think he had failed.  The base was better than nothing, and he just did not have the time nor the courage left for both.

whitehall1014Baschum and Snuff? They never returned. Not even years later when the great mansion was renovated, and its polished doors opened to tourists.

There is a bust of Cassius clay, the notorious Lion of White Hall, having been knocked off its base and reset.

Ghosts?  Even today it is whispered that footsteps can be heard on the staircase, doors mysteriously slam and a light appears in the tie closet of Cassius Clay.

A great ambassador who fought for the emancipation of slaves, he was also the father of Laura Clay who fought for women’s rights alongside Susan B. Anthony.  She was the first woman ever to be nominated by a political party (1920 Democratic National Convention) for president of the United States.

I collected information on White Hall State Shrine in 1984 for a Haunted House Series written for The Richmond Daily Register.  The Lion of White Hall was written shortly after.

The black cats were handed down from “Cousin Nancy,” my grandmother’s paternal aunt, Nancy Wills Chenault.  When Cousin Nancy came to visit (the last time was when I was 6 years old), everybody waited with great anticipation for her storytelling.  They would turn off the lights, light a fire in the big fireplace – and settle in.  I only remember 3 black cats spitting in the fire.  3 black cats without a story – is just a story waiting to be told.  I hope Cousin Nancy would like the home I found for them. 

Ghosty stories are great fun – at least the old-fashioned kind where it’s all really just a matter of mind over matter – or maybe faith over mind over matter. Often, what instills our fear is trumped-up worry, where things on the outside become stronger than things on the inside. Poor Baschum and Snuff – they were sneaking around, going places they shouldn’t – and the vapors of that behavior created a ghosty story – out of thin air.

Growing up in an over 200 year old house, I finally decided that God wouldn’t allow a ghost to scare me to death – and so everytime I climbed upstairs at night, in the seemingly ancient dark, He walked with me, my shield, my fortress and my deliverer – in the tangible and in the mind over matter.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Dueteronomy 31:6)

Of course, it helps if you’re not sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night trying to steal the bust of the Lion of White Hall in an abandoned house.

 

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yarnc

I’m in a quiet season right now—which is totally at odds with releasing my children’s books—but that’s where God has me. It’s the quiet before a big change – kind of like the quiet before my children were born. It’s been hard for me to visit my blogging friends this last year – and, in the quiet, that’s one of the things I want to do. I want to read your words and savor your God-messages! During this quiet – I’m re-posting one of my very favorite series I’ve written: Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry. Merry Christmas Blessings sweet friends!

Family tapestry threads – intertwining, touching, our warp threads woven into the weft thread of time – rubbing up to the most current threads in the story – stories of enduring faith in onslaughts of injustice, immorality, persecution, and heart-breaking tragedy.

Frayed warp threads sorely abused.

Frayed threads not broken because their faith stranded with them, faith in God-promises not always seen in their lifetime.

Jesus family history is a testimony to each of us. It is a testimony that in a world where free will and sin exist, bad things happen. Bad things still happen to a faithful people.  It is that faithfulness, though, that enabled them to go on, to not give up, to pass that faith down to the next generation.

“Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Each thread adding to the story, never breaking, always continuing:

Purple – Courage, Protection, Over-coming Injustice

Tamar’s shows the importance of holding to accountability, to pursing justice – a seemingly sordid tale in our culture of a woman widowed twice by 2 brothers, neglected by the marriage laws of her father-in-law, Judah – yet, her fighting spirit that forces her father-in-law to honor his legal responsibilities is doubly blessed when she has twins.

Black – separation and bondage; homelessness; loss

Women of Israel slaves in Egypt remained faithful in bondage, separation and loss. Wives whose family tree boasted wealth and power devolved into slavery in Egypt – women whose names and stories aren’t know: wives of men like Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon – born in slavery, yet they were women who held tight to and taught of a Father God who sat outside tents, who answered prayers, who wrestled Jacob He loved him so much.

Women whose babies were slain by Pharaoh in an effort to eradicate their a deliverer:

“Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews1 you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live” (Exodus 1:22)

These women kept their faith alive, passed it down as an inheritance . They had no riches, only a faith-inheritance  in a land that neither welcomed nor acknowledged Yahweh.

Green and White – New beginnings and Cleansing

A prostitute on a family tree? A redeemed prostitute? Finding true love, a place of honor because she loved and honored God.Rahab, a prostitute who sought out a relationship with the one true God, who saved the Israelites by letting them hide in her house – who married Joshua – and from her came prophets and a savior.

Oh, how God loves the sinner – the out-casting kind of sinning that we don’t want our children around – He loves them, wants them, redeems them – that just wows me!

Blue – compassion, selflessness, loyalty in the face of loss

Naomi lost her husband and 2 sons. She has no protection, no provision. She was a woman all alone, except for 2 daughter-in-laws she encouraged to return to their families and find new husbands.

Her daughter-in-law Ruth also had no protection, no one to shield her. She didn’t need her mother in-law, didn’t need that relationship because her mother-in-law didn’t have anything to offer her. Yet, Ruth reached out: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth’s selflessness and honor brought God’s grace into her life, giving her a place on Jesus’ family tree. God doesn’t need our relationship, yet He loves us, pursues us for relationship.  Jesus didn’t have to die for us. He didn’t need us. Yet, He reached for each one of us, died for us that we may be considered a part of His family, live with Him in heaven.

When one reaches to love another just because He would want us to – blessing multiplies.

Silver – Redemption, Strength, Over-coming, Spirit, Grace, Revelation

Bathsheba, – had a child with her husband’s murderer – how else can you say that? She was put in a no-win situation, and then her new born died.

“While the child was alive,” he said, “I fasted and wept, thinking God might have mercy on me and the child would live. But now that he’s dead, why fast? Can I bring him back now? I can go to him, but he can’t come to me.”

Yet, God took an impossible situation – and gave hope, a new future, forgiveness. God allowed love and comfort to grow between David and Bathsheba – and blessed them immeasurably.

 “David went and comforted his wife Bathsheba. And when he slept with her, they conceived a son. When he was born they named him Solomon. God had a special love for him and sent word by Nathan the prophet that God wanted him named Jedidiah (God’s Beloved).(2 Samuel 12:22-25).

blueyarncJesus’ family tree is not a Utopian lineage of sinless people living easy, perfect lives. Jesus’ family tree is full of redeemed people surviving heart-break and challenges. They didn’t allow the challenges to break the thread of their story or their faith. They managed through their faith to not only survive but pass down their faith as an inheritance.

Jesus family tree shows us that being  a child of God in a world of free will, sin and faith – that both the sinner and the faithful face the same challenges. The difference is in how the faithful face those challenges – and what awaits each of us in heaven – all because of God made man born to save us – of Salvation walking amongst us.

Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. “Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (Hebrews 11: 33-40)

Frayed Threads – that’s what each of us are. The threads of us can be seemingly pulled thin – but we are stretched beyond what we imagined – stretched into a story, woven into a tapestry. Not only does our story go places we never imagined, with threads never imagined – but we are pulled into other’s stories, too – for quiet and loud marvelous effect.

Frayed threads pulled thin, sometimes thinner than we thought capable – but resilient showing a strength not fully realized until the the challenge shows itself.

Frayed threads pulled thin becoming a life-line to others, all because of Salvation walking among us.

updated 12/17/2013

Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry Part I: Salvation Walking

Frayed Threads in  Holy Tapestry Part II: Who’s That Jesus Hangin’ With

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italy2cI’m in a quiet season right now—which is totally at odds with releasing my children’s books—but that’s where God has me. It’s the quiet before a big change – kind of like the quiet before my children were born. It’s been hard for me to visit my blogging friends this last year – and, in the quiet, that’s one of the things I want to do. I want to read your words and savor your God-messages! During this quiet – I’m re-posting one of my very favorite series I’ve written: Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry. Merry Christmas Blessings sweet friends!

Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift since God gave man dominion over the earth: a savior born in a manger, God become man in his most helpless form.

He sat with the church people and those not welcomed in the churches – the sinners, the outcasts, the unvalued.

Mary’s son grew up to hang out with the sinners, pulled them to his table, touched them to heal them.

I wonder if it scared her. I wonder if she told him as a boy, “If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

“Tell me thy company, and I’ll tell thee what thou art” – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)

Proverbs even tells us to choose carefully our companions:

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Yet, even Jesus closest circle of friends in ministry experienced moments of great failure.

Did anyone ever say, “Look who that Jesus is hanging out with?” and shake their head while another person answered, ‘What do you expect from a boy with his family history – the curse He probably carries – nothing good can come from a family tree that laden with sin.”

The thread of his family tree, though, frayed, probably damped with tears – those threads tell a story of not only missing it in big and little ways – but of God’s faithfulness and redemption, of not giving up on the sinner, of reaching in to their lives and hearts and pulling them out.

Frayed threads in a genealogy tapestry that messages each of us – no sin is too great for me to pull you out – just reach for me.

Red – the thread of sin

Eve’s thread started the story – beautiful reds, yellows, greens and blues. Perfect threads until frayed by sin, by loss of so much – paradise, children, innocence. But Shaddai, He loved her, probably had started the wheels of this salvation story long before she even sinned.

Yellow – the thread of compromised accountability, doubt and disbelief

Sarah, Abraham’s wife – stunningly beautiful, barren – in a marriage where she and her husband have trouble holding each other to accountability in decisions that affect their marriage.  Yet, God visits Abraham, sits outside his tent, eats food made from her husband’s hands, and under the stars, Shaddai makes such big promises that Sarah laughs incredulous, doubting. Yet God knows her heart, loves her enough to call her on it – and fulfills His promise as she struggles with faithfulness in His promises. He knows her heart – and I think that her heart must have continued reaching, despite not always making the best decisions.

Green -Hope in the asking, Hope in the journey of a prayer answered, not always perceiving God’s intent.

Rebecca’s twins were a direct result of Isaac’s hope and faithfulness in God’s answered prayer. Yet, answered prayers are sometimes much more complicated than we can imagine, without a how-to manual for handling.

” God says to  her ““Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23)

And, just like me, she thinks she needs to do something to make it happen, instead of letting God take care of it – and so she helped Jacob trick his brother and father.  Was that God’s intent? Or did it make things more unnecessarily complicated? One son left and she never saw him again – and the remaining son? How did he treat her betrayal?

She, like me, needed to realize that God has a much bigger tool bag than I do – with tools I never imagined, with journey plots more amazing than I can invent.

Orange – Unfavored, unwanted, un-valued  yet redeemed and given a genealogical place of honor through Praise and Relationship with the Father

Of Jacob’s two wives, only Leah actually cleaves to her husband and His God. She doesn’t sell her night with him to her sister for some mandrakes – yet she buys that night with him with mandrakes.

Unfavored, Leah who learns to walk in faith and praise of the one true God, the God who had compassion with her grandmother-in-law who laughed at His promises.   The names of her first 3 sons show a focus on pleasing, gaining her husband’s favor and love. Why is it that the harder we try sometimes to get someone to love us, the further away their affection moves?

The last son, though – we see that instead of pursuing Jacob, she pursued Yahweh. In the naming of the last son, Leah gives us a glimpse into an alive relationship with Yahweh: “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.Then she stopped having children” (Genesis 29:35).

From the Lion of Judah would our Savior come – from a mother rejected, un-valued by a father but so valued by the creator of the world. He didn’t place her love for Him in second place:

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed” (Rev 5:5).

weavingccFrayed threads in a Holy tapestry –  imperfect marriages, imperfect parenting.  God loves these imperfect marriages, these imperfect parents – when they reach for Him in their imperfection, in their belief struggles, their lack of understanding struggles and their value struggles – when they reach for Him, it changes everything.

Jesus came to redeem the imperfect. He wants you and me to reach out to those that are missing it – who need to sit at your dinner table, who need hands reached out in prayer and welcome, who need Jesus but aren’t quite ready to embrace Him yet, who aren’t cleaned up yet – frayed threads woven together into a greater story, woven through grace into a greater Holy family history.

Please join me next Wednesdayfor a continuation of Frayed Threads in a Holy Tapestry: A Christmas Genealogy Part 3.

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cw13-4Sometimes I think I talk/write too much in my Blue Cotton bloggy home about challenges and giving up. Yet, that’s what motherhood, marriage and child of the One True God is all about – Not giving up – not a walking-out-kind-of-giving-up but a giving up of quality, engaged, intentional relationship reaching and living – not going to give up on that.

We climbed in our car, drove through the still-green mountains, the tree-leaves teasing us with just a yellow and orange flame leaf glimpses of change about to come.

We drove on, when some moments, one or all of us just wanted to turn back. Some journeys are like that: sitting waiting while Dad had a business meeting – the two boys skin just twitching to explode energy, like black-birds cawing-cawing complaints – the boys sounded about a historical holiday trip, a burst tire on a dark interstate, semi-trucks blowing by, shaking us – our boys learning to be men – unpacking the trunk, helping with the wheel – and me praying on the roadside God’s protection – travel day plans run amuck.

Part of me so wanted to just pack up. Would this even work? Be worth while? Sometimes I see the plan – know it will be successful – but the raw nerves saw away at my confidence – and I blink. Yes – I blink just ready to settle, to give up, pack it in. The everyday – sometimes it feels like a flat tire on an inter-state, while life around me explodes – and nobody lets up – including myself.

God gave me two things that have always pulled me through: 1)Faith – and 2)something inside that just won’t let me give up.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes not giving up can get just plain ugly. I wish not-giving-up acted like a smooth, rushing creek or river. It’s so much prettier. Instead not-giving-up reminds me of learning  to drive a stick-shift car: lots of starts and stallings, jerks and gracelessness.

That early Autumn holiday – it gave us about 36 hours of blessing – and history and heart moments.

We disengaged ourselves from the daily – and immersed ourselves in colonial history. Our home? The Market Square Kitchen in Colonial Williamsburg.
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I loved my digs:
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The boys perked up when they saw their place upstairs – all to their own:
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We saw Fife and Drums playing our country’s quest for freedom. How melodious is the music of freedom:
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We learned more about the Constitution – and people’s response through re-enactment characters who also took the time to talk to those of us passing through.

“Where are you from?” they’d ask.

“Tennessee by way of Kentucky,” we’d answer. Puzzled, they’d try to figure where that was. There was no Tennessee or Ketncuky in 1775. Finally, through good-hearted determination – we realized we were from Virginia by way of the Carolinas.

Through-enactment we saw more easily that freedom is a journey – and how far we’ve come in that journey
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A Governor’s Palace Re-enactment Tour guide told stories of a government that used the show of power as a means of controlling the people:
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and the importance of the people to arm themselves against ruffians and a government who errs in its perception of its relationship with the people
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that medicine was home-grown, not always reliable and had far to go

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Crime and Punishment would make a rousing dinner-table discussion: what kind of crime merits what kind of punishment? I wonder that if Colonial Williamsburg sold stocks along with maps, books and reproduction clothing – would there be one in every backyard? Just for fun and photos, of course. Seriously, though, when is too early to discuss the crime and punishment of a society – and the history of a culture’s crime and punishment?

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And that I still would want to own a bookstore. We took home with us the Game of Life: Colonial Time – a book on etiquette, a map and a deck of cards.
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I saw re-enforced one of my theories – in a sticky-faith manner – that when people intentionally connect with our youth, they become engaged and enjoy where they are(story to come).
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We didn’t settle for a window-shopping experience
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We went inside, asked questions, listened, me wanting to learn – and wanting my boys to learn not just history but something more:
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The inside maze of my mind, my heart – this parenting, the daily – it’s all about not giving up, pushing through to the goal – isn’t it?cw13-13

These boys moaned, balked and begged – and then said, “This wasn’t so bad after all.”
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I’m supposed to be “above all that” – you know what I mean. I’m supposed to be so noble, selfless and strong that I don’t need to hear it. But I’m not so noble as I need to be – nor selfless and strong. I needed to hear, “It wasn’t so bad.” I’m terribly glad I didn’t give up – and not just over the big things like holiday trips – but the little things in the daily – like homework, Saturday morning muffins when I’d rather be in bed, when the dog chews up grandbaby girl’s pup-pup, when unplanned moments shred the schedule – I’m not giving up. Glad to know this mama’s still got game!

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (2 Cor 4: 16-18)
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Thanksgiving isn’t a one dish meal. It’s a feast – with lots of dishes – each one part of the Thanksgiving Story.

Yet most of us treat the history of it like a one dish meal. One dish treatment risks turning Thanksgiving into a regular every day until one day, stores remain open. Maybe it is treated as a play-day off. Who needs all. Some will treat it as a play day off.  Who needs all that turkey, anyway?

There is a reason it is a feast day, a day when all the stores should be closed – a holy reason.  Thanksgiving is sort of like our country’s Passover. Instead of remembering what God took us away from, we remember what God brought us to. Some say you cannot talk about religion and politics at the celebration table. Thanksgiving, though, makes religion and history honored guests at the table.

We sit down to handed-down recipes, plates and silverware – and the thankfuls for the past year – but the thankfuls need to reach further back – back to the beginning – in our dinner table talk.

Blue water glasses are filled – and bread set on the table

In prayer we link hands around the table, thank Him for the blessings – not only of today but to a day long ago when 40 charismatic Christians climbed aboard the Mayflower. Instead of walking through a parted Dead Sea, they sailed across wave tops to settle at Plymouth Rock.

A group of Christians, who were persecuted for owning copies of the New Testament, – who had fled England into Holland – where religious persecution still existed. Where families were boarded up in houses and burned for owning New Testaments. Why would a government do this? Because there was power in coming between a man and his Creator.

Mama’s Orange Dream Salad is then served on grandmother’s half-moon crystal plates

These 40 Christians were followed by boat-loads of immigrants. Even today, they come to be able to speak God’s name in the town square in the court house, on the public streets, in the school houses – to live and voice their belief without fear of persecution.

Aunt Joyce’s savory beans with marjoram and summer savory are spooned onto Muddy’s plates with tiny pink roses.

They arrived with a document, the Mayflower Compact. Each had signed it. It sounded good – they would all share the work of their hands, growing together a Utopian society. It failed. The Mayflower Compact was replaced by free capitalism.

Elizabeth’s Cranberry Salad – so fitting to see the sweet next to the savory

These early Plymouth settlers discovered the rationing of socialism and the plenty of capitalism through the work of their own hands – not their neighbors. They broke the glass ceiling of class restriction – like the cranberries we eat on Thanksgiving that float to the top in the harvest when water rushes through the cranberry fields, so does hard work, effort, talent – all based on individual gumption – not religion, not class, not government.

The Oyster Dressing – a heap please!

Let’s invite Tom up to the table – Thomas Payne with his book-load of  Common Sense. Listen to what he has to say – and maybe fan the  flame of independence he lit in 1776 – its flames rising at the dinner table.

Do you doubt that Christian faith was the foundation of our nation? Many do.

Read Payne’s short Pamphlet – how can anyone deny the Christian root of our nation?

Payne cites Gideon and the prophet Samuel declaring God did not want to make any man equally created to be king over another. Yet the people cried, “We want to be like the other countries. They have a king – we want one.”

The people learned the hard way, about equally created men set in power over another.

“One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion” (Payne).

Sherry’s Sweet Potato Casserole in double helpings

Payne knew the success of our revolution hinged on honest men – and the continuance of a free country could not exist without honest men.

“of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that very lived.”(Payne)

Carve out a little Common Sense along with the Turkey

Say again? You want to argue about the importance of God to the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, the news media of the time (Payne) – and the soldiers, the families, the immigrants coming?

Thomas Payne asks: “Who is the King of America?

Who?

‘I’ll tell you Friend,” Payne says. “He reigns above. . .’”
Oh, let that sit for a moment, friend. Just savor it, the flavor, the feeling, the truth of it.

Payne tells us, “Independence is the only BOND that can tye and keep us together.”

 My Normandy pie with a cup of coffee or cider

Many presidents have encouraged days of prayer, thanks and fasting: Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” read more here (http://www.creativeyouthideas.com/resources/teaching-illustrations/george-washingtons-1789-thanksgiving-proclamation/#ixzz2lFL5TrMF )

The Father admonished Israel to commemorate the Passover, to not forget:

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come” (Exodus 12:17).

Our Thanksgiving needs to be a remembrance like that, to not forget what He brought us to – in order that we may keep it and our children’s children live it.

I don’t know about you. Thanksgiving is about a lot of dishes – and a rich history. After a feast like that, sitting around a table with those I love, meaty ideas shared – I am stuffed, totally blessed and filled up by what brought us to this moment and where it will take us.

You can also find this post over at The M.O.M. Initiative  where I was an guest writer. The M.O.M. Initiative is an acrostic for Mothers on a Mission to Mentor Other Mothers. It exists as a group of moms and a package of resources to equip, enable and support women as they experience Titus 2 in real life. They are a beautiful group of women, supporting each other in so many ways! Please come by.

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Thanksgiving – so much more than a turkey!

There is so much more to Thanksgiving than the turkey, the football – even the family gathered around the table. Thanksgiving is about recognizing the roots from which America grew. Not just the patriotic, freedom-fighting roots – though they are as inherently necessary to recognize. It is the faith seed carried over the ocean in uncomfortable, danger-laden ships, planted in soil with hungry cold hands because of a vision of living God faith uninhibited by political agenda.

“The Lord is the Help of My Life”  – William Bradford

The first Pilgrims came to American so they could worship The God of Abraham, read The Gospel of Love and  experience the second Baptism without being drowned in a wine barrel, be burned alive boarded up in your own home, or have your entrails slowly pulled out of you in the town square as government officials attempted to turn you away from practicing your faith in the way you chose. At that time, the government determined how you practiced your faith – and if you disagreed, well, the government became disagreeable.

They came to America to be able to speak God’s name in the town square in the court house, on the public streets, in the school houses – to live and voice their belief without fear of persecution.

That faith seed would grow roots that would reach into our constitution: Article 1:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

(As a matter of fact, public schools were created to teach children to read so they could read the bible)

In America, these early Plymouth settlers discovered the rationing of socialism and the plenty of capitalism through the work of their own hands – not their neighbors. They broke the glass ceiling of class restriction – like the cranberries we eat on Thanksgiving that float to the top in the harvest when water rushes through the cranberry fields, so does hard work, effort, talent – all based on individual gumption – not religion, not class, not government.

“He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream”

Today, the Thanksgiving Holiday is full of irony – a House and Senate have left Washington D.C. to celebrate a holiday founded on the success of Capitalism and faith in God, yet daily they work to strip God out of the very places Pilgrims sought to freely worship their God – the city streets, the court houses, the schools – they wanted God in every part of their lives, their community, and their government.

Some leadership have gone so far today as to remove a cross from outside a base chapel in Afghanistan .  This symbol of faith and hope sustains many of our military soldiers protecting not only us but these leaders.

Just like the flag bearers of old gave the hope, the courage to fight on in difficult situations to their the military men it represented, so too does the symbol of our faith. When these flag bearers fell, so too did the fighting soldiers’ morale, hope and survival statistics. These soldiers live in casualty-real situations, putting their life on the life for an America created and built with hands seeking God.

Yet daily, these government officials attempt to strip the foundations of Capitalism and reduce Americans to the once starving, frustrated, dying, struggling Pilgrims who started out in socialism – who died in socialism – hungry and frustrated.  Until the American Spirit at Plymouth through a capitalist contract  replaced the socialist creed to break the bonds of servitude unleashing individual potential resulting in the American Dream.

While Socialism binds the hands of flourishing enterprise, smothers the seeds of creativity from which inventions spring, and suffocates the very breath of freedom, Capitalism frees the hands of enterprise, allows individual creativity the independence to invent, and  gives freedom breath to speak without recourse.

How ironic that today our government officials celebrate an event so diametrically opposed to their actions. How ironic is it that protestors are calling for a return to the socialism that brought Plymouth settler’s to their knees.

How sad that they celebrate Thanksgiving while chopping at the root of its very creation.

These people calling themselves the 99% are missing a very important factor. A missionary man preached at our church a few weeks ago. He asked, “Do you have an in-door toilet? Do you have running water? Do you have electricity?. . . .If you do, you are in the top 10% of the world.”

Yes, the 99% are in the top 10% of the world.

The top 10% because of faith in God and capitalism.

William Bradford’s biography is sitting on my desk right now.  My sons know the history of our country, but not through classroom textbooks because the full, real history of the birth of our country not taught. Because God is not allowed in the story telling in today’s public school classroom.

Today as you thank God for His blessings, as you pull your family close, spend additional time discussing the start of our country, how we became that top 10%, what enabled us to achieve clean water, medicines that heal and prevent, homes with so much comfort, electricity and internet, a washer and dryer, an abundance of food to keep and share.

And pray for those soldiers whose crosses are being pulled down, who are fighting to keep America safe, to keep America free, to keep God in America.

Graft you, your family to the deep root of faith from which America grew.

~ Written, Thanksgiving 2010
~Revised, Thanksgiving 2011
~Revised again, Thanksgiving 2012

Other related posts:

Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting Tebowing and other such Religious Behavior

Words Make a Difference

The 10 Cannots of Freedom

To Save a City

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