Tuesday Singing School

At our weekly homeschool co op meeting, I get to lead a short time of singing school at the beginning of the day. Last year, I got to teach Singing School as a 50-minute class every week to the kids in 2nd-6th grades. It was so much fun, and I loved watching the kids grow in their diligence, skill, understanding, and confidence. This is the third co op where I have taught Singing School, and it is always fun to bring a new challenge to a group of Christian kids and their mamas. I am never quite sure if what I bring to the table is what they expect… but they had to know what was coming at them because I start the first class off by handing out my packet of vision, resources, information, and selected songs. It’s probably a bit much at the getgo… but people adapt and grow to love it. It’s music, it’s God’s word, it’s communal creativity ~ what’s not to love?!

This year, I get ten minutes each week with all the ages – from my little one year old, up through all the mamas. It’s a broad range of skill levels and loves. But I approach it the same way I always approach Singing School: dive in, dig deep. It is worth pushing hard for beautiful music. It is worth prioritizing singing praise to God and making a joyful noise unto Him. It is worth memorizing long texts when they are beautifully composed poetic lyrics or excerpts from Scripture.

I love to teach solfege (do re mi fa sol la ti, etc) and kodaly hand signs (which are hand positions connected to each syllable of solfege), conducting patterns and musical terminology. But more than that, I love simply scooping up the people around me, and gathering them into a piece of music – no strings attached – just sing with me. Let’s simply tune our voices to sing His praise. Let’s combine our individual voices into one sonorous line to bless the ears of our Maker.

I firmly believe that He delights over us. Zephaniah 3 says that He sings over us! How could we not, in His image, sing over Him in return?! Let us shout for joy and be glad, let us rejoice in the days He makes, let us offer to Him a psalm of thanksgiving! And let us exhort one another, teaching each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs while today is yet called today.

It is good to lift our voices.
Let us not grow weary in doing good.
Let us not give up this calling or cower beneath governors who want to shut our mouths.
They need the gospel.
We need to sing.

Today I assigned Psalm 100 (to the familiar tune of the Doxology) as well as a favorite Jamie Soles version of the Kings of Israel. I am hoping that my kids and I can have these two things memorized by the time we go back to co op on December 1st. But the Kings of Israel is quite the tongue twister, so it’s aiming high! ūüėČ
We are also continuing to revisit other songs we have introduced to our co op for memory already this year: The Lord’s Prayer, The Patriarchs, The Books of the Bible, The Ten Commandments, Psalm 8, and Psalm 47.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all ye lands! Amen!

Psalm 100:1-2 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord Postcard | Zazzle.com

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

2  Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

3  Know that the LORD, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5  For the LORD is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

monday morning time

If you are bouncing around the internet looking for homeschooling ideas, or if you are a seasoned homeschooler familiar with pillars like Pam Barnhill, Cindy Rollins, or Sarah Mackenzie, “Morning Time” may mean more to you than simply the hours lumped between the ring of the alarm clock & the growling bellies of the lunch hour. Interestingly, when I first read “Mere Motherhood” by Cindy Rollins a couple years ago, I remember finding almost everything in there familiar and comforting rather than startling or groundbreaking. I think that is one of the things I love most about stumbling upon resources online or through friends: I often find that what I am already doing with my kids at home is actually something that people are promoting, theorizing, even monetizing. It’s like I don’t have to second guess myself and my home education methods, but rather find that people are cheering me on and gathering others onto a similar journey. It is extremely comforting and even gratifying. I am not alone. We are doing well. And this thing called home education is not only fruitful in the long haul, but even in the daily grind.

So what is Morning Time? My friend Cindy Rollins would say that it is a time for everyone in the home to gather together and focus on learning true, good, beautiful things that order our loves and remind us that things which can easily be shuffled to the side are actually of greatest prominence. It is a liturgy for beautifying our minds and souls. It reminds us that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular. To read more about what Cindy says, I urge you to read her Handbook to Morning Time (click here for her free PDF), or let me know if you want a bound copy – I happen to know she has some copies in her garage, and I would happily help hook you up with one of those (as long as supply lasts).

Just as our home education is not identical to the home education of anyone else we know, neither is our Morning Time routine. The liturgy we follow in our home reflects the loves, passions, and pursuits of the people who live here. It is the basic backbone of the education we long for & ultimately chase. Cindy says that the practice in her home is made up of several elements: morning meeting, composer study, artist study, prayer time, hymn singing, Bible reading and memorization, Shakespeare and Plutarch, poetry reading and memorization, a quick conversational grammar lesson, and reading aloud. When I spoke with Cindy last week (either over a leisurely cup of coffee while it snowed outside, or later while I drove her to the airport – I forget exactly when), she told me that Morning Time with her family (she educated her eight sons and one daughter over a period of thirty years) would often last for more than two hours. I was so heartened by that! Because I often find that the Morning Time routine in my own home lasts that long, and I had wondered if that were completely abnormal and overkill. But we love it… so I am loathe to cut it short, unless it is a day where we have places to go. Like Wednesdays, when we have piano lessons, ballet lessons, a library run, and other errands to accomplish while we are all the way in town. (Yes, we live in the country… so any time we drive to town over 45 minutes away, we pack it all in: and yes again, it definitely involves audiobooks on the regular.)

So what does Morning Time look like in my home? I have four sons and one daughter, currently ranging in age from 17 months to 12 1/2 years. Morning Time is not often polished and predictable, but I can honestly say it is both ordered and adored.

We gather. Often at the kitchen table, often at the couches by the fire, occasionally on the back patio or the front lawn (seasonally dependent, of course). I have our current Morning Time books and resources compiled in a wheeled metal cart for easy utilization, although a “morning basket” has been popular & efficient for moguls like Pam Barnhill and Dawn Garrett. I just found that we outgrew a basket too quickly… so a cart with wheels serves us best.

The Doxology is sung, and we sing with gusto. In harmony. With open hands raised to our Father in heaven. It is a favorite moment of every day. A beloved practice.

We tend to then start with Scripture. We read a Psalm, a Proverb, and another selection from whatever book we are currently reading through. At this moment, it is 1 Samuel. We read through the Pentateuch earlier this year, and have been revisiting it again as we study ancient history with our local homeschool co op. So I thought the kids would like a New Testament letter from Paul or something, but they requested Samuel. So that’s where we are reading currently. The children all take turns reading aloud together, but it helps if each child has a Bible of their own on their lap so their eyes can follow along and help keep their attention focused. We are learning the habit of attention, and that’s one reason I start with Scripture. Eventually, kids get squirrelly, so we want to give highest attention to that which we find most important.
We don’t do too much of a formal study at this point. We have used study books in the past, or used formal discussion questions. My kids are very curious and conversational by nature, so we most often simply talk about what stands out to us, how we can learn from what we have read, what challenges us, or what we love about it.
The kids and I also then each do a little Scripture copywork in our journals. Sometimes the selection I choose is the same for each of us: sometimes it is shorter for the kindergartener and longer for the older kids, and an entire chapter for myself. It generally takes 5-8 minutes, I think. I love to have music playing quietly while we do this.

Then we move on with more singing. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Our favorite resources are the Cantus Christi hymnal from Canon Press, the Cantica Sanctorum also from Canon Press, Then Sings My Soul, the Hosanna student hymnal, and Jamie Soles songs. I happen to have a degree in music, and my kids have followed in the footsteps of their parents with love of singing to the Lord as well as a practiced habit of growing this skill. They’ve got talent. But even if they thought they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, singing would still be paramount in our family life, our educational pursuits, and our liturgy of Morning Time. It is a cornerstone for us.
We participate in HappyHymnody‘s monthly hymn, and love memorizing along with friends all over the place. We also choose a monthly Psalm, and share it at SacredPsalmody. Then I lead music at our homeschool co op each week, so we practice those songs during Morning Time at home. And the kids like to request good old favorites in rotation. They especially love to sing in four part harmony, and often choose things with difficult, contrasting lines.

We then have prayer – sometimes it involves us all taking turns, sometimes it is one of us leading in using an Every Moment Holy liturgy, sometimes it is based on a psalm, sometimes it is me praying over my children even feeling like I’m about to lose it at the end of my wits. We have a little jar of popsicle sticks on which we have written all kinds of prayer requests and prompts, and the children love to draw sticks from that for prayer time. This can last anywhere from two to ten minutes.

We usually sing the Gloria Patri at this point. Again in harmony, quite loud, with hands raised and open.

We work through each child’s catechism, doing about five minutes per child. They try to listen to one another and practice the skill of listening, the art of attention, the habit of encouragement. But it’s tricky sometimes, because by this point we’ve lost the toddler and the kindergartner has gotten squirrelly, and even the big kids start getting giggly. In my family, we start each child with a Small Child’s Catechism, and once they have mastered all fifty of those Q&A, they move on to learning the Westminster Shorter for Children. After they can recite all 145 of those answers (which takes a solid fifteen minutes in succession), they begin with the New City catechism. I am not sure yet what we will learn after that… my two oldest kids and I are not yet through that one! We continue working and growing together in faith and practice.

Then we continue to work on memory, usually reciting & adding to a Scripture memory. Last year we memorized the entirety of Psalm 103. This year we are working on Proverbs 2. It is so difficult for me to memorize such long portions without having it set to music! I am seeking to learn and grow.
Then each child has a turn to recite one or two poems. Sometimes we simply read poetry to one another (Sing a Song of Seasons, Favorite Poems Old and New, 100 Best Poems, Poetry for Young People), always we recite for one another. Practicing speaking in front of others, and growing in the art of elocution, is hugely important to us.
At this point we will review any memory work from co op, Sunday school, or other resource as well.

When we are currently doing an art study, composer study, or Shakespeare study, we will include it now. Last year, we focused on geography (loving the Mapping the World with Art resource!), and loved including Geography Songs here as well. This year, we are doing ancient history, so often review readings, videos, poetry, or timeline for that.

We close our Morning Time then with reading aloud and art. Sometimes art is very specific, sometimes it is free for the children to choose. They do complicated dot to dot or sticker art sometimes. They use how-to-draw books and fill lots of sketchbooks with exquisite drawings. Occasionally they watercolor or use colored pencils in a variety of coloring books.

We tend to get most of our reading recommendations from my friends Sarah and Betsy at ReadAloud Revival and Redeemed Reader. I can vouch for both resources. We have relied on their reviews and lists of suggestions for years, and have probably only had three duds ever. If you had any idea how many books the kids and I go through on a regular basis (more than fifty large books, and absolutely countless hundreds of picture books), you would realize how excellent a ratio that is. We have five library cards and a few audiobook accounts… and a quite large home library in walls lined in bookcases upstairs in our schoolroom, built-in cases in the family room, and shelves for each child in their bedrooms for easiest storage & access. We are proud bibliophiles, and have the collection to prove it.

On an average day, I think I spend 1-3 hours reading aloud to my children. But it varies that vastly, depending on whether we are out and about, or how much co op homework we have, or what the weather is like. When I was on bedrest or during the worst of the covid-19 lockdowns, it was at least 3 hours a day… and we loved it to pieces. Those are our favorite days.

And I think that is what I am circling back round to now: the fact that Morning Time is our favorite thing. If we don’t do anything else to redeem a day, Morning Time (even in a shortened, bare bones version) brings beauty, form, liturgy, truth, and goodness to our day. It forces us to practice habits of recitation, attention, listening, learning, spiritual graces, practical skill. It brings joy to our home. It knits our family culture.

I would love to share more Morning Time snippets here on the blog. And I would love to read about your own experiences and explore your favorite resources as well. Please share!


11.16.20 Morning Time Selections


Psalm 119:105-128
Proverbs 8
1 Samuel 26

Psalm 8
Psalm 47
Psalm 70
A Mighty Fortress
For the Beauty of the Earth

Gloria Patri

A Walking Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Weight of Wonder by Ben Palpant
We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Creation by Joseph Carlson
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Bud of Joy by Amy Carmichael
Yellow by Olive Dove
David by Joseph Carlson

Radiant by Richard Hannula
Pages of History, Vol. 1 by Bruce Etter
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. LaFevers

Sacred Psalmody 2020

God is so kind to require our praise in song, and then to mercifully act in His kindness to make it an absolutely delightful practice! What a good Father. I realize that I may have a little edge on this perspective, because I was raised singing Scripture and other spiritual songs basically from infancy. Some of my dearest, earliest memories are from singing with my father at bedtime, accompanied by his strummed guitar. He put verses to music to help me hide the Word in my heart from my youngest days. I truly believe this is one of the most effective ways my parents walked me into the Christian life of faith, and effectively engaged my heart and mind in the things of the Lord while He graciously granted me the gift of never knowing a time without calling on His name.

I became a pianist shortly after my early introduction to being a singer, and was a church accompanist by the time I was a teenager. I have accompanied in CREC, Anglican, and PCA churches. When I attended Whitworth University, I wanted to get my Bachelor’s in accompaniment but they didn’t have that focus at the time. Although I was bummed, I did get a general music BA with an emphasis on church music, and a minor in theology, using voice as my instrument and choir as my main focus. There was nothing like it – I was only there for two years, having spent three years prior at a lovely community college – and I fondly look at that time at Whitworth as a season of foundational both musical and spiritual growth for me.

Since becoming a homeschooling mama, I have been essentially grooming and growing my own little chorale. When God took me through the years of multiple miscarriages, our wandering in the wilderness of struggling to grow our family, one of my big heartbreaks was the idea that I would not have children filling my home with music. Oh! how the Lord laughs, and how I laugh with Him! for my Lord has fulfilled that desire now to overflowing! It brings tears to my eyes. (And more than an occasional headache or need for ear plugs.) Honestly though, there is almost nothing that brings more joy to my heart than hearing the voices of my children united in the joyful noise of praising the King.

In addition to singing every day in our Morning Time routine here at home, I have also had the blessing of teaching Singing School to three different local Christian homeschooling co ops. I love to bring others along with us in our journey of singing praise to God, including (especially!) the Psalms.

I do not subscribe to the idea of sole psalmody in worship as do some good brothers and sisters in Christ, but I do deeply believe we ought to sing Psalms. We ought to know them and love them and work hard to deepen our knowledge of their wisdom and theology and singability.

My children and I have the goal to learn at least one sung/chanted version of each of the 150 Psalms before our home education days together are ended. My oldest child is already in seventh grade, so I have some motivation to quicken the pace. If we were to memorize one Psalm a month, it would take over twelve years to accomplish that goal. So it is more than a little lofty. Praise the Lord, I still have a toddler, and have many years for growing and singing and educating left ahead of me.

Please allow me now to share with you the Psalms we chose to memorize for the year 2020.

January ~ Psalm 117 ~ text: KJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
February ~ Psalm 121 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
March ~ Psalm 23 ~ text: Henry W. Baker; music: Old Irish melody, St. Columba; source: Cantus Christi
April ~ Psalm 34 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: John Wainwright, Yorkshire; source: Cantus Christi
May ~ Psalm 122 ~ text: Tate & Brady; music: William Tans, Colchester; source: Cantus Christi
June ~ Psalm 98 ~ text: text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Thomas Jarman, Desert; source: Cantus Christi
July ~ Psalm 148 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Horatio Palmer, St. Catherine’s; source: Cantus Christi
August ~ Psalm 63 ~ text: Psalter of 1912; music: Thomas Tallis, Third Mode Melody; source: Cantus Christi
September ~ Psalm 111 ~ text: NKJV; music: Gustav Holst, David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
October ~ Psalm 103 ~ text: Johann Gramann, Catherine Winkworth; music: Johann Kugelmann, Heinrich Schutz; source: Cantus Christi
November ~ Psalm 70 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi
December ~ Psalm 130 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi

Pursuing Paideia through Song

One of the main ways I personally love to pursue the paideia of the Lord here in our home with my children is through the reading, singing, and memorization of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. To help encourage myself to be diligent in this way, I started a little Instagram page called @sacredpsalmody this year to document the Psalms my kids and I are memorizing each month. I hope to connect Sacred Psalmody here at Joyful Domesticity through a category or tag to make it easy to reference each month’s Psalm. For a couple of years, we have used @happyhymnody to memorize one hymn per month along with many friends. It was my dear friend Elizabeth, who now lives seven hours away, who first introduced me to the wonderful work April does at Happy Hymnody, and I am so grateful. I love knowing that we are memorizing texts and tunes along with those closest to our hearts, even though we are physically distanced from one another. When we do see each other, we can sing together from memory, encouraging and exhorting one another through song for God’s glory.

In our home, we try to start our day with Morning Time (similar to things you might learn from Cindy Rollins or Pam Barnhill), and a main component of this is our singing. My children love singing, harmonizing, memorizing – I literally can’t keep the number of songs below six each day, even when I am trying to do a “short version” of our Morning Time routine. We do the Doxology and the Lord’s Prayer regularly, sometimes a sung version of a creed, at least one or two psalms, at least two hymns, and possibly some other non-spiritual song of some sort (last year we sang lots of Geography Songs and this year we are doing some Ancient/Bible History songs). What a gift to raise our voices together!

Honestly, sometimes I need to preach to myself that IT IS A GIFT. Because these kids would sing at the top of their lungs all day long if their mama would let them. What about yours? I would love to know what songs, psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, and non-spiritual educational or folk songs you love to sing in your home.

What kind of soundtracks do you like to play in the house or while on the road? We love to have JJ Heller, Andrew Peterson, Slugs & Bugs, or Jamie Soles playing on the cd player in the kitchen if there are ever moments where the piano isn’t being played, ukuleles strummed, or voices lifted. Music is central to culture. Cindy Rollins said just recently, in a webinar called Educating the Freeborn, that music is dangerous. And an old pastor friend of ours has long drilled into me that worship is warfare. We must train ourselves in this art, this skill. We must raise the children in our homes to wield this weapon with clarity, creativity, and confidence. We must use music for the pursuit of paideia.

Practical paideia

It‚Äôs amazing how time passes while life happens. As I write this, I am sitting in a field with my four sons, as we wait for our family‚Äôs one sister (smack in the middle of the boys) to emerge from her twice-weekly ballet class. Living out in the country, at least 45 minutes from all the places in town, we have grown accustomed to schooling on the go. While we adore audiobooks on the road, I honestly do not love bringing workbooks and other projects along into car seats and waiting rooms. But at least while the weather holds, we hike or play tag or toss balls instead of keeping our noses incessantly buried in books… which, admittedly, would be the occupation of choice for almost anyone in my home. Even the 16 month old will grab books over toys nine times out of ten.

Which brings me around to mentioning one of the main reasons this blog has gone ignored for an embarrassingly substantial length of time. After over nine weeks of bedrest at home in early 2019 due to a partial placental abruption during my fourteenth pregnancy, I went into labor at 33 weeks. While I have never had easy, uncomplicated, or carefree pregnancies, this one definitely took the cake. After my bedrest was moved to the hospital, my parents stepped up for a solid week of parenting my four kids on their own while my husband stayed at my hospital bedside as I was pumped full of medications to keep our baby boy safely tucked inside. And then with a sudden shudder like a breaking storm, our fifth child was born right at 34 weeks after less than thirty minutes of intense labor. Seth Tyndale was a darling little lump of sugar right from the getgo, but his sweetness was matched by his strength – he only needed breathing assistance for an hour or so. In fact, by the time I was allowed to go join my husband in the NICU with our baby boy, he was already on room air. God was busily answering so many prayers! I spent the next two weeks mostly sitting in an uncomfortable glider beside Seth‚Äôs isolette, holding him tucked inside my shirt for as many hours a day as the nurses would let me. I sang psalms to him, prayed with him, put an earbud next to his head while I listened to sermons or the audio Bible in my Olive Tree app. I was determined that this little boy would never know a day where he wasn‚Äôt bathed in the words and wonder of his King. We made it home from the NICU in only two weeks, which impressed and surprised the medical workers – but we had worked hard around the clock to help Seth make strides toward home, and had hundreds of people praying. When he was eight weeks old, and exactly 7lbs, Seth had eye surgery because he was born with a special (aka complicated) left eye. His little baby blue needed a few things done, including having his lens removed. So until he is old enough to have his lens replaced, he wears a contact lens in that eye! Changing, cleaning, and replacing his itty bitty contact is not my favorite mothering chore – but we are so delighted by God’s kind gift of optical care and medical progress. One of our most frequent family prayers is for God to bless Seth with good sight, and for us to be faithful as we help him learn to live with contacts and glasses from infancy.

And this is where you would have found me for the last 15+ months as well: bathing my children in the things I know are true, good, beautiful. Strewing their days & ways with books, music, food, laughter, lessons, and conversations around blanketed beds or bedecked tables. There have been painful growth spurts and frustrating external circumstances. But when boiled down to its most essential moments and memorable pursuits, it is easy to see that God is the one who has been bathing my home with His truth, abundant goodness, and tangible beauty.

He is the one who is educating all of us, molding us, filling us. I am joyfully humbled by the realization that I am disciple and student and child right beside my five little gingers.

I would like to find a way to carve out moments to share thoughts and experiences here at Joyful Domesticity again. Not because I think I have anything shiny or unique or eloquent to offer. But because I‚Äôm here in the trenches of homeschooling my five kids while seeking to maintain a joyful countenance and a joy-filled home, longing for more moments to fill with my own schole or ways to live out my philosophies of Christian culture… and if you want to share the experiences or join in the conversation, this is the place you‚Äôll find it.

I want to pursue practical paideia and joyful domesticity, and find the beauty in their shared realities. To God be the glory.

Prayers of Psalmody, for One Anothering

…as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of Your steadfast love
answer me in Your saving faithfulness.
Psalm 69:13

O Lord‚ÄĒmy God, my Father, my King‚ÄĒGod, Father, and King of us all. Please bend low to hear my prayer now, as I fall at Your feet. I come to You, asking You to show me how to love and serve and live by the light of Your grace in Your body, the Body of Christ. As I am faced daily with others‚ÄĒothers who love You, serve You, belong to You‚ÄĒwould you please teach me, show me, and enable me so that I can pour forth the heart of Christ into the hearts of His people.
My prayer is to You, O Lord, and I ask You to answer me in Your saving faithfulness because Your steadfast love is abundant.

Please, Father from whom all love flows in truthful abundance, enable me to love others, not by my own strength and might but by Your indwelling of the Spirit in my soul, pour Yourself out by Your loving grace through my thoughts, words, prayers, deeds, actions, and inactions.

John 13:34, John 13:35, John 15:12, John 15:17, Romans 12:10, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 Peter 4:8, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 5

Please, Father from whom there is no shadow or variation, enable me to show sacrificial kindness to others, not with words or speech only but with actions and truth.

Ephesians 4:32, 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Please, Father who is the one and only God of truth, enable me to curb flattery and lies, rather to act and speak according to the truth in love which You desire Your people to pour out upon one another and upon the world around us.

Lev 19:11, Zechariah 8:16, Malachi 3:16, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9, James 4:11

Please, Father who teaches and instructs and bestows honor perfectly, enable me to honor all those You put around me, above me, and under me, in accordance with Your will.

Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3-5, 1 Peter 5:5

Please, Father who rights all wrongs and redeems all the brokenness of the world through Christ’s work and sacrifice, enable me to abstain from wronging others but rather to seek their good and to sacrifice myself for their blessing.

Lev 19:11, Lev 25:14, Lev 25:17, Zechariah 8:17, Galatians 5:15, Galatians 5:26, James 4:11

Please, Father who dwells with the Son and Spirit, who perfectly bear our burdens and strengthen us for their weight, enable me to give of my soul and my strength to bear the burdens of others through prayer and action and true sacrifice.

Romans 12:15, Romans 15:1, Galatians 6:2, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13

Please, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who wept with His beloved friends over the death of their brother, who knows what it is to look upon pain and suffering, enable me to cry, mourn, grieve, and sit quietly with those around me who are weighed down by the sorrows of this life.

1 Sam 20:41, Romans 12:15, 2 Corinthians 13:11

Please, Father who gives us both holy Scripture and Holy Spirit to be our encouragement, who places us in the Body of Christ for mutual support and stimulation in the faith, enable me to be an encouragement to others so that their countenances will be lifted and You will be glorified.

Proverbs 27:17, Romans 1:12, Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24, Hebrews 10:25

Please, Father of Paul the Apostle who specifically sought to exhort Your people, You who use the sword of Your Spirit to cut and hone our souls for Your purpose and Your Kingdom, enable me to rightly divide Your Word so that the words I speak and the prayers I pray would be an exhortation toward righteousness in Christ.

Proverbs 27:17, Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24

Please, Father of us all who welcomes us with grace and mercy, compassion and the shelter of Your protection, enable me to greet and welcome and embrace all who You put in my path, to the glory of Your name.

Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Peter 5:14

Please, Father in the Trinity, who shares continual fellowship with the Son and the Spirit, enable me to imitate Your love and grace-filled fellowship so that I will build up the saints around me, and will be likewise built up by them, as we find opportunity to spur one another on to love and good works in the power of Your indwelling of us.

1 Peter 4:9, 1 Peter 5:14, 1 John 1:7

Please, Father who opens Your heavenly home to redeemed sinners, whose Son welcomed the poor and the marginalized, You who exemplify for Your people what it is to meet the needs of others, to pour ourselves out for the blessing of one another, to share our home and our possessions with people of all status and station, enable me to be hospitable with my words, my hands, my skills, and my home.

Romans 12:13, Romans 15:7, 1 Peter 4:9

Please, Father for whom my soul longs and my spirit waits all the day, You who deign to patiently bear with my own weaknesses and frailties and stumblings, enable me to wait for others around me, so that I do not rush ahead in selfish greed, but rather come alongside others in the patient grace that You daily pour out upon me.

1 Corinthians 11:33

Please, Father who is the God of peace, from whom flows all harmony and forgiveness, enable me to live at peace with all mankind, so that as far as I am able, Your peace and forgiveness dwells in me and flows through me to the point where I feel no animosity or jealousy, bitterness or unrest, and insomuch as I have influence, enable me to spread Your peace to others.

Psalm 133:1, Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, Romans 14:13, Romans 14:19, Romans 15:5, Galatians 5:15, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, James 4:11, James 5:9

Please, Father who delights over me with singing, enable me to sing not only to You in praise but to others for the sake of Your glory, for Your delight, for the proclaiming of Your sovereign goodness.

1 Sam 18:7, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16

Please, Father of all creation who loves to give good gifts to Your sons and daughters, enable me to use my talents and my resources to give to others, not selfishly but sacrificially and from the heart.

Esther 9:19, Esther 9:22, Luke 3:11, 1 Peter 4:10

Please, Father whom we serve and whose Son taught us by example how to serve others as He gave His life a ransom for many, enable me to use the strength and skills and resources that You have provided me to serve others, as a good steward of Your grace.

Mark 10:45, Luke 3:11, John 13:14, Romans 12:13, Galatians 5:13, Philippians 2:5-7, 2 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Peter 4:10

Please, Father of forgiveness, abundant in grace and mercy, enable me to be humble in spirit so that I will not hide my sins or dwell in iniquity, but rather enable me to humbly confess my sins to those against whom I have committed wrongs, and enable me to gladly and unabashedly forgive those who likewise seek my forgiveness.

James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 4:8

Please, Father who hears our prayers and sees in secret, enable me to pray in private and in public as You give opportunity, so that I can pray both for and with those around me, to bring petitions and praises to You not only on behalf of myself but for the people You put into my life with their varied lives of joy and suffering, anxieties and sins, praises and gifts.

Matthew 18:20, Acts 12:5, Romans 15:30, James 5:16

Our Father in heaven, who bends low to His children when we fall at Your feet, please hear the cries of Your child as I ask You to enable me to be a conduit of Christian grace to others, by the power of Your Spirit. Abba, Abba, Abba! Grant that I may glorify You in my interactions with those around me, so that Your glory will be magnified and Your Kingdom will be furthered on earth, where I await Your Son‚Äôs coming again where all will be made new, and Your people will see You‚ÄĒside by side‚ÄĒface to face.
For the sake of Your glory, Your power, Your Kingdom, Your honor, and Your Son~ amen.

Real Faith

I’ve been seeking, this week, to keep my faith in Jesus Christ ~& the grace that abundantly flows toward us through the Gospel~ in front of my eyes. I am asking God to fill me up with it so that it comes out my fingertips. And this morning when I read an encouraging snippet from Nancy Guthrie’s daily book, Abundant Life Day Book, the Lord reiterated that to me afresh as He spoke to me through words she wrote in encouragement and faith.

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. … Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them. … Then when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply. Isaiah 58:6-7, 9

I love you too much to let you settle for some sense of false religiosity. So I am calling you to authentic spirituality. Here is how you live out real faith before Me: you get your eyes off yourself, your concerns, your struggles, your needs, and you throw yourself into meeting the needs of others.

As you become the answer to someone else’s prayers, you will look up and discover that I am answering your prayers. As you give yourself away, you will discover that you have been blessed with more than you could ever ask for. We’ll have the real relationship you long for, and when you call to Me, you will find me humbly available and quickly responsive.

May God enable me to serve others with joy for His sake, may He give me grace to be the answer to someone else’s prayers so that He can receive glory, and may He open my eyes in real faith so that I will always readily see how abundantly He is blessing me whether in the valleys or on the mountaintops. Amen.

Thursday April 29, 2010

Between an awful cold and trying to pop through his last two-year molars, my poor little boy is one unhappy critter. After a dramatic lunch, we colored with crayons, read some books, and I was about to get him a movie to watch (I was looking forward to cuddling up on the couch with him!) — when I walked into my room to get the laptop, and this is what I found.

I don’t think he had been in there (this is in our room, next to Steven’s bedside table) for more than two minutes while I was cleaning up the crayons in the other room. I guess he was so sleepy, he could fall asleep anywhere!
So cute. ūüôā

Friday March 19, 2010

The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride;
The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside;
The doorband strong enough from robbers to defend;
This door will open at a touch to welcome every friend.
~Henry Jackson van Dyke

One of my favorite books about relationships is Face to Face by Steve Wilkins, discussing friendship and hospitality. It’s been about two years since I have read it, though, so it’s about time to start again. ūüôā Click here for a decent review of it. I once shared excerpts and quotes from it here, too (anyone remember that?).
The funny thing is that we are almost always eager to pursue friendship. But are we as eager to pursue hospitality?
The two things are frequently related, but not always. Interesting.

I don’t know that I want to get into a deep discussion about hospitality right now.
I just wanted to say that I personally have been getting back at it.
During times of heavy grief, I am not always able to open my doors to invite in lots of guests for pretty tables and delicious food. But times of heavy grief come and go (sometimes predictably, but more often less so), and the days come again when I am equipped by God’s grace to show hospitality.
In recent weeks, I have made an effort to have someone over for dinner once a week. We’ve done it for the last four weeks, and are about to take a break for a few weeks. But then maybe I will try it once again.
It is delightful to have people over to share a meal (simple or fancy, as the case may be), pop open a bottle of wine (or a couple of beers, or a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade), and chase the evening away with pleasant conversation and fellowship (and maybe even a board game or two).

I pray that as I age, I will grow into my desires of hospitality. I would love to share my home, my table, my meals, and my family with others. Especially those in the bonds of Christ (Galatians 6:10). It is mutually beautiful and encouraging! But I would, someday, like to grow out of my comfort zone. I would love to invite nonChristians into my home (with discretion and hubby’s leading) someday, so that we can share the Gospel more tangibly, with table & food & conversation. I have always felt more called to discipleship than evangelism (God gives different gifts to different people), but I think I must at least dip toes into both realms. And one way I would love to grow my evangelistic thread is by sharing food (not that that is the only way to show hospitality, for it certainly is not. It is just one of my main ways of showing hospitality, as God has gifted me in that area). I have a few thoughts on how this may develop and evolve through the coming years… but this isn’t the time or place for that just yet. ūüôā

I have been trying out new recipes on my hubby very frequently of late, and have even tried new recipes on our guests (which can be risky business). For our first recent set of guests, we had fajitas (our favorite tried & true, easy & quick, go-to meal) and salad and chips & salsa; with sweet tea to drink and chocolate bundt cake (new recipe!) for dessert. The second set of guests helped us share a meal of salmon & tilapia (basted with garlic, Meyer lemon, herb butter), quinoa (new recipe!), salad, and bread; again with sweet tea to drink and peach cobbler for dessert. The third set came on a day I had a blood infusion, so I tried planning ahead with a crockpot meal of Beef Burgundy (a twist on the theme, at least – I didn’t actually use burgundy, I used port! and this was also a new recipe!), salad, bread (new recipe again!); with a Spanish wine to drink and blackberry buckle (another new recipe!) for dessert (the pictures below are of this meal). Then on St. Patrick’s day we shared a meal again (this time with my brother’s family!), so it was our traditional March 17th fare of corned beef (with a fabulous brine in the crockpot), cabbage, onions and carrots, Irish soda bread (new recipe!), sour cream mashed potatoes; with Guinness to drink and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Besides the food, the home and table and atmosphere should also be welcoming and lovely. It should seep with hospitality. While I don’t necessarily think you have to have your house completely spic & span to have company (for what of those unannounced guests that occasionally pop by? Do invite them inside, even if there is dog hair all over the couch and toys strewn all across the floor!); if the company is expected, your home should look like it was expecting company. This will look different for different homes and different families. So do what you need to do to prepare your home (as well as yourself and your meal) to be hospitable.
For me, this involves bringing out the vacuum to clean the carpets and get the dog hair off the couch, etc. Vacuuming almost always involves first decluttering the house and putting away [most of] the toys. It also involves wiping down the bathroom; if it needs a good, deep clean then by all means scrub away… but if it just needs a little freshening up, grab a Lysol wipe (or spray a cloth with some good all-purpose disinfecting cleaner), and wipe down the countertop & sink, and then lastly wipe down the commode (no guest wants to use a disgusting toilet – I promise). Don’t worry much about the shower/tub unless the guests are staying overnight. Just close the door/curtain, and call it good. A quick Windexing of the mirror would be nice, and maybe putting in a Glade Plug-In or lighting a candle out-of-the-reach-of-children on the counter would add a nice scent and ambience.

And the table… yes, the table! Basically the altar upon which you offer your delicious meal as a sacrifice of your time, energies, and means! Make it lovely. This can be very simple or very complex, depending on the day. I like to have a candle or two (or four…), a vase (or jar or champagne flute) with a flower/bouquet, sometimes a tablecloth (especially if your actual table is less than lovely), etc.

Remember to relax. If something gets spilled on the tablecloth or floor, just smile and quickly wipe it up – and deal with stain-removal once the guests have left. Shrug it off. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be too.

Share the Gospel – with your food, your home, your words & your actions. Interact with your family as well as theirs. Don’t ignore anyone, including the littlest guests! Keep the conversation going (which is sometimes easier than others). Bring out toys for children (or Tupperware and wooden spoons and cookie cutters if you don’t have any), turn on some music, and enjoy sharing of yourself and your resources.

Also remember that hospitality isn’t just shown by inviting a whole family over for dinner.
(Mrs. Wilson has an archive about various issues involving hospitality right here!)
Hospitality is shown by delivering dinner to someone else’s home; by dropping off half a dozen (or a dozen!) cookies on a random day of the week to encourage someone’s day; by giving a can or two to the local canned food drive; by offering a bedroom to a traveling minister who needs a place to rest his head; by inviting someone over for brunch or tea; by sharing your garden produce with neighbors or brethren at church…
Hospitality looks different for different people, and different at different times. But it is always lovely.
Share of yourself. Bless God. And encourage hospitality in yourself, your home, and your family.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
~Romans 12:10-13