Over and over again: the routines of life

I woke up this morning and noticed the bathroom sink needs cleaned again. I’m just about ready to get my second cup of coffee and make my cereal concoction—again. Later, I will mess up the kitchen with our main meal preparation and afterwards clean it all up—again.

The rhythms of life include doing a lot of tasks again and again and again.

Get up, work and mess up, clean up.

Repeat.

All day long.

Every day.

These rhythms and tasks are good for us. Did you know that? Much of our life—think about it—is spent in mundane activities. Showers, laundry, kitchen jobs, washing the car, repairing things, driving, grocery shopping. They have a purpose, or we wouldn’t do them.

Do you want food? Tend a garden or go to the store—or both.

Want a clean home? Someone has to clean it. Ideally, everyone in the family contributes.

In life, whatever is worthwhile requires work. Even prayer and Bible reading mean discipline. Ever notice?

One of the most brilliant and gifted men the world has ever known wrote perhaps the most mind-boggling book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I’d like to share some tidbits of wisdom about the mundane things of life. Let’s listen to Solomon.

  • What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God (3:9-13).
  • The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much (5:12a).
  • Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (9:10a).
  • By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through (10:18).
  • Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (12:13-14).

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do today, even if it’s the same old thing, do it with thy might.

May we find joy in the mundane and do our everyday tasks as unto the Lord.

God bless you.

Fiction Review: Grace Like A River Flows

Grace Like A River Flows is the first book I’ve read by R. Marshall Wright. I look forward to reading more.

Billy Maddox is the proverbial “meaner than a junkyard dog” kind of person. He beats his girlfriend, abuses liquor, and leaves his trash around his badly kept home.

Glencoe is a nice little town, but the Oaks—where Billy lives—is across the tracks and another story entirely. Not even the police like going there.

Brad and his dog Beasley find out Billy is beating Heather, and Brad decides to do something about it. His methods may not be acceptable to the law but they’re effective, and the sheriff doesn’t mind a little bit of help. Brad becomes the conscience of those who act like Billy, and there are several in this town who need his special voice to their consciences.

Reagan Lamb is the pastor at Glencoe Community Church. He has a big heart and an excellent grasp of the gospel. He knows Jesus can transform lives and wants his congregation to get a taste of revival. Reagan’s one vice—if you can call it that—is driving his 1991 Miata sportscar … fast. He has a good marriage and a solid home. If only his church could get a vision for its community.

He answers the call to go and see Heather in the hospital. He can hardly recognize her, since her face is bruised and swollen.

Brad goes to work with his unique brand of “angelic” persuasion, and Pastor Reagan gets busy, too. The Oaks might never be the same.

I absolutely loved this book. For one thing, it has heart—a gospel-centered heart. It is also fast-paced and story-driven.

The writing is not without a few grammar and spelling mistakes, and it uses some crude words (no cursing). Also, there’s some violence, and there are references to bodily functions. But, this is one of the few books I have read where those flaws and my personal preferences didn’t disturb my great enjoyment. Maybe it’s the substance over style thing, but maybe it’s just that it’s a great read, period.

I wish Mr. Wright would have gotten this book professionally edited, but truthfully, it’s charming as it is. His pastor’s heart and down-to-earth style, coupled with his military background, make this a good read for any Christian.

Mr. Wright has written at least two more books. I look forward to reading them.

Five stars for sure.

Getting used to the new normal

Spanish news, American news, British news … they’re all talking about “the new normal.” Of course, no one has a clue what that means. There’s not one definition and not one recommendation, but we’re all supposed to get accustomed to things being different.

I had to laugh about a month ago when the climate activists were rejoicing about no smog in major cities like Beijing, Rome, Madrid, etc. where there were major shutdowns. Great. No pollution.

People are all shut up in their homes.

They cannot work.

People cannot drive anywhere unless it is critical to their wellbeing.

Look how it’s helping the climate. Animals in our streets. More bees.

We saved a lot on fuel for our car these past months. Of course. We couldn’t go to church or anywhere.

Is this the new normal? Forbidden to do anything or go anywhere?

“People aren’t spending extra money on clothing,” one news medium touts. “Isn’t that wonderful?” Well, when people aren’t allowed to leave their homes and the clothing sections of supermarkets are roped off, it’s not exactly a hard choice.

Then, we have the new social distancing normal. No one even knew what social distance was until recently, but these guidelines are hilarious, too. Some think it’s a meter (yard) and a half. Some say six feet. I heard a polititian say twelve feet today on the news. Where’d he get that?

Social distancing means we can’t hug, kiss, or touch. Our old people can’t have visitors. If you ask me, that’s just distancing, nothing social about it at all.

We went to church for the first time on Sunday. Our people sat a little farther apart than is prescribed by law. All of us wore masks. We sanitized our hands as we walked in. I waved to the others. There was no mingling, no fellowship, and no talking or hanging around before or after the service. It sure beats virtual meetings, and we’ll accept it for now.

But, the new normal?

Not normal. Not at all. Spanish society is all about touching, warmth, and relating to each other. Friendships. It’s one of the things I love about living here.

I have yet to go to the grocery store—after ten weeks—and I haven’t been in any large town. I am only now allowed to ride with my own husband in our own car. Woo hoo!

New normal.

No one would accept this forever, and I don’t think it will be forever.

Plexiglass divisions at restaurant tables? Puh-lease!

Yes, be careful. Wear a mask, if need be. Take care of others and yourself, and please wash your hands often and well.  If anything becomes a new normal, I hope it’s the handwashing thing. Just saying….

People were designed to relate to each other. Even before Adam was made from dust, God had planned a helper for him. God wanted the world populated and full of people. He wants us to care, fellowship, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecclesiastes 3:1-5).

Sounds like today, doesn’t it? This is one of those times to refrain.

God knew all about pandemics in the past, and He wasn’t taken by surprise by this one.

As to a new normal?

I sincerely hope we learn to value what’s most important—especially our families and church gatherings—and we cut out some of the extra time-eaters. I hope people wash their hands more and contaminate less.

But, I also hope the new normal is close to the old normal … if normal even exists.

Guest post: Pluckers!

My friend, Charity Woon, wrote some encouraging posts for women. I liked them so much that I asked her for permission to share them as guest posts with you. They’re based on this verse and go well with my series on Proverbs. Of course, we want to be builders, not “pluckers.” Enjoy!

Proverbs 14:1, Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Really… I don’t want to be a plucker….

But there are behaviors we women do that come so easily to us, and they damage our marriage relationship. For example:

Plucker Behavior #1: Competing with my husband

I’m not talking about a friendly game of Uno. I’m talking about the need to prove I am better than him at things: speaking, time management, leadership, planning, packing, driving….

Pride motivates our need to be recognized for our abilities. We belittle others and exalt our superiority. We point out their faults and weaknesses—areas we thrive in. But our home isn’t corporate America. We aren’t clawing to the top of the ladder. Competition between a husband and wife damages. We aren’t competing. We’re supposed to be helping each other. We are supposed to be lifting each other up. This world tears my husband down enough on its own without me joining the wrecking crew. I don’t need to point out his weaknesses—and certainly not publicly!

So what if I am a better planner or speaker or whatever? If I want to be a plucker, I will make sure he knows about it often. But if I am a builder, I will be his biggest cheerleader in his areas of strength as well as when he grows in his areas of weakness.

***

Some behaviors seem harmless, but they can weaken a marriage one small piece at a time.

Plucker Behavior #2: Dressing nicely for everyone except hubby

Isn’t it funny how, before marriage, we wanted to look our best every time we were going to see our sweetheart, but then after marriage we run around all day in pjs or sweatpants, no makeup, hair a disaster … until we need to go out somewhere? What message does that send? Do we now need to look nice for everyone except our husband?

One day I put this to the test. I had nowhere I needed to go, but I got up and got dressed nicely. It was nothing fancy, but it was nice enough that I would feel pretty while still being able to get things done in the house. I put on a little makeup and fixed my hair. Did my husband notice?

“What are you all dressed up for? You going somewhere?”

“Nope. Just wanted to look nice for you.”

It was already programmed in his mind that I only look nice when I go somewhere—not for him.

“You look nice.” Yes, he noticed, and it mattered.

I had sent him a new message, a new way of thinking. He is the one I need to look nice for, not the people at the grocery store. Getting dressed each day even if I am not going anywhere let’s him know I still want to capture his attention. He is worth a little extra effort.

So, for whom are we trying to look nice?

***

Plucker Behavior #3: Frivolous spending and discontentment

I remember one day my hubby came home from work. When we sat down to talk, he began thanking me.

“I just really appreciate that you aren’t high maintenance.”

Then, he began explaining how some guys at his workplace were talking amongst themselves about how their wives spent money frivolously, wanted expensive trinkets and luxuries for birthdays and Christmas, were often shopping for new clothes and spending lots of money on beauty parlor services, and would settle for nothing less than nice cars, nice houses, and more. The husbands complained about working so hard to make a paycheck only to have their wives blow it. One man turned to my hubby, expecting him to join in on the wife-bashing huddle.

“You know what I mean?” he asked.

“No. No, I don’t.” At that moment my husband realized how much he really treasured my tight-wad, penny-pincher nature.

“You are so content with what you have, and it felt good to tell them how virtuous you are.” Apparently the wife-bashing session stopped with his praise.

Honestly, it felt great to hear my hubby had bragged on me to his coworkers, but there was also a part of me that was grieved for those marriages. It’s never … never ever … justified for a husband to talk badly about his wife, but these wives didn’t realize how their materialism and discontentment were impacting their marriages.

Finances are one of the biggest issues in a marriage, and disagreements on money are a major contributor to divorce. If you want to be a builder instead of a plucker, give your hubby a reason to praise you in the area of finances instead of reason to complain.

Proverbs 31:28, Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Is your appetite whetted yet? Thank you, Charity, for allowing me to share your Plucker Behavior challenges with my friends. Readers, stay tuned. Look for more Pluckers guest posts in the future. Charity Woon has written several books, sold on Amazon.

Worshiping in the valley

At the beginning of 2020, I chose a theme word. A message I heard at Christmastime moved me profoundly. It wasn’t about choosing a word or anything like that. Instead, the sermon was about worship.

After the message, the music minister led the church in worshiping quietly however each person wanted. We could kneel, remain seated, or whatever.

It was a beautiful time of corporate worship and met a need in my heart. As a result, I chose the word worship as my key word for this year.

So far, this has been a valley year. I don’t want to bother you with the details, but it has been one of the most difficult years in my life. Many uncertainties, awful trials, the passing of a loved one, and isolation in Spain because of Covid19 have turned me to the Lord, clamoring for help, praying with groans, not knowing even how to trust—not understanding what is happening.

I have quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 to myself probably more than a hundred times, and I may make it two hundred before the year is out.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Lord, I acknowledge You. I know you’re in control, and you know exactly where You’re leading us, even when we are clueless.

How is your year going? Is it a valley?

Be encouraged.

God is still the awesome One who spoke and created the world. He is still the miracle working, history making God. He’s the One who loves you. He died for you. He rose from the grave, conquering death, and gives us hope and purpose.

Worship is praise.

Praising God for Who He is.

Just worship.

My friend, Jane, shared this poem. I asked the author, Nicole Madaus, if I could share it with you. She graciously gave me permission.

  • When you have been hurt and life is far from fair,
  • When your heart is breaking, choose to worship there.
  • When you’re overwhelmed by the burdens that you bear,
  • As you struggle neath the load, choose to worship there.
  • When the secrets that you carry hurt too much to share,
  • When you’re suffering in silence, choose to worship there.
  • When it feels like there will never be an answer to your prayer,
  • In the time of waiting, choose to worship there.
  • When you are grieving over an empty chair,
  • Even in your sorrow, you can worship there.
  • It may not change the trial, but it will change your point of view.
  • It may not change your suffering, but it can change you.
  • Worship can bring healing; it can set you free.
  • Move your focus off your problems, and put it back on Me!
  • Worship will remind you that I am in control
  • And that knowledge can bring comfort to your troubled soul.
  • Worship offers hope in the midst of deep despair,
  • So whatever you are facing, choose to worship there!

Let’s bless the Lord today. He is worthy.

*By Nicole Madaus