Filthy or Lived In?

While toting rocks across our property in the bucket of my hubby’s CAT (landscaping project of the moment), I got to thinking more about our housekeeping thread in the comments of my First Impressions post. Several of us were throwing out descriptions of homes, such as “filthy” or “lived-in” and now I’m wondering, just where does the line blur between the two? (Not that it matters, right?)

To me, filthy is stepping on some sticky, dried-on mess and not knowing what it is, only that flies are living off of it and probably have been for a few hours or more. Filthy is not realizing that your kitchen floor tiles were originally white. Filthy could be a moldy-smelling laundry room with no visible floor space under all the mounds of clothing. Or a back porch full of shoes and dirt and dust on everything you touch (raising hand sheepishly on this last one, this has been my back porch on more than one occasion!).

Lived-in, however can include many things. Toys on the floor. Clutter on the end tables. Clean laundry on the couch or bed waiting to be folded. Fuzzy lint on the carpet. A little toothpaste scum in the bathroom sink. All forgiveable, right? (Unless this is your version of filthy. Do tell in comments!)

What are your definitions of “filthy” and “lived-in” as regards housekeeping, just for the fun of it?

After two days of being busy outside, and because of three girls keeping busy inside…my house was a wreck! My oldest has discovered the joys of sewing Barbie clothes…so she’s all set up with my sewing machine on the card table (thread and fabric snippets everywhere) having a BLAST…and her little sisters turned the living room and kitchen into “Barbie resort land”–actually, they had two things going on at once, Barbies b/c of all the new clothes big sister was turning out, and babies b/c that’s their ultimate when it comes to playing together…so anyway, can you imagine? The funny deal is, we usually have them pick it all up before supper, but last night with a storm rolling in, I was up to my elbows in garden dirt with my rock project, hoping to get done before the dark skies and lightening unleashed their fury overhead. Dh, similarly, was working with our oldest on getting our big inflatable pool set up. (We had no idea it was going to storm, it really caught us off guard, going from ninety-some degrees to 67*F in less than an hour!) So by the time we got our respective projects wrapped up, and ran for the house…the electricity was flickering and then poof, lights out. So tripping over baby dolls and chair forts, we made our way to the matches and candles.

Fast forward to today. Too muddy and humid outside to want to paint, etc, besides, my poor house! If any of you had dropped by I would have been mortified. Eek! The real problem was the toy mess, which somehow morphed into a disaster that took us ALL day to clean. My oldest was only concerned that it meant putting away the sewing machine (grin, she’s my #1 helper when it comes to clean-up time) but my younger two were so sad to have their glorious play-area eliminated. 3 yo was in tears. So what does a mommy do?

She throws a tea party. (Hands up in the air) We had an early lunch, called it a brunch and served it with English Breakfast tea in the teapot and mommy’s fancy teacups and real silver. What a mood booster. Then the younger two had a half hour to play one last time in their chaos of make-believe, while oldest and I split up the kitchen, bathroom, and chicken duties. Then it was *get serious* time on the girls’ bedroom. Everyone pitched in, we unloaded bookshelves, rearranged beds and dressers and gasp(!) I even condensed the overflow bulge of drawers full of clothing to the point that now my middle and youngest can share a five-drawer dresser! We even turned up a missing ice pack and youngest’s favorite mini-dog (stuffed, I assure you).

This was a room definitely past the blur of lived-in to filthy, and we try to clean it every Friday…but yeah, we’ve been busy, what can I say?

So, it’s time to share your thoughts. What is “filthy” to you? What is “lived in”? Are you harder on yourselves in this area than you are on other people? I sure am!

Looking forward to your thoughts on this!

First Impressions

Donned my painting clothes yesterday morning, determined to get back in the house-painting groove.Evening Reflections Yes, the vacation is definitely over. *smile* Is there any other chore more tedious to home-owners than painting? Or scraping, preparatory to painting? If there is, please let me know in comments, it might help me complain less!

It’s a long nasty story, but I’ve been trying to get my house painted for at least 7 years now. It wasn’t a priority to Hubby, and then when it was, he wanted us to spray the paint on, but our sprayer is very touchy–it’s definitely a two-person job. Have I mentioned yet that my hubby hates painting? He and I spray-painted one side of the house about four years ago, and another side two years ago. So this last May, I decided to start painting with a paint brush and I’m gettin’ her done! Eight hours slapping paint just today, Woo-HOO!

With every brush stroke I’m loving this house more. Its tattered exterior has long been an embarrassment to me…so to see pristine whiteness take over the weathered gray is magical. I find myself strangely exhilarated. Hubby is even impressed, and has forgiven me for resorting to a lowly paint brush.

How many times have I talked myself out of extending hospitality because of the sad shape of my siding? Too ashamed to count… Why do I worry so much about what people think? It really boils down to “first impressions” doesn’t it? We want our best face forward when we invite people over. Especially people who haven’t seen our home yet or who live in “House Beautifuls”. So we either dither ourselves into a panic over clutter in the corners or, like me, peeling home exteriors and falling-down barns, or we shrink back within ourselves and wave limply at the nice hospitable thought as we say bye-bye to an opportunity that could have blessed both parties. Us and them.

It’s really crazy that we worry about it at all. Here’s a question for you, do you really *care* what your friends’ homes are like when you walk in the door to visit them? If they look lived in, doesn’t it instantly relax you? It does me. One of my best friends is exactly like me. Her home was an old farmhouse till they built new last year, and her back porch and mine could have been twin sisters–they both looked like a twister had ripped through the night before. And we laughed about it. It bonded us. Silly but true. (So quit worrying about your houses!)

I’m so glad our Heavenly Father isn’t concerned with first impressions. If He was, good night, who could stand? His first impression of all of us? Black with sin! Yet He loved us sinners so much that He gave up His only son for our salvation. That’s amazing. We didn’t have to clean house first, or dress in white linen and go through a ceremony. Nope, He took us as is. Even when we continue in sin, He still loves us and forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Best of all, He doesn’t see us as sinners once we accept His gift of salvation. He sees us through the filter of His holy Son. That is grace. Grace we could learn a thing or two from.

So extend grace on yourselves and try not to let your lack of House Beautiful keep you from enjoying life. Here’s a little secret: I’m more in awe of friends who welcome drop in’s despite their messy houses, than I am of friends who have impossibly clean homes. Now doesn’t that make you want to invite the neighborhood over ASAP?

Campsite Kettle Beans with Bacon and Mushrooms

I found this recipe two days before our camping trip in a Country magazine at the library…it sounded fantastic so we zipped over to the grocery store and bought the ingredients. Turned out to be even more delicious than I hoped! And perfect for fixing ahead and packing the canned goods along to add at the last minute. Just don’t forget to pack a can opener!

Kettle Cooked White Beans with Rosemary

  • 2 cups mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste concentrate OR 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • kosher salt, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil

In a large skillet, cook mushrooms and bacon over medium-high heat, stirring often till bacon begins to brown around edges and mushrooms are tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain most of fat, leaving one tablespoon.

Stir in garlic, fennel seeds, and mustard seeds. Cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add tomato paste and let cook for 30 seconds.

***the above I did ahead of time and froze for the camping trip in a small Gladware container–then I just took the rest of the ingredients with me and added them to it when we were about ready to eat***

Add undrained tomatoes, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Bring to boiling. Gently fold in the beans. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for ten minutes. Remove rosemary, season to taste with salt and drizzle with oil. Serve or pack in a gallon sized ziplock and keep chilled. Makes eight 2/3 cup servings.

I doubled the whole recipe, wanting enough to feed the five of us and the eight in my friend’s family. Our plan A was to camp together, or at least have them come to our campfire for one of the meals. Alas, the rain kept us from camping, but we enjoyed the beans anyway…along with bacon cheeseburgers, salad and watermelon! And for the record, I’m pretty glad it rained. The nearest campsite to our friends was forty minutes away, and we girls wouldn’t have had near the capacity for heart-to-hearts…not to mention the time and gas wasted in commuting to and fro.

Anyway, this would be a perfect side for a fourth of July picnic!

Party Time: It’s Real Life

Warning! At the end of this post is a pic of me with no make-up. It’s only fair to give you advance notice…just so you don’t spew coffee all over the keyboard or something. J

Jessica over at Farm Fresh came up with this voyeuristic idea…that we moms need to give a grand tour of what life is like at our house. The tour includes pics of the following, so without any further ado, come right on in!

First Stop: My bathroom and the toilet…

This is our one and only bathroom–Thank God. I’m thrilled to pieces to only have one bathroom to keep up with! I love dark brown, and dh thought I was crazy for choosing it in a small room like our bathroom, but we love how it turned out. The wainscoating is tongue-n-groove siding that we pulled off of a falling-down building on our property, I sanded it, coated it with primer and paint and dh threw it on the walls.

As you can see, the toilet is back in its own little alcove, as is our bathtub. Check out our old-fashioned heat resinor in the wall. We have one or two of those in each room, it’s what our hot water heat (from the outdoor corn stove) travels through to toasty-warm up our house in winter.

On to the Laundry Room:

Very little to see here I’m afraid. Yes, I painted this in the late nineties. (Dh swears it looks like doctor’s office colors) I’m thinking of a redo of coral and tan maybe. Haven’t decided yet, and that would definitely be a project for NEXT summer! Meet the twenty year old washer we brought with us from our first home…the dryer bombed last year, thus the two colors. I’m a white appliance lover. The washer keeps holding out. I actually was all caught up on laundry (pretty much) the day we took all the pics…except for the covered basket you see in the pic which contains hand-wash items and a few tie-dye shirts that I still wash separately.

To the kitchen–meet my refrigerator and sink…

We had guests yesterday morning so my sink was still clean! Whoopee, but does that mean I fail this “real-life” test? Just look over at my magnet/craft covered refrigerator, what a hodge-podge! And we’d just finished a supper of leftovers, can’t get much more “real life” than that, right? My desk, in the background, is covered with tardy birthday presents for various of my nieces, and magazines and books on their way out to the car and back to the library! Still playing catch-up after being sick and then going on vacation!

Check out two of our closets…

This first one is in my hallway right next to the bathroom. The drawers on the bottom contain play-dough, paper dolls, wrapping paper supplies, etc. I used to have all the games on the top two shelves, but early this week I moved all the kid games to the bottom shelf. It’s summer, they need to be within reach!

The one on the right is supposedly a coat closet for company, but it’s by the front door, and ALL our company comes to the back door, of COURSE! So this closet is a mess of card table/chairs, the girls Indo-boards, boxes of videos we never watch, and all our stamping/scrapbooking supplies. Strange collection there, isn’t it? Oh for a craft room.

And the Living Room…

It wouldn’t be real life if I moved the exercise equipment out of the way, though I normally exercise and then scoot the Gazelle off the center rug and out of traffic. Don’t ask me why there’s a plastic bag hanging on the coffee table…it’s probably a hammock for one of my three yo’s dollies. There’s a handkerchief tied to the TV table in the same manner with something sleeping in it. The laundry basket is full of library books, renewed in the nick of time.

Those horseshoe tables were made my by fil, we love them, and have several horse pictures on the walls. My attempt to underline hubby’s passion in life: horses. Though the way things are going, maybe I should be framing pictures of dogs.

We’re also supposed to be posting pictures of what our children were doing while we put this post together.

Mine were catching crawdads. What else is there to do in the country after a big rain?

And finally the picture you’ve all been waiting for of me bare-faced and dull at the end of a day…

Oops. The digital camera’s batteries died before I could upload it. Truly sorry! I do promise a raincheck though! As soon as possible, of course! (I really would have, honest, I just don’t feel like robbing batteries from my youngest’s playtoys)

Thanks, Jessica, for a fun party! It’s Real Life, any of you want to participate? I’d love to come peep in your windows! Be sure to check out Jessica’s, she did an awesome tour of her life, as did many others!

Big Families: The Outsider’s Scoop

As promised, my gleanings from three days spent with a super-mom of six!

Some may consider a family with six children smallish, especially when contrasted with broods of ten-sixteen…but in my book, six is big. Consider the conversation I had the other night with friends at the pancake feed benefit for my s&bil. I was surprised to hear the husband admit that they were done (and glad to be!) after two children. I kind of gave him a hard time before sharing that I’d really like to have more. This is a Christian couple. I knew this guy in high school and he was ALL gushy over kids and babies. I thought he’d have a passel.

Anyway. *I* have always been somewhat intimidated by the idea of expanding my apron strings times six, so this visit to Jana’s was my chance to see how the pros do it!

First of all, I have to totally commend Jana and her husband for a job well done. Consistent in their expectations? Check! Scheduled? Check! Loving and fair? Check, check! Prayerful and always seeking God’s leading for their family? Definitely, and she’d honestly tell you she’s had to hang on tight to God, it’s been far from easy.

A little background, this lovely Christian couple have four biological children and are adopting two that they’ve fostered for two years. Both of the foster boys are high-maintenance, to say the least. We’re talking fetal alcohol syndrome, attachment disorders, etc. It’s been a long, tough road, and knowing their background, I half expected them to melt-down by the minute, but wow! I have such high admiration and respect for how far they’ve come with my friends’ dedication and persistence in training, and by the Lord’s grace on this special family.

How this family blessed me…

Something blossomed in my heart at each mealtime. There is something about fixing three hearty meals a day for nine children (hers and mine) that makes mothering take on an old-world worthiness again. I cherish my mental inventory of all these beautiful children seated around my friend’s island/bar and her table, waiting, smiling expectantly as Jana and I “dished” their plates up with steaming, rib-sticking fare. Like little birds. Oh the thought and time that went into preparing these three squares. After each meal, the troops would make their way into the kitchen, and file by the dishwasher inserting their plates and silverware into the appropriate racks. We always had one little guy who would gladly finish up anyone else’s scraps, interestingly, this boy was too picky to eat anything when Jana first welcomed him into her home. He’s since learned to be grateful and to branch out. You should hear the stories…can it be the same child? It didn’t happen by magic, people!

If challenging children suffering from neglect and FAS can be retrained this successfully, the rest of us have no excuse to put up with bad behavior from our sons and daughters.

A few of tricks that I learned:

On keeping track of details…

  1. Big families need a “cup system”. With that many thirsty kiddos, a dishwasher could get dizzy. My friend solved this problem neatly by giving each child a place on the counter for their cup, with their name neatly labeled on masking tape at the counter’s edge. (See picture, and nope, t hose aren’t her kids’ names) This way they can keep drinks straight and use the same cup all day. Handy, huh? I decided to implement this one, even with my paltry three…mostly because I like the idea of 3 yo learning to recognize her sisters’ names…
  2. Each child has different colored socks, for sorting ease at laundry time. I’ve also read about mom’s of many children marking a “dot” on the outsides of their sons’ tube socks with a different colored permanent marker for each boy.
  3. Jana keeps a breakfast menu on her refrigerator…they’ve given up breakfast cereals (except for oatmeal) and now everyone knows what to expect Monday-Sunday. And breakfast is at 8:30 am every morning. This keeps her from serving breakfast for two hours as each child wakes up and straggles into the kitchen. She confided in me that she’s recently nixed the morning snack, realizing that a healthy breakfast really will carry a child till lunch. This is true, and I’m going to nip morning snacks in the bud as well. Afternoon snacks are different, the stretch between lunch and supper is quite long and needs broken up, but I’ve found that morning snacks usually work against you when lunch time arrives!
  4. At each meal, Jana would have one or two helpers. Patiently she would show them how to chop potatoes or strawberries, or let them mix up ingredients. Likewise, her husband is so good about varying the children he takes with him to check pasture or ride along to a job site. Each of these six are getting quality mom and dad time.

On child training:

  1. Jana taught her children the “stop, look, and listen” rule. She says they even had a sign up concerning this for a while–most of this type of training she had to do b/c she was starting from scratch on manners with the two foster boys. Basically, the stop/look/listen goal is to teach awareness of conversations going on, to keep the kids from interrupting when adults are conversing. Occasionally when we were chatting, one of the little ones would interrupt, and she’d remind them “Stop, look and listen!” and they’d place a hand on her arm and wait till she was done to speak. (Btw, having your child place their hand on your arm when you are busy talking to someone is a great way for your child to let you know that they need to tell you something w/o them barging in rudely. In turn, you cover their hand with yours so they are reassured that yes, Mom knows you are there, and she will give you her attention as soon as she is done with that thread of conversation. We learned this trick from Gary Ezzo’s Growing Kid’s God’s Way series)
  2. You know how children sometimes chatter non-stop, or keep asking the same question as if they didn’t hear you answer them the first time? Jana has a really unique way of dealing with this, and again, she’s had to figure out ways to crash-train two little boys who had absolutely no training in how to be civilized before they came to live with this family. She has them cover their mouth. For however long it takes for it to sink in that they were running off again. What a concrete way to reinforce self-control that may be lacking in this area.

All in all, I was so impressed at Jana’s training and love for her family. In spite of all her protesting, she and her husband are amazing parents, with incredibly big hearts for God and family. If every child out there had parents half so dedicated and serious about their mission…I only wish we’d had more time there. What I glimpsed was just a drop in the bucket of what this couple’s commitment to the Lord, and to each other is being reflected in each of their children’s lives.

Proof of this? I left there wanting more kiddos. Suddenly everywhere I go I see pregnant women rubbing their bellies or young moms with baby carriers in tow. How can three days spent with a family of eight affect me so strongly? Dimpled, angelic smiles and wholesome happy faces could charm Snow White’s wicked step-mother into changing her M.O. It’s the families with one or two rude, bickering, spoiled children that make so many people want to stop at two. Families like Jana’s are the exception, folks. And I’m convinced with big families, so much more is required of every individual to make things successful, that responsibility, thoughtfulness, and gratitude almost come about naturally.

I want in. How about you?

French Toast Breakfast Casserole

Need a delicious brunch recipe? Or simply want to spoil your overnight guests? My friend fixed this for our first morning at her house…she prepared it the night before, slick!

Baked French Toast

  • 1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup

DIRECTIONS

  1. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.
  3. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Crockpot Cake

This dessert was a hit our first night at Jana’s house! Even my hubby who is not a chocolate person, told me to “get this recipe”! Jana served it warm–it makes its own fudgy sauce–with vanilla ice cream! To-die-for! And well worth leaving my diet and exercise plan at home, lol! (I gained three pounds but promptly lost it! Whew!)

Crockpot Cake from Jana–thanks, girl!

*Ingredients that say plus 1/3 cup are for the second part of the cake. Happy eating.

  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 TBSP butter
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 c choc. chips)
  • 2/3 plus 1/3 c sugar (white granulated)
  • 3 TBSP plus 1/3 c Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c hot water
  • Whipped cream or ice cream (Ice cream is definitely a must with this. It melts on it and tastes sooo good)

Coat the inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave and mix well. Whisk in the 2/3 cup sugar, 3 TBSP of cocoa, vanilla, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the batter into the slow cooker and spread it evenly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining white sugar (1/3 cup), cocoa (1/3 cup), brown sugar (1/3 cup) and the hot water until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on high for 1 1/4 to 2 1/4 hours, depending on the size of the crock pot. Even when done, the cake will be very moist and floating on a layer of molten chocolate, but you’ll know it’s ready when nearly all of the cake is set and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. ( As you check, try not to let the condensed steam from the lid drip onto the cake.) When it’s done turn off the power and remove the lid. Let it cool for 25 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings. I haven’t cooked it the full 2 1/4 hours. It usually takes less. Uncovering is important when done as it still keeps cooking.

YUM. Hope you all enjoy!

Back From Vacation

So my hubby springs his vacation plans on me during the week of the stomach-flu from you-know-where (or was it salmonella from tomatoes? we’ll never know…). I had one week to prepare for a 1500 mile round trip camping vacation. Joy! Here I was just thinking we were fortunate to get healthy in time to be of some small help during our church’s Vacation Bible School. But with the help of my dear mom, we were rolling out the weekend after VBS with full coolers of food–enough to last us a week. (More than enough, actually, we finished up the chili dogs just last night)

Our destination? Well, you know how I am with persons/places and things. I’m kind of careful about what I share online, but suffice it to say we went way up North–not quite to Alaska, but… We have friends up there that we haven’t seen in five years, and hubby declared it time! What fun we had, me and my friend Jana and our combined households. It stormed off and on while we were there, so instead of camping, we bedded down in Jana’s living room on her hide-a-bed…which really added more talk-time and helped us to make the most of the visit. Being “rained in” with this family was a treat, believe me!

We did enjoy two nights of camping in perfect weather and gorgeous settings…one lakeside and one creekside, both with great facilities (hot showers, clean bathrooms, awesome playgrounds, freshly mowed campsites!) We picked up two Australian shepherd stockdogs on our way home and picnicked our way across three states and several VERY COOL playground parks! No restaurants and no hotels, and almost all our sightseeing ventures were freebies! Our gas-chugging Suburban averaged 15 miles per gallon loaded down and fighting side winds most of the way, and with gas prices hovering around $3.89/gallon, we paid out less than $350 for gas. Campsites, ice for the two coolers and visiting a Butterfly House combined to total another $40-$50…not too bad for a six day road trip across 1500 miles! Imagine if we’d had a more economical vehicle…but we sure appreciated the room to spread out in the Sub, and the back was packed floor to ceiling with camping gear! Three nights parked at our friends’ home helped bunches too, and that’s where the highlights of our vacation happened!

All in all, a great few days! I don’t have all our pictures developed yet, the ones in this post I happened to take with my digital camera…

Coming up:

Big Families: The Outsider’s Scoop My experience as the guest of a super-mom with six kids

Meatballs with Dill Sauce, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes, Crockpot Cake and French Toast Breakfast Casserole Super scrumptious recipes my friend made for us during our stay at her home…keepers for SURE!

What to Pack for a Do-It-Yourself Vacation From traveling entertainment to snacks to cooler/ice chest meals, I can’t wait to share what I do and learn all of your tried and true tips!

Campsite Kettle Beans with Bacon and Mushrooms A delicious make-ahead campfire dish, perfect for fourth of July get-togethers

Blog Tour: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

I was raised by a Mary-heart! And I’m such a Martha. This non-fiction gift edition spoke to my heart, whispered to me of “living room intimacy with God”, “fruitful living”, the wisdom and desirability of keeping God at the center of my busy life, how to work through the “Lazarus Moments” of life…I highly highly recommend it to you all, may it re-awaken your soul as it has mine.

About Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World:

An invitation for every woman who’s ever felt she isn’t godly enough, isn’t loving enough, isn’t doing enough.

The life of a woman today isn’t really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord’s feet…but the daily demands of a busy world just won’t leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him…yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.
Then comes Jesus, into the midst of your busy life, to extend the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters from Bethany. Tenderly, he invites you to choose “the better part”–a joyful life of intimacy with him that flows naturally into loving service.

With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story, Joanna Weaver shows how all of us–Marys and Marthas alike–can draw closer to our Lord: deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

About Joanna Weaver:
Joanna Weaver was voted the Most Promising New Writer of 1997 at the Mount Herman Writer’s Conference. She has authored Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and written for publications such as Focus on the Family, Home Life, Aspire, and The Evangel. A pastor’s wife for more than eighteen years, she and her husband have counseled many couples, both those approaching their wedding and those struggling in marriage. The Weavers live in Montana and have taught young married classes and spoken on the topic of marriage throughout the northwestern United States.

Contests:

Joanna will be giving away 7 copies of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on Joanna’s blog tour post.

She is also giving away 7 copies of With This Ring, her latest release. To enter that contest, simply leave a comment on Joanna’s blog tour post (same link) telling her which chapter of Having a Mary Heart was your favorite and why. Fun and easy! Believe me, you’ll read this book and want to gift all your friends with a copy.

Places to find Joanna:

Joanna’s blog: http://joannaweaver.blogspot.com

Joanna’s website: www.joannaweaverbooks.com

Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400074037?&camp=212361&creative=383841&linkCode=wss&tag=sprightly-20

Blog tour schedule: http://joannaweaver.blogspot.com/2008/06/having-mary-heart-gift-edition.html

Faith

Hebrews 11:6,

But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

What a great verse. Faith is the key to pleasing God.

John 6:28-29,

Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Faith is also the key to being about His business. Not ours, mind you, His.  Faith isn’t a tool by which we gain earthly treasures, but rather, eternal ones.

But faith without works is dead. Sometimes what He asks of us isn’t at all simple or welcome or good. It’s hard to hold on and keep your eyes on Him, much less to do it without questioning, or complaining or wishing for better-case-scenarios. Sometimes you just have to have childlike trust, simple faith. Take the next step. Always remembering John 16:33:

“In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter of the Bible. I find it so inspiring to see what the Old Testament heroes faced head on, strengthened by faith. It makes my little challenges seem like shoo-ins.

We can do everything through Christ!

Run the race with me?