Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa’s response here…

 

Have a blessed day,

Becky

Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapters Seven and Eight-

Last week I was busy enjoying my adult children and their friends in a beautiful beach in Mexico; maybe that explains why I didn’t post here.

Chapter seven has three main principles that we don’t want to overlook.

1. We are responsible for raising our children in the Lord, they are responsible for their own choices, but God alone can save our children.

Sovereign saving grace, God’s desire to save the lost, and His covenantal faithfulness should be our hope and comfort.

What a wonderful reminder to our heavy souls that God is the one who does the changing in our children’s lives. Not us. We don’t have the power to change their heart.

What a convicting exhortation to parent our sons and daughters not motivated by guilt and fear but by genuine love that has learned to rest on God alone.

“Our dollars won’t buy their love or repentance, and we can’t fund their admission into God’s Kingdom. Only the Holy Spirit can change their hearts.”

2. We need help. We need help. We need help. Yes: WE NEED HELP!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

The author says it in such a clear way that we cannot miss the exhortation:

“[T]he Bible is the only sufficient source of wisdom for our lives. In faith we need to trust in His Word, rather than merely following our own thoughts and feelings.”

And then, an encouragement to seek the advice of godly people:

“We need objective (and sometimes tough) godly advice from friends who are not afraid of wounding us by their counsel when necessary (Prov.27:6)”

3. Saying “no” is many times the louder way to say, “I love you.”

“Only with the Lord’s help will we be able to be as strong and as patient as needed.”

I appreciated very much that under this principle, the authors advice parents to involve their pastors and elders (when the children are members of the church) in specific situations, even to the point of church discipline.

Understanding the role of the church as we raise our children is an important part of understanding the covenant bond among us.

It is important, however, to remember that saying “no,” or making drastic changes, doesn’t mean that we should totally shun them out of our lives. Maybe, you have the huge blessing of not having  wayward children, but remember that we must apply these love principles with our friends’ children to. Let us be always hospitable, waiting in hope.

 

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Chapter Eight is, in my opinion, kind of repetitive. Do you agree with me?

It is a chapter about money management and how we should not finance our children’s irresponsibility or sinful lifestyle. However, many of the important, wise, and timely advices the author mentions here, he has already pinpointed somewhere else in the book. So I want to avoid doing the same thing…

Next week we’ll be talking about chapter nine: Marriage: Our Dreams, Their Dreams. I hope you can join us.

Praying for grace as we keep pressing on, 

Becky

The Two Objects Needed to Make a Home

 

Peasant Family at the Dinner Table by Jozef Israëls

What a great a read is Bed and Board: Plain talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon. I am absolutely loving this book. I posted some quotes from the first four chapters here, and today I want to share with you a few more quotes from chapters 5 and 6.

“I usually say that you need only two things, two pieces of matter, to make a home: a bed and a table. It’s an oversimplification, but it’s a good one…For Bed and Board are the fundamental geographical divisions of the family; they are the chief places, and it is in them and around them that we dance the parts we are given.”

“He who perished by a tree is saved by a tree. He who died by an apple is restored by eating the flesh of his Saviour. Our lust is to be healed by being brought down to one bed, our savagery tamed by the exchanges around a lifelong table. Bed, Board, rooftree and doorway become the choice places of our healing, the delimitations of our freedom. By setting us boundaries, they hold us in; but they trammel the void as well. By confining, they keep track of us -they leave us free to be found, and to find ourselves. The vow of lifelong fidelity to one bed, one woman, becomes the wall at the edge of the cliff that leaves the children free to play a little, rather than be lost at large. Marriage gives us somewhere to be.”

“The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entire ceremonial pat on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody’s marriage, the first used and the last left, and no one can praise it enough.”

“We were meant to meet, to sustain and to ease each other, and in the marriage bed we lie down to do just that. It is an island in a sea of troubles, where there is nothing else to do but rest and refresh. Yet how resourceful we are, with our turned backs and stubborns silences, or with our interminable pouts and dreadful debates about What’s Wrong With Us.”

“People admit is hard to pray. Yet they think it’s easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing…”

“The table can make us or break us. It has its own laws and will not change. Food and litter will lie upon it; fair speech and venom will pour across it; it will be the scene of manners and meanness, the place of charity or the wall of division, depending. Depending on what is done with it, at it and about it. But whatever is done, however it enters, it will allow only the possible, not the ideal. No one has ever created the Board by fiat. God himself spread his table, but Judas sat down at it. There is no use in thinking that we all have to do is wish for a certain style of family life, and wait for it to happen. The Board is a union of thing and persons; what it becomes depends on how the thing is dealt with by the persons.”

“The Board will always give birth to liturgy.”

“[I]t is precisely the absence of visible liturgy that nowadays makes the common life less obvious to common men.”

“Few of us have very many great things to care about, but we all have plenty of small ones; and that’s enough for the dance. It is precisely through the things we put on the table, and the liturgies we form around it, that the city is built; caring is more than half the work.”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Why I Recommend These Books -Part 1: Fiction-

Hey there! Yes, I am still here. Happy. Busy, but the kind of busy that says, “I am having lots of fun.” I have been enjoying having a full house, many plates on the table, around 25 eggs in the pan for breakfast, and lots of ice cream and Manchego cheese with crackers in the mid afternoon.  All of these around pretty good, thoughtful and also hilarious conversations, long rides in the traffic of this big city, watching a movie in my room or playing “mafia” after dinner.

Hospitality, my husband and I agree, is a gift, a wonderful gift for those who open their home to others. I am grateful to our God for the many opportunities He has given us to be blessed by those who have stayed with us, who have shared our table, who have blessed us and enriched our lives in so many ways.

I have also found free time to read some good books, and that, of course, makes me very happy (especially because I have my oldest son around. He is one of my favorite people to talk with. I truly enjoy our meaningful conversations).

So today I am sharing a few of the fiction books I have been reading with a note on why I consider important reading them (you can see the complete list of books I have read in Goodreads too). In the next days, God willing, I will share some books I have also enjoyed on art and culture, writing, and those that help us and challenge us to grow in the faith.

Once upon a time I did not really like -or care- to read fiction. I was starving for spiritual food, and I thought reading fiction would be a waste of time. I could be reading something else, one more theological “meaty” piece. But as I grew stronger, I found friends and authors I highly respect, and even my own children -and their friends-, encouraging me to pick up some good fiction books. So I did. This year I have read more fiction than ever, and I am richer. It has not been a waste of time at all, as I used to think. I have learned more and grown more. I have understood how God, the Greatest Story-teller, builds our stories, some more complex than others, but all His and I am amazed.

Two great fiction works that I have loved are these:

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. This is a great story, with great sentences, wonderful plot, and amazing characters that you grow to love page after page to the point that you cannot but cry with them. The author achieves what I believe is key to good story-telling: He brings you into the world he has created in such a way that you never feel like an outsider. You are in the scenes. You smell the stench, and feel the skin, you can taste the pea soup, the white painting, and the books in the library.

Great book. Highly recommended.

A Note: Do not get the Kindle edition, get the “real thing.” You would like to feel the book in your hands as you read it and trace its pages with your fingertips. I am serious.

Why is it important to read The Book Thief? Because you will feel deep inside you -not only know in your head- the importance of books, stories, lives that come together in a minute and then fall to their knees and cry together when everything else has been torn apart.

 

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor. This is the first time I have read O’Connor’s short stories. I have been wanting to read her work for a long time now because her name kept popping out in almost every good book on arts and culture, and on writing that I have been reading lately (I’ll share about some of these books in the near, near future). So I was very happy when my daughter’s friend gave her a copy as a gift earlier this summer. As you can imagine, I soon took it and carried it with me to the beach, to the porch, to the living room, and  to my bed late at night -no, never to the bathroom.-

As some one has said, O’Connor’s stories are “beautiful and grotesque.” They plunged me into a reality that at times I wish did not exist. Her characters are real in the sense that you believe them; and each one of them tells us about the sinful, desperate, hopeless, and grievous state of men and women without Christ. Without the Gospel.

I am so looking forward to read Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, which is a collection of some of O’Connor’s essays and lectures which were edited and published after her death by her friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. Of course I will be reading more of her short stories as well.

Why is it important to read O’Connor? If you are like me, you live -like to admit or not- in a bubble. Surrounded by Christian friends, a lovely church community, and a family that loves you.  I need to read this so I won’t forget what happens in the heart of men and women alike outside my bubble. What might be happening in the next door. And why not, what might be happening inside my heart even now that I was not aware of. The grotesque is there, in me and around me, and only Jesus can bring hope and redemption to the desolate soul.

Now its time to take the buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake out of the oven and take a shower.

I pray today that God will give us eyes to see beyond our circumstances and that He will help us understand how our lives are not isolated. We all are part of a great story, and He is the Author of it. He knows the ending and it will sure be good for those who are His, for those who love Him.

“Trust God, and obey, and leave the consequences to Him. He knows our limitations.” Douglas Wilson, Father Hunger

Have a most blessed day,

 

Becky

Food: A Gift from Above

 

A feast to the eyes,  a joy to share, a good gift from Above: Food.

Isn’t it amazing all that happens around food?  It is wonderful to consider all the goodness that comes when we feast together around the table and share God’s goodness, God’s bounty, His mercy to us as we come together and share a meal.

I want to give thanks today to my God for our family and for all our friends (old and new) who have opened their homes, their kitchen to us; for each family that has welcomed ours around their table. Thank you!

 

Coffee and fruit, and blueberry coffee cake; zucchini bread early in the morning and fresh hand picked cherries, burgers and  ice-cream and homemade pizzas. My mom’s best dishes,  and my sister’s best pic-nic food. All good, all a gift, each one a joy to share!

 

And we bow our heads each time, and hold hands and give thanks to our God who gives, and gives, and gives… because there is simply no other way to fully enjoy a meal but with a grateful heart. We give thanks to Him three times a day around the table not because of an empty custom, but because our hearts overflow with thanksgiving. Every meal is a gift, and every meal reminds us that one day, we will feast around a table in Heaven with Him and with all the saints who have gone before us.

Next time you look for a new recipe and prepare a dish for your family, for your friends; next time you set the table, do it with a joyful heart, remembering that every time we come to the table, we come to feast, to celebrate God’s goodness and His never-ending mercies toward us; let us do it pretty, delicious, and joyfully.

Let us bow down, hold hands, give thanks and feast!

 

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An Address to God before a Meal.

O Lord our God, in thee we live, and move, and have our being, and from thee receive all supports and comforts of our being: Thou spreadest our table and fillest our cup and comfortest us with the gifts of thy bounty from day to day. We own our dependence upon thee and our obligations to thee, pardon our sins we pray thee; sanctify thy good creatures to our use, and give us grace to receive them soberly and thankfully, and to eat and drink not to ourselves, but to thy glory, through Jesus Christ our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

An Address to God after a Meal.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with his benefits and gives us all things richly to enjoy, though we serve him but poorly. O Lord, we thank thee for present refreshments in the use of thy good creatures, and for thy love to our souls in Jesus Christ, which sweetens all. We pray thee pardon our sins, go on to do us good, provide for the poor that are destitute of daily food, fit us for thy whole will, and be our God and guide and portion for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

From Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer

May your home be a place for feasting!

Becky

All pictures in this post were taken by my daughter.

>What About Some Oatmeal Cookies?

>When you bake cookies, you are not just baking sweets, you are building memories, you are sharing the goodness in the every day ritual of our lives.

I learned this recipe when I was around sixteen yo. and was visiting with my dear friend Sandy in Dallas; She taught me how to make these delicious, old fashioned oatmeal cookies and since then they have been a favorite treat in our family.

I thought you might enjoy the smell, the taste, the goodness, so here is the recipe for you to try in a cold afternoon, with a good cup of coffee.

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
What you need to gather:

3/4 c. of butter (room temperature)
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (Mexican please!)

1 3/4 flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powered
1 tsp salt

3 cups oatmeal

 Call your little ones and have them follow the instructions:

 1. Mix all the blue ingredients in a large bowl, until you have a creamy, nice and smooth batter.

 2. Sift together all the pink ingredients.

3. Put together the blue batter with the pink dry ingredients. Add the oatmeal  and mix them all with a wooden spoon. It will be hard to do it!

4. If you wish you can add 1 cup of chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, or white chocolate in little pieces.

5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake for about 8-10 min. at 350ºF (200ºC)

   The Secret for Success: 

DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN, LEST YOU FORGET ABOUT YOUR COOKIES!

  Yes, the secret is to take them out of the oven when they are still “bubbling” but cooked already. DO NOT OVER BAKE because if you do so, they won’t be soft and chewy, but hard.

Happy baking!