My in-laws came over recently. They only live about two hours away, so we get to see them pretty regularly. This time, they came loaded with gold in their trunk. And by gold I mean a huge chest full of dress-up-clothes for little girls. As Helen sat in the family room unpacking it with her sisters it was so much fun to see her eyes get so wide with joyous memories. Half the costumes in the trunk she had made at one time or another for her sisters and friends as they played fairy-tale games and filmed amateur movies in their backyard. Robin Hood, Lord of the Rings, Disney Princesses, and generic stock character costumes kept pouring out of this trunk.
My sisters-in-law laughed at me watching them unpack, assuming I wouldn’t be interested in such “girl stuff” – but I was. I can foresee hours and hours of creative play with my baby girl, playing pirates and castles and who-knows-what-she’ll-com-up-with. And I’m extra glad I kept all my costumes too! Call me geeky, but I’ve got a wardrobe in the basement with all my costume pieces hanging up, ordered chronologically from ancient civ to futuristic. Right next to it is my extensive silly hat collection (including my light-up jester hat and my homemade Hermes Helmet). And next to that is my sewing machine and serger (graciously given to us by a relative) and our fabric supplies. If you couldn’t tell that Helen and I were theatre majors in college, now you know.
I’m a big fan of creative play. I’ve loved make-believe games all my life – still do, really. And while I’m not into Cosplay, I still love doing silly creative projects with Helen, dressing up as Celtic folk heros and Greek gods for costume parties. And I’m so glad Kaylee gets to have these hand-me-down costumes from her mom and ‘Nana. I cant wait to tell her to go play outside, or to film her and her friends doing skits in our backyard, or to play games with her and let her imagination take us places. It’s going to be beautiful.
Thanks, ‘Nana, for bringing the costumes. 🙂
I’ve been reading Go Green, Save Green by Nancy Sleeth of late. I’m fairly impressed. This little $15 book is the best book on Christian Stewardship of Finances and the Environment I’ve ever seen. Nancy shares her family’s inspiring story of faith and lifestyle revolution, while managing to offer a plethora of practical advice and plans any family could follow. She shows how her family cut their electric bill to under $20/month, broke unhealthy habits, and grew closer to God in the process. In eleven chapters, she brings a wealth of great ideas on how to save money and better care for God’s earth in areas such as Home, Lawn & Garden, Work, Transportation, Church, Entertainment, and more.
She also calculates the impact that simple changes can make in your budget. For instance, did you know that adjusting your thermostat by 3 degree can save ou around $200/year? Or that an insulation blanket on your water heater could lower your bill by $120/year?
One of my favorite things about her style is that it’s non-judgemental, and seeks to help you make even small changes. Some of her advice can be taken in 5 minutes, while other hard-core projects need to be done over the course of months. Just do what you can. At the end of each chapter is a check list that breaks down what you can do today, this week, this month, and this year, as well as a table showing your savings and suggested ways of using your extra cash for the Kingdom.
As a new home-owner, I found her advice in the Home and Lawn section to be especially helpful. Making all those necessary “start-up” purchases was a lot more fun as we thought about ways to save money long-term. She even talked me into buying a reel-mower (amish style) for my yard! It makes sense as I have a small yard. It takes me 20 minutes to mow, I get more exercise, it cost 1/2 of a gas mower, it’s quiet, and I’ll never have to buy gas or oil (or store flammable liquids in my garage). Helen and I have both gotten laughs and insight from Nancy, and our wallets are better for it.
Filled with lots of great websites, scripture, personal stories, and practical application, this is a must-read for the frugal family. $14.99 on Amazon!
In Honor of National TV Turnoff Week, I thought I’d share a Psalm I ran across today. (Author Unknown.)
The 23rd Channel
The TV is my Shepherd, I shall want.
It maketh me to lie down on the sofa.
It leadeth me away from the scriptures.
It destroyeth my soul.
It leadeth me in the paths of sex and violence,
For the sponsors’ sake.
Yea, though I walk in the shadow of my Christian responsibilities,
There will be no interruptions,
For the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote,
They control me.
It prepareth a commercial before me,
In the presence of worldliness.
It anointeth my head with humanism.
My coveting runneth over.
Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house
Watching TV forever.
This year has had some rough patches. One of my friends is battling Leukemia again. A few friends are wrestling with addictions of various kinds. Some people are struggling with depression or PTSD. Others have been un- or under-employed for a long time. I’ve lost track of how many marriages are in tumult. And don’t get me started on Haiti or Chile. It’s been pretty grueling.
There’s nothing more sobering then someone who tells you the real gunk that’s going on in their life. Everyone has their gunk. My gunk always feels small when I hear about other people’s. The hardest part for me, as a listener, is knowing what to say.
“Call me if you need anything”?
“God’s doing something here – it’ll all work out for your good and his glory”?
It seems like I never have the right words at the right time. It’s awkward.
I pick up a book this week that’s been on my “I ought to read this” list for a while. It’s by Larry Crabb – a wise and humble Christian psychologist. I read his book Inside Out in college and it tore me apart with it’s profound understanding of my own sinful heart. I could barely even finish it, but it’s one of the best books I ever read. This one is called Connecting, and the basic premise is that much of the work done by professional counselors could – and should – be done by friends. In the first few chapters he lays out the idea that Connecting is more than giving insight, advice, or empathy. Connecting is an event wherein the Holy Spirit brings about healing and conviction. I’m nowhere near done the book yet, but it’s already been both encouraging and challenging to me. Not just in crisis mode, but in all kinds of everyday interactions.
Simple reminders like “see people as Christ does – with delight in their uniqueness and hope for their future” are huge for me. I don’t tend to see people that way, and thus my words tend to be far from encouraging. Or “remember that you and your brothers in Christ have been given new hearts with new desires that need to be nurtured and drawn out.” I’m big on remembering how sinful people are, but don’t spend much time with the doctrine of regeneration – remembering that our deepest desires, given to us by the Spirit, are good. In conflict with our old nature, to be sure, but there’s good nonetheless. Wow. If I remembered that and practiced speaking as if I believed it, then perhaps when the crisis conversations come I wouldn’t have to worry about what to say. Speaking words of love and encouragement might be natural.
Like I said, I’m not done with it yet, but it’s worth the price of admission for the first three chapters alone. I can’t wait to find out what else is there.