Nov 022012
 

For years now, about seven, I’ve been asking the Lord for rest. He has increased my dreams, yet limited my time. How, God?! I didn’t know how was I supposed to set my feet to accomplishing the things He’d asked me to do. I didn’t know how was I supposed to get a shower. But if He showed me the way to walk, I would walk that way; that was the vow I made.

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. –KJV

I have long since struggled, still do to some extent, to find my place in the “Old Testament,” the Tenach. Jesus saves, no amount of law abiding can do that. Yet, I read that there is righteousness and protection in obedience to the Law. God’s heart is represented in the details of the Torah. David loved God and was blown away by His Law! Like the bounds of marriage that cradle and protect the home, David felt at home–gloriously cradled–within God’s Law. He loved it, even though he was required to continually offer sacrifice to atone for his inevitable lack of righteousness.

A once-for-all, atoning sacrifice has already been made for me. But does that mean that I don’t ask God for the old paths? Does that mean that, unlike King David, I don’t need to seek my God’s heart for the treasures that lie in His Law? That doesn’t seem to be what Jesus had to say on that subject.

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. — NIV

When I was nineteen I lived with and trained under a Jewish midwife, and I was quickly made part of the family. Not once in all the months I was there did I ever notice that bacon was missing. The love in that household flowed like wine–and so did the wine, come to think of it. I looked forward to her Friday night Erev (Sabbath ceremony); and even though she practiced quietly, alone in the kitchen, that candle–her prayer–was my favorite part of every week. The subtle ways in which she taught me were powerful. She reclined on the couch and joined us in our silliness, and something was different. I now understand; it was the Sabbath.

Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  –NIV

To make a long story a little bit shorter, I’ve decided that the thing missing from my life, the reason for my exhaustion and unrest, was that I’d somehow misplaced the most detailed of the ten commandments.

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” –NIV

I’ve felt God wooing me toward the Feasts and the Sabbath for quite some time, but apparently my American mind rebels against fun and rest. And I joke, because we free in Christ are the best at these things, right? Funnily, I’ve never experienced the kind of rest that is now present in my life, and I’ve never had so much time to do everything He’s asked me to do. 

I’ve titled this post Sabbath for Americans, because this is simply the rough and inarticulate way in which we (the six of us, Valentes) choose to honor the seventh day. There are so many fun and mysterious jewels involved in the traditional–old paths–practicing, but we’ve scratched the surface and adopted a few things as our own.

Two years ago, maybe closer to three, I decided that I wanted to observe the Sabbath. The only problem was that I almost completely forgot Preparation Day! So, by lunch-time, I was attempting to rest in what was basically a FEMA intervention waiting to happen. Not restful. What’s so great about the Sabbath, anyway?!

Ah, so to tell you about our Sabbath, I’m really going to tell you about our Preparation Day. I’ve just lived through one (a few hours ago) so it’s fresh in my mind. Jesus’s body was taken down from the cross on a special preparation day. I didn’t know that, but now my kids do. We were listening to an audio Bible a few nights ago, and when we got to John 19:31 they all exclaimed, “Preparation Day! They’d better hurry!”

I’m kinda in love with my kids.

Preparation Day starts on Friday morning, after I’ve had my coffee. Truthfully, I start to think about Preparation Day on Wednesday. That’s when I take a look at my laundry basket (which is usually not very full because I do one load–not counting pee, poop, or vomit induced extra loads–every day). Should I wash the blankets with the sheets this week? Whose pillows need to be bleached and fluffed? Does the slip cover on the couch need to be washed? And, umm…that last one is always a yes. I think about food, and I check my pantry. When Thursday comes, I step up the cleaning a bit. I might even move the couch when I sweep. Friday, though, that’s when the all out cleaning and cooking war commences. Friday is when we blare TobyMac so loudly that the neighbors think about moving. Friday is Preparation Day, and it looks a little something like this:

Today, I made eight loves of bread (four apple-cinnamon, four garlic). I made dinner and dessert for tonight and breakfast for tomorrow. We’ll have leftovers for lunch. I washed every blanket and pillow in the house, cleaned out the fridge, cleaned the microwave, and finally organized my bedroom while my children swept, mopped, washed dishes, and put away laundry. I have to honor Tiny Dancer, here, because she has truly learned how to be a help. I don’t feel like I did much at all today, actually. That’s definitely thanks to her.

The great thing about Preparation Day is that you don’t cook and clean until you’re done (done might never happen). No, you just go, go, go until sunset. We’ve adopted the three stars tradition, and Lil Prince is our star spotter. He loudly announces the evening’s first star, and when the third star appears, he orders the neighborhood to “Stop working!” Thankfully, my parents are my next door neighbors.

We’re usually seated at the table for awhile before he spots the first star. Sometimes, we even have time to wash a few of our dishes before the third star is excitedly spotted. The pots and pans have been cleaned in advance, our glasses stay on the table for the next day, and any remaining dirty dishes are stacked neatly beside the sink–because we’re done, put down your pencils and stop working d.o.n.e.

When we sit at our Sabbath table, time stands still. We’re exhausted from cleaning and overwhelmingly excited to enjoy our rest–to enjoy each other. To reflect. To pause. The kids are up past their normal bedtime on Friday night because we sit around the Sabbath table for at least an hour, laughing beneath the glow of a flickering candle. Heavy, earned, deep sighs are breathed as we soak in our love for each other and the Father’s love for us. I hear about what God has been teaching my children; I whisper what He’s been revealing to me. And as I tuck them into bed, I can hardly contain my joy at the last words they whisper before dreaming, “Happy Sabbath, Mama.” And tonight Bay Bit added, “God is Holy.”

 

As if Friday night is not more than enough, there is also all day Saturday. I won’t try to explain that to you, though; I think this picture speaks for itself.

 November 2, 2012  Christianity, Family Life 11 Responses »
Sep 082012
 

It’s a little bedroom, bigger than mine, but one of the smaller rooms that they’ve had. But is it too small for five kids? Thanks to Wal-Mart.com, nope. It’s just the right size.

I haven’t put up their curtains, yet, but I plan to use the same ones we’ve been using for awhile. And I’m ordering canvases so their walls can feature their own artwork. When it’s all finished and cute, I’ll post again.

Here’s the bed. It’s a twin over full bunk. But there is also room to slide another full mattress right underneath. So, now, it’s a twin over full over full. I think I’m a genius (and Lula thinks so, too).

The bedding is also from Wal-Mart, but we would never be able to find it in our small town store. That’s what makes Wal-Mart’s free site-to-store shipping so awesome. Big city bargains delivered straight to our mountain Wal-Mart! Can’t beat that!

The closet is still unfinished. I really hate sliding closet doors, so I’m thinking about redoing the whole inside with shelves and rods. Maybe something like this. Or a bunch of these. But I really like this, which would leave room for shelves on each end. If you’ve redone a closet, please let me see. When I look here, all I see is wasted space. Which, of course, we can’t have!

But that’s what we have, for now. A very clean and workable bedroom–with just enough stuff and plenty of room for all.

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Sep 052012
 

“Is so and so still alive?” they usually ask while watching any non-animated t.v. show or movie. We watch a lot of The Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver, so it’s a usually a valid question. But when she asked, “Is Rob Petrie still alive?” I had to laugh (cause, really, we’ve covered all of this before).

“Umm, Rob Petrie is not a real person, remember?”

“What?!” like I had blown her mind.

“Rob Petrie is not a real person,” I repeated. “What’s the name of the show?”

The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

“Yeah, and Dick Van Dyke is a real person. He’s pretending to be Robert Petrie on t.v. And he also pretends to be Bert in Mary Poppins. That’s called acting, remember?”

“Oh yeah. And is Dick Van Dyke married to Laura Petrie?”

“Uh, no. Her name is Mary Tyler Moore…she is pretending to be Laura Petrie. But, no, Dick Van Dyke is not married to Mary Tyler Moore.”

“Oh my gosh! He isn’t?! Then how did they have Richie?!”

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 September 5, 2012  Family Life, Things Kids Say 2 Responses »
Aug 212012
 

Somehow, although I’m still not sure how, Lil Prince and Bay Bit woke up on Saturday morning as six year olds. I made a large pile of french toast while Cuddle Bug and Tiny Dancer rustled and whispered from their bedroom. Then, we all sat down to eat.

Yes, they’re wearing winter pjs. Yes, it’s already getting pretty darn cold at night.

After breakfast, I’d planned to take the six year olds down to our town’s little resale shop to pick out some toys and games. These kiddos love to shop, so I knew they’d appreciate that even more than they would unwrapping a present. And, they did (mostly, they just like the time out alone). But I had to delay our plans a bit. First, their older sisters paraded out of their room with about a dozen of their own prized possessions wrapped in a little pink tissue paper and a lot of toilet paper. Eyes brightened with each rip of paper; and, for a good twenty minutes, little voices ooed and aawed in excited, “Oh my goodness! You shouldn’t have”s.

Have I mentioned that I love my kids?

In case I haven’t, I do. I really, really do.

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 August 21, 2012  Family Life 3 Responses »
Aug 212012
 

Once upon a time, there was a man. This man loved all living things. If you hit it with your car, he’d scrape it off the road and nurse it back to health. Or, at least he’d try to. So, when this man was shown a puppy and promised, “You take it, or I’m taking it to the pound.” This big-hearted man was powerless against the warning. He had himself a puppy.

But then he asked his [estranged] wife if she could help find a home for the puppy. She responded, “I don’t want a puppy,” but she didn’t mean it. He replied, “I’m not asking you to take her!” but he didn’t mean it, either.

Let this story serve as a warning against ever opening your door, even for one day, to a puppy. Because in case you didn’t already know, puppies are magical…

…which is my only explanation for why I now have two.

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 August 21, 2012  Family Life 3 Responses »
Jul 262012
 

If you’ve started reading my book, you’ve probably noticed the startling lack of parenthesis. OK, no you haven’t. The lack of dashes? Commas?? Ummm…nope. Fine, I admit it, I like punctuation. I like it a lot. Except exclamation points, I have to force myself to use those. Well, not on Facebook. When on Facebook, I wink and exclaim like a mad woman.

Like a mad woman, I tell you!!!!!   ; )

The reason my book is not drowning in parenthesis is because El was one of the first to read it. She kinda set me straight with the whole, “This is a book, not a blog,” line. And alright, she didn’t really say that. I was inferring the parenthesis.

But y’all know I love ’em, parenthesis (saying what I really mean inside of what could have been a shrouded yet punchy sentence). I just didn’t realize how much I loved them.

I’m also pretty crazy about italics.

This week, though, I had a very eye opening experience while brushing my teeth (meaning I couldn’t answer, I could only nod).

“Hey Mom,” Bay Bit sneaked up behind me.

“UH! Uh-uh,” I mumbled through foam.

“How many days until our date?”

“Hhee,” I held up three fingers.

“Oh, OK,” she smiled. “I thought it was two days (cause yesterday you said it was three days). Remember when we went last time and I got macaroni (well, we said we wanted a steak but then we decided it was too expensive so I got macaroni) and it was really good?

I nodded.

“Well, I liked the macaroni (even though we really wanted steak), but next time I want something different (but I know we can’t have the steak). Are we going to go to the same place (I liked that place but you said we might not go there next time)? It’s OK if we go somewhere else (I know it’s really fun to just go out without the other kids, I was just wondering), are we? Also, are we going to have pancakes for breakfast (cause Lil Prince says he wants pancakes, but I like oatmeal, and Tiny Dancer wants cereal)?

I spit. And I smiled.

Like mother, like daughter (I guess).

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Jul 052012
 

Whoa, yesterday was fun. That is, until the snow cone–cotton candy–parade candy meltdowns kicked in. Whoa, that was not fun. Thankfully, though, fun is what happened in public. I don’t mind walking through sugar-hell on the occasional holiday, as long as the embarrassment is contained within my own home. Ha.

The 4th of July always makes me smile. Papa Bear and I were officially engaged on the 4th–although the fireworks were a little brighter on a roof-top in downtown Denver than they are in small-town northern New Mexico. A small town 4th of July is just the way we do things, now. And a cake-walk, bouncy house and games with your friends and neighbors is hard to beat.

 (They wouldn’t let me scrub their faces last night!)

 (This is downtown, now.)

 Immediately after the parade (which Baby Bear and I missed due to the aforementioned meltdowns), we had the most amazing thirty minutes of drenching rain. It was wonderful, and also proof that God likes fireworks!

 

We watched the fireworks from our front yard, but I wasn’t organized enough to grab chairs! Oh well, this works well, too.

Then we went inside and had cake…because I’m crazy. But everyone slept very well last night!

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 July 5, 2012  Family Life Comments Off on Now Today Feels Like Monday
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