I was recently invited to be the guest speaker at a ladies’ tea party. The event was a community outreach, and the theme was “My Favorite Things”. Various women in the church hosted a table then invited other women to fill the seats around that table. Each table was decorated by the host, and guests voted for their favorite table display. A light luncheon was served along with a variety of hot teas and a hot chocolate bar. Music was provided by a local group and I was to speak on my favorite things.
I love the idea of this luncheon, because it is so personal for those who are invited. Each woman is specifically asked to be there as the guest of someone with whom they already have a connection. The planning committee was warm and gracious, and the atmosphere was relaxed and fun.
In preparation to speak, it was good for me to ponder upon my favorite things. There is so much of life that I enjoy, but I found it beneficial for me to really meditate on those things that can be considered my favorites. Because I was asked to keep my presentation between 20 and 30 minutes, I left a lot of things out. Like my extended family, my pets, getting mail and Alaska. I had to draw the line somewhere.
Here’s what I came up with:
My husband, Dave. We celebrated 21 years this month. He is patient, forgiving and hard-working. Even though we had some significant trouble early in our marriage, we mostly live at peace now—especially when I resist the temptation to micro-manage him.
My kids. As of this month, I have three teenagers in my house. They are fun and funny (and sometimes frustrating). It is exciting to see them grow in their giftings while learning to manage (or not) their weaknesses. I see a lot of myself in them…and I see a lot of what I wish I’d done differently.
Our home. We call it Country Haven, and it is my safe place in the middle of nowhere. We have big gardens, a few animals, a young orchard, a big front porch and a warm woodstove. At any given time, there are a dozen (at least) projects in the works, but we keep plugging away. It is mostly a place of peace—one of the gifts Dave and I most wanted to give to our children.
Food. I have loved baking since I was a little girl. I learned to enjoy cooking as a necessity. Most recently, I have come to appreciate growing and raising our own food as a means to an end. And then there’s eating. I have been highly genetically engineered to love to eat. It’s a family tradition.
Managing my resources. This may sound strange to some, but it’s true. I kind of look at my family as my employer. I manage our resources here at home in order to generate income for our family. Sometimes the income generated is money for our homeschooling needs; more often the income fuels our bodies with healthy foods. We work to live within our means, which isn’t always easy, but it sure makes life simpler. I did not used to love this aspect of adulthood, but I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I now do. I see it as an answer to prayer.
Naps. I loved my kids’ naps when they were little, and I love my own power naps now. Most people are more pleasant when well-rested; I’ve learned that my family prefers me to be pleasant.
Teaching, writing and sharing. I have done some really dumb things in my life. Like, seriously dumb things. I have also done a lot of things that just didn’t work–as well as a lot of things which have. I like sharing about all of these. I enjoy encouraging others to focus on their own personal abundance of resources—their talents, abilities, time and money. I believe that our culture prefers to encourage us to play the victim card, and I believe that recognizing the power of personal choice and responsibility can free a person to be who God has created them to be. Whether it’s a class on cooking, canning, gardening, saving money, home management or parenting, I like sharing what has worked for me.
Change in seasons. Each season holds wonder for me, and I embrace each one for what it offers. Dave threatens to move south when he retires. I’ll miss him.
Time with friends. Whether it’s a cup of something hot to drink, long walks, dinner out, chit-chats, laughter, commiseration, heart-to-hearts or even the occasional hand smacks, I treasure my time with friends. Though I prefer to do the smacking through the leading of the Holy Spirit, sometimes God uses a friend to smack my hand in regard to a particular issue. This is not always comfortable, but it is necessary for personal growth. I had my hand smacked over coffee with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and I wrote her a thank-you note. I want to grow in my faith. I want to be a better wife and mother and friend. This is easier to do when I’m willing to take a good, hard look at what I’m doing (or not doing) and measure it against what God has said in His Word. Sometimes, I find that I’m at peace with my choices; sometimes I find that I need to change something. I am thankful for friends that speak the truth in love and for the maturity that allows me to weigh their words against the words of Jesus.
Though there are lots of good things in my life, things are not perfect. I have real struggles with things like broken relationships, addictions, regrets, tight budgets, insecurities and misunderstandings. Sometimes, I don’t feel appreciated, understood, valued or even loved. In these times, I struggle with the temptation to focus on the yuck. Part of me wants to lash out, part of me wants to pull in, part of me wants to somehow even the score. Sometimes, I just want to check out of the situation altogether and quit trying.
Then I remember Jesus.
I remember the healing He brought to my marriage 18 years ago when we were one signature way from divorce and humbly re-committed our relationship to Him.
I remember the joy He has brought to my life through parenting.
I remember the cycle of abusive, angry behavior He is working on breaking with me.
I remember the times I just didn’t think that I could take one more day of the rejection, the disapproval, the regret.
I remember the times He has looked so deeply into my ugliness, seeing the utter blackness of my darkest thoughts and most hidden moments, and loved me in spite of them.
I remember the obedience of a young couple, the birth of their perfect baby, the patient determination of a carpenter’s son, the cruelty of the cross and glory of the resurrection.
Loving and being loved by Jesus are my most favorite things.