|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
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Read an Excerpt
The One Year Home & Garden Devotions
By Sandra Byrd, Jane Vogel
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Sandra Byrd
All rights reserved.
Scented Linen Water
I don't know what makes clean sheets so comforting, but the first night spent sleeping on them feels like an absolute luxury. You can reproduce that feeling all the time by spritzing linen water on your sheets after turning down the bed. Spray from a few feet above the bed and allow the sheets to dry for a minute or two before you climb in. The spray also works well when ironing clothes or even just to refresh a room.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
4 ounces distilled water
25-30 drops of essential oils of your choice (my favorites are pre-blended "unwind" or "sleep inducing" mixes)
A small, clean bottle with a spray nozzle
Blend all ingredients together, then test the spray on a blanket or towel, or just mist into the air and walk into it as it falls. You may like to add more essential oil if you prefer a stronger scent.
Be sure not to add coloring; I did that once and stained my sheets!
For this month's free printable, go to http://tyndal.es/homeandgarden.
YOU CAN'T DIY
One holds the ladder while another one screws in the lightbulb. One chops the vegetables while another makes the rice. One offers advice on a project she's already finished while her friend listens and picks up tips. One mother shares her completed parenting journey with a woman who has just put her feet upon the path. John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, wrote, "Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good." God has provided us with family, friends, colleagues, and ultimately himself so we need not go through this life on our own.
I love working in my home and garden, and I enjoy watching all of the do-it-yourself shows on TV. I've noticed, though, that rarely is anyone on any of those shows "doing it yourself," as in, alone. There is a team of workers, craftsmen, friends, spouses, and all manner of helpers pitching in to get the job properly done. This is exactly right! Any project, as well as life itself, is not meant to be accomplished on our own. Grief divided, joy shared, and all that.
Whether your goal is to replace the flooring in your front room, put some drapes up in your first apartment, plant an herb garden to experiment with cooking, or just learn how to be a better friend, wife, mother, sister, or worker, you'll find guidance in your everyday life as God meets you — as he always does — right where you are.
A new year has begun, and a fresh start, like fresh sheets, ushers in a sense of renewal and comfort, a sense of being happy at home — even a home under remodeling, renovation, and upgrading. During our lives, we are under continual renovation. Welcome home!
* * *
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ROMANS 15:13
A few years back I bought a small, cheerful plaque and installed it just outside our front door. It teases, "Please, bare your soles!" Although most guests are okay with this request, some (especially short people like me, who lose precious inches in the process) are uncomfortable at first. Bare feet make us feel vulnerable somehow. Humble. But also, perhaps, more intimate with those we then spend time with inside.
The reason behind the policy, of course, is to protect our home from the mud and muck that shoes inevitably pick up during daily life. Streets are dusted with dirt or iced with dirty snow. Sidewalks are pasted with chewed gum, and the car's carpet is littered with old french fries.
Even if you don't have a "Shoes off, please" sign, most people have a mat outside their front doors. Very often it says, "Welcome." Welcome, friends. Welcome, family. Welcome, strangers. It may have a lovely fleur-de-lis design or a sun painted on it, but it is also usually made with stiff bristles or tough rubber for serious cleaning. Considerate guests scrape their shoes against the mat before entering as a sign of respect for the home.
We read in Scripture that Joshua and Moses were commanded to remove their sandals as a gesture of respect in the presence of God. It's good to realize that God is near and personal, but we sometimes forget to treat him and his house with appropriate reverence. Sunday mornings can be a rush out the door. Before I leave for church, or at least on the way, I try to take a quiet moment for confession and repentance, scraping off the mud and muck of the week. Taking off my shoes before entering the building. Approaching God's house with humility, respect, and "clean feet." Not criticizing his family, his decor, or the music once I arrive in his house.
I want my guests to feel welcome, but I want them to respect my home too. How much more should I show respect when God welcomes me into his house!
* * *
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush. ... "Do not come any closer," the Lord warned. "Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground." EXODUS 3:4-5, NLT
You might be surprised to know that I, a committed Christian of many years, have a household idol. Well, I don't say it's an idol, but my husband does. He says that my day goes according to what the idol tells me. If it gives me good news, I'm happy, and if it gives me bad news, I'm grumpy. I tend to visit it several times a day. You might think of it as a Magic 8 Ball for grown-ups.
I dance with my idol. Well, not really, but kind of. The hokey pokey. I put my left foot on, I move my left foot back, I put my right foot on, then I lean way forward or back, trying to get my idol to say what I want it to say.
You've guessed, haven't you? It's my scale.
I care about my health, and I know my weight affects that. This is the time of year when most of us think about weight and health. I'd rather be one size smaller next year than one size larger, and I want to be around to enjoy my family and friends for a good long time. To be healthy enough to do every good work that God has prepared for me would be wonderful. I've come to realize, though, that when I spend too much time fretting about my weight, I use up time and energy that might have been available for those good works, and I become vulnerable to self-condemnation, which makes me question my goodness, my beauty, or my abilities.
I still check my scale once in a while, and that's okay. But I'm not letting it guide my day or my mood anymore. Instead, I focus on the eternal tasks and values first, and on the God who tells me I am of great worth to him regardless of my earthly, gravity-bound weight.
* * *
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 TIMOTHY 4:8
MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE
I sat in the guest room, alone, carefully taking measurements of my new distressed dresser so that I could precisely fit each drawer with a beautiful black-and-white French toile liner. I had purchased only two rolls, so if I measured incorrectly and came up short, one drawer would be — horrors! — unlined. What would my guests think? What would Martha do? Hubs had just told me that perhaps he himself would become as distressed as the dresser if I spent much more time and money fixing up the room. "It's only this one room," I told him. He looked at me skeptically. He'd heard that before.
While I took the measurements of the drawers, I also took measure of myself. Was that a promise I intended to keep — it's only this one room? Or would I break it? When I said things like that, did I really mean them, or had they become meaningless conversational patter, easily discarded when the stress of the moment had passed?
"If this medical test turns out okay, I really will start exercising every day."
"If I get this job/raise/bonus, we'll use the money only to pay off debt. And tithe."
"Once this room is finished, I'm done."
"After the holidays, I'm going to eat healthier."
The best of intentions often leads to the worst of follow-through. We make these "promises" to ourselves, to our loved ones, to the Lord. But when we don't hold ourselves to the words we say, something breaks. I took a long time to measure the pretty drawer liners because they cost me something. If I cut them too short, I could patch them together, but I could not make them whole again. "Measure twice, cut once," a seamstress friend once told me. Think things through before promising. Once cut, most things are not easily made whole again.
* * *
Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost. PROVERBS 20:25, NLT
ALWAYS IN HOT WATER
We were fortunate to buy a house built by a master plumber. He'd installed brushed-nickel fixtures and high-quality toilets. (Honey, please remember to put the seat down.) But the most exciting element to discover was the radiant heat installed throughout the house.
Radiant heat uses a large water heater in the garage to send hot water coursing constantly through yards and yards of copper tubing underneath the flooring. The heat rises and heats the entire room. Best of all? Warm feet when you pad about on a cold winter's morning.
However, there is one catch. There must always be hot water available. If the water heater breaks down, it means not just cold showers, but a freezing house. So we have to make sure that water heater is always kept in running condition. If the water goes lukewarm, it's good for nothing.
Scripture speaks of that too. When we are cold, we realize (even if we don't always admit it) that we need to be warmed somehow. It's been said that agnostics and perhaps many atheists are simply people who have gone cold with disappointment or anger toward God. On-fire believers are called just that because they burn with passion to share the hope that lives within them. Lukewarm, however, is good for little. Washing delicates, maybe. Rinsing out your mouth. But who wants to be spit out? Not me.
Keeping the water in the tank hot requires regular maintenance (attending church), periodic inspections (accountability), and upgrading (study, exhortation) from time to time. It's all worth it, though, because these actions enable us to share warmth with everyone who enters our homes.
* * *
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. REVELATION 3:15-16
ALWAYS IN HOT WATER
So about that wonderful in-floor heating system. I still love it, and I'm glad we have it, but after fifteen years of use, it broke. (It was supposed to last twenty-five years.) We knew the system was expensive, so we prayed like mad that it would be repairable. Several hundred dollars for a fix seemed better than many thousands of dollars for a replacement. And after praying, I had peace about it. I just knew that it was going to be fixable. But it wasn't.
We got the bad news that the whole system needed to be replaced and that it would take a week — and a short-term loan — to do it. Later that evening, while I was waiting for an appointment, I kept praying. Why didn't you just let it be repairable? I asked God. Or at least give us a big chunk of money to pay for it?
As I sat there, praying and thinking, it came to me that when I pray, most often I ask God to forestall bad things or, if it's too late for that, to provide an immediate fix. But neither of those requests really requires me to have faith that God will work things out for good. He will work for good in whatever circumstance appears on my horizon, whatever trouble I must undergo — and he usually does it in such a clever, creative, superhuman manner that there is no doubt it was God at work.
Hebrews tells us that without faith, we cannot please God. So why would he remove every opportunity we may have to please him by trusting him, to knit our hearts ever more tightly with his? He won't, which means we have plenty of time to build that love and faith while in the midst of the muddle.
* * *
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. HEBREWS 11:6
My heart always clutches a little when I spot a poster about a lost dog in our neighborhood. Usually the poster displays a picture of the beloved pet, the pet's name, and a plea to everyone who sees the poster to keep their eyes open for the missing pooch. At the bottom of the poster, the owner's phone number is always included with an appeal to please call if the dog is seen or found.
After driving by such a poster, especially in cold winter, I am more watchful. No, it's not my dog, but I have a dog, and I know what heartache it would cause if she were lost. I wouldn't have a moment of rest till she was found. She's a house dog, you see, and the dark, wet conditions of winter would not be conducive to her well-being. We'd miss her companionship. She'd wonder if we were looking for her. Of course we would be looking for her; we love her. It's easy for me to sympathize with the unknown owner of the lost dog, and so I reach out to help however I can.
Scripture tells us that Jesus came to find the one in one hundred who is lost. It's not that he doesn't care for the other ninety-nine — of course he does — but he knows they are safe and whole and warm. The lost one, though, may be cold, hungry, or frightened. She cannot live long on her own under such conditions. She must be found. Christ has invited us to help him in his work, to help him seek those who belong to him but who are lost. We are not his dogs, of course, but his beloved children. It is a cause for great rejoicing when the beloved is finally found and brought home.
* * *
The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. LUKE 19:10
One of the coolest gadgets I've bought for my office in a long time is a portable receipt scanner. Sure, you can take pictures with your smartphone and send them to your computer; I've done that. But the scanner has a really clear resolution, and best of all, it allows me to automatically send the receipts to various files on my computer. Otherwise, I'd likely end up with the digital equivalent of the cardboard box full of unsorted papers.
I like to keep receipts for returns, of course, but the main reason I keep them is for tax purposes. As a small-business owner and as the wife of a chaplain, I have a lot of odd tax categories and need to provide this information for my accountant. It brings me peace to know that the documentation is all there to prove my complete compliance with the law. If audited, I'm ready!
I'd love to think that most of us pay our taxes in full because we're good people. But I'm pretty sure it also helps that there is a slight, er, threat of an audit looming. Knowing that we may be called to account keeps us on the straight and narrow in case we are ever tempted to depart from it.
As Christians, we know that we will be asked by our Lord to account for the things we've said and done here on earth. We will be, in a very real sense, audited. How have we spent the resources we've been given? Whom have we loved? Did we seek the good of others or mostly our own? No heavenly scanner will be required; it will all be right at his fingertips. I try to be a good person, and I'll bet you do too. But it still helps keep me on the straight and narrow to remember that one day my accounts will be lovingly scrutinized.
* * *
We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 CORINTHIANS 5:10
Excerpted from The One Year Home & Garden Devotions by Sandra Byrd, Jane Vogel. Copyright © 2015 Sandra Byrd. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’m so excited to share this devotional with you because it was written by one of my absolute favorite historical fiction authors and not only do I think it’s an incredibly encouraging devotional, I love getting to support my author friends in different writing adventures! This is a wonderful devotional! Even if you aren’t talented when it comes to gardening (say, like the author of this blog), you’ll still enjoy it. Each month kicks off with something fun for the house (and you also have the info of where to print them!). From scented linen water, recipes (I chuckled at the one called Boyfriend-Bait Beef Stroganoff), desserts (muy importante!), gardening ideas, household tips, creative gifts and all kinds of other fun things. Each day’s devotional felt more like a conversation with a friend. You know when you’re with your closest friends, talking about all the Lord is doing and teaching you? That’s how each devo felt and it was so refreshing! This made me want to spend a day with Sandra and trying some of her yummy desserts (I promise I don’t mean that in a creepy way either!). Definitely one for your bookshelf! Do you have a favorite devotional? (Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review) Originally posted: http://booksandbeverages.org/2015/10/28/the-one-year-home-and-garden-devotions-by-sandra-byrd-book-review