March: Children Are Blessings

No matter where you are in life’s timeline regarding children (dreaming of future children, caring for young children, steering teenage children, releasing young adult children into the world, or enjoying your grandchildren), there will be something for everybody on “From the Church House” this month.

Three very special guest bloggers will be sharing their thoughts on children. . .there will be some thoughts on praying for your children (no matter what their age). . .and some shared thoughts on the various stages of being a parent. . . . (does it ever REALLY end?)

My own new baby, the reveal of my new blog site, should be arriving shortly. . .and I may share a bit about the design aspect.

So pull up a chair, be sure to visit regularly! (Or you can opt to receive email posts soon as they are published, by signing up in the box above, to the right.)

As always, may our Lord Jesus Christ be praised and worshiped, for He is worthy to be praised—great things He has done!

Lookin’ up,


Sisterly Love. . .The Rixie Girls

I am sandwiched between two sisters, Valarie (one year older) and Nancy (two and half years younger.) Both of these ladies celebrate birthdays this week (Feb. 14th and 11th), and I am grateful for them both.

When I was growing up, Valarie was a typical big sister, bossy and opinionated. When we were kids, I wanted to tag along, do what she did. She was a tomboy of sorts, loved sports and anything military. (Can you say “Rat Patrol” lunchbox?) When she tried out for the basketball team in elementary school, I followed her lead, got hooked, and ended up playing sports too.

Unlike me, Valarie was uber-organized. Her room was immaculate, her bed unwrinkled.  In her closet, clothes were organized by categories and most of her possessions were stored in their original boxes. You were sure to incur the wrath of Valarie if you messed with her things.

After Al and I were married, we spent a night with Valarie and her husband Tim. Al asked to borrow Valarie’s iron to touch up a shirt he was wearing the next day. I still remember his look of incredulity as he found the iron, its instruction booklet, and cardboard dividers all perfectly aligned within the original manufacturer’s box, just like the day it was bought. And believe you-me when he was done, he was kindly reminded to reassemble all-said items back into the box, just like he found it, thank-you-very-much. Like I said, Al was a bit shocked at my big sister’s precision.  I was used to it.

Valarie is married and has three daughters, two still at home and one in college. She fills her days with homeschooling the younger two, and their activities keep her burning up the roads. When Valarie does something, she still does it to the nth degree. Her smart, vibrant children are a testimony to her committed investment in their lives.

Nancy and I also had many moments of “sisterliness.” She and I (to the great relief of Valarie, I’m sure) had to share a bedroom growing up. I remember more than a few heated arguments between us. I guess Mom and Dad got their fill of bickering. After a couple of years, they added a new bedroom onto the back of our brick ranch for Nancy. I was never so happy as the day she moved out, because then I had my own room!

My sister Nancy, from the start, was girly and loved pretty, feminine things. She was always into the arts more than sports and still enjoys crafts of all sorts. She can knit or crochet anything from directions and creates the prettiest photo scrapbooks anywhere. She energetically tackles home improvement projects without a lick of experience, and they always come out looking professionally-done.

Baby sister is  also decisive and verbal. Once when we were traveling together, we pulled off the road to eat at a Pizza Hut. It was well past dinnertime, and our young kids were ravenous and cranky. The staff dispensed with drinks, took our order, then disappeared from the face of the earth.Trying to made the best of a bad situation, we patiently waited in the empty dining room. Other folks came and went with their take-outs, but our food never came.

After more than enough time, Nancy’d had enough. Fuming, she found the staff hiding out in the kitchen. She canceled everything and proceeded to royally chew them out for their neglect of little children. She came back, informed us what she’d done. “Pack up,” she said. “We’re going somewhere else.” Within a few minutes, we’d found a McDonald’s, and soon everyone was happy.

Nancy is married, works full-time, and has a daughter in college who enjoys fiber arts as much as her mom does. When my parents relocated to Nashville, they bought a house nearby baby sister, so nowadays Nancy is assuming the role of caretaker more and more. I appreciate her heart of sacrifice and know Mom and Dad in good hands.

I love you, Valarie & Nancy!

Lookin’ up,


Home Again

Last week we vacationed in the Great Smoky Mountains with my parents, my two sisters, and their children.  The Rixies/Barnes/Plushes/Huffmans are an interesting mix of personalities, each with definite likes and dislikes.

My sweet mother always rents a place for the fourteen of us and then cooks herself silly (her own idea of a va-ca.  Go figure.)  The condos/house can be located in the mountains, at the beach,  or sometimes in an area with a historical bent.  Wherever we find ourselves, it is a time of being thrown together with extended family and lots and lots of personal free time.  (Personally, if I score a stack of paperbacks and a quiet place to read, I’m a happy camper.)  There are no established requirements on our vacation, other than to show up at the dinner table for Grandma’s meals.

In general, vacations are a great break from reality.    You get to:

  • Physically distance yourself from distractions of daily life
  • Strengthen family bonds, sometimes sorely tested in the day-to-day
  • Refresh and refill your tank with new experiences you otherwise might not have had

One thing Europeans have gotten right over the Americans is the duration of what they term a “holiday”–usually at minimum a two-week stay.  We Americans short-shrift ourselves to squeezing out one week at a time, with a day or two of that allotted for travel.  Hardly do you get unpacked in your room, before it’s time to gather it all up and go back from whence you came.

Regardless of how long they are, vacations are blessings from God.  Even with the extra preparations they require.  Even with the dreaded piles awaiting when you return.   On vacation, we can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  We can reflect on His goodness and His provision.  We can just be, if we wish.

Someday every believer in Jesus will embark on a getaway of a lifetime, to a wondrous place.  There will be no time crunch, no lowering of bank accounts, no dirty laundry, no emails out the wazoo.  Just zillions upon zillions of years in eternity with our Loving Savior–and that long to mix it up with our kindred tooling alongside us in heaven.  We will be enthralled with the most glorious of scenery, have the most magical air to breathe, fulfill the most extraordinary purpose ever–that of praising our Lord Jesus forever and forever, on into eternity.

All of that, without ever repacking a suitcase again.  Vacation = Permanent Home.

Hmmmm. . . I say, SIGN ME UP!  Are you ready to go?

Lookin’ up,