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A blog to support, encourage, and mentor at home moms in all aspects of home making and family life.

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Thursday
Dec132018

Shouldn't The Scandal Surrounding Christmas Be That A Virgin Gave Birth To The Son of God?

 

My mother will start to worry, beautiful, what's your hurry?

Father will be pacing the floor, listen to the fireplace roar

So really I'd better scurry, beautiful, please don't hurry

Maybe just a half a drink more, put some records on while I pour”

Lyrics, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ Frank Loesser, 1949

 

“...God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God...”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

Luke 1:26-38, Holy Bible, New International Version

 

A man making somewhat aggressive suggestions that a woman stay when she’s saying she should go.  

A teenage virgin being spoken to by an angel, telling her she will conceive and bear the Son of God.

I don’t know about you, but shouldn’t the scandal surrounding Christmas be the latter?

Have we really allowed the real message of Christmas to become so watered down that no one even worries about the fact that, for six weeks each Winter, the majority of the western world celebrates the central tenant of the Christian faith - a virgin birth?

I’ve heard and seen countless, protests and counter protests regarding the boycott of a trite, trivial Christmas jingle.  How ridiculous and touchy our culture has become, how terrified men are becoming of women, how the song was written for the composer’s wife.  What I haven’t seen, is one person posting about how ridiculous it is that we all celebrate a baby, born two thousand years ago to a scared teenage virgin.  Not a single meme going around Facebook, not one article quoting doctors or scientists testifying to the impossibilities of a virgin giving birth, outside of a laboratory.  Not a peep. Why? I think I know.

 

"Let this be the scandal.  Let this spark protests and boycotts and memes.  Tell me I’m crazy for agreeing with this, believing in this!  Not some jingle."  


Because as a Christian, who loves the Lord, and spends time most days reading the bible and in prayer - do you know how I’ve spent my December thus far?  Buying presents, decorating, planning outfits for parties. Yes, I’ve gone to church, yes, I’m going to help out wrapping presents for underprivileged children, but so?  There’s nothing, not one thing, about how I’m spending my Christmas season that would merit a protest from non-believers. Not one thing I’m doing that would offend someone or cause them to boycott or denounce any of my actions, because they’re not any different than what everyone else is doing.

Yes, if you asked me, I would tell you that Christmas, for me, isn’t just about a joyful season, but the celebration of the birth of my Redeemer, Christ the Messiah.  But no one asked, and so I haven’t said, so no scandal, no protests, no boycotts. No message, no meaning, no sharing of the hope that I’ve been given through that baby born two thousand years ago in a barn.

At first I was drawn into choosing a side in the ‘Cold Outside scandal,’ but today, this morning, as I read the Bible, I realized how easily I’m distracted, how easily I’m drawn into the noise, and away from the message.  How impotent I've become, and how embarrassed and ashamed I should be by that.

Should men respect women?  Yes. There, that’s the end of that discussion.

Was a teenage virgin visited by an angel, told she would bear the Son of God, conceive, give birth to a baby who would grow to manhood, be charged with blasphemy for claiming to be the Messiah, be convicted, crucified, die and be raised back to life on the third day, and in the process conquer the claim sin and death had over the souls of mankind?  Yes. Can it change your life, give you peace and emotional rest, give purpose to your life when all the presents and parties and celebrating don’t? Yes.

Let this be the scandal.  Let this spark protests and boycotts and memes.  Tell me I’m crazy for agreeing with this, believing in this!  Not some jingle.  

Christmas is the remembrance and celebration of the birth of God made flesh.  Of the divine, coming to earth, quietly, and in the most humble of circumstances.  It’s God’s love letter to us. The Almighty reaching out, wanting us back. Not wanting our sins and sinful nature to separate us from Him and his holy nature any longer.  It is the ultimate act of love, the sacrificing of that most dear to Him, His only Son, to win back those who didn’t even care that they’d lost Him.

This is the joy and the scandal of Christmas, this is why ‘the soul felt its worth.’  This is the scandal I’m celebrating.




 

Wednesday
Dec202017

What You Ignore Is What You Allow

 

When it comes to kids, what you ignore is what you allow.

Same thing.  

At least as far as they're concerned.  

Because once you've ignored something, your child understands that she can get away with it.

It's definitely easier to pretend we didn't notice.  The sassy response, being 20 minutes late for curfew, little ones touching things they've repeatedly been told to leave alone or running away, giggling, when they've been told to come.  We can ignore these little things easily enough, they're small, relatively harmless, the world won't end.  

No.  But things will escalate.  Once behaviour has been ignored, your child has learned that it's acceptable.  

They've pushed and won.  Now they want to see how far they can go, how much rope, how much slack, you'll give.

Of course they know you don't approve, but they also now know you're not prepared to do anything about it.  That basically, you won't bother.

This is one of the toughest parts of parenting.  Consistency.  Actually bothering.  Even about the small stuff.  Even when you’re tired, or they’ve worn you down by pushing the envelope over and over and over again!  Following through and calling them out, time, after time, after time.  Until, instead of them wearing you down with persistent rebellion or disobedience, you've worn them down, with consistent follow through.

Because just like a toe over the line, if you give an inch, they'll take a mile.  They'll learn that you can be pushed.  But if the minute that toe stretches across the line you've drawn in the sand, you swat it back, they'll learn, (after they've tried it a dozen or so times), that it's just not worth it.  That you won't give in.  That you mean what you say.  And believe me, I promise you, this is a very valuable lesson to teach them.  Early!  This is the lesson that leads to you being able to trust them with the car, or leave them alone for a weekend, while you and your husband go away together.  Knowing that they know, that if they break the rules while you're gone, there will be consequences, and that it's just not worth it.  It also leads to their respect.

Now, here, like other times, I will interject and say, that the rules you defend need to be fair.  That they need to be about the safety of your child, the respect of your home or you as a parent, they are not about you lording your authority over them just because you can.  Those kinds of rules will only lead to frustration, rebellion and certainly the loss of, not only your child's respect, but also their affection.  Whereas if your child understands the reasons for your rules they can't really argue about you enforcing them.  Little ones need to be taught to simply obey what Mommy or Daddy says, older children and teenagers need reasons.

It's all too easy to turn a blind eye, especially when you’re tired - which I get, is most of the time.  But believe me, it will turn about and bite you in the butt later.  The exhaustion you endure now, will pay off in the future.  Be fair, be firm, and be consistent.  And if they continue to push there needs to be consequences.  Not idle threatens, not ranting and raving.  Consequences equal to their offence.

Don't pretend you didn't notice.  Don't pretend it's a game when they don't listen.  Don't beg or coddle or promise things if they will just do what you're asking.  They know you know what they did.  And they're waiting to see what you're going to do about it.


 

Saturday
Sep022017

Into The Eye Of A Hurricane

As I write this my children are preparing to fly into a hurricane.  Literally and figuratively.

Literally - Hurricane Harvey.  

Figuratively - What the US State Department has warned to be, "the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas." 

My daughter, her husband, their 3 1/2 year old little girl Poppy, and 7 1/2 month old baby boy, Skipper, are, as I write this, on a weather delay at LAX waiting to fly to a Mexican airport and then travel, (now, with the delay, at night), to a small village where they will live for the next 3 months. 

I am, in a word.  Sick.

In a few more words, anxious, worried for their safety, and on the verge of a panic attack - I know what they look like, I've had one before.

I am also convicted.

Convicted that they are stepping out in faith, to go and serve others, trusting God to meet all their needs and protect them, while I stay here, in my very comfortable home, and worry.

Knowing how I was struggling with their decision to go, last week my daughter gave me David Platt's book, 'Radical.'  She said "To help you understand our thoughts about this."

The thing that really ticks me off is the further I get into this book, the more I do understand their thoughts, I understand that they want to step into the eye of a hurricane, with their children and allow God to care for them.  Ticked off because I'd rather cling to not understanding.  I don't want to understand or condone anything that puts my loved ones in danger.

In his book, 'Radical,' Platt recounts a story of a English Pastor, George Muller (1805 - 1898);

"(Muller) pastored a church in Bristol, England, for more than sixty years, but he was best known for the orphan ministry he began.  During his life he cared for more than ten thousand orphans.  Remarkably, and intentionally he never asked for money or other resources to provide for these orphans.  Instead he simply prayed and trusted God to provide."

Platt continues;

"When I read Muller's biography, I was shocked to learn why he started the orphanage.  His primary purpose was not to care for orphans.  Instead, he wrote in his journal:

'If, I a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House, there would be something which with the Lord's blessing might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God.  This, then, was the primary reason for establishing the Orphan House…  The first and primary object of the work was (and still is:) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me or any fellow-labourers whereby it may be seen, that God is faithful still, and hears prayer still.'"

Crap. 

Do I believe in God?

Yes, absolutely.

Do I believe He is all powerful?

Yes, without question. 

Do I believe he can keep my daughter and her family safe?  Build their faith, heal their emotional wounds, allow them time to rest and reassess their direction in life, serve others, all while they're in Mexico?

Wait.  I mean I know He can….  

Do I believe He loves them more than I do?  That he made each of them?  Knew them while He formed them in their mother's wombs?

Well ya, but… 

Father I believe, help my unbelief.

I do believe in God.  I do love Him, trust Him, believe He is the Creator of all things, believe he set the sun and moon on their courses.  I do.  I believe these things to my core, I am not having a crisis of faith, I'm having a crisis of trust.  Of letting go and feeling at peace about it.  It's my crisis, not God's.  He hasn't changed.  He hasn't moved.  His arm is not shortened.

When our daughter and her husband lost their second daughter, Goldie Bloom, who was born between Poppy and Skipper, who lived just 10 precious days, we turned to God and He carried us.  We weren't angry.  We didn't question Him.  The person I questioned was me.  My thoughts were rampant with self blame; Could I have done something, shouldn't I have seen the signs at the end of her pregnancy.  These thoughts tormented me for weeks.  Twisted my stomach with grief and regret, kept me from eating, caused me to sleep 18 - 19 hours a day just to escape my own recriminations.

And then one day I woke up a realized these accusations weren't coming from the Lord.  And I started telling myself what He tells me, that He loves me, died to reconcile me to Himself.  That He is in control, He decides when we're born and when we die.  I don't know the days numbered for me or anyone else.  Goldie's days were 10.  That was when I learned the importance of speaking to my heart and mind what God has told me to be true, not letting them speak to me

Left to my own devises I can fill my own head with all sorts of recriminations and in the case of Mexico, worst case scenarios.  Is it responsible to take off to Mexico in the midst of a drug war?  Probably not.  Is it radical?  Most certainly.  Does God know where they are?  Of course He does.  Am I okay with that?  I'm trying to be.  But what I am choosing to speak to my worried Mumma's heart and mind is not what I feel, but what I know to be true; 

 

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"

Jeremiah 29:11

  

Sunday
Jun182017

Men Are Simple Creatures

Men Are Simple Creatures.

That's not an insult.  Men are simple creatures!  If only we women were as straight forward as men, the world would be a much easier place to live!

When I was getting married my mother-in-law told me, "Men are simple creatures, feed them, respect them and love them, and they're happy."  We've been married twenty-eight years now, and almost 3 decades I wouldn't disagree with her.

A dear friend recently reminded me of a very instructive and insightful book, that I had read years earlier, on the topic of understanding and living with our husbands,  Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands."  Now whether you remember Dr. Laura from her radio show, which aired from 2000 - 2010, and whether or not you're a fan, (many people found her abrasive), you can't dispute, the woman had some good points.  Basic, straight to the point, unvarnished and often offensively delivered - insightful advice.  Personally I prefer her in written form, because I like what she has to say, but not how she says it.

In the portion I'm reading currently, a caller to her radio program, who is happily married describes her husband and her marriage;

"Men really are not as complicated as we think they should be.  Men love to hear that their woman is happy and that they are the source of this happiness.  Men deserve the same respect you would show a visitor in your home - even more…  I always thank my husband for working so hard for us, and I encourage the kids to do so too.  

Men are grumpy when they are tired or hungry.  Anything they say while they are in either one of these states is not to be taken seriously.

Men don't like it when women talk about them behind their backs.  Men are not your 'daddies,' they are your contemporaries and get stressed and scared about things just like you do…  Men have dreams too, and it doesn't matter if it's logical or not, don't walk all over them. 

(I'm not saying) we don't have problems - everyone does - but it's a lot easier to work them out with a man who knows you love and respect him." 

If you're new to marriage or are still learning how to speak man, trust me, this is very sound advice.  Simply put, he has certain ways of saying and understanding things, he has certain needs, if they're met, and he feels loved and respected, he'll be happy, and love you devotedly.

To go through them;

He means what he says  ~ No more, no less.  It's highly unlikely that there is a hidden agenda in what your husband is telling you.  "I don't thinking I'm going to want to go out Friday night."  Probably means he has a busy week and knows he's going to be tired by the weekend, and just wants to stay home with you and watch Netflix.  It probably does not mean, "I know you're going to want to go out with your best friend and her husband, I don't like her, and he's a blow hard, so I'm pre-emptively telling you that I don't want to go out, so I won't have to go out with them."  He didn't say that.  He didn't mean that.  He's not trying to ruin your social life or drive a wedge between you and your friends, he's just tired.  Take it at that, and move on.

He does not understand what you think was implied.   ~  If you need to pick something up on the way out to dinner, say to him, "I need to pick something up on the way to dinner, can we leave an extra 10 minutes early?"  Not, "We need milk for the morning," and then get annoyed when he's still on the couch, not dressed for dinner, 20 minutes early.  Leaving the house tonight, and milk at breakfast have no correlation in his mind, in fact, even though he'll probably nod when you tell him, in his mind he's thinking, what does milk have to do with anything right now???

If it takes 10 minutes to get to dinner, and all he needs to do is change and brush his teeth, he's not getting off the couch until 12 minutes before you have to be out the door.  Men like things simple, specific, clear.  Remember "implied" is not in his vernacular.

Respect is how men receive love.   ~   The bible says, "Men love your wives, women respect your husbands."  I've heard it said that this is because respect is how men receive love.  Remember, your husband is not another one of your children.  He's not to be nagged and scolded, or for you to roll your eyes at.  Ever, but especially not in front of your children.  Nothing will crush a man's spirit quicker, and drive his affections away from you, than disrespecting him.  

Treat him with respect.  Honour his way of hearing and understanding what you are trying to say, and you'll get a lot farther.  Honour the unique, masculine things he brings to the marriage, these things are not to be forgotten or taken for grated, anymore than the talents and gifts you contribute should be.  He is a man, not a bumbling cartoon character who needs to you guide him through life, honour him, treat him like he's valuable and with respect, this is his love language.

Feed him.  ~   If you're a full time at home mother, or even if you work part time but the home is your responsibility, so is the food.  This is not to be taken as insulting or demeaning.  Cooking is not a slam against you or a commentary on your value as a human being.  It's simply a daily requirement of every home, one that takes an inordinate amount of planning, shopping, prepping, labour and clean up.  Schedule time for this.  If dinner didn't just fall out of the fridge yesterday, it's highly unlikely it will tomorrow.   

With the internet being common place, there has never been more available information on the subject of meal planning, efficient grocery shopping techniques, meal preparation and nutrition.  With all the crockpot "dump dinners" and suggestions for menu planning on Pinerest, and every possible celebrity chef posting their recipes on line, there is absolutely no excuse for claiming ignorance when it comes to providing timely, nutritional meals for your husband and family.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are just going to keep happening day after day, best not to live in denial and just get a handle on it.

And please don't ask your husband to "just pick a few things up," on his way home.  The shopping, as well as the cooking is your job, not his, he has a job and I'm guessing he doesn't call you up to come help him out with it.  Make a list of the things you need on an on going basis and keep them stocked, if you're out of milk, then you need to plan better.  Make  notes of the meals you're going to need this week and schedule your time accordingly.  Feeding not only you husband, but your family, keeps everyone happy.  

Men like sex.  You're married.  Have sex with your husband.  ~  The end.  Don't act like it's a bother.  Don't always be too tired.  Don't have a get it over with attitude.  I knew a woman who said, "I tell my husband, 'Just put my nightie down when you're done.'"  They're divorced now.  No.  I'm not blaming their divorce on her attitude in this one part of their marriage, there were many issues, but it was certainly a tell tale symptom of how far she'd gone from understanding, or caring, about what is important to a man.  If you have to, schedule sex.  Now, personally I find that rather insulting and unromantic.  "I know you want it, and I'm too busy to be bothered, but put it on the calendar and I'll oblige you."  But that doesn't mean you can't decide, silently in your own mind, that it's been too long and you really need to make sure it happens within the next 24 hours, and plan your evening around it.  It also let's you mentally unwind, so you can be emotionally present, and not just rush into bed still frantic from everything you had going on right before hand.  

Sex is a big part of a man's level of happiness and satisfaction in marriage and life, don't fall into the habit of belittling this very real need.


And that's it.  The end of my men are simple post.  Plain and simple.

 

Oh, and Dr. Laura also mentions in her book, that in all her years of hosting and counselling, not one man has ever said he was offended to be called "simple."  :)

 

 

Thursday
Jun152017

Bring Back The Breakfast Table!!

I say bring back the breakfast table!

Recent wisdom tells us that we need to return to eating dinner together.  There a countless articles and studies showing the many benefits of eating dinner together around a table (sans devices or TV).  Here are a few listed in an article from Health Magazine;

"A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber..." says Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School."

The article goes on;

"Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them…  This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents.  

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report. "While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it]," says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report’s researchers, and the center’s vice president and director of special projects."

The article also mentions an experiment, where a group preschoolers were presented with sweet red bell pepper everyday for 5 days and told they could eat as much as they liked, by the end of the week, the children were eating more of it, and more children said they liked it by day 5, than at the beginning of the week - so, as indicated in this article, if you have a fussy eater, by simply exposing them to the same healthy foods over and over, incents them to eat more healthfully, and to do so more willingly. 

So if we get all these benefits from eating together in the evening, wouldn't it make sense to assume that families would also benefit from sitting down together in the morning?

Now I say this, and suggest this, from the far side of parenting.  My girls are grown, and have families of their own.  I also need to confess here, that I am decidedly not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination - in my defence I have an auto immune disease that makes me exceptionally tired, so there's that…  But!  What if!  In a perfect world, we sat down to breakfast together??  Before work or school.  Is this totally undoable in the modern age???  I don't know.  

When the girls were little, they would sit at the table and I would give them their their cold cereal, orange slices and orange juice while I stood making their school lunches.  I don't think this really counts as "together," but I did know what, and if, they were eating before school, and they could talk to me while they ate, again, I can't vouch for my responses, because you know - morning.  When they became teenagers, breakfast became smoothies they drank in the car.  

But when I look back on those years, I often wonder, 'Why on earth didn't I have oatmeal in the crockpot each night???'  Seriously!  How hard would it have been?  I know I would have eaten some, as I was usually the one going without breakfast, racing around until we rush off to the car for school.  But what if there was oatmeal in the crockpot.  Raisins, nuts and brown sugar on the table - set out the night before maybe?  Grab the milk out of the fridge and you're golden!  Mother of the year stuff there!

So why aren't we doing this?  Or are you?  And if so, what does that look like?  In a realistic, practical way? 

I'm a huge proponent of dinner together, in fact the idea of raising a family without sitting down to dinner each night, is completely foreign to me.  We did it with our girls, and growing up my family always ate dinner together.  How else do you get teenagers to ever leave their rooms???  Or hear about their day?  Or tell them about yours.  Dinner is one of the few occasions where families get actual face to face time, with nothing else in front of them.

But what my parents didn't do, and, as I've confessed, I never really mastered with my own kids, was the breakfast table.  When I was little, and we would visit my grandparents, we would sit down to hot Red River Cereal, as much brown sugar as we wanted, and my Grandpa would read the bible to us, every morning.  It was dreamy!  Heavenly!  Okay the bible reading sometimes went on a little long and was mostly over my head, but the whole ceremony of sitting together as we began the day was so lovely, and…  calming.   Calming?  Yup, that's the right word, but at the same time when we finished I always felt I had been given a good start.  That I was ready to go.  And to be honest, I think it was a huge influence in my belief in starting the morning with God's Word, as few and far as between those visits were.  It just goes to show the power of example, as my Grandpa was simply doing what he always did, he wasn't trying to indoctrinate or impress us.

So, I am - somewhat hypocritically, suggesting, that you plan, not only for dinner as a family, but breakfast - quick and frantic as it may be.  Bring back the not only dinner together, but breakfast too!  Bring back the breakfast table!!  Looking back I wish I had.