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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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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 loves me, cares about me, knows what is happening with me at all times?

Yes. 

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

 

As I write this my stomach is still in knots, my chest is tight and I am decidedly irritable.  Ten minutes ago to my husband, "What?!!  Why do you keep looking at me?!" 

I do not cope with worry and anxiety well.  And currently this blog, and you, are my outlet.

Faith is not a straight line.  

Does worrying cause me to doubt my faith in God.  Not at all, it is simply showing me, that after all these years, all this time He has loved, protected, provided for, and blessed me I still have a long way to go.  And, for better or for worse, at the moment, my daughter, her family and author, David Platt are instructing me in how much growing there is still to be done.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar262017

The Thing I Disliked The Most About Motherhood

The thing I disliked the most about motherhood?

Being rushed.

All.

The.

Time.

From the minute they were born.  Waking up to their frantic, hungry cries.  "Hurry!  Feed me!!  I'm about to die of hunger!  HURRY!!!!  GET UPPPPPPPPP!!!"

To the countless years of school mornings.  From pre-school to graduation.  Get them up, get them dressed, do their hair, get them fed, stop fooling around, hurry up!!!  Eat!!!  Come here, I need to wipe your face.  Stop it.  No, it doesn't hurt.  Get your shoes on.  Where's your backpack?  What do you mean you forgot your lunch?!!  I just packed it for you and told you it was on the counter!  Now we're going to be late.

To the moment at the end of the day, when you've just put your feet up and turned on the TV and now they need a ride somewhere, or to be picked up from somewhere.  And so you hop in the car, and rush out to get them, hoping to get at least an hour in front of the TV before you pass out from exhaustion.

And you know what?  It never let up.  Not until the day they each married.  Literally right up to that day.  Get up!  Hurry!  We've got hair, and make up, and photos!  

And then they moved out.  

And it was quiet.

Deafeningly, 

quiet.

It was weird.  And I ached for the busyness of a family.  I ached for it for a long time.  I missed them.  I missed the commotion.

But now I don't.  

Now I love the slowness of my empty nest, retired full-time mom, life!  Slowness is my absolute favourite thing about empty nest!  The ability to set my own pace and my own schedule.  And the knowledge that at the end of the day, when my husband and I lay out on the couches to watch Survivor, that no one will interrupt us.  We can just lay there until we decide to haul ourselves off to bed!  And when our little grand daughters come over to play, that's all we have to do.  Play!  I don't have to make sure they…..  fill in any of the thousand and one things you young moms have to make sure your kids do in the course of each day.  Or when I want to snuggle my newest grand-love, my baby boyfriend Skipper, I can pop over and sit on the couch and just snuggle.  And listen to him coo, and look into his beautiful, baby eyes, while his mom takes advantage of the time to race around, tidying the kitchen, finishing up computer work, flipping loads of laundry.  Because she's rushed.  Of course she is.  She's a full-time mom!

But I'm not.  So I'm not.

Young mom's take heart.  You're busy.  We know that.  All of us who raised you, before you were raising them, recognize that.  

And know this.  It's not going to let up.  You know how you think; 'When they go to kindergarten, I'm going to…'  Ya, that's probably not going to happen.  Because there's never as much free time as you think there's going to be.  There will always be something, some demand, some unexpected errand, that takes longer, and requires more attention, than you had expected.  But you know what else?  You'll miss it when these days are over.  You'll miss being the hub.  The centre of your family's life.  The one who kept all the balls in the air.  And know this too.  When that day comes, and your house is quiet, that it's okay.  It's nice.  It's weird at first, but, there's a whole other stage waiting for you.  A stage that's much more about you!  So rush around.  Keep everybody on track.  It's tiring, I know.  Very tiring.  But enjoy these rushed years.  Try to steal moments in the midst of it, and breath in the blissful chaos of family life.  Because one day you'll be where I am, and then it will be your turn to rest.

Friday
Mar242017

A Blessing For Your Grandchildren

As many of you know, I'm quite in love with being a Grammy to my grandchildren, and how devestatingly heartbroken I was at the loss of our fourth little one, Goldie Bloom.  Who I will write about one day, but today is not that day...

Today I wanted to share with you a blessing.  For our newest baby love, Skipper Augustine Menzel.  Born on my 48th birthday, the most wonderful birthday gift I have, or ever will, receive, and the answer to tearful, heartfelt and anxious prayers.

This is something I've done for each of our little ones, and if you're a grandparent, it's is something I encourage you to do.  It's been a wonderful blessing to me as I've thought through writing personalized blessings for each of our grandchildren, and something their mother's can keep, and each child can look back on as they grow.  A legacy of love and faith, they can carry with them, and over them, for their entire lives.

Presented to Skipper and his Mommy, at his baby shower this March ~

 

Skipper Augustine Menzel,

You are the fifth of my beloved grandchildren.  Having you in our family is an answer to earnest and heartfelt prayers.  Yours was a conception we barely dared pray for, and your gustation was one that tried our ability, yet again, to rest and trust, in God's goodness, as we waited anxiously for your birth.

We're a family that has been tested, and tried, and who have found God to be steadfastly faithful in both our sorrow and our joy.  And to speak of your birth without recognizing all that God has faithfully walked us through would be ungrateful.  We know better than most what a tender and precarious miracle each new little life is, and so we thank and praise our God for giving you to us, strong and healthy and oh so beautiful.  You, little boy,  have brought a light back into your mother's eyes.

And so my darling baby boy, my blessing over you is;

May you grow in strength and stature.  

May you be blessed with health and safety.  

May you always bring joy to your parents, and to this whole family.  

May you come to know the Lord early, use the strength of your youth to serve Him, and despite this culture, keep yourself pure.  

May you establish a home and family honouring to Lord, one to whom you will be unwaveringly faithful, and lead well.  

May you love, fear and serve our God all your life and find wisdom in the frequent reading of His Word.  

May you be an example to other men and bring pride to your parents.  

May you find rest and peace in your old age, and die, full of years, surrounded by those you love.

We pray these things over you this day, my precious grandson.

With love and prayers,
Your Grammy


Skipper's birth
Chatty Skipper