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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
Feb062016

Link: We Lost A Child And Gained Something Greater

Normally, when I'm moved by blog posts, or find them helpful, I post a link to them to our Apron Strings Facebook page.  I normally only post original essays I write myself here on the blog.  But this one is special, it's for a lady who contacted me in a private message through the Your Apron Strings "contact" button.  She told me she was expected her second child.  She told me that she had delivered a still born little girl last year.  I told her we'd lost a grand daughter last Summer, and that I would be praying for her.  Which I have been.  For joy in place of fear, for a healthy baby to take home and to hold.  Praying in a way I couldn't have before last Summer.  She comes to my mind often.  So when I read this article, I found randomly on Facebook, and sobbed my way through the whole thing, I knew I had to post it on the blog itself, to be sure she sees it.  

I'm praying for you C.  And for your little babe on the way.  xoxo Shonna

"We Lost A Child And Gained Something Greater" by Kyle Porter

Saturday
Jan302016

Are You Treating God Like Kim Kardashian?

Are you treating God like Kim Kardashian?

Do you read about Him.  Listen to people talk about Him.  Base your opinions on what you know of Him?

If you're only reading your bible or listening to sermons and not taking the time - or don't have an interest in - praying to God, in really getting to know Him, then you're treating Him like Kim Kardashian.  

You think you know Him, you feel like you know Him, because you know so much about Him, but you don't.  You can read about Him all you want.  That doesn't mean you know Him.  And it doesn't mean you have a relationship with Him.  

God didn't come to be admired from afar.  He came to know you, and to be known by you.  And outside of prayer, that's not going happen.

 

"If you're only reading your bible or listening to sermons and not taking the time - or don't have an interest in - praying to God, in really getting to know Him, then you're treating Him like Kim Kardashian." 


It actually make me sad when I hear Christians talk about how "hard" it is to pray.  How they should "discipline" themselves to pray more.  It makes me feel like they don't like God.  They believe in Him - they just don't want to hang out with Him.  

I get that it's a time thing.  It is hard to find time to pray.  Our mornings are rushed and by evening we're exhausted.  And during the middle of the day we're all busy with work and kids.  But I don't believe that we can't find time to do the things we really want to.  Men, do you find it hard to "find time" to have sex with your wife?  Do we women find it hard to "find time" to look at Pinterest?  Sorry for the generalizations, but in my experience they ring true.

Praying is a cultivated skill.  And it does require will and choice.  Outside of airplane turbulence or sick children, many people don't feel the need to pray.  Including Christian people.  But only reading or hearing about God, is not the same as having a relationship with Him.  He didn't intend to be a celebrity to you.  He intended to be a father.  A comfort, a guide, the voice inside your head.

 

"Praying is a cultivated skill.  And it does require will and choice.  Outside of airplane turbulence or sick children, many people don't feel the need to pray."


Here are some suggestions regarding prayer:

Do it the same time everyday.  Habits - whether good or bad, are comforting to us, and they're hard to break.  Make prayer a habit.

Don't kid yourself that you'll pray when you won't.  If you're not a morning person, don't kid yourself that you're going to get up 30 minutes earlier each day to pray.  You won't.

Plan to pray when you won't get interrupted.  When our girls were in school I used to drive to pick them up 20 minutes before school let out.  I'd park on the curb where I could read my bible and then pray through what I'd just read.  I didn't look at my phone (because it was the 90's and all it did was call and text), or listen to the radio.  I basically set it up so that I had no choice but to pray.

Make sure you understand what you're reading, and then pray through it.  Earlier this year a friend told me about Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary.  Changed my bible reading and prayer life!  Now I actually read shorter passages in the bible - usually just one or two chapters, because I want to leave time to read the commentary on them afterwards.

"Pray" in a way that works for you.  I have a short attention span.  My mind tends to wander.  But I love to type!  So I type my prayers.  Since I started doing this I find I can stay focused for long periods.  It also keeps me on topic because I'm mid-paragraph - I can see what I'm praying about.  This has been a big one for me.  I know it seems kind of weird, or like someone might read what you've prayed, but you can always just delete it afterwards.  I don't.  I like to go back and re-read my prayers during different times.  Particularly hard times.

If you feel like you're praying the same thing over and over - for the health and safety of your children, etc., etc.  I'd really encourage you to pray over the bible passages you've just read.  Pray about what resonated with you, what you feel God is teaching you through it.  And really pay attention to the things God promises those who love and obey Him, and pray for those things (instead of nice weather during your vacation - not promised in the bible).  Things like a deep peace even during really hard times, a feeling of rest at your deepest level, and joy.  Pray for the things God tells you to pray for - you're much more likely to get a favourable answer!  


If you're a Christian, it's kind of your job to pray.  It's also, and more importantly, your privilege.  If you're unsure where to start, follow the format, the template, that Jesus Himself laid out.  The Lord's Prayer.  And then just put it in your own words and expand on the parts that resonate with you that day.  I've included it below, in the Modern English Version - so it's more approachable.  This is Jesus speaking;

 

Matthew 6:9-13

“Therefore pray in this manner:

Our Father who is in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come;
Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Jan072016

Do You Love Your Children Too Much?

Do you love your children too much?

What's too much???

Does fear of alienation from them keep you from correcting or punishing them?  Do you laugh out of embarrassed powerlessness, when they sass or defy you, in front of others?  When you know they've done something wrong, do you make excuses for them in your mind or to others - they were tired, or hungry, or the other kids took the one that was their favourite colour - of course he's going to get upset and act out.  

Then you love them too much.

There's an account in 1 Samuel 2 of a very wise and godly priest named Eli, but his sons were corrupt.  Eli knew it and did nothing.  He loved his sons too much.  God called him out on it, telling him that he honoured his sons more than he honoured God and God removed His blessing from the house of Eli.  The line of the priesthood was taken away from his sons, and given to someone else.

There's another account in 1 Kings of a rebellious son of King David's, who tried to steal the kingdom out from under his father on his death bed.  The only reason given for his treason?  "His father had never rebuked him by asking, 'Why do you behave as you do?'"  His father hadn't disciplined him when he had the chance.

 

"It's strange really, that by allowing our children to behave just as they choose, we actually drive them away from us." 

 

It's strange really, that by allowing our children to behave just as they choose, by refraining from calling them out on their bad or disrespectful behaviour, that we actually drive them away from us.  

Children, like dogs and even adults with other adults, respond to fair and measured authority, with respect and obedience.  Too much discipline or unfair punishment and you'll drive them away, but the same is true for the opposite, too little and they'll learn, from a very early age, that they can walk all over you.  They'll disrespect you at will, and eventually loose any interest in your opinions at all.  And why shouldn't they?  You're their parent, and if you fail to act like someone placed in authority over them, lovingly correcting them and teaching them how to behave, how are you any different from any other old person they have very little in common with?  What will bind them to you as they move into adulthood, what will give credence to your advice, opinions and even gentle reproach to an adult child, is love born of respect.  Pure and simple.  As adults, most of us love our aging parents, but the only adults I know that still listen to their elderly parents, are those who really respect them.

 

"Weak authority over your children, brings about weak character within your children."


Now I've already written much on the importance of discipline and even given detailed examples of how and how not to do it, and I'd encourage you, if you weren't raised with a healthy example of parenting, to go back and read through these earlier articles.  (Rudeness and Teenagers, Disciplining In Public, are just a couple).  But honestly I think we all know when we're being disrespected by our children, and we know it's wrong.  The trick is to calmly and evenly demand the respect and obedience a child owes a good parent, (here I'm allowing for the exception of tyrannical, or verbally or physically abusive parents).  To teach our children that unkind or disrespectful behaviour towards us, their parents, or towards their peers is not acceptable, the reasons why, and the consequences if they continue with it.  And to then follow through.  The trick is in the follow through.  Not rolling our eyes in exasperation, not winking and smirking at other parents, hands raised in that universal expression of "Whatcha' gonna do???"  Whatcha gonna do?!!!  Take you to task that's what!  

Weak authority over your children, brings about weak character within your children.  It's your job and your responsibility to love them biblically; with authority, boundaries and correction along with all the love, cuddles and giggles.  This is how to really love your children.  It's how to raise them to be adults with strong moral character, the self discipline to do what's right even if it hurts and to consider other's feelings and opinions.  It is also how to have a relationship, built not just upon love but also upon respect, that continues into their adulthood, when it's their choice whether they will spend time with you or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jun192015

To Love As A Bride Loves

"I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the wilderness through a land not sown."  Jeremiah chapter 2

Through a land not sown.

Such devotion, such trust.  

Through a land not sown.

This was how I married.  There were no stakes defining our territory.  Nothing yet planted.  We were young.  Very young.  Very broke.  But thankfully, and I became more and more aware as I aged, what an advantage it was ~ very free of debt.

We were two kids.  Head over heels in love.  And that was it.

"I don't know much.  But I know I love you.  And that may be all I need to know."  I think Aaron Nevil might just have nailed it on the head with that one.

You see we've been married for twenty six years now, and you know what I've learned through all those years and all those miles?  The most valuable thing I've learned?

That, that really is all I need to know.

That I love him.

Deep down, in the depths of who I am.  I love him.

And that is the answer.  

I love how he loves me.  I love the man he is.  Full of character and work ethic, and a generosity of spirit I've seen in few others.  I love how he loves our daughters.  And the grandpa he's become.  Gently tossing these new little girls around, comforting them, as they howl at being left with Grammy and Boompa for the night, lonely for their mothers.

I love the wrinkles that are now around his still sparkly brown eyes.

I love his elegant fingers, left clean from his passion for computer work, his piano, and his distain for yard work or sports.

I love that he's learned not to talk to me early in the morning, but instead to leaves me in peace as I slowly wake up through out my first hour of the day. 

This is the man I fell in love with.  The man with whom I walked into a land not sown.

I trust him.  Fully. 

I have loved him as a bride loves.  Jumping in with both feet.  Having no career.  Anxious to begin our family and remain home to raise them.  I was often told I should have a "back up plan."  What if he leaves you?  What if he doesn't earn enough?  Don't you think you should be able to provide for yourself - just in case?!

"Like a bride loves."  "The devotion of your youth."  "Through a land not sown." 

There was no back up plan.  No, just in case.  Only joyfully ignorant bliss.

Things could have gone wrong.  Illness.  Finances.  Things out of one's control for the most part. 

But in terms of character I was all in.  I had no doubts.  I was betting it all on black.  Spin the wheel because I'm not pulling out.  "All I need to know."

And he's never let me down.  Not once.

Have there been times he's hurt me?  Yes.  Have there been times I've come second to his work?  Yes.  Has he ever gone back on what he pledged to me on that hot June day back in 1989?  Never.   

He has loved me with a faithful devotion that has steadied and sustained me for the past quarter century. 

We're not kids anymore.  We've planted, and are now reaping the harvest of that unsown land, together. 

A marriage.  A family.  A home and a life.  A security and a stake in something we both hold so dear we almost hesitate to breath as to not upset it. 

And yet now, there's a new land.  Not yet sown.

A place where we learn what it is to be two again.  Jumping in and out of the eight our family has grown into.  Knowing it's there.  The beautiful weight of it, the security and grounding it gives to all of us.

But there's more territory to plant.  There's old age yet to come.  And between then and now, adventures to be had, decisions to be made and new lands yet to come.

"To love as a bride loves." 

Will I follow you?  Of course.  Only a fool wouldn't.  You have led me, lovingly, kindly, tenderly, through the past 26 years.  Making every decision with me in mind.  Every choice, every act of self discipline and sacrifice.  Always choosing me. 

And so I choose you.  Again.  I choose us.  I choose the wilderness.  I hate the dark, I'm afraid of the woods.  But I'm not afraid of what we, together create.  I've seen it.  I feel it.  I carry it inside me, everyday.  And it gives me my strength.

I won't have you forever.  There will come a day when the planting will be done, and I'll be left, or you will be my love, with only the harvest of our choices.  But for now, I want to go where you lead.  There's an entire phase, an entire stage yet to come.  Where it's just us again.  "How as a bride you loved Me and followed Me."  Let's go there together. 

I choose us.

Sunday
Mar152015

The Mistake Of Valuing Motherhood

I'm a full time Mom.

 

I'm the one up in the night cuddling teary eyed, drippy nosed, little ones with sweaty backs, breathing in staccato from a scary dream.  

I'm the one who tenderly nurses a baby so new, he can't support his own head.  With a tummy so tiny, it can't hold more than a thimbles worth of milk.  And so I wake to feed him, from my own body, four or five times a night.  So blurry eyed from exhaustion, I'm close to tears myself.

I'm the one who accomplishes little during the day, when I'm called to snuggle on the couch, by a bright faced, curly haired little one, who can't really speak yet, but knows her favourite board book by heart and "reads" along every time.   The one who rushes to flip loads of laundry so we can go to the park before nap time, because it's her favourite part of the day. And because today she's finally gotten brave enough to go down the big slide.  So long as I'm waiting at the bottom to catch her.

The one who by four o'clock is so ready for adult company that even Magic School Bus is a welcome companion.  And while the first smells of dinner start filling our home, and we snuggle in our blanket on the couch, I know there is absolutely no where else I'd rather be.  And nothing else I'd rather be.  

That the lack of sleep and the 24 hour nature of motherhood is what makes it so rewarding.  That I've earned the title of Mom.  From the agony of having them torn from my body.  To holding them through the night when they're sick.  To the being responsible for them in every possible way, every minute of the day.  For their safety, their health, their happiness, their security and emotional well being.  The development of their faith.  How they'll see and relate to the world.  I hold that in my hand.  I rock the cradle.

I've dreamt of this since childhood.  Since I held plastic, tenderly in my arms, cooing and petting to ensure baby doll was okay.  All my life I've wanted this.  I didn't crave a pay cheque.  I didn't crave promotions or favourable reviews.  I don't take offence at the fact that I don't have a "job."  Anymore than a fish would take offence that it can't fly.  He's a fish.  He swims.  I'm not an employee, I'm a mother.  You don't need to quantify what I'm worth.  I know my value.  I see it in my children's faces as I read to them.  In the safety I bring when they call out in the night.  I know I'm a nurse, a teacher, a cleaning lady, cook, chauffeur, etc., etc.  You needn't list all I do, because I can promise you, you'll fall short.  Because what you can't measure.  What is unquantifiable, is who I am.  My children's mother.  No one can replace me.  No one can measure the tasks or chores I complete in a day and put a price on it, because those things are just the busy work of a much bigger goal.  The means to an end.  I'm raising a child.  I'm cultivating the next generation.  Preparing souls for eternity.  There is no pay appropriate for such a task.  One can only look at what I do and put a value on it.  And that value is immeasurable.

I'm a full time mother.  I'm someone's entire world.  They will grow to have loves of their own, children and homes of their own.  And each time someone asks them why they do something a certain way, and they respond, "It's just the way my mom did it."  That will have been me.  When they are kind.  When they use good manners, display patience, or understanding.  When they look at the world, with calmness and security I will be with them.  When they create homes where family is paramount and God is honoured, I am honoured too.

You can't tell me what I'm worth.  Don't you dare even try.  Money is crass and insulting.  I don't labour for you, for recognition, or worst of all, for pay.  I labour for the future, for my legacy.  I labour out of love.  A love that began with conception, was tried with birth, a love that endured and performed for 20 straight years without respite.  Without vacation pay or bonuses or promotions.  I don't want what you have to offer.  I'm not seeking remuneration.  You're not complimenting me when you estimate my hourly rate.  I'm invaluable.  I'm a mother.