I started a new website and blog dedicated solely to mothering and moms.
Come visit me!
See ya soon at my new address!
Friday, February 21, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
For many years now, the Lord has given me a burden for moms. A burden to encourage them in their mothering journey and share what I have learned in my own (good and bad) experiences. I cannot begin to count how often I hear the comment, "I don't know how you do it. You are amazing." While I don't necessarily feel amazing, the comment just solidifies my heart's desire to share with others.
I have been thinking about how to do this and I came up with an idea. I would like to get together with a group of moms (stay-at-home, working, older kids, younger kids. If you're a mom, you're invited!) on a monthly basis for about 2 hours. During this time, we would discuss a topic related to mothering, being a wife, running a household, etc. We would study in-depth what the Scripture has to say about the topic, and practical tips and ways to apply it to our lives. Of course there would be food because (I love food!) no gathering can be complete without it.
So what do you think- Is this something you (or someone you know) would be interested in participating? If so, when is good- day or night? If day, would you be willing to pay a small fee ($2-4) to help cover the cost of childcare so we could meet without the interruption of children? Remember, it would be a monthly event....
Please join me in praying about this. My heart is burdened for moms, particularly mothers with young children. I know how difficult it is to get a shower let alone leave the house by a reasonable hour. Just today a friend commented on this very topic to me. Let me encourage you, it DOES get easier. But, in the midst of it, it can be very isolating. I think this would be a great way to not only learn practical mothering tips/skills, but fellowship and encourage other moms who may be in desperate need of it.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Last Friday was my 35th birthday. Although not a "milestone" birthday by any stretch of the imagination, I have been dreading it secretly because it means I'm closer to 40. For years I have been (jokingly) telling my kids I am 29....and the young ones still believe me because they simply don't know any better!
Late Friday morning, a friend of mine picked up the boys so they could do some work around her horse pasture. Tristin-Grace went with them since she had the day off from school. My friend keeps another little girl who is Tristin-Grace's age. The girls met at Vacation Bible School last year and got together frequently over the summer. Since school started, this has been their first opportunity to get together (the girl lives in a neighboring town and attends school in another district. Their days off don't always coincide).
I decided to take Teagan, Annie, Taryn, and Ruthie out to lunch for a treat since it was just us "girls." We rarely eat out for lunch, and since I've been doing my once-a-month-cooking, we hadn't eaten out for supper in a while, either. I phoned TJ to see if he minded, and he agreed to meet at McAllister's Deli (a yummy favorite of mine!).
Over lunch I questioned TJ about the plan for dinner that evening. Earlier in the morning I mentioned to Thomas that I wanted to go eat dinner at a favorite Japanese restaurant. He responded in a strange way, saying we had to go to the Olive Garden. He quickly recovered, giving reasons to support his claim. But, I was suspicious. My suspicions were dropped, however, when TJ said we could go eat wherever I wanted.
The girls and I went home after lunch and the afternoon went on. I did my usual routine of laundry, dishes, etc. The boys and Tristin-Grace arrived back home about 4:30p, and Tristin-Grace asked if my friend was here. I gave her a puzzling look while Thomas got really angry. I quickly told her to stop talking and tried to defuse the situation with Thomas. Although I had no idea what she was talking about, I began to again think they were planning something. I asked Thomas if I needed to change (I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt- not exactly "nice" clothing). Without saying a word, he nodded his head yes.
About 10 minutes later, I was getting the kids ready to go. I had just sat down to feed the baby when my phone rang. It was my friend Chelsea (from Ohio) calling to wish me a happy birthday. While I was talking to her, one of my kids exclaimed that my friend, Valarie, was at my house. I quickly hung up with Chelsea and tried to process what was going on. I didn't think a whole lot about Val being at the house because we had been texting back and forth earlier in the day. I knew she was going to be dropping off her son at church for a campout. I had invited her to come to dinner with us since it was just her and her husband. Although she never responded, I figured she was stopping by to either say hello or go with us.
She came inside and mass chaos broke out. Taryn had a dirty diaper, Annie had just awoken from her nap and wanted "Mommy Cuddle Time", and I was nursing the baby. Val offered to change Taryn for me and Tristin-Grace went about helping her to do so. After that was done, the kids took turns talking to Valarie and whatnot. A few minutes later I realized I hadn't seen Taryn since having her diaper changed. I called her, and at that exact moment, TJ phoned. As I was explaining to him that Valarie was at the house and that I was trying to locate Taryn, Taryn came downstairs. She was covered in body lotion. Everywhere. I hung up with him and went upstairs to bathe her.
In the meantime, TJ arrived home. I have no idea what was said between him and Val since I was up in the bathroom with Taryn, but when I came down, he sent me off to dinner with her. I was again suspicious of a (family) party because I heard TJ tell Annie we were going out to eat. When Valarie and I left the house, she drove me to Target. We shopped for about an hour (which was so nice because I didn't have the kids with me- I could actually look at stuff). As we left the parking lot, Val asked me if I minded going to the Olive Garden for dinner since it is located just across the street. Of course I said "No", and I was extremely suspicious.
As she pulled into the parking lot, it was PACKED! She circled the lot 4 or 5 times looking for a parking spot. I carefully looked too, but not for a spot. I was looking for my truck. I was expecting TJ and the kids to be inside waiting to surprise me. I never saw it. I began to think they parked somewhere else so I wouldn't see the truck. Finally Val suggested we park across the street at another restaurant and walk over.
Once inside, she spoke to the hostess and we were told to go back. I knew then something was up because there were so many people in the lobby area; the wait was probably an hour or more. Walking back to our table, I fully expected to see TJ and the kids. I was pleasantly (overwhelmingly!) surprised!!
It has been a long time since I've celebrated my birthday with friends, and this year TJ and Thomas planned me a HUGE surprise party. At the table were close to 20 women, each special to me in her own way. Some I have known for years, others I am in the process of getting to know better. My eyes filled with tears immediately because I know what a sacrifice it was for each of them to be there that night. Not just in terms of money, but in arranging for childcare with their husbands, planning a meal for their families' in her absence, and of course of time spent away from their family. (One friend who was there hadn't seen her husband all week because he had been out of town. He had just arrived back in Charlotte that evening. Another friend was invited to a get-together at another church member's home. She explained the situation and decided to come to dinner with me. In a wheelchair because she is recovering from foot surgery. Driven there by her husband because she can't drive yet. A third only stayed for a short time because her son was coming to visit for the night. She needed to get home to make a late supper. It is this kind of friendship that brings tears to my eyes). We all enjoyed each other's company and yummy food.
For me, this birthday will always be a cherished memory. I spent most of my life feeling alone, like the "odd man out" whenever it came to friends. I moved around so much and cliques had been formed long before I arrived to a new city or town. I had friends, but I didn't allow myself to get close to them because I knew I would probably be moving away soon enough. Although I stayed in the same town from 8th grade through high school, it was difficult for me to really find my niche. I did, but in some ways I was still an outsider. When I joined the Air Force, I worked in aircraft maintenance. That is not a typical "woman" job so there were few women for me to befriend. Of the couple friends that I did make, one moved away and we lost touch, and the other now lives in Hawaii (hi Andrea!!). It's rather difficult to maintain a close friendship when the distance is so far apart.
Looking back, I should have known TJ and Thomas were up to something, but my mind is so consumed with other "stuff" on a daily basis that I didn't think much of what I noticed. For instance, I caught Thomas putting away our church directory a couple of weeks earlier. I questioned him about why he had it, but once he answered me, I forgot all about it. Another time, I wanted to see an invitation to a birthday party my boys were invited to. He was being weird about letting me hold it, and TJ stepped in and said Thomas had written down some birthday gift ideas for me on the back. Again, I didn't push the issue and let it drop. Later I found out Thomas had really used the back of the invitation to write down RSVP's for my party.
As far as a family celebration, we went the next evening to the Japanese restaurant.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. ~Psa. 94:18-19
Shared about my crazy anxiety a couple of weeks ago, had a Sunday School lesson about it a few days after that, and read these verses today during quiet time. Coincidence? I think not...
Thought for today: God is with me, even when I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Thought for today: God sustains me. He carries me when I do not have the strength or ability to do so on my own (for whatever reason- exhaustion, illness, heartache, loss). God sustains me.
The LORD has heard my supplication; The LORD will receive my prayer. ~Psa. 6:9
Thought for today: God hears us. He hears us even when we can't put the words together to speak and only tears fall. And not only does He hear us, He listens.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. ~John 10:27-29
Thought for today: God protects us. As The Good Shepherd, He protects us from harm, the storms of life. God protects us.
Thought for today: When we tell others our stories- our blessings and hardships, our successes and failures, our fears and doubts- we share the many ways God has worked in our lives. Our stories share, and our lives show, what God has done for (in) us.
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ~Lam. 3:21-23
These verses are special to me. After I miscarried the twin, I seriously doubted God's goodness... and love to me. God used these verses, and many others, to prove to me otherwise.
Thought for today: God is good and He is faithful to His people. Even (especially!) in the difficult times. God is compassionate by giving us new mercy EVERY day. We are not consumed (overtaken) by our situation because of God's mercy on us.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~Matt. 10:29-31
Thought for today: The Creator of it all knows us: our thoughts and fears, our hopes and dreams, our strengths and weaknesses. When you pull the loose strand of hair off your shirt, God knows exactly how many remain on your head. God knows us, and we are valuable to Him.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old. Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. ~Psa. 78:2-4
For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefor my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. ~ Psa. 143:3-5
Thought for today: When we share our experiences, both the good and the bad, we help others (and ourselves in the process) to see God's hand and purposes unfolding in our lives. It should strengthen our ability to better trust Him and increase our faith.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. ~Psa. 119:73
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~Psa. 119:105
Thought for today: Keep on keepin' on. You don't know who God has ordained for you to meet or how He is going to use your experiences, even the seemingly mundane ones, to encourage those who cross your path....
I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. ~Psa. 119:59
Saturday, January 11, 2014
If you are like me, you eat the same meals for supper on a regular basis. I call this a "dinner rut." I have been in a dinner rut for a while, and I posted on Facebook that I was looking for new recipes to try. In response to my plea, my amazing sister shared that she was preparing to do a major cooking spree. She shared her plan and gave me some tips, and I decided to research the idea to see if it was something I could do, too.
I began by checking out the book Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg from my local library. I read the first chapter to understand the premise behind the book, and I was hooked! The book was a huge help because it provided two 1-month meal plans, two 2-week meal plans, shopping lists, recipes, and cooking day assembly instructions. I originally planned to start with a 2-week cooking cycle to get a feel for doing so much cooking at one time, but decided to go ahead and extend it to a 1-month plan.
As suggested in the book, I did all of my shopping in one day and spent the next morning chopping vegetables.(I love that the recipes include LOTS of fresh veggies and herbs- something I don't use nearly enough but have started using more as a result!) The biggest change I made from the book was that I prepared the meals for freezing as I could fit them into my schedule. If you follow the book, the cooking day is almost an entire day spent in the kitchen, preparing meals and assembling them in a specific order to maximize cooking/prep time and minimizing time wasted. That is a fabulous idea, but with 7 kids and homeschooling, it surely isn't feasible for me! It took me about 10 days to prepare 30 meals. After including a night for leftovers each week, I ended up with enough meals to last for 6 weeks.
I loved the book so much that I bought my own copy from Amazon. I love that the meals are already planned out, the shopping lists are included, and the recipes are easy to follow. Speaking of the recipes, they include instructions for preparing up to the point of freezing, and then for preparing on the day it's to be eaten. The book also includes additional recipes for breads, side dishes, and more.
As we consume meals, I have been preparing other meals to replace them. None have been from the book but rather recipes I've been wanting to try. By preparing meals strictly to freeze, I've gained some knowledge on how to freeze meals and what types of meals freeze well. I have made an additional 2 weeks worth of meals. It has been so nice knowing not only what was for dinner, but that I had the meal made already. It has eliminated the last-minute scramble of trying to prepare something from a hodge-podge of ingredients or planning a meal only to find out I was missing an ingredient in the midst of preparing it. But, the best part is that I am cooking more from scratch as opposed to semi-prepared foods with added *stuff* like preservatives and unnecessary sugar.
I am looking forward to our next break from school so that I can do some more marathon cooking days (when I say marathon, I mean prepare 3 or 4 meals in one day, not 30 like in the book!). I want to try the next 1-month cooking cycle for some more new recipes. It has been fun to try new recipes and improve my skills in the kitchen. I have made homemade bread and yeast rolls, pizza dough, a version of "Shake-n-Bake", lots of soups from my own chicken stock, marina sauce, and so much more! As I have gained confidence in my cooking (based on the ease of the recipe and the response of my family after eating it), I have expanded my "freezer recipe" search to include other sources. There are so many options that I have opened myself up to, and it all started with this little book...
I hope it blesses you, too.....