Friday, May 29, 2009

An Ordered Life

More Elisabeth Elliot. This is so convicting to me. I think there are some who wouldn't agree with this but, I think it has some wisdom. Nevertheless, it's something to ponder.

"The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on all speak loudly about what you believe. 'The beauty of Thy peace' shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul." Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Three Dozen Eggs

"My cup overflows..." Psalm 23:5

Yesterday God gave me yet another glimpse of how He loves to bless His children and it was such a sweet experience for me. Here's some background. I love to bake. I love to make pretty much anything and one ingredient that is pretty much essential to most baked goods (and many other things as well) is eggs. And like many families in today's society we live paycheck to paycheck, with a savings of course, but we really try and stay within our budgets for gas, groceries, etc...Don't get me wrong. My husband is an excellent provider and works SO hard for us. But we do have three children and we live on one income, so we must be very wise with our money and exercise as much self control as we can. We also really desire to be good stewards of what we've been given. I'm not saying we always are but we try.

Anyway though, after last weekend and the different barbeques and events, I had used up all of my eggs and I had no money to buy more. Normally that's okay but I had a week to go until payday and not a TON of food left and when you're trying to make dinners out of what is left in your fridge, eggs really come in handy! A few times over the weekend I struggled a bit with what to make because I knew it was going to take eggs and I wanted to save them. Yet I knew I was being selfish and that I needed to just let go. We could go a week without eggs. And really, we're not starving at all. My freezer is packed full of stuff. It's just nice to have eggs on hand.

Yesterday morning one of my neighbors (who is a good friend) called to see if I wanted to go on a walk. This is an almost daily occurrence. I usually hear from her and one of my other neighbors sometime in the morning to see what we're doing for the day. Now that my sister-in-law Katie lives out here, I get to hear from her a lot more too. Anyway though, I digress. At the end of the conversation, my friend suddenly said that someone had dropped off a whole flat of eggs from Costco at her house, that she could only use a few, and thought I'd want some. Ummm...YES! Last night I stocked away three dozen eggs into my fridge and just thanked the Lord for His sweet little gift to me. It wasn't necessary for me to have them but yet so wonderful to see how God blesses us with little things.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26

No one knew we were out of eggs. I hadn't even mentioned it to my husband. I had a short conversation with God about how I'd love to have some eggs and He provided in total abundance. I'm not saying God does this all the time, but isn't it just so wonderful when He does?! It reminds me that even my little cares don't go unnoticed by a loving and infinite God. Pretty amazing. Pretty wonderful. I'm thankful that's the God I serve.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Children and Forgiveness

Among the many crazy and fun things our family did this weekend, Steve and I had the honor of attending a really great parenting conference at our church. I'll post more about it later on in the week but wanted to share something that really stood out to me. Our pastor reminded us that one of the goals of parenting is to teach our children how to deal with their sin. We want them to know that it's better for their sin to be out in the light because when it is, it can be dealt with and most importantly, it can be forgiven. And one of the best ways we can show them how to deal with their sin, is by us dealing with ours, especially when it involves us sinning against them. We must ask for forgiveness. We must show them how we confess. This is not weakness. This is showing them Christ and the gospel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Falling Asleep on the Job

Okay, so I'm ashamed to admit it but today, I fell asleep on the job, literally. I've been feeling a bit on the tired side lately probably due to the fact that our schedule has been really full. Steve is wrapping up his school year, Isaac's last day of preschool was today and there was a party, and we've just been doing so many things. Normally I'm tired. I think every mother is perpetually tired. We just get used to the feeling and really tired becomes normal. However, I think my fatigue has been getting the best of me because today, I fell asleep not in the middle of naptime but in the middle of a game of Bingo with Isaac. Luckily the younger two were already asleep and it was the time of the day when Isaac and I do something together that he wants to do (a post on that another time...I've been learning a lot from our daily play time). I started off strong, then I laid down in the middle of the game and before I knew it, my head had hit the carpet and my eyes were closing and second later I was out. Isaac kept right on playing but as soon as he noticed I was asleep he said, "Mom! Wake up! We're playing BINGO Mom and I just got the yellow square." Oh what, is this a dream?! Oh back to reality, I'm playing Bingo with my son. But this scratchy carpet just feels so nice. I was able to make it through the last few minutes of the game where I subsequently got beat for the fourth day in a row by my three year old (no, I don't let him win; he just beats me) and then laid down for more precious sleep. Aaahhh...I couldn't help it. I just could not rally myself. Isaac woke me up again about fifteen minutes later and proceeded to tell me that while I had been napping, he'd been playing trains. Luckily, he's not my mischevious child. I felt so guilty but surprisingly rested. That's when I noticed all the gunk sticking to my face as I peeled myself off the floor...more guilt, I need to vacuum. And really, I just vacuumed. But that's an aside. I don't think I've ever done such a blatant, little midday snooze like this before at least not when one of my children was awake. Yet what's a mom to do huh?

Now that I'm in the mode of admitting things like this little catnap, I'll let you in on yet another crime I committed just yesterday and how I got caught completely red-handed. It was the crime of stealing. And it wasn't just stealing anything, it was stealing Isaac's snack that he later told me that he had "saaaveed from preschool". This is a major crime. I was cleaning out his backpack around dinnertime and I noticed he had some really yummy goldfish crackers in a ziploc bag. I thought, "Wow. I'm starving and these look so good." So I ate a few not thinking much of it. Then Caleb, who always sniffs out food, came wheeling around the corner with his very infamous question of "Whatcha eating Mommy?" and I just stopped and stared. How do I answer? I don't know. I don't want to lie, yet I also don't want to share. Hmmm...moral dilemma. Then Isaac showed up and noticed it was his snack. Then my husband showed up and they all stared accusingly at me as I finished crunching the fishies and wiped the crumbs off my mouth. "Ummmm..." I replied. "I found these fishies in Isaac's backpack and I thought I'd just have a few, I mean all of them." Anyway, I already told you Isaac's reaction. He was crushed. He had been "saving" them. Later on, my husband teased me endlessly about this and I realized how totally silly I can be. I explained to him that I literally don't have time to eat sometimes and have to stoop to these acts here and there. My breakfast usually isn't consumed until midmorning and my lunch consists of half-eaten sandwiches or I eat after the little ones are down for a nap. No wonder I find myself starving. My husband asked why I don't just eat (he's very logical). "Because!" I answered very dramatically. "I'm doing STUFF." I couldn't really enumerate to him (in a very short time that is) what all that stuff is but, it definitely keeps me from eating sometimes. But really, I have to laugh. What a blessed time in my life. Later on, when my children are all grown, what am I going to do with myself? I need to thank God that I am so busy and tired from loving and rearing little ones. Even if it means I'm missing a bit of sleep (okay a lot) and eating slobbered on pb and j's (I've stooped pretty low these days). A bunch of smiles from my kiddos and a kiss from my husband reminds me that I'm one lucky lady.

And lastly, it's a good thing the Bible states that "Love covers a multitude of sins." Isaac very graciously gave me my "Get out of Jail Free" card by bestowing on me a kiss and a smile, and I was back in everyone's good graces quite quickly. Who knows what tomorrow may bring. I promise, I'll try very hard to be on my best behavior.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old But New

Ummmm...I am loving this blogging thing can you tell? I'm thinking in blog posts now. I've been amazed at how much I've missed writing (I used to be a Writer/Editor for a non-profit before my children came--don't judge me too harshly though if I make errors!!). It's like a part of me has been lying dormant for years now and has just been given an outlet. The words just keep coming. Who cares if no one reads it...I can still write, to someone about something--anything. This is a place for me to post encouraging words from amazing Christians and inspiring writers. It's also a new way for me to get all of my words out during the day. And believe me, I do have a lot of words that need a place to go. I can hardly talk on the phone anymore, and I shouldn't be doing it much anyway, due to very lively children and my oldest no longer taking a nap. Although he does have a rest time, I'm usually frantically doing other things and trying to get some reading time in. I used to journal a lot before I had children but found that it just takes so long to sit and write things down now. I can type much faster. Anyway, forgive my ramblings but I really should've done this a long time ago--not necessarily for anyone but myself. It feels like trying a forgotten recipe again, finding then wearing an old dress, rereading a favorite book, being enlived by classical music or like reliving a childhood memory--old but new. It just feels good. It's fun to dust off old passions and breathe new life into them. It's almost like discovering them for the first time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Errands--And other Musings

I often take all of my children on errands and really, I enjoy having them all with me. The local grocery store, Trader Joe's (definitely my happy place) and various other establishments are visited on a fairly regular basis. Something I have been mulling over the past few months are the very obvious stares, comments and frequency of quiet laughs I get from various people while we are out on the town. Now don't get me wrong--I'm not here to complain about this at all. And really, we are quite a crew so I can kinda see where some people are coming from. Usually I've got my two-year-old on the front of the cart manning the list, my nearly four-year-old inspecting the grocery cart items checking the items in the cart against the list in his brother's hand (this does get tedious at times) and my little baby riding comfortably on my back so I am not denying that my cart is full--of children that is. And in fact, many people are generally very kind offering words of encouragement and such. But why are we so strange? I only have three children. It's not like I'm leading a crowd through the grocery store...and all my boys are fairly cheerful throughout. Why so many looks of wonder?

While I'm not totally sure, I do have some theories that I think are worth pondering. One is that three children (and more) has become a "large" family to many. I'm not here to knock various people's opinions about how many children to have etc...I just have to note though, how our society has really shifted. When I was growing up, not too long ago, three to four children in a family was fairly average. I grew up in a family of three and I never thought we were a large family. I had a few friends who came from families of 6 and that was more "large" in those days. Nevertheless, they always seemed to have tons of fun probably due to how many playmates they had at their disposal and I never thought they were strange either. And really, six was probably fairly average a generation or two before that.

Over time the average family size has dwindled and currently there are some countries that have birth rates that are so much in decline that parents aren't even replacing themselves anymore. You can check out Albert Mohler's blog for more information on that topic Yet are people happier? I know I'm speaking generally here but are all of the other pursuits worth it? These are things I ponder after many trips to the store. And I'm really trying to figure out what's really going on.

What's really at the heart of the issue here? It's not how many children a family has that is the problem I think but rather how we think about children. Are they there to give us a tax break, be shown off as trophies, be indulged so much that they end up feeling entitled to anything and everything, to make us feel good? Of course, none of these reasons are why God has given us children. God has given them for a blessing. And they're all a blessing whether it's one or fifteen (again we're not debating numbers here). I'm not sure that our society values children as much anymore and dare I say that those of us in the church don't as much as we should either. It's one thing for the world not to do so, but we know better. Jesus made it very clear that in order to be saved one must become like a child and He regularly spoke about children receiving the Kingdom. Jesus was often found tending to the children in a crowd. I must ask myself whether I am valuing my own children like Jesus did or am I letting my culture influence how I think about them. Do I think of them as a nuisance and just people to raise so that I can get on with my life afterward? Or do I think of them as my life (after God and my husband of course) worthy of all of my attention, love and care? These are things I think about.

But here's another side as well...I don't just get comments about how many children I have and pathetic stares of pity and such, I also get many older women who approach me and tell me how much they miss their own children at a young age and how they fondly remember carting their own throughout the store. Many tell me how many they had (a lot of times it's manymore than 3!), what they're doing now and all about their grandchildren. I think to myself, "Will I lament later? Will I reminesce and miss this stage of life when all of my boys are off on their own?" I know it's cliche to say but I must cherish this time in my life. It only comes once. I have the miracle of feeling an unborn child kick mysteriously inside my body. I, as a woman, get to see the satisfaction my babies get while being comforted on the breast. God has given me this time to impart life to my family. I must learn from these grocery store experiences that I need to live for today and not for tomorrow when it supposedly will all get easier. Oh to have that wisdom!

My two-year-old threw his arms around my neck the other day, kissed me and said "I love you Mommy" and it was the first time he's ever said that without being prompted. I wish that I could remember his look and smell forever. I want to soak up these times like a sponge and ask God to give me the grace to appreciate them for all they're worth. As hard as life can be with little ones underfoot, God has given me enough grace and enough blessings to enjoy the ride. And really, I better get used to it, because Lord willing we'll have more children so the comments can only get worse. I just pray God will keep teaching me things from these experiences. I never knew I could learn so much from mornings out at Safeway.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hanging Wash

Excerpted from Suzanne Clark's book Sketches of Home.

"The way I felt about the wash was poetry. Here go hands into a wet clump of clothes, then up fly sheets to be pinned against wind. Socks and bras, shirts, nighties, diapers and towels become glorious kites while about me run two small children laughing like windchimes and I feel pure as the snow-white sun."

Isn't this beautiful? Sometimes I think it is easy to forget the God given joy of our daily tasks like laundry. Yet, this little excerpt reminded me in all its loveliness how these seemingly mundane chores can renew us. I think it all depends on our perspective.

Let the children come to me

I love the incongruity of children-- how they pull up their mother's blouse to nurse in public. How they sweetly say, 'You're so beautiful,' when your hair is awry and you have coffee breath. How they pull on your arm when you are hotly being kissed by their father. How they wear plaids with stripes, take too much food, burp in church, and beat you at checkers. They are still free from the fixed order of things, free to strip and shout and recklessly forgive all who have done them wrong."

Sketches of Home by, Suzanne Clark

"For to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Luke 18:16-17

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Create a Climate

This is one of my favorite quotes from Elisabeth Elliot's book Let Me Be a Woman. I hope it blesses you today.

"You can create a climate for him according to your attitude, and this is part of your job as a wife. The home you make and the atmosphere of that home is the world he comes back to from the world of his work. Let it be a place of beauty and peace."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Surprise Dinner Guest

This afternoon I delivered a meal to a dear friend and neighbor who just had a baby. After arriving home, my husband announced he was taking our older boys to the baseball game on campus and would be back in a bit. Ahhh...a moment's peace to nurse the baby and get dinner on the table. This doesn't happen often and when it does, I relish in it. I sat down to nurse Josh and check my email and got halfway through before I heard the giggling laughter and bounding voices of my older boys spilling through the doorway. Back so fast?! And my husband is talking to someone...hmmm sounds suspicious. It turns out that as soon as they arrived at the game, the game ended. But it wasn't all for not--we brought a dinner guest home and I got yet another chance to practice hospitality on the fly. I quickly glanced around at my home and surveyed the damage the three little boys did throughout the day. Well, it wasn't too bad but it definitely looked lived in. But it was too late to be uptight or embarassed. It was just time to put dinner on the table and time to smile.

Dinner was delightful as we were able to catch up on the life of Josh Davis, a fellow teacher where my husband teaches. Our children think he's the greatest and did their best to make him laugh throughout our time at the table. Josh graciously set aside both half eaten pieces of apple that Caleb bestowed on him (Josh referred to them as "recycled"). And Isaac did his best to get his share of laughs as well. Later I teased my husband that he was just setting me up since he knew what I wrote about yesterday. With a twinkle in his eye, he simply said that his fellow coworker needed some dinner. Just a note, lest all of you think my husband is rude, Steve knew what was on the menu and that it would feed an army. I'm just glad he'd found someone we could share it with.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who's Coming For Dinner?

My husband is very social and I guess I am too. As a result, one thing Steve loves to do is have people over to our house for dinner. When we were first married, we lived on a shoestring budget while both finishing up at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Even so, I learned very quickly that my husband liked to entertain no matter how much money we had. Whatever we had, he wanted to share it. It was hard for me at first since we didn't have much and I didn't always know where and how we were going to feed the people he brought home. Nevertheless, we always did and it is something that I've grown accustomed to over the years. In fact, I would say that I really do enjoy it...most of the time that is.

Our pastor frequently says that change will happen as Christians invite others to be a part of their lives and that the best place to start is around the table. The lost will be saved...around the table. Relationships, and families will be built and if need be, restored...around the table. The church will be reformed...around the table. Our children will learn to have manners, think critically, laugh and be generous...around the table. In the craziness of life amidst all of the activities, school schedules, and work schedules, you can make time to sit your family down once a day around your kitchen table and build relationships. Start there. Then branch out to others. Make it work. Feed the children first if you have to, but have them sit down with Dad there, when he gets home, so that you can all be together as a family. It is so important.

Isaac frequently asks me, "Mommy, who's coming over for dinner tonight?" Our children are watching and this is a question I want to be asked. It keeps me extending keeps me giving. I'm very thankful my husband set-up this lifestyle for our family many years ago because this type of hospitality has not come easily to me. I've had to learn and I'm still learning as I stumble along. But as I've grown accustomed to my husband's generous ways, I've learned to be spontaneous and cheerful (most of the time) and creative with what's in my refrigerator. It's gotten to be a challenge and tons of fun.

Sometimes I hear women with young children lamenting that they never get a chance to minister outside the home anymore due to their current responsibilities. Although this is true during this season of life, we can make the most of it in other ways. We don't have to go anywhere. We can ask people in. And we should delight in this. God has also given us many other ways to minister inside our home but this is just one way and it's important.
I hope to post regularly about how to actually make this happen in practical terms. Of course our lives aren't all the same and we all have dirrerent strengths and weaknesses but we can do this. Determine to start with your own and ask God to bring the wayward, the tired and the hungry knocking on your door. As women, we must learn to extend God's love in this way.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me....Then the righteous will answer Him saying, "Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?...And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Wrestling Match

I've wrestled for sometime with blogging. Everyone does it. Why don't I do it? I mean, I'm an English Major; I spent my first couple years out of college writing for a non-profit social work agency in San Luis Obispo and was their main Editor. I've always been a writer. What's my problem? Why haven't I done this already? Well, for one, I have been a bit busy over the last four years having three boys all a year and a half apart and to be honest, I didn't really think I had much that was that interesting to write about. Nevertheless, I've wrestled and here it is. I've jumped into the blog world. I have no idea what I'll post about or even how often I'll post and I don't even want to tell you how long it took Steve and I to come up with a name but...I'll do my best. My three main loves in life are first of all my God and Savior Jesus Christ who is the author of my faith, then my husband and three boys-the laughter of my life, and lastly my love for cooking and baking. This blog will reflect all of these facets of myself and some others as well I'm sure. God is always faithful, my husband and children are a joy to me and sharing food with others is a lifelong hobby and source of pleasure as well. To God be the glory and may all I choose to write about reflect His goodness and pleasure!!