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Word to the Wise

May 17, 2013

It’s amazing to think how much time and energy goes into raising a family.

I had a rough few years after my oldest was born. Trying to figure out how best to handle each new step of her life was a challenge to me. I judged myself based on what I thought others thought of my child-rearing and there were some pretty miserable years in there.

I learned a few things along the way. Some by trial and error on my part, some from observing others. Some worked well for child number one but were totally ineffective for number three.

You are the mom. It is valuable to listen to others’ advice, but use your own judgement to make decisions for your children.

Yet, there are a few lessons that have always been constant in our home. So, humbly, here are my Top Six Parenting Tips:

1. You are the mom. It is valuable to listen to others’ advice, but use your own judgement to make decisions for your children. Don’t be bullied by friends or relatives into doing things their way. Some of the things spoken will be well worth the time you’ve taken to listen and some just won’t work. It’s your right to decide for your family. (Even if that means disregarding the rest of what I say here!)

2. Every child adds something to your home. The personality of the whole family changes. There are things you will not be able to do the same way with each child, maybe not even equally. And that’s OK.

3. Let your children navigate their friendships. It’s great to help them make wise decisions, but if you involve yourself in every conflict that arises, they will not learn to deal with what life throws at them.

4. Make your children responsible for their own actions. It is very easy to brush away a small complaint by someone who “ doesn’t know my child well enough to speak into her life,” but be honest with yourself about what your child should own up to.

5. Don’t be afraid to let your children try things. I’ve seen parents not letting their children run because they might fall or play in the mud because their clothes will get dirty. Let them explore and have those growing, learning experiences. Grab a box of Band-aids and some wet wipes!

6. Be yourself to your kids. Don’t hide your failures, but include them in your life. Show your children how to learn from mistakes. Be real, apologize and love big.

I am still learning with each step my children take. I make mistakes and have to rethink strategies, but I am confident of my love and commitment to my children. We’ll all make it through.

He Said/She Said – Laundry

April 13, 2012

Just for fun, and also to get our creative juices flowing, my husband and I have decided to begin a new venture. Taking a topic, we will both write our own opinion (without reading the other’s first) and then post them to our respective blogs. You can find a link to Jerry’s blog here to read his side of the story.

She Said:

Once upon a time, many years ago, a good-hearted (newly-wedded) husband decided to help his wife by doing her laundry…

At this point, many of you (probably mostly women) are giggling a little, am I right? Said husband used bleach with a load of whites, and then did a load of darks. The bleach drips left on the washing machine were neatly wiped away by the wife’s brand new black stirrup pants. (Hey! I said this was many years ago!) We all know how the story ends…gray spots on the black pants, a wife asking why, a husband saying, “I’m sorry, I was only trying to help!”, and the forced promise of not washing anything that people wear…ever again.

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate help with laundry. I loathe doing laundry. Actually, I loathe folding laundry, but if I didn’t have to do laundry, I would be ok with that. I tend to put the laundry off because of that and Jerry is not pleased when he runs low on the unmentionables. So, the ban on washing was lifted and hubby gets to share the chore again. Although I know I should be doing much more of it!

Besides the bleach incident, I used to have to hide the dry clean only garments until I could deal with them because he would try to wash it all – in hot – with every color together! You can see the trouble I was having, right? I asked him to separate colors once, and then had a good laugh when I pulled a load out of the dryer and everything was blue. He had washed only blue clothes!

We settled those minor issues. Nowadays, the big frustration with him is what is ok to put in the dryer. I don’t dry most of our nicer shirts. This is out of a desire to prevent shrinking and to discourage color fading. Jerry can’t get in his head which things should be hung. With much frustration, he will hang the entire load out of the washer because he doesn’t want to get in trouble for drying it. I have learned to bite my tongue because it makes him mad when I ask why he hung something that I would have dried.

I know Jerry’s biggest frustration is with me getting the laundry done. I am horrible at it! We have very differing viewpoints on how it should be done, too. He would wash a load a day, maybe going as far as to say every Monday, we wash ________, Tuesday, _________. I am not that organized. I want to wash how Mom did it. Wash Day! But, you know what? That only works when you stay on top of it all day long. Which I don’t…because I loathe doing laundry, remember?

I see the good in Jerry’s idea, but in my mind, if I have to separate everything to find the things to wash on Monday, and then separate again on Tuesday for that load… you get the idea. It seems like a waste of time and energy. I tried using separate laundry baskets for the loads. Seemed like a fairly simple thing to ask the family to put items of clothing in certain baskets. Most moms will probably agree with me, easier said than done. It did not work very well.

We did recently attempt and accomplish one of my Pinterest pins. After researching and talking with friends, we made a batch of laundry detergent that, according to the pinned website, should last a whole year! It seems to be cleaning well and I like the smell, so that’s good. Maybe it will help me with my laundry procrastination?

I think the only solution to laundry is to do it. However you can, whenever you can, by any means necessary. And by that, I mean pay your kids to do it!

Check out Jerry’s side here.  Any topics you would like to suggest?

A Graceful Heart

April 3, 2012

I am not a dancer. When I was little, I really wanted to dance. The little town I grew up in (as far as I know) didn’t even offer classes. I had to take gymnastics instead. I’m not sure I would have been a very good ballerina, but to this day I still love to watch dancers dance and wonder about “could have beens.”

I think what I really love about dancing is how beautiful it is to see ballerinas glide effortlessly across the floor. They give definition to the accompanying music, filling multiple senses at the same time. Extending every part of their bodies, leaping higher and higher, it is a beautiful sight to behold. Gracefulness defined on a stage.

The reality of ballet is that a dancer’s feet take a real beating. Within those pink satin toe shoes are ugly, painful, sometimes bloody feet. Professional dancers end up with blisters and bunions, calluses and corns, torn up nails… Their feet ache at the end of their eight-hour rehearsal days most days of the week. But it doesn’t stop them from dancing. In fact, they will choose not to repair most damage as it offers some protection. Sore, ugly feet are part of the life of being a dancer.

In our lives, we have an innate desire to be graceful, as well as expect the same from others. This is not related to physical gracefulness, although that is also something I desire. Our words and actions and emotions should carry a gracefulness also.

In the real world, things happen. We get crushed by the graceless words or actions of a friend. We are tempted to return the favor. We are taunted and it bruises our soul. We feel pushed beyond our emotional limits. When these things come, we have a tendency to complain, or maybe run away from whatever causes the pain. And we forget to keep walking in grace.

How can we be graceful in those situations? Through “Eucharisteo,” or “to give thanks.” The beauty of this word is that the middle voice is “charis,” meaning “grace.”  And the secret (found in the word origin) is “chairo,” “JOY.” A lovely thought that if we can become mindful of the favors the Lord has given us (in every situation,) then we will be filled with joy and grace.

It is not easy to walk in thankfulness when you are being hurt. And honestly, I’m not talking about being thankful for those things that are hurting you. I am encouraging you to be thankful for the small, good things you can find in every situation. As we begin to do this, it becomes easier to walk gracefully through the situations we are in.

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 15 NKJV)

Some things we go through may be painful, it may not look pretty, it may leave sores and ugly marks, but we can still dance, because it’s just part of life. And when we make that decision, to be thankful in everything, that grace makes it easier to dance (not just walk!) in our lives.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7, NKJV)

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2012
tags: ,

As we begin each brand new year, traditionally we take a moment to reflect on ourselves and the past year. Mistakes we’ve made and things we wish we had done differently come to mind. It’s natural to see the New Year as a time to “start over” with something in your life. We might choose to eat healthier, become organized, stop a bad habit, or learn something new.

Often, it ends up that we break our resolution. Our old ways take control and we start to behave in our usual manner. It’s a sad testament to who we are when that happens. Most of the time, we just don’t give it enough time to “stick.” I’ve heard before that it takes around 21 days to form a habit. Honestly, that’s a long time for me…especially when I know it’s probably good for me, but not necessarily fun. But, oh, it’s worth it in the end, when you’ve overcome what was standing in your way of being improved!

All this to say, I have decided what my New Year’s resolution will be for 2012. I have decided to lose weight…the weight of anxiety and sorrow and dread. It has been a year for all that, and not just for me. As a matter of fact, I know that the things I have gone through are not near what others have experienced. All those conditions really do weigh down on a person. They can suck all the joy out of us, until our whole little worlds are colored, negatively I might add. We become cynical and even begin to expect more crises. A sad state of being, to be sure.

I actually began working on this in November. I took on the challenge of being thankful for something every day. Maybe in some people’s minds this is not a New Year’s resolution because of that, but I came to a realization and it’s worth continuing. In the course of the month on November, as I searched each day for something different to be thankful for, my view began to change.

When things happened, I was able to see something to thank the Lord for, whatever the circumstance. And I couldn’t help spreading it, helping other people see something positive or thankful-worthy in all things. What I’m noticing now is that I feel lighter. My cynicism is taking a back seat to joy in the moments the Lord is giving me. And I hope again, for new, exciting, lovely things that I know the Lord has in store for me and my family.

Maybe my habit has already been established, but I don’t want to take a chance on losing this wonderful buoyant feeling in my spirit. I’m choosing to make this permanent in me!

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

He Said/She Said – “Where Should We Eat?”

October 25, 2011

Just for fun, and also to get our creative juices flowing, my husband and I have decided to begin a new venture. Taking a topic, we will both write our own opinion (without reading the other’s first) and then post them to our respective blogs. You can find a link to Jerry’s blog here to read his side of the story.

She Said:

“Where should we eat?” A seemingly innocuous question with so many repercussions.  Being a sensitive “significant other,” we both feel it is necessary to acquiesce to the wishes of the other. And in making that decision, starting what has been a very exasperating battle of the sexes.

You can’t tell me you haven’t been in on this conversation at one point or other.

“Where should we eat?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
“Well, what are you in the mood for?”
“I don’t know. What about you?” (Said by both parties)
“I really don’t care. You can pick something.”

Now, pause for a moment to ponder what has been said. NOTHING, absolutely nothing, has been accomplished here! In our car the conversation usually begins with Jerry, but even if I begin it, what follows is always the same…

Jerry: “Well, we could go to_______________.”

Stop! In my mind, we are still discussing places, so my reply invariably is…

Me: “I’m not in the mood for _______________.”

On a deeper level, I understand the frustration that my response could bring. I know men like to find the solution to every problem like it is some kind of foe to defeat, and before Jerry is a problem, apparently of great magnitude, like a dragon in need of slaying. (I realize the imagery I am depicting may be exaggerated, but it flows well with Jerry’s exasperation which surely follows.)

Jerry: “OK, what about _______________?”

I realize that my next answer might seem harsh, but after a few years of marriage, you’d think this wouldn’t even have to be said.

Me: “You know I don’t like their _______________.”

I don’t say this about every place, but there are a couple of places that I really don’t care for and he knows about them. He shouldn’t even suggest them. Maybe it’s the way women are wired, everything running together like a big plate of spaghetti, but I am remembering that he didn’t care a few minutes ago, so it shouldn’t matter if I say no to a couple of the places suggests.

Jerry: “You pick somewhere. I can’t help. You’re shooting down all my ideas.”

I don’t really think I’m shooting down his ideas. I am deciding by process of elimination. What he doesn’t know it that the process has already started in my mind…I have eliminated quite a few destinations that he does not even know about. Should I be aware that my negative responses would be viewed similarly to the cavewoman’s refusal to eat the rabbit meat her caveman has dutifully thrown at her? That woman probably got drug by her hair outside the cave for that one. I think we’ve come farther than that.

With all the years we’ve had together, getting to know each other, I know we both understand what’s going on…at least in the deeper sense. But, that immediate reaction to each other in a circumstance of disagreement is still strong, unfortunately. Or maybe, we just enjoy the tiff on occasion. And so, we learn how to respond appropriately to one another and be able to live together. We gain experience and wisdom each time.

Wisdom for me is to always have a fallback restaurant we both enjoy…

Check out Jerry’s side here.  Any topics you would like to suggest?

Unfailing Love

April 27, 2011

In the past week, two family friends have passed away. One was younger and it was a total surprise to get the call. The other had been dealing with illness, but getting that call was just as hard to hear. In praying and thinking about what has happened I am reminded that death in any form, be it expected or not, is not easy to understand.

As I began praying for the families and friends connected to these two men, the Lord reminded me of a song. I searched online for a good rendition, but was unable to find it, so I decided to post the words alone. The song is “I Know” by Darrell Evans on his Freedom album.

I Know

Verse 1
Though I’m walking through the valley
Of the darkest hour I’ve known
Lord don’t You leave me all alone
When I’m surrounded by the shadows
That seem to feed my fear
I will trust You
Though I may not feel You here

Chorus 1
But I know that Your love is unfailing
O I know Your grace is so amazing
O I know even though my faith be shaken
O I still know that I’ll never be forsaken
‘Cause You’re always faithful
I know

Verse 2
When my bed has been floating
On the flood of all my tears
Seems as though my joy has disappeared
Still I will not put my hope
In what I see or feel
I will cling to You
And trust You’re holding me

(BRIDGE)
I worship You
I look to You
I trust You with my life
I worship You
I look to You
Come lift my head up high

(ENDING)
Lord I don’t know where I’m walking
But I’ll take it day by day
And I’ll hold Your hand
And You will lead the way

CCLI Song No. 2718622
© 1998 Integrity’s Praise! Music | Integrity’s Hosanna! Music  |
Darrell Evans | Lincoln Brewster

In particular, the words of the chorus are highlighted in my heart. The Lord’s love is unfailing, His grace is unchanging, even when everything bad is happening in my little corner of the world and I can’t bring myself to utter one more prayer for help, the Lord remains faithful to His beloved.

We pray so hard for a change in circumstances, for healing for the sick, for a beloved child to make better choices, for more money. And the Lord wants all good things for us. He promises to answer with provision for our needs. He does not abandon us.

Does he always answer according to our plans? No. But I can trust that He knows what I need better than I do. He sees the whole world, not just my little corner of it. And what I need may not completely match up with what I think I need. So, we choose then to align ourselves with the Lord, not against Him. Then, we can begin to trust in Him more fully and desire all the things He wants for us.

 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:3-5, NKJV)

Don’t forget his unfailing love and unchanging grace. He knows every heartache, every need. You can trust how He answers your prayers.

His & Mine

April 25, 2011

Movies

 

Ask Jerry (or, as I have noticed, most men) what his favorite movie of all time is, and undoubtedly he will say Braveheart. The epic tale of patriotism with a little romance thrown in, Jerry loves to watch the defiance William Wallace shows toward the English noblemen. Have you noticed how men thrive on this kind of movie? They want to be Wallace, to defy someone, and take a huge sword out and swing it around and yell something like, “Freedom!” at the top of their lungs. I suppose since much of that is frowned upon in our society today, letting him claim this as a favorite is a good thing. So, I’ll give it to him; it’s a good movie, I’ll admit it.  And, it’s one of the only movies to bring a tear to his eye (another one being Ramona and Beezus, but that’s a story for another day!)

I present Jane Austen’s Persuasion as my fave. Not as popular a movie pick as Pride & Prejudice, I still love the story (the book’s great too!) And the cast of this particular adaptation (1995) is well chosen. I like the thought that love might not necessarily be lost, even when you think it is. And, honestly, as a girl, to have a man pine years for you is pretty romantic. (I have one of those kinds of guys, ladies!) Watch the movie or read the book if you haven’t already!

What’s your favorite?

 “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.”
~Frederick Wentworth (Jane Austen, Persuasion)

{sigh}