Monday, May 31, 2010

point the way.

There's a lot of noise out there. Lots that want our kids' attention. 

Who will point the way when there are so many paths to take?

I am a Christian. I look to the scripture for what it says it is: a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. Sometimes the Bible is confusing as there are many thoughts about how to interpret. Understood.

Yet, there are some things that are very plain. Work with those things.

Parents have a significant role given by God. While there are wonderful resources available in the form of "professionals" who have credentials, you... you are your child's best counselor, advisor, and teacher. Somehow, moms have a keen sense in these things and it's there for a reason!

Our job is to point the way. It may not be our way. You will find that your older children will and must grow into maturity through making choices that you may not agree with. My goal has not been for my kids (18+) to do what I tell them and distance myself from them in any way, shape, or form because of their decision.

Did the Prodigal Son's father do that? No. He not only allowed his son to decide, but his heart was continually toward him. That's how God is with us. If we display anything less than this to our kids or others, what does that say about us?

In some Christian circles, it is expectant that if we teach a certain way that we should naturally see the desired results. I wish life was that predictable. It isn't. 

We keep pointing the way. And in the distance is the cross. That is where we always point them. How they get there or if they get there is not up to us. We present to them... not demand from them... what is worth setting in their sights.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the hand that rocks the cradle.

We've heard the phrase: "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". But do you know where it comes from?

William Ross Wallace was the author of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the Hand That Rules the World. He was an American poet born in Kentucky in 1819. He practiced law but engaged in literary pursuits as well, writing poems and a national hymn.

I'm telling you now, there is power and strength that women have which is God given. Unfortunately, this power and strength has detoured itself in feminist pursuits. There's some wonderful women out there who are as capable and as intelligent as their male counterparts, yet, I personally believe that this capability and intelligence is mainly to be focused at home. Moms can pursue other endeavors yet her heart should be first at home. Why? Because "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world".

Let me first say that I know there are exceptions to the rule; single moms, etc. I am specifically speaking to the whole of society where moms are in the workplace and do not necessarily have to be there. Moms who enjoy the sense of accomplishment in their careers. This takes at least 8 hours out of every weekday and in some cases more. Who is raising the kids? The teachers and counselors at public school?  Their friends? Their friends' parents? The television? Video games? And isn't it interesting that so many young people are spending precious time trying to figure out who they are and experimenting with anything and everything to figure it out?

Mothers have an ability that no other shoes can fill. I'm not talking about just kissing a boo-boo or being a listening ear. I'm talking about an ability to nurture, discern, wisdom...and an incredible amount of fortitude to manage the physical/mental/emotional demands and adversity. As Proverbs 31 says about the virtuous woman, she watches over the ways of her home. 

If we are pursuing our own interests first in the form of a career, job or other interests, we are contributing to the demise of our kids and society. As I've recently written, life can be very adventurous and exciting. But most days it's routine. And that is okay. Because the sun rising and setting is routine. The same birds sing outside my window everyday. The snow comes in December and the tulips bloom in May. Routine is how the world operates. Don't dismiss the routine days of raising children because there isn't any excitement that brings you a feeling of great accomplishment. 

It is our responsibility to influence our children. If we don't do it, someone else will influence them. We cannot abdicate this nor can we defer it to another without a fall-out.  If your additional income or making strides in the world is priority and the kids secondary (which one takes up most of your time?), the short term result may be personally fulfilling but the next generation will be lacking. Your power, strength, and ability is to be used to raise children for their benefit and who will benefit society. Don't always be looking for grand accomplishments and personal fulfillment. Your grandest will be raising children of strength and fortitude who will bring their contributions into the world and pass them on to their children. Sons and daughters who will not be confused, assured of their roles, having been shaped with God-given power and strength by one who loves and cares for them over any other: mother. 

It is a privilege to raise our children. No one is going to oooh and aaah over your kids like you do. No one really cares that your 5th child just got his first tooth or that your 2nd child can play the harmonica. But us parents... we bask in it don't we? When you don't have the time with your kids you miss out on a lot. Because even though there is hard work in raising kids, there's also lots and lots of happiness = privilege.

The poet, William Ross Wallace, surely recognized something valuable in the 1800's which has become a faded memory that is often thought of as old fashioned and irrelevant. It's a lie that we have slowly welcomed. 

Want to use your power? Want to live in the oversight that you feel inside? Want to "rule the world"? Give 100% to being a mother.

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

why do we do what we do?

Because it's in there, that's why. Some may have more than others but we all have it. Moms are created with the capacity to nurture. And without thinking about it, much comes naturally. 

Sometimes I think we over analyze in our Oprah and Dr Phil society. Lots of information out there and some worthy to take a look at. But mothers have been around a long time without these things and I don't think they suffered for it.

There's a lot of simple things we do in life that do not require a degree or at the very least, a class, or book (except mine : ). Don't get me wrong. These things have their place. But you have within you the skills to be a mom. 

Here's an example. Last week I was driving to Rochester and on the way, I noticed some Amish boys playing with a plastic soda bottle.  They were doing what all boys do, trying to see if a car would hit it. Then of course, there would be shouts of great success! "Such a simple pleasure," I thought. Such things transcend time. Boys, from the beginning of time have delighted in finding things to amuse them.

It's that simple for moms, too. There's so many wonderful contraptions and equipment and "necessities" to assist (and amuse) moms that are not really necessary. If a stick or an empty can can amuse a child, then you may find the simpler the better for you, too.

You gotta learn to shut out all the noise. And that may include endless lessons, activities, and socialization outside the home. Our job is to love our kids and create a home that is welcoming and safe. In my opinion, that is utmost.

We do what we do because no matter what we have or do not have, raising children is work but it's also a blast. Very simply, God designed us to enjoy our children. They are a gift.  We want them to be successful in life. And since the family is the backbone to any society, we contribute to the whole by doing our best for them as well as helping to provide a world where they can live. 

Seems kinda redundant doesn't it? We have kids and then they have kids and so on. Isn't there more than this? Not really. And when we look for more than that we can find ourselves discontent. 

The old line "bloom where you are planted" is true. I promise you, even with the struggles along the way, you've got what it takes!

Monday, May 24, 2010

just do it.

When life gets to be too much, I just think about life 100 or 200 years ago and get instant perspective. Have you ever thought about moms back in the day? 

One day many years ago I was reading Daniel Boone to my kids and it was told in a story form. Something along the lines of Mrs. Boone standing at the door with the kids waving good-bye to Daniel who was leaving with a few other men to blaze the Wilderness Trail. Whether that actually occurred in that manner, we do know that Daniel had a wife and children (eventually, 10 to be exact!) and left his family behind to blaze 200 miles of wilderness.

I am often inspired by the women throughout history who worked way harder than women today. People are people. These women were not capable of handling more in the sense that they had some physical attributes that gave them more fortitude. In fact, the work load was the very thing that gave them the fortitude. It wasn't a time to whimp out in those days. You rolled up your sleeves and you got to work.

And I think deciding and accepting may be half the battle. 

Think about the pregnant moms who boarded the Mayflower.

How about the pioneer moms who buried some of their children along the way?

Getting perspective yet?

I know I have and it is what made me stronger once I realized that my "plight" was not so bad after all.  These moms were wives who supported their husband's vision of sailing the family across the Atlantic or riding across the country in a covered wagon. 

What did they have that maybe we don't have? Vision. A reason why we do what we do.

too be continued...

Friday, May 21, 2010

i'll walk a mile in your shoes.

I admit it. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be the teacher and play school. Recently, I went into my friend's elementary school where she teaches and I felt like a kid in a toy store! The little chairs and desks, the hallways lined with kid-friendly bulletin boards decorated with book reports and artwork had me ooohing and aaahing. 

I also loved playing with dolls and "mothered" the little kids on my block.

So, I quite effortlessly moved into being mother and teacher in my home. Don't get me wrong. I dealt with resentment and selfishness with the best of them being in such demand 24/7 but everybody has their growing pains.

You may not like being a mom. And God knows you don't have one ounce of teacher desire in you. I know about moms who feel this way, but I am not one of them.

I would like to give you an opportunity to comment on this if you're reading today and thinking, "Yup. That's me alright." You may comment anonymously. And please, certainly tell us how you made it through (if you did) and it will be a great encouragement to other moms. I am sure there's a ton of guilt for a mom who isn't actually thrilled with mothering (or the thought of homeschooling), especially if you are in an environment where it is taught or modeled (ie; church,   your best friend or sister-in-law). I would imagine it's kind of a secret struggle. And with your permission,  I will include your comments in my book, Mom Stuff, in a chapter devoted to this topic.

I know what it's like to not have everything run smoothly in particular areas of my life. Often, with good intentions, those of us who have made our Christian faith a priority, can apply Biblical principles (okay, pat answers) so quickly and not take the time to understand someone's need of patience and encouragement. The saying, "walk a mile in my shoes" applies here.

And in a few days I will offer some of my own thoughts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I'm going to let you in on a little secret. As of late, I have become resentful of the extra work around my home. That is because my dear little ones are not little any longer. They are big and invite their big friends and have bonfires and play board games and stay up til after midnight. When I get up in the morning, I find the collateral damage so to speak and clean up.

I have stated often, "please clean up after yourselves" and for some reason is just doesn't happen (since we have lots of friends this week it is every night). Each morning I would be the first one up and I would sigh.

Until I finally resolved that it isn't going to happen; at least this week. Should it? Yes. But most likely I had this perspective because it happens in other homes. It wasn't happening here no matter how hard I tried.

Once I realized how I was setting myself up for disappointment, resentment, and a whole host of other negative feelings, and how it wasn't likely to change, I decided: "I'm the mom. And I will serve."

Immediately, the negative feelings left as I went about cleaning up.

It's not like the younger kids do not have chores or if I ask, "Please do this" that I don't get help. But my job is still in place and my position is to serve. And serving is truly a wonderful position. It has the ability to cleanse away all of the demands and assumptions and negativity we have. 

Tip: your family may not look like another's. We can exchange ideas but if something isn't "working" for you.. toss it. 

When the days are long and you feel like no one cares or you are working way too much, know that we are wired to do more than you think. It's our mind that gets in the way and tells us differently. I've never not had the strength to "do more". If you believe God is watching over things, then He is watching over you, too.

See? I'm 52 and I'm still learning..

Monday, May 17, 2010

shaping your children's vision for life.

I love the title of this post taken from an excerpt  of an Elisabeth Elliot quote.

You know, if we are honest, I think we are too smart for our own good. No other time in history have people had so much at their fingertips. In an instant you can get a taco from the nearest fast food place and not even get out of your car or you can find out (as I did recently) how to grill the perfect burger or why my forsythia bush isn't blooming. Little to no effort is needed these days. And it's made us lazy and indifferent.

That said, we tend to look at life in compartments. We are a culture that practically worships knowledge and education and so we think best when we learn through a class or book. If we live out our faith according to the Bible, we can also fall prey to looking at life through the lens of a lesson. "Oh, God is teaching me patience"... we may find ourselves saying.

Well, I don't see life lessons anymore. And I don't teach them to my children. Because God isn't American and He doesn't appeal to our intellect alone. He is shaping us. 

In the Bible, God told Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house and watched him shape clay on the wheel.  In context, the story was regarding the Israelites and God's determination to do with them as a potter shapes clay. 

In the book of Isaiah, the scripture says "does the clay say to the Potter, what are you making?"

So we see another way of thinking. We see shaping. And that is what we are doing as mothers. We are shaping our children's vision for life.

See, everyone has a world view; how we "see" life. And how we are conditioned throughout our childhood and yes, even now as adults, effects how we think, what we say, what we do. And mothers set the tone or provide an environment for that shaping. It's not going to be a perfect home. It's not going to look exactly like someone else's home. It's your home. And you are the right mother for your children and you will know how to shape them for life.

Be confident and be yourself. Books and classes have a place in our lives as we endeavor to learn. But don't disregard what I have come to believe is more important than a lesson learned through a book, class, or even the consequences of an action. It is the heart of the Father who is continually shaping our lives with patience, compassion and lovingly orchestrating our wrong moves with tender guidance.

Be that kind of mom... and shape your children's vision for life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

mom stuff

The reason this blog came about was because my heart aches for moms (and people in general) who work at doing all they know to do and oftentimes find disappointing results. I wanted to go beyond (read: be realistic) the nicey-nice books on family life and speak to those of us who's reality is not so blissful. I wanted to cut to the chase with setting ourselves up for disappointment. I wanted moms to know that even if things aren't looking so good, keep moving and don't despair. Don't assume that you aren't a good mom because you are dealing with difficulty or disappointment. 

Let's face it. We know that life is not perfect. Yet, some of the books out there seem to put it all in a nice package as if you just follow the to-do list or their example, you too can have a great family.

If you have been following me you may have come to realize that my faith is the bedrock of my life. We all have to build on something and what our world view is either flavors or taints everything. Essentially, I have responded to the Bible in such a way that I find it's absolute truth, howbeit unnerving at times, to be worth building on. Just as a house or bridge needs a firm foundation, the scriptures offer a foundation. In my response to the cross, I have taken seriously my faith regarding to how God has "wired us". In other words, I can "right click" all I want on this Apple laptop and it ain't going to work like my Microsoft PC did! And if we would look at the scriptures, which are a "lamp to our feet", we will find that it keeps us in working order, the way that the Creator had intended.

I am not one to throw a scripture at everything. That serves no purpose in my mind than to set people up to return to what the Old Testament could not do. The keeping of the Law is not first and foremost. What is first and foremost is knowing that a God who loves us so dearly, sent His Son to be the rescuer of Mankind from their sin. Our personal response to that is necessary. God loves us and wants us to love Him back... with all our heart, soul, and strength. And the scriptures tell us that He is very present in our lives in ways we cannot understand. All I know is that I for one have felt His comfort during sorrowful times, Him somehow strengthening me when I couldn't go on, His hope when I didn't want to go on, and His guidance in thinking life through.

That said, I have complete confidence in God's leading in an individual's life. He tells us in the Gospels that He knows the number of hairs on our head. That tells me He is very aware of every aspect of our lives. Will you trust Him? 

Lots of books and classes and models of how it's done is even within Christian circles. I am thankful for it. We don't have to succumb to current trends and new-fangled ways of parenting (only to find the turn-over is something like 4.5 years until someone comes along with a "better" way). Yet, we must also be careful not to follow Christian trends, either. We are not immune to this. People are people.

We also cannot and should not recreate life in the 50's as if that somehow offers a more Godly life. True, it was a more righteous world, but trying to bring your child(ren) up in that atmosphere could be very isolating in my opinion. Then again, if God leads you it's none of my business!

We must be relevant. And since life today offers a buffet of ways to do things, even in our churches, we have to keep close as possible to the essence of the scriptures, but the practical application may look different between individuals and families. And that is okay.

Don't model yourself after another mom. Don't try to recreate something another family is doing if it doesn't fit. Yes, we can learn from each other but don't be afraid to pave your own way. God is not limited and we certainly cannot box Him in. While we build on His methods, we can be creative. Religion is stifling. God is not. Look outside right now and just see all the wonderful shades of spring green and how many shades of yellow can there be? All announcing that God is real and alive! Do you ever tire of looking up at the billions of stars or gazing at an autumn moon? Or trying to count the number of points on a snowflake to see if there really are six sides? God loves color and shapes and variety. And your children, your family is going to be part of that variety!

Let it happen.

more on being a mother.

Resist the temptation our world offers on what the "new mother" looks like. I am not promoting long dresses and cooking without electricity. I am promoting the essence of what is clear in God's definition of motherhood. Some would say it's old fashioned. Well, I suppose trying to recreate life in the 50's isn't going to cut it. Yet, there are some foundational principles that are worthy noting.

Don't buy into this "you deserve some time for you". Am I suggesting you don't ever have some restful times? No. I am suggesting that you don't live each day with that lens or you will resent the time and sacrifice that is involved with mothering. Decide now that it is hard work. Arm yourself with that mindset and you will be strengthened. Because whether you know it or not, you are already "wired" for the task. Within is a determination and resolute to do the task you were created for. Remember how you got through the pregnancy, labor and delivery of your child(ren)? Wow! We're quite the ladies, aren't we? Well, that same strength is still in you not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.

The culture would give you every way out to place your need first so you will be ready for the hard work. God has designed us to go to Him for all we need. He will give strength to the weary and grace for your difficult days. 

Don't be surprised if you go through some months or years of working this out in your life. That is how we learn it. God isn't up there teaching us hard lessons the way we would compartmentalize our lives. Think of your life as a journey. You delight in the warm summer days that lead to a colorful autumn, but the winter comes and there may be some trodding through snow with the bitter wind on your face. But better days are ahead with the hope of spring and so we continue on.

Learn to bask in the small surprises along the day that make you smile. Even cold, winter days has lots of delightful surprises. But be ready and willing to face times of difficulty and allow God to help you through. Because getting your nails done or a shopping spree has its place and is temporary at best. But if you don't have the money for such things you will learn out of necessity the strength provided. And that is permanent.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

on being a mother.

We have seen many changes these last 50 years and motherhood is one that has taken a huge blow from our culture. Yet, there are principles of living that are not truly affected by time. It may seem so, but a car for instance, will always have the function of taking us from Point A to Point B. The colors, styles, and all the outward appearances may make us oooh and ahhh but under the hood there is still an engine that takes the same gas that cars needed 60 years ago.

Elisabeth Elliot is near 90 years old and lives on the New England coast. She is a model of womanhood and motherhood. Here is an excerpt from one of her writings about her own mother:

Title: My Mother

She was Kath to her close friends, Dearie to my father, and always Mother (never Mom) to her six children. She held us on her lap when we were small and rocked us, sang to us, and told us stories. We begged for the ones about "when you were a little girl."...

Mother's course was finished on February 7, 1987. She was up and dressed as usual in the morning at the Quarryville Presbyterian Home in Pennsylvania, made it to lunch with the help of her walker, lay down afterwards, having remarked rather matter-of-factly to someone that she knew she was dying, and wondered where her husband was. Later in the afternoon cardiac arrest took her, very quietly.

Each of us took a few minutes at the funeral to speak of some aspect of Mother's character. Phil spoke of her consistency and unfailing availability as a mother; of her love for Dad ("He was always my lover," she said). I recalled how she used to mop her eyes at the table, laughing till she cried at some of my father's bizarre descriptions, or even at his oft-told jokes; how she was obedient to the New Testament pattern of godly womanhood, including hospitality. 

Dave talked about her unreserved surrender to the Lord... of how, when we lefthome, she followed us not only with prayer but, for forty years with hardly a break, with a weekly letter. Ginny told how Mother's example taught her what it means to be a lady; how to discipline herself, her children, her home. Tom remembered the books she read to us (A.A. Milne,Beatrix Potter, Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, for example), and the songs she sang as she rocked each of us little children ("Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Go Tell Aunt Nancy"), shaping our vision of life.

The last three years were sorrowful ones for all of us. Arterio-sclerosis had done its work in her mind and she was confused and lonely ("Why hasn't Dad been to see me?" "He's been with the Lord for 23 years, Mother." "Nobody told me!") Still a lady, she tried to be neatly groomed, always offered a chair to those who came. She had not lost her humor, her almost unbeatable skill at Scrabble, her ability to play the piano, sing hymns,and remember her children. But she wanted us to pray that the Lord would let her go Home, so we did. 

The funeral ended with the six of us singing "The Strife is O'er," then all family members, including our beloved aunts Alice and Anne Howard, sang "To God Be the Glory." The graveside service closed with the Doxology (the one with Alleluias). We think of her now, loving us with an even greater love, her poor frail mortality left behind, her eyes beholding the King in His beauty. "If you knew what God knows about death," wrote George MacDonald, "you would clap your listless hands."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

happy mother's day.

Perhaps you have received a wonderful breakfast in bed. Or a dinner out. Or even a weekend away. Maybe it was a toothless grin and a fistful of dandelions.

Or perhaps you didn't receive anything.

Mothers everywhere, I honor you today. Your love is beyond any kind of love on this earth. It is sacrificial in ways that others do not understand. God sees the moments of selfless giving. He sees the tears. You may do great things for your kids or you may do seemingly small things. Nothing is unnoticed by God. Nothing.

No matter where you find yourself today -- single mom, lonely mom, happy mom, sad mom, working mom, stay-at-home mom -- you are somebody's mom. 

He gives strength to the weary and gives power to the weak.
Isaiah 40

Friday, May 07, 2010

it begins in our home.

How we treat others begins in the home.

Moms steer the ship. It is a constant, continual, day in and day out job. Don't give up. I don't care what you do but this is one thing that you must keep working at!





Unkind words.


Teasing (like over the top stuff).

Pretty much the way you want to be treated.. that's the way you treat others. 

I'm still working at this so you are not alone. This is important. Please don't give up!

Monday, May 03, 2010

cutting to the chase.

Last night we went to Ponderosa for dinner. A couple of tables down was a mom and two girls with grandma and grandpa. The girls were about 6 and 9 years old. I could tell by observing that the mom was disgusted. Her girls were a bit antsy but they were, in my opinion, well behaved. Grandpa was very engaged in conversation with the girls. At one point I heard him discussing the mom's work schedule. And there it was. It wasn't the girls. It was the mom. I could tell she was in the mode of working mom and she was not enjoying her girls. Was it just last night? Perhaps. Everybody has a bad day. But this kind of situation is very telling. And the kids pay for it. Because if mom checks out alot, the kids are going to go in another direction for the instruction and care that they need. 

Let me say this. I am not against working mothers. It's not my business. I am saddened with mothers who do not have their child's heart. Whether you work or not, you gotta have your kid's heart. And the way that happens is work on your part. It means resisting cultural trends. In other words, America's Next Top Model does not take precedence over a bedtime routine. Talking with your child is more important than Farmville. Being available when they come home from school is important. Making meals is, too.

Our time can be eaten up with so many distractions that may be our 
way to find rest in a stressful world. Yet, if we can work at maintaining some of the tried and true ways of mothering despite life in this fast-paced, busy world we live in, we may find that what we are made for is our rest. And the less you have your child's heart, the more stressful your world is going to be.

There is a window of time you have your child. Believe me. It goes quickly. And since you are with your child more than anyone, you will have the greatest influence. What kind of influence will you be? When you say no to the temptations that draw you away, and decide that you will make the effort to be available for your children, it truly provides a more restful mom and a restful home. 

Scenario: It's 8pm and you are getting ready to watch your favorite show. But the 4 year old is slow getting ready for bed. The 8 year old is teasing her and they are going to wake the baby up if they don't stop. There's one of two ways you are going to go. One way is to totally lose your cool because after all, you put in a very hard day (or week) and you need this time to recharge. If you view your life like this then you are going to be a cranky (and resentful) mom. Because soon, you will see more and more the interference that your kids are.

The second choice is to calmly decide that you will not be able to watch your show (and I experienced this before DVR). You simply decided that your life is not your own. You have children you are responsible for. You face it. You accept it.

Now tell me, which scenario is best for having your child's heart? And do you know that when you choose the latter, that you will be rested? That's because when we choose the right way, it works.

When a mom chooses her kids interests over her own, it speaks loud and clear. It's called love. And the real deal will stick. Was I a mom who did everything perfectly right? No. But my kids knew I loved them because love speaks in a way that says, "I'm here. I'm available. You are important to me." You can't fake real love that places the interests of others first. And love covers a multitude of sins.