Being a Mom

She is gentle
as she wipes each tear, calms every fear;
She is patient
with all spills, arguments, and messes;
She is kind
in her training, teaching, molding;
She is faithful
to point their little eyes Heavenward;
She is at peace
with her role and responsibilities;
She is joyful
at each touch of a little ones hands;
She is lovely and beautiful
because she is a Mother.

I don’t know about you but that doesn’t always reflect how I am as a mother. I am often too tired, run down, and stressed, which often leads to one grumpy mama! So how do I change my focus? How do I get to the point of being a patient, joyful mother? Assuming I am not alone…I have put together just 3 small things you we can do to redirect our outlook. This is by no means a fix-all or an easy 3 step plan to improving your status as a mom. It is simply 3 baby steps to letting go of the stressed out tired mom syndrome and growing toward a more gentle, patient, joyful mom.

1) Seek Him. God never intended this job to be easy nor did He ever say it would be easy. As a matter of fact, the pain of motherhood literally begins in labor. But just as the sweet relief of the delivery is over and we are holding that precious child in our arms, God can and will deliver us from our daily frustrations. But we have to seek Him! He can’t help if we don’t ask and we won’t find joy if we don’t lean on His words. Open your Bible. Feel His presence. Be washed in His grace, love and mercy. And pray fervently.

2) Take a DEEP breath! There is nothing wrong with walking away for a minute, taking a nice refreshing deep breath, letting it out S-L-O-W-L-Y (praying while doing so) and going back to face your latest challenge. So the next time you walk into your child’s room and find a mess on top of a mess, walk away and come back after a refreshing breath of air. And if you really want to freak your kids out, you might try (may be hard if you are one that likes things all neat and tidy–that would be me) sitting down among the mess and just asking, “so what are you playing? Can I join in?” They may look at you with a weird Mom-has-lost-her-mind face but once they know you are serious about having some fun time with them, they will giggle with delight. And you will have avoided an explosion of mass proportions and have fun while doing so. Don’t miss these little fleeting moments!

3) Look at the BIG picture. Remind yourself of this great calling God has for your life. I am convinced that there is not another job out there that is more rewarding or fulfilling. That is not to say that it isn’t tiresome, lonely and just plain hard. But God gave you your children. He opened up a way for you to understand just a small part of His love for you, His child. Can we reflect that same love to our children when they are fussing over a toy? Can we extend the same grace He extends to us every single time we fail? Remind yourself of His love and grace to you the next time you grow ever so aggravated at your child’s mistakes, disobedience or just plain childishness.

Lord, I pray that today and each day after, that You would guide my thoughts, my actions and reactions. Allow me to see more and more of Your love for me and help me in turn shower that kind of love on my children. May I be ever mindful that spilled milk or toys all over the floor are not the focus of my days. Teaching them to love You, to seek Your will and be ever faithful to You, Lord, is the goal. Grant me patience when I am ready to scream, wisdom in the training, strength to endure, and a joy filled heart that my children may see You through me. Amen.

Today is Gratituesday…

I mentioned before that I like to follow the Heavenly Homemaker blog but seeing as how that has been awhile…. :)  Laura has great, healthy recipes and is great at encouraging us to fix healthy, unprocessed foods.

Anyway, every Tuesday she has Gratituesday and lists what she is thankful for that day. And since it is officially November and we are fast approaching Thanksgiving, I thought I would link-up with her and I want to encourage us all to find something to be thankful for…and not just on Tuesday’s this month. Let’s make it a daily thing this month.

So what am I thankful for today?

It is a simple thing but it has had a big impact on my day. It seems as of late that my dear children would like nothing more than to bicker and complain about everything. It has been a hard battle BUT today was different. They have all played well with each other. My 2 girls who usually complain, fuss and whine over their school work, did it all without a grumble. I tell you something strange was going on in this house today!

I managed to get some greens from our garden put up, soup made, the laundry put away (it has only been there long enough for everyone to just come to the laundry room when they need something to wear!), the house picked up, spent a lot of time outside on this beautiful fall day and spent some time in the Bible while the kiddos played and laughed.

My 9-year-old even commented just a minute ago that “man, today has been a good day!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you Lord for a wonderful day to enjoy this beautiful day you have given us (and for happy children)…can I have more of the same tomorrow?!

What are you thankful for today?

I am addicted!

OK. I admit it. I am addicted to Pinterest! I can’t stop. I love what people find and pin. I have found the coolest craft ideas, the yummiest looking recipes, the best little ideas for gifts and on and on.

LOVE Pinterest!

I have several crafts I want to try but I had to start somewhere so I picked one and it went very well…I am happy to say (and show you).

My girls’ room needed a window treatment. You know, something other than miniblinds from Wal-Mart. So after finding the cutest idea on Pinterest, I went to Michael’s, bought some ribbon, came home and am delighted that this very uncrafty individual not only did it BUT it turned out so adorable.

 

So clever. So easy. So fun.

My 3 girls each chose a ribbon they liked and then I added a couple of solids to add some contrast, tied them on a rod I already had and done.

Now I wonder what my next Pinterest craft will be?! What about you? Do you Pinterest?

Our crazy summer…

So one reason I was so far behind on posting had to do with our crazy summer. About 11 or 12 days after my next to last post, our area was hit with several tornadoes. We were not, thankfully, personally affected by these storms but it did cause my husband to work A LOT of overtime.

The tornadoes hit late April and we had not gotten our garden planted. So guess who got to do that? Yours truly. My son, Daniel, and I planted 3 or 4 rows of corn and within the hour it poured. Our corn did not germinate. Whether it was due to the flash flood or the then lack of water for weeks after (I guess I should insert here that we do not live where our garden is which makes the ol’ saying, “out of sight, out of mind” all too true for me). Long story short, we opted to forego the corn this year. Sad but true!

Our neighbor did offer us a spot to plant all those tomatoes I had started from seed. I did manage to get those planted and a row of green beans. The short version of this story is the beans didn’t go well at all. But the tomatoes were my pride and joy. Everyone remarked at the beauty of my 40+ plants.

Thankfully Michael’s overtime didn’t last all summer as was originally projected but he did miss out on most of the fun of planting, watering and weeding. He did help me stake the plants between rain storms! :)

In the end I managed to get roughly 20 quarts of tomato juice (we had a disease hit some of my tomatoes). It was my intent to make sauce with them but the more I got involved with them, the more I thought of how nice it would be to have juice on hand for chilis and soups.

The rest of my summer was spent having some special one-on-one time with each child, lounging by the pool, catching up on some reading and hitting the beach.

I will post on how I made tomato juice (for the first time ever, I might add) in a later post.

What did you plant this year and how did you do with the harvest?

It has been awhile since I have blogged but it has never been far from my mind. I even started a few posts but for one reason or another, it was never finished. BUT I am back at it and hoping this time things will go a bit more smoothly.

I did make a few small changes from before (so small I am sure you wouldn’t have even noticed) and added a tagline. I struggled with the tagline. What I picture is 3-fold with ‘fruitfulendeavors.’ I want it to reflect not only the training and growing of our children toward a loving God but prayerfully the end result will be growth of the Fruits of the Spirit. And I would also like to throw in what I am learning in my own Bible studies.

Second, what I imagine is all that it takes to care for a family and included in that would be our homeschooling life. I will share curriculum choices and the like.

And third, I will share our journey towards a homestead (i.e. homegrown foods). We are learning a lot and not getting nearly as far along as I would like but wherever we go I will blog about it.

So that is my hope for fruitfulendeavors–a blog that shows growth in foods for the Spirit and body.

Just curious…which Fruit of the Spirit comes easiest to you? And which edible fruit do you like the best? And on the flip side, which Spiritual Fruit do you struggle with and which fruit do you avoid?

It is no surprise that our economy is, to say the least, not at its best right now. I know…tell you something you don’t already know!

Well, as hard as higher gas prices are and higher grocery bills are becoming, let me encourage us all (because I need to hear it as much as you) that simple steps can be taken to make life bearable throughout this ride (however long it may take us).

My husband and I are no strangers to living day-to-day. We have spent the past 6 years, making changes in order to make ends meet. I was struck with how far we have come this weekend while doing my grocery shopping. I was in line waiting on the receipt to print out (printer problems so I was there a little while) when I noticed the lady behind me. She was carefully putting all her items on the conveyor belt and with each item she had a coupon. The cashier, who knew her, asked how she was doing. She mentioned she was working two jobs and trying hard to make ends meet. Later at another store, I overheard 2 women talking. Lady One asked, “Do you want to get this?” Lady Two said, “No. We don’t buy that anymore.” Lady One responded in shock, “Well, you don’t shop like you used to!” Lady Two almost sadly said, “We can’t afford to anymore.”

I told you this because there are many dealing with this economic hardship. Many are making changes. Many are reinventing the wheel. My husband and I have been at it a little longer than others. For us it has become a way of life. For others it is new, frustrating and just plain hard. We felt the same. But none of us has to stay frustrated and it certainly doesn’t have to be hard!

Here are a few things we did. Obviously these are things that helped our family. Maybe they would help you. Maybe it will just get your mind racing on ideas for your family. Or maybe you are way ahead of me and have more advice you want to add.

We did the obvious things first. We cut back on those monthly bills we don’t have to have to survive. You know the ones…the cable bill, gone. The house phone, quiet (and I do not miss it!). Just a few little bills that added up to a lot of headaches when we were trying to find the money to pay them each month. So gone were those headaches and what we gained was a little extra cash to put toward the needs.

Next I started making changes in how I shopped and what I shopped for. Around our part of the U.S.A. the best tasting milk is of course the most expensive. I switched to an off brand and boy did I hear about that! So we had to compromise on this little problem. I quit buying cereal (the biggest source of milk overuse around here)! So not only did we keep the milk we like but we dropped the bad-for-you-cereal. Yes, I now have to  get creative with breakfast foods: eggs, pancakes or waffles (not the frozen kind!), made from scratch muffins and the list goes on but it is so worth it.

I also (and I LOVE this) quit shopping at Wal-Mart. Yes, you heard me. QUIT WAL-MART! Most people find this unbelievable but if you try it, you just may discover a crazy thing: you get more bang for your buck. Our pantry has more in it now than when I shopped there. It takes a little extra work but the reward of not shopping there, it so worth it.

I will go over my whole grocery list making another day but for now know that I simply check out the weekly ads and shop accordingly. If I have a hankering for some roast but there is no roast on sale (or not in a price range I am willing to pay, well we don’t have roast that week.) Which leads me to only buying if it is on sale. There is a little saying at our house. If it isn’t on sale, I don’t buy! The kids hate that saying but it has saved us lots of money…especially when one or more of the kids are with me while I shop. I can say the magical words and they know the discussion is dead. Now let me quickly clarify…this does not mean if you need soap and there is none on sale, that you don’t buy. That would be crazy and a little smelly. ;)  Obviously you will need to buy some things even if they aren’t on sale. Just be reasonable and realistic. You can also plan ahead. If the soap is on sale today, get it today. Nothing like being stocked for when you do need something!

I am guessing that you are wondering if I coupon. No, I do not. I have found that the only coupons I can find for items we actually use are for toiletry items and not for food. And while using coupons for those items might save me, I don’t have the time to clip or match and rarely even remember to use them anyway. I also find that by buying off brands (especially when on sale), I am saving a great deal. I take advantage of BOGO sales too. It truly is just a matter of knowing your prices, keeping an eye on the sales, stocking up on the BOGO items and being very mindful while shopping that you are truly getting a good deal (i.e. check the unit prices). I can’t tell you the number of times that a brand name item has been on sale but I look and the off brand is still cheaper. One time I was shopping for tissues. I initially grabbed the off brand but noticed that Puffs (which I prefer) was on sale but when I realized the Puffs box had more tissues, I realized per unit, I was getting a much better deal for the very brand I preferred! Do the math!

Another plus and this, too, seems silly for mentioning but that is plan your meals to stretch out a couple of meals. I love buying a whole chicken, eating it for dinner one night and then using the leftover in a casserole or soup. I will at times take the leftover beef stew and use it the second night over noodles.

And probably the biggest thing any of us can do during these lean times, is pray. I was reading Luke 11 last night and was reminded while reading the prayer Christ modeled for his disciples, that the first petition was for “our daily bread.” He wants us to pray for our basic needs. God knows our struggles and our financial woes but I believe praying for our needs to be met, is a great way to say to Him, “I don’t know how You will provide, but I trust You to take care of it.”

What are you doing to compensate the rising gas and grocery prices?

Dancing with My Father

I am reading a wonderful book right now entitled, Dancing with My Father. It is written by Sally Clarkson who is a wife, mother to 4, author, speaker and overall encourager to women trying to live a godly life while juggling the demands of a hectic, demanding 24/7 job of motherhood.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the daily ins and outs of being a mom and have felt the joy of your calling robbed from within you, I highly encourage you to read this book. I am only in chapter 3 but am already so encouraged by her wisdom, her insight in the Word and her “been there, done that” stories that I can’t read fast enough. BUT at the same time, I want to read s-l-o-w-l-y in order to take it all in and really absorb the truths she discovered in our loving, gracious Father while battling with the loss of joy in her own life.

If you have never heard of Sally, I encourage you to visit WholeHearted Ministries. There you will find a list of books written by Sally and/or her husband Clay. I have them all and have benefited from each one. I even re-read her book Seasons of a Mother’s Heart last summer and got so tickled at what I highlighted throughout the first reading and what hit me new during the second reading.

Here’s a quote from Dancing with My Father that I absolutely loved (and I am sure there will be more to come as I continue in my reading):

“Joy is not found in performing for people or in doing all the right things for God. Nor is joy in the absence of difficulties or problems. Joy is found in the presence of God in the midst of all circumstances, in delighting in the life he has given.”

You want to get our your highlighter and start marking your computer screen right now, don’t you? Well I would recommend buying the book and mark away.

P.S. I was not asked to give a review or make comments about this book. Nor am I getting paid in any way. I just highly enjoy reading Sally’s books and always walk away with a renewed sense of what God’s calling in my life is to look like.

 

A Day in the Life…

I wanted to catch you up on our reading adventures. As you may remember, reading around here is not always the exciting, snuggle up close kind of moment I have always dreamed of; however, ever since reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it has been a little closer to that experience…still no snuggling but I will take what I can get.

We are now into book 3, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My son tells me it isn’t nearly as exciting as the first and we aren’t reading at breakneck speed with this one, but he is still very much into the story and is always anxious to hear if and when Aslan’s name will be mentioned. And while the girls have been more interested in watching the movies (which we don’t do until the book is completely read), my oldest girl was listening intently tonight.

They are all eager to finish this book because, in case you haven’t been following along in our excitement here, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out on DVD this Friday. So we may be reading a bit faster as the week progresses.

But that of course isn’t all we do here. Our homeschool day is, I am convinced, not a typical homeschool day if compared to other homeschoolers. I have a 3rd grader, 1st grader, Kindergartener and an energetic 3-year-old. For some reasons I will not go into, our evenings run late and therefore our days start SLOW.

I have tried a schedule to keep things flowing (you know 8-8:30 Math, 8:30-9 Reading, etc) but found that I hated to quit if the child was on the verge of “getting it.” Why stop because the clock says we need to? Or why keep going and thereby make me feel like we are somehow behind? So good-bye clocks and schedules (at least for now).

Our “for now” consists of either plugging through school work with my kindergartener, then the 1st grader in the morning, and finally my 3rd grader in the afternoon OR vice versa (son in the morning and the girls in the afternoon). They are all on different levels of learning and so I find myself sitting close by and aiding in their work and needing (for sanity’s sake) to take it one child at a time. I look forward to reaching the day when I can hand them their work and walk away to do one-on-one with someone who may be struggling with a subject.

This is working for us and though I feel at times that I am not doing enough with one (or all), I have learned to (daily) let go of my expectations and trust that, like the reading thing,  things will flow easier with time, patience and lots of love.

And maybe they will learn to love learning in the process. A mom can always hope!

Mystery of “My Recipe” Solved

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had no idea why our family called a recipe “my recipe.” Well, I am happy to report that I have solved that mystery…because I am sure you have been on the edge of your seats with curiosity.

Well, here you go:

My great-grandmother, Julia (whom I am named after), would make meatloaf with a side of mac and cheese with a tomato gravy. The entire meal was a favorite for many but me apparently! My mother would fix it and I would snub my nose at it. Now I know where my kids get it! So my mother got the brilliant idea of combining all the ingredients and that apparently made me a happy camper. So here’s the recipe…but I must warn you, I do not have specific measurements. It is one of those I fix and just see how it looks and taste and go from there.

1 lb ground beef
3-4 Tbsp flour
can of tomato sauce
8 oz macaroni
cheddar cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. In the meantime, brown the meat. Once browned, remove from skillet. If there is any fat remaining, add flour. If there is not, add some oil. You will need 3-4 Tbsp of fat/oil in pan before adding the flour. Slowly add the tomato sauce. Once thick, I usually add a little sugar. Then simply mix the meat and pasta with the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Here’s the tomato gravy.

Wholesome Sweeteners Giveaway…

I am excited to tell you about a great giveaway over at Azure Standard. Wholesome Sweeteners is celebrating 10 years of sweetening sweet tooths but in a healthy way.

If you already use healthy sweeteners, this is a great chance to try to stock up. But if you are like me and want to make the switch but have been slow in doing so, this is a fabulous chance to possibly win and start adding a touch of healthy to your cookies!

You can find all the details here:

At Azure Standard’s blog.

Good luck!

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