Today I was chosen to be a featured columnist for the online blog magazine, “The Christian Home” I count it an honor. Please follow the following link to read this weeks magazine edition. http://thelegacyofhome.blogspot.com/2011/07/christian-home-issue-25.html
My son is 16 months. He is in that rambunctious, call my name all day, see how many things I can run into and scare my mom half to death phase. He also likes to touch everything. EVERYTHING! Especially the stainless steel. I’m not making it up when I tell you that every time I wipe down our stainless steel appliances he gets so excited. As soon as I’m finished he immediately places his hands, flat, palm down, in the middle of each appliance. It is his thing. It used to annoy me so much. Until yesterday. Yesterday when I bent down to wipe away the handprints, with a loud sigh, and when he wasn’t looking of course or he would just run over and do it again, I noticed one of the handprints. I mean really noticed it. How little the fingers were. How tiny the hand. I thought about how much will change in just a few years. Not just in the growth of his hands, but in all things baby about him. How one day he will be a man, a husband, a father….I took a moment to pray for him. I prayed that he would love the Lord with all his might, all his soul. That he would use those hands as if they were Jesus’ hands themselves. That he would find his life’s purpose early on and that he would pursue it with everything in him, all for the glory of the Almighty God.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 113:9 Holy Bible)
When you get a little overwhelmed with your little ones, a little frustrated, a little tired and annoyed, stop for a moment and just look at them. LOOK at them. Really breathe them in. Then pray for them. This season will last for such a very short time and soon they will be wonderful men and women of God, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, with babies of their own. And they will remember your love. And your prayers.
Jesus Loves You. This I know.
My daughter is a tween. You know, that age between 10 and 13. That age where I never really know what emotion I’m going to get from her at any given moment. Lately I find myself hesitating before I dare ask her to clean her room, pick up her clothes, or did she do her homework, not sure of the response I’ll get. Will it be the little girl in her that says, “Sure, but can you help me, please, please, please” with that sweet smile and puppy dog eyes. Or am I going to get the tween version of her; that deep breathed long sigh followed by the menacing, eyes narrowed and half-shut look that’s enough to put the makers of all those lame teeny bopper horror movies I used to watch to shame. How ridiculous they seem after facing the wrath of a 12-year-old girl. A not quite child, almost teen, daughter. If I’m honest with myself, I almost fear her. Not fear in that suspense movie, heart racing, “Oh, no” here come the bad guys kind of way, but more like in that, I’ve been eating really well and exercising a lot so dare I try on that smaller sized dress kind of way.
Let’s be honest, no matter how well you’ve raised them, or how sweet they were at one, five, eight years old, sometimes our kids have the ability to make a really good day, really, really, bad. And sometimes it’s really not their fault. At some point they reach an age when even they don’t know how they’re going to react from one moment to the next. I remember questioning my daughter about a particularly long, tense, emotional, day we’d had, and her replying to me, “I really have no idea why I acted that way. I wasn’t really angry, but I didn’t know how to stop being like that.” That really got my head spinning. One of the verses my husband and I repeatedly go to for guidance in bringing up our children is Ephesians 6: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. How on earth were we to not provoke her to anger, when she didn’t know what would anger her, herself?
íDo not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord ý
As I decided to take some time to really pray and meditate on this, I began to think back on myself at that tween age time in my life. One of the things I remembered is that during that period of time I really had no idea how to express my emotions (and of course thinking I had no one to express them too. After all, what could my mother possibly know about being a kid.) A lot of times I couldn’t put into words that the fight I had with my BFF in 1st period is the reason why I failed my math test in 5th period. That must be why asking the question, “What’s wrong?”, in our home, always elicits that same dreadful answer: “I don’t know”. I’m sure any parent can relate to that one! That has to be the most frustrating, hair pulling, answer of all time! That’s when I realized that we may not be able to control the emotional outbursts that we were sure to get many more of, (if we could figure out how to do that, we’d be billionaires) but we could at least try to get her talking. The solution, for us, came in a book titled, “What Women Tell Me: Finding Freedom From The Secrets We Keep” by Anita Lustrea, and the nightly candle time between her and her son. We call it our Candlelight Prayers.
Every night, right around bedtime, ( Ah, bedtime. Yet another time that can bring on some serious angst and frustration), we turn off all the lights, sit in a circle around a candle, and we tell each other the best thing about our day, the worst thing about our day, and the things we are most grateful for. No opinions to be offered. No judgements to be made. We then pray for the person to our right, out loud, one at a time. Before blowing out the candle, we somehow always begin to talk…..it ALWAYS happens. At that moment we are ushered into the world of a tween. This is when we learn the most about our daughter’s day-to-day life: her friends, frenemies, pressures and hard-learned lessons in relationships with others. This is when we learn that the outburst of anger over having to set the table had more to do with not being invited to a particular slumber party than the setting of cutlery. It’s when we learn how to really pray for our daughter. It’s when we learn of her hopes, dreams, and fears. This is a sacred time. A time of peace and reflection. Nothing said during this time may be used against her when the candle is blown out. It is safe ground. It is holy. There’s something to be said about a candle and a journal that can soften even the heart of tween, and set the stage for the Holy Spirit to come and minister.
I encourage you to try a candlelight prayer session in your family. If nothing else, something about having to sit quietly and focus on someone else and praying out loud for the needs of others will go a long way in building a heart of empathy and selflessness in your tween. Please remember to write the date and the responses and/or prayer requests of each person in a special journal used only for these occasions. Every couple of months you can look back and see how the Lord has moved on your behalf. It will encourage your child to trust and draw closer with the Lord when they can actually see the works of his hands.
íTrain up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ý
Jesus Loves You. This I Know.
So one of the blogs I love, Stephchows.blogspot.com, is having a Jam Exchange. WOW! I love stuff like that. Number 1: Because I love making goodies; and Number 2: Because my family is so used to getting goodies they have crossed over into the “goodies are normal and no big deal realm”, versus the “goodies are a treat and we’re so excited to get them realm”. I’m kind of looking forward to having someone actually get excited about my food. I keep threatening to have a complete week where we go back to how it used to be when I could not cook to save my life, take pictures of their faces as they try not to hurt my feelings too bad, and then pull those pics out every time I barely get a thank you for a really time-consuming
culinary masterpiece food I just made them. Okay. I’m exaggerating.
Seriously though, I chose an international link up for my jam exchange. My friend, Hope, thinks I’m crazy to exchange and eat food from some random person overseas that I’ve never met. I’m a lot more adventurous than that. I mean, c’mon, I did join the Navy at 17, travel the world, drive cross-country by myself 3 times, meet my husband on Eharmony and then pack up and move from Arizona to Florida to marry him! (best decision I ever made), and adopt my son in one day (second best decision I ever made). And, hey, didn’t Rebekah leave her family to travel a great distance just to marry Issac? Didn’t little David go after, and slay, Goliath? What harm can a little jam be?
For one of my jams I’m going to try the strawberry one by Kira over at www.saturday-chef.blogspot.com. And this one may sound really odd, but I think I’m also going to go with a peach cobbler jam I’ve been editing and perfecting my recipe on for some time now. Don’t you just wish you could have peach cobbler every day?! My Aunt Dottie makes the best peach cobbler EVER…But she won’t give anyone the recipe. What is up with that?!!! *sigh*
So be adventurous, Dear Friends, and head on over to Stephchows.blogspot.com to sign up for the Jam Exchange…..Live a little. If you think you wouldn’t be able to make jam to save your life, check out this recipe below. I mixed a couple of ideas from different recipes I found until I made it perfect for my own tastes. Feel free to modify it in any way you like. It is delicious. ENJOY!
Jesus Loves You. This I know.
BLUEBERRY LEMON JAM
- 2 cups sugar (or to taste)
- 4 cups of fresh blueberries
- 1 package lemon flavored gelatin (you can used non-flavored if you don’t want lemon)
- Gently crush 2 cups of blueberries in a large saucepan. Add sugar and the remainder of the blueberries, mix well. Bring pan to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and stir in the gelatin until it is dissolved. Pour hot jam into jars. Cover and cool. Refrigerate/Freeze.
The other day I was kneading dough to make Honey Whole Wheat Bread and I paused, a dead stop right in the middle of my kneading, and realized that the timer had been going off for some time and I didn’t even hear it. I was lost in my thoughts, humming a song from Darlene Zschech, and was completely, utterly, content. That’s right. I said it. CONTENT. It surprised me…..No. That’s not true. It shocked me. Let me explain.
I haven’t been a SAHM for very long. February 27th of this year, to be exact. I never wanted to be a SAHM. For many years I never even wanted children. I have this cousin named, Boo. (Yes, Boo, and she has a sister named Luki, pronounced, Lou-key Nicknames are famous in my family) We were close childhood cousins, playing outside, eating watermelon and popsicles on the front stoop, catching fireflies. You know those warm summer nights when you’re still young enough to believe that everything is just right with the world. I hadn’t seen Boo in many years. Not since my early 20′s. While I sat and talked with her at my mother’s 60th birthday party, she reminded me of the mantra I said every time someone brought up growing up and having children. It went something like this: (“Why would anyone want kids? They just take all your time, energy, and money. Who wants to get married?!) and you might as well had added a big fat “BLAH” after that. I have no idea where I got that notion from. Perhaps I overheard my mother saying it. I wouldn’t be surprised; I was quite a handful. All I know is that I spent the next 25 years of my life trying desperately not to fall into that trap called plain old Motherhood. Even when I began to want children it was after finishing college, and no way did I go all the way through Court Reporting School to change diapers. Isn’t that what a nanny or a daycare is for? But then a funny thing happened……I adopted my son, Monroe.
Next thing you know I’m trying desperately to get home earlier and earlier and leave later and later every day. Eventually my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home and care for the family. The summer was coming and Cherie would be out of school which would make a great opportunity to have some mother/step-daughter bonding time. It was perfect timing…and boy was I dreading it. I still hadn’t made my “niche” in the world. I still didn’t know where I belonged or what I had to offer. If I quit, I may never know. That’s how I saw it. I was afraid that somehow I would miss it. In the beginning it was really hard, lonely, and a little depressing, so I started finding things to do. Baking, sewing, crafting. I used to do those things “just for fun” when I had time, and now I had plenty of time.
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, when that contentment snuck up on me. I just know that one day I looked up and I was smiling. That day I realized I had found my “niche”. My place in this world. I’m not saying it has been there all the time, right under my nose. But The Lord’s timing is perfect. The footsteps of the righteous are ordered. And so he led me there, right there to my kitchen, with my son at my feet, my daughter sitting there next to me, reading, the warm sunlight coming in the window, a cup of coffee within arm’s reach, and the feel of that warm, sticky bread dough between my fingers.
This is where I am supposed to be. This is my “niche”.
If you haven’t found yours yet, may I suggest you follow the recipe below, turn on some worship music, and let the moment take you where it may. Your niche may not be in the bread dough, but that precious time of quiet worship just might allow room for the Holy Spirit to lead you to it.
Jesus Loves you. This I know.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
- 2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees) although I never really temp it.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons of sugar (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey and sugar, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in slowly. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Knead again (approximately 5 minutes)
- Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well-greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans.
- Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool completely before slicing….although I usually can’t wait and so one loaf starts falling apart because I cut it too quickly