In this time of Divisiveness, don’t forget who YOU are

It is the Lenten Season and I am trying to be good and have daily devotion. Even though I work for a religious business (a church camp), I have to admit that, sometimes, I fall short of reading the Bible daily. I converse with God daily and I try to be a good listener, but the education component is sometimes missing-except during this season.

Today, my devotion took me back to my upbringing.

My dad was a small business owner. I was raised in a small/mid-sized city and I was sure that everyone knew who my father was (silly child!) What that did for me was to help keep me on the straight and narrow. (http://www.co-z-aire.com/)

I didn’t want to do anything that would cause shame to my family or in any way impact my father being able to do business. I was so sure that my actions might impact my dad being able to have customers. I may have been very naive, but it was something I always thought about when I had a choice to make; ‘How will this affect the family name? Will Dad lose business if I do this, or that?’

Today, I was reading about being part of the family of God. It made me think about what I do daily. Do I think ‘How will my actions affect my Godly family? Will Dad (God) lose business if I do this, or that?’ I will have to honestly say that I do not always think in those terms.

I am not a bad person but I could always be better.

Yesterday, my son had me take a survey to “determine” my political temperament. Where did I fit on the political strata? The questions were very black & white and very polarizing. I answered honestly and I think my son was surprised that I was almost smack-dab in the middle of the fascist/libertarian & right/left quadrants.

circle UM logo  When I take “what are you?” political tests, I always rank as a conservative Republican. If I were to take a religious test, I would be right where I am supposed to be. As a United Methodist (click and learn more about the UM Church) , I am allowed to have my own beliefs and still feel confident in my political views. You see, the United Methodist Church is made up of all peoples. And studies do show that over 50% of church members are conservative but over 50% of the pastors are liberal (I do not have exact percentages but you can read this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/05/on-the-political-leanings-of-methodists/483683/ )

I think my son was surprised at the results. I told him that I try to see all points of view and try to be compassionate and understanding. But there are times when I do not think about my God Family when I do things. I don’t think about how God might look at my actions.

While the majority of people in the United States believe in God, the percentage is dropping – http://www.theharrispoll.com/in-the-news/harris-polls/Americas-Belief-in-God.html . I think it is apparent when you see how violence has escalated, how insensitiveness  has increased and how people are louder, ruder and less kind than in the past. I think that people are hard and combative and not willing to sit across the table and break bread. It seems to have become ‘It’s my way or the highway’ attitude.

I try not to be that person. But I also know that I need to be more concerned about my God Family and think first how God will react to my actions. Just as I don’t want my children to behave inappropriately, I, as a child of God, need to make sure that I do not behave inappropriately. I need to make sure that my words are loving and not divisive; that I use proper language and not words which are polarizing, degrading or downright tasteless.

Today, I want to be aware of my God Family; that I make sure I do not do anything that would embarrass my Father or take ‘customers’ away from His Business. What a wonderful world we would have if we all just tried to make our family proud.

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In Today’s World, Where do I fit in?

The election is done! The inauguration has happened and yet, people are still wailing and moaning and decrying that ‘This is not my president!’

This past weekend, the women’s march continued to separate our nation. If you didn’t support the march, you’re a Trump supporter (not meant to be a compliment), or against human rights, or uninformed.

Words which, at one time, were derogatory, are now a badge of honor. What has happened to us? What does our future hold when people are fighting so hard to show that they know more than you, or worse, that you know nothing?

Not that a college degree necessarily conveys intelligence, but I have a college degree, many life experiences, common sense and yet, I have had people speak AT me as if I had not a brain in my head. And generally, the people who speak that way to me are of a different political affiliation. Because I chose not to support Hillary Clinton, I am treated as if I am ignorant.

For the record, I am a strong woman, intelligent, well-informed about many things and I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I viewed her as weak. I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I believe she gave the sacrament of marriage a bad name when she chose to turn her head to her husband’s continued philandering. I chose not to support her because she supported a man who abused his authority and denied having sex with a White House intern.

I think there was a recent incident where a television CEO stepped down for sexual harassment, not sexual activity, but words! I am not condoning what this CEO did (it was very wrong) but he received a much harsher punishment than Bill Clinton. Some may say, ‘Well, that was years ago!’ You are correct, but Hillary Clinton remained married and publicly supported her husband when allegations were purported and his affairs continued.

I also chose not to support Hillary Clinton because I feared government would continue to brainwash people by offering them ‘the fish’, instead of teaching them to fish.

I believe government has worked to make people dependent on government support.

I believe that people should work hard to be independent of government handouts.

I believe the premise of smaller government.

I believe, that while we need immigration in this country, we need to know who is coming into the country and immigrants should be documented. AND, if you are in the country without going through the proper channels, you are illegal.

I lock my doors at night so people I don’t want in my home, don’t enter without my knowledge. And if you lock the doors to your home or your car, then you too, should want to know who enters our country. If you can honestly say you don’t mind who comes and goes from your home without regard, then maybe you can truthfully say you don’t mind not knowing who comes and goes from our borders.Think about it people!

But where do I fit in to this world? And this is maybe why people don’t think I have a brain in my head…my lifelong dream is to be the best mom, best wife, best housewife that I can be. While my life is not defined by these things, these are very important to me. And that seems to be a rare dream these days.

When I went off to college, my dad said to me, ‘I don’t care if you are going to college to get your MRS degree; one of the big reasons for college is to learn to be independent in a protected atmosphere.’ My mom said to me that it is fine if I want to be a wife and mother but I need an education to fall back on if something should happen and I never marry or my husband dies at a young age.

I met sexual harassment in my younger years when I didn’t get a promotion because I wouldn’t date the boss. I felt the stab of harassment when inappropriate comments were made about my breastfeeding by a superior. I felt betrayed when a supervisor looked at his superiors and blamed me for something that was not my fault. In private, he apologized and in his apology, he told me he wasn’t willing to take the heat, so he threw me under the bus. I left that meeting, called a friend and had another job in a different state before my lunch was over. Did I really want to work for someone like that?

So don’t think that I am uninformed or sheltered. What did I think about these experiences? First of all, I thought the men were idiots! Secondly, I was not scarred for life. I still think these men are idiots but I know that I am in control of my attitude and ultimately, I control my destiny.

In the different jobs I have had, there has not been the opportunity for me to experience unequal pay.Well, maybe, I don’t know, but I have never been unhappy with what I was paid. If I was unhappy, I took my complaint to my superior and presented my case for needing a higher salary. I feel like if you are happy with what you make, what difference does it matter, what other people make? If you were happy with your salary and then found out that someone else makes more, then all of a sudden your aren’t happy? If you were happy before you knew what someone else makes, why does knowing make you unhappy? (I know I am repeating myself. I am confused. If you feel valued and feel your salary is fair then that’s that. If you don’t feel you are getting paid what you deserve, then deal with that. What someone else makes shouldn’t matter. These days, it is pretty easy to find what the going salary is for any given career.)

I spoke with my husband about unequal pay and he has never seen that either, in his career. His career with the state and then in private manufacturing for 20+ years, had both men and women with equal pay for equal qualifications. So I am curious as to what careers, when qualifications are equal-equal, have men making more than women? In this, I can claim inexperience, because I have never seen it.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. So I don’t want to be married to my job. I want to look at my supervisor and tell him that my child needs me and I need to leave and take care of my child.

I need to have the flexibility, in my job, to take care of things which can only be done during regular business hours. I am the manager of my home and family. Even though my children are in college, I still schedule their doctor visits; I manage calendars, bill-paying and home cleaning. I am the one who generally handles getting vehicle maintenance done.  I manage the house and manage the family.

You can either pay someone to do those things because you are married to your job, or you have a career which offers flexibility. This may also may mean, you don’t make as much money! That is a trade-off which I am willing to have.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. I am married and so my situation may be different from others. I believe that, as a couple, decisions need to be made as to the roles in the home. As a couple, this is the role in which we have agreed; my husband is (kind of) married to his career, which means I take on almost all of the home responsibilities.

That meant that I was the one who stayed up with the kids when they were ill because I did not have to go to the office in the morning. It was my responsibility to get the kids to the bus stop. It was my job to do the grocery and clothing shopping. I was the children’s taxi, not my husband. His job was to make the money, so the home could run smoothly. I took over mowing the lawn until a riding lawn mower was purchased and the kids got old enough to mow. But, when I went to work full-time, outside the home, my husband started helping with household chores. That is what happens when you are married, you work together for the betterment of the family.

I do not believe I have experienced discrimination as a female, to the extent that I feel mistreated, dehumanized and/or devalued. Do I have the intelligence, stamina and ability to become a successful career person? ABSOLUTELY! Is that a goal in my life-ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I am ME! Don’t put me into some generic category and label me because you think you know who I am. I had a man tell me that, as a Republican, I did not believe in the welfare system or environmental causes and that I was all about what I could do for me! When I told him that I volunteered in the schools, and the community, and my church and that I donated money and items to numerous organizations (including my church) and that I recycled and have lived in an energy-efficient home since 1991, his only come back was that churches were awful places (with many expletives in his comments). He could only cuss at me because I was doing more to help my world than he could imagine doing himself. He was all talk and very little action.

You know, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t make much difference how I fit in this world or how other people view my life. Yes, I get frustrated when people try to peg me into their square hole, or don’t try to understand who I am. Yes, I get furious when I see people trying to see around the log in their eye to pluck out the splinter in my eye.

I try to be a good person and as I have gotten older, I have been trying to be more understanding of others and less judgmental. I think sometimes, I am more understanding and more accepting than some people who are trying to get that splinter out of my eye. (I know, that is being judgmental!)

But here is the deal, I only have to justify myself to God, not to my neighbor, the person down the street, or anyone on Facebook. I live my life as honestly and godly as I can and people are just going to have to accept it. If I don’t fit well in this world, maybe it is because I am trying to work towards an eternal life after this one is over, where we will all get along and there will be no need for protests, marches or presidential elections.

 

I have failed!?!?! Finding the truth in failure

I had set in my mind that I would start blogging again on Ash Wednesday. And here it is Thursday, February 11 and there was no blog posted yesterday. I failed! But did I?

What was the purpose of my wanting to start blogging again? Was it to share a recipe, share my insights on life? Or was it to get in the habit of writing again? I did sit down yesterday and start writing. I did take photos to post 20160210_173220with my blog. But my writing was all over the place. I began writing about nostalgia; my actual intention was to write concerning the lack of class/manners/respect that there seems to be these days in comparison to time before 1960. I actually had written “the more things change the more they stay the same…” because it seems that every generation says that a previous generation was better.

I was not in a very good location to concentrate. It was a public place. It was a wine tasting and tap-room in my community. Even though I was sitting in a quiet location in the back of the tasting room an20160210_172514d facing away from the entrance I could not concentrate. There was only a small group of people there, so it was hard to block out conversations.

I learned how to make the perfect gin and tonic and then they started talking about key limes being the better tasting lime. WELL…I have a story about a key lime tree and so I had to join in on the conversation. (It is a darn good story that deals with a legally purchased, but illegally acquired tree, the USDA and the demise of all of the Midwestern citrus orchards. Look for a blog about this!)

By then, my friend arrived to share in a glass of wine before I needed to head to Ash Wednesday service. I arrived at church 7 minutes late and the sermon was almost over! But, I felt God would 20160210_172607understand, as this person has become an important part of my life and we have wonderful God discussions.

I received a text from my daughter while at service saying she was very hungry and would I have food ready for her when she got home after five hours of dancing. SO…when I got home, I needed to make food for my daughter. You can see where I had problems writing; I wasn’t committed to a topic; there was nothing passionate on my heart in which to share; I had a commitment to spending time with a friend, with my church family and taking care of the needs of my own family. (Plus add to it my last parent-teacher conference in Blair, NE)

I ask myself, Did I fail? I met with my daughter’s teachers for the last time, which was important to my daughter, plus she needed me to make her food. (And I need to tell you it is rare that she asks me to make her food. She is very good at taking care of meals when she is on her crazy schedule). I met with a friend, who also attended her last parent-teacher conference. I attended service and had a chance to sit in my sanctuary and take time to be in relation with other believers. I finished a work project, worked my Girl Scout Cookie Cupboard by filling cookie orders for local troops. I also directed the practice for my churches children’s handchime choir and youth handbell choir. It was a busy day and I accomplished so much.

I know this blog is all over the place, but that was my day yesterday. And I did not fail. Sometimes, you need to do things, just to do things, like exercising, eating and sleeping. But there are times when your reasoning for a goal makes no sense. You need to evaluate what your plans for the day, or your life are and determine whether it is need or a want. God taught me yesterday that there were many needs yesterday but the one WANT I had, just wasn’t necessary. I knew there would come a time and I would write.

With the beginning of Lent yesterday and a chance to reflect on why I am on this earth, I learned that I need to re-evaluate my goals and wishes. I generally keep my Lenten reflections, fasting and denial to myself but with yesterday’s activities, I learned that what I was planning to do, was not necessary; I was planning to get into the habit of blogging daily. With my resuming to blog during Lent, I would tie my writing to my Christian faith and therefore making me a better person as I reflect on my life and the life of Jesus the Christ.

I believe that God speaks to me in my everyday life. I believe that God was telling me to redirect my ambitions. I believe that God was telling me that I am not a failure, but I am flawed as I am human and a sinner. I think that God was telling me “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” from writer Robert Burns. 

I so thought that my Ash Wednesday blog was not going to be towards my Christian faith. I think God had different intentions. Have a wonderful day and remember, you are not a failure but you may be flawed. We all have the chance to learn, grow and improve!

Parenting 101: the facts, as learned by me

I don’t have a degree in child psychology or education. My “facts” come from the wisdom of others and on-the-job training. This blog will share the opinions and experiences from me, a Midwestern conservative Christian. I will not necessarily bring in my faith except that our life is based on our Christian life. BUT…what I write could be followed by any person of any faith or someone without faith.

First of all, children should be conceived out of love, not lust, PERIOD! If a child is brought into this world because of lust, there may not be the commitment by both parents to see that their child is raised in a loving and giving family. Now, I am not saying that a child will not be loved when it is conceived due to lust (a one night stand, an oops on a vulnerable night, or a rape) but a child has a definite advantage being wanted, even before conception.

Even before the child is conceived, make sure the person you are with today, is the person you want to be with tomorrow, five years from now, 30 or 50 years from now. This means being truly committed, even during the difficult times. Our society is a throw away society but we need to realize that people are not things; people are not meant to be used, but loved and cherished. I know it is hard, but if you can’t see yourself with that person 15 years from now, maybe you should not be having a child with them. I have taught my children from the time they could understand, that marriage comes first and then children.

So you are now married and want to have children. Don’t forget that you were a couple first. My mom always told me to remember to be a good wife; Take time to be with your spouse. If you aren’t a good spouse, you can’t be a good parent. I know that your life revolves around your children for many years but they will grow up and leave the nest. If you do not stay connected with your spouse, then when they leave, your marriage will suffer. Your children are there because of the love you had for your spouse. That loves need to grow and continue throughout the growing up of your children.

Let your children know that your spouse is really number 1. Once, when my son was being disrespectful to me, my husband said, ‘Do not speak to my wife that way!’ Sometimes, the children forget that you are more than a mom (or dad). It goes back to remembering that before children, there was a different dynamic in your relationship and it needs to continue to grow and develop.

Wisdom from my grandpa, ‘Your life revolves around your child the first two years and then their life needs to revolve around you.’ What he was telling me, in my opinion, was that your child cannot take over your life. They need to learn that a child is not the controller of life but it is the parent who decides what will and will not happen. That doesn’t mean that you don’t go to the soccer games or dance lessons; it means that the parent is in charge, not the child.

Stand firm in your parenting. Say what you believe and believe what you say. As I said above, I have told my children from day one that you marry, then have children. I have not changed my stance. What my children decide to do is their choice, but I cannot change my morals and values because they are no longer five. In addition, I have told them if they are not mature enough to walk into Walgreens and purchase condoms, they are not ready to have sex. Purchasing condoms is easy, compared to raising a child.

Many years ago, my husband gave me a radar detector for Christmas. At the time, I was driving 1,000 miles a month for my job and he thought I might need one. Well, I was driving with him and speeding. He said to me, ‘Why are you speeding?’ I said, ‘You gave me a radar detector. If you gave it to me, I would only need it if I was to speed, so…’ That is why I will never purchase condoms, or put my daughter on the pill. It is an easy excuse to have sex before marriage.

I do not like the comment ‘I am not your friend, I am your parent.’ I am first a parent but that does not mean that I don’t want to be friendly with my children. Even though my daughter is 17, she is someone with whom I am most close. But I am still her parent and will always be a parent first. I am there to be the guide and role model for my son and daughter. I expect them to speak with me respectfully. While they may use language that is a little more loose than I would use with my mother (like saying crap and sucks), I do not allow them to swear in front of me or use any type of derogatory language.

Speaking of language, I have always told them that they should not tell stories or write things that they would not tell their pastor. I know that there are people who do not have a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc…so the point is to be careful what you say or post so it does not come back and bite you later in life. Because what you do as a teenager could affect opportunities when you are in your 30’s or 40’s. (That is another post about how my college grades came back to haunt me 29 years after I graduated!)

If you have the opportunity, take your children to museums. What they learn at a museum is sometimes more important that what they learn in the classroom. We had the privilege of taking our children to the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Durham Museum, the Omaha Symphony and the Rose Theater on a regular basis. We gave our children a variety of experiences which have allowed them to communicate in a mature manner with adults. It also taught them how to behave in public.

Make them eat their vegetables. My daughter called herself a ‘Meataterian’! She hated fruits and vegetables. We would sit with her at the kitchen table while she refused to eat. My husband and I got to the point that we would do the ‘one for one’ game. We would get a spoonful (or forkful) of fruit or vegetables and we would eat one for one with her. While it may seem cruel, it is important that our children have the proper nutrients through food. It cannot be achieved through junk food. I would always tell her that I felt sorry for her children because they would have such a limited diet if she only fixed the food she liked. She now eats all kinds of fruits and vegetables. If we did not make her try a variety of foods, who knows what she would be eating now. I had to tell her that there is an in-between love and hate. I would say that if the food would not make her throw up, she needed to eat it.

Teach your children how to live in the world. We homeschooled for six years but kept them involved in the community. I always said that we needed to teach them to be strong, confident and faithful to survive in a world that will challenge them daily to compromise their morals and values. While it would be nice to have a compound for our family where we could protect them, the reality is, they need to live in the world.

Teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I know it is old-school but boys should open the doors for a young lady or an older woman. Both men and women should have a firm handshake and be confident enough to have eye contact when speaking.

At least when they are young, limit their exposure to electronics. When we were homeschooling, unless they were doing school work, anything that had to do with electricity (except lights) were off-limits until 4:00. And that only was in place a few days a week because we had many activities which took us out of the home for educational purposes.

Teach them that there are consequences to their actions. Whether it is as simple as not following simple instructions to breaking the law, let them know that they need to own their actions and be willing to pay the price for their error(s).

It is important for your children to know that the world is bigger than they are. They need to learn that their community and world is only as good as what they put into it. Volunteering and giving service is very important. Giving to those who are less fortunate humbles a person to appreciate what God has given them.

Always be grateful for what they have. They may not have the nicest home, or the current fashion, but you need to teach your children to be thankful every day for what they do have. It may not be much, but to even have life is a miracle and something to be thankful.

Be an example for your children. Show them that working hard and being the best you can be will be a prize in itself. You may not be a millionaire, but being proud of what you have and what you do to contribute to the family and society is worth more than anything. Not everyone can be a millionaire. Not everyone can be the valedictorian but that does not mean that you shouldn’t be proud of what you do or what you have. Work hard to own what you have. It is probably the best feeling in the world to know that you are not beholden to anyone; that you do not live off of the government but you help others when they are struggling.

There is so much more I could write about being a good parent. I feel I have hit the top ‘facts’ for parenting. By far, the most important thing is to love. Loving is giving your children rules and sticking to them. It is giving them expectations and helping them reach their goals. Provide them all of the opportunities you can, while you can and be there when they struggle. Be a good parent and part of that is being a loving a forgiving spouse.

My children are still growing and I am still evolving as a parent. But I will tell you that my children are intelligent, respectful, courteous, kind, educated and a joy to be around. While there are many things that may have not gone as planned, there is so much more that has gone according to plan. What you put into your children is what will help be their future. Don’t you want their future to be bright?

Don’t think that parenting is simple. I had pretty good parents and I am sure they wanted better for me. Well the same goes for me. I think I am a pretty decent parent but I want more for my children. I want them to learn from my mistakes and my rules, lessons and life experiences to be a beacon in this world. I think their future is bright!

Trying to find calm in a world of worry

I worry too much. I worry that I am not there enough for my family; I worry that I have missed something at work; I worry about how others view me. I worry that I am not a good enough wife. I worry that I hover over my children too much. It’s the worry of I woulda…shoulda…coulda…

Surprisingly, I don’t worry about my life after death. I know I am not perfect, but I believe that, even in my imperfections, I am doing what I can to be a good person. My intentions are good and I strive to be better.

My favorite Bible verse is Luke 12:48. I was not as familiar with the first sentence as I was with the last part of the verse. After I had taken in the first sentence, I felt so much better about my past. You see, there were things I did as a younger person that I felt pretty confident when I did them. As I grew older, I was not so sure that my actions would be pleasing in the eyes of God. But this sentence, the first in Luke 12:48 set my heart at ease…”But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows…” It is contrary to the statement “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law,” which is a statement I use. What the Bible says is that doing wrong, when you don’t know it is wrong, will not receive the same punishment as someone who is intentional and knows.

The rest of the Bible verse is what I write about now; “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted much, much more will be asked.”mini chocolate chip

There are many things I like to do, and because of that, I have put the time and effort to work towards perfection in those things I like.lemon cupcakes

I enjoy cooking and baking. Growing up, my mom did the cooking of the meals AND the clean up as well. If we wanted to help, we could, but it was not required. I, too, am that way. If you come to my home for dinner, you are not expected to help with the preparation or the washing of dishes after the meal. I will generally clean up as best I can, load the dishwasher and then organize, as best I can, the remainder of the dishes for later care. I will finish up cleaning when my guests have gone home.

Strawberry glazed

Strawberry glazed

prom cupcakes

When I became an adult, I asked my mom why it was we were never expected to clear the table or wash the dishes. What I remember her saying was this, “This is what I can give. Cooking from start, and working and working until the last dish is washed, is an act of love and service.” For me, I work hard to make sure that I do my best when showing love in the kitchen.

I love to capture life in photographs. I don’t like staged shots of people; I like natural shots, of action, of stillness, of love. Some of my favorite photographs are of the skies. The sky can tell so many stories. I think clouds can convey love, joy, fear, anger. There are times I have to pull off to the side of the road and take a photo of a sunrise, or a cloud formation. I believe I have an eye for telling stories through a camera lens. There are times I miss an opportunity for a story because the image is there, and in a second, it is gone.

And I love to write. I do not take the opportunity to write as often as I would like. Maybe I don’t feel inspired, or I am too engrossed in other things, or maybe I am too exhausted and can’t think of doing anything but recovering and re-energizing.masquerade

purple velvetWhat if that recovery or re-energizing is writing, or cooking/baking or quilting? That is what I am trying to figure out now.

Maybe I should work at finishing my quilting projects when I feel tired. There are times when I know I could be productive but instead, I choose to do nothing but catch up on the TV shows on the DVR. I also know there are times when I am so tired that if I tried to accomplish something, it would resort in mistakes and re-do’s. It is finding when I should really relax and when I should work at projects and use my gifts wisely that need to be done.

I truly believe that I have been blessed with talents that need to be shared. I believe that God has given me a voice-words to share on paper and in front of people-verbally. I share that talent as a lay speaker with the United Methodist Church and as a voice for camping ministry with my job at Camp Fontanelle.graduation

It gives me great joy to feed people. While I can’t do it as much as I once could, I love to bake doughnuts for my daughter to share at school. I love to entertain and make food for people that is special, something they may not make for themselves. I have started sharing my love of cooking/baking at a different level. I have started soft selling items. I am not advertising, but how fun would it be if I could make it into a full-time business!

My love of photography will always be my personal joy, to be shared with family and friends.lightning in the night sky

I am so lucky that I am able to share my gifts with others. It is what I am directed to do In Luke 12:48.

I encourage you to find your joys and talents and develop them to share with others. I don’t know whether I am in my position because of my talents, or I have taken my talents and fit them into my life. Either way, I have so much joy in sharing. If you are able to fit your gifts into your career, do so. If you have a love or a talent that does not fit into your career, find time to share your love and talent somehow in your life.whale in the sky

1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use then well to serve one another.”

Today, I worry because my brand new cell phone fell in water. Worrying will not get it fixed. Hopefully a bag of rice will take those worries away. If not, there will be another new phone. For now, I WRITE!

The Power of a Woman

I struggle every day with who I am. I am a traditional person. I like the idea of “The Man of the House” and me being the “housewife”, or mother, or domestic engineer (Okay, not so much the domestic engineer title). I dream of winning the lottery so I can truly be at home and taking care of my man, my children and the home. If I won the lottery I could give money to the non-profits I support and volunteer to my heart’s content. I was lucky enough to only have very part-time jobs for 17.5 years. My husband worked (and still works) his tail off so I could be home with the children.

Because of his sacrifices, we homeschooled for six years. I was a full-time volunteer, always available to run errands for my husband and be “that” mom who was heavily involved in her children’s life. Because my husband travels with his job, there were frequent flyer miles and hotel points so we enjoyed nice vacations.

I am employed, outside the home, full-time now because of circumstances in our life. I made choices that precipitated my full-time employment sooner than I had expected, but we also have a child in college and one who will be in college in the next year and a half. We decided that our children should come out of college debt free and so there are sacrifices that I now need to make. (Did I mention before that I like nice things? Oh yeah, I did. Once again, another reason why I am full-time)

I love what I do. I have the best full-time job, outside of the home,  that a person could have. And while I love what I do, my heart still breaks a little (a lot) when I get home and realize that I still have my home responsibilities and that I am not as available as I was. I am a traditionalist. I liked being available, at the drop of a hat, to run errands for my children, or my husband. I liked being that person that could be counted on to bring food to school for the teachers, or homemade treats for the dance class. I liked quilting and making Halloween costumes and making homemade bread for the family. I liked being able to can the vegetables from the garden and shovel the driveway, for the exercise.

I hope that people did not think that I was an unintelligent woman when I was a stay-at-home mom. I hope people didn’t think that I “settled.” I love it when I can give of myself to people. The gift of my time and talent was the best gift I could give someone; especially when time is so precious these days. I was not dependent on people. I am a very independent person but I loved being “that person”.

Years ago, I received an email that was a dig on being a good wife. And while I laugh at some of the things that are presented in this email, I have to say, that I would think our home would have been happier if I would have done more of those things. That independent part of me did not allow me to follow through on some of these things.

Good Wife…Directions

1) Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2) Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3) Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4) Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dust cloth over the tables.

5) During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6) Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate the noise of the washer dryer or vacuum. Encourage your children to be quiet.

7) Be happy to see him.

8) Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to see him.

9) Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first-remember, his topic of conversations are more important that yours.

10) Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

11) Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.*

12) Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13) Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

14) Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15) A good wife knows her place.

* Don’t know that him staying out all night, should not be questioned.

So as I read through these things, I think to myself, how lovely it would be, to be all of these things to the man I love. This is a total commitment to be a good wife and manager of the home. And, in turn, your husband would be respectful to his wife and appreciative of all of the things that she does for him. This is the true definition of being a good wife. In the Bible (Ephesians) it talks of being submissive. It does not mean to be lesser than, it means allowing the man to be the ultimate say in the household. Believe it or not, someone needs to be the boss; someone has to have the final say.  It brings tears to my eyes to think that I have been too opinionated, too forceful in my ways and not submissive enough.

There are needs in a household. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to cook the meals. Someone has to cart the kids around before they are able to drive. Why does society look down on those people who have made that decision to take on those responsibilities? Do I feel less of a person because I was that person for so many years, absolutely not! I would say that I feel less of a person because I am outside of the home, not being there, doing the things that need to be done in the home.

I honor and respect those women who are able to always be at home, unless they are at home for the wrong reasons. If you are at home, you should be trying to do things to make life easier for your spouse, who is out making the money to sustain your household. If you are home out of laziness, shame on you. If you have sacrificed your career, to be available for your spouse and children, I applaud you and have no greater respect. What a greater sacrifice to give, than to put yourself last and all others first.

For years I wore a necklace that had the acronym JOY: Jesus first, others second, yourself third. Now I wear the United Methodist Cross 24/7. It helps define who I am. I like to think that I still live in JOY but the others (my family) may not feel that they have me as they had me at one time.

I still hope that maybe I could still win the lottery. I do buy tickets every once in a while but I need to accept the fact that my life has changed. I can no longer be “that” mom who is always available. I am finding that my volunteer life is not as easy as it once was; I find that my free time is different. I have not quilted in almost two years and I have unfinished projects begging for attention. My family does not receive homemade meals like once was; sometimes I just look at them and tell them they are on their own.

I know that my husband has sacrificed a lot to provide for our family. He is a man who likes to be busy but I don’t know if that busy-ness would have to be for an income, if it weren’t for the likes and lifestyle that has been established in this family. Some may feel that I sacrificed by being at home for so many years. I would tell you that my sacrifice is being away from the home and not available.

Maybe I was wired for a different generation. I hope that there are women out there like me. I hope that there are people out there who want to live their life making other’s happy in an unselfish manner. I am not an unintelligent woman. I am independent, but want to be a people pleaser.

For those people out there, who are who I used to be, God Bless you! For my husband and children, I love you and know that this is where we need to be in our lives. In a perfect world, I would be at your call 24/7, available for you whenever you need me.

Ephesians 5:22-23

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, …

You need to be where you need to be; your sacrifices are your sacrifices and they may not seem like sacrifices to others. Sometimes, okay maybe more times than not, you need to look outside of your world and figure how you can be best used in the live’s of others. I mourn that I am not who I was and I have still not accepted who I am now. But, with God’s Help, I will find my way in this new life, embrace it and live life abundantly.

Love at first sight.

For nineteen years I have held this secret; a secret that, for many years, I thought defined me as a parent. Here goes…I did not have an outpouring of love when my first child was born. There, I said it! I was a total wreck after labor and delivery and I was too spent to feel anything but exhaustion.

I am, in no way, saying my labor and delivery was difficult. Compared to many, it was easy. Sure, my blood pressure was elevated, which precipitated my being induced. Because I had high blood pressure and was hooked up to the pitocin drip, I was not allowed to get up and walk around to ease the labor pains.

I was at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. and the IV line was put in at 7:30 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., I was having full-blown contractions, three minutes apart. My husband, bless his heart, would look at the monitor and let me know that “a big” contraction was coming! Thank you very much, I think I was aware of the upcoming pain. The pains became so intense that during the down time of the contractions, I began to hyperventilate. By the time I regained my regular breathing, another contraction was coming on. There just was not enough time to recover from the onset of the contraction, through the hyperventilation and on to the next contraction. By 11:00 a.m., the nurse said it was too difficult for me and I needed to consider an epidural. I WANTED TO DO THIS WITHOUT DRUGS!!!! But the nurse was right; there was no way I could continue labor this way.

Our son was born at 1:16 a.m. If you do the math, I had between 350 and 400 intense contractions during the time that labor was induced. I had told the doctor that I wanted to avoid a C-Section at all costs but it became very apparent that I was not going to be able to deliver him without help. Out came the forceps and with a little help that way, he was delivered.

After his delivery, I was given oxygen because I could not catch my breath. Looking back, I am pretty sure my body was in shock. I was not in good shape at that time. It had been a hard and grueling day.

I had envisioned the birth of our first child so differently. I imagined my new baby being placed on my chest and being filled with love. NOPE, that did not happen. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. I felt guilty that I wasn’t overwhelmed with love, that I didn’t feel that immediate bonding. I feared that my first foray as a mother was going to define me forever.

Things didn’t get better. I just wanted to get home to my own bed, the new nursery, the comforts that made our house a home. Our son was born on a Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, I was on my way home. I felt great! I had rested some and I was ready to tackle my new role as mother.

Sunday, December 31st, I was home to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I don’t even know if I had sparkling juice, but it didn’t matter, I was home. Then came January 1st! I woke up and was in severe pain. I thought I would be a trooper but I couldn’t get passed the pain. I needed to get the pain medication prescription filled. My husband went into town only to find all of the pharmacies were closed. Luckily, he saw a car in the parking lot of our pharmacy and knocked on the back door. The owner (head pharmacist) was doing year-end inventory and was more than happy to fill my prescription. (Remember this was 19 years ago, 24 hour pharmacies did not exist)

January 2nd my husband had to go back to work (no Family Medical Leave Act back then either). That meant my mom would come out and spend the week with me. She was a blessing when things were tough.

On January 2nd my son had his first visit with our new pediatrician. In 3 days our son had lost over a pound in weight and I was frantic that my breast-feeding was not going well. He was supposed to be eating every 2-2.5 hours and that just was not happening. And then to find out he was losing weight. I was going to be a horrible mother! For the first few months of his life, so many people said he looked so thin. I was struggling with breast-feeding and then people were telling me how skinny my child was. There seemed to be more and more evidence that I would be an inadequate mother.

January 3rd, I made an “emergency” visit to my doctor because my right breast was bright red and there was a huge lump forming. A biopsy was performed to see if it was something more than a clogged milk duct. To this day, I see that scar every morning and it is a reminder of how rough things were in the start. In general, I was still in really bad shape. (Sometimes, to this day, it can still be painful.)

Things did get better, but my son weaned himself from the breast at four and a half months. I felt I was such a bad mom as I couldn’t even provide my child the nourishment he needed. He preferred formula over me. It was another indication, I thought, that I would not be a good mother. Transitioning from formula, to cereal, to baby food, to “human” food was a challenge.

We went on to have another child, a girl. And while I wanted more, God had other plans. We are so blessed to have the two we have. And I try to think that I have been a good mother. I have been open to conversation about anything and I try to be understanding in all situations. I am a mother, not their friend. I have expectations of their manners in public and at home and I hope that their core values will help them make an impact in the lives of the people with whom they associate.

I love my children more than life itself. I am glad that I did not allow the first few days, or the first few months of my first born’s life, define who I am . If I would have allowed that, I would have not seen the potential in the gifts I have to offer, or the future I see for my family. I would have wallowed in the pain and inferior sense I had as a first time mother.

Do not let a few things define who you are. As we get ready to start a new year in 2015, find what you do well and excel, find a cause or a hobby which you want to learn and participate, take time to drink good wine, eat good food and love those around you. Don’t let your past define you, but let your future guide you to be the best.

I did not have that love at first sight experience with my son. But every time I see him now, which is few and far between as he is at college, my heart swells with pride as to the man he has become. My eyes fill with tears of joy at his future. I know that I had a part in helping him be who he is now. I know that my love is deep, for both of my children. And I know that I have done all I could for them to have a bright future.

Bless you and your family on this final day of 2014.