Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I've Learned as a Mother

     I would like to share some of the perspectives that being a stay at home mom/wife for the last 10+ years has given to me...not to open the "work or not" debate, but just to offer some of what I have realized in my own journey, in the hopes that it will be thought provoking to anyone reading it.
     The reason for this post is hopefully to challenge anyone to spend some time examining themselves and their life purpose in an overarching sort of way...So I will start by sharing with you that I have not always "loved" my time as a SAHM.  There are times even now when the never-endingness (is that a word?) of it is overwhelming and if it wasn't for my dear husband allowing me to grocery shop alone (sometimes), I would rarely be alone.  It is a challenge to all my capabilities, which all too often seem woefully inadequate.  That being said, I have been struggling with purpose for a long time...don't get me wrong, I know my purpose in raising children who love Christ, are honest, respectful, hardworking etc...but that goal is a looong way off, and it can get discouraging to work towards a goal that is 10-15 years away, and there is no guarantee they will be what you hope for them(and I don't mean successful in a money sort of way, either!).
     The other night on my way home from a church outing with friends from church(hubby and boys were home sick), I got to pondering many things (outloud, as I process things verbally), and began to question my motives for things over the years...because my motivation of late has been quite lacking...there are so many things that I really need to dig in and work at and motivation to do so is just not there.  This is quite different from how I was for years back in school and college.  I was quite an overachiever, and sought to do my absolute best in everything I did...that doesn't always mean it was perfect (in Chemistry class, for example) but to not apply myself was not an option.  I had a compulsion to do so.  Even in classes I loathed (like Trigonometry) I couldn't feel at ease with myself if I had given a half-hearted effort.  Mostly, I think it was because I wanted to be worthy of respect by my teachers and professors, and shoddy work, or laziness would not foster such things.  Also, I wanted to please my parents, who knew what I was capable of, and didn't want to face them (or myself) with the excuse, "I'm just too lazy!"
     So my motivation was, ulitmately, to please others whose opinions I respected and valued.  I received much satisfaction in doing so.  Fast forward into marriage and motherhood.  I had 2 babies close together, then an almost 3 year space and then 2 more babies pretty close together.  I went from college, where my own preferences, desires, interests and the like were given priority, to being a wife, helping my husband in ministry and then a mother, where the interests of your baby becomes near top forward to having many babies (by modern standards) and the amount of self-sacrifice is mulitplied many-fold.  At different points as a mother, I have endured many low moments...almost depression...and many will point at such occurrences and say, "Hah!  That's why motherhood is so terrible for women, it takes away their personhood...and blah blah blah".  But while driving home last night another thought entered my conciousness...
     As a child and young adult, my motivation was always about pleasing others and receiving gratification by what others thought of me and my abilities to perform (as a student, as an artist/potter etc).  When you enter full-time motherhood [at home], all those motivations are taken away, and you have your husband and children to think about and please, and how often have mothers sacrificed greatly for their children only for the children to demand more--realizing nothing of the magnitude of the sacrifice?  My children are no different and must be trained out of selfishness just like all children.  The motivation in life now takes on a more spiritual dimension...The type of character traits needed to be a good wife and mother are often things like respectful attitudes towards hubby, firmness in child training, nurturing, patience, kindness, diligence in the face of constant self-sacrifice and often few tangible rewards...hmmm...harder to gauge success than profit margin statements...the rewards are less tangible than the paintings and pots I used to create.  When I consistently created pots and paintings I had the almost instant gratification of seeing the work of my hands.  If I kept it, I had the gratification of using it regularly, or bestowing it as a gift on someone who would "appreciate" it. 
    What has this comparison shown me?  A  realization that my motivation has been wrong from day one...the Westminster Catechism asks "what is the chief end of man?"  and the answer is: "To glorify God and enjoy HIM forever."  My whole life long, my motivation has NEVER been to glorify God and enjoy Him forever...but shouldn't this be the motivation for anything and everything in the life of the sincere, saved, blood-washed Christian?  So when I spend most of my formative years being motivated by wrong thinking, and sowing to the flesh (by wanting accolades and approval of others) of course it is going to feel hard to switch to a life for which I have not prepared...does that make sense?  So, being a stay at home mom, serving the needs of my family day in and day out for years and years has made me come face to face with myself and all that I am...Partly because I have the time to ponder.  As busy as a mom is, most of the work is such that you can think and ponder things as you go...and I have had to come to grips with my own selfishness, my wrong motives, and so on...
     I'm not saying that people can't learn these things in other ways than I have learned them....but from what I hear in talking with many mothers is how pressed for time they are.  Many are juggling so many plates it's hard to have time for reflection...If they are able to snatch an hour, they fall asleep!  So while I have learned many good and positive things, as a mom, mostly I have had to realize how hypocritical I am in my own heart, despite how "righteous" my actions appear to be...  And am now challenged to begin to view all of life through the lense, "Does this glorify God, or me?"  and realize that He sees all and knows all we have done on behalf of others, regardless of what accolades or respect we receive from others, and to ask God to begin to make me sensitive to HIS heart and make any service done for anyone as done unto Him, and to be not just okay with that, but to relish it....

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Results of My Labor

Here is the results of my attempts at making boxers.  I used old elastic from old boxers and took apart an old worn out pair for a pattern.  It took about 1-2 hours...Not bad and not too tricky.  I even attempted a sort of flat/felled seam...It worked well.  My only concern is that they won't fit...they seem a bit small...we'll see.  I'll let you know :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finances--Starting on the Inside

In an attempt to refresh my own mind concerning the family economy, and perhaps get myself out the rut I'm in in regards to the budget, I think I will do a series of posts concerning money...saving, spending, prioritizing, planning, organizing, etc.  First of all, however, I'd like to touch briefly on the starting point--the mind and heart, for all priorities, actions, etc. come out of our emotions and thoughts.  (Note: this content is based on the beliefs found in the Bible.  If you don't like or agree with the Bible, you may find some of these concepts foreign or offensive/difficult).
First of all, I'd like to mention that men and women are very different in many ways, not the least of which is how they each handle and view money.  Now, that is not to say that there aren't instances where their priorities flip flop, but I'd say there are some basic gender differences that show up when in the context of money/possessions. 
Women tend to look at money in light of security, especially if she has children.  Women tend to want to ensure that there will be sufficient income to cover things in case of illness, injury etc.  I know for myself, my worrying usually centers around what would happen if my hubby was injured or developed a terminal illness.  Therefore anything that would threaten that security is to be avoided.  This can be a very admirable trait, but it can also cause problems because often the woman is not a risk taker.  She prefers to be safe, even at the expense of success.  Another thought about the ladies, however, that I think has developed over the last 50 years or so, is quality of life.  As the nurturers(usually), women are more concerned with relationships, and I think sometimes that can develop into wanting to have "experiences" together... that cost money.  Wanting to go places as a family and so on.  We dream about "making memories" together, and so want to think creatively about what that could look like.
Men, on the other hand, often look at money or possessions in light of significance.  This can be why they desire the boat, the snowmobile, and other such possessions.  It gives them a sense of status in the eyes of others, while the absence of some of those wants can lead to a man feeling like a failure, or somehow lower down in the pecking order, which can feel like an assault on his identity as a man. 
Unfortunately, these differing perspectives can cause much friction in a marriage relationship.  It is important for both the husband and the wife to realize from what point their spouse is arguing.  Often, when a wife is arguing against something her husband wants to do, it is out of fear of losing her security.  Often when a husband defends himself for making a big purchase without consulting his wife, it is because the purchase make him feel more significant, more a real man. 
This is why it is so important for husbands and wives to get on the same page.  And because we don't even realize this is our starting point, we get frustrated with our spouse who can't see it our own way.  One of the best ways to do this is to have financial goals, both for the present and for the future.  In fact, it could be very enlightening to each create a goal list of what is important to themselves, without regard for the other, just to see the differing priorities.  After coming up with present, 5 year, and 10 year goals, read each others' papers and begin to see where they might line up and where they differ.  Then, it may be possible to communicate in a more objective way, and begin working as a team to accomplish those goals.  It also helps clarify current priorities, in that if you have a joint goal of saving $5K in a year, buying a boat on the spur of the moment may be easier seen as a foolish, unwise step.  Likewise, if there is another joint goal to take steps to further hubby's side business, even while it may be risky, a wife may be able to fore go her desire for more clothes, new living room furniture, or some such thing, in the light of how much it would mean to her husband to succeed in his venture. 
I can't exactly speak for the husband's side of things, but I do know that for myself, security is a huge priority to me.  I get very fearful considering anything that may compromise this, but also have begun to learn to trust my husband more fully(not that he isn't trustworthy, just that I am innately fearful!) and realize that he loves both me and our children and has our betterment at heart, ultimately, and that he will always do his utmost to provide for our needs.  He needs me to admire, respect, and be willing [at least] to follow him and support him through whatever endeavors he may attempt, whether they succeed or fail. 
Practically speaking, some possible goals might be:  setting a savings goal and its purpose, paying off certain debts within a time frame, starting some sort of long range saving for retirement, prioritizing life goals and what sort of financial requirements that might take (ie starting a business or pursuing more education etc), or even assessing things like the state of the household and whether you need a new couch or something. 
Relationally speaking, it could also be time to examine yourself [myself!] and see whether or not we have unintentionally frustrated or exasperated our spouse because we have not put their needs above our own?  If so?  Any relationship is always improved by humility and the ability to say, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?"  And make attempts at doing better.  This clears the air and simply provides better atmosphere for future discussion.  It also encourages a spirit of compromise, or at least seeing things from both angles.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Next Sewing Project

Okay, this may be sorta weird, but I think I'm going to figure out how to make boxers for my hubby...Often the thin fabric wears out before the elastic and I feel terrible throwing good elastic away...and the way I get fabric (good percale bedsheets from Goodwill), I could make him about 10 pair for $2-3.  They are so small, I imagine they would be quick and pretty easy to tackle.  So, hopefully in the next few days, I'll get to it, and post some pics on the process...BTW there will be NO modelling of this item of clothing...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thoughts on Feminism

     While perusing my usual round of blogs last night, I came across an article on concerning a documentary called the Monstrous Regiment of Women.  This documentary deals with the effects of feminism on modern society and where it came from and why.  Now, I did not see the entire thing.  I just watched a trailer for it, but within the article as well as the trailer there was enough information to get me thinking about the topic, as well as some new information that I had never heard before.  This information floored me, as I never quite made the connection before...(Forgive me for the meandering thought patterns...just trying to remember my perspectives as an impressionable young woman!)
     Personally, I would not consider myself a feminist--or at least not an intentional feminist...but living in this world today, it's hard to not have some shadow of feminism creep into your thinking at some point, as it's so wired into the modern brain.  I have almost always considered myself a traditional woman, and even in college, never really expected to follow the career path. 
   From what I remember about high school, I know that from my earliest understanding about promiscuity, I never had any desire to follow that path either.  Now I was raised in a home where levels of modesty were rather high, and privacy was respected.   I don't remember ever really talking to my mother or father about the subject at all, but early on, I formed my standard, and never really felt pressured to lower it.  However, neither did I really "date" or become interested in guys during high school...(sorry class-men of '98!), as most of them seemed completely immature and little-boyish to me.  I didn't attend dances or any other typical high school stuff, partly because we could never afford it, and partly because my circle of friends wasn't much for those kinds of activities.  So perhaps my understanding is quite a bit different than other girls, in terms of what influenced me.  I also avoided books or movies that had inappropriate s*xual content, because the thought of facing my mother with an explanation made my face heat just thinking about it! 
     Unfortunately, most girls of the last 20-30+ years haven't had that kind of innocent, protected, naive upbringing, and by the time many enter college, they have already lost their virginity.  Many girls all throughout middle and high school are under much pressure to maintain a certain appearance...girls feel the pressure to be slender, to have certain clothing styles, to be athletic in some capacity (whether through team sports or dance/acrobatics), and when you combine that with the Hollywood garbage prevalent in media, and social issues like broken homes or latch-key kids where for one reason or another, no one is home or attentive to them, many girls begin to seek attention, love, acceptance etc. in ways that are unhealthy and even dangerous.
     This really wasn't meant to be a comprehensive post about my adolescence...just trying to think through issues of the day, and what I remember my perspective to be when I was growing into womanhood...  Also, while our health classes in school were generally mixed-gender, they were not explicit or graphic in any way, and I am thankful that most of that was reserved for upper high school level.  I imagine most small town/country schools are probably the same way, and are less likely to be pushing contraceptives on kindergartners(like you sometimes hear in conservative news circles). 
     Anyway, information that so floored me had to do with the link between contraception and abortion.  As a conservative woman that runs in conservative circles, I have frequently heard the phrase "feminism has exploited women" but never quite understood how or why.  Weeellll, now I do...and exploit is, (in my opinion), too nice a word...The charge made is that there has been from day one a overarching plan, motivated by greed and the desire to create a Marxist society, at the root of feminism.  And anyone who has read anything on the subject, knows that most of the feminists were self-proclaimed Marxists(Marxist=communist/anti capitalist).  And along with this, CREATING the market for abortions, in essence, by starting s*x education earlier and earlier, and in some ways foisting contraception on younger and younger age girls...It's such a common phrase to say, "Well, they are going to do it anyway, so it's better that they know to protect themselves."  And yet, as I observe a comment in Wendy Shallit's book A Return to Modesty, (this is not a quote), there is this uncertainty among young girls as to what to do with all this "education" about s*x and intimacy...and many wonder if it's presented as a permission slip to begin acting on what you learn...and possibly begin to be promiscuous before you really want to be because you know more than you should before you are ready(and then add in pop culture and other pressures).  Does that make sense? 
     Anyway, the idea is that organizations(like Planned Parenthood) will spend thousands of dollars to "teach" younger and younger girls about "safe sex" in the HOPES that they will become promiscuous, anticipating that many many girls WILL get PREGNANT and hence come have an ABORTION, some, 3 or 4 times over... and the same organization will then reap the financial results of that...and if you look into it, most doctors willing to do abortions are in it for the MONEY...because it's a lucrative business.  And if you think about it a moment, what other motive could there be?  Does Planned Parenthood push abstinence?  No.  Anyone wonder why? Hmmm...maybe after a few years, they would put themselves OUT OF BUSINESS...
     My motive in expressing these things is NOT to pick on anyone who may have had an abortion...if anything, my heart breaks for you.  What I want to express is how absolutely horrifying this kind of manipulation is to consider, and to note how cleverly they have cloaked this under "women's rights and equality issues" that anyone who is a dissenter (especially a man) ends up looking like a back country hick who wants his woman barefoot and pregnant.  So the people lobbying so hard for "women's rights" in Washington are really just lobbying for permission to stay in business and to continue to make money off of the women they have duped...
     The scary part is, much of the population would be horrified and offended at the thought that this is the purpose of such organizations.  So much so, that I don't think they would believe this at all, and would discredit anyone who would try to point it out(especially a man).  So many are sooo steeped in this way of thinking that they don't even know the pot's starting to boil. 
     I know that Planned Parenthood has come under rap lately because of their willingness to NOT report it when 14 year old girls come in having gotten pregnant by a 28 year old boyfriend (when 16 is the legal consensual age, and so is considered statutory rape, yet they don't report it). 
     Understanding the business this way makes me more certain than ever that abortion is murder, and the feminism that tries to tout it's option as "liberation" is just flat out evil and is simply a type of evil rebellion cloaked under the guise of "independence".  Read up on it yourself...realize that Betty Friedan, Margaret Sanger and the like were all Marxists and even held to some of the same eugenics philosophies as ADOLF HITLER.  Yup...sickening isn't it?  And yet even Christian women have, and are still, gulping it down...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Leftover Chicken Burgers: A Tutorial

Hello Everyone!  Here is my simple recipe for leftover chicken burgers.  If you never know what to do with left over meats, here is one example.  Utilizing leftovers is a great way to minimize waste and save money.  My $6 roast chicken will have given us 3 meals when it's all said and done--that's $2 per meal on meat...not bad for a family of 6.  Okay, here it goes!

Start with LO cooked chicken, and 1 egg for every oh, 3/4cup of meat

Place in food processor with spices of choice.

Pulverize til pasty and ground up.

Heat pan and melt some butter.

Form patties however big or small you need.

Fry til golden and firm--about 10 minutes.

Place on bun or bread and add toppings.

This is really easy and good.  If you kiddos don't like onion, don't tell them--they'll never know!  Also, if you don't have a food processor use a large chef knife(you know, the ones that have a wide, curved blade?) , a large cutting board and rocker chop the chicken(finely) and finely mince the onion. Proceed as above.  It's just a healthier way of making a "processed chicken patty" where there is no filler, preservatives, or other undesirable things! I imagine you could freeze them too.  What other ways could this be served?  Possibly lightly simmered in BBQ sauce?  Fried in meatball sized balls and served on a hot dog bun, with sauted onions and peppers?  formed into a loaf and baked with some bacon on top to make chicken loaf?  Just have to think outside the box...All those suggestions would cheaply feed even a larger family like mine without too much fuss and preparation!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wish I Knew How to Bring About Change

After doing a lot of contemplating, I'm still at a loss as to how to work on losing weight...I know ALL the tricks and tips...I know what is good nourishing food...and what isn't.  But knowing them doesn't do any good as I willingly suck down coffee, carbs, and sugar...and have no desire to eat the fresh tomatoes my boys are scarfing so happily...See, the weird thing is, there are somethings that I can turn away from just fine...Like soda for instance.  I would rather drink water than soda (most of the time!), but years ago, while still in high school, I got in the bad habit of often eating some snack food at lunch time with a can of soda.  After doing this 3 times a week for a while, I started noticing that I was experiencing stomach pains quite often.  So I switched to milk and stopped the soda and tried to eat regular lunch more often.  The pains ceased.  To this day, I drink maybe 4-6 glasses of soda per  year.  Not a temptation for me at all.  Same as for chips and other savory snacks.  Pretzels?  Corn chips?  Not a problem...Very little temptation.  Can take it or leave it.  But a GF double chocolate chip muffin?  Give me 2--with BUTTER, and a cup of java to boot, with sugar and cream....  and the more I seem to think about it and stress over it, the worse it gets...the only other thing I can think of is that my activity level needs to increase...but  I just don't see how that can happen...yuck...feeling defeated...