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I must ask your indulgence.  Today’s blog is less of a commentary on faith, and more an announcement of sorts.

If you read this post about catching pearls, you know what I mean when I say that I caught one.  For a while now, I have wanted to expand my blog, and now I have.  (Don’t worry.  I’m not going to quit writing about faith.  It’s too much a part of my life to ignore.)

I have added three pages to my blog site: Food, Family and Simplicity.  This will give me a chance to share with you some of the pearls I have caught relative to home/family/faith life.  Pearls are meant to be shared!  🙂

On the Food page today, you will find my husband’s recipe for Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pancakes – yet another sneaky way to get veggies into your kids (and maybe yourself?).

On the Family page today, I am sharing a neat trick to help get your kids dressed and out the door on time in the morning.

On the Simplicity page today, I have two book suggestions for those trying to simplify their lives – and who doesn’t long for a simpler life these days?

I hope you enjoy these additions.  Thank you for indulging me today with my announcement.  I’ll be back to writing about my messes and victories on my faith journey next time.

Many thanks,

Wendi

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV)

P.S.  If you have received this blog via e-mail, please click on any of the highlighted pages above.  They will take you to my actual blog site.  I’d love for you to drop by and have a look around.  Come on over! – wwh

 

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I had difficulty becoming a mother – physically, I mean.  There was nothing I wanted on this earth more than to be an opera singer AND a mother at the same time.  While my nascent singing career was slowly taking wing, our best efforts to become parents crashed.

I was getting a bit miffed at God for not blessing us with a pregnancy while dozens of other women – some who weren’t even trying – were getting pregnant from nothing more than a cross-eyed look from their husbands.  We were doing our part, employing every trick in the book short of using a turkey baster, but it was for naught. 

Then, several humiliating fertility tests later, a miracle happened…

I couldn’t even look at the pregnancy test.  “You look at it,” I said, “I can’t take another disappointment.”

“What am I looking for?” he asked.

“Two lines.  If there are two lines, it’s positive.”

“Two lines in each window, or just two lines?”

“Just two lines,” I sighed.

(Pause.)

“There are two lines,” he said.

And then the tears began.  All the years of hope, disappointment, anger at my body, anger at God… all of it came out in great, gaping sobs.  I was becoming a mother.

On the night she finally arrived, I hadn’t even known I was in labor.  But as naïve as I was about my labor pains, I was more naïve about what being a mother is all about.

I thought that by becoming a mother, I would gracefully ferry some soul or souls through the storms of life, and one day, my children would “rise up and call me blessed.” (Proverbs 31:28)

Ha.

Motherhood, like marriage, is holy-making.  It is a great mirror held up to show your worst character traits, your deepest scars, and your biggest fears.  It challenges you on every front and beats the selfishness out of you every day. 

Motherhood is not for sissies.  It is a pounding, molding, refining process designed to bring you one step closer to Christlikeness.

The flip side of the motherhood mirror reflects strength you didn’t know you had, love you didn’t know you were capable of, and occasionally, it can even fill you with a downright unholy pride.

I had this whole motherhood thing all backward.

Being a mother is not just for me to grow up another human being.

It is meant to grow me up into the woman God created me to be.

 motherhood

 

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30, NIV)

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Last week, our family was supposed to have been enjoying a vacation in Orlando, FL.  It was to have been a refreshing getaway for spring break.  But, alas, that was not to be.

Our older daughter contracted a significant illness which kept her out of school for almost two weeks and required many doctor visits.  Since the penalties for cancelling our trip would have been steep, we decided that I would stay home with her while my husband took our younger daughter to Florida. 

If you are thinking that my older daughter was jealous, that her mother was stressed, that her father felt guilty for leaving and that her sister bounced between compassion and excitement, you would be correct.

It was at this point that each member of my family faced a choice.  We could let the circumstances devastate us, or we could choose to be thankful.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Thankful?  How could you be thankful?  Resigned maybe, or martyrish, but thankful?  Come on.”

I have heard of people of great faith thanking God in horrendous situations, and I have regarded them with incredulity.   I thought maybe they were faking.  Or maybe they were putting on a show of piety.  Or maybe they possessed way more faith than I would see in my lifetime.

But then it happened to me.

And it happened to my daughter.

We chose gratitude.

To keep our spirits up, we named everything we could think of to be thankful for about that particular situation.  We thanked God for clean hair when she finally got to shampoo after a week.  We thanked Him for Chinese take-out.  We thanked Him for inside jokes that made us laugh and briefly forget about pain.  We thanked Him for wise, compassionate doctors and nurses.  We thanked Him for medicine, and Mr. Brown letting her skate on all the history homework she missed, and the friends who stopped by with cards and gifts, and new sweat pants, and a host of others things that you might find odd.

God did not take away the circumstances.  Instead, He provided us with grateful hearts. 

It wasn’t that my daughter and I are women of faith for the ages.  It was that God is good. 

There are now two more humans who looked on an ugly circumstance, and with sincere gratitude, whispered to Him, “Yet will I praise you, O God.”

 

“For what you have done I will always praise you…. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.”  (Psalm 52:9, NIV)

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Her shoulders hunched, she slinks down the hall, clutching her books to her underdeveloped chest.  She does her best to be invisible.  Maybe today they won’t notice her.  Maybe today they will just leave her alone.

She catches a glimpse of her reflection in a classroom window.  “Oh, God,” she thinks, “am I that ugly?”

Maybe if she were thinner…

“Hey, Freak!”

The familiar shrill breaks her train of thought.

“Hey, Freak Show, we’ve got a question for you.”

They circle her.  They are the predators; she, the prey.

“Yeah, we were just wondering – are you a boy or a girl?  We can’t tell.”

“I think she’s a lesbo.”

“Totally.  Or a dog.”

“Well, a female dog!  You know what they call female dogs, don’t you?”

She hurries past them, through the chorus of laughter, barking noises and obscenities.  And she promises herself that today, she will not eat lunch.

____________________________________

Conflict-avoidant person that I am, I write in shades of vanilla.  I never want to offend anyone, or take too strong a stand on any issue.  But there are times that silence is wrong, and vanilla tastes foul.  This is one of those times.

As a mother of two daughters, I am keenly aware of the insane amount of pressure on young girls to be something they are not.  If they don’t wear pounds of make-up, then they are ugly.  If they are not waifs, then they are fat.  If they don’t look like barely-covered/air-brushed/computer-enhanced models, then they are nothing.

To adults, the requirements for fitting in seem ridiculous, even unbelievable.  But to a girl in her tween and teen years, the Rules of Acceptance are very real indeed.

The world shouts at them that they aren’t good enough.

Their friends turn on them in an instant, if it keeps them from being odd girl out.

They feel utterly alone in their misery – though sadly, they are not.

And then there is the bullying…

Someone needs to make war on this bacteria-infested petri dish of a culture in which girls must fight for survival.  Right now, that someone is me. 

I am beginning a ministry.

While even typing those words sends a quiver of fear through me, I am more afraid of what will happen if I stand silent and do nothing.  Who will tell the girls that the messages they are hearing as truth are, in fact, lies?  Who will tell them who they really are?  Who will say to them, “You matter.  You are chosen.  You are loved beyond measure, and more beautiful than you know.”? 

We will.

Here is my first step (and I hope you’ll join me):

 www.4thegrlz.com

It is a Christian site by and for girls.  It is hope and encouragement for girls in the torrential sea that is adolescence. 

I invite you to take a look.  Then, tell your friends who have daughters about it.  Tweet about it.  Share it on Facebook.  Pass it on by e-mail.  Encourage your own daughters to sign up, comment and guest blog for it(I am not the blog author, but a blog author.)

If God is willing, this site is only the beginning.  Last year, I finished writing a book for girls.  It has not seen the light of day, but when God gives the “all clear”, I will shoot that book like an arrow out to wherever God wills it to go.

I am doing battle.

Somebody has to.

oddgirlout

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In my hometown, every August brought the first whisperings of the chilly fall evenings to come, and the Western Montana State Fair.  People brought pies, cookies, pickles, knitting, photography and livestock to be judged, all hoping to win a blue ribbon.  My family enjoyed the fair every year – with one notable exception.

Besides carnival rides, the livestock exhibits were a favorite with my siblings and me.  We particularly enjoyed going to the “swine” barn because the pigs were so huge.  We didn’t know that pigs can also be mean.

As we ambled along the aisle between the pens, we heard a scuffle.  One pig was irritated about something and was letting everyone know about it.  He burst through a weak spot in the chain link fencing.  People ran in either direction down the aisle.  My mom got my brother out with one hand and swept my baby sister onto her hip with the other.  She saw the pig coming and closed the barn gate just in time to trap him.  Unfortunately, I, too, was trapped – with the pig.

There are times when a father can take on the appearance of Superman to his little girl.  This was one of those times.

Seeing me with my back to the locked gate and a mad pig charging in my direction, my dad leapt into action.  He caught the pig’s ear with one hand and its tail with the other.  I screamed.  The pig squealed.  Dad held on.  Now the pig’s snout was within inches of my knee.  I felt his angry breath and snot on my skin.

My dad and the pig’s owner were eventually able to wrestle him into an empty pen.  I think after that, we decided to check out the prize-winning pickles…

Haven’t we all, at one time or another, been trapped against a locked gate by something scary?  It may have been a frightening health situation, uncertain finances, or an unexpected loss.  We have felt the hot breath of a seemingly hopeless situation on our skin.

But we have a Champion.  Like a protective father, God goes before us to fight our battles – even when it would seem we are alone.

You don’t have to fight alone.

You don’t have to fight at all.

Choose to rest in the protection of Him who is both strength and salvation.

 

“The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you…” (Deuteronomy 1:30, NIV)

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My daughter and I had an adventure this week.  She has expressed an interest in one day becoming a lawyer, so I contacted a friend who is a superior court judge and asked if we could observe his court and interview him.  What we witnessed was an education for us both.

The docket was filled with guilty pleas.  One by one, the people sitting next to us in the courtroom took their place at the defense table to enter their plea before the court.  The first was a man who admitted to body-slamming his girlfriend and strangling her by pressing his knee into her neck.

“Heh, heh,…” I thought, “Our judge friend is really going to throw the book at this guy.”

But his sentence seemed too light.  My daughter and I were furiously writing notes back and forth to each other.  “He only got that?!”  she wrote.  “Shouldn’t he get something worse?”

At morning recess, the bailiff took us back to chambers.  During our conversation with the judge, my daughter questioned why, in her opinion, he had been so easy on the guy.

“Seriously!”  I thought, but I kept my mouth shut.

He gave her a bemused smile, explained to her about overcrowding in the jails – and then educated us both about mercy.

He told her how some people haven’t had a good home life or good parents, and they grow up to make mistakes.  He wants to give them the chance to do the right thing.  If they still won’t do right, then he must give them harsh consequences.

It’s a good thing that I am not a judge.  I would be only too willing to put everyone in the slammer. No second chances from this judge.  Oh, no!

It is so easy, in our self-righteousness, to blame others, to demand restitution, and maybe even to secretly hope that someone who has offended us might suffer just a teensy bit for it.  But when the tables are turned, and we have wronged someone, don’t we hope for mercy?

God is merciful.  He is the Second-chance-giver.  He is not sitting on a cloud waiting to strike us with lightning for every wrong we’ve done.  Instead, He sits ready to bail us out.  The price for our offenses has already been paid.

For this, I owe it to Him to respond to others with the mercy I have received.

Will you?

 

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, NIV)

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I heard my daughter and her friend screaming.  These were not happy, girly screams.  These were distress calls.  (Yes, a mama knows…)  I literally ran down the hall, down the stairs and through the back door, not knowing what I would find.

Her friend made it to me first.  Yellow jackets clung to her clothing and swarmed around her.  I could hear my daughter approaching because of her agonized cries.  Between screams, her friend told me that my daughter had unknowingly stepped onto a yellow jacket nest in the woods behind our house, and they had been swarmed.  I batted off as many yellow jackets from her friend as I could and told her to run into the house.

My daughter was still screaming, “Mommy, help me!”

As soon as I batted some off, another one would sting her.  I rolled up her shirt, trapping as many as I could, and took it off.  My daughter and I ran into the house.  Between the two girls, there were still too many for me to swat.  All three of us ran into the garage.

My husband arrived, and we were able to dispatch the rest of the insects, get out the ice and Benadryl, and do our best to calm the girls down.  The other mama arrived to take her daughter home.

As we were comforting our daughter, I stroked her thick, curly hair.  I felt something.  A yellow jacket in her hair?  We got it out, searched her locks for more, and found yet another one, curled up and ready to sting.

At the end of this horrific ordeal, our daughter sustained more than a dozen stings, one of which was right by her eye, another on her lip.

I have never in my life been swarmed like the girls were, but I have certainly felt “attacked.”

Sometimes, the attacks come from the enemy.  Sometimes, life can swarm you.  Sometimes, as soon as you resolve one issue, another one stings you in the backside.

But know this: God hears your distress call.  He knows the cries of His children, and He will rush in with legions of angels, if necessary, to fight for you.  He will never, never leave you.

Even if you all can do is whisper His name…

He will come.

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”  (Matt. 26:53, NIV)

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