Our bunny in our yard by the rhododendrons

Seven Things I Learned in May 2016

Our bunny in our yard by the rhododendrons

“Our” bunny (who lives in my yard).

 

I’m both excited and feel privileged to share my second month of “What I Learned” with you, my readers, as well as to link up with Emily Freeman’s blog for this fun and informational occasion.

It’s a practice I’m learning how to make a habit, and hope that you find it beneficial as well.

So without further ado…..

 

Seven Things I Learned in May 2016:

 

1.  Although I enjoy getting to know new people and spending time with acquaintances, I need quality time with those I’m closest to, to fill my heart.

I have usually had at least one close friend in my life. When I was a child and then a teenager, I could do “anything”, as long as I had one of these special “best” friends by my side. As an adult, I have my husband as my best friend, but he can’t fulfill all of the “girlfriend” roles, so my close women friends have stepped up to the plate. (My husband and two sons thank you ladies, by the way!)

I find myself most comfortable with those I’m closest to, and find that I really need these close, more intimate “girlfriend” relationships in order to share some of my deepest thoughts and feelings.  It’s very fulfilling and encouraging to help each other in our pursuit of God’s will and obedience in our lives, and sometimes to just to kick back and have fun. I’m so thankful for these closer friendships in my life (“boss lady friends“, perhaps?), and pray that I’m as much of an encouragement to them as they are to me.

 

2.  Working in the heat is totally physically exhausting.

This summer, I am in one of my “transitional” jobs again. Since leaving my job of ten years as a teacher’s aide a couple of years ago, I feel like I’ve been “finding my way” in this next season of work. This summer, the opportunity arose for me to work at the farm (greenhouse work right now), where we purchase our farm shares. When I work in really warm settings (some greenhouses can get hot!), I am “toast” after about three hours. Even after I go home to clean up and cool down, I find I’m quite exhausted. I enjoy and appreciate the work, but am not cut out to be a full-time farmer!

Psalms 62.7

3.  I need to continue to learn to truly find my identity in Christ, not in what I do.

As I mentioned in point number two, lately I have been either unemployed or working in an entirely different part-time job to which I was accustomed. Both of these are situations in which I do not always feel comfortable. I believe it’s honorable to do hard physical labor, and know it’s a somewhat “normal” part of life to find yourself unemployed, but have found it difficult to feel proud of where I’m at right now. I turn fifty in a couple of weeks, and it feels like I should have my life all “figured out” (although I realize that’s not true). I finally realized that the main problem I’m having is associating my identity in what work I do (or don’t do, for pay that is, in the seasons of unemployment). In our culture where more women are expected to work outside of the home, I’m learning to find my identity not in what others think of me, but in Christ. Boy, this runs deep with me!

 

4. When you forget your chicken dogs on the grill for a couple of hours, they literally burn to a crisp.

I had the brilliant idea last week to “use up” some of the leftover heat from our charcoal grill to cook some chicken dogs for the next day. I assured my husband that he didn’t need to attend to them, but I would set a timer…..which I promptly forgot until a couple of hours later when I detected a distinct “burnt hot-dog” smell from outside.

 

2016-05-22 Chicken dogs burnt to a crisp (literally).

My chicken dogs, literally burnt to a crisp!

Interestingly, I now know where the expression, “burnt to a crisp” comes from, as they were not only thoroughly blackened, but also weighed next to nothing, as every last bit of moisture was cooked out of them!

 

5. I am a driving wimp.

I’ve never been comfortable driving places with which I’m not familiar, but am learning that I really do need to work on relying on my GPS and driving without fear. I can help drive across the country to visit my family in Canada, but will avoid driving in a city like the plague. A couple of years ago, before I owned a GPS, I got so hopelessly lost driving to meet some friends at one of their homes, that eventually someone had to drive out to meet me and “save” me. It really made me nervous, and I’m recognizing that I now have a greater fear which I need to overcome. God help me.

 

6. There is a new series by Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes.

My dear husband informed me of this new series available on Amazon video, which is written by the same producer as my all-time favorite show, Downton Abbey. It’s called Dr. Thorne, and I enjoyed watching the first episode just last night. There are four episodes in this first season which are available to view. Here’s the link for those of you who have Amazon Prime. I hope that you enjoy it!

 

7. One of my new favorite plants is Scented Geranium, otherwise known as something with which most of us are very familiar.

All this working in greenhouses is educating me more in the world of plants. I just discovered a new “favorite” plant at my workplace. It’s official name is Scented Geranium, but most of you (especially candle-loving) friends will know it by it’s common name, Citronella. I am learning that many familiar candle scents come from plants (another being Bergamot). If you’ve never smelled the wonderful lemony scent of a Citronella plant, you are missing a pleasurable experience! And the best thing is, it really is a deterrent to those pesky mosquitoes!

(***Note of correction: Upon further research, it appears that “citronella” is a different plant altogether, and the “citronella scented geranium” is one of many varieties of scented geranium plants. I’m also disappointed to report that claims that this plant actually repels mosquitoes  have been proven to be false. However, I’m still thrilled to have it in my garden for it’s attractive foliage and flowers that will come. Here are three articles to read for further information about the myth about scented geranium, how to grow and care for “mosquito plants”, and other mosquito repelling plants that work. Perhaps I should save this information for next month, as I technically learned these facts on June 1st. 🙂 ***)

Scented Geranium (Citronella) 2016-05-31

Scented Geranium (Citronella)

*****

Well, another month come and gone.

I’m coming to realize that you really do “learn something new every day”, or at least every month!

Thanks for joining me. Don’t forget to check out the interesting lists of Emily Freeman and many other wonderful blogging friends on her link-up page! (If you’re a blogger, I guess I’m officially inviting you, too.) 🙂

 

 

Memorial Day cemetery photo

Remember What it Cost – A Memorial Day Weekend Reflection

1280px-Memorial_Day_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery

What do you have planned for this Memorial Day weekend?

It’s easy and normal to fire up the grill, get together with friends and loved ones, and eat some great food. If we’re lucky (like this year), we may even enjoy some warm summer-like weather and many will head to the beach.

But what is Memorial Day really about?

History.com describes Memorial day as, “the official beginning of summer and America’s most solemn occasion”, a somewhat interesting juxtaposition of celebrations.

According to their website, here’s a brief summary of the history of our Memorial Day celebration:

“Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.”

There is also an informative and contemplative video on the same page, which you may like to view for more details.

So while it’s good and important to spend quality time with friends and family, and healthy to rest and relax, let’s take a little time this weekend to stop and consider the cost of this freedom we enjoy.

Let’s meditate on the price that was paid by the men and women who served and paid with their lives, so that we can enjoy our lives in peace and security.

Let’s remember those whose families are missing loved ones today, so that we can spend the day with those we love.

And let’s thank God for our country, which though imperfect, is still one of the best places on earth to live.

Take in a Memorial Day parade which will help to focus your thoughts on the true meaning of the holiday. Watch one of many video clips which bring honor to those who sacrificed for us. Or just take some quiet time to reflect.

I like this simple cartoon, which really says it all:

While we’re at it, we can be thankful for those who still serve today to help keep our country peaceful. We can pray for the ones who served and returned, but left a piece of themselves in the trenches or on the battlefield.

We can take this one step further (or perhaps I should say, “closer”), and take some time to be thankful to all those around us for all they do to add quality and enjoyment to our days, such as family and close friends. We can show appreciation to those who support and protect us in a myriad of ways, such as our pastors, teachers, doctors & nurses, and all those who wear a uniform that represents any kind of service.

The ultimate sacrifice was made by One who paid the price for my sin and offered his Son for my eternal freedom.

I agree with the sentiment that “freedom isn’t free”.

So as we enjoy this weekend with those we love, let’s take time to stop and remember what it cost.

*****

 

 

 

Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

Simple Breakfast Recipe Idea – Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

Do you like yogurt? How about fresh berries or other fruits?

I really enjoy these foods, especially as a light breakfast (or let’s get real here; as a start to my healthy breakfast). We often enjoy yogurt as a healthy part of our breakfasts around here, and always have some kind of fruit first thing in the morning as a habit.

Here’a an idea that many of you, like me, probably find obvious and do on a regular basis.

But as I’m fond of repeating, many of my “obvious” ideas may be something you’ve never thought of, just as some of your “everybody does this” ideas may be enlightening to me. I think you’ll find that these ideas will be a staple on my blog, since these are simple tips that we can share to make our lives easier, less stressful, more healthy, save time and energy, and generally allow us to save our motivation and focus for the things in our lives that really make us flourish.

I’ve already shared tips about putting paper towels in lettuce and about re-using free hangers you already have. I’d just love to hear from you in the comments about any other “obvious” tips you use, or simple foods you make on a regular basis that help you. Maybe we’ll learn from each other.

Back to fruit & yogurt.

Constructing fruit & yogurt parfaits

A “real” shot of my kitchen counter-top at breakfast time.

I often make these yogurt parfaits when we have some assortment of fresh berries (one of our favorites!), with just bananas (which I almost always have on hand), or with any assortment of fresh cut up fruit. It can even be made with thawed frozen fruit or canned fruit, but will have a softer consistency in that case.

 

Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries

Fresh washed strawberries (cut up), blueberries, and blackberries.

These parfaits can also be made with any assortment of tasty, healthy toppings to add extra flavor, texture, and color.

If you’re one of the resourceful people who make your own yogurt (I have yet to try that), that would be phenomenal! Or purchase good, healthy yogurt without too much added sugar.

If you’re using plain, unsweetened yogurt, feel free to sprinkle a little raw sugar over the top on each dish or mix into your fruit or berries, but try to keep it to a minimum. Most sweetened yogurts already contain an ample amount of sugar.

All you need to do is layer everything in a glass bowl, clear drinking glass, or cute parfait-style dish for each person. You can simply use a layer of each, or divide the ingredients and make several repeating layers (especially if you’re using a tall glass or dish).

Banana-yogurt parfait with dried cherries 2016-05-25

Banana-yogurt parfait with dried cherries (plain and orange-creme yogurt).

 

Simply layer the following into each individual dish:

  1. yogurt – a single flavor, plain unsweetened, or a combination of the two (my favorite)
  2. fruit or berries of choice – try mixed fresh strawberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries; bananas and/or melon or pineapple; a fruit-cocktail-like mixture of any cut up fresh fruits you have on hand; or even thawed frozen fruit or canned fruit
  3. serve as is or top with topping(s) – granola (store-bought or homemade), healthy trail mix (store-bought or homemade), dried fruit or nuts (I particularly like dried cherries and/or almonds or homemade trail mix made with these)

 

Berry & Yogurt Parfait (top view)

 

In the above photo, I made do with what I had on hand, and the parfaits turned out pretty tasty! We only had a little plain yogurt left and one single-serving of (fruit-on-the-bottom) blueberry Greek yogurt, so I mixed them together. I layered the cut up strawberries, the yogurt mixture (I barely had enough for four bowls), then the blueberries and blackberries, and then I topped it off with my yogurt blend mixed with a little scoop of whipped cream I also had in the fridge. I added a dollop to the top of each bowl for a little treat. Voila!

I don’t think I’ve ever constructed these parfaits ahead of time and I probably wouldn’t recommend it, as the flavors would blend together and I think the fruit will absorb moisture from the yogurt. But who knows? It may work just fine. I may just have to try that idea and let you know how it turns out.

If you wish, you may cut up the fruit or strawberries before hand and store in the fridge as a time-savor in the morning .

You can also put out the ingredients and let your family or guests build their own yogurt parfaits to their liking. This would even be a nice idea for a special holiday breakfast or brunch.

I hope that you’re already enjoying your own homemade fruit and yogurt parfaits, or that this gives you another simple, healthy idea for breakfast. Perhaps it will just give you some ideas for new combinations or toppings that you’ve never tried.

Breakfast foods with instructions for son

Am I the only one who leaves instructional notes with food on the counter for my family?

Here’s to quick and healthy breakfast ideas! Enjoy!

*****

Do you make your own fruit & yogurt parfaits? Do you have any suggestions for ingredients that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

 

 

miscellaneous hangers 2016-05-18

Let’s Talk Hangers

miscellaneous hangers 2016-05-18

Hold on to your seats! Today I’m writing a short post about…..(wait for it)…..hangers!

Sorry to all you aircraft enthusiasts; this has nothing to do with airplane hangers. Since an airplane is just out of my budget right now, I’m just going to talk about the the run-of-the-mill hangers we use to keep our clothes from off of the floor.

So if there’s nothing good on TV, your homework and housework are all caught up, and you have nothing else to keep you occupied, join me for just a few minutes for some “hanger talk”.

Seriously, this is one of those posts that seems almost silly to write. It’s about hangers, for Pete’s sake.

But it’s also one of those little things I would do almost without thinking, that perhaps you will find mildly enlightening. Besides, many of the mundane, “normal” things we each do are often novel to someone else. When I wrote a post about putting paper towel in my lettuce container, I had at least one very domestic friend tell me that they had never thought of it.

Some of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Why on earth is she writing a blog post about hangers?” You are the ones who may go watch that TV rerun, catch up on Facebook, or go and water your cactus. I give you permission.

If I still have you at this point, you’re either really bored, or so curious you can’t stand not to read the rest of my post.

Another group who are graciously “dismissed” are my friends who can easily afford to buy whatever nice hangers you like. I have some I really like and would pay good money for again. Although I certainly wouldn’t classify them as “expensive”, they do cost a few dollars. They’re not free. These are a couple of the ones I’ve purchased (for more than a dollar or two), that I find very useful, here on top of my shiny “new” (reconditioned) washing-machine:

 good hangers 2016-05-18

A couple of my favorite kinds of hangers. (See, I told you my washer was shiny. See the pretty colored lights?)

I decided to take these quality hanger photos on top of my washer because I usually hang my clothes from the wash here in the laundry room, so it seems appropriate, and because I still think my washer looks shiny and new, so it makes me happy. You may take your photos of hangers wherever you’d like.

So back to our hanger talk.

But I know that there are a few of you who, like me, would like to save every dollar possible. If I can save even a few dollars on hangers and other items that don’t matter much, it will add up in the end for more important expenses. Hence the reason for this lighthearted post.

Most of the hangers I’ve bought over the years look something like these:

miscellaneous hangers 2016-05-18

The plastic ones can be purchased for just a few cents per hanger in many different stores, so I’m sure you have some of these. They work well and I like the assortment of colors. Let’s face it, anything we can do to make us smile while doing laundry is a “plus”, right? For many similar clothing items I usually use a certain color for each of my sons so that I will not give them the wrong-sized clothes.

The bigger felt-covered ones were bought at the dollar store with two or three in a pack. They are especially good for larger shirts and for sweaters and clothing that either zips or buttons in the front or has a bigger opening at the neck, as the soft coating helps to hold the clothing onto the hanger.

This is all fine and good.

What I would like to suggest then, is that you can simply reuse some of the hangers you get free.

Sometimes when you buy new clothes the store will give you the hangers they came on, and/or when you get clothing back from the dry-cleaners you can utilize some of those. We don’t make a habit of dry-cleaning too many of our clothes, but some cannot be avoided, so over the years we have collected quite a few hangers. You can reuse these wire ones or check to see if they can be recycled, like ours can (at the dry-cleaners). They even provide us with a nifty little weird-shaped box.

recycling wire hangers

I don’t care for these, so I mostly just recycle them, but there’s nothing wrong with using them. They will take up very little room in your closet, so that could be a plus. When I was young, that’s the only kind I remember having, and incidentally, they made excellent hot-dog and marshmallow roasting sticks (although when I tried to duplicate the “simple” transformation of twisting a wire hanger into a roasting stick as an adult, it was less than sucessful), but that’s another story .

You may find, like me, that some of the more sturdy plastic hangers are handy for hoodies and things:

reusing plastic hangers from the store

When your kids’ clothes have outgrown these plastic hangers, they can usually go in your recycling bin.

The hangers I really find surprisingly useful from the dry-cleaners are these that are designed for pants:

reusing pants hangers from the dry-cleaners

They are free and work well, so I use these for the uniform or dress code pants that my sons wore all through school. They have a cardboard piece attached to the wire that has a bit of stickiness to it, so the pants don’t slide off. When the hanger bends (which eventually they may), I always seem to have a few more to replace it. Even though it doesn’t look “special”, they really do work quite well, and I have no desire to spend money on a replacement right now.

Maybe someday I’ll come into money and splurge for some more fancy, new hangers.

But right now I’d rather make do with what I have, and save that extra couple of bucks.

pants on hangers

I’m guessing maybe you would, too.

*****

Do you reuse old hangers? Or are you particular about buying the certain hangers that you like best? Just out of curiosity, is there anyone else who uses different colored hangers for each of your children?

 

 

 

Spring Ham-Bone Soup (in red bowl)

Spring Ham-bone Soup (A Use-What-You-Have Recipe Idea)

Spring Ham-Bone Soup (in red bowl)

So here’s what I did today, on the first mid-seventies, beautiful, sunny, May, spring day here in New England.

I made soup.

Well, I usually “menu plan” by having two or three recipes planned for the week, featuring either ingredients I just purchased (usually on sale), or meat and other foods I’ve transferred from freezer to refrigerator to thaw. It usually works pretty well, except for once in awhile when my timing is off, and suddenly it seems we have either too many leftovers to eat in time, or too much raw meat to cook in time; “in time” meaning before they spoil and we are forced to throw them out, or eat them and become sick; hasn’t happened yet, thankfully.  I’m sure that a daily menu plan would be best, but for now I don’t have that as a regular part of my routine.

All that was to say that today was my day to make soup with the frozen leftover Easter (and Christmas?) ham and ham bone that was in my freezer, because that’s just how it worked out.

Fortunately, there was still enough cool air coming in my open windows (yay!), to make both cooking and eating this soup still enjoyable. I won’t be planning to make soup in July or August, by the way.

So here’s the deal. Not only did I have a nice ham bone and a good amount of leftover spiral ham to use in the soup, but what I did not have much of was vegetables. My grocery shopping will be happening tomorrow. (Can you see what a great plan I had this time???)

I really didn’t feel like making the traditional split pea soup that can be found on the package of dried split peas (and I’m not even sure if I had those; I didn’t check my basement food storage area).

But never fear, I used what I have (I’m a firm believer in this practice), and if I do say so myself (and I do), I made a pretty tasty and healthy soup!

While I will share roughly what I did and the ingredients I used, this is not a recipe, per se. Rather it is an idea, that you can use to whatever degree you like, using what you have on hand. If you really want to buy, cook and eat a spiral ham, almost run out of both fresh and frozen veggies, and make this exact soup, be my guest…..but that’s not the idea.

Spring Ham-bone Soup cooking

 

How I Made My Spring Ham-Bone Soup:

First I half-filled my six quart pot (the big one I usually use for soup, unless I’m using the really big 8-qt. one), with cool water. I put in my ham bone and cooked it for a good half hour to an hour.

Sometime within that first half hour or hour (see; I told you it wouldn’t be exact), I added some onion (from my yellow onions which were growing stored downstairs, as well as a few frozen sweet pepper strips from my freezer (frozen from an excess of green and red peppers this past February). I also added just a little celery (since I only had two small stalks left), and three measly carrots, chopped, to the water.

onion growing sprouts

I let all of that cook for probably an hour to two. Meanwhile, I cut up the ham, cut up some more onion and the little bit of celery that I had scrounged, and ran up and down the stairs to work on a load or two of laundry (although you don’t have to do that part when you make this soup).

Over the course of the next hour or so, I strained the cooked veggies out of the broth (I usually run the whole pot of liquid through a strainer, but decided it wasn’t necessary this time), leaving the carrots (since they were still in pretty good shape). Then I added these additional ingredients to the broth, roughly in this order:

  1. frozen cubed butternut squash (from last year’s CSA, but cut up and frozen some time this winter when I discovered a spot forming one squash)
  2. chopped onions (about one med. to large size),
  3. baby carrots (the one type of fresh veggie I had in good supply),
  4. the two small stalks of celery, chopped,
  5. the remainder of my frozen green and red pepper strips (probably about two cups),
  6. some frozen, chopped kale (from last summer’s CSA, I think), and
  7. the cut up ham.

Please note that between adding each (or almost each) ingredient, a little time is needed to let the broth heat up, come to a simmer, and cook a little, depending on the type of ingredient and whether it was frozen or not. Usually about ten minutes works well, but use your discretion.

ham bone soup cooking (with steam) 2016-05-11

Last, but not least, I added some fresh ground pepper, about a teaspoon of granulated garlic (since I am also out of fresh cloves), and a few shakes of nutmeg. Notice I did not add salt (on account of the already-salty ham), and decided that the nutmeg would go along well with the squash.

I think that’s it. It was surprisingly tasty considering I had added no broth or bouillon to the water. The flavor came from the ham and vegetables and my few spices, and I think the butternut squash broke down and added a little texture and sweetness to the broth as well. I may have to add that to my ideas for using up extra squash, and remember this good method for adding sweet flavor and thickening any appropriate soup.

Spring Ham-Bone Soup (close-up)

I hope you enjoyed my little spring soup-making story and that it gives you some ideas to use next time you have a ham bone and maybe not quite enough veggies in your kitchen…..even if it is sunny and warm and heading towards eighty degrees.

Now we have some nice leftovers for lunch this week, and can look forward to grilling those fresh sausages I purchased from a small local store tomorrow.

*****

Have you ever made a variety of soup from a ham bone other than traditional split pea? Have you ever tried to make soup out of whatever ingredients you have on hand (or items gleaned from cleaning out your freezer)? What do you have hanging around in your freezer or fridge right now that could be used to make a good spring soup?

 

 

 

 

2016-05-10 Life is Good cabin tee shirt

Life is Good (Why I Choose to Wear Positve Message Tee Shirts)

2016-05-10 Life is Good cabin tee shirt

 

You know, some of us just naturally see the glass as “half empty”.

If left to my own devices, often I tend to notice what’s wrong, give in to worry, or think and speak negativity. I must be a lot of fun to be around, huh?

Many have said they can’t believe I’d ever yell at my kids, say an unkind word, or have a negative outlook, but it’s partly because the introverted part of me helps me keep this “under wraps”. (I actually think I’m one of those ambiverts, but that’s another story.) In public I’m usually on my “best behavior”.

But sometimes my poor, unsuspecting family (and perhaps a close friend or two), see me at my “worst”…..which is not always particularly positive.

Not only is being a “negative” person no fun (for anyone involved), but it goes against everything I believe.

I’m not saying that if you’re a Christian nothing will go wrong….or that you should go around with a phony smile on your face pretending to feel happy (please, don’t do that!).

But we have a hope which should affect our thoughts, attitudes and words.

 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:8, NLT

I truly intend to think and speak in ways that are full of love, hope and goodness, but sometimes I need a little help.

Enter my “Life is Good” tee shirts.

Life is Good tees on bed 2016-05-10

Call them, “bumper stickers for people”, if you will. I like the fun and positive messages, even if they’re not theologically “deep”. They’re soft and comfortable (which helps with the positive feelings), and I’ve enjoyed wearing them now for years.

Wearing a shirt with a positive message like this is making a statement, both to myself and to those around me. It seems to express in a simple way the values I’m striving for…..even if I sometimes struggle to keep my attitudes and actions in check.

Life is Good tees (folded)

Now I’m not suggesting that wearing a shirt with a positive message will change your attitude in and of itself.

And there are plenty of more serious methods of dealing with a negative attitude (which sounds like a post for another day).

But a little visual reminder of what I believe and what I intend to be like can go a long way towards helping me to change. What we speak strongly affects our attitude and our actions.

So why not sport a cute shirt with a happy message??? (Or carry a happy, little pink drawstring backpack?)

Life is Good pink bag 2016-05-10

I purpose to think, speak and act in a more positive way. I continue to ask God to help me to see things the way he does, to look for the best in every situation, and to help me to truly believe that my “life is good”.

 

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

-Psalm 19:14

*****

Do you ever have trouble seeing the best in things? What helps you to keep a positive outlook on life?

 

Coral colored roses 2016-05-07

Why We Should Take Care of Mom on Mother’s Day

Coral colored roses 2016-05-07

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

I know that there are many mixed emotions about this holiday.

Some people don’t care for such days, I think primarily because they either feel it’s “fake” or contrived, or because they feel that mothers should always be appreciated.

I have to agree with the second reason, but to me, just like so many other holidays and traditions (such as Christmas, Easter, and even meal-time prayers), it’s sometimes good to set aside a special day or time to focus on celebrating an important event or blessing someone special.

For this reason, I think that Mother’s Day is a great day to pull out all the stops and really make mom feel special.

Before I continue, let me also point out that some folks dislike Mother’s Day because they have pain associated with such a holiday. It could be the pain of losing a mother, grief over not being able to bear children, or the devastation of losing their own child. There may even be those who have been hurt so badly by a mother that celebrating just doesn’t seem possible.

My heart goes out to these people, and I believe we need to be very sensitive to those around us who are hurting or for whom this holiday causes discomfort.

But for most of us, I believe that Mother’s Day can be a positive celebration to honor the mothers in our lives.

For this Mother’s Day I’d like to list some simple reasons for taking special care of mothers.

Why We Should Take Care of Mom on Mother’s Day:

 

1. It’s the right thing to do. 

The Bible instructs us to honor our parents (Ephesians 6:2). Proverbs 31:28 states,

“Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her”,

and verse 31 reads, 

Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”

Even if you’re not a Bible follower, I’m sure you feel the responsibility to give respect and appreciation to the one who brought you into this world.

2. Labor!

Come on, now. If you’ve given birth yourself you know exactly what I mean. (Unless you’re one of the few extremely rare ones who say it didn’t hurt or that you didn’t realize you were in labor….and I am in no way jealous.) If not, have you ever seen a live birth or even a video of one…..or perhaps a fabricated, yet vivid television portrayal of a woman giving birth? Need I say more? (Thankfully, I won’t post pictures!)

Your mother welcomed you into this world at great discomfort to herself and with great travail. The least you can do is buy her some flowers or chocolate and a card!

Seriously though, my perspective on what my own mother did for me changed dramatically, immediately after giving birth to my first child.

3. Mothers sacrifice regularly, often neglecting to care for themselves.

Mothers spend a good deal of their waking hours and energy caring for their children and families. They’re created to nurture, and it often comes at the expense of rest or care for themselves. Mother’s Day is a great time to set a precedent for taking special care of mom, and allowing her to have the rest and enjoyment she deserves.

4. We are teaching our children to respect and honor their parents.

As we read in the above Bible verses that mothers are to be honored (see point #1), it’s our responsibility to teach our children and the next generation to respect and care for their parents. We also need to model this type of godly behavior for our kids.

5. Focusing on mothers reminds us not to be selfish.

Any time we take the focus off of our ourselves and our own concerns in order to celebrate and bless someone else, it reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. It’s healthy to learn to care for and be sensitive to others, and in so doing we will gain a larger perspective than just that which concerns us.

 

You may already be aware of the many reasons to celebrate moms, but I hope this gave you a little more to think about. I pray that you may enjoy either being a mother and/or celebrating the mothers in your life.

If you cannot celebrate Mother’s Day for personal reasons, I totally respect that. If you’re one of the few who has been wronged by a mother, I’m so sorry for that injustice, but suggest that you seek help (if needed), and chose forgiveness. You will only hurt yourself if you continue to hold on to the pain that was bestowed upon you. May God heal and help you.

If you’re one of the ones for whom Mother’s Day reminds you of a personal loss, perhaps you can do something special for yourself and/or find someone else with whom to enjoy the day. Perhaps the pain will lesson as you surround yourself with those you love. May God give you comfort and peace.

Whatever your situation, I pray that you have a blessed Mother’s Day!

*****

How does your family celebrate Mother’s Day? Can you think of some new ways to bless and encourage the mothers in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April daffodil in snow

Ten Things I Learned in April 2016

April daffodil in snow

Today I’m going to attempt something new.

I’m going to try out this, “What I Learned This Month” idea that so many bloggers are writing about. If it works out, with any luck, this still-feeling-like-a-newbie blogger will even stick my neck out and link up with some other bloggers on Emily Freeman’s blog.

I also had a similar challenge to reflect at month’s end from my new online Pilates instructor. She also provided us with a nice printable to record “what worked” and “what didn’t work” in one of her blog posts. It’s an invitation to consider how specific things are working (or not), in my life.

Thinking about and recording what I’ve learned in the past month seems like it could be a little fun, possibly challenging, a good way to get to know and interact with some other wonderful bloggers, and most of all, a helpful practice to introduce into my life. When we step back to observe and listen to God, ourselves, and those around us, we are bound to come away inspired, challenged, thankful, and changed.

So here I go.

 

What I Learned in April 2016 (in no particular order):

 

1. I really need my “girlfriends”.

I’ve always loved and felt comfortable with my close (girl-)friends, but since I’ve been home more lately and not out in a people-filled work environment, I feel like I’ve needed my “girlfriend time” more than ever. I love my wonderful three men (my husband, one young adult son, and one teen son), but they can only tolerate so many words (and I have a lot of words!). I so appreciate every time my guys make an effort to listen and spend some quality time with me, but I need more than they are built to give in this area of communication. I’ve been incredibly blessed in this season when I could tend to feel quite lonely (lots of “between jobs” time, and working less hours), with some quality and regular time with several different girlfriends and groups of women I love. Their support, understanding and advice both encourages and challenges me.

 

girlfriends around campfire 2015-08-01

2. Glass spray bottles are nice, but they break.

This just happened. I have three lovely glass spray bottles from one of my favorite companies. While using one to spray some homemade wrinkle releaser on my shirt this past week, it slipped out of my hand and smashed on my cement basement floor (leaving a pleasant lavender and vinegar scent, I might add). It was much prettier than my plastic bottles, but not so much when scattered across my laundry room floor in shards.

vinegar, water, spray bottle, essential oil

3. Being a wife, mother, and homemaker is really my number one job priority.

If this extended time at home has taught me anything, it has confirmed that I really do enjoy most aspects of being at home. My job as a wife, mother (even to older sons), and homemaker is still my number one priority job. I’ve never really been a true “career person”. Even jobs I’ve enjoyed have often overwhelmed me and added stress to my life when I found it difficult to get to some important responsibilities at home.

4. An acquaintance of mine is one of sixteen siblings!

You read that right. I just learned that someone I know has no less than fifteen brothers and sisters! I think that’s the biggest family I’ve learned of in my almost fifty years of life.

my desk area

5. I really can blog.

Sure, I’ve only been doing it for four months now, and moving along more slowly than many bloggers, but I can actually truthfully say, “I’m a blogger”, or, “I write a blog.” It still feels uncomfortable in some ways (especially to those outside the “blogging world”), but I also feel like a small part of a big and diverse, but like-minded group of people from all over the country and even the world. Cool.

6. Doing laundry with a washing machine and plumbing that works properly is almost a joy.

I recently got a “new” (refurbished), washing machine, as our really old one finally bit the dust. We had also been having some increasingly bad plumbing issues in conjunction with the section of pipes that affect the washer. It started when we had our main line cleared out about a year ago, and came to a head when we attempted to hook up the new washing machine hose to the pipes. It would not work without leaking.

For months prior to this, I was taking extra steps and time to get our clothes clean and dry due to these issues. After we finally got a plumber to fix things up for us, and hooked up our new machine, I can’t believe how much better it feels to do the laundry! I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but for now I’m actually mostly enjoying doing laundry (but don’t let it get around!).

Our "new" washing machine.

Our “new” washer.

7. I like Pilates better than I thought.

I’ve always been somewhat active, and done moderate exercise fairly regularly for years now. As for Pilates, I had only tried somewhat lengthy workouts. While they were thorough, they felt a bit too intense for me as a beginner. I found and took part in a thirty-day online challenge this March with instructor Robin Long, which was mainly comprised of ten-minute Pilates workouts. I was pleasantly surprised to find that even with this short amount of dedicated time, I began to feel and see positive changes in my body. I can accomplish a short workout without too much stress, and I enjoy it much more. At the end of the month, I immediately joined Robin’s monthly subscription group and have enjoyed successfully completing another month with some longer workouts. I really like the camaraderie and encouragement of the Facebook group, where women from all over share both their struggles and their victories.

Pilates workout area, mat, cat 2016-03-23

8. Webinars can be fun and informational.

I tried my first few webinars; some live, and some just replays. They were all great forums in which to learn more about various subjects (usually blogging), but the live ones were really quite exciting! It felt more like being in a room with a crowd of listeners, rather than just watching a video online. I am really enjoying interacting with and learning from others through the miracle of technology.

9. Just because I don’t see any comments on my blog posts does not mean they’re not being seen.

Being a blogger of barely four months, I am still too excited by every little comment left on one of my posts. My busy, but helpful husband (who hosts my blog and generally educates and encourages me in such things), was only able to get to adding Google Analytics about a week ago.

I’ve had a “dry spell” as far as comments go for the last month or so, and I don’t have a big following yet, so I kind of assumed that meant that no one was visiting my blog or reading my posts.  I was feeling a little discouraged, and wondering if things were going poorly, when low and behold, my dashboard revealed that there is indeed someone out there finding my blog. It is both exhilarating and a little scary all at once.

mixed sky with tree silhouettes

10. I really love my church.

We’ve attended the same church for over twenty-five years now, so obviously we like it quite a bit. Recently, there were some pastoral changes, as our senior pastor made the wise decision to step down before the church “grew old” with him. Although we love and miss our former pastor, I’m finding myself more excited and convinced that this is where we are to be right now.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of as smooth and successful a transition as this one has been. We’re proud of all involved in leadership and the decision-making process, as well as the dedicated group of believers who call our church their home.  Although I don’t normally relish change, this one has been timely, and has made me appreciate both the old and new leadership for their unique contributions to this body. The changes seem to be what is needed in this season of our church’s growth. I am happy to be a part of such an effective group of Christians.

Christmas Eve service at Community Covenant Church 2015 - from Nathanael

Christmas Eve Service at Community Covenant Church (my husband Jon on guitar).

 

*****

Well, what do you know? I started this post wondering if I could come up with even five points, and ended with so many that I’ve decided to take several points and use them to start another post about what I’m learning in general in this season of my life!  I’ve really enjoyed taking this time to look back, and I think doing so regularly will benefit my life and help it to flourish.

I wonder what new things I have to look forward to learning in May?