Friday, December 2, 2011

Why did King Lemuel's mother have to be so great!?!

I used to avoid reading Proverbs 31 because I thought there's no way I can live up to that standard.  Seriously, did the woman ever sleep?  Did she ever have a bad day?  I've told Brian, forget having my children rise up and call me blessed, most days I'm just trying to get them to rise up.  I finally decided to quit avoiding Proverbs 31 and dig in and see what I could learn.  After reading it over and over, there's a couple of things that I've gleaned.  First of all, if Lemuel is a king, then most likely he's an adult.  That means his mother has years of experience under her belt.  Second, if she has years under her belt, then Lemuel is looking back and giving us a summary of his mother's life.  Third, if this is a summary, then all these things didn't happen everyday.  For me the most important thing I've gleaned from Proverbs 31 is that this wife and mother had a servant's heart for her family.  That doesn't mean that she was their maid and cook.  Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."  He wasn't any one's doormat, He gave us the example of how to love sacrificially.  I'm sure Lemuel's mother had bad days.  She had to have those days where it seemed like she couldn't finish anything, where the children were driving her crazy, days where she may have wanted to wave the white flag and surrender.  She probably also had days that gave her glimpses of the fruit of her labor concerning her family, those days where you know all the work is worth it.  I imagine she also had other women around her that mentored and encouraged her.  Over the course of her life as a mother she made clothing, was a business woman, provided food, took care of the poor, took care of herself, took care of her family, among other things.  I realized that my goal is not to be more like this woman, though she was a great woman, because like me, she was human.  I want to be more like Christ each day.  Matthew 6:33 tells us, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  Hopefully, as I'm seeking God the bad parts of me fade and the good parts of the Lord shine through. Seeking God will make me want to be a better wife, mother, and woman.  The Lord will use other women to help us on this journey, but my main focus has to be on Him.  There have been many women in my life that have mentored me and helped me.  Sometimes it's spiritual matters, other times it's just practical advice.  With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the things we do as a family.  I've had several people ask me about how we eat as family.  I've spoken a couple of times at our church on this subject, so I thought I would share my notes.  Keep in mind that all families are different.  Therefore, what works for my family, may not work for yours.   Think of this like a buffet.  If there's something you like, go ahead and take it.  If you don't like it, keep going because you may find something that you do like.

1.Menu Planning-  I don't like to go grocery shopping, so I make one big trip at the beginning of the month and then fill in with small trips as needed.  I start by making a menu plan for the month.  If a month seems like too much, try just a week.  You can start by making a list of the meals your family currently eats and then separate them by meats or types of meals.  Ask your family what their favorite meals are and what meals they would like to have.  Watch cooking shows or look through cookbooks for ideas.  You might be surprised at how many meals you come up with.  When making a menu, keep in mind events that are happening during that time.  If you have somewhere to be on a particular night, you don't want to plan a meal that requires a lot of prep and cooking time.  If your family will eat leftovers, make them a part of your menu.  If they won't eat leftovers, try to figure out a way to reinvent your leftovers.  For example, when I make a beef roast, I know that we will have some meat leftover.  I turn the leftover meat into beef stroganoff, beef and vegetable soup, steak and cheese sandwiches, or beef enchiladas and so on. 

2.Make your grocery list-  Before I make my list, I do a freezer/pantry inventory.  I want to make sure I know what I already have on hand before I go shopping.  That way I don't buy what I already have.  Use your menu to start your shopping list and then fill in with the other items that you need.  You can also keep a list on your refrigerator to jot down items as you run out so you remember to add them to your list.  It's easy to overspend on groceries, especially when you make lots of trips to the store.  We've set a budget for our family and at the beginning of the month(our payday), I take out that amount in cash and that's what I use to buy all of the food for the month.  I make less impulse buys when I look in my wallet and see my cash dwindling.  Use coupons and sale papers to make your money stretch.  I'm not a big fan of Extreme Couponing, but I do use coupons with sales to get the best deals.  I think anything taken to the extreme can be consuming, even under the category of saving money.  Definitely use coupons, just don't let them use you.  Check with your local stores for their coupon policies.  Some stores will let you stack coupons, take competitors coupons, or match sale prices.  It can be cheaper to buy some things in bulk, but you need to know your prices to be sure.,, and and some websites that you might find helpful. 

3.Make mealtime a family time-  We all sit together to eat dinner and the TV is off.  This is a great time of the day to spend with your family going over each other's day.  We all eat the same dinner.  I tell my children that this isn't Burger King and you can't have it your way.  I'm not a short order cook and I don't have the time to cater to the tastes of 5 different children.  If I know I'm making something that they don't like, I only put a small portion on their plate.  Tastes can change, so I still give them a small amount.  For example, Tori hated brussel sprouts but Brian loved them.  We wouldn't have them very often, but when we did all the children had to eat was 2.  One day as I was making the plates Tori asked me if she could have more.  In response to the shocked look on my face she said, "I used to hate them but now I like them."  If you have picky eaters, let them be a part of preparing a meal.  Being invested in the meal will make the more likely to try something.  I also realized that my children's likes and dislikes were very similar to mine.  They looked at my reaction to something to see if they would like it.  I realized that I too needed to expand my food choices past my favorites and to not push my tastes on others.  Like my friend told me once, "Don't yuck someone else's yum."

4.Eating Healthy-  Because of Timothy's severe food allergies, we are on the extreme end of healthy eating compared to most families.  If you want to start eating healthier, I'll give you some things to try.  The first thing to remember is to start slow.  If you go into your kitchen and throw out all the junk, you may just get booted out of your family.  Pick a couple of things to do and when those are no longer a big deal, add another.  We started by avoiding high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  I've seen the commercials out there saying that there's no difference between high fructose corn syrup, sugar, honey, or natural sugars.  It's made from corn, so no big deal right?  Well ethanol is made from corn too but you wouldn't belly up to the gas tank.  Research if for yourself, just steer clear of the advice of people who are profiting from what they tell you.  Dr. Oz is a great source of information and he doesn't endorse any products.  Therefore he's not profiting of what he tells you to eat.  You may want to start eating organic but don't know where to start.  I found a list of foods to buy organic and those that weren't as important.  The top 12 foods to buy organic were-grapes, cherries, nectarines, strawberries, potatoes, spinach, blueberries, peaches, kale/collard greens, sweet bell peppers, apples, and celery.  A good place to start buying organic would be with an item on this list that your family consumes the most.  It also helps to eat seasonally to help cut down on the cost.  The top 12 most pesticide free produce- onions, pineapples, asparagus, eggplant, avocados, mango, kiwi, cantaloupe, frozen sweet corn, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, and watermelon.  My general rule is if I have to peel it to eat it, I don't buy organic.  Stores are getting larger selections of natural and organic food.  Look for Farmer's Markets next summer to find organically grown local produce at a great price. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Situation, Different Perspectives

When we first moved to Tennessee, we rented a house that had a bonus room over the garage. Most weekends all the big kids slept in that room instead of their own. While we were at this house, Timothy started having trouble sleeping. He would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep. After one particularly bad night with Timothy, Zachary came stumbling sleepily down the stairs. Knowing how many times Timothy had woken me up, I asked Zachary if he was able to sleep. He told me that at one point he woke up to Timothy hammering on him with a toy hammer. As most people would do, he asked him what in the world he was doing. Timothy responded happily, "It's working! My robot is working!" One situation, two very different perspectives. Zachary was annoyed that Timothy had woken him up with his nonsense. Timothy was overjoyed that the robot he had been "working" on finally came to life. I know in my life, when things happen that I don't understand, I have a different perspective than the Lord. I see what's right in front of me and God sees the big picture. He sees how He will use it for His glory and to make me more like Christ. I think sometimes I do things without much thought, thinking it's not a big deal. In reality, God sees how everything weaves together for a purpose. When we found out about all of Timothy's new allergies, it was very difficult to process. It never dawned on me that he could be allergic to meats. Then the Lord reminded me that some time ago we switched from ground beef to ground turkey and from pork sausage to turkey italian sausage. It didn't seem like a big decision at the time, but looking back it was huge. Beef and pork were the meats that he was most allergic to. I do so much to try and protect Timothy, but there are so many things that are out of my control and that I don't know. There is nothing, however, that God doesn't know and that is out of His control. I'm learning more and more each day how to trust completely in the Lord, especially when trials come my way. In James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." As I was studying through Acts, I was impressed by the disciple's reactions to various trials. They didn't pray that God would keep them from trials. They prayed that when the trials came, God would guide them through and use it for His glory. I wish I could say that every time a trial comes my way I praise God as much as I do when good things happen. I think the Lord reminded me of that time between Zachary and Timothy so I will remember I don't always view my circumstances with the same perspective that He does. I want to become more like Christ so that I'll see life through a godly perspective instead of my human perspective. Not my will Lord, but Yours.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tori's Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago today I got my new name, Tori's mom. I have such mixed emotions about today. It seems like yesterday that I was holding her in my arms for the first time. As much as I long for those days again, I can't deny the blessings that come from watching your child grow up and give her life to the Lord. Soon she'll be leaving for her first mission trip. I remember the first time I went to Kenya, she was so upset with me for not taking her with me. She wanted to go tell people about Jesus too. I shouldn't be surprised that the Lord has given her such a heart for missions. You see, the first time the Lord used her for missions work was before she even entered the world. I was so lost in my pain that others had caused me and that I had caused myself, that I just wanted to not feel anything. When I first found out that I was pregnant I thought my life was over. I had no idea what I was going to do. That feeling quickly faded however as the Lord stared lovingly guiding me on the path that led to Him. I made a real decision to give my life to the Lord and not just the lip service that I had given up to that point. I guess if you think about it, the life I was living did end and true life began. I'm not sure where I would've ended up if the Lord hadn't used such a precious blessing to bring me to Him. I look at the young woman she's become and it still amazes me that God chose me to be her mom. Tori has such a deep commitment to serving the Lord and growing in her knowledge of Him. I know that the time I have left with her to be with us in our home all the time is growing short. I also know that the Lord has great things planned for her and it's my honor and privilege to have a front row seat. Happy Birthday Tori. I love you with all my heart and I'm so thankful for you and the young lady you are.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't worry Lord, I'll clean it up.

Some pretty gross things happen in a home with three boys. Since the Lord uses things that happen in my everyday life to teach me more about Him, bear with me on this one. Having a large family makes grocery shopping a pretty big deal. I decided long ago to do the bulk of my shopping at the beginning of the month so that I only had to fill in with little trips for the remainder of the month. That first trip usually takes several hours. I returned home from one of these trips to find the house extremely quiet, which as any mother knows is cause for concern. Brian asked Zachary to watch Benjamin for a minute while he briefly went to another part of the house. Zachary decided that would be a good time to watch TV and Benjamin went to the bathroom all by himself. I went down the hallway to find Benjamin in the bathroom smearing poop all over the wall with a very overused wipe. I'm not sure how it happened, but by the time I got there, it was on the wall, the toilet, and the sink. When Benjamin saw me, and I assume the look of horror on my face, he sweetly said, "Don't worry mommy, I keen it up." Of course the wipe he was using was never going to clean it up. I'm pretty sure I used an entire container of clorox wipes to start the cleaning process. I was telling that story to a friend the other day and it got me to thinking about my life. Sometimes I make a mess of my life and sometimes life makes a mess for me. I realized that too many times I'm trying so hard on my own to clean it up, but in my own strength, I'm using the same dirty wipe and getting nowhere. Then the Lord comes along, makes sense of it all, and uses it for His glory. I wonder how many times I've extended trials because I didnt' go to the Lord first. How many times did I have the "I've got this" mentality and make things worse? Being the mother of a large family and an autistic child, makes me feel like people are always watching me. Sometimes I give into the pressure of trying to meet the expectations that I think people have of me. In my selfish desire for approval, I set the Lord aside. I've been doing a Bible study recently and one of our main verses this week is Phillipians 2:3-4. It says, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." I'm realizing that sometimes my desire for approval puts me above my family. That passage in Phillipians continues in verses 5-8, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." I'm trying to learn that as I parent, I need to turn to the One who gave me my children. He created them, He knows them best. I want His best, not my best to be the mother, wife, and woman He's called me to be. I can't serve God and myself at the same time. I need to follow Jesus' example and humble myself before the Lord and allow Him to use me to serve others.