Tag Archive | Motherhood

Let Me Be a Mom Who Prays

blog 039Years ago when I was a new mom, my Grandmother gave me a book that she said she had enjoyed once upon a time herself. It was printed in 1957 and it has a charming vintage feel about it that I love. Back when life seemed less complex. When it was a given that moms were at home being housewives and raising up the next generation. When fathers provided for their families and a woman endeavored to make her home a haven of rest and comfort for her hardworking man.

The book is held together now by a headband(?!) Don’t ask……it must have been what was handy one night when the binding first started falling apart. I keep it in a vintage suitcase with some other meaningful letters, poems and writings pertaining to motherhood that I have received over the years. Many of them from my same dear Grandmother. I keep the suitcase beside my bed and sometimes when everybody’s tucked in and Blue eyes falls asleep before me and I am not quite feeling sleepy yet I dig around in my “mama encouragement box” for something nice to read.

Several times through out the years when I have been in the mood for something light and encouraging I have picked up this book. I still love it just as much as I did the first time I read it. I wanted to share with you some of what I read last night. It made my eyes fill with tears and my heart swell with inspiration and I fell asleep praying for the precious hardworking man sound asleep beside me and all the babies that the Lord has given to us.

A Mother’s Wages

by Elizabeth Walker Strachan

A Moody Press Publication 1957

Chapter 3: Prayer

“The truly wealthy children, the children to be envied, are those born to praying parents. Even the wisest do not fully understand prayer and all that it does. But one of the many remarkable things about prayer is that those who pray the most are those most convinced of its great potential. ……….And in spite of perplexing times, those who have prayed know that God does answer prayer, and there is a vast difference in prayed-for children and those of nonpraying parents. Prayer prepares a child’s heart for early conversion. Prayer can solve the many difficult problems of child rearing. Prayer enriches every single phase of a child’s life. Prayer brings our children that “blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Psalm 10:23)

“When should a mother pray? Before the birth of her child until her last breath is spent she should be holding that child before God for His blessing.  However else we may fail our children, may God help us not to fail them in prayer. May He make us women of prayer.”

I woke up still thinking about it this morning. (A little side note: I am getting ready to bring home two dairy goats! I am super excited! Before he fell asleep last night Blue eyes told me that he was sure I would be dreaming of goats and he was right! So after I wiped the cobwebs of dreamy goats who were playing on fancy wooden play structures (thanks to all those dear little goat pins I was pinning on pintrest last night!;) from my mind, I was still thinking about it.)

I was reminded of Job, the Bible tells us that he daily made supplication and offered sacrifices for each of his children “for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) I thought of how we are exhorted to pray continually and without ceasing. I thought of my own prayerful Grandparents and the many ways their prayers have blessed my life.

Let us, Lord, be mamas who pray!

“If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

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“Of a Small Daughter Walking Outdoors”

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Of a Small Daughter Walking Outdoors

Frances M. Frost

Easy, wind!

Go softly here!

She is small

And very dear.

She is young

And cannot say

Words to chase

The wind away.

She is new

To walking, so

Wind, be kind

And gently blow

On her ruffled head,

On grass and clover.

Easy, wind…

She’ll tumble over!

ImageWhere has the time gone? It hardly seems that a year has passed since my sweet baby Lucy’s amazing, powerful birth, and here she is walking about, talking, giving kisses to the little stuffed dog she carries around with her.

How I thank the Lord for a little hand to hold, a sleepy nursing baby by my side all night. A tousled head and baby kisses in the morning, for brown eyes and baby talkin’, for sleepy Daddy voices singing love songs in the dark.

How I thank Him for these “golden years” of my life! When I am “Mama” and the treasure of my heart fits securely in my lap, smiling and beautiful.

Finding Beauty in Motherhood

“Surely mercy and goodness will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever….”

Yesterday was one of those days…..because I was trying to throw one too many things into the mix. I thought,”I’ll just keep the kids busy with their school work with one half of my brain and with the other I’ll list some stuff on Ebay.”

Right! My dear children could not seem to focus unless I was focused on them. Every time I turned my attention to them they were not busily working on their math. Plus I was trying to keep the little girls from eating us out of house and home, plus making a birthday cake and keeping the house somewhat orderly for an art class that we’ve been hosting on Wednesday afternoons. Finally I gave up in frustration. Then I scorched and ruined a whole four quart pot of chili, I was really looking forward to eating it too! Then Blue-eyes didn’t get home until 7:30. Right at the time my three year old daughter pooped in her underwear.

My flesh was rearing it’s ugly head. I felt seriously like railing accusations at my husband (who knows why, except that at that moment it felt like all my woes were caused by him coming home late) instead I calmly, through clenched teethe told him I didn’t know of any other husband who worked so much and a couple other things. I went to bed feeling like a looser mom and an ungrateful wife.

Joy comes in the morning though. Before Blue-eyes went to work this morning he gave me lots of kisses and promised to be praying for me today. Good ole’ blue-eyes! What would I do without him?

Usually when I start to feel like this I know I need to gather my chicks under my wings and go outside, somewhere beautiful, just them and me and God. Somewhere where I can breathe deep, have the sky above me. My old stand by is the forest. Any other day it can be called the woods but on these days it is the forest.

The smell of pine trees, moss, the earth, calms my nerves and gives me peace. Today I needed this and I wanted to share with you the beauty that I found. I found beauty in motherhood like I always do when I take the time to look.

I’m sure there will be lilacs in heaven. After spending the day surrounded by such beauty our spirits are tempered with grace. Add some Tintin books and art supplies from a garage sale along the way home and we have a quiet, peaceful afternoon and I can work on my blog!

The Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland Washington

 

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Homeschooling Boys Part 3….. Of a Puppy Dog and the Great Outdoors

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Around the time our oldest son turned six we got a puppy. An adorable golden retriever. We named him Willy. I had no idea the commitment we were making! In the back of my mind I thought if it didn’t work out we could just pass on our beautiful puppy. But, no, our boys took to that little dog like they had a new brother. I could see that short of tearing my son’s heart out of his body, this dog was here to stay. And it wasn’t just puppy love either. My oldest son has prayed for Willy every night,”God, help me to be a good boy and help Willy to be a good puppy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”  Or quite on accident, without even noticing, he sometimes says, “God, help me to be a good puppy and Willy to be a good boy.” I’m sure God gets it all straightened out. They are constant companions. Roaming the hillside and the wood. Blond tail wagging, cameo, bows and hunting packs, disappearing into the tall grasses. They tell me that he is really good at hide and seek.  And they are pretty sure he is a Christian because he just seems …good.

My boys spend about an hour each morning at their “school work”. (The last part of this series will explain what that’s all about. Homeschooling Boys Part 4, Sit Down Little Son, which I will be posting soon) The rest of their day is mostly spent outdoors. Their backpacks hold field guides for identifying fora and fauna, water bottles and apples. First aid kits, journals and pencils, who knows what else. They are always ready for adventure!

They have picked me hundreds of wild flowers, discovered an old orchard with apple and plum trees, saved injured birds and baby bunnies (Bad, Willy!). They have found nests and watched deer from a short distance. They have watched rabbits scurry down holes and listened to countless bird’s songs.

They have found cool rocks and bones. Once they came back with armfuls of elk bones and tried to reassemble the skeleton. They have caught frogs and lizards. Found beautiful bird egg shells. They come home rosy cheeked and sparkly eyed, running down the hill with Willy loping along side of them. Rubber boots and rain coats, bare backed and sweaty, winter hats and mittens, but always happy.

They have made tree stands and forts and craftily hidden shelters. They have built dams on the creek. They have dug big holes with shovels, for what? Who knows! But it has kept them occupied for days. Building their muscles, teaching them the satisfaction of being a man, with rhythm and grit, getting the job done.

Lots of times their Dad or I have hiked around for the afternoon, sworn to secrecy, being shown their favorite spots, secret hideouts and cool discoveries.

They have built carts for Willy to pull, book cases for their sister’s birthdays, and whittled wooden spoons. They know how to take apart bicycles and put them back together again. My oldest son can put air in tires using the air compressor. His Dad taught him how to pump gas. He loves to open jars for me or carry heavy boxes. He is only nine and he actually has more grit than I do……but the other day I proved to him that I can still beat him at arm wrestling. He was surprised and disappointed. It won’t be long…….

Our back yard has been Jamestown reenacted for days at a time, Roanoke, Plymouth, Indian villages and Viking camps. Our swing-set has sailed the seven seas countless times over. Sometimes through storms so fierce that the poor pilgrims girls underneath have almost shed real tears. But, the brave sea captain and the sea monkey perched upon the up most mast have weathered the storm again and again.  Our deck has been a biplane dropping Bibles behind the iron curtain.  Our garage has been transformed into a well thought out and organized Nature Museum.

All of these things have been conceived and carried out on their own accord, without suggestion or prompting from us. We have never had a TV or any video games at our house. I don’t think my kids are different than anyone else’s but, sadly, I do think they are of a dwindling breed of children who’s minds and imaginations have been allowed to form completely naturally. We live in a “safety” obsessed society. Some parents would rather their kids sat in front of the TV or played computer games where they are safe and clean and in sight. Perhaps they are physically safe, but what about the far more important safety of their souls and spirits? I suppose since we no longer trust God with the timely creation of our children, we can’t fully trust that their number of days and breath of life is in his hands either.

I can see that my oldest son has matured here lately. He feels funny now if the neighbor lady catches him in a game of pretend. The complete abandon and freedom of early childhood is escaping him. That’s  the way it is and how I love this little man child that the Lord has given me! How thankful I am that the happy, carefree, golden hours of childhood were not kept from him! How quickly time goes! Never again except in those early years does the world feel so fresh and wonderful, so innocent and limitless.

Nearly every day of this guy’s life his Dad has read the scriptures to him and prayed for him. Every night he has been thoroughly kissed and hugged and put to bed under the blessing of the God of heaven and earth. Every day he has roamed happy and free the earth that God has created. Without grown ups always there to tell him what he should think and observe and look at. And he is “growing strong and vigorous like a plant”.

I am glad that this will lay the foundation of his life and education. Who knows what God might have in store for his life but I know this, if he knows Jesus Christ and understands that the word of God is a light unto his path and a lamp unto his way, if he learns how to love the people around him well, he will know happiness. I ask God to bless him with this richness.

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 Every Child

Edna Casler Joll

Every child should know a hill,

And the clean joy of running down it’s long slope

With the wind in his hair.

He should know a tree-

The comfort of it’s cool lap of shade,

And the supple strength of it’s arms

Balancing him between earth and sky

So he is the creature of both.

He should know bits of singing water-

The strange mysteries of it’s depths,

And the sweet grasses that border it.

Every child should know some scrap

Of uninterrupted sky, to shout against;

And have one star, dependable

 and bright

For wishing on.

……Homeschooling Boys Part 2 For the Love of a Story

When my little son turned 5 or 6 I could see that he would not enjoy sitting down to seat work and hand writing like his older sisters had. I had read enough about the development of little boys to agree with others who had observed that the traditional way of teaching the early elementary years of school is stacked against boys. Their fine motor skills are often more immature than those of their female peers. It is more difficult for them to sit still. This can lead to over diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and other learning troubles.

I did not in anyway want to make education distasteful to him.  Around this time I started to really think about my philosophy of education. What are my goals in providing my kids with an education? With babies and preschoolers, as well as school aged children to care for I need to use all of my resources wisely. Every amount of energy, time and attention I invest must be with the best of my ability in shaping their soul and character.

The end result of this searching and wondering was a total reshaping of our homeschool. “As a stream can rise no higher than it’s source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise higher than the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth….” (Charlotte Mason) And what are the thoughts and lofty aspirations that are giving birth to the education of my precious children?

Upon the wall of our home I have written a quote by James Stephen which reads, “I have learned, that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and what the heart understands today the head will know tomorrow.” I believe this is true. And what better way to reach the heart of my boy than through books?

Wonderful, beautiful books, full of adventure and good, noble characters! Books who’s authors can help to teach and shape the souls of my kids. Whole and living books, written with passion, about every subject imaginable! In this way I can put my kids under the teaching of great minds of men and women from the past and present. What a shame when the early formative years of children’s lives are allowed to be wasted with foolish and violent media! Parents, carefully guard the hearts and minds of your young children! What we feed into our hearts and minds is what will come out! What a charge God has given us in protecting these precious ones!

I had read of a school of thought that says that given the ideal atmosphere and proper foundation children will learn to read just like they learn to talk and walk. Without much stress or effort on their part, it will naturally happen. Prayerfully and purposefully I set out to try to create that atmosphere in my home.

From the time my kids are very young I will put my finger under the words as I read them a story. I teach them that letters make sounds and that the sounds blended together make words. (And I let them watch The Letter Factory, a lot!) I tell them how wonderful and important it is to be able to read. I tell them how God chose to communicate himself to us through the written word. It is through reading that we can be sure not to be fooled by the erroneous teachings of men, by “studying the scriptures daily to see whether these things are so”, like they did in the early church.

We have read so many books! Most importantly, the Book of Books, the Bible. The source of all goodness and truth. We like the Arthur Maxwell Bible Story series. They are not “dumbed down” like some we have tried. He is an excellent story teller. We use the King James Version Bible. I think it is good for the minds of kids to read the Old English writing. Ours have had no problem reading through short verses even with their earliest reading skills.

After a lot of study and prayer I felt that the best way to engage my son in “the gentle art of learning” would be to set some things on the back burner for a few years. Things like grammar, spelling, and hand writing. Instead I wanted to capture his heart and mind.

Our family has sat spell bound and breathless, we have had tears in our eyes and on our cheeks, we have laughed until our tummies hurt reading stories, real and fictional, about people in far away times and places. People in all sorts of situations, who were strong and brave and good. People who had such faith that many beautiful stories have come out of horrible darkness. They will never forget these historical things because they have felt them in their hearts.

My oldest son is nine and a half. I have wondered sometimes if I have been doing the right thing. Even earlier this winter he was still sounding out a lot of words and not really reading silently very often for his own pleasure. But, lo, and behold! Along comes The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (in an abridged version, 200 pages). He has seen the Christian Youth Theater performance and loved it. He can’t convince me to read the book right then, and literally, over night my son turns into a book worm!

He finishes Robin Hood in a couple of days and is on to Ivanhoe (abridged as well). But this book actually has him teary eyed and then jubilant, when he finds out his hero craftily escaped the fire! I now know the story line of Ivanhoe. He has been coming to me for one book after another. Right now he is reading Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry.

I am so happy that everything has come full circle and he is laughing and crying over his books. It was a little long in coming but it has been completely stress free on his part as well as mine. His little brother told me the other day,”He is kind of boring now, all he wants to do is read!”

A couple of weeks ago our oldest son also told his Dad that all the other kids in his Sunday School class know how to write in cursive and he would like to learn too. Sure, Son! Out come the cursive hand writing books and he is diligently practicing his hand writing on his own accord.

I don’t regret for a minute the relaxed approach that we have taken. Read more about this in Homeschooling Boys Part 3, Of a Puppy Dog and the Great Outdoors, which I will be posting sometime soon.

There are too many good books to list but here are some that our family, and specifically our boys,  have found to be the cream of the crop!

Beautiful Feet Books Early American History, this is a fabulous literature, notebooking based curriculum, I just cannot even say enough good about it! All of the books that they have chosen are wonderful.

Treasures of the Snow and The Star of Light by Patricia St.John

The Little Pilgrim’s Progress adapted from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

The Laura Ingalls Wilder books

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachian

The Sign of the Beaver, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

The Butterfly, Pink and Say, January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

Number the Stars by Lois Lowery

“……..Sons Vigorous and Tall as Growing Plants” Part 1

The other night it rained all night long. The sun shone bright the next morning and I sat on my front porch with a cup of coffee.  My boys were up, dressed in their cameo, BB guns slung over their shoulders. Up to greet the day…..I watch them go, up the hill, through the fresh green springtime that sparkles like jewels around them. The dog’s tail wags. They are happy. Half way up they stop suddenly, they spin around, guns drawn. Imaginary lassos  twirl wildly, a few minutes later the trouble is over and they calmly continue on their way. They are too far away for me to make out their words. It’s like I am watching a silent film, one which captures the wholesome goodness of little boys.

But, alas, I am a writer. This moment has captured my heart and my mind. Everything else is forgotten and with teary eyes and a full heart I watch my boys meander their way up the hill to the woods beyond and out of sight. And I love them.

I have folders and notebooks and journals full of writings. Moments of time, when my heart is so full that it hurts, and lest I cease living I must write it down. From the tender new love of a wife, until now, scattered around, my heart is written on paper.

And so I sit with the sun on my face and I think about my sons. They are mysterious to me, I don’t try to understand them completely because they are little men in the makings. I leave that to Blue eyes. I hope they will grow up to be good men like their Father. I hope they will love the Lord and walk according to His word.

I don’t try to make them be “safe” and clean because I want them to be strong and vigorous like a tree. I hope they grow up and learn how to pray for and love a woman. I hope they love babies. I hope they will find purpose and pleasure in working hard and providing for those they love.

My oldest son turned nine last fall. He is finishing up his early elementary education. His father and I have taught him at home and we are so very happy with the fruit we are seeing!  Before he started school, his two older sisters were educated with a curriculum in a box, very much “school at home” type of thing. When it came time for us to begin his formal education, though, my heart was led in a different direction.

In celebration of his completion of third grade I thought it would be fun to do a series of blogs on my thoughts on educating my sons. I hope you will be inspired over the next couple of weeks as I share some of my heart and wisdom I have gleaned as I have endeavored to raise these guys in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10Image

An Old Mom Learns a New Trick and Feels Earth Friendly

Our  Beautiful Children 047One of the interesting things about having many children is that you get to mother through a lot of different parenting trends. Some of which I think are funny….hooter hiders (or nursing aprons)? I mean, I keep my hooters decently hidden but I’ve never felt the need to disguise the fact that I have a babe at breast. But then again I’ve been nursing babies for the past thirteen years so it seems quite natural by now.

Anyways…..I have always enjoyed reading a variety of parenting books,  and I glean at least a little from nearly every one! I also like to learn from other families and women that I am around. I hope that I will always be humble enough to continue learning and developing “our” parenting style. Still, sometimes I get caught in the “but I’ve always done it this way” rut.

My dear Grandmother, who just went home to be with the Lord at 86 years old, has told me many times that she remembers the last time she was breast fed by her mother. There is a story to go along with the memory, which is, I’m sure, why she so clearly remembers it. She figures she must have been at least three. She always let me know that she thought it was just fine when my babies were still  breast feeding well into toddler-hood. I’ve really appreciated the encouragement.

To me the modern American idea that babies should nurse until they are one and then wean just doesn’t make sense. There are so many scriptures that refer to breast feeding as a means of comfort rather than simply nourishment. Historical research shows that Hebrew mothers nursed their babies until they were 3-5 years old. Blue eyes and I both feel that allowing our babies to breast feed until they naturally wean gives them a secure emotional foundation to build upon.

Our  Beautiful Children 059Likewise with co~sleeping. I lived with my oldest sister and her husband before I married my precious love and I always thought it seemed so sweet and cozy that their babies and toddlers were welcomed into their bed. Even their older kids were welcome to bring a blanket and pillow and sack out on the floor in their bedroom if they awoke during the night.

Our baby Lucy has slept with us her whole little life and our 3 and 5 year old daughters usually quietly crawl into our bed before morning. I love to wake up to find them snuggled up together in the middle of Mom and Daddy, which prompted us to purchase a king size bed several years ago. On rare occasion one of the older kids will be troubled about something, usually a sad book, such as a missionary story, that has made them really think about some of the hurting people in this world, and want to sleep on our floor. I’m glad they have a place to come for comfort. We are privileged to have them come to us for prayer and a listening ear.

Our  Beautiful Children 045My youngest sister introduced me to baby wearing when she became a mother six years ago. I love her parenting style and have been inspired by her many times. There is a certain time frame before my babies like being down on the floor to explore and move around when I am able to keep them close to my heart, first in a sling and then when they are a little more mature in a baby wrap. My older girls would love to hold and rock and sing to my babies all day, while I cook and clean etc. etc., and they do get their turns! But usually I tell them, “Girls, this is MY baby. She was in my womb for nine months and she likes to be close to my heart (and I like her there as well). When you grow up and get married then you can have your own babies and be the one to hold them most of the time.” Baby wearing has given me a wonderful way to fulfill that desire while still accomplishing many of my household duties.

I have found it to be refreshing to spend time with my dear niece who is a first time Mama. My little grand~nephew is, according to five year old Olivia,”The cutest boy that goes to our church AND the cutest boy in the whole world!” Yup, he is pretty cute! My niece has used cloth diapers on him ever since he was born and at first I thought,”Wow! That is very ambitious of her. I like LUVs.”

As I’ve watched her over the last year though and seen how snazzy the modern cloth diapers are, I have done something that I never imagined I would do, I’ve switched completely over to cloth diapering. I feel so earth friendly,*sigh* and it is working out great thus far. I’m so impressed with it that I am planning to do a detailed blog covering the products I’ve been using as well as some advice on making the switch. I think I’ll have time to put the post together on Saturday morning so if you are interested, please, keep an eye out for it!