Cooking, Home and Family, Homemaking, Parenting

Life lessons while canning

We have finished bottling peaches for the year, and one lesson learned was such a fabulous observation, I am still smiling (and thinking).  As we taught my two oldest grandsons to peel the ripe peaches and put them in the jars, the nine-year-old remarked, “It goes more quickly if I go slowly….”.  He was referring to the reality that peach skin will rip (rather than peel) more easily if you pull quickly, or are in a hurry.  He’s right….and not just about peaches.

For him, it held lessons about slowing down in order to complete his math more precisely, or learning to take care with his penmanship so that it only takes one effort to be done. I’m sure we’ll be referring back to it for other lessons as well.

For the adults, it is continuing to teach us to remember to take time to slow down.  Children learn more quickly when we are patient.  Jobs get done more satisfactorily when we slow down and think things through.

And for Grandma.  Slow down.  Accept what you’re given with grace and gratitude.  Stop waiting for what may never be.  The Lord’s timing is perfect.

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalms 46:10

Advertisements
Home and Family, Homemaking

Stay home

Sometimes you hear that stay-at-home mothers are lacking in ambition.  *exasperated sigh*  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have not been able to stay home for a while.  What did I learn (or learn again) about staying home?  Here is a smattering:

  • Sleeping in your own bed is a blessing I take for granted WAY too often!
  • I can cook meals that feed our bodies and souls with real ingredients…and love.  That is hard to do without a kitchen! Eating out or just grabbing a quick bite is hard on our health, budget, and nerves.
  • Spending time with family is best done daily.  Too many special trips, extra goodies, or just being out of touch is tough on husbands, kids, grandparents, and everyone else.  Nothing beats routine, regular time together.  Touch base with those you love only on the days you brush your teeth.
  • Slow and steady really does win the race!  I can’t cram all the prep, planning, cleaning, and teaching into a few hours per week.  My home is cleaner, my body is more responsive, and my heart is more peaceful when I focus on hearth, home, and the things the Lord put me here to do.
  • It is cheaper to be home and doing than to be out and about..in just about everyone way!
  • I am a better wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend when I stop being “busy” and I give attention to the things that matter most.
  • My mind is sharper when I take time for me.  Prayer, scripture study, time to meditate, and exercise are essential for mental clarity.  Those are most easily done at home.
  • When I can’t stay home, I need to use that opportunity to reflect on the blessings that are so often overlooked, and give thanks for all that is mine when I can.

I realize not everyone has the ability to be home, and that I and my daughters are blessed to have husbands and family that support and encourage the moms to be with their children, but how easy it can be to get distracted and trade the things of greatest worth for a mess of pottage!

Today I choose to stay home.

Home and Family

I don’t do drama! (Rant warning)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

When did our society decide that every annoyance was to be addressed?  Or every disagreement aired and discussed? I realize that I am a grandmother, and so older than many, but I remember my father looking at me and telling me, “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.” (And he was right. Life isn’t fair.) Or, “So? Your point?”  (Lest you think he was uncaring, please note that those comments often came as we discussed the problem over ice cream from the local ice cream parlor.) At the time, it annoyed me to no end.  Now I confess, “Daddy, I GET IT!”  We are able to grow more, learn more, have more joy, and teach more effectively when we are able to “get over it.”

So many times in the recent past someone has asked for my help…for themselves, for a friend or loved one. Don’t get me wrong. If I can help, I am more than willing. The problem? The “help” these folks are seeking comes tightly wrapped up in drama! Layers and layers of it!

Come to my home, and we can discuss religion, academics, child care, organization, running a household, or any other number of topics and have a great time. I will teach you make bread, save money, or write your own curriculum…happily. But please check the whining at the door! I can’t change how your mother-in-law, neighbor, congregation member, or other obnoxious person responds to you or what they say. And neither can you. “Get over it.”  Move on, and prove them wrong. It becomes much harder to argue with what someone is doing when everyone can see that the outcome was a good one!

Besides that, your children are learning to whine, complain, and become victims the more you model that behavior. If you desire them to be strong, motivated, and able to persevere, you must do the same. No one has a perfect life. Anywhere. Stop insisting that life is unfair because you have problems. (If you think there are people who don’t have them, you need to pay better attention to others around you!)  I don’t remember Christ being a complainer.  The Reformers and later Church leaders just got on with the job. We must do the same!

I’m not apathetic to the plight of others; I just have no power to change someone else’s life.  If things need to change, make a different choice.  Do something you haven’t tried.  Or just stop thinking about all the negative. It is amazing how much a positive outlook helps, but drama is exhausting. It can literally make you ill. You miss the joy and beauty of life. And the Lord can’t guide you if you are focused on wallowing in the mire.

So if you want to know how to cook a meal from scratch, plan your literature study, or get a garden planted, let me know. The rest is for you and the Lord to unravel!

(This post is in no way meant to point the finger at those who truly suffer from clinical depression.  But if you do, get professional help.  That is also out of my league!)

Home and Family

My goals for the New Year

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalms 46:10

It’s that time again.  New Year’s Resolutions.  *sigh*  Often this exercise results in a list of things about which to berate myself, or, at the very least, to recognize where I fall short.  Not this year.  I won’t do it.  Instead of the more common goals of “fixing” my life, my goal for 2014 is to accept what is.  And work with it.  I don’t need another reason to feel I have failed, or a yard stick to measure my progress against those around me.  I need to simply “be still” and trust more. My limitations are no reason to not wish the absolute best for others, and my abilities do not give me the right to be critical towards anyone else (good, bad, or indifferent).  So how does such a basic, human, fundamental attitude change break-down into manageable, definable bites?  Here is what I have come up with so far.

  • If 20 lbs. (or more) comes off, fabulous.  If not, I still need to take care of the body I have rather than wishing I was 23 again.  (And really, I don’t want to be 23 again!)
  • Finances are okay.  Not ideal, not terrible.  I will continue to change things for the better a bit at a time, and refuse to feel as though the last of our debt isn’t disappearing quickly enough because I need to change something major, i.e. no more date nights, dvd purchases, cable bills, clothing purchases, days-out with Mom, etc. until it is all paid off.
  • Serving where I can, and doing what brings me joy is good enough.  Spending time with my grandchildren, or teaching cooking classes are wonderful and worthy places to spend my time.
  • Watching the news and wanting to throw something at the screen accomplishes nothing.  Being involved where I can, and trusting that, ultimately, the Lord is in charge is a much better plan.  He is smarter than I am, and can see things I can’t.
  • Find more joy as wonderful things happen to those around me, and express it.  I am pretty good at feeling happy for them, but I need to write more notes telling them congratulations, or simply patting them on the back!
  • Other people make decisions or participate in behaviors that confuse, annoy, or sadden me sometimes.  Not mine to fix.  My job is to love them, pray for them, and carry enough of His peace with me that perhaps I can share a bit with others as needed.  I am only in charge of my own sphere; I don’t have the time or energy to try to “take on” anyone else’s.
  • Laugh more-in a kind-hearted way.  Life is generally pretty funny.
  • Saving the planet single-handedly is not in my wheelhouse.  I will use my fabric shopping bags when I have them.  If I forget them, oh well, get over it, shoot for next time.  I can’t always recycle every bit of paper.  Or walk to every destination.  It’s okay; I simply need to do what I can. Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a good idea, but not a religion to me.
  • Remember that my children, grandchildren, and others I come in contact with may learn much from what I say as well as what I do.  Choosing to be cynical (which IS different than clever), or sarcastic, or negative is neither helpful nor worth-while.  Speaking positively and looking for the good can be much more difficult, but yields much better results!
  • I have an auto-immune disorder.  Not everyone understands my limits.  No problem.  But I MUST put my pride in my back pocket, count the cost of any given activity, and stay true to what I can and cannot do.  No more trying to push past where it is wise in order to meet someone else’s expectations.  No more worrying about how someone might (or did) react because I said “no” to something. No more worrying about letting others down because I’m having a bad-health day.  If the Lord gave me my limits, then He made them part of my package and will help me become what I need to become regardless of them.

So what do I do when I am not peaceful or still?  I am sure it will happen…repeatedly.  Sing a hymn.  Look out my window at the beauty all around me.  Say a prayer.  Serve someone else.  Count my blessings.  Re-read a favorite book.  Look for the good in others.  Hug someone.  Laugh.  Be happy.

Home and Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Climb in all the way!

There is an oft-repeated story of a young child who keeps falling out of bed.  When his parents inquire what the problem seems to be, he responds, “I wasn’t in all the way.”  This observation applies to so much of life!

If you are experiencing difficulties with home organization or finances, it may be helpful to examine your level of commitment to being organized or living within a budget.  If you are only committed to an idea, you may find that achieving your goal is harder than anticipated.  Decide if you actually want it, get a plan together, and then stick with it!

Wanting to be healthier can only succeed if you are willing to walk more and drive less, or snack on veggies rather than chips!  Living on take-out or restaurant meals may be simpler than learning to cook, but it can sabotage any success you hope to have.

Probably the area with the longest lasting effects for “climbing in all the way” is parenting.  Choosing to become a full-time mom, hence a one-income family works better if both parents are on board with the idea.  Raising well-behaved, respectful children is much easier if both parents have the same goal, and are willing to spend time learning what it takes to get there.  Homeschooling requires dedication, commitment, and follow-through.  If you can’t stand the idea of spending a few hours a day focusing on your children (and only your children), you may find homeschooling a chore rather than a joy.

Conversely, the happiest people I know (and the ones I love to be around) are the ones who have grabbed on with both hands and are in for the long haul.  They are exactly who they are, and they stick with what they set out to accomplish.  They don’t waste time living in the past or wishing time away- they are too busy living now.

Decide where you would like to be in a year.  Five years.  Twenty.  What road should you be on right now to get you there?  Then start.  Detours happen, but don’t lose sight of the end goal!  You can do hard things!