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.

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Home and Family, Homemaking, Homeschooling

Living with integrity

While talking through character study with my eldest grandson this morning, we discussed the difference between dishonesty and integrity.  At seven years old, he seemed to have a handle on dishonesty with no problem.  Stealing, lying, telling half-truths, etc. are dishonest behaviors and we shouldn’t indulge in them.  Integrity took a bit more explanation.  Not committing any of the aforementioned offenses is obviously part of living with integrity, but it goes further than that.  We talked about the need to be true to yourself and others, choosing to walk away rather than participate in activities that you know are wrong, and doing your best.  He seemed to “get it.”  And now his grandma is thinking… and thinking…

What does living with integrity mean in my life?  What does it look like?  This is what I decided living with integrity means to me:

  • Being true to myself, the Lord, and my priorities.  If I can’t get to everything on my list, I need to focus on the most important, and trust Him with the rest.
  • Trying to be wise.  If my health, time, or finances won’t stretch that far, admit it.  Walk away.  Move on.
  • Recognizing what each day allows.  Some nights I can put on a full roast chicken/mashed potatoes/biscuits/salad dinner.  Some nights we have box mac-n-cheese and bottled fruit.  Other nights we may just grab take-out.  Trying to create a masterpiece for each meal is just not reasonable.  We are either too busy, too stretched, or too much in need of “down time.”  This goes for getting dressed everyday including doing my hair and a full-face of make-up, having a spotlessly clean house, perfectly done laundry, flawlessly weeded garden, or even an articulately written post.  I need to do be content with what I can actually do at the time.
  • Allowing others the same.  I can’t expect perfection of those around me.  If I am letting go of that expectation for myself, I have to afford them the same courtesy.  Some days are just not the best.  If the children are having an off day, or are not feeling tip-top, let things go a bit.  Do a crossword for spelling.  Don’t ask for perfection in their math assignment.  Let the unmade bed go a bit longer (they may need to crawl back into it at some point).  If my husband had a crazy day at work, I need to lighten up on the “honey-do’s” and let him read the sports page, etc.
  • Honesty matters.  I can only do what I can do.  I believe what I believe.  I am not obligated to negotiate any of that to make someone else happy.
  • False modesty is akin to lying.  If you are good at something, be good at it!  I can cook a mean pot of spaghetti, and my bread is yummy!  I love assembling curriculum and helping others teach their children, and they come to my home for that, so it must be worth their time.  On the other hand, I am hopeless with a needle or playing sports.  Those are things I joy in as I watch my children participate.  My daughter, her husband, and oldest boy all knit and/or crochet.  My other children are gifted artists, athletes, and designers.  I do what I do.  They are good at so many other things!  And we all love to play with words!
  • Gratitude is vital.  I have no integrity if I refuse to see the amazing blessings and tender mercies that shower down each day!  I have a good man for a husband, loving and contributing children with great priorities, and the cutest grandchildren ever! (They really are!) 166766_10200951243442301_2055576302_n IMG_6477    I live a comfortable home, in a stunning part of the country, in a great nation, and have friends and faith to get me through the challenges of life.   Denying or letting go of any of that is a betrayal of all I know and love.

I can’t live each day with full excellence or perfection.  There is too much about me and my life that is human or challenging.  But “til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.”  (Job 27:5)

Home and Family, Parenting

Joy in motherhood

“I love these little people, and it is not a slight thing when they who are so fresh from God love us”.  

                                                                                    Charles Dickens

Our callings as mothers, and grandmothers, are not simply tasks before us.  Motherhood is not a “job”.  There is no higher calling in this life than to be a wife and mother.  We do not accomplish much that is worthwhile when we try to do this on our own.  Those young, fresh faces who smile when they see us are so often the reflection of us when we are at our best.  And who hasn’t had the experience of seeing themselves at their worst in their child’s behavior.  Our families deserve the best we can give.  None of us is smart enough to figure this out without help!
The greatest successes I have had in my home have been a direct result of following the counsel given by the Lord.  Those words we hold as scripture are the greatest parenting manual ever written.  We learn best how to love, teach, support, and correct when we place ourselves in God’s hands.  Finding other women who had amazing families, and spending time with them asking questions, and watching them with their children helped me find ways to put into practice what the Lord has asked us to do.
One of the greatest pieces of counsel I tried hard to follow-one that had the most direct impact on all of us- came from Ezra Taft Benson.  He spoke with mothers and advised us to “be at the crossroads” of our children’s lives.  Those times when they are coming home from school, activities, or time with friends-when they are preparing to leave for time away from home.  Attend church, activities, concerts, games, etc. with them.  Be there.  Be ready to listen, ask questions, and watch for opportunities to help.  Some of the best times for us happened in the car when I picked my teenagers up from class at the local high school.  They were ready to talk about the happenings of the day, and I tried to make sure I was ready to listen.  When their friends needed a ride,  I listened even more.  It was some of the best time I spent with them at that age!  Sharing the highs and lows, and conundrums of teenage life was a great experience.
I am discovering  the truth of the statement: mothering never ends.  It changes with the seasons of life, and then carries on into the eternities.  Our grandchildren offer us a chance to practice what we  learned, and to reflect on the time when our children were young.  As I look back on the years of raising my own children, I find myself wishing we had prayed more, and lectured less.   I wish I had found more joy in the moment with those whom the Lord entrusted to my care!  I am grateful we worshiped as a family, worked together, and found ways to laugh at life.  Truly, if I could change anything we would pray together more, and follow the Spirit more exactly.  And I would look for even more ways to ensure that I was joyfully “at the crossroads” for each of my children.