Monday, November 22, 2004

I spent the boys’ dual naptime (the hour or so that their naps overlap) to plan for Thanksgiving. The Flylady has a helpful section on Thanksgiving, and I used her lists as a starting point for getting together a plan. I want to be the type of hostess that is not so busy running around that she is unable to enjoy her family and guests. And I want to be a good cook (cooking yummy things from scratch), clean housekeeper (no clutter or dust bunnies everywhere), and joyful person (with a genuine smile). And on top of that I don’t want it to be formality, but to be born out of a real servant heart towards my family as I rejoice in the work that God has called me to. I am thankful that God is still working on me as I learn more and more in all of these areas. I am FAR from attaining these goals, but “do not {want to] grow weary in doing good”(Galatians 6:9).

One of the things that I learned from Laine was realizing that I am “in process” still and that God is still working on me, not just in daily santification, but also in growing me to be a housewife. I can allow myself to learn, to try new ideas and recipes and methods, and to fail. I can realize that things won’t always be perfect or even good, but that God is concerned with my attitudes. A willing heart, a teachable heart, a satisfied heart, and a joyful heart—these are the things that I want to cultivate as I learn. Laine always wrote with such enthusiasm about her jobs as a wife and mom. I was thinking yesterday that I should work at my jobs here at home with even more vigor than I would at a job outside of home. I can read and learn new skills just as I would if I were trying to advance in a new career area.

Anyway, today I planned everything that I would need to do each day to have a stress-free Thanksgiving. I want to do a little to prepare each day so that it is not overwhelming at the last minute. Today, I polished my silver candlesticks and washed out my big Armetale bowl for decorating the table. I got out all of the serving dishes that I plan to use and stuck a post-it note in each specifying what will go in it. I stuck my turkey in the fridge to thaw, and I wrote out my plan for the rest of the week. I still need to get out my serving utensils and my linen tablecloth. I also need to double-check my recipes to see if there is anything that I need to buy.

Will, Joseph, and I leave next Monday to go to Virginia for my little sister’s wedding. We’ll be there for about a week and a half before the wedding to visit, and Joe will join us the day before. That means that that Joe will be here by himself for almost 2 weeks! He has already told me that he’ll miss us and I know that he will. The house will be so quiet without us, I’m sure. I am planning on leaving him lots of things already prepared for him to eat, but he’s not a big cook, so I’m not sure what he’ll use.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I’ve just put Will down to bed and Joe is reading Joseph his story before he goes down. It has been a long and good day. It is rainy here and cool but not cold. A gray day that is perfect for napping, an unattainable activity for a mama with two small children. Will was up in the night last night too, which is so rare, and a nap would have been much needed today. We are finally going to see a gastroentomologist this week to get some better medicine for his reflux. The Zantac seemed to be helping for a little while, but he has been miserable this past week and with our upcoming trip to Virginia, he needs to be better since we’ll be away for so long. Last night, he was up from 3-4 AM and I finally got him to sleep by nursing him in bed with us and then snuggling him closely with him on his tummy. I dozed for a bit and then carefully carried him back to his crib around 5:00 AM.

He was crying again just now and so I helped him drop off to sleep and then got started on tonight’s work. I’m back now and want to post this before I go to sleep. On Saturday night, we try to get everything clean and ready for the Sabbath so that it will truly be a day of rest. Having an uncluttered house, the table set, and church clothes laid out on the ends of beds really help us get going in the morning. Enjoy your “day of rest and gladness!”

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My xanga writing has diminished recently partly because I didn't know what to say and partly because I haven't taken much time to sit at the computer. We brought the TV from out of storage to watch a movie last weekend when my mother in law was here, and I made the mistake of not asking my husband to put it right back away. So, I've wasted some time recently watching TV. I have folded laundry, cleaned the kitchen, made dinner, made bread, cleaned, etc. while watching some days, but some days I just vegged and that is not who I want to be. I've been reading online about women who inspire me to be more and do more and that is where I want to focus.

Philllipians 4:8 says: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things." This verse is so appropriate, because I want my heart and mind to be filled with things excellent, praiseworthy, right, admirable, true, and noble. I don't want to have the things of this world (which already are so omnipresent) seep into every facet of my mind. I want to think about what is noble and excellent, not what is base and superfluous.

I think that is one of the reasons that I don't like watching TV. (Actually, that sentence isn't quite right. I DO like watching TV. However, a better way to say it is that I think that watching TV is not the best for me.) The stories fill my mind with things that are not uplifting, and they don't inspire me to be more than what I already am. When I read a good article or book about someone's struggles towards Christlikeness or patience in affliction or peace in persecution, it spurs me on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). After a few hours in front of the "boob tube" (as my mom always called it when I was growing up), I feel drained and tired, as if my life has paled in comparison to the action of what I watch.

But that is just the opposite of the truth. In Christ, we have life abundant. Life to the full! Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10. The shallow storylines of the typical drama or sitcom cannot offer any fullness, only glitter and frosting. A life in Christ is deep waters and fruitful vines.

May I fix my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith (Heb 12:2) and may the world grow dim in His light.

"So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full in­to His face and you will find that the things of earth will ac­quire a strange new dimness."
from Fo­cused, by Lil­lian Trott

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I’m not sure how coherent this will be because it is just stream of consciousness, but here it is:
I am really discouraged. I went to my usual Wednesday morning Moms Bible study at church. Will had already had a fussy morning and I had barely had time to look at this week’s lesson. Joseph always stays home with Joe for “man morning” to account for the late hours that Joe will be working at church tonight. Will needs to nurse about halfway through the study and so he comes with me.

We got there late and small group time was just so typical. One of the women dominated the conversation with stories about God’s faithfulness to her in her job. I really have a hard time with this woman (although I like talking to her and have enjoyed her personally) because of her working and the way she talks about it. One of the first meetings she talked about how her two kids, ages 2 and 4, are in 5 day a week preschool (euphemism for day care). And “Hallelujah, thank you, God for that!” she said. I thought, “How awful!” The worst part about it is that everyone laughed and said, “Wonderful!” How could she think so little of her role as a mother to rejoice (and praise God none the less) that she was not raising her own children? This morning, she was relating a story about how God was faithful because He worked details out so that some sales counted for last month and she met a big sales goal. As she went on and on about her stress and busyness and how she always feels weird asking our prayer for her job but men don’t and so she realizes that she shouldn’t either….all I could think of was—this is wrong! We shouldn’t encourage her to not be a mother, which is what we are tacitly doing by smiling and nodding as she relates these stories. (And before you think that perhaps she “needs” to work, she carries a Louis Vuitton purse.) Is there a place for someone to say in love that perhaps she should be a mother and wife and not focus on her career?

While all of this was happening, Will was started to fuss and so I nursed him discreetly. As I burped him between sides, he spit up and some women in the group were so uncomfortable. Both of my boys have been spit-up babies and so I am used to carrying burp clothes and wearing a lot of easy to wash clothes when we are at home. What added to my issue today was how several women in the group acted. They made such a big deal about it. I just would have loved it if they had quietly smiled and nodded as they happily reminisced about nursing their kids (which most of them didn’t) and the little inconveniences that sometimes come with being a mom. Kids here are looked at as being a burden and a hassle and spit up on the floor (though carefully cleaned up by me) during a women’s Bible study small group is just one more example of the intrusion that kids cause.

After small group was over, Will and I headed into the main room for the large group meeting. I chatted with a few of the moms from Joseph’s play group and then sat down. I sit away from the main group next to the back wall so that I can walk with Will or slip out if he cries. Out of the group of 160 moms in the study, there are three of us that bring our infants. The rest are stacked away in the nursery on the other end of the church. When the group quieted down and the speaker began, Will made a few happy cooing noises and I got a few smiles from some moms. He got a bit noisier (though still a happy noise) and one of the moms in the back row turned around and gave me a look that said, “Who are you? And why is your baby here?” Now, the whole reason that I sit by the back wall is so that Will and I will be as little as a distraction as possible. I want everyone to be able to focus on the speaker and I understand that noise is distracting.

I decided not to stay and so Will and I headed for the door. By the time that I got to the car, I was stewing and I mulled it all over as we dropped a prescription off at the pharmacy on the way home. Nothing that happened this morning was earth shattering, but by the time I walked in the door to our house, I felt completely defeated. What am I here for? What is the purpose of my role as a mom and wife? Does it have any value? My pessimism was going full force and I doubted every aspect of who I am and what my life is. I tried to explain it to my husband, but hadn’t had enough time to really think through what was bugging me. He reassured me of my value as a wife and mother and prayed for me before he left for work.

The boys are both tucked in for their afternoon naps and so I have had this time to write. I don’t think that it was until I got this all down that I really felt the energy to combat the hopelessness and meaninglessness that was creeping into my heart. God is reassuring me in answer to my husband’s prayer even as I write this.

The people that I am in contact with here do not value the role of a woman as a wife and mother. Children are seen as dolls to dress up and baby-sit rather than as eternal souls that need to be pointed towards the truth of the Gospel and disciplined to grow Godly character. There is little thought of the ideas that my husband and I have towards children.

--The idea of finding joy in the plethora of delays and trials that come with having children and seeing those things as part of God’s plan for our good, blessing and sanctification.
--The weight of the stewardship of raising covenant children and the responsibility of having a goal of them being holy rather than happy and disciplining them towards that end.
--The simple joys of a family at home—warm fellowship built around shared times of eating, praying, singing, working, and playing.

Do I always think my children are easy? No. But are they always a joy? Yes. And especially if I am seeing them and my circumstances through eyes of faith that see as God sees and do not value the things of this world.

So I guess after it all I am lonely. Lonely for some likeminded women who rejoice in motherhood. Who see their children as blessings. Who see value in nurturing them and just raising them. I know my husband is right in saying this morning that we are “missionaries to a foreign culture” more than we realize. Our mission field just happens to be in a church in Mississippi. May God be glorified here and may He grant me eyes of faith to see as He sees.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

1. What time do you get up?
6:30 –7:00 whenever Will needs nursing or hubby needs to get in the room to shower

2. If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?
probably the President--why not?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
My husband is a huge Lord of the Rings fan. The last movie we saw in the theater was The Return of the King.

4. What did you have for breakfast?
Instant cheese grits

5. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with?
the Clintons

6. Beach, City or Country?

7. Favorite ice cream?
Anything chocolate really….if I had to narrow it down—Rocky Road

8. Butter, plain or salted popcorn?
Butter and salted

9. What kind of car do you drive?
a dark green Toyota Corolla

10. Favorite sandwich?
a bagel sandwich from Bodo’s in Charlottesville, Va with roast beef, cheddar cheese, sprouts, mayo, and tomatoes.

11. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Just ask my husband…I am NOT a morning person

12. What is your shoe size?
Size 8

13. Do you have any pets?
a 9 month old chocolate lab named Nollie who is a handful

14. What characteristic do you despise?

15. Favorite flower?
Well, I just planted 50 daffodil bulbs in my front beds, so I guess I really like daffodils

16. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
back to the cottage where we honeymooned on St. Bart’s

17. Favorite brand of clothing?
Anything that fits, looks good, and is on sale

18. Where would you retire to?
Joe wants to retire to a sailboat; I’d like to be close to our boys and their families…we’ll see!

19. Favorite day of the week?
Saturday—family play day!!!

20. What did you do for your last birthday?
I don’t remember!!

21. Where were you born?
Radford, VA

22. Favorite sport to watch?
college football or kids league soccer

23. What fabric detergent do you use?
Arm and Hammer

24. Coke or Pepsi?
Dr Pepper, actually…but since I’m nursing…water

25. Gold or silver?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

My MIL is here to visit for the weekend. She is spending tonight in a hotel because she is here on business and has an early client meeting tomorrow that she wants to focus on. After work tomorrow she is coming here and will be with us until Sunday midday.

Joseph has really been looking forward to seeing "Meemaw" and was in rare form tonight showing off all of his new skills: doing a forward roll, jumping, identifying the letters of the alphabet, singing, and talking up a storm. She loved it, as any grandmother would, and we laughed at his antics. Both boys were up late waiting for her arrival, but both went down without a hitch. I am so thankful to have boys that sleep well. All of that time put into getting them established in their routines when they were little has really made it easier now.

Well, I'm off for now. I haven't really recuperated from staying up for the election and so it will be an early night to bed tonight.
Just a quick entry tonight...we have kids from church here and they are all in the other room watching election coverage. I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, but we have tons left over. Hopefully, they'll eat more before they go so that we're not stuck with so many leftover cookies, chips and dip, and candy corns to tempt me.

We're all rooting hard for Bush. We'll see. I bet that Kerry will say he has won no matter what and will challenge it all in court. I am so glad to know that I can rest in God's sovereignty even in this--He has a plan for us.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Do you ever have those days where you get so much done around the house that you are so proud of yourself? And then, you turn around and realize how much more there is to do? As I am learning more about myself, I realize what a classic perfectionist I am. I can’t be happy with what is because I am thinking of what should be. This perfectionism is one thing when it shows up in how I feel about housework, but another thing altogether when it turns into discontent in God’s provision for me. I need to practice contentment as I learn to rest in who God is and not in myself or in my efforts.

But back to my housework….Today is my major cleaning day. With the way my weekly schedule is, I have found it works best if I devote one day to staying home and doing major house cleaning. Monday is that day and this is what I did today:
Washed towels and bathmats from master bathroom
Vacuumed master bedroom, front entry, living room, and den
Cleaned shower, sink, floor, and toilet in master bathroom
Washed clothes
Made whole wheat bread
Straightened downstairs
Swept back entrance stairs and garage
Swept front porch and sidewalk
Fed and entertained my two boys
The key to my Monday morning marathon cleaning is the fact that Joseph plays outside during Will’s morning nap. As soon as Will goes down, I spray Joseph down with bug spray (the mosquitoes are awful here) and out he goes. He runs around the backyard, and I think that Mondays are probably his favorite morning. He plays with the dog, plays on the swingset/slide/fort, runs around, pushes his lawnmower, and just generally behaves like a little boy outside. Thanks to the many windows in our house, he never goes for a minute or two out of my sight even while I am working. Usually about the time that Will wakes up from his nap, Joseph is ready to come in and I put him straight in the tub because he is always so dirty. I think that is half the reason he loves it so much—I just let him play and get dirty.

Both boys are now down for their afternoon naps and these are my minutes of alone time. I am definitely an introvert—I need my time by myself—time to be quiet and to think. My husband is the extrovert who gets his energy from being around people, but I get re-energized by being alone, not an easy thing for a mom of two wee ones. So, these afternoon times are precious to me.

This afternoon, I hope to finish Joseph’s new Sunday outfit finally. All I have to do is put on the buttons and he’ll be ready to go. The whole thing cost less than $5 and so I’m so proud of myself for stretching our clothing budget and ending up with a cute outfit at the same time.

Well, Will has just drifted off even as I wrote that paragraph and so I’m going to go. The quiet has begun!!!