Monday, December 31, 2018

Family Pictures 2018

It has been a crazy wild year but here we are at the close. Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I have come to realize that Brian and I have completely different desires for the weekend. I, worn out from my long lonely sojourn mothering small children, am completely touched out and crave time alone. He, after being closeted with coworkers from 8-6, wants to spend time with his wife and family.

The ignorance of this revelation has previously been the foundation of countless misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I, thinking my husband must need time alone would try to watch both kids and give him a free hour or two. He finally told me, after months and months, that this makes him feel isolated and bored and lonely. Isolated and bored?! Lonely?! I would give anything for some time alone! I thought he needed it because I needed it; that after a solid work week around other people he would want to be alone and I should help supply that. Turns out I was all wrong and my sacrifice was for naught! He misses his family while he is at work and wants to spend the weekends actively engaged with us. Whereas I spend the week more or less actively engaged with the kids and crave time away.

He also has come to slowly comprehend my need for space. He used to plan all these exciting adventures for the weekends, dragging us here and there in search of “fun” and wearing me out. I need space, not treks through Target! At first my desire for alone time hurt his feelings. He didn't understand why I wanted to be by myself. Of course I love spending time with my husband, but after a solid week with two kids climbing all over me and badgering me for attention and expending all my focus I need time to recharge and calm myself. It isn't that I want to be away from my family, it's that I need time to fill up my empty fuel tanks to be with my family!

I would say this is the biggest thing Brian and I have realized in our marriage in 2018. He has learned to give me space and I am learning to draw near to him, and thus our marriage grows. I wonder what 2019 will bring? Maybe a new baby? Hopefully more sleep.

Friday, December 14, 2018

How to Save Money on Groceries

I have read lots of posts about how to save money on groceries and they usually suck. I don't coupon and I don't buy in bulk. We eat organic due to our allergies and gut issues, and I have to be dairy and gluten free. But saving money is still possible. Here are my tips.

  1. Give up snacks
Adults don't need snacks. Unless you have a health issue that requires eating more than 3 times a day, snacks are unnecessary. I save around $100 a month by giving up snacks between meals. My blood sugar also regulates better without snacks, as the “fasting” period between meals helps keep my numbers normal. My toddler still eats snacks and I either serve him what he didn't finish for lunch, or a banana.
  1. Give up desserts
You knew that was the next point, didn't you? We have not fully given up desserts, but I make about one dessert a week from scratch to keep costs as low as possible. If my flesh wasn't so weak, I would give it up completely, but sometimes a girl just needs chocolate brownies after dinner.
  1. Eat the same thing
This helps me keep it simple. Not only do I waste less food when I eat the same meal for lunch every day of the week but it also reduces my stress considerably. I eat a salad, a piece of fruit and a type of sandwich for lunch almost every day. This ensures we use all the salad and all the veggies, as I just top the salad with whatever veggies we have on hand.
  1. Eat vegan
I am not vegan, but it is a universal truth that meat is expensive. We eat meat for dinners and that helps us save the cost of meat for breakfast and lunch. Like I said above, I eat a salad for lunch almost every day. I usually put avocado, tomato, bell pepper, sauerkraut, toasted hemp seeds, onion, and carrot on my salad. We are %100 dairy free, and I do red wine vinegar usually for a dressing, or some dairy free ranch or caesar dressing. For a sandwich, I alternate PBJ or hummus, or (vegan) cheese toasties if I am feeling extravagant. Fruit is whatever is on sale at the grocery store that week. If I am super hungry I just make my salad bigger. Breakfast we do bagels with vegan cream cheese and fruit or oatmeal with fruit, or something from my favorite cookbook, Nourishing Meals. Sometimes we do have bacon and sausage on the weekends, but really only when daddy is around to hold Rebekah so I can man (or woman) the stove.

We also don't go out to eat anymore, maybe once a month. Eating out is super expensive and I can make better food at home. I save all my toddlers leftovers and either eat it myself or feed it to him the next time he is hungry. We shop at Aldi every week and only go to Kroger once a month. Being dairy and gluten free we need certain things at Krogers like brown rice flour and teff flour and coconut milk that they just don't have at Aldi. Buying them monthly helps me not overspend. If we run out before the next shopping trip comes up, I make do until the next month rolls around. I either make whatever I planned without said ingredient or make a substitution, or change what I am making by looking at things I have on hand.

We took our grocery budget from over 1,000 dollars a month to 500-600 a month for a family of four, eating mostly organic foods and always dairy and gluten free. We spend anywhere from 50-100 a week at Aldi and 200-300 a month at Kroger.

Monday, December 10, 2018


A simple crochet scarf for Reuben. He requested orange, so orange we did!

Hopefully it will keep his neck warm for years to come.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Several times this week I have been at the absolute end of my rope. I have thought to myself I can't do this anymore. I can't get up and make breakfast when I feel so wretched. I can't listen to another whine when I am worn out to the absolute threads. I can't think another thought or plan another plan when the shroud of misery is suffocating me. Life can be so disparaging at times.

My chair is my refuge. In it I curl up, listing all the reasons that I can't go on. I'm alone. Brian is working late, again. My mother is busy working and barely able to visit me. When she does, I know she is unhappy and worried. My sister is a single mother of four, she has no time to help. My friends are all exhausted mothers like myself. I am alone.

I don't know what I need. That thought further annoys me. Not only am I grasping at proverbial threads and running on fumes, but I don't know what I need. I don't know what kind of rope could pull me out of this pit. I don't know what to ask for even if I knew who to ask. I'm lost, adrift in a churning sea whose dark waters will soon engulf me.

Motherhood is so hard. Marriage is hard. Life is hard. 

I'm glad I have God with me. If I didn't have Him I know I would give up. My strength runs out, His endures. My nature is full of pompous self worth, but He is truth incarnate.

Whenever I am at the end of my rope I always read Luke 17:7-10. Nothing puts me in my place more than those few short red sentences.

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterwards you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”

Three things stick out to me. First, “serve me”. My goal on this earth is to serve God. Through tantrums and marital fights. Through sleepless nights. Though housework and drugery.

Through cancer or blindness come my way, still my ever present thought should serve God. Even through the loss of a child, or the loss of a loved one. Serve. God. Not complain. Not give up. Get up and do the purpose I was created for. Serve.

Second thing that sticks out to me is my own inflated self worth and how important my own comfort is. I am an unworthy servant. It's so true. Nothing I did secured me a place in heaven. I can do no good without Christ. Jesus shed his blood and God wrote my name in the book of life. Those things cause me to go to heaven. If my own life were of any weight it would only condemn me to hell. Jesus paid the price for my sin and only by that act can I be redeemed. Yet how quickly I sneer when my comfort is jeopardized. I must don the mantle of servant and contemplate my own unworthiness. Only then can I truly know what it is to be the bride of Christ.

The last thing that grabs at my heart are the last two words. “Our duty.” What is my duty? I like to remind myself of my duty when I get lost. Pointing myself in the right direction helps clear the mist and re-orientate my wandering compass. My duty is to Christ and Christ alone. My job here on earth is to glorify him. And that means wiping poopy bottoms, making meals, disciplining my children and loving my husband. It also might mean dying of cancer or dying in a car wreck. It may mean loosing my sight or the use of my arms. But it does not ever mean giving up my joy or forsaking my community with Christ. I am here to do his duty, but my flesh is weak. God knows what is best for my life and dishes out his will to us. But I so often, in my humanness, think I know better than God. And that is where the problem begins. That is the very foundation to my frustration: I, the servant, at times, try to usurp my master's will. And there is no peace, no joy, no fulfillment in a life run by own measures.

Tomorrow I will wake up, and upon my lips will not be the curse of drudgery or a sigh of discontent. But the beat behind my steps and the melody of my head will burst forth only one mantra: “Serve God. Do my duty. Be a servant.”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

On Vacations

I don't pretend to understand life. I like to think I have good intentions and pure motives, but the truth is I muddle things up on the best of days and it irritates me.

Last week was thanksgiving vacation. We had a grand time. We watched Star Trek, went to the park a lot, ate copious amounts of apple pie, and had marital arguments. Oh, those vacation arguments when you and your spouse are closeted in the same space with small children and no eight hour work day to separate your focus. One of our arguments was over a pan. Yes, a pan. I won't elaborate, except to say that I am a fool and my husband is equally as foolish.

It seems on vacation we have to learn how to coexist together all over again. Our routine is thrown out the window as daddy stays home. I want to rest but still have two small children whose very job, it seems, is to toss kinks into my well-oiled cog of a family machine. Husband is off work and also wants to rest on vacation. The only problem is that adult naps, with children, needs to be scheduled and bargained for.

I will say that we both did achieve a measure of peace. I have a loving husband who makes great sacrifices for me. I hope he would say the same of myself, but given the condition of my patience meter his report might be opposite. I napped, I knitted, I showered alone with hot water and read a few books. It was not a bad vacation. I just stress over the tension, the balance and the time. Vacation, like decadent chocolate, slips too easily through my fingers.

I wish I could curb my own vacation expectations as well. We both became annoyed multiple times during our week of freedom. It seems marriage has taught us how to uniquely exasperate each other without much effort. Reuben also has a masters degree in achieving epic tantrums at the most opportunistic moments. That last sentence was heaped in sarcasm. Nothing like two angry, non-communicative married adults struggling to understand one another over the sound of a toddlers full-blown screams.

Well, I have learned many things in six years of marriage. That is the main thought foremost in my mind as our week together came to a close. Time has taught me that my husband likes to go-go-go on vacation while I desire to stay home. So this year I rested at home for four full days before Thanksgiving so I would feel more inclined to adventure. Husband also compromised by taking Reuben out and leaving me home with Becky. I've learned a bit about give and take, even if I have a long way to go. Six years of marriage teaches me remotely, as time passes, even if I try to pay attention.

God is good. Our vacation was good. I still have a lot to learn.

And I need more pie.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Discipline for toddlers

When I first started parenting I was baffled by discipline. I remember acutely the loss of control and the inflammatory anger I felt at my son's tantrums. His whining and disobedience threw me into total confusion. I simply had no idea how to redirect him and facilitate order and correct his wrong behavior.

Now I am a seasoned mother of two. I still am learning, of course, and hardly an expect. But time and prayer have turned my feelings of helplessness into a semblance of order. Over the years God has taught my willful, sinful heart a lot about raising my own willful, sin-filled children.

This is a blog post about how I discipline. 

Before setting down my points, I want to make the reader aware that discipline (to me at least) is situational. My son may jump on the couch one day and receive one type of punishment, but jumping on the couch the next day may warrant a completely different type of correction. That is because discipline is mainly about the heart. It is not about behavior. Understanding this is of utmost importance because it sets the foundation on how I approach my son with loving correction. So, before I discipline I must attempt to know the intent behind the actions. Only then can I guide my child.

I employ five types of discipline in my parenting. I will call them the five Rs: Redirection, Removal, Recitation, Rest and Redemption. I use one or more of the five Rs each time I discipline and disciple my children. For the rest of this post I will seek to explain each R and give an example of using it in daily life.

You have probably heard of redirection. Many parents confuse redirection with distraction. I do not like distraction as a principle of discipline. Distraction is all very well when your child is 8 months old and wants something they can't have, but a strong-willed three year old can not be distracted from the object of their focus. They will just scream louder. Even if you have the most complicit sanguine toddler on the planet, I still think they ought not be distracted. Their emotions and the intent behind them matter and need to be addressed. Children need to learn how to grapple with wanting something they can't have, and not just by moving their focus to the next thing.

Thus instead of distracting Reuben with a flashy new toy or diverting his attention to a new game or activity, I redirect my son emotionally. Emotions are the reason behind his behavior, bubbling up from the fount of his heart. I can change the behavior all I want with distraction, but only redirection can approach the wrong lodged in his sinful heart. Redirection seeks to help him understand the emotion he is having and channel it appropriately.

Now don't read more into what I say than what I have said. I don't belittle his emotions. I don't ignore them. I don't make fun of him. I simply redirect his anger or his confusion or frustration in a multitude of ways. One way I might do this is by fixing the source of his frustration.

Example: Reuben (3.5) and Rebekah (10m) are playing on the floor in the living room. Rebekah suddenly wants to explore the duplo blocks Reuben is playing with, causing Reuben to start screaming hysterically. “She's breaking it! She's touching it! No Becky, no no no!!” Now, instead of distracting Becky with a new toy, or moving Reuben's attention to another toy, (which would fix the screaming) I instead redirect his emotions.

“Remember the rules, Reuben. If Becky is touching a toy you are playing with, you can go to your room and close the door or take it to the kitchen table. Becky is little and does not understand she can't touch what you are playing with.”

This acknowledges his feelings of frustration over Becky and gives him a safe place to play without her. It says “you are frustrated, lets do something about your frustration”.

Another example is needed to help illustrate. Reuben and Rebekah are once again playing on the floor, but this time Reuben wants whatever toy Becky has.

“It's mine! I need it. I want it!”

Now again I could distract Reuben and/or Rebekah with a new toy, but that method would do nothing to solve the heart problem behind Reuben's tantrum. While it may temporarily solve the issue, age and sin will only exasperate it.

“Reuben, you know you can't snatch what your sister is playing with. That isn't fair or nice. You don't like it when she snatches toys from you! You can find something else to play with or wait until she is done.”

When I say this he either (1) cries louder, (2) snatches the toy, or does what I suggest and finds something else to play with. If he does 1 or 2, I move on to removal and rest, usually with recitation added in there to beggar my point.

Redirection funnels his emotions into their proper place and supplies him with practical steps to to deal with the problem himself by reminding him of boundaries or rules. These boundaries and rules either are ones I have set in place (play at the table or your room) or God-ordained (it's wrong to covet your sister's toys). My job isn't to placate him or make him stop crying—it is to teach him to control himself and submit to God.

The second tool in my arsenal that I use when disciplining my son is removal. A lot of people will remove their kids from the situation, placing the kid in time out or sending him out of the room to his or her own bedroom. I don't do this, simply because it does not work. Every kid is different, and secluding your child to his/her room might work for you, but not for us. I have found removal best works when I remove the object that is causing my son stress. This works for my 10 month old daughter as well!

Removing is plain to explain. I give my son one warning. “I see you swinging your pocket watch over your head. We can't do that near Rebekah because you tend to let go and it flies across the room and might hit her. You need to go swing your pocket watch in your room (redirect).”

//Reuben continues to swing his pocket watch in the living room near his sister.

“I see you are not obeying. Sadly, your pocket watch needs to go into time out for 10/20 minutes (or however long) because you are not listening to your mother and obeying the rules. You are putting your sister in danger and I can't allow that. ”

//I take the watch and place it up high where he can see it.

Often he understands, but sometimes he will start crying, screaming, and demanding the toy that I have jailed. At this point I move on to Recitation or Rest. Recitation means making him think about what he has done that was wrong, and reciting to me in his own words what that is. It also involves apologizing to the person or persons he has wronged. I will make him sit down on the couch or the floor next to me (rest) or recline in my arms. I will rock him and talk to him as he calms down and then I will ask him to explain what he did and tell me why he got into trouble. If he does not know, I will repeat it until he understands and can say it back to me, and then I will make him apologize to his sister, to me, and even to God.

With the apology he has to say what he did wrong. He can't just say “I'm sorry,” he must say “I am sorry I threw the ball at your face, mommy. That was wrong and I hurt you.” I think it's very important that he both apologize and frankly state his sin and acknowledge the fault.

I could give a lot of examples, but this post is long enough already and I still have one more point to make!

Redemption is my last R. Redemption is the means behind discipline. The redemptive blood of Christ covers his sheep. Doing the will of God and giving him glory is the reason for our existence. Pointing my children to Christ and reminding them of God is the goal of parenting. Therefore I try to make God the foundation of my discipline. Everything rests on the redemptive, saving blood of Jesus and thus every moment I disciple my children should point to God. It's not about my rules. It's not about changing or modifying their behavior. Discipline is about shaping and pulling little hearts to God and teaching and modeling God's ways.

I teach my kids about God by reading my own bible in their presence, discussing God, listening to sermons with them, singing hymns, praying with them, admitting my own need for Christ and in many, many other ways. Thus as I discipline, I hope my children come to revere and love God and need him as much as I do.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How I Came to Love Motherhood

“Mommy” My three year old said, as I was washing the dishes, “Can you clean my toes?”

“Sure.” I replied. I picked up a wet towel and turned around, not imagining in the slightest the sight that would great my eyes.

Pumpkin pie. Everywhere.

Trying to control my voice I asked, “What did you do?!”

My son grinned at me. “I stuck my toes in my pie! Pie everywhere! Pie explosion!” Reuben made to fling his feet back on the table. “Mommy, can I paint with pie?”

“Um. No...” I said as I set to work cleaning the table, the floor, the boy. As I wiped pumpkin pie off my sons toes I belatedly noticed his sister under the table. Crawling around eating pumpkin pie crumbs. From the floor.

Great. 10 month old already eating sugary pie. Oh, well.

I cleaned my son and had a conversation I'd never fathomed. We don't put our toes in pumpkin pie. Or food. We eat food. With our hands. Or that fork I gave you. Then I cleaned the floor, changed Reuben's clothes. Changed Rebekah, who had pie on her as well from crawling in it.

Just another day of motherhood.

But there are worse things than pumpkin pie explosions that muddle up motherhood. Little boys who try to change their own poopy diapers. Heaters that break, husbands that come home late. Sickness that spreads through the whole family, while an exhausted mom takes care of runny noses when she just wants to sleep. Meals to make, laundry to wash, and a never-ending list of emotions and mental stresses to deal with.

Tragedy. Loneliness. Even death. We mothers have wounds so great hidden in our hearts it is sometimes amazing that we function. Betrayal after betrayal comes our way from many different sources and yet still we must go on, mending clothes and wiping bottoms. A mother's job never ends.

So what, do we throw in the towel? Is it all for naught? No, dear mother. Even in the midst of the storm God is there, walking with us, holding us and holding our children.

So, I'll be honest. Becoming a mother broke me. My son didn't sleep. He cried all the time. My life was a mess. I was a mess. An alone, miserable mess.

But that changed. I have bad days now, but I no longer live in that place of anger anymore. And now I have two! Two children that have violently (yet beautifully) sprung from my womb in what can surely only be an act of God. And we are thinking of more. Will there be three? Egad. Someone lock me up, before we start imagining a forth!

What changed is my heart. That first year of motherhood I tried to do it all on my own. I was angry a lot. Angry at my baby for not sleeping. Angry at my husband for not helping, for not seeing that I desperately needed assistance. Angry at my body for holding onto my pregnancy pudginess. Angry, angry, angry.

I felt like I had no time for myself, no time for my friends. My existence had shrunk to “smelly milk supplier” and I resented the title change that had come without fair warning.

I would like to describe the change. Because I am no longer angry. I am no longer resentful.

I have learned that Motherhood is a beautiful thing, not a burden. Yes it has its sorrows. Yes it is exhausting and irritating at times. But God gave me two kids to mother. He didn't give me two babies to stifle me creatively or destroy the intimacy of my marriage. He didn't give me two wonderful lives because he wanted to ruin my life and ensure I stayed fat forever. He gave me two babies because it was his will that I become a mother and glorify him by raising those he saw fit to bestow. Somehow, impossibly—I am a mother for His Glory.

For some reason that realization set me free. I am doing Gods will as I mother and raise my babies. I am fulfilling the great plan of God as I spoon prunes into my daughter's mouth. My role in Christ is being realized as I rock my 10 month old Rebekah at 1 am, my eyelids drooping and my limbs limp with exhaustion.

God made me a mother. It isn't a derogatory role. It isn't an inconvenience or an annoyance. It is the very will of God!

With that in mind I began to pour myself out to God daily, seeking his guidance and his will in my role of mother. My anger is gone. Instead, awe resides in its place. I take up my bible as my guidebook, making sure to read it daily. I surround myself with godly women who mentor me. And little by little the joy unfathomable has opened to me, until I am drenched in the very essence of God. Not my will, but His. Not my dreams, not my aspirations. All cast before Him.

It is scary, but nothing has ever felt more right.

This is how I have learned to love being a mother. Well, most of the time. When my son isn't sticking his toes in his dessert.

Don't get me wrong, I am still a sinner saved by grace. I still have a long way to go. But I am seeing myself more through the eyes of God instead of the eyes of the world or the eyes of another. God's will, God's purpose will be my vision—not greed, not some idea of raising well-behaved children, not any ideals of a perfect body, a perfect home. I'll keep my eyes above and take up my cross and follow Him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dear Single Mom

Dear Single Mothers,

I'll start first with my mother. You see, I was raised by a single mother. I could call her many things: strong, persistent, kind, loving and honorable. I can see her in my minds eye as she traversed the many roles of life, from mother to teacher to friend. But most of all I remember her love. Her love that filled my life with light, her love that gave me a happy childhood. It's because of my mother's sacrificial love that I am half the woman I am today.

me and my mom

I am sure I know less than half of the sacrifices she has made. I was a child, and children take things for granted. But with adult eyes I can look back and see how she pinched and saved so we could go on vacation and have fun at the beach. I see how she never bought new clothes for herself, but made sure we had what we needed for school. I see her cooking, cleaning, reading books to me and my sister and gently putting us to bed. She fiercely defended me when I needed it most. She never judged me when I made mistakes as a teen (and there were many) but instead offered advice without ire.

I am probably making her sound like the perfect mother. Of course she had her faults, as all mothers do. But in all of my 31 years I have never doubted her love for me or her devotion to our family. I thank her for her sacrifices, those made and those yet to come—because she still is an ever present light within my life.

But she was a single mother.

I have learned the hard way that single mothers carry a heavy stigma. Growing up in church and throughout school I was ostracized for it, made fun of. And God only knows what my mother suffered. She does not speak of it much, but I know she was repeatedly shamed. In church. By friends. In her workplace.

By Christians. I have learned in my few years that Christians are the most judgmental when it comes to the plight of a single mother. They should be the most loving, the most kind, the most understanding, the most helpful—yet they are not.

Why is that? Jesus died for the single mother just as much as any other mother. God loves and blesses the single mother just like any other mother. Children also are a blessing from the lord.

But no one has to walk around in shame and in “sin” like we Christians perceive the single mother does.

Let me explain it this way. My husband and I recently had a fight. I bought a toddler mattress without consulting him, and we are supposed to agree on large purchases. It was sinful of me to go behind his back like this and buy the mattress without a solid yes on his part (we had talked about it a few times but had not come to a decision). The mattress came while he was at home, and he was understandably upset about it. We argued; apologized. We both spent time in prayer, and tried to communicate amiably.

He apologized for being always busy and never having time to talk about buying the mattress. He said he was sorry for not understanding that I really needed it so we could begin transitioning our three year old out of our bed and into his own. I was so fed up with sleeping with both my daughter and my son—one of them had to go, and the toddler was the best bet as my daughter was still breastfeeding at eight months. I had asked him three or four times to consider buying a mattress for our toddler bed, but each time he had been too busy to consider it.

I apologized for buying it without consulting him one last time and asking for a verdict. I should have communicated better how desperately I needed some space at night. And I should not have purchased something that expensive without a definite yes from him.

We both made up and the issue was never mentioned again. No one outside of our marriage (well, until now) knows about this fight. I can go to church and to the supermarket and a stranger who looks at me can not tell that there is anything amiss in my marriage. No one from the outside can see that my husband and I fought or see that we sin. 

It is not so with single mothers. They walk around with their perceived “sin” for all to see, on display at all times. And people judge.

God payed the price for my sin. He payed the price for the way I treated my husband that day I bought that mattress. He paid the price for my sin of having sex outside of marriage, for I dated many men before I met Christ and my husband. Christ paid the price for all my sins, I am clean before God because he looks at me and sees only his son's sacrifice.

So why don't we look at single mothers as being without sin, pure before God? Why don't we treat them that way?

Many single mothers became single mothers through no fault and no sin of their own. But even when there is sin: let us be over and done with it! There is no sin that needs to be revisited in guilt over and over again, no sin that the barer needs to be consistently barraged with, and no sin that is not covered by the loving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross; so why do we torment single mothers with daily reminders of their perceived “wrong”?

What if I had to wear a shirt that said “sinner” in red letters, and written on the back of my shirt was a list of my sins? Fornicator. Lier. Thief. Slanderer. All my sins for everyone to see and stare at.

That's kind of what it is like to be a single mother. The children of a single mother are without a father, for all to see, and all to judge the mother for it.

I once invited a single mother to my church. She had been looking for a good church, and I was sure mine would be a wonderful fit.

I was wrong.

She came to a woman's bible study. A place full of married, stay at home mothers with husbands, two car garages and gluten free pantries.

The first question she was asked what what her husband did for work. I was standing next to her, and blushed a little. For some reason this awkward line of questioning had not occurred to me.

“I'm a single mom.” She said. I relaxed. Surely things would pick up. Surely these women who had been so open and loving with me would accept my friend, single mom or no.

“Oh.” The other lady said. And I don't know what thoughts were going through her head; but the next question she asked was: “How do you make money?”

Shock ran though my body. In all my years of attending this church I had never been asked how I made money. And I knew these women intimately, and yet they had never asked me. This friend of mine—this was her first time attending. Who asks someone how they make money upon meeting them for the first time?

“My mother supports me right now.” My friend answered.

“That must be hard.” Church Lady responded.

No one (but me) talked to my single mother friend for the rest of the morning. She never came back to my church.

After the woman's meeting was over I apologized to my friend. I told her I was sorry people were rude, and that she had been asked rude questions.

“I'm used to it” She said. “At the last church I attended the Sunday School teacher asked me 'where is your kids father, do they even have one?' (in that tone of voice too) right as I was dropping my son off for Sunday school. Right in front of my kids.”

I had no comment. 

“I had only met Sunday School Teacher one other time. I wasn't even on a first name basis with her yet.” My single mom friend continued while I gaped.

“Wow.” I finally said.

“The church before that—I attended with my husband before he left.” She continued, like she was telling a story about a lost puppy or a misplaced wallet, and not the most tragic tale of her life. “I asked the pastor for some help when my husband just abandoned us. He told me to get a job.”

“Wait. What?” I said. “He said the church couldn't help you financially? He told you to get a job?”

“Yes.” She said. “And of course I want to get a job. But it happened so fast, we were still reeling from Ned's* departure. I hadn't had time to look for work. And you know we struggled a lot even when Ned was contributing. But it was always my dream to stay home with my children.” *name changed

“So your pastor didn't try to talk to Ned, or tell him he needed to support you as your husband? He couldn't supply any funds to help out, even for a month while you searched for a job?”

“No.” My friend said. “We had to go on food stamps and move into government housing the very next week.”

Ned, by the way, used to beat my friend. The night he left he had beat her so much so that she was afraid for her life. So she called the police who, I might add, acted like they were bothered by her call and were nasty to her. Her husband left that night and never returned. Two years passed, and that was the year I invited her to my church. It's been another three since that date and Ned has never contacted her again, never given her or her kids money, and never seen his son or daughter since the day he left. He abandoned his family. And yet she bares the burden, the stigma, the “shame” of being a single mother. The questions. The unsolicited advice. The animosity.

I am angry for my friend. I am angry for the way people treat single mothers. I am angry that we judge single moms for being on food stamps but refuse to help them ourselves. I am angry for every story every single mom has told me: from lost friends to lost churches, to having to explain themselves to strangers while they struggle to make ends meet. It is wrong, it is evil, and it must end.

Being a single mother is not a sin. Jesus loves single moms just as much as any other woman or man! He died for them and for their children! Do you hear that, single mother? God loves you. Jesus loves you. You are valued among women, you have worth and a purpose and a reason to hold your head up just like any other person.

I'll go further. The fact that I have a husband, that my kids have a loving father does not make me a better person than any other mom. It does not place me on a pedestal, it does not give me the right to judge or admonish or reprimand any mom, single or no! There is no mom hierarchy and there should not be. I am not any less, or any more of a sinner.

You, dear single mom, are washed free from your sins if you have accepted Christ as your savior. We are all sinners. And as I said above, being a single mom might have nothing to do with sin! It could be a product of circumstance. Rape. Widowhood. Abuse. Abandonment. The stories of single mothers are as varied as the stories of life itself.

Even if it does have to do with sin, yours or another person's sin: God does not want you to live under the yoke of that sin. You do not need to be reminded of it daily. You don't have to wear it like a shroud. It is over and done with and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ and you are set free. Free to have a unburdened and joyful heart, free to raise your family without stigma or shame, free to worship Christ with your soul prostrated before the alter of our one true God as any other humble follower does.

God is good and has enough grace and mercy for all. Go forth and love your children and do the work of God our Father, who is in heaven. Yes, you, even you, single mom—God has a plan for you. Go and find it, and don't let anyone get in your way.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cloth Diaper Pants

I don't know what it is about pants for little girls, but most of them don't fit over cloth diapers. I buy pants at thrift stores or online or receive them for free, but I can't get them to fit over my daughter's fluff butt. I don't get it.

After months of frustration, I dug out my sewing machine from the depths of the storage closet and decided to try to make them fit. By sewing panels into the bottom. This was my first attempt, and while it does work, it's not the best. I didn't measure and just winged it, causing it to be a little lopsided. As you can see, I took a purple onesie, cut out a portion of it, and sewed a half circle into the top of the pants to accommodate her cloth diaper.

I love that she can wear these flower leggings now with her cloth! These cute leggings I got at a baby thrift store called Once Upon a Child for only 1.99. I love them!

This is what the front of Becky was doing while I was surreptitiously taking pictures of her derrière. 

Monday, November 5, 2018


This morning I wanted to take a shower. A hot shower. Alone. Blissfully alone, for 10 or so minutes. Just me and the water and the warmth.

Alas, it was not to be. The moment I climbed in the three-year-old suddenly realized I was gone. I'd expect Becky to whine for me, but Reuben? Really?

He made his way into the bathroom. “Mommy. I want Mommy.” He said, and demanded to get into the shower with me. I told him I'd be right out and to please go wait downstairs with daddy. I tried to tell him daddy needed a hug, daddy needed help making his breakfast, Becky missed him, his toys needed him, mommy wanted to be alone, please just wait a few minutes...

He started to whine and after a few seconds his whine turned into a full blown crying tantrum for mommy.

My relaxing shower was not only accosted by a toddler—it was a sobbing, wretched toddler who demanded he needed mommy that interrupted my hair washing and toe cleaning.

I finally got him to go downstairs where he was apparently so upset to be without mommy for two more minutes he threw up. When I dressed 3 minutes later, Becky was crying in the play house where she had been put to keep away from Reuben's mess, and Reuben was still sobbing for me.

Needless to say, I started the day heavy with disappointment. I tried to do what I knew was right. I scooped up Becky, attached her to my boob and let Reuben sit next to me and tried to calm him by reading books. Eventually he was calm, Becky was calm, Husband had cleaned Reuben's breakfast off the floor and left for work, but I was still grumpy.

I want to be alone for just a minute. I am tired of everyone needing me. This is exhausting.

All true statements. All valid feelings. But I didn't want our emotionally charged morning to ruin the rest of my day.

I did yoga.

Becky cried halfway; so I was jangling toys in her face while forward-folding and singing jingles to her from downward dog. She made it through my 20 minutes of morning exercise, and I made it too. Reuben, I might add, was right next to me either trying to play with his sister or imitate my poses. Sometime I should film him during my yoga, but honestly I just want to do yoga and not think about anything else, so I doubt that will ever happen. It would be funny, tho.

Afterwards I felt a semblance of peace. God loves me in spite of my whining ways and cranky heart, so I can love my toddler through his tantrums. I'm learning more and more that while I can't control my kids or have lonely-shower expectations or plan (more or less) how the day will go in the emotional sense, I can control myself. I don't have to yell at him. I don't have to let moody children control my day. My duty as parent lies in helping my children navigate their own emotions—and that starts first with my example. How often I fail at this only they will know, but I will say I fail often. It is a fault I am sure many parents contend with in themselves.

To all of you parents wrestling with the daily tasks of raising young humans, I salute you. It is no easy feat, especially when you aren't even sleeping through the night.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Refrigerators and the Return of God

My heart leaped with joy.

This all has to do with a refrigerator, but we will get to that part later.

Last week, all in a row, I had a horrible few days. Becky wasn't sleeping. She, for some reason, was cutting four teeth at once. All on the top. All next to ear other. My husband's anxiety was sky high, he was working late again, and I was exhausted. My toddler also seemed cranky and was waking more at night, making my days a blur and my nights one long bleary-eyed baby and toddler rocking adventure.

We are also desperately attempting potty training. Reuben is 4 months and 3 years old. Old enough to do his business on the white throne, I think. But he thinks different. We started potty training at 2 and he took to it quickly. He was pooping and peeing on the potty without me reminding him and requesting to go as his body prompted him. I was thrilled. Finally, something with him was going easy!

But then the train wreck that is pregnancy nausea hit me and I couldn't get off the recliner. I couldn't help him sit on the potty. I couldn't wipe him. Him asking to use the potty was an impossible, unattainable dream. So he asked for a few days but quit when I would blink nauseated at him from my curled up position on the furniture. I'll do it later, I thought. After this baby comes. It's not like he'll forget. It'll be okay.

So. We started potty training again when Becky was born and Reuben was almost 3. He wanted nothing to do with it. We backed off. I decided to wait until he was three—the golden age for potty training a boy at least according to the stories I hear first hand from local friends.

Well, 3 has come and gone and he does not want to use the potty. I have failed as a mother and he will be in diapers until he's 16, I am sure.

Anyway, this last week was bad. We had potty training woes, tantrums from everyone, anxiety with the husband, no sleep and lonely nights.

But one morning I heard these bells. It is strange, I didn't really know what to think. I heard them and my heart leaped within me. Jesus is coming back! I thought, and yes I really thought that, and I remember trembling in excitement for a full 10 seconds. The tinkling sound was light, ethereal, and unlike anything I'd ever heard before. I looked up and out, drawn to the noise.

It was at that point I realized the “ringing bell” sound I was hearing was just a glass plate vibrating against a bowl on top of my refrigerator. They were ever so lightly rubbing together creating the trilling bell sound that had captured my attention. My refrigerator had somehow become slightly off kilter causing it to shake slightly as it ran, vibrating the things I'd placed on top of it.

Jesus was not coming back. My refrigerator was playing tricks on me. I would have laughed at myself if I could have, but at the time I was too mortified to laugh. How awkward.

However, my bad day turned from worse to best. There is nothing like mistaking the return of Jesus to put ones own woes in perspective.

Now if only I could get my son to use the toilet, my life would be just perfect. At this point I think Becky will be potty trained before Reuben.

Friday, October 26, 2018

On Agatha Christie

I have been reading Agatha Christie. And she is a brilliant writer. Sometimes, I think...horrifically brilliant. I find I don't like reading about murder and I don't want to understand the mind of a murderer or think about detective work. I would rather be blissfully ignorant that psychopathic narcissistic people exist. After reading around 10 of her books now, I think Agatha must have been a little twisted herself to be able to come up with so many “good” murderous villains and plots!

At least her villains get caught. And confess their deeds. Unlike the real world.

I do like Marple. I want all the descriptions of her attire to be made in real life so I can wear them over tea. Except without the crime solving. Or bothersome nephews.

However, Marple's male counterpart annoys me. I'm speaking of Hercule Poirot, whose very name sounds as dry and strict as his character! Descriptions of his mustache make me cringe. He's fastidious about everything and full of himself. He's stuck up. I can't relate to him. I have no idea how his mind works, it's so far removed from my limited awareness that it is hard to comprehend. I am not detailed oriented. I am not organized. Thus, perhaps the reason I like him least is that he makes me feel common. He is brilliant, but he also knows it. I dislike a superior attitude in a man, especially one coupled with actual intelligence; but intellect to the point of snobbery. I know the BBC has made several TV adaptations of Agatha's books—I need to check them out to see how this all translates from manuscript to screen. I just feel Poirot would be a hard man to please.

I would love to read a biography about Agatha Christie's life. I wonder how she became fascinated with crime: was her father a policeman? I mean, I first learned about her from a Dr Who episode, so my knowledge is really limited. Did she ever solve a crime like in that episode? Obviously without alien killer bees, I'm sure, but did a murder ever happen right in front of her? I need to look up a documentary. I may be done reading her books, but I am not done reading about her. Someone that obsessed with death and murder must have had an interesting life.

What have you been reading lately? Any suggestions to put my way?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Thoughts On Motherhood

At times as a mom I feel so discontent. It's weird. When I am going through my “mom funk” and everything is hard I try to remind myself that I'm being selfish and I need to look to God. And that is true. God should be the reason behind my everything, the fount of my purpose and the base that I rest my weary sleep deprived soul on.

But I get caught up in all the little things and forget about God. I let my toddler antagonize me. I can easily become lost in the despair of motherhood, overwhelmed by dirty dishes while loads of laundry tower upwards around me like insurmountable mountains. So much of motherhold is hard work and if I don't remember that this is the way I am glorifying God I falter and fall easily into the muddy mires of miserable housework.

But my “work” is the way I am worshiping God and fulfilling my biblical role as wife and mother. As a redeemed woman my goal should be to glorify God and live for His purpose. I know his purpose for me is to be a stay at home mom, raise kids and care for my husband and home. I was created for many purposes and my life belongs to God. My purpose for God has changed: before marriage and after marriage, before birthing children and now after having two. I have been stretched and challenged and I am sure if I continue to live I will continue to grow in God. But my vision is narrow and again and again I fight myself for an illusion of power, an illusion of control.

God is good, but it's my own sinful nature and willful pride that does not see God's goodness in washing dishes and wiping poopy bottoms, teaching A-B-Cs and introducing Jesus to my toddler. It is sin, plain and simple sin, that that makes me yearn for “my freedom” and feel that it is “my right” to have a break and something of my own. Nothing belongs to me. Everything belongs to God, including my time and my person. My outrage over “my dreams” and anything resembling personal freedom is taking for granted all the special gifts God has given me for this time. My children and husband are not 100 pound weights around my neck, but blessings upon blessings that I should clasp to my bosom with reverent thanks. Many times I get caught up in thinking them weights that drag me down, away from what I want and I need and I deserve. This is not the way God would have me view my life.

There is no easy path to following God. The gentle road might feel right and sound simple to our human ears, but our footsteps would echo with lies. And I don't want to drag my feet down the streets of motherhood and parenthood uttering cantankerous complaints and rolling my eyes with burdens untold. I want to have a pleasant soul full of the joy of Christ and eyes that look heavenward. I want to count my blessings, not my sorrows.

I know I don't desire to look back upon my life when I am elderly and gloat about how much “me” time I successfully squandered. I might think personal space and my hobbiees matter in the moment, but in the light of eternity they do not even register. We mothers are working for eternity and against hell itself, there is no time for idle leisure. Rest, yes. Rest is needed. Even Jesus rested. But idle meandering is worthless without God as a purpose.

I want to view motherhood and all the trials and joys that come with it as a blessing straight from the hands of God. Our time on the earth is short, and my time with my little ones is shorter still.

God's peace and joy is always there, even when my toddler is screaming, my husband is working late, dinner is burnt and I am exhausted. God is there, and I reap blessings untold even in my darkest days of Motherhood.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Should Wives Submit to Their Husbands?

When I was saved by Christ at 26 years of age I identified as feminist. Soon after my salvation experience I realized that I knew nothing of what the bible said about women! I believed only what I had heard; I listened to the arguments of those around me instead of gleaning the truth from the bible. In the last six years I have been on a journey to find out what the bible says instead of what "I feel" or what the world says around me. And I no longer identify as a feminist. I have had to redefine everything since I accepted Christ. My doctrine changed, my marriage has changed and grown, I have different ideas about child rearing and many aspects of my life have irrevocably altered.

But this is about wives. So, should wives submit to their husbands? Are women inferior to men? What does the bible really say?

I draw most of my conclusions thus far from Ephesians 5. 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
I find this verse very helpful in defining my role as a wife. I am not told to be submissive to all men, but only to my husband. Thus the above verse does not place women under the authority of men: but only a man-- her husband. So what does that mean? Am I to ascertain that I am inferior to my husband? Should I give him his own way in everything?

I've found that finding the anwser to one question usually begets more. Thus my search continues. Discovering that I should submit to my husband only makes me ask "how" and "in what way". 
1 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 3 reads “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man; and the man is the head of a woman; and God is the head of Christ.” Paul is just saying this to show that there is an authority and submission principle built from God in heaven on down to men and women. This isn’t something cultural; it isn’t something just recently invented. There has always been in God’s plan and God’s economy a place for submission and authority. So I am to submit to my husband the way Christ submits to God.

Is God greater than Christ? No, they are equal. They are both God. They are equal spiritually. God the father is God and Jesus is God. Thus I surmise that am equal to my husband. God's idea of submission of wives to husband has nothing to do with inequality. I think it has everything to do with his plan and purpose for marriage.

As to what submission means in my marriage, or what it means between all men and their wives--I  am still researching. I know what it does not mean. It does not mean I don't have an opinion. My husband and I speak about everything when we can between nursing and caring for babies and trying to get adequate sleep. It does not mean my husband controls me or rules over me like a tyrant or is allowed to be abusive to me. I have a loving husband who is supposed to love me the way he loves his own body and the way Christ loves the church. Christ gave his life to the church! And thus my husband gives his very life over to me, to our family. He does this by working daily to earn money for us to live. He does this by caring for me and tenderly ministering to me. He does this by taking care of our children, working in our yard, and even cooking and cleaning. He never demands but instead gently leads as Christ leads him. These examples (and many more) are the ways my husband loves me.

In order for our marriage to work as God ordained, in order for me to submit to my husband--my heart must be in full submission to God. Also, my husband's heart must be in full submission to God. If he is not he will lead not only himself astray but me as well.

Oh God, let not me listen to what the world tells me my role should be, but let me only lean on you and incline my ear to your Will for my life. Let your truth be my truth, and let my ear be ever listening to your word and my feet seeking your ways.