I know many moms who gave birth and raised their children and do not have from those children the blessing of honor, respect or love. For those I pray God's greatest love and grace be granted as other moms celebrate this day called Mother's Day.
I know moms, and am among them, who've lost a dear child or a baby. For these I pray God's tender hand of kindness and mercy to meet this day with strength and confidence. God loves you, too.
I know women who've lost the dream of ever having a child of their own and then, some who have children yet are estranged from them and neglected by them. So they have lost the dream of having a lasting relationship with their own flesh and blood. My heart cries in understanding anguish with you. When my mother abandoned me at age 3, I lost that relationship, too. It's not easy.
Please, dear sisters... walk through this day with joy and know that you are where you are for a purpose that only our Heavenly Father understands. For those of us in Christ, we will someday know and understand the reasons why we suffer on this side of glory. For now I pray you grasp the beauty of this day, the sunshine of the moment. May each tear that glistens on your lids reveal a rainbow of hope. Know that there are children everywhere who need a loving hand, a touch from you, a smile and word of encouragement. These children are ones who will never have that from another woman-- they, too, are estranged from the mother's love.
We are one another's gift to each other. We are burden bearers of the highest realm. We are fitted for the moments of travail and have the hearts of mothers and daughters for those who have neither-- there are motherless and childless among us, all around us. Let go and give of yourself. Be for others what you need from others. It may be your highest calling. Be blessed.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Lord lay an extra helping of Your mercy and grace upon these ladies who yearn to be called mother. Give a surrogate to those who yearn to have a mother and feel all alone. Let them find peace in You and Your grace.
As a child, my mom never made spaghetti. Sometimes she'd buy the canned Franco American for a quick lunch. We'd cut it all up in spoon-sized pieces before eating it. The closest we came to anything resembling homemade spaghetti, was chunked-up fried hamburger meat loaded with ketchup and dumped over rice. At thirteen, it was pretty good eating. I didn't have genuine spaghetti till I got married and my husband's grandmother, Lena Lavorgna, made a batch on my first visit to New England. It was at that dinner table I first learned to twirl spaghetti by picking up a couple of strands of pasta and twisting it against a spoon. It was an art to complete that task without stray pieces dangling like little worms. I loved my husband's Nana's spaghetti. I also loved my husband's mother's sauce. After all, she learned how to make it from her mother.
Mom, as I called her from the beginning of my marriage, showed me how to make the homemade Lavorgna Italian-style spaghetti sauce with meatballs. Not that Ragu, Prego, Classico, dressed up ketchup you purchase in the stores. No, no. My mother-in-law taught me how to mince onions so tiny that you'd think they were crushed powder once cooked down in her sauce. She taught me how to mix up perfectly round meatballs and slowly brown them in the large iron skillet which would welcome her sauce to the party. I truly believe the flavor from the iron skillet is what created the strength and body of her sauce, too. I tried and tried to perfect their sauces, but simply couldn't get the right flavor, or consistency--no matter how many times I watched them and followed their recipes. Even so, I still prefer mine to store-bought or Olive Garden's. We should have bottled the Lavorgna recipe and we would have made millions.
But money's not everything.
There's so many memories of times spent with my husband's Nana and his mother that I treasure far above any monetary gain in life. I am grateful, very grateful for the lessons I learned from my mother-in-law. She taught me how to strip floors of wax build-up, too. Today, I can't even make a bed without remembering how she taught me to make hospital corners when tucking in the sheets. Didn't know how to do laundry, either. You see, I was only seventeen when I stole her eldest son's heart and married him. My step-mother didn't spend much time teaching me homemaking skills. Most everything I knew, I learned from my 4-H leader, Mrs. Keys--including how to present my prize-winning chicken salad and tomato soup cake (although, the cake was my step-mother's recipe).
As I look back, I find it amazing how much my mother-in-law taught me through the years. She introduced me to porkroast and how to make gravy, New England boiled dinners and egg-salad. Gosh, I can't remember all she taught me. I could barely boil eggs in water when hubby and I married. I owe a lot to her... not only for what she taught me, but for what she taught her son. If not for her, I wouldn't have such a marvelous husband who honors me and loves me beyond any human being on earth. What a blessing it is to ponder these things this Mother's Day Weekend.
You can bring a bouquet of roses or potted daisies, or even hand your mom a gift certificate for a pedicure and spa treatment. However, the most endearing, long-lasting gift is more than a peck on the cheek, a quick hug and a "happy mother's day" greeting. Even though all gifts are treasured and any recognition is appreciated, there is no gift as precious as time.
Above every gift we could ever receive, time spent with a child is the most treasured blessing a mother could have. Time to relax, to enjoy their presence. Time to talk and enjoy one another. A walk in the woods, a lunch with just her, a day of shopping or a long conversation about dreams or memories. A son or daughter who writes or shares the impact a mother has had would mean more to her than jewels. I know from personal experience. I have several notes from my son who is now in heaven.
Before my son died on Mother's Day 2005, he would often call me up and ask me to drive down to his place and hang out with him as he worked on bidding contracts and drove from place to place in his tile business. So, I'd trek the 50 miles from Oklahoma to Texas and spend the day with him. We'd stop and have coffee or drop in at his favorite restaurant for lunch. He'd tell me all kinds of stories about his days. We laughed a lot and he dreamed alot in those visits. He sang along with songs on the radio and made all kinds of crazy noises to make me laugh. He shared his fears, his heartaches, his hopes and his joys. I'll never forget the times we had.
It must be why I dreamed the very rare dream I did about my son a few weeks ago. I dreamed I was working away at a task in an antique booth and in walks Chad. I was so surprised to see him. Though he interrupted the task at hand, I was thrilled when he said "I just came to hang out with you for a while." It was just a dream. What I wouldn't give for a few hours or weeks to hang out with him again today. To be "interrupted" by his presence. To have one more picture of us together. Even so, my dream was so real, it brought back sweet memories and snapshots of days long ago.
When I look back on my life, my most treasured experiences above all other achievements or personal fun times, are times I spent with my children and husband. From shopping trips with my teenage daughter to band trips with my son. One of my happiest times was taking them to Disney World and playing with them in the ocean. My then-13-year-old daughter read the map and navigated us from Kentucky to Florida. I still treasure the conversations I had with my daughter when she was in Hawaii and shared all her activities. Countless calls. Long phone conversations discussing school, recipes, church activities and even politics.
Today I'm blessed to have her living right next door to me-- our front doors are within 15 feet of one another. Now my most happy moments are those when she drops in to share some little part of her day-- relating some situation with her girls, or filling me in on something important to her. It doesn't have to be a big thing, just little moments of chatting. Most times she's only here for a few moments, but those moments are mine to own, to treasure. Life is busy. She homeschools her daughters, does all the bookkeeping for her husband's business and is very involved at her church as a teacher. So for each of us, time is valuable. Time is treasured.
When time is shared as a gift to another, it is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I'm so grateful I have some of those times. Are you?
SPEAKING OF TIME... my dear friend, Karen Pollock, wrote a guest post for me on my FEMININE MATTERS blog in which she shares the most blessed gift her mother gave her dad, and subsequently, her mother-in-law. Don't miss reading this blessed story of the sacrificial gift from a bride to a husband that shows the true spirit of giving and generosity here> "He first belonged to his mother," reflections of my mother's decision, by Karen Pollock.
to heed the wisdom of Solomon. He would know the pitfalls for their lives. God would have them walk in HIS way and not the way of Satan. God would have them have a full, purposeful and productive life-- not a life that leads to destruction. So, in this day and age, where anything goes, and culture tells your sons to throw caution to the wind, it's good to take the time-- while they are young-- to talk to them. Before they leave your home's protective grace, make time to share your heart and God's Words of wisdom.
Yeah, mom, it's up to us sometimes to be the ones to caution sons about we women-- or rather-- the other women in the world. Not all women are like mommas, grandmas and sisters. Tell him: "Not all women want what's best for you. Some women are in this world to create harm and destruction. They have no desires but their own and they don't care who they take down with them in order to get their way." Let him know that Solomon knew this all too well when he wrote:
"For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of Sheol, She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.…Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth" Proverbs 5:3-7
When a son is getting ready to stand at the altar of God and take the woman of his choice to be his lawfully wedded wife, it's as good a time as any to remind them of these truths from Proverbs 5. Don't be shy about reminding him if you've already taught him the ways of God during his teenage years. He may seem like he doesn't want to hear, but he will hear when you pray about it and ask God to open the ears of his mind and heart. In fact, that may be the best way in the world to begin your conversation. Take him out to lunch, and in some secluded steak-house booth, begin your time with him in prayer and ask God to guide him all the days of his life. Ask God to give him wisdom to be the head of his household and to honor Him in all he says and does. Then, share the passage above with him.
Caution him that there will be times in his life when he may not feel the joy and love he feels at that moment as he looks forward to a life with his bride-to-be. Warn him of the evil one who wants to destroy his life and is already plotting and planning ways to come between him and his beloved and God. Remind him that he has got to walk with the LORD daily and keep Him ever-present in his mind as he seeks to build the home that only can be built with God's intervention and grace. Let him know that there are women like the one Solomon describes who will try to prey upon him in his weaker moments-- when he feels unloved or unappreciated. Tell him to look to God for his strength and wisdom. Tell him to take time each day and read one chapter of Proverbs, then pray with him that God will give him wisdom and discernment in all parts of his world.
Do this mom. Do this even if you've not been as close as you needed to be throughout his teen years. Let him know you want the best for him and his wife. Give him your blessing and thank God for the woman He has brought to be his helpmate. Afterwards, remember to pray for him every day that Satan not enter his household, and that the LORD keep him from all temptation.
LORD...help us all be better moms. Help us guide our sons and our daughters in the way You want them to walk. We give them to You and pray grace upon them. Amen
That stuff will kill you.
The proverbial promises in seasonal happiness are as addictive as sugar that sweetens a glass of Boo-berry, and are as fleeting as the thirst that it quenches on a hot Oklahoma day.
Most of my life was spent on, what I now consider, lesser pursuits. By misplacing value on things--and I do mean things-- I failed to recognize that some of my choices fell short of nobler purposes. I regret that-- but I do not condemn ladies who choose to work outside the home. Work is necessity for some people...and in this day and age, many women go to work just to make ends meet, not for luxuries. They need health insurance, braces and glasses for children. It's not always a wistful whim for avoiding motherhood-- far from it. My own son wanted to play trumpet and so the money I earned at work helped us provide that for him. It helped pay dental and doctor bills.
At one time it was important that my kids dress the way others dressed to avoid ridicule from their peers-- so I went to work to earn extra money for that. I might have served them better by helping them see that clothes do not a prince and princess make. I could have prayed more for their ability to see this principle instead of feeding temporal desires to be like everyone else. Looking back, I see the futility of extra money above more quality time with family. I see tensions that developed because of my desire to help provide "more" when less would have sufficed--or been better.
Hindsight can drive you crazy if you let it. But we can't. We must accept the error of our ways and pray for greater wisdom for ourselves, our daughters and granddaughters. Everything is a judgment call and all too often judgment fails to be the wisest-- even if it has the best of intentions in mind at the time. Equal and wiser lessons from experiences of life could have produced stronger attitudes for thrift, frugality and restraint.
When we moms get all wrapped up in the moment, sometimes we allow our emotions to rule our decisions.
Now, don't get lost on that last statement. If you do, you may miss my point. Past regrets can motivate our present behavior. We learn from a particular experience and we can let it influence our actions for the better or for the worse. I think women could learn a lot from a class in risk analysis. Rather than base our decisions upon protecting our children's ego and self-esteem in a particular situation, we'd be better off basing decisions on developing character, instilling integrity and encouraging hard work. I wish I'd spent more time rewarding my kids for memorizing Proverbs that spoke to a particular issue of character than buying into the fuzzy-wuzzy, Hallmarky commercials on television.
One of my greatest joys right now is watching my daughter home-school her two younger girls. I am so proud of her for this discipline--it's amazing to me. I dare say that there are many women today who couldn't hold a candle to her kind of sacrifice, diligence, organization and self-control. As disciplined as my daughter is, I cannot take credit for her diligence-- she grew in spite of my mistakes. Her virtues come from her own experiences, her own spiritual growth, and her individual yielding to God's Word. If I asked, I'm sure she'd have her own testimony about sipping the "Kool-aid" of society at times.
We all learn lessons of “Kool-aid” indulgence in one way or another, I suppose. Some lessons lead to regret, but eventually, if you ask God to return to you the day the locust has eaten, they lead to greater wisdom. From that wisdom comes endurance, faith and the knowledge that God's grace is sufficient.
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to the wisdom You alone can give. Give us insight and words of encouragement for others we pass throughout this day.
No other could know the agony as well, nor experience the pain of loss as much as Mary, the mother of Jesus, on the day we call Good Friday. Long before she gave birth to the Holy Child in Bethlehem, Mary pondered the monumental change growing within her womb. More than the physical changes...more than the cultural challenges, Mary pondered that she, a lowly Hebrew virgin, would conceive the long-awaited Messiah...the Savior of Israel. Her first child. An awesome responsibility for any woman to have a child, but Emanuel? God with us?
I can't imagine all the thoughts Mary carried throughout her lifetime of her first-born son. I relate only to those I hold inside my heart and mind for my own son. Though my first I only saw through a plate glass window 15 hours before he died, I was gifted with my second son for 33 years. The same age as Jesus when He gave his life on the Friday, we call "Good" in remembrance of the crucifixion.
Needful to say, Mary probably did not feel so "good" that day as she followed her son about to be accused, tried, beaten, mocked, spat upon, nailed to a wooden cross with spikes that tore into his flesh. As horrific as it seems to me the death I am told claimed my son as his head was crushed, beyond recognition when he met boulders on a bank when the driver of an ATV rolled the 4-Wheeler over and instantly killed my son, it is nothing compared to that which the mother of our Savior experienced as she watched in vigil at the foot of the cross as Jesus drew his last breath and said "It is finished".
What went through her mind? How unfair did it seem to Mary? How many memories of joy and laughter and hugs did she recall? How many tears did she shed? Did she kneel there in fear for herself by being the mother of the Man from Galilee? How did she feel as she watched all the things she may have expected to occur be destroyed that dark and lonely day on Golgatha's hill? What did she think would happen? Had she been forewarned? Could she have fathomed the heartache she would have to endure because her son would have to die that she could live forever with him? I do not know.
But as I contemplate this day, I know I will some day. I will know why my son lived only 33 years...before God took him to live with Him for eternity. I will know, as Mary, why we mothers were left behind. And it will be a good day. The best day among all. And I know then and there, I will have no more sorrow, no more pain, and no more emptiness for the void left behind when my son left me to join Mary's son. selahV
I sometimes do what I'm doing now. I open my laptop and start writing. Scary when the house is dark and that bright light slaps me in the head. I need night vision glasses. This is absolutely blinding. I think I'll close my eyes and type. Ah, much better.
Anyway, tonight when I awoke I wondered if the Lord wanted a word with me, as He so often does in the middle of the night. So I waited. And within a milisecond, He brought my facebook friend, fellow blogger, and sister-in-Christ to mind. It's easy to know why she entered my thoughts. Recently she miscarried her first child. Emily use to write for Devotional Christian. Please join me in lifting her up in prayer. It's a hard thing to lose a baby. Especially the first. One wonders if you'll ever have a child. I know. My little Paul only breathed 23 hours of air (and that was very labored), before he went to heaven. WeeOne only lived about 3 months in my womb before she moved on to be with God. It makes getting pregnant again very scary...fear you'll lose another baby. It makes being hopeful something elusive. It's something you are hesitant to even usher out of your heart.
anyway...will you pray with me now for Emily?
May God in His tender mercy fill her with peace overflowing today. May she feel the spark of joy kindle again in her heart. May the Lord give her and her husband comfort this very hour. May their trust be renewed...trust that He will never abandon them, and trust in His all-knowing plan for the life he started in her and took back home much sooner than Emily had wanted. May the moments she finds herself questioning her loss, and wondering why. Please, Lord; turn her wonder into marveling. Let her know she will one day hold her Amos in her arms for an eternity. Until then remind her of those who've gone before her who are most likely holding Amos now. And Lord, please send my son over to hold Amos awhile. He so loved little babies.
May we all remember to pray for Emily when we waken in the night and think of her. May we each use our time wisely when wakened. I most assuredly believe when I cannot sleep, it has a lot less to do with me writing and a lot more to do with me listening. God wants to talk to me. This time He wanted me to pray for Emily. And He wanted me to ask you to pray, too. God bless you all, and especially Emily. selahV
For many, yesterday was a day of remembering Moms. In fact, on Facebook (the world-wide social network site), I saw precious tributes. One gal even asked everyone to change their profile picture and replace it with one of their mothers til Monday. I thought that was sweet. I didn't do that. I have no idea where any pictures are of my mothers.
My biological mom is barely a memory...she abandoned us when I was just three, the three or four times I saw her afterwards leave fanciful feathers fluttering in my mind.
Step-mother #1 stirs memories of sadness as a whole--although, one cannot toss aside the years in which she washed my clothes and cooked meals. I have to give her credit where credit is due. Most of what she was in my life was not her fault. Albeit hard to suffer the anguish of abuse, mentally ill people need our forgiveness, especially when they let you pull taffy on a cold winter night.
Step#2 didn't really consider me much more than my father's daughter. She and her children got some of the better parts of my dad's time, money and affection. Enough said.
Step#3 was a gem. I do call her blessed for giving my father the best 4 years of his heartbreaking 82 years of life. When I watch others share how much they miss their mothers, the heartbreak they have without them, I often think I may be more blessed for never having known the joy of moms. In a sense I have been spared that kind of pain. Admittedly, it makes it harder to empathize with another's burden...that makes it easier for me to understand how folks feel who cannot fathom my loss of a son...two babies.
Given the post I shared on Mother's Day, and due to the prayers so many offered on my behalf, I thought I'd take a few moments to tell you how things went for me yesterday (and also share some family photos). Before I do that I want to acknowledge the gorgeous flowers you see pictured above. My son's dear childhood friend (and a former youth I taught in the first pastorate we were blessed to serve), sent them to me. She's been rather faithful to me as a friend and sister-in-Christ since Chad's death.
[Karen Pollock contributes to Devotional Christian now and she wrote one of the sweetest tributes to my son (HERE). But make sure you subscribe to Devotional Christian while you're there so you don't miss any of her moving devotionals.]
So...the flowers come in the middle of the night, at about 8:15 on Saturday night. Such a gift I stumble to explain. You see, Karen doesn't know this, but one of the hardest times I have through the Mother's Day extravaganza is May 7th...the night before Mother's Day. That was the night six years ago I last spoke to my son--last heard his voice. As usual, he had a story to tell, and part of it was his joy in going to see the Texas Rangers play ball in Dallas. That evening at around 10:15 was the last time I heard his sweet words, of good-bye and "I love you, momma." So often at that hour of each Saturday before Mother's Day, my heart fills with a bitter-sweetness of gratitude and regret. Gratitude that God gave me that last "I-love-you, Momma" --- Regret that we hung up before I said I love you too, my precious son. It's hard to forgive myself for that lapse in motherhood.
So, Karen...you are, my friend, another portion of Chad's never-ending story of a life. The love he shared with you nearly 30 years ago in friendship, blossomed into a basket of roses and daisies for me on a day only Chad, and I, and God would know is a day I find especially difficult. Your flowers blessed me more than you'll ever know. It was like a gift from heaven above. I can almost hear my son say, "forgetta bout it, Momma; just stop and smell the roses today."
Secondly, my friends and new readers, that is just one facet of what I call God's divine interventions in life...a comforting Balm through a love cultivated years ago in a little country Kentucky church. Corrie ten Boom was right when she wrote, "Every experience God gives you, every person He puts in your life, is the perfect preparation for the future, that only He can see."
Thirdly, My daughter did what she does naturally for her--she loves through acts of service. She prepared a brisket dinner for me and her own family. Every single Sunday (for the most part) she makes Sunday dinner. I couldn't help but think of how much I appreciate her gift of love. A menial task, some might say. But special because I have her in my life to share my heart, to embattle, to love, to plan stuff, to undergird and etcetera, etcetera. Some folks wonder why I don't write much about my daughter. I realize that it a curious thing considering the attention I give to the relationship I had with my son. I'm simply following orders. You see, as precious as my daughter is, and as much as I would love to give you all the nitty-gritty details of her life and her older children, Holly is a private kind of gal. She makes me keep my thoughts closer to my chest, my fingers holstered, and for the most part, pictures stored in scrapbooks.
To say she doesn't like to call attention to herself rather belies the kook she is at ladies' retreats. But she doesn't like to announce to the world all the things she does as she serves the Lord. She doesn't tweet, friend, or blog. This world is rather foreign to her. It's doubtful she even reads a single thing I write--go figure. But she owns a humongous portion of my heart, always has, always will. I'd die for her. She could have both kidneys and my liver. I know she loves me...and while she's never stood up in the city gates and called me blessed, I know. I know she cares. I know because no matter how heated we may get over trivialities of life, she and I are on the phone talking and sharing by 10:00 a.m. the next day. It's just the way we are. It's not how we've always been. And most of that is my fault. I have learned a lot about motherhood from my daughter. I think most mommas do.
Lastly...yesterday...Mother's Day was one of the most peacefilled, comforting, blissful, and God-infused days I've had in a long long time. Here is just a sampling of things that held my attention. Most of it is pictures. I hope you have as much fun looking at them as I had cropping and adding captions today.
Life is not always a happy time. It's not always perfect. It has moments, though -- snapshots in the course of living which we need to be vigilant not to miss. Moments flash before our eyes, and can be blurred before our cameras grab the perfect shot. Often in our desire to have the perfect day, we waste time trying to catch the perfect smile, the perfect pose. Then we miss the seconds of love and lose a memory we could capture and lock inside our hearts forever. Enjoy today. Enjoy tomorrow. Be like my son...stop and smell the roses. Smell them today. selahV
Kinsey and Haylee trashed (what we commonly refer to as), the "girls' room". It's a combination guest room for when my son's girls come from Texas for the weekend. Kinsey decided to carpet the bedroom with all the books on their bookshelves. Then Haylee cleaned out the closet and made it into a store (so all the toys in there came out onto the floor, too). They made a tent out of the bunkbeds. Then they took a big box and headed to the kitchen to shop for merchandise for their bedroom "store". Suffice it to say, "the girls' room" looks like an Oklahoma tornado blew through. When I told the girls that they needed to clean up their messes before their mom came, they both pointed to the other as the one to blame and said the same thing: "I don't feel like it."
I understand. I make lots of messes and don't feel like cleaning them up. However, sometimes we gotta do what we don't wanna do.
I kinda think our world is like "the girls' room". We all like to play in it, but when we make a mess of it, we don't wanna clean it up. Our lives are like that, too. We do our own thing and saturate ourselves with those things which please us, but when we start carrying box-loads of kitchen stuff into the bedroom, we discover it's not quite as much fun to carry it back. We yank all the order from our lives and spread it out in places it doesn't belong and then we don't want to bow down and get things straight. We, like Kinsey and Haylee, want to blame the others for the mess we make of things. We just don't feel it.
It takes too much effort to sort through the cause and root of a problem. It takes too much time to undo what we've done. It looks like a disasterous mess and we would rather just move to another room and forget about it. We don't want to accept responsibilty for our part in the mess we make. It's easier to point fingers, walk away and move on to another room. The only problem is, if you haven't changed the way you play, you wind up making a mess of the next room, too. Therefore, sometimes you gotta do what you don't feel like doing.
My daughter came over and helped the girls lug the "groceries" back into the kitchen. She helped them place the books back on the shelves. She guided them in putting the toys back in the closet, and straightening up the living room. She didn't do it all for them. But she let them take her yoke upon them and carried the heaviest part of their load. Just like Jesus does for us.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29
I love pink. I like pink dresses, pink blankets and pink roses. I love pastel blue, lavendar and pale green. Anything that's soft and feminine, to me, is ideal to lavish upon my darling granddaughters.
I read an article on AOL a few weeks ago about an author who is opposed to pink being peddled to our precious little girls. Seems she is not just against girls prancing about in pretty pettifores; she doesn't like the princess-image being force-fed to girls via fairytales...there are no Prince Charmings or White Knights. Very few girls grow up to be princesses. If I didn't know better, I'd think most girls grow up expecting to live in vine-covered castles, fulfilling fantasy marriages complete with twittering birds and talking mice at their beck and call. The villains sucking the brains from our vulnerable little girls are Disney's line of princesses: Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, and of course, that wicked Little Mermaid.
According to Parent Dish's Tom Henderson, the author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter", Peggy Orenstein, offers an ominous outcome for girly-girl imaging. She is concerned the "prince" her daughter marries and vows to love and protect her will run off and marry nurse-Nancy as soon as he's finished dental school. After all, once a Beast, always a beast.
I might agree with her position if not for one thing. Reality. I grew up in the age of Barbie and Ken. My sister-in-law passed her collection of Barbies onto my little girl. Although Barbie donned a fresh gown every time she twirled around, she also had attire complete with briefcase and hard hats. Barbie portrayed a working gal. Yeah...that liberated woman who brought home her own bacon and wouldn't let Ken open her pink car door. She could be a nurse one day and a doctor the next; a model in a gown or a CEO in a three-piece pantsuit and tie. I do not recall one apron or rolling pin in the pink plastic wardrobe. It's an absolute miracle my daughter grew up to be a stay-at-home wife who raised three children and is now homeschooling her two little girls.
But back to the princess plight. I was fortunate; Cinderella didn't eat my daughter. She grew up reading all the fairytales and watching happily-ever-after movies. She wore pink and played with Barbie. But she lived in the real world, unspoiled, and learning what it is to be a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman. She didn't model herself after the folly of the world because we brought her up in the admonition of the Lord and prayed with her, over her, and for her throughout her life. And no, life has not always been a rose-garden. But she's learned how to pull the thorns from her thumbs and move on. Sometimes the brambles seem overwhelming as they wrap around her life. But in these times I'm glad to see she's developed the character of all those Disney princesses who suffer unkindness, calamity, and misfortune. She's stood strong and uncompromising. Though buffeted by life's storms, she still looks to the One Who calms the waves and trusts He will speak as only the Prince of Peace can.
In the meantime we paint pink playrooms, buy pink bows and purchase princess pajamas. We crown the girls with jeweled tiaras. And as we sip sweet tea from our china tea-cups, we delight in telling them they are, indeed, princesses--that someday they'll wear a robe of white and dine at the table of the King of Kings. selahV
ANOTHER POST YOU MAY ENJOY at my "Feminine Matters" blog.
Some of you know I volunteered to help teach an Iraqi lady conversational English. Linda came here with her husband and their 4 year-old little boy. Her husband was an interpreter with our soldiers while they served in Iraq, and is here on a 10-year green-card. He hopes to become an American citizen. Unfortunately, because of some very tangled circumstances, Linda was unable to bring her two little girls with her. Her girls are 6 and 7 years-old. Linda misses them so much. It tears my heart out for her.
Each week she and I work on learning how to talk English, and Linda is doing really, really well. She can read very well and pronounces words clearly. She's so excited to be learning our language and she goes to our Friendship Internationals ministry on Tuesday at a local church to further her ability to speak our language. Today after Linda and I had read some of her lesson book, I asked her if she had any pictures of her family in Iraq. She did and she showed me photos of her two little girls. As we both wept for the pain she feels because of the separation from her girls, I told her I would pray for God to open the doors and bring them to her in America, soon.
Linda really loves it when I bring my granddaughters to visit with Abodda. He gets to play with them, and she loves to watch them play. Below is a photo of them playing with playdoh that I brought to Abodda. [continued after photo]
Please pray for this miracle with me. It will literally take a miracle for this to happen. I cannot imagine what she must feel being in a strange country and not being able to see her little girls. Her mother and father are their care-takers in Iraq and by their laws, they are the guardians--almost as if Linda was not the mother. It will take a miracle to change that situation, too. Please pray God moves in a way to release the girls from this guardianship so that they can come here.
I sense the Lord doing something extraordinary in Linda's life. My heart goes out to her in this time of separation. Pray for me as I try and minister to her...I know God has placed her in my life for far more than lessons in English. selahV
How often we give of ourselves, yet receive no appreciation. A mother cooks and a child turns up its nose. A child studies hard, but the best of his or her effort is ignored in light of one average grade in one particular subject. A husband works all day to provide for clothing, shelter, food--only to be handed a "to-do list" of requests the moment he walks in the door: Take the baby; feed the dog; fix the toilet; mow the lawn. Elderly parents are ignored; wisdom they have gleaned from longevity and experience is set aside--out of touch with today's reality.
Why do we need man's approval? Why do we hunger for it? Should not our words and deeds all be for Christ alone?
Long ago I gave up looking for approval and validation from my parents. I came to grips with a sound fact; it is not they who measure my worth or value. Yet, throughout my life, I sought validation from peers, those I ministered unto, and even my children. Most often, I wasn't even aware I sought it. Validation is something we all seek from someone, somewhere. No other place is this seen as clearly as in writing to please the masses. Writers write because they must. But what if there are no readers? Do we bend our principles, our focus, to tantalize? To incite, to gossip, to carry tales, to condemn others, to bring attention to ourselves? Or do we move forward, forming our sentences and thoughts to pour out of a heart pure in the sight of God?
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever." 1 Peter 4:10-11.
"If anyone serves..." If anyone writes? If anyone cooks? If anyone mows a lawn, tends to a child? "do it...so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
How great it is to know that our validation is in Christ Jesus. Not in man. When our motives are pure--and we seek to glorify Christ--validation is not necessary. Let God be praised. selahV
Indeed it can, according to Mike Adams, in his article entitled Bluer than Blue. He boldly states, "Christianity ended slavery and it ended segregation. It is even powerful enough to end feminist anger and reverse the decline in female happiness."
Interesting in reading Bluer than Blue, Adams relates a portion of a conversation he overhears between a sociology student and her professor, just as he was "coincidentally" (yeah) reading the article that prompted his own post. Read some snippets:
“I never really knew, until I took your course, that marriage was oppressive in the sense that it benefits men more than women.”
“I never really considered the fact that a wedding dress is an expression of latent heterosexism.”
“I never really considered the impact of large expensive weddings on the workers who, for example, make wedding dresses. I had never known about the wedding industrial complex as a form of capitalist exploitation.” [excerpt from Mike Adams, Bluer than Blue]
Shocking? It was, and it wasn't to me. Seriously, folks. In a society filled with continual updating of politically correct words and phrases we can use, I am rarely surprised at anything the liberally socialistic-controlled education system dishes up to our impressionable children. However, as I read Adams' article I couldn't help but ponder the conversations I've read in forums with ladies all across the country of late. These ladies are just moms and grandmothers who want the best for...get this...their children and grandchildren. Some ladies work, many do not. But they have a common bond to see our government get out of the way of our freedom of speech, religion, education, the pursuit of happiness. They see themselves as patriots, and Christian ones at that, seeking to build a better America.
Another thing that came to mind as I read Mike Adams' article regarding the unhappiness of women as a result of the feminist movement, was Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's degree programs for women. These programs are sometimes criticized for their focus on homemaking skills. Yet, as I listen to Dr. Dorothy Patterson and Dr. Terri Stovall, Dean Women's Programs, share their thoughts at this site, I cannot help but believe that women are being given far more than a brownie recipe to combat the world view of destroying the traditional home as we know it. Click [HERE] and see if you agree. If programs like these at Southwestern were used to teach minister's wives and women throughout all our Southern Baptist seminaries, we might have women's ministries in churches that could curb the flow of women at abortion clinics and unhappy feminists living lives in confusion and loneliness. Indeed, some of the most relaxed forms of gospel sharing by our missionaries is done through the hands-on work of missionary wives and women teaching crafts, cooking, hygiene and homemaking skills to women and children in foreign countries.
Truth be told, we need women more than ever. We need women to help change the course of the marxist attack on traditional family today via sociological education women are receiving in colleges across America such as Mike Adams related above. Happy women make happy homes. Adams article may be closer to understanding the old addage, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy", better than any man today. selahV
published a post asking folks to remember his wife Abby and their unborn child. At the time of my post, I didn't know all the details of the situation that led to his death and which appeared to be a drug sting gone horribly bad. From what I could tell from the video showing him being confronted by two men brandishing guns, I couldn't believe her husband was wrong in trying to get away from that scene as soon as possible. Especially when I read his website.
He loved Jesus. His number one goal in life was to let his entire town know about Jesus and the eternal life He offers. Ironically, this horrible "mistake" by police officers may have provided that opportunity. Nevertheless, my heart aches for his wife, their unborn baby, and their church who need our prayers.
Jonathan Paul Ayers, pastored Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Georgia. His young wife was 16 weeks pregnant at the time he was killed. A young pastor...who'd led several people to Jesus in the last year of his life at Shoal Creek, is gone from this earth to meet his Savior and Lord. I have been trying to keep up with what happened in this case. I'm so surprised that the news media has not brought more attention to it.
Abby has written two very poignant posts at her husband's website NEW BEGINNINGS--one about how she misses him, another announcing her baby is going to be a boy. Please go by and read them and pray for her. selahV
[From an updated post I read on the internet, this young man asked the paramedics who attended him before he died, if they knew who shot him. This is all I can find on this situation.]
When my daughter first got married, I sat down and wrote out a slew of recipes so she would know how to make my spaghetti sauce, beef stew, stuffed porkchops and various other dishes. Through the years, when my daughter was cooking, she'd call and ask how long to cook something, if a certain dish could be frozen, etcetera. My daughter rarely calls me anymore about cooking. She's learned how, and is one of the best cooks I know. Now she makes her sauce, stew, and chops.
As her mother, I often wonder how many of my habits I've passed on to my daughter. Some of the areas I consider weaknesses in myself, I've watched her develop into strengths. She is an organizer, administrator, take charge kinda person. I'm a spur of the moment, creative, let things flow kind of person. She confronts; I encourage. She expects; I accept. Is this a direct result of her methodically and determinedly seeking to be different, or do we simply have gifts that lead us to react differently in the same set of circumstances? How much is innate and how much is learned behavior?
I'm reading an interesting book, FAMILIES OF THE BIBLE: How They Coped with Today's Problems. The very first chapter touches on families "repeating patterns" and passing along traits to their children through behavior they learn by simply growing up in the household. Co-authors, Howard Hovde and Louis Moore write:
"Many couples duplicate patterns their parents establish....The family in which we were reared left deeper impressions on us than we probably realize--how we feel about ourselves, how we view the world, how we relate to our spouses, what we think of money, how we feel about others."
This comes as no surprise to me. I have fought off many of the patterns I carried into my life from my parents. I also developed patterns of my own which I tried to keep my children from adopting. Nevertheless, there are some things that cling like stick-tights and it may take years to break the habits or destroy patterns our children pick up. My daughter took into her marriage some facts: her father helped her mother with many household chores. She married a man whose mother did all the housekeeping and cooking. These were patterns from their families that challenged their marriage. They had to work through them. I like what the authors said about that:
"From 16 to 25 years of observing and experiencing how to relate doesn't automatically stop at the altar. The system that has developed in the home is strong; the momentum to continue it is powerful."
How about you? What areas of your family life do you see your children adopting? What habits of yours do you hope they will adopt? What patterns have you passed on?
In the next few posts I plan to offer a sampling of what Hovde and Moore have served to us in their book. There are "Families Of The Bible" which speak to the problems we have today. There are still things we can learn from these families--their mistakes, their patterns, their actions. Perhaps we wil learn something new about "How They Coped with Today's Problems". Ya think? selahV
Today is the day folks have traditionally set aside to celebrate as Mother's Day. On this day we honor our mothers and even honor all mothers. When I think of this day each year, I think not of my own mother, because I really didn't know my Mother. She left me with my Dad and two brothers when I was 3 years old. Through my lifetime I grew to understand what it takes to be a mother by the best I saw in other mothers. The mothers in my school. The mothers of my church. The mothers of my relatives. The mothers of my neighbors. In them, I found what I believed motherhood to be. My mother and stepmother simply couldn't measure up to those around me.
God blessed me immeasurably with some great examples as a child. It was a mixed blessing. I lived between the world of wanting and accepting the lot in which I lived. I lived with the fantasy of what life could have been if my biological mother had stayed with me and the reality of being abused, emotionally and verbally by a mentally ill stepmother. Yet, always in the midst of the confusion of my life, I knew there was a better way. I felt it. I saw it exemplified in the love I received from my school teachers, and my Sunday School teachers. For every bad example of motherhood, there are many more good examples. I salute these moms today.
I am convinced that the positive examples of motherhood that God placed in my life are part of what has helped me become the mother He wants me to be. I am also convinced that the poor examples are ones God used to strengthen me, to teach me perseverance, faith and ultimately forgiveness. I am convinced that part of the reason I am a Christian today is because of the love I was shown from Mrs. Warren, Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Varner, Mrs. Lindamood and Mrs. Keys. I believe it was their prayers for me as a child, and their interest in me as a child, that God used to guide me to Him in my 28th year. Once I became a Christian, I was able to read in God's Word about the kind of mothers who lived their lives as God wanted. I read principles that helped me understand motherhood.
It would take a book for me to give tribute to all the mothers who have blessed my life, and even then, I'd leave some out. So for all the moms out there in the world who are moms to all the children in need of moms, I give you thanks. I call you blessed. And I pray the fruit you bear will indeed produce greater fruit than you can even imagine. God bless you all.
DO YOU HAVE SOME MOTHER, YOURS OR ANOTHER'S, WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE? selahV