Thursday, December 22, 2011

Encouragement for Mothers

Recently, I received a letter in the mail from a friend at church. She has raised three Christian children (one who has since passed away) and is now a grandmother.  Her letter was one of encouragement and appreciation as my husband and I strive to raise our children in the Lord. Tears filled my eyes as I read her letter.  Here was an older Christian woman whom I admire and deeply respect sharing with me her own doubts as a young mother raising small children very close in age, the very same doubts I experience daily:  
Am I spending enough time with my children?  
Am I letting housework and chores take away from enjoying them?  
Do I give enough attention to each child's individual needs?  
What will they remember when they are grown: A mother who rarely had time to sit down and play, or one who read books to them and showered them with love? A mother who was a strict disciplinarian, or one who showed them grace and mercy?  
Will they know how much I truly love them?   
My friend said that her now grown children laugh when she relates to them those worries she once had because their memories are only of the times they shared together, including the spankings!  Never did they feel left out or neglected.  But as a young mom pulled in multiple directions, feelings of inadequacy and guilt were common, just as they are today for many mothers, including myself.

As mothers we have a hefty but beautiful responsibility of caring for and nurturing our children.  But, as much as we might like to, we can't spend all day playing, reading to, and showering attention on our children.  There's also a husband who needs our attention, a house in need of cleaning, bills to be paid, meals to be prepared, and other miscellaneous tasks that come up on a daily basis.  However, we have to find a good balance that works for us.

Mothering is a job that rarely receives commendation. Very rarely do I feel competent in the job I'm doing as a mother: I'm always second-guessing the choices I make.  Even more rarely do people--besides my kind husband--praise me for my efforts.  Why is that, I wonder?  Sometimes all we mothers need is a word of encouragement and praise.  To know that our efforts are not in vain; to feel justified that the blood, sweat, and tears is not for naught; to stop doubting ourselves, if only but for a minute or two. 

Do you know a mother who could use a kind word today?  Send her a card, or give her a call.  Let her know that you see the good she's doing in her children's lives, and encourage her to keep up the good work.
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."
 I Thessalonians 5:11
Praying God's richest blessings on you and your family this Christmas season!

God bless you,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My 2012 Reading List

Last week I posted on Jessica from Life as Mom's "Booking it in 2012" reading list.  After much deliberation (and a little help from my friends), I have finally devised my own 2012 Reading List, along with a few other books I want to tackle throughout the year.  My goal in 2012 is to post a brief review after reading the book of the strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and whether or not I recommend reading the book.

Here is my tentative "Booking It in 2012" reading list.  (I have placed an asterisk by books also on Jessica's list.)

January: Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider. As we prepare for the arrival of child number 3, the idea of "simple living" is very appealing to me.  I'm excited to start the year with this book, described on as follows:
Organized Simplicity's aim is to convince its readers that simple living is the absolute best way to live.  Be it with house cleaning, family schedule management, personal finances, and managing the "stuff" you allow within your four walls, the only way to live well is to do so intentionally and simply. [...] There are chapters for cleaning and organizing the home room-by-room, and future project ideas will inspire readers to turn their house in a haven they love.

February: The Meaning of Marriage: Facing Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller.  Based on Keller's sermon series, this book "shows everyone--Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged--the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible."

March: Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.  I've read countless parenting books but this one is the first that encourages the idea of extending grace to your child, much like our Heavenly Father is so abundantly gracious to us.  I must admit that I'm not very gracious with my kids and am eager to find ways to improve in this area of my parenting.

April: Homeschooling the Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year Old Child by Linda Dobson.  To aid me in my "attempts" at homeschooling our three-year-old and also see if homeschooling is in the best interest of our children.

May:  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson*.  Originally published in 1938 but made into a film in 2008 with Amy Adams.  From what I've read, Watson has a similar style to Jane Austen, probably my all-time favorite writer, so I'm anxious to read this novel by a new-to-me writer.

June: Finding Your Purpose as a Mom: How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground by Donna Otto.  God has made me a mother for a reason.  I'm always eager to read a new book on how to improve in this role and am hoping this book will be one of encouragement and practical application.

July: The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole.  A book recommended by a homeschooling friend to address some of my concerns about teaching our children outside the institution of the school system.

August: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  In the county where we live, The Hunger Games has been recommended as a book to be read because of its universal themes and appeal to a broad range of age groups, races, and backgrounds.  Several friends have recommended these books to me and so I'm jumping on the bandwagon to participate in this community-wide challenge to read.

September: Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman.  Because life is tough and we as women generally tend to forget God's grace, striving instead to live up to impossible standards.  Love this premise because accepting grace is something I struggle with.

October: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  Published in 1868, Collins' novel is considered by many as the first detective novel in the English language.  As an avid Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reader, I'm interested in getting to the roots of the modern mystery novel.  Plus, it's a literary classic.
November: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (movie to be released in December 2012)*.  A classic I have never read but once saw on Broadway and LOVED.  Plus, I'm excited to see the upcoming film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway.

December: Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice & Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women by Dr. James Dobson.  A book I've read once already but definitely need to re-read!

Other books I hope/intend to read in 2012:
What are your reading plans for 2012? 


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of December 18th

Well, it's the week before Christmas, and all I can say is "FINALLY!"  It seems like the month of December has crept at a snail's pace for me.  But, here we are, and here are our menu plans for the week. 

 This week I'm incorporating some cold weather favorites as well as cleaning out the freezer. 

Sunday:  Breakfast-- Pancakes & Sausage Links
                Lunch-- Clean out the Fridge! 
                Supper-- Chili and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Monday:  Breakfast-- Yogurt & Granola
                 Lunch-- Crock pot Mac & Cheese with clementines & apple slices
                 Supper-- Pot Roast with carrots, potatoes, celery & onions and Salad

Tuesday:   Breakfast-- Oatmeal with blackberries
                  Lunch-- Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with baby carrots & clementines
                  Supper-- Honey-Garlic Chicken on brown rice, steamed broccoli, & pot-stickers

Wednesday:  Breakfast-- Scrambled eggs & sausage with fruit
                     Lunch-- Black bean & cheese burritos with apple slices
                     Supper-- Beef Stew with Cornbread

Thursday:  Breakfast-- Yogurt with Fruit
                   Lunch-- Leftover Beef Stew with fruit
                   Supper-- Out to Dinner (part of our Christmas Countdown)

Friday:  French Toast with Blueberry Syrup
              Lunch-- Leftovers
              Supper-- At my parents' house

Saturday:  Christmas Eve Brunch at my parents' house

Sunday:  Christmas Morning Breakfast at home--  Mexican Potato Sausage Casserole, Dunkin' Donuts doughnuts (a family tradition), and Mom's Homemade Tea Rings


Other Cooking/Baking I Want to Do This Week:
  1. A batch of homemade granola
  2. Caramel corn
  3. Peanut butter fudge
  4. My Mema Garner's Strawberry Cake, a Christmas tradition (recipe forthcoming)
What's on your menu this week?

Merry Christmas to you & your family!