Women Drama

Social media has been stuffed to the brim with women drama the past few days. Abortion rights, how women are disrespected by men, abused, raped, catcalled, why they don’t get paid as much, how employers refuse to give them PAID maternity leave (ironic when paired with the previous demand), how they have to pay taxes their sanitation products, why they feel their life is so unfair and cheated at every turn. They sound so bitter, so hurting, so unloved…
 
I just don’t get it. Do you know why? Because I grew up with a Christian father who ALWAYS respected, protected, and cherished me. I grew up with a Christian grandfather who deeply loves, adores, and cares for his wife at every turn, and taught his sons to do the same. I grew up with a Christian father-in-law, who taught my husband how to BE A MAN by loving and protecting and honoring the women in his life (his mother, his sisters, and eventually me). I have Christian brothers who love and build up my sisters-in-law. I have dozens and dozens of Christian friends with Christian husbands, who love, provide for, and adore them. These husbands do not put them down, cheat on them, force them into ungodly submission, abuse them, catcall them, strike them, etc. Men in my community, do not use women up and throw them away afterward. Are they always perfect? Of course not. But when they stray, they repent and seek to do better. Disrespecting women is not normal or allowed.
 
A world where men mistreat women so fouly (though I’m not saying it doesn’t exist) seems so foreign to me.
 
Am I lucky? No. I’m not. Am I blessed? Yes.
 
Because, ladies… Hear me out on this one. If you want to be loved deeper than you could ever imagine. If you want to be protected, cared for, and cherished, find a man who would LAY HIS LIFE DOWN FOR YOU… Like Christ did. Do these men exist? They do. They really, really do. I know so many of them personally, and it’s been an honor. (Are they perfect? Of course not. But are you?)
 
Find yourself a Christian man. Not just someone who CALLS himself a Christian, but someone who ACTS like a Christian man should. Someone who understands the high calling of manhood and the sacrifice and rewards that entails. Someone who knows that he has to answer to GOD for how he treats you.
 
“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:28-29
 
I know respecting your husband by default is not an American norm these days, but ladies… This sort of man is not hard to respect. It is my duty, but also my privilege.
 
Ladies, you won’t force men to respect you. You can’t do that by screaming at the political powers that be. You have to first be choosy of your company, and conduct yourself in such a way as to be worthy of that company.
 
To demand THAT sort of man, first become THAT sort of woman. But to do that, first… You’ll need Christ.

Thankful

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Today my little family of 6-and-unders celebrated Thanksgiving. The feast wasn’t fancy (it’s hard to make elaborate things with littles underfoot!), the toddler had a meltdown because all he wanted was pecan pie (how dare we feed him TURKEY?!), and the 4yo dropped a nerfgun on the baby in the bouncy seat, giving him a sad little bruise. We tried to talk about the Pilgrims and Indians, but my 6yo really only wanted to talk about Star Wars legos. Neither my husband or I got any naps or board-gaming in (family traditions), since the little ones’ naps didn’t coordinate, but you know what? It’s okay.

Give me 15-20 years. My 6yo will be coming to Thanksgiving with his own wife and baby(ies), my 4yo might be attending with his new fiance, my 2yo will be talking about his college classes, and my baby will offer to pick up a movie rental with his newfound driver’s license. Perhaps I’ll have younger children of my own around the table that I haven’t even met yet.

THEN, I will have more helpers to make fancy pies and more people to volunteer with after-feasting clean-up. We can have an undistracted chat about the historical origins of Thanksgiving and we can talk about what we’re grateful for with appropriate understanding. We can nap. We can boardgame with more participants than ever before.

Of course, with those new life stages come other things. Like my kids having IN-LAWS they may want to have Thanksgiving with instead. Or they may move several states away, like I did to my parents.

So for now, I’ll be grateful. For our simple dinners and lots of interruptive, uncivilized little people to love. Because these are the blessed days. And there are more blessed days to come.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Dear Baby Aaron

Baby Aaron

Dear Baby Aaron,

Happy birthday in heaven, little one. It just struck me, that you’ll be turning 4 up there today. That’s hardly a baby anymore, but calling you anything other than ‘Baby Aaron’ seems strange. As a four-year-old, I bet you’re roughousing all over those streets of gold with your friends. I can’t help but wonder… Are you loud and rambunctious? Or are you a bit shy and thoughtful?

Although we were not gifted with watching you grow up here, I’ve been keeping busy raising your older brother, Gabriel, younger brothers Matthias and Becket, and growing your mystery sibling, Eden or Judah (due July). I bet if you asked God, he’d tell you who it is ahead of time, but then, perhaps your patience surpasses mine. (We are related genetically, so perhaps I passed that impatient curiosity on?)

I wonder, do you keep up with what’s going on down here? Are you a part of the ‘cloud of witnesses’ watching us below? Or are you having too much fun learning your way around? I mean, I wouldn’t blame you. If you were a typical four year old, you may be more excited about your next adventure or that collection of angel feathers? Do you have a favorite fruit from the Tree of Life? I hear it makes twelve different kinds. I’m excited to try it!

I’m sure the line is long, but I recommend catching King David or C.S. Lewis if you’re old enough to sit through some grand adventure stories. Your brothers, Gabriel and Matthias, are serious fans of both, but we won’t have the pleasure of meeting them for a while. I’m assuming you actually can.

Whether or not you get this letter, I’ll be praying you have a bit of extra fun up there today. Give Jesus a hug from me and tell him I’m missing him too. Tell him {again} how grateful I am that he conquered death for us, so that we can officially meet again.

–Your Momma

January 11th, 2016

Last-Minute, Super Cheap, No Stress Thanksgiving Decor

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I’m in charge of hosting Thanksgiving this year. For the first time ever.

That’s right. I have people counting on me (an ex-vegetarian) to get a fully cooked turkey to the table. (Pray for me friends.) But all that aside…

I have such fond memories of a festive, warm and welcoming Thanksgiving table. It was always a thing of beauty, but never put together by my very, non-crafty self. That was left to either my artsy mother or my amazing sister-in-law (the one who takes trash and turns it into treasure by blinking). But this year, though I had a teeny tiny budget, little time, and no crafty bones in my body, it was up to me.

After hitting up the Dollar Tree and the craft section at Wal-Mart, I was able to put a classy tablescape together for about $18-ish dollars. Not too shabby, right? Here’s how.

After pricing holiday tableclothes ($14 minimum at Wal-Mart), I decided to settle on a Dollar Tree runner ($1) with a $2 burlap streamer (Wal-Mart wedding decor section) down the middle.

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These were fun and super simple to make, even for my barely-crafty self. You may already have two matching vases hanging around, and perhaps two matching candles too. Maybe some unbuttered, unpopped popcorn and black beans? Believe it or not, I didn’t. Just mismatchy vases, half melted candles, and my unpopped popcorn was buttered (yummy) and greasy. However, I did have some twine and black beans!

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If you’re making these harvest-theme candle holders from scratch, it’ll run you (from Dollar Tree)

$2 for two, matching vases

$1 box of popcorn

$2 for fresh white candles

So… $5 for both (and most of it’s reusable). Come to think of it, if you wanted to add another layer, I bet some green split peas would have made another colorful layer or two.

As the main centerpiece, I added a bowl-full of colorful apples! These were already in the house for me (FREE!) and we’ll enjoy munching on them later, I’m sure.

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Next, did you know that Dollar Tree sells charger plates? (I can’t figure out why in the world they’re called that. What do they charge, exactly?) Finding each of these for a dollar was the perfect highlight and meant we didn’t have to use place mats, which I purged a long time ago after never using them. Since we’ll be serving six adults, that meant $6 ($1 per guest).

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I settled our normal, pretty red plats on top (can you tell I like red?). Perfect.

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I picked up some whimsical holiday napkins, again at Dollar Tree ($1).

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And then, since having peoples’ names at their place setting is all the rage, I fell in love with these chalk-labelled, jar-style cups. Found at Dollar Tree, they came out to $1 per person/$6 for me total. Totally cute and reusable too. (They’ll be even cuter after they have names on them, but chalk is the last thing on our shopping list.)

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All that was left, was to add the silverware and stemware.

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Classy, yes? I feel like a grown up now.

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Bring on the good memories and delicious food! Happiest of Thanksgiving to you all!

NOTES:

If, like my husband, you’re curious where all food is going to go… We’ll be serving that buffet-style in the kitchen.

Also, if you’re looking for a free Printable, check out this one. All you’ll need is a printer, some twine or ribbon, some baby clothespins ($1 at Walmart), and about 5 minutes to cut them out and clip them together.

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ONE Thing You Can Do NOW to End Abortion

One thing you can do now to end abortion

I’ve been watching the horrors of the Planned Parenthood exposure for months. I’ve seen the grisly videos, I’ve read the appalling comments in support, I’ve heard politicians and media moguls plug their ears and point fingers elsewhere. I’ve felt the nausea of disgust and have the despair of hopelessness.

I nurse my child as I read the articles. I feel his little toes and trace his little cheeks with my finger, all the while wondering at the callousness it must take to reach a blade inside of a womb meant for giving life and chop a wriggling, pain-feeling child to pieces.

It takes a special kind of selfishness, to not want to ‘get fat’ badly enough, to hate being nauseated strongly enough, that it’s worth it to a woman to kill her own offspring. After you feel her body kick and roll inside of you. After you know he’s real.

It takes a special kind of greed to be the ‘provider’. To be the overseer of such an operation, that would tear, and cut, and scrape away the money-making bits from an infant and then put those pieces in a little glass jar for profit. Christ said it would be better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and thrown into the sea, than to hurt one of his little ones. There surely is a special place in hell for such deceitful ‘caregivers’.

But what can we do? Besides pray. Besides donating money to the whistle-blowers and freedom fighters. What can we do? What can we do NOW?

Would it help to adopt a child?” I asked my husband over dinner. “Would that make any difference at all?” He knew we would be willing. If the opportunity arose, to either claim a life as ours to raise or let it be killed, what other choice would we have?

But my husband shook his head. “No, the waiting list to adopt a baby in the US is years-long already. There are so many couples struggling with infertility. It’s not a matter of not having enough homes willing to take them in. It’s a matter of women not willing to be pregnant. They don’t want to carry an unwanted child.”

It’s too much work. They’d rather kill it.

But that answer hurts somehow. It means I can’t change things. I can’t make a mother carry her child against her will. Abortion is legal, after all. It means I must sit by. It means I must let it continue.

It’s easy to get lost in the helplessness. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by this world’s evil. I can pray, but what can I do?

Mommy, mommy! Look at my lego fort!” It’s my five year old, proudly displaying his newest citadel on the table. 

That’s nice, love,” I say, returning my eyes to the screen. I read on about the hopelessness.

Mommy, mommy! Mommy, look!” Gabriel is at my side now, not satisfied. Once he senses my full attention on him, his face beams and he crosses to the other side of the table. “This is where the bad-guy army lives. It is their evil fortress. And here is where the good guy army is. Oh, and here is where we fight.”

That’s a good battle scene, Gabriel. But who’s going to win?”

Gabriel smiles, as if the answer is obvious. “Why, the good guys, of course. Will you teach me how to build them a castle?”

Of course, the good guys will win. That’s what I always teach him, after all. Like Christ told the apostle Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. ” (Matt. 16:18) That’s what the Angel of God told Joshua, and Gideon, and Moses over and over again… “Do not be afraid. I have delivered them into your hands.” (Numbers 21, Joshua 1, Judges 6)

Of course, the good-guys will win. It may not be now, but it will happen eventually. And then I realized… I may not be able to save other peoples’ children myself, the ones their own mothers are determined to kill, but Christ can use me to raise up mine.

I put down my screen.

Sure, Gabriel. Let me teach you how to build a castle.”

When you’re feeling hopeless about the world’s situation, when the darkness seems too much to bear… Here is one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to make it better.

Put down you screen and turn your face to your children. Teach them, love them, train them in righteousness. Lead them in the Ways that are better than the World’s ways.

Teach them to value life. Let them be the fearless voice exposing Hitler’s holocaust to the uninformed German citizens who lived just down the road from Auschwitz.

Teach your sons to honor and protect women, instead of using them and throwing them away afterward. Teach your daughters to find proper men, and not boys, and to give themselves to a single, trustworthy man wisely. Teach your daughters that it’s a privilege, albeit a sacrifice, to be the vessel of another life brought into this world. Teach them the value of such a miracle, no matter what discomfort it may provide.

Teach your children, so they can teach their children after them.

This world hates children. If they don’t kill them in the womb, they try to hand them off to someone else to raise. There is daycare and after-school care and summer camps to fill in every hole a parent might have to be responsible for. Mom and Dad’s joke about what nuisances their children are. They complain about how expensive they are. It’s becoming more and more common to just never have them in the firstplace because they may interfere with your career or dreams of independence and travel.

We resent children because they’re weak and needy. Yes, they always seem to need something from us. Whether that’s a drink of water for your toddler in the middle of the night or help with math homework in the afternoon when you were hoping for a bag of popcorn and a movie. It can be exhausting, and go against the grain of our self-serving nature, but that’s okay.

Because that is how we learn, as parents, to become more Christ-like. Don’t we always ask and need things of our Savior? And yet, he never tires of providing for us, seeing to our needs, loving us despite ourselves, and gently correcting us when we stray. Because His love is perfect. And that is what we are called to imitate.

Put your screen down and love your children now. Don’t just tell them you love them. Show them with your hands.

Pause your ‘grown-up’ article reading and make a lego castle. Make them that dinner you know they enjoy. Meet their eyes. Smile at them with your heart. Ask them sincerely about their day. It may seem like a little thing here and there, but it adds up, hour by hour, day by day, year by year, until they are grown and having children of their own. Teach them about Christ’s love and they will understand it better, because they understand their Mother’s.

Teach them to love children and value them as the blessing they are. Teach them to use their strength to protect the weak. Teach them not to fear evil, for the Creator stands on their side.

It’s a high calling, parenthood. It’s not for wussies. To represent Christ that way is a huge responsibility.

But it is world-changing. Literally.

Because a Christ-loving Mom and Dad can raise up several other Christ-loving wives, husbands, friends, coworkers, employees, and teachers for the next generation. They can impact pro-life/pro-murder legislation better than I can. What is a government, if not a reflection of it’s people?

And that is how we will end great evils like abortion. While the wicked kill off their children or never conceive them at all, we will multiply. And we will love them, train them, and teach them to do likewise. When given the opportunity, we will adopt theirs and raise them as our own.

Unless we let our guard down and allow them to steal our children by infiltrating their minds, our enemies don’t stand a chance. If it’s a numbers game, they’re doomed to failure. And that’s my plan for taking over the world. Or maybe it was God’s? Let’s use our hands to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28).

So let me say this one more time… Here is one thing you can do NOW.

Put your screen down, and go show your children the love of Christ.

And even the gates of Hell will not prevail.

The Low-Mess, Low-Stress Sheet Tent (for Rainy Days)

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The weather was gross this morning. We slept in late (as late as the babies would let me), and even after downing a few cups of coffee, it was hard to get the motivation for a regular day’s work. The kids agreed with me, I think.

Normally, I love my routine of Breakfast, Clean-Up, School Stuff, etc, but every once in a while, it’s refreshing to ditch the routine and do something different. 

This morning I announced that after the breakfast dishes were done, beds were made, and teeth were brushed, we were going to make a SHEET TENT. Chores were done so enthusiastically!

Things You’ll Need:

  • A large sheet
  • A few pennies
  • A bag of rubber bands
  • Dining chairs
  • Throw Pillows
  • Tall, Sturdy Pieces of Furniture (optional)

The Process…

  1. First, circle the chairs. If you have a tall piece of furniture to jump-start things, that’s great (though not required). You’ll want to be sure that they’re close enough to each other, that the sheet covers the backs of the chairs.
  2. After spreading the sheet over the chairs, we use throw pillows to keep them where they’re supposed to be. If the pillows aren’t heavy enough, you can stack books to weigh the edges down. Or you can figure out something with the rubber bands.

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3) If you were wondering what the pennies had to do with anything… I like to use them as anchors, to help the rubber bands catch on the otherwise slippery sheet.

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And that’s the basic version! We do have a pop-up Castle tent we like to push into one side for a different room, but that’s a totally optional addition. It’s perfectly fun and adventurous without that!

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The boys like to gather their blankets, pillows, flash lights, (and their sword stash) inside for some extra fun.

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Want to know my favorite part about this sheet tent adventure? It only takes 2 minutes to put away!

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P.S. You may have noticed Gabriel’s new eye patch… Because Gabriel has amblyopia (a lazy eye), the doctor’s orders are to patch the stronger eye for 6 hours a day to make the weaker eye work for itself. Luckily, he rocks the pirate look!

Adventurous Movies, Episodes, & Learning Shows for Little Boys

Adventurous Movies and Shows for Boys

I haven’t watched many Barbie movies in my life. After growing up with three brothers, I now find myself with three little boys of my own to raise. This means there’s a lot of “Can we watch a fighting movie?” and “Does it have superheroes?” questions that pop up when I pull my movie case out.

Speaking of my movie case… Here’s how I organize my DVDs. We have a case for adult movies and a case for children’s movies.

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Nice and simple, and it takes up so much less space than having all the cases on a shelf somewhere.

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When I’m choosing a kids’ show, I don’t want it to be a waste of time. I want them to learn something. Sometimes that may be math or language skills, but other times, it may be character development or the reminder that good always conquers over evil. Boys, especially, thrive on action and adventure. So let’s give it to them, and use it to teach them wonderful things!

Save the princess! Protect the kingdom! Slay the dragon! Be kind to others. And maybe learn some math, history, or science while you’re at it.

What it takes for me to avoid a show? Usually, the primary reason is that the main character is a bad example to my children, but there can be other reasons too. Some common complaints of mine are when shows…

  1. Show the main characters disrespecting/disobeying their parents and getting away with it/Portray the kid characters as brilliant geniuses and the parents as bumbling fools.
  2. Show the siblings or friends constantly bickering. (I want my children to be friends with each other!) 
  3. Making thievery (Aladdin), laziness (Garfield) or other immorality look funny or admirable.
  4. Too much crude humor (There are enough farting jokes around here as it is, thank you. We need no additional inspiration)
  5. Any annoying cultural propaganda… Like when animal lives are portrayed as being of MORE value than humanity (cough, Brother Bear, cough).
  6. The presence of ghosts/spirits/using magic to contact the dead as being friendly or harmless.

Movies are our modern day Storytellings, and STORIES CHANGE PEOPLE. STORIES TEACH PEOPLE. I want to be sure that’s for the better.

Firstly, let’s hit the academics…

LEARNING SHOWS (for great preschool supplementation and some guilt-free movie time):

LeapFrog’s Letter Factory (how both my boys learned all their letters and letter sounds by Age 2)* The Letter Factory is unfortunately not on Netflix, but is totally worth buying.

LeapFrog’s Word Factory (for once they know their letters)

LeapFrog’s Numbers Ahoy! (pirates and math, yay!)

LeapFrog’s Math Adventure to the Moon (space ships and math, hurrah!)

LeapFrog’s Let’s Go to School! (basic counting, letter review, calendar skills, and telling time all in one place)

Those have been my favorite LeapFrog episodes. Some of the other LeapFrog ones on Netflix are kind of boring/repetitive, but these usually go over wonderfully!

Blue’s Clues: Shapes and Colors 

Boz: Thank You God for Colors and Shapes (Boz is basically a Christianized Barney character, so presents the Colors/Shapes as gifts from God)

Boz: Thank You God for Friends and Helpers (good episodes on working hard and helping others)

The Magic School Bus (Digestive system, Solar System, Eco System… you name it! This kids’ science show is awesome.)

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That ( Similar to the book series and informative too! If you like the hatted cat, then this show’s for you!)

Octonauts (This show is just too much fun to seem like an educational show, but it really, really is! I’ve learned so much about real sea creatures myself from this show, and so have my kids! Science for the win!)

Special Agent Oso (Portrays necessary life skills like shoe-tying or bed-making in an adventurous way!)

Super Why (Super heroes and early reading.)

FAVORITE ‘FOR-FUN’ SHOWS:

Phineas And Ferb (Such a delight to kids and parents. Part of what I love, is that the brothers have a good relationship and are kind to their sister throughout it all (even though she’s always trying to bust them). Both Phineas and Ferb are respectful of their parents too, though the same cannot be said for their sister.)

Dinotrux (Another recent discovery. It has dinosaurs and trucks involved at the same time. That’s a guaranteed little boy audience right there.)

Puss in Boots (Because of the quirky plot lines… And the sword fighting… And the Antonio Banderas. Okay, my kids don’t really care about Antonio, but it makes it more fun for me)

Animal Mechanicals (Kinda lame graphics, but my boys love this show. Corny, mechanical characters and how they strrreeeech, fly, race and build to get stuff done. Nice and short, nine-minute episodes, and all the characters work together nicely!)

FULL LENGTH MOVIES

The Penguins of Madagascar (A recent favorite. So funny. So charming. Totally worth YOUR time, as well as your child’s)

Phineas and Ferb the Movie (watch the episodes first!)

Epic (This movie didn’t get enough press when it came out, but my boys love it. It can be a little intense, but there’s a lot of gorgeous scenery, self-sacrificial love displayed, awesome elf-like warriors fighting ugly bad guys, and the main character learns to respect her father by the end, which counts as a good moral lesson in my book)

Peabody and Sherman (Punny, clever, and adventurous. Good moral lessons and lots of peeks into history! Great fun)

Aristocats (I grew up on this one, and it remains a family classic. Just good, clean animal fun with great music)

Peter Pan (Another classic. It’s hard to outgrow this one.)

Ice Age (A cute tale of a few animals helping a baby find his family. Very, very witty, clean, and… the squirrel!)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (If the presence of a ‘goddess’ as the bad character doesn’t bother you too much, Sinbad is a great, Swashbuckling fairytale where a thief learns how to grow in character and lay down his life for others. My biggest complaint? Marina should have totally chosen to marry Proteus. I mean, what was she thinking?!)

Prince of Egypt (Because it’s a ‘mostly correct’ version of a great bible story, and then… THE MUSIC. Garsh, the music, people! You can’t have your child grow up without that soundtrack in their lives.)

The Emperor’s New Groove (Because it’s hilarious. And because the main character learns how to think of others above himself. Also, it’s hilarious.)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (This is a very dramatic movie that can be intense at times, but so worth watching if your child can handle it. The main villain says he’s hunting down gypsies to ‘smite the wicked’ in the name of God, so that’s a downer, but you can point out to your child how hypocritical he’s being and how he’s definitely not acting like a Christian at all. It’s important to note that there is also a GOOD priest character in the movie, that saves Quasimodo’s life in the beginning (also in the name of God) and fights for his protection until the end. Also, the MUSIC IS AMAZZZZZING)

The Swan Princess (A classic prince-saves-the-princess tale, with wonderful music and witty dialogue)

Hoodwinked (Good music, clean fun)

The Incredibles (A family who bickers together quite a bit in the beginning, but learns to get along together by the end. Also, with super powers)

Finding Nemo (It’s bad to disobey your Daddy, boys. When Nemo did, he got kidnapped by a deep sea diver and his Dad had to go through a whoooole lotta work to get him back.)

So now it’s your turn… Any favorite shows or movies your family has been watching?