Saturday, February 27, 2010

That sweet man of mine

May I think the best of him in every circumstance,

May I laugh and sing and make our lives a dance.

May I build him up with the words I say,

May I give him reason to look forward to the day.

May I be quick to look over his mistakes,

And thank him for the efforts that he makes.

May he feel safe and know that I’m his biggest fan,

May I remember he is clay–he’s only just a man.

Let me love him the way I want to be,

Forgiving as Christ has forgiven me.

May I build my home by every word and deed,

And may love flourish from every planted seed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What does a stay at home mom do all day?

(Once again I am just stealing some one elses work, but I want to come back to it later and maybe you will too)   -Christina


What Does a Stay-at-Home Mom Do All Day?

Quite honestly, I don’t like the term “stay-at-home mom”.  It testifies to the fact that there are moms who don’t stay at home and I wish it didn’t have to be so.

But there’s an enormous gulf now between “have to work” and “want to work”.  The gulf was a complicated build, and now we can’t even remember the “norm”, when women stayed at home because, well, there was a household to run and  important lives who depended on her, and it didn’t matter that they couldn’t afford new socks–it was her job to darn them so they didn’t have to.

No, our generation doesn’t remember because they were told another story.  They were told that women were home because they *had* to be, (not because it best served their families) and that one little word touches a rebellious chord in us and we jump on the band wagon to “save women from oppression”.  We think “stay” is a derogatory word and though all good sense said that a healthy family needs someone devoted to nurturing it, we passed up the job.

That’s not really what the post is about, but I can never just start in the middle ;-)

So now women, some of whom are entertaining the thoughts of coming back home (more and more exhausted working women are getting tired of the “have-it-all” lie and realize home comes closer to anything that offers “all”), don’t know about the art and profession of making a home and are asking, “but what do I do?”

Which strikes a veteran SAHM as comical, because she knows that tasks and opportunities alike present themselves faster than she can ever keep up.

And because readership of this blog makes up a widely-varied audience, I thought it timely to go back-to-basics for a moment and visit the question, “What does a stay-at-home mom do all day?” That is, what does a woman wishing to follow a Proverbs 31 model do?

Remember though...a list of what she “could” do is not the same as what she “should” do. Each woman is in a different season of life, some seasons allowing for greater opportunities than others.  Some are merely surviving with the basics during a busy season; others are finding time to flourish in their gifts and abilities.  But we could all study to be more efficient and become a better home-builders.
  • She studies to provide at least somewhat healthy, somewhat economical meals for her family.  This can be a time-consuming job, but there are books written solely on the art of cooking and the incredible ministry found in entertaining your family and friends through the hospitality of the kitchen.  Study it!  (Another word about the ministry of hospitality soon!)  Just in the area of health alone, America is experiencing an epidemic of illness, largely from consuming so much pre-packaged food, a choice usually necessary to maintain the over-booked lives we live.
  • If the Lord has given her children, she pours herself into their training, nurturing and developing.  Another full time job almost by itself.  If not, there are a myriad of “mothering” and ministering opportunities sorely in need of a servant-minded woman.
  • She helps her husband.  This varies widely from home to home.  But much like an administrative assistant, she can be a “crown to her husband” instead of forcing him to hire another woman for that role.  This is where “the heart of her husband safely trusts her” as she runs a household and “he has no lack of gain”.
  • She studies to keep her marriage happy.  The dearth of happy marriages–of marriages at all–is staggering.  Good marriages don’t just happen.  If they aren’t tended, they’ll wilt.
  • She studies to save money, to make her home a warm, inviting place, to treat minor illnesses, to repair things, to make things, to plant things, to be busy with her hands.  Books are written–there is no end to this art.
  • She engages in meaningful conversation with her children.  An often underrated, but vitally important job in their education–homeschooled or not.
  • She “reaches”.  (“She reaches her hand to the needy”. Proverbs 31)  Whether this be the meeting of a physical need for the poor, or a need of a fellow believer, needs abound.  Many needs could be met in the form of an encouraging card, phone call or visit.  It’s just a suggestion, but maybe Prozac has largely filled our lack of availability to hurting women.
  • She earns money.  Home industries are easier than ever to begin.  Saving money and making money are doable activities for the SAHM.
  • She mentors other moms.
  • She takes care of extended family members.  Nursing homes are new.
And I shall close for now, because I have lots of things to do today ;-)   Help me, each one of you, where you are, resurrect the art of homemaking.  We need homes…they’re actually pretty rare.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beware the Lotus!

(This is not my words, but it speaks to my heart! I thought I would share it here and hope that you find encouragement and strength in it. - Christina )

February 4, 2010 by Melissa  

Our history read aloud for the day was from William Russell’s Classic Myths to Read Aloud. We were following the journey of Ulysses and his men on their return home after ten years at war with the Trojans. In this reading, they had just landed on an unknown shore and met a peaceful people that fed them a strange fruit they’d never tasted–the fruit of the lotus, an intoxicating flowering plant on the island. “Whoever tastes of that fruit has no longer any desire to return home or to do anything at all, but to sit and dream happy dreams and forget the troubles of the world, and even forget his home and family.” As I read it, the words jumped from the pages straight into my heart.

The Holy Spirit penetrated my lotus-loving heart with those words to show me something amiss in my own life. I was eating the fruit of the lotus. My modern-day lotus kept me from the chores of my home. It made it easy to ignore the cares within my world and tune out my family, all while sitting and dreaming happy dreams. My personal lotus was the Internet.

I’m not writing to warn you of the perils of the Internet. I’m a fan (although one who must beware). This piercing reminder led me to examine my own life for things that wasted my time and energy. Things that turned my desires from God’s best to the world’s cheap imitations. For me, this is the Internet, but what about you? Is there a lotus in your life leading you astray? A ‘fruit’ whose sweetness pulls you away from the very home and family that should be the focus of your journey.

Often this is something that starts out in balance, but when it falls out of balance it pulls us in the wrong direction. Perhaps its the television, a hobby, a friendship, a computer game, Facebook, a great fiction book, a job, a message board or even a ministry. Any number of things, even good things, can lead us astray.

The Lord was showing me a pattern in my life where I was looking for escape on the Internet. Whether it was reading an inspiring blog (albeit a Christian one), researching homeschool curricula and ideas, or finding a great deal online, I was spending more time ’searching’ online than I was implementing the great things I found. I was Googling more ways to do my job of mom, homeschooler, wife, homemaker and money saver than I was praying to the Lord to show my His ways to do my job. The Internet is a great tool when kept in check, but the distortion of its place in my life led to its sweet tasting fruit zapping my desire for home and family, and ultimately the Lord.

It’s ironic that time wasters abound in our ever-efficient age. But it’s really a matter of the heart that allows us to slip under the power of something that will ultimately rob us of our time, energy and focus. I’ve found it’s easiest to get ‘lost in the lotus’ when I’m not steadfast in my vision of the Lord’s priorities for my life. After the Lord revealed this to my heart, I knew my vision was what needed to get back on track. Proverbs 29:18 says it best, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

So I made it a priority to set my alarm (instead of waking whenever) and spend time praying and reading my Bible BEFORE chaos awoke in my home. I made it a point to talk to God all day long about all my concerns, both big and small, instead of looking for answers outside of Him.

I also forced myself to get to work on the work of my home. Whether it’s the kitchen piled high with dishes or the discipline issues I see in my children, I stopped trying to ignore it and look past it (not like this was an effective technique anyway). The more attentive and intentional I was in my home and with my family the less I had need of escape.

I also knew that for a time, I needed to take a break from my Internet indulgence. I had to stop eating the lotus, if you will. Or as Hebrews 12:1b puts it “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” I needed to strip from my life that which was slowing me down and hindering my progress. No getting lost online before my day starts. No searching without purpose. No blog hopping for me.

So I pulled back until I felt the pull lessen. I can’t live life without the Internet, but I know I have to keep it in check. Accountability in this area can really help. Whatever your struggle, share it with someone who can help you stay on track and will encourage you along the way. Change up your routine and your habits. It takes time to break old habits and more time to start new ones, but these changes can help tremendously.

As a Christian, I know I have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in my heart and my life, but it was funny (yet comforting) to me that the Lord used the tale of the mythical lotus-eaters to grab my attention. I think of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Even our Greek mythology read aloud.

Melissa Morgner is a happy wife of 16 years to her college sweetheart and mother to six loud, but lovable children ranging in age from twelve to one. After eight years of homeschooling and sampling way too much curriculum, she takes an eclectic approach in their little schoolroom, choosing resources that best suit the children and the teacher. Her busy household puts her gifts of juggling and winging it to the test each day. She steals moments here and there to write on her blog, Day In Day Out, about the lessons she’s learning from the Lord in the routine but privileged tasks of mothering and homeschooling.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A day in the life.... (routines)

Ok, Suzanne over at Joyful Chaos, just did a blog about her day “how I do what I do”. I LOVE those posts! They are so helpful for me to read about how another mama does it. I ALWAYS wish I could be a fly on the wall in someone elses home! She asked for other mama's days too, so, in response to her post, I am writing one of my own (I figure If I am going to write it all down for her, I may as well put it in a place where I can look back on it a few years)

Here it goes:
I do not have a schedule, never have, hope to some day, but that is still a work in progress.  But we do have a few “routines” that we try to implement, so I guess I will just start there 
My Hubby gets up at 5 and mulls around the house until 6 when he leaves for work (me snoring away) My littlens usually wake up between 6:15 and 7, but are NOT allowed to wake me up (Yes, I really am that bad) They go and play in the toy room in the back of the house until I come in and get them. It is far enough from the sleeping rooms, that they can have a good ole time without disturbing the peace. (little people and Duplo blocks are thoroughly enjoyed by all)

I usually roll out of bed between 7 and 8 and give them some sort of morning snack (fruit, crackers, popcorn, sandwiches)(still in the toy room) and make a pot of coffee. While it brews, I usually start the laundry and maybe tidy up the kitchen. Once the pot is ready, it is computer time… email, facebook, and the occasional blog. This usually takes about an hour. 

After I have been completely selfish and am done with my coffee and “puter” time, I go in and “release the hounds” (Of course I mean… invite my sweet kids to come and enjoy the day with me) This is when we “do school”.

Lets see… today we are doing money… the first day of the month (I didn’t pay them for their chores last month at all) so … read *Math lesson* All of their moneys are laid out on the table at their seats and their banks and wallets are there too.  Steven (4) is working on coin identification and getting a jump on values. Rebekah (6) is working on coin value and introductory addition. Heather (8) is working on addition, and percentages mostly, but sometimes multiplication and division find their way into our lesson. Jeremiah (3yo) is counting the amount of coins and putting them in the slots that I tell him to. (fine motor skills) 

One subject is done, so we move on to breakfast (late because they have already snacked in the toy room) usually eggs or toast with peanut butter… sometimes both, and if I am feeling especially care free, we will indulge in a bowl of cereal every once in a while.

Now we work on chores. Since we use money as a math lesson, we need to give them a reason to be receiving it… they have age appropriate chores that they are responsible for. ..

Jeremiah(3)- Sorts laundry into piles of who they belong to. Later in the day he will set the table for dinner, and he gets to put all of his folded laundry away in the right drawers.

Steven (4)- puts away the dishes out of the dish washer, folds his laundry and puts it away in the right drawers, and cleans one of the bathrooms (sweep, scrub toilet, wipe down counter, wipe down outside of toilet and empty trash can.)

Rebekah (6)- keeps table wiped down and clean, folds and puts away her laundry, cleans the other bathroom, and vacuums the living room floor.

Heather (8)- moves laundry from the washer to the dryer and starts it, folds and puts away her laundry, sweeps dining room floor, and washes the dishes. (She is also kind of my go to girl when something needs to be done that does not have a person assigned to it)

Once chores are done, we do something fun… PE  My kids have decided that they really like doing exercises with me in front of the tv… we have two exercise videos (Both biggest looser) and we rotate through them… Yoga is a workout for all involved, cardio is just hard for me 
Then it is showers and dressed for the day.  Usually while the kids are busy (either with chores or showers) I will tidy up in the kitchen and start getting lunch laid out…. Normally pretty light, like fruit or sandwiches and salad… it is ready for them when they are done showering. 

Lunch time!  This usually falls somewhere around noon… sometimes before, sometimes after… it just kindof depends on how the day has gone.

Then… if the littles can handle it, they get to stay up for “school”. This is the one subject that we do everyday. It is called Disciple Curriculum. It incorporates reading, writing, summarizing, scripture memorization, drawing parallels in similarly themed stories, theology, and apologetics.  It usually takes between 30 and 45 mins. 

Then naps. Every once in a while Heather will get to stay up, but most of the time they are all down until the youngest wakes up or two hours has passed whichever comes first. This is my time… I can clean, read, sleep, prepare dinner, bake, write letters, practice a new craft (I am going to pull my sweing machine out one of these days and work on my "fix this please mommy" basket) whatever I want (kindof). 

When they wake up, they make sure that their chores are still done (some of them are several times a day kind of chores) and we start on dinner plans… sometimes they help, sometimes they get to go outside to play, sometimes it is time for Heather to read stories to her siblings… but it is pretty unstructured till daddy gets home. 

When daddy gets home (if I am really good, we have dinner ready to put on the table) we finish up making dinner and sit down together. Dinner is always followed by daddy reading from the bible. Sometimes just a few verses, sometimes a lot.. It just depends on how much conversation comes from it… if the passage is easy to understand, we get further, if it is more difficult (or the kids are not paying much attention) we don’t get very far… we have been in Romans for …. Oh, probably around 3 months, and we have gotten midway through chapter 3. We always review what we talked about last, and we always end up using the dictionary. (Yeah, more school)  

Then those with after dinner chores get to work while daddy builds a fire and we go from there… sometimes a movie, sometimes reading, sometimes free play in the toy room, sometimes baking together…. It varies by the night. 

Bedtime stories is pretty consistent… around 7-7:30 the kids get ready for bed… showers if they have not already had them, teeth brushed, hair brushed and come in the living room to hear a story. Either daddy reads (the current story is Lord of the Rings) or mommy reads (the current story is Little House) and then we exchange kisses and hugs, prayers and then to bed. 

Now … this is not always the way it happens… there are days that we don’t even see home because of errands in town. And there are days when we scrap the whole thing, watch movies or just battle with temper tantrums (sometimes mine, sometimes theirs). There are days that are spent going on walks with the dog to the library and days when we get much more done… but this is a rough outline of what a day in our home looks like. 

Now it is your turn! What does your schedule look like?