Barbie Knows How to Be Fruitful & Multiply!

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This is so cute!  A fellow police wife and friend has a daughter who takes toys to the store sometimes.  Apparently the whole Barbie family had to go on this grocery outing LOL!

This is what she said —

“My children fully believe in the word of God

and know that we are to be fruitful and multiply,

this includes Barbie world.

I must say that I will miss these days

when I’m caught off guard

either by carrying around a huge stuffed animal that is a duck

or pregnant Barbies…..

it’s Saturday y’all.

That’s all I got.”

This is partly why I love Texas.  It’s the South, the Christian women are REAL.  And little girls still play with Barbie and want to have BIG families.

I know… I’m sorry you’re not Texan 😉  Feel free to move here, though.

Stephanie

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Spiritually Preparing for Childbirth

I finally found what I was looking for to help with understanding the spiritual side of pregnancy and giving birth.  I’d been feeling frustrated with the difficulty of this pregnancy, as my last was very easy and I didn’t have pelvic, cervical, or inner c-section scar pain.  It may just be that my uterus is not very good at carrying babies.  And then I felt frustrated that I even felt frustrated when it isn’t really that bad.  I knew deep down that feeling frustrated or dwelling on all these feelings wasn’t going to help anything – in fact, I think it only increased my stress and gave me fear about dying – something I thought wasn’t normal, but it seems like quite a few women feel this way when you talk to them.

So… I went searching online for other Christian moms’ opinions on these issues, even searching out the fear of dying during childbirth because it’s so interesting, and I had started to really feel it.

This is another great reason why women blogging can be such a wonderful blessing to all kinds of people they’d never normally have the chance to touch!

The best blog post I found about this topic was written back n 2009!  8 years later, her writing is STILL helping women lean more on God and grow in their faith!

We have instant access to some of the best wisdom and advice from people we’d never usually meet in a lifetime due to distance or the fact that they’ll most likely never find the time to write books with their thoughts in them.  And so we have blogs.  Some really great, edifying blogs.

I came across a woman’s blog Passionate Homemaking that was so inspiring and encouraging with the solid advice and Scriptures, that I couldn’t believe how completely God answered my prayers for me to find something to get me through this with more grace and mercy, keeping focused on Him!

Her posts are largely tailored for natural child birthing experiences, but they still applied in so many ways to getting through a c-section, your own fears of what could happen to you or the baby, or any painful contractions you may have beforehand like I’ve had.  I wish I had been more aware how much you can lean on God during my long and ultimately failed labor with my first, or when I was a tad scared with our second!

It sounds so obvious for a Christian mom to understand this is how we should be dealing with child birth, looking at it from a spiritual standpoint, but our human emotions and struggles take over and seem to aid us in missing these blessings!

Reading different testimonies around online as well of Christian mothers who prepared spiritually for their children’s births, it is more than obvious that the peace and trust in God’s sovereignty during some of the worst pain or even traumatic outcomes, helped them handle it all significantly better than if they hadn’t chosen to rely on God in those times.  It’s a conscious choice.

Women all over who experience pregnancy and search online to find something to help them manage their births can gain something from these verses!  So if you’ve found yourself here because of that, please follow the links below, and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know and meditate on.

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Scriptures from Passionate Homemaking:

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

2 Cor. 12:9 – “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become!” (NLT)

 

From Lindsay (author of blog)

“Reflect upon the blessings of children!

Psalms 127:3 – “Children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward.” Don’t fret over the changes, the upcoming sacrifices, but rather rejoice in the gift and the Giver!

Deut. 28:4 – “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.”

Reflect upon His beautiful workmanship!

Psalms 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Giving Birth

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” Keep your mind on Jesus and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Focus your mind during your labor…do not let it stray to focus on the pain and process, but rather on Jesus and His sustaining grace. This verse really spoke to me while preparing for my birth. I memorized it and quoted it to myself throughout the most challenging moments of my delivery. It was such a blessing.

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Faith and Perseverance

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Proverbs 3:34 “The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him, not depending upon their own strength, but humbly acknowledging their Source!

Hebrews 10:35-36 – “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! [A baby!] Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” (NLT)

I am walking in God’s will when I demonstrate patience! It brings great reward! My little one is coming!

James 1:3-4 “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

This birth is one means of God working to grow me in maturity and endurance. I will be stronger in my faith if I rely completely upon Him to accomplish His good work.

Psalm 40:1 – “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.”

Psalm 119:165 – “Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble.” Store up the truth!

 

This final poem was a blessing to read as I prepared and welcomed my new little one!

Gift from God

I give thanks to You alone
Who sits on the throne
To loan me this precious gift
And to call it my own.

May I always see, Lord
In every waking hour,
Your majesty and grace
In this delicate flower.

Help me, O God,
To guide and preserve,
This wonderful blessing
to love and to serve.

-Doran Richards”

 

Articles:

Mental Preparation for Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of the Fear of Death

Amazing Scriptural Preparation for Child Birth (for natural birth but I got tons out of it as well)

Fear of Labor for Natural Birthing Mothers 

 

Our Winter Wonderland Experience!

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Taking a break from writing the Proverbs 31 series, I wanted to take some time to finally upload our pics from our mini “Winter Vacation” a couple of weeks ago.  San Antonio never gets real snow.  Well, one time back in 1985, but even that was called a “100-year snow,” for us.  Soooooo  we decided that since we missed going to the beach/island this Summer due to so many car issues, that we’d instead drive up to the mountains in New Mexico for a little less than a week to see if we could catch some snow for the boys to see!

It was the best decision ever to do this – our oldest had so much fun!  I’ve never even seen snow like we saw on the last 2 days there (we planned it somehow just right)!  It was so exciting (and FREEZING COLD)!  It made me SO GRATEFUL that we live in South Texas.  I love the heat… yes, even the really extreme heat we get in the Summer.  We live very close to a great waterpark and have access to swimming all day if we want.  It’s bliss ❤  🙂

But as for New Mexico’s mountain chill – wow!  We had all the correct clothing and even snow boots for everyone, but mentally, I was so not prepared for that level of cold!

We stayed a little cozy cabin in the area of a ski resort (that wasn’t open for a few more days – we got the best price because of this, and yet we still got to see their ski slopes with “created” snow).

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This day wasn’t actually that cold, hence the hoodies (they had layers of clothes underneath though!).  These were some photos of the bottom of the slopes at the ski resort.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to play around there so I didn’t wear my snow boots, the boys did though.

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New Mexico with it’s deserts and mesas and mountains was incredibly beautiful!  I’m not posting a lot of our pics of exploring the town and the mountains because I tend to take too many anyway, but I wanted to show the most exciting parts for us: the snow!

I loved seeing all the thousands of fir trees, and we were lucky to get to see it before and then after the first snowfall of the season.  I thought it’s scenery was equally as beautiful – it was that stunning.

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Our big window in the cabin the morning after the big snowfall.

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Our patio showing just about how many inches we got overnight in the mountains!  Wow!!!

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Our adorable little cabin!  It was a great stay and experience we’ll never forget.

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So. Beautiful.

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Thanks for reading 😉

Gardening: Just a Little Bit Goes a Long Way

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Our garden has been flourishing since we’ve started again!  It’s reminded me of so many passages in Scripture that talk about God and gardens, His pruning us and tending to us.  Everyday it is such a joy to go out and tend it.  Even just looking out our window to see it, along with the butterflies and moths that flit around in it, brings me so much joy each day.

My husband bought me a dragonfly light that changes beautiful colors at night to light the garden.  So we’ve nicknamed it Dragonfly Garden ❤  It is so sweet.

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I’ve seen a ladybug on our giant spinach leaves every time I’ve gone out this week, eating away the pests that would harm the plants.  And to my surprise, I saw a blue dragonfly on one of jalapeno plant leaves!!  It sat there for awhile and let me look at it 😀  It was so awesome and gave new meaning to our naming it Dragonfly Garden.

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We have such an abundance of cabbages, Swiss chard, and spinach it is finally helping our grocery bill since we no longer have to buy our salad greens (something we bought weekly) for our sandwiches and salads.  It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to go out to this garden that I and my son have planted together, and pick food for our table and know that it’s bringing in an abundance of nourishing vitamins and minerals to our family!

I always wanted to be a woman who had a sustainable garden – a woman who genuinely loved and enjoyed gardening.

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It’s kind of strange to see that I’ve achieved this goal now.  Last year our tomato plants did so amazing we had a production each week to eat off of, so hopefully we can get back up to that again… but I’m particularly happy about our spinach leaves 😀  they cost a lot at our grocery store, and it’s just so fulfilling to be growing an abundance of them right in our backyard!

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For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity];

He will comfort all her ruins.

And He will make her wilderness like Eden (the most beautiful garden),

And her desert like the garden of the Lord;

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.

Isaiah 51:3

 

And the Lord will continually guide you,

And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,

And give strength to your bones;

And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:11

 

***

God is the Gardener…

For we are  God’s fellow workers [His servants working together];

you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:9

Feed The Birds – Kid Friendly Bird Feeders

This past week has been very interesting, with literally one strange catastrophe after another for our family.  But we’ve made it through (!!!!)… and have persevered to Easter weekend (somewhat) unscathed.  I’m so glad we’ll be able to celebrate Purim tonight and Easter.  I love Purim… and how wonderful is it that Queen Esther’s faithfulness in spite of her fear and intimidation will be celebrated the same weekend as the Hope of Easter!

Holy Holidays are so special to our family.  I wish you the best this weekend as well, whether you celebrate them or not.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet project to do with your kids to celebrate Spring, making bird feeders is a fun option – and there are a variety of ways depending on what you have around your house to use or what you save.

We listened to this Mary Poppins song, and sang along with it, replayed it.  Corny, yes, but really touching at the same time.  Apparently this song was Walt Disney’s favorite song, he’d have the man who composed it, play it for him on Friday evenings when no one was there in the office.  The man kept playing it even after Disney passed away.

My older son LOVED it, and the baby liked it too 😉

 

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The were easy to place over thin branches or on the fence posts with a simple rubber band.  In hindsight, pinecones would have been perfect for this because you can easily tie a string around their stem or even the end part of their body, and hang them so that they dangle down!

But these worked just as well, and the birds were happy, so all was well!

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One of our beautiful resident doves.  My grandfather loves hearing doves whenever I go to see him and we take him outside.  His health and alzheimer’s is continuing to decline, but even on his “bad” days, taking him outside and letting him feel the warm from the sun and hear the birds cooing, changes his entire mood.

Birds and nature are just beautiful.

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So it took a day or so for our birds to find the feeders, but eventually, even our resident red bird couple found it together.  They are so sweet to watch, always with each other, wherever he is, she is not too far.  And the male sings so beautifully, you can actually sing back to them, and they just might answer you back!

We were ELATED to see them eating off of the feeders…

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Where she feeds him some of the birdseed.  Seriously… they are so romantic!

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And these pictures below were taken probably around 20-25 years ago, by my father… who also was a bird lover, and an amateur photographer 😉

I miss him taking pictures.  He was so good.

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Rodeo Fun & Life Updates

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I can’t believe how fast this year is already flying by, it’s already mid-March, and Spring Break is next week, and so much that still was waiting to get done (projects around the yard and house) are still ongoing!

Right after I got our garden 1/4 of the way established again, our dalmatian, Super, who had been leaving everything alone for a week, decided to taste all the vegetables.  The only problem was that his “taste” and my “taste” aren’t the same definition… to put it bluntly, he ate our garden!

He must not like Spinach and Chard, though.  😉

My husband had warned me that I should wait until he put a nice fence up with a gate.  But I guess like Sarah with Abraham, my impatience got the best of me, and when we were out just “looking” at the plants at a nursery, he gave me the ok to go ahead and get some, we were hopeful LOL   And thankfully it was only 1/4 of the garden, and not a whole, well-established garden that was demolished!

Watching him build a fence has been awesome, our older son is “helping” and loving every minute of it 😀   Watching my man work on it so effortlessly makes me so proud and happy.  Hopefully by next week, it will all be done and my older son and I can take advantage of the Spring Break free-time to really get it totally established again.

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The rodeo was it’s usual wonderful experience.  Back when I was in high school, and part of a dance group for our city, we would perform here every year.  Our son is interested in the sheep riding – which if you’ve never seen it, is so cute to watch!

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M y boots, watching the steers being shown.

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Kids showing their animals.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures in the petting zoo part, but our oldest is SO SWEET with animals.  In the petting zoo, he zeroed in on twin baby goats that were being protected by their mama goat, and she allowed him to cuddle them and play with them.  Seeing his natural tenderness with animals is just wonderful as his mom – he’s going to be a great Dad someday, and no wonder, he has the perfect role model in my husband.

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Looking at different kinds of knives and weapons.  Not like we need anymore, though!!! 😉

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All three of the guys had their black cowboy hats, even the baby!  My husband will only do black.  I obviously, love it.

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There were so many other things I didn’t get on camera because we were having so much fun, they went fishing in a little pool and our oldest caught a fish!!!

We saw cute shows and pet ponies, saw lots and lots animals and their families camping out.  Lots of country teens making the most of the annual meetup and flirting with each other – which is just adorable to watch ❤

They had a Lego exhibit, a huge tent for kids and grownups to create whatever they wanted to play with or have on display.  My husband helped our son build race cars.

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At the end of the night, at the last show that we saw, while eating a delicious funnel cake with it’s powderey sugared piece of fried-Heaven, our son actually won a Unicorn Shoe – a horse shoe that a Blacksmith made for only 4 people in the audience who would win them at the end of the show.  He was elated!!  And it was still warm when he got it!

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“The BEST Homemaking Advice”

A few weeks ago, in mid January, I wrote a post titled “Just do the next thing,” and imparted some basic wisdom I’ve gleaned from one of our main Bible study leader women. It was nothing too profound, but sometimes I’m not so sure that what I write is always “right,” and it’s great to have confirmation that someone else thinks the same way.

I’m SO excited to bring you readers another post of the same advice that was just written this morning by an extremely popular blog Keeper of the Home, headed and run by mommy of 6 children, devoted farmer’s wife, Ann Timm.  After I read it this morning, I jumped up and ran to my husband and showed him that it was the exact same advice I gave lol!  Yay for being on track.  I know it’s silly, but I still wonder quite often why anyone reads what I write and if I should actually be writing anything at all.  🙂

Here is their post, and I know it could go without saying, but I completely agree 😉

The BEST Homemaking Advice

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By Elsie Callender, Contributing Writer

One of the best pieces of homemaking advice I’ve ever encountered was written in calligraphy and framed above our kitchen doorway. I read it every day of my life from the time I could read until it was packed away before our move to Costa Rica when I was a teenager. The words were simply this: “Doe the next thing.”

And they didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

“Doe?” A deer? A female deer?

“Do,” my mom explained. “Do the next thing. It’s an old spelling.”

Do the next thing. Well, that still didn’t make much sense to me! Don’t we always do the next thing? What else would we do besides the next thing?

Now that I’m all grown up, I get it.

We don’t always do the next thing, even when it’s staring us in the face.

Sometimes we don’t do anything at all.

Sometimes grown-up homemakers like me get so overwhelmed that we over-complicate everything and end up feeling like the only thing we can do next is cry.

There are days when dirty dishes are toppling off my limited counter space, when Little Dude has half a dozen immediate needs, when the dark side of adulthood (i.e. bills and taxes) makes me want to bury my head in a book and only come out for my birthday.

Those are the “this is harder than it should be” days; the days when homemaking gets complicated and I need a simple response.

Do the next thing.

Remembering that little quote can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed verses feeling purposeful.

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, to be a woman of action, faithfully doing what needs to be done, even if it’s a mundane task I don’t particularly relish.

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Image from pixabay.com

Want to try it? Here’s how you can apply this mantra in your homemaking:

1. Identify what needs to be done

Whether you’re mapping out the week ahead or just trying to get through the next hour of a rough morning, take stock of what needs to happen. This might include housecleaning, meal prep, children’s activities, work deadlines, anything. If you’re one of those list-lovers, like I am, you can write out your to-dos!

2. Prioritize

This is where I (and I suspect many other women) get sidetracked. I can have 10 million “to dos” whirling in my head at once, and all of the options make me dizzy. It’s vital to assess what the nextthing is. It’s not always the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing that needs to be done next. Here are some ways I’ve learned to prioritize in my homemaking, even when I’m in a busy season.

3. Take action

Time to “do!” You’ve accepted the fact that you need to pay that phone bill today, so sit down at your computer and do it. Or you know the house won’t clean itself and company is imminent. Raidyour cleaning arsenal and get busy!

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Image from pixabay.com

4. Follow through

Sometimes I don’t finish what I start, even if I began with the best intentions. Don’t trail off on what needs to be done around your home. You’ll waste time and have to summon your motivation all over again.

I have no idea where that original framed quote has gotten to, but I know it’s in my mind for good. When a little disaster strikes, I call it to mind. When I’m feeling depressed and my responsibilities are weighing heavy, I repeat it in my head.

And at the end of another day? I revel when the “next thing” is to snuggle into the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Sometimes the best advice seems almost too simple, right? Here's some of the best – but simple – advice for homemaking! Being a keeper of the home isn't easy, but this advice will get you through the hard times to the good times.

What is the best homemaking advice you’ve received?

*Note from Ann: I can so relate! What a great quote to carry with you through life. It reminds me of something my mother used to say, “If you pick it up, don’t put it down until you put it where it goes”!! How many times do I handle the same item over and over in a single day? And I’m totally guilty of not finishing what I’ve started and wasting precious time. There is a reason I’m one of this list-lovers:) Thank you Elsie for remembering and sharing the wisdom that your mom shared with you as a child. 

Is Being a “Keeper of the Home” Unhealthy & Bad for Children?

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5

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What is the purpose and value of a wife that keeps her home well, and sets an example of godly womanhood for her children?

I believe the value of a wife who chooses to focus on her husband and children as the most important people in her life, a mother who creates a wonderful place of peace and serenity for her family, is beyond riches and any success one can find on their own, pursuing their own fulfillment.

Fathers are equally important in their different role and purpose for the family, and there is certainly a time and place to argue the importance of fathers in a feminist society that tries to diminish our need for them and erase the beauty of masculinity.

But I want to focus on mothers today, the various pressures we feel to succumb to what society wants or thinks is best for our families, and encourage women to know their value and worth to their husbands and children in fulfilling that glorious and high calling that is a wife and mother.

Being a wife and mother is such an honor, but ironically, I think we as moms tend to struggle with it feeling much less like an “honor,” and much more of an overwhelming responsibility that we’re failing at.  With a world that tells us that we’re not fulfilled unless we’re making money, or “doing something productive” with our time, it’s no wonder we don’t feel as though we’re doing something of value at times, especially, for the mother who stays at home with her children.

This is for the mothers that feel like they’re failing, discouraged, or overwhelmed.

Your work you’re doing right now is so productive!

It is so important!

And if we do it with a willing, cheerful attitude, it will make a lasting impression on our children!

Raising our children, being available for them when they need something, playing with them, being cheerful and having fun with them… is productive!

Managing a household, helping our husbands be ready and at their best for work, helping our kids to be ready and at their best for school, all the multitude of tasks that go into making sure these things go smoothly and everyone is taken care of (including ourselves!) is productive!

 

“God wants to help you make your life a place of order, peace, and serenity.  

You are helping shape the lives of your children by everything you do and say.  

The job of a mother is a high and holy calling.”

-Elisabeth Elliot

Some things we can all be reminded of in this journey of motherhood:

  • We teach our children by your example, we can’t require them to have qualities in their character that we ourselves don’t have a handle on
  • Self discipline – are we spending our time wisely, limiting computer time so that we can get more important work done?  Are we neglecting our work or be available to our children
  • Restraint – I think as mothers, we have to learn the art of restraint, of not giving in to every emotion or word we want to say.  Our words, when we’re tired or overwhelmed, have the potential to greatly harm our husband and our children.  Being women of restraint, only saying things that build up and are good for those who hear, is part of the santification process of motherhood and wifery.
  • Submission – Are we submitting to our husbands?  How do you speak to your husband?  Do you honor him in the way you treat him?  Do you go out of your way to treat him with respect?  Do you do things he requests you to do and do them with a good attitude?

 

Additional Reading to encourage you:

Thoughts from mothers who wish they could stay home

Homemaking when it’s hard

Christian women shouldn’t be careerists

 

This is not an article trying to diminish the work women are able to do outside the home.  I definitely believe a mom who also needs to be in the workforce in addition to her role as a mother, is still a homemaker and a “keeper of the home.”  It does become harder, though, to balance and organize life around a job or career and proper care and supervision of small children.

Getting Ready to GARDEN!

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I’m insanely excited about starting our garden this year.  Since the winter wasn’t especially cold, a couple of our herbs from last year stayed fairly well.  But this Spring and Summer I’m looking forward to creating an even better garden than last!  There’s nothing so wonderful to me than creating and nurturing a vegetable and herb garden – it’s so much fun to run out barefoot to go get the things you need for a meal you’re creating, and to know that YOU grew them is just so fulfilling.  And I swear the stuff tastes better, but maybe I’m deliciously biased 😉

My mom gave me this book, Rodale is supposed to be amazing, and so far, his book has been so practical and useful.  It’s also organic, so everything that he suggests is healthy, natural, inexpensive, and easy to do for the most part.  Here is a site I found connected with his family name, called Rodale’s Organic Life.  He was a fascinating man, born in 1898 to Jewish family who immigrated to New York City.  He was a playright, editor, and author who basically was the first person to even use the term “organic” to mean grown without pesticides.  He founded an institute to study the link between “healthy soil, to healthy food, to healthy people.”  It’s great that his legacy is still going so strong today through his *son and that we can still learn from his books!

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The one really big tree we have in our yard was the home to 6 bird nests last year… yes, six!!  I’m looking forward to more birds, their singing, their babies chirping 😀 and just being in the gorgeous sunlight every day working outside.  Just this morning my boys and I spotted two red birds (a male and a female) both in the tree lol… possibly looking at what the nests have to offer!  One thing is for sure, the cats can’t ever get that high, and the birds are always happy there each year.

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Here’s out garden plot, yes, it’s empty and nothing like last year when I had to clear the entire thing from overgrown and very thickly packed weeds.  This year’s clearing will be very easy, and my older son has already started helping me using the shovel himself (tear! he’s getting so big).

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Working in dirt is SO much fun… seriously, gardening is amazing.

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Our handsome male cat looking outside, I thought it was an intriguing picture with the reflection!

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Like… OMG it feels like Spring already! lol 😀

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This was when I was working in the garden and saw he had such a peaceful look on his face.  Babies love being outside.  Our kids have been sick this week, the oldest with an ear infection and the youngest with a cold that turned into a double ear infection.  But this morning was much warmer than it has been, so we bundled up (even though it didn’t really need it) and went outside to get some fresh air after being cooped up the whole week inside.

My gorgeous boy loved it ❤

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The beautiful day did me good as well, felt all flushed and filled with happiness.

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So if you’re interested in some great gardening tips and getting outside, order your seedlings NOW before the spring rush and so that you can get a head start in your garden work and play.  That’s what we’ve been doing 😉

Blessings!

 

*Robert Rodale is the author of the book pictured, Garden Answers, and J.I. Rodale (his father) was the founder of the Rodale Institute.

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

 

By Kelsey Shade, the beautiful, young wife and mother of three boys that blogs at Organizing Life with Littles!