Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [Words to Describe Me]

1. Passionate. I'm all in, or all out. Typically there's not a lot in between. (It's also the first word I used to describe me in my About Me page.)

2. Confident. I'm actually confident in very little, but what I am confident in is my salvation through Jesus Christ alone and the gifts He has given me.

3. Learner. I never want to stop learning new things. Ever. I'm constantly calling my sisters, friends,  and mom to teach me cooking tricks, the art of sewing, &etc. Learning the banjo, for example, is on my bucket list... and memorizing all the purpose verses to every book of the Bible is also on my list... I scour books for the sake of learning... and am constantly listening to sermons so I can (as you have surely guessed by now) learn.

4. Creative. Give me a glue gun, paint brushes, sharpies, crayons, scrap anything... and I'll come up with something...

5. Loyal. I am devoted to my faith in Jesus, to my husband, to my children and their needs, and to my friends and family. So I guess that pretty much includes everyone.

6. Enthusiastic. Enthusiasm just goes hand in hand with passion. If I'm passionate about something, I'm usually preeeeeetty enthusiastic about it.

7. Emotional. My tear ducts are directly intact to every emotion under the sun. If I'm frustrated, I cry. If I'm happy, I cry. If I'm angry, I cry. If I'm confused, I cry. If I cry, I'm angry at the fact that I'm crying, so I cry more. It's a curse.

8. Easygoing. For the most part.

9. Loving. Sometimes I can also be a bit harsh, so this is actually something I am constantly asking God to help me with. BUT this was a quality my sister used to describe me ('cause I was running out of ideas...). I'm honored this was one she came up with, but I would not have used it to describe myself.

10. Teacher. It's something I'm passionate about, and if I'm passionate about something I enthusiastically dive into learning more about it, the more I learn the more confident I become in it and creative ideas continuously pop into my brain, the more creative ideas I share with my kiddos to meet their individual needs, the more emotional I become about my job, the more emotional I am about my job because of my students, the more loyal I am to my job because of them and the more dedication I put into to seeing them succeed, the more I love them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Christians are the worst!

Everyday we drive by Pizza Hut on our way home from church and it always reminds me of conversations with two individuals in the business of serving. One was with a Starbucks Barista and the other a Pizza Hut waitress, both stated that the Sunday-after-church-crowd was the worst crowd to serve. They are the ones who complain the most, they are the most unforgiving, they are hateful, and they are the worst tippers. 

As someone who spent nearly eight years of my life working as a waitress, hotel maid, or bartender this angers me on so many levels. I think everyone should spend time working in one, or more, of these services so you know what it's like to pick up after someone and serve their every need. You'll have a bigger appreciation for how hard these people work, for you. But it also angers me because, we, as Christians should be the most thankful, the most forgiving, giving the most love, and the best tippers. Here's why:

We should imitate Christ's servanthood.
Christ came to this earth to serve, "... the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom to many." (Matthew 20:28) He illustrated this perfectly on the night He washed His disciples feet, the lowliest of jobs, and yet God Himself took the form of a servant to show us how we ought to live our lives. In fact, he submitted to this plan of servanthood to the point of death. He died on the cross on our behalf, taking the form of a servant, endured the wrath of God for our sin, so we could spend an eternity glorifying His name. Our chief goal in life should be to glorify His name in all that we say and do.

We are doing the exact opposite of that with our complaining-unforgiving-lack-of-generosity-hateful attitude towards those who serve us.

We should imitate Christ's humility.
Know this: we are more like our imperfect waitress than we are like our heavenly Father. He is perfect. We are not. Knowing the depth of our sin, and the lengths to which Christ went to accomplish the forgiveness of that sin, should leave us in such a deep place of gratitude and humility that we treat others with the same love Christ gives us - because we do not deserve it. 

We do not deserve any of the love Christ pours out on us and yet He gives it anyway. Our waitress may or may not deserve kindness, but we should give it anyway, because that glorifies His name.

We are a witness to the greatest truth in history.
This truth is that Jesus defeated death when He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. This, my friends, is the gospel. We are called to preach it wherever we go. When it's necessary use words. Otherwise preach it through your humility, kindness, and loving kindness towards others. 

Rid yourself of the entitlement attitude that gives off arrogance and conceit. Be humble. Consider others better than yourself. Imitate Christ. Be thankful and kind. Most importantly, do these things even when you don't feel like it, because Christ didn't feel like dying on the cross*, but aren't you glad He did?

* Matthew 26:39 (His prayer at Gethsemane.) My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [If You're on the Fence About Being A Stay-at-Home Mom]

I was recently put on the spot with a question that I've been thinking about ever since: "Do you regret your decision to stay-at-home?" It was asked by someone who knew I was on the fence for a long time before I made a decision and was advising a mom who was obviously also on the fence. I'm not sure I gave a satisfactory on-the-spot answer to fully describe my "absolutely not and here's why" response. Since I can't stop thinking about it, I thought I'd write about it. I figure it's on my brain for a reason. So here's ten things to think about if you're on the fence and can't decide whether or not to stay home (I've also included statements I hear all the time as women debate themselves on whether or not to stay home); perhaps they'll push you over the edge like they did me...

By the way, much of this is written from a biblical standpoint. If you're not interested in hearing what the Bible states about your job as a wife and mother, I suggest you stop reading. 

1. As a wife and mother your first priorities are your husband, children, and your home. Read Titus 2:3 where Paul is explaining to Titus what women are to teach younger women in their discipleship relationships. Among the things listed is to work at home and love your husband and children. Whether you have a job or not, your priorities should look like this: God, husband, children, home, job. As a teacher I was pouring my whole self into those kids and neglecting my relationship with my husband; and God was most definitely put in my back pocket, pulled out only in times of need and convenience. I realized, once we found out we were expecting an addition to our little family, that I could not juggle my job, relationships, and caring for my children effectively. Knowing myself, I had to drop one. Reluctantly I temporarily dropped my job as teacher. (Read more about that in my About Me page.) I have not regretted it. Sure I have moments that I miss it, but for the most part, I am beyond thankful I have the time I have with my little girls, because the time goes too quickly.

2. Soak it up, it goes by fast. The Bible calls our life a mist, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) You do not know what tomorrow may bring and I'm going to spend every day with the ones God gave me to raise in the knowledge of Him. The first 3 years of my first daughters life have gone by so incredibly quickly that I have no doubt the next 3 will be just as quick. I don't want to miss out on anything for the sake of a career. What eternal value does a paycheck have? 

3. What eternal value does a paycheck have? Um, none. Even if you have a job, you could wake up tomorrow losing everything. Read Job as one example of a rich man who had everything taken from him and then read this one incredible statement Job made just after he lost it all, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Recognize that the earth and everything in it belongs to God ("Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." Job 41:11) and that He provides what you need. (Read Matthew 6:25-34.) If Jesus tells you not to worry about what you'll eat, drink or wear because He promises to give you what you need (even if it isn't what you think it should be), why should you worry about a paycheck? If a paycheck is driving your decision on whether or not you should stay home, rethink it. If you can make the payments necessary to live on one paycheck (i.e. house/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) I encourage you to stay home. Have faith that God will take care of the rest. I promise you, promise, promise, promise that staying at home - even on a limited budget - is worth every faith building moment you'll have hence forth. By trusting in His promises your faith will increase in a God who is sovereign all the time, and you'll be able to praise Him more for every prayer answered. 

3. In fact, it might be more financially reasonable to stay at home. Day care is expensive. Is it more efficient to use half a paycheck (or more) on day care or lose that half a paycheck to stay-at-home? I don't know your finances, so this is a decision you and your spouse must make.

4. You won't be bored. You have a relationship to focus on, a Bible to read, children to feed, clothe and play with, laundry, house clean up, etc. etc. There's a plethora of things to do and not enough time to do it. If you're bored, it's your own fault. Sure you have things that need to be done, but there's lots of options (even for small towner people like myself) on things for SAHM's to do. Here's a few ideas:
  • Find a discipleship relationship.
  • Ask your pastor how you can serve in your church.
  • Visit someone in the nursing home each week (they LOVE seeing those kiddos).
  • Plan one day a week to go to the library (most libraries also have a children's story hour).
  • Find other mom's and plan a play date once a week or once a month. It gives you and your children social time, which is extremely important for both of you.
5. Seek the advice of a woman you trust. As I was in the process of deciding on whether or not to stay home there were a few women who were instrumental in helping me make a decision. I trusted these individuals because I saw the fruit of their labor (beautiful marriages, kids, and homes). One such woman (who's husband I worked with in the school) was the most influential. She was a day care provider and had so much helpful, thought provoking advice. She said something I'll never, ever forget, "Sure! I can take your child, but she'll call me mommy." That hit my like a ton of bricks. She went on to explain that the kids she has for 8 or more hours a day call her mommy; she's constantly correcting them. My own mother stayed at home with us and now has a thriving career in the police department, loving her job in the courtroom and working alongside police officers. She offered encouragement that "... you can always go back to work, but you'll never have those years with your children back..." Another teacher, who taught for 30+ years, suggested the same thing. She stayed home with her children and went back to the classroom when her own children were old enough to go to school. She said she'd never trade those first years for a 100 years of teaching. 

Jani Ortlund, in her book, "Fearlessly Feminine" had another quote that was quite influential, 
"... will you pay the price of mothering? In Where Have All the Mothers Gone? Brenda Hunter cites numerous studies showing that every child needs someone to make an "irrational" commitment to him; someone who will be there when she is needed; someone who will not pack up and go home at 6:00 p.m. Additionally, this someone must love the child more than other people's children. Who can do this better than a child's own mother? Yet we hear the chorus swelling around us, "The care of children and home are inferior occupations. The marketplace is more rewarding. Find your worth there. 
And so we face a decision. Don't let me heap guilt on your head if you must work outside your home will your children are young. I have been there, and I know how hard it is. I am writing about a decision that a working mom makes who has a choice to cut back and stay home with her children. Are we willing to give up the pluses of the working world for diapers, doctor appointments, feeding schedules, and hurried showers? We enjoy the affirmations of working outside the home - a paycheck, pats on the back, exciting challenges, and new relationships - and yet we know that our home life suffers all the while. We begin to realize that all the tangible successes in the marketplace can never mask the potent pull of mother love. But are we women enough to yield to this powerful force?" (summary of p.113-126, bolded mine
If you want more from this book and what Jani Ortlund has to say about the Price and Privilege of Motherhood, read this.

6. Mother's are irreplaceable. There is no one who can comfort like mommy, cuddle like mommy, give "healing" kisses for owies like mommy, teach like mommy, play like mommy, or even discipline like mommy. They will receive these things at a typical day provider, but it will not be like mommy.

7. Mother's are valuable. One father recognized this and wrote about it, Fathers, you can't afford a Stay-At-Home Mom. His explanation of our value is pretty uplifting.

(Side Note: All mother's are irreplaceable and valuable, whether you stay at home or not, which is why #6 and 7 are on this list... no one can replace you... not even a wonderful, loving day care provider. My point in writing those points is to reiterate a mother's worth and not devalue our job as mothers, because that would/should come before our career any day. See #1.)

8. Discipline will be different. (Relating to #5.) Day care providers are pretty stuck on what they can or cannot do about discipline issues and the world will continue to go farther and farther away from what the Bible teaches. It will be different at home than it is at day care, if you want results, you need consistency. I encourage you to read Tedd Tripp's book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" if you want a guide as to what the Bible says about biblical discipline and I can promise you, your day care provider cannot accomplish what mommy can accomplish (and the first few years are vitally important).

9. Less stress. I cannot imagine how different my life would be had I decided to juggle being a wife, mother, and teacher. I know I'd be extremely stressed out. The thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I only have to "worry" about my children and my relationship with my husband. I do not have to add the stress of a boss, students, grading papers, meetings, coaching responsibilities, late nights, no sleep, and trying to be good at it all. 

10. You won't regret it. I'm 110% positive that you will never hear someone say on their death bed, I should've earned more money. They'll say things like, I wish I would've spent more time with my family, or I wish I would've taken the time to do _____ with my daughter/son, or I wish I would've enjoyed my husband more..."

I hope these reasons push you over the edge one way or the other. Not knowing your specific situation, I encourage you to seriously consider staying home if you have the support of your husband and you can financially afford it. You will have to make sacrifices (like using one vehicle for a year, or driving an old $1,000 grandma car for awhile, or giving up eating out, etc.etc.) but it.is.worth.it. 

If you want to read 10 things society tells stay-at-home mom's and my arguments to combat them, I encourage you to do so. It might help your decision.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [My Talents]

There are a few things I really enjoy doing, I guess I'll call them talents...
1. Decorating. I think I have an eye to dress up a room. I enjoy putting together colors, fabric, furniture arrangement, and decor items. I debated for a long time on whether or not to do this for a living, for now it's just a hobby.

2. I've been tootin' around on the clarinet for 20+ years. I still get it out occasionally and forget how much I enjoy playing an instrument. I'm not a Benny Goodman, but I'm not squeaky either. I simply love anything involving music, like harmonizing (just don't give me the lead). I'm also not all that talented at reading sheet music (I can do it, but it takes me longer than the average joe). 

3. Crafting. I love turning junk into something, or nothing into something. Give me popsicle sticks, ribbon, scissors, a hot glue gun and I'll give you something worth hanging on your wall. (Haha, I'm exaggerating a little, but I am pretty good with a hot glue gun.)

4. Doodling. Sometimes I enjoy picking up a pen or pencil and doodling to my hearts content. I do not consider myself an artist, but I do enjoy coloring up a blank piece of paper. I even have a Pinterest board for that: I just doodled.

5. Writing. My favorite classes all through school were the english courses where I'd diagram sentences, compose creative writing pieces, read and respond to whatever I read, any journaling activities, writing research papers (okay, call me a nerd)... so this "blogging business" is one of my favorite activities.

6. Shooting a basketball. Eye on the target. Elbow in. Keep your balance. Follow through. SWISH! Shooting a basketball is like riding a bike, I never forget how awesome "SWISH!" sounds. Just don't ask me to dribble.

7. Planning Parties. I enjoy eating, socializing, playing games, dressing up, decorating... putting it all together for one big shindig is fun, fun, fun. In fact, I'm in charge of baby and wedding showers for our church and I write about them here. I've gotten pretty good at throwing a baby shower on a tight budget: How to Throw a Baby/Bridal Shower for $75 or Less! I have a board for that too: Party Planner.

8. Teaching. I have a masters degree in curriculum and instruction, but I grew up forcing my siblings to play school. I was always the teacher. It's something I always knew I wanted to do, and I'm confident in my knowledge of the profession and my ability to teach a room full of students. 

9. Shopping. I find treasures for super cheap. I'm pretty good at eyeballing the good stuff. There's only a handful of items in my closet (like my running shoes) that I paid more than $10 for. Seriously. I scour the clearance racks, promo codes, coupons, and thrift stores like it's my job. And I LOVE doing it.

10. Stretching. I know it's a weird "talent", but I'm being serious. I have to know how to stretch well after my back injury in college when I experienced the pain of two slipped discs. If it wasn't for exercise and stretching muscles all the way from my neck, shoulders, mid-lower back, butt, hammys and quads, calves and feet I'd be visiting the chiropractor weekly. Stretching has done wonders in preventing further injuries. When I was a track and field coach my athletes knew this was something I was knowledgable in and always came to me for help. One of the best parts of that job was designing workouts and pre-workouts to help multi-event athletes - stretching was a BIG part of it. I loved researching it, reading about it, implementing it, testing it and after all that I believe in active stretching before exercise and static stretching post workout. As a result I can boast in very few muscle injuries.

On that note, I'm also very good at researching. That's come from my english/language arts background and my love for history. It's hard to do any of the above (like being a good teacher, or stretching, or planning a party on a budget) without a bit of digging.

I feel like I did a lot of bragging on myself. I'm not trying to be prideful, just simply sharing what I'm passionate about because I've worked hard to acquire the knowledge or the how-to on each of the items listed. Most importantly I must recognize the fact that God has given me each of these skills and my goal in life is to glorify Him in all that I do.