All posts filed under: Parenting

When All You Can Do Is ‘Do the Next Thing’: Write for 31 Days

In the days when my life was filled with diapers, alphabet cards, math books, stinky boys’ gym socks and  the never-ending question “what will I make for dinner?”…. When it felt like I’d never see the laundry room floor, never get to read that book waiting on the shelf or find a moment to paint my nails and talk on the phone with a friend…. In those halcyon days of young motherhood, these words dropped into my lap. “Do the next thing.” For a long time, I thought they were first said by a favorite author, Elisabeth Elliot. Elisabeth’s biography of Amy Carmichael “A Chance to Die” was pivotal in my growth as a woman of God. Her personal account of her marriage to her first husband, Jim, and his death on the mission field was one of those books I longed for time to read during busy mothering days. In researching Elisabeth for an essay awhile back, I learned that the words she often quoted came from a poem whose author is unknown. Those four …

When the Innocent Suffer; Stop the Heartache

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The issue of violence in the home deserves more than 31 days of concentrated attention. It’s a sad fact that domestic violence affects one in four women in the United States every day. The recent headlines citing sports figures accused of abusive behavior have turned the spotlight on domestic violence. As a volunteer at a local agency which provides services for victims of abuse, and works to create awareness in our community, I care very much about what happens to those who are impacted by domestic violence. A year ago, I wrote a series of blog posts about domestic violence. I am sharing with you the one that is closest to my mother-heart — how violence impacts children. “Are you mean?” It’s not a question I’m asked often, so when the little girl with the cynical blue eyes asked, I knew I’d better give a straight answer. “I don’t think so.” “Are you nice? Are you nice to your kids? Do you ever smack their bottoms?” I told her …

An Open Letter to Young Women Who Might Want to Marry My Sons

My oldest son turned 30 today. Yeah, I’m that old (and then some). Reflecting back on this amazing young man’s life, and looking forward to what the future holds for him and his lovely bride of 9 years, I got to thinking about the other three — the younger brothers who are as yet unmarried. Since they were born, I’ve prayed for the women God would bring to share their lives. Our oldest son is happily married to his best friend, and I’ll continue to pray that these three will have the same good fortune. I’m aware that statistically, the odds are two of the four will have marriages ending in divorce. Rather than dwell on that possibility, I’ve come up with some “premarital advice” for my prospective daughters-in-law. Here is my open letter to the young women who might want to marry one of my sons: Dear One ~ As the first woman in the life of the young man you hope to marry, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. …

I Am a Grower of Tomatoes

What was I thinking? Nine tomato plants — count ’em, NINE — for two adult people. How did they wind up in the trunk of my car? Yes, there is that 19-year-old who’s home for the summer, but he stays away from tomatoes unless they’re in a ketchup bottle or smothered in mozzarella. So what was I thinking when I brought home those nine healthy green seedlings, all snug in their plastic nests? A morning spent at my friend’s country nursery had yielded a collection of herbs, pepper plants, kale, lettuce — and those nine tomato plants. How could I resist the promise of beautiful heirloom tomatoes with names like Lemon Drop, Granny Carter, Blue Berry, Pineapple, Black Icicle and Amish Paste. Tomatoes with history and geography, planted from seed by my friend’s hand and nurtured in her Amish-made greenhouse. There was just something sacred about them, and I couldn’t get enough. The afternoon was given over to settling their roots in my freshly-tilled garden, mounding moist, rich soil around them, careful to give them enough …

Confused by Mother’s Day: The Bumpy Road to Forgiveness

My birth mother would have turned 80 next week. Before she died 3 1/2 years ago, I was finally able to forgive her for letting go of her three young daughters so that she could go in search of herself. I’ve shared my story of forgiveness today at Brenda Yoder’s blog, Life Beyond the Picket Fence. Join me as I explore why I’m still confused by Mother’s Day, and enter a drawing for the book “Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers” by Leslie Leyland Fields.

6 Words of Motherly Wisdom for a Teenage Pop Star

When the 19-year-old Pop Star gets stopped for speeding and driving while intoxicated, I can’t help but react in the Mom Mode. I’m qualified to do that. As Mom to four male “millenials” (one still in his teens), I’ve had my share of serious conversations around the kitchen table. So, I’m offering to share some motherly wisdom with that wild young man making the news. Six little words that could change his life. J.B., listen up: 1.  Think. Something my Mom told me years ago, and I’ve repeated to my own kids: “It’s all fun and games until some one gets hurt.” Driving drunk and high doesn’t only put you at risk, innocent people could be hurt or killed by your antics. 2.  Work. Get yourself busy doing something productive. It sounds like you may have a little too much time on your hands. My husband’s cure for boys who are acting up has always been to give them more chores. 3.  Care. About yourself, your future, your reputation, the people in your life. Your …

When You Know Who Brings the Gifts

It was a strange juxtaposition, now that I think of it. Back in the years when we celebrated Christmas at the little white church by the side of the road, every Christmas program ended with a visit from Saint Nick. Bearded, dressed in a fur-trimmed red suit and black boots, he looked much like the Santa greeting children at the mall. Yet somehow, as he settled down on the altar at the front of the church and invited the children to crawl into his lap, he didn’t seem at all out of place. For the folks at the little white church, Jesus truly is and always has been “the reason for the season”. But, they embrace a Christmas tradition that some might consider contrary to what a body of believers should tolerate, let alone celebrate. Saint Nicholas Santa Claus Kris Kringle Saint Nick I’ve spent most of my parenting years settling for myself the role Santa Claus should play in the celebration of Christ’s birth. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum — from …

What To Do With An Empty Nest?

The lyrics from a popular song a few decades back keep running through my head: “Where have you gone my little boy, little boy? Where have you gone my sonny, my own? Turn around you’re two, turn around then you’re four; Turn around you’re a young man going out the door“ Today, as I reflect on this “empty nest” season in a guest post at Not aLone Mom.com, they seem particularly poignant. From my post: “The youngest of our four sons officially took flight nearly two months ago when he headed off to college, but the reality of living in a nest minus the jumble of basketballs, piles of dirty gym clothes, loud music and an always-empty fridge is just beginning to settle in.” How are you feathering your empty nest? Hop on over to Not aLone Mom to join the conversation.

Just Five Minutes of Laundry?

This is the day when we write for five minutes non-stop, no editing for Lisa-Jo Baker’s “Five Minute Fridays”. So, here it goes: I finally did it. On the Thursday before he was to come home from college for fall break, I rummaged through the pile of discarded clothes in Youngest Son’s bedroom and made stacks — what to give away, what to store away, and what to wash. What to wash…… Who would have thought that years of wearing out the washing machine with four boys’ dirty blue jeans, mud-stained T-shirts and grimy socks would have come down to this: a tiny load of forgotten favorites. In conversation with an old friend early this morning, I was asked about this empty nest of ours. “So, are you liking this new season you find yourself in?” I had to be honest, so I told her. “Not really. It stinks.” Of course, I laughed and added that there were some good parts, but mostly, I’m still getting used to the idea. And some days, it does …

Five Minutes of “Ordinary”

Blogging today at Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. Those were such “ordinary” days — those weeks, months and years when our four boys sat under their Mom’s tutelage. Trying at times, rewarding most of the time, we were just “doing school”. They’re four young men now, off to do life on their chosen paths. I often wonder if they think back to  our ordinary and count those days as special. Living in the country, but with our white mini-van waiting in the driveway, we could run away for what we called “sun” days knowing that when the local public schools closed for “snow” days, we would still be working at math and history. On our ordinary sun days this time of year, there might be a trip to the apple orchard or a long hike through a local park. Or maybe we’d hit the mall and have a rare lunch out at the food court. Other days, when the pressures of maintaining a home and operating our family’s home-based business pressed in, “ordinary” might become working …