Monday, February 20, 2006

Lending a word of encouragement to other mothers...

I was able to share with and answer questions for two women who were very interested in homeschooling over the weekend. This happened when one lady's children saw ours and came over to stand with us in the checkout. Both mothers were very frustrated with their local school system and one was concerned for her daughter's welfare. Her daughter was rejecting her mother for new "friends" who are leading her into big trouble. As we were leaving, we almost left Joshua. He was engaged in a very animated conversation with the three children and did not notice us leaving. Homeschooled children "lack social skills though." (That was me being sarcastic in case you missed it.) :-)

If you see a tired-looking mother with a baby in a store, walk up to them and tell them how beautiful their baby is. Tell them how very blessed by God they are and watch their tiredness disappear from their face. I did this Saturday while we were eating out and it blessed the mother so much, I'll make sure I do it more often. She went from tired, worn out and frustrated to joy-filled, proud and smiling with renewed energy in less than one minute. She looked noticeably younger also. Her baby blessed me with so many precious newborn smiles, Clint went over next to see the darling little girl. That got a man, who was eating alone, laughing and commenting on how we MUST love children as he pointed to our five. You say you are looking for ministry opportunities, well, this is a simple and quick way to minister to another mother and it will bless you too.

Giving a word of encouragement, understanding or acknowledgement of the situation works well with mothers struggling with misbehaved, tired or sick children. Just make sure your word's can't be misconstrued as judgemental by an already sensitive mother so you don't add to her problems. Saying something encouraging is a much better alternative than sitting in judgement, rolling our eyes with other shoppers at their child's unruliness and creating a judgemental, hostile atmosphere for the mother. Sometimes it will help diffuse negative attitudes in the people around the area as well. I encouraged a mother with a horribly behaved child in a store one day and by time I was finished, she was smiling and the child was standing still and listening quietly (probably taking notes :-) to the other people in line regaling their own "misbehaved child in public" stories. None of our parenting skills are so perfect that our children haven't caused us public embarrassment along the way.

I was eating out one day when I saw a child with cerebral palsy having a birthday party. His whole family was with him, but his mother was looking very self-conscious as her child clearly stood out among the other diners. Other people were looking off and on and she was visibly uncomfortable with all of the "sneaked" looks of curiosity. On my way back from the bathroom, I stopped by and knelt down beside her son's table and told him Happy Birthday and how wonderful his big family must have known he was to throw him such a grand party. Then, I told him he was beautiful and that I was glad I got to meet him. The boy was grinning ear to ear, happy someone else noticed he was having a special day.

When I stood up, the mother was in tears and expressed her gratitude. No stranger had ever made a fuss over her child or called him beautiful before. Doesn't that just break your heart? How sad that we put such limitations on beauty when God calls all of His creation "good" and tells us children are a "blessing", a "reward", and a "heritage." Scripture does not say "Children are a blessing if/until/when..." It says they ARE blessings without limitations or restrictions. We are all created in His image and fearfully and wonderfully made, regardless of our health or appearance. Shame on us for only offering a kind, encouraging word when the child meets our criteria for "beautiful." Shame on us for trying to redefine what beauty is.

Now, by nature, I am an introvert. I had a lot of rejection as a child and it costs me personally to speak to a stranger and I have to force myself to do it. Clint will often see me struggling inwardly and say something to get me moving "God put that on your heart for a reason, Wendy. Go, speak to them or you will miss an opportunity." If I can do it, you can also.

I have only had one person react negatively towards me. An elderly man in a wheelchair was being pushed through a grocery store by his daughter. She was in a ferocious mood, but he caught my eyes with his as I turned down the aisle. Being from the south, if I make eye contact with a person, I generally will nod or say hi or something as way of polite acknowledgement of a fellow human being. When I said hi to him, he engaged me in a short conversation and wished me a good day. He was such a kind man and he gave me encouragement as he uplifted my spirit.

As soon as we finished speaking, I said hi to her and then SHE started up with venom and said something very nasty to me for speaking with him. I told her she was blessed to have him to care for and walked on. Her shockingly unkind comments lost their sting when he made the great effort to turn and make eye contact with me again for I saw the shame and misery in them. I was crying for him by time I left the store. I have never forgotten him or her. I prayed for them both for years.

Clearly she thought caring for someone in need was beneath her and she was very angry about it. We have to be careful not to adopt this attitude of pride while caring for our husband and children. I think he was just looking for a kind word and a kind face. May none of us ever fall ill or frail and have to suffer abuse at the hands of the unloving and incompassionate. But, consider would be far, far worse to be the abusive, unloving and incompassionate person whose soul is so void they can't show kindness to someone weaker in health.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On being a great help meet...

I do not think I am anything great or spectacular, in fact, I feel quite the opposite. I have many of my own insecurities just as anyone else does. Clint is very happy with me and uplifts me to his friends and co-workers though. Several have told him, often in front of me, they wished they had a wife like I am to him. All of these men are married to great women. It's a very nice compliment to receive.

What do I do that pleases Clint so much and wins the admiration of his friends? It's pretty easy, I often try to go the unexpected mile.

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain (two).

In Biblical times it was required by law that a Jew carry a Roman soldier's bundle a mile. Many Jews despised this and met their obligations grudgingly with poor attitudes. Jesus taught that if you wanted to show true love, you went the extra mile. Jesus taught them to give more than expected.

Many times in our relationships we become use to doing only what is required of us. We meet expectations but rarely go beyond them. Think about what is expected of you from your spouse and then how you can exceed those limits to show them your love for them in tangible ways.

On Tuesday, I split wood for Clint with the wood splitter to take some of the burden off of him. I am pretty sure he had an idea I would since I was so keen on learning how to run it Monday night. I split enough with the children's help to keep our family warm several days.
On Wednesday, my children and I wanted to show him how much we loved him by going the extra mile. This is the new stack of wood we started and finished on Wednesday. You can glimpse Tuesday's stack in the right hand corner.
How did it work? The work involved was a very low price to pay for the look of amazement, delight and thankfulness as he looked at it the first time. He thanked us and then ordered a favorite take out supper to thank us for showing our gratitude to him. He praised the children for their hard work. He rubbed my back and couldn't keep his hands off of me all night long. He probably said thank you twenty times or more. I'd say it worked pretty well. :-)

I am not saying you should split wood all day. I had five great helpers and three of us are able to take turns running the splitter. I enjoy "girding my loins with strength" with physical labor. Not all women are able to work that hard for that long.

If you want to strengthen any relationship, including your marriage, look at what is expected of you and find ways to go beyond those expectations. Going the second mile makes being a help meet enjoyable. No longer are you meeting limited expectations or doing the same things in the same way day in and out. You start looking for ways to exceed them to express your love for your mate and to be the biggest blessing to him that you can be. It will grow you in Christ and bless your marriage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Being a help meet...

Clint appreciated his Valentine's Day surprise of the split wood. We got a nice pile stacked for him. When he came home, we split and stacked more together. You can see pictures of our smaller children splitting wood (with guidance and safety goggles) here.

I am thankful I was able to help him with this and lighten his load. It was very difficult for me to watch him come home from a tiring day and have to go outside to split wood with the maul for an hour or so. I was just physically unable to swing the maul for long.

Being a help meet means helping your mate meet his responsiblities in whatever capacity he needs help in. That can mean having his meals prepared, shirts ironed, briefcase in the car, sermon notes printed out or cutting the grass when he's having to do other things. There is no his or her work in our home. It's "our" work and we both help each other where ever we can. When I have been very ill during pregnancy, Clint has cooked and cleaned house. If I am worn out in the evenings, he will cook supper.

Whenever a couple adopts the attitude of "his and hers" over being "ours" it becomes each person out for their own. If two horses hitched to a cart sought their own direction, they would not get very far, very fast. Their journey together would be a struggle and would end in failure. But, if two horses are pulling a heavy load in the same direction, working together, giving each other their best, they go a lot faster and are a success because they are helping each other. When one missteps, the other saves the cart from tumbling. When one is a step behind due to exhaustion or illness, the other helps take up the slack and keeps them moving forward. Having an attitude of servanthood towards each other is so lacking in Christians today, but it is what God calls for and is what will bless your home with deep, lasting peace and joy.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. -Genesis 2:18

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. -Proverb 14:1

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. -1st Timothy 5:14

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry... -1st Samuel 15:23

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. -Joshua 24:15

Her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life ... Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. -Proverbs 31:10-12 & 28

So many women want to be called a Proverbs 31 woman, but do not want to obey the rest of what God commands in Scripture. So many husbands want to be respected and adored by their families, but they too ignore what is laid out very plainly. They wonder why their lives are such a mess and why they are so unhappy. Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Seek God's way for your life first and the blessings will follow. (This doesn't mean do whatever you want (your goals) in the name of Christ. Some people use a ministry or "calling" as an excuse to neglect their families. God doesn't ever ask us to do something contrary to His written Word.) When Clint and I married each other, we asked God how did He want our marriage set up and found the answers in His Word. God was faithful to His Word and added much more than we expected!!

Matthew 6:33 is saying-if you want God's blessings (gifts, rewards), do things HIS way and the blessings will follow. His way is laid out in the Bible.

God also has plenty to say to husbands in how they are to relate to their wives and children too. Here are just a couple...

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

Christ died for the church and won her love. He didn't beat or verbally abuse her into submission.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

You can not do that by being an abusive tryant towards your children. Christ had an attitude of a humble servant helping those around Him.

What do you do if your husband isn't living right?

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; -1st Peter 3:1 (conversation in this verse means "manner of life.")

In other words, do what you are suppose to do, pray and let God take care the rest. Your husband's disobedience doesn't free you to live like you want. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 NIV

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday, Kitten/Bunny/Puppy Formula

PTL! Clint is off call until next Monday morning. My tired husband is upstairs catching up on his rest. He had 7 call-ins and 3 phone consultations last week. Most of the call-ins were in the middle of the night, so we are both pretty tired.

The housework got very behind last week, so I'll spend the better part of today trying to catch it up.

For Valentine's Day tomorrow, we are going to make chocolate covered peanuts as a family. It will be fun to have all seven of us in the kitchen together.

Here's a free online textbook on the digestive system in humans:

Peanut, the tiny puppy, is holding his own. We are still concerned for him because of his size, but he's gaining weight. He is about 1/3 the size of the other two. We are not sure if he is a true runt or just was conceived later in Shysie's fertile week and born earlier. A true runt is a puppy of the same size and gestational age of the rest of the litter that does not thrive well. In other words, he may just be a preemie.

We tried supplementing him, but he turned his nose up at the commercial formula. Today, I am going to try a homemade recipe that I have had good success with in the past. The commercial formula has the advantage of giving them colostrumm, but if they will not drink it, it doesn't benefit them one bit.

Kitten/Bunny/Puppy Formula
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp corn syrup
1 egg yolk (remove stringy thing for ease of swallowing and to keep bottle nipple clear)
1 can water (same can as evap milk)

Now, if you use this, you need to remember to make sure the little one you are feeding is eliminating their bowels and bladder. If you do not have the mother to do this for you, you can use a moistened q-tip to rub gently over both areas until you reach the desired results. Little animals like this can not go on their own and need the stimulation. If you don't do it, their bowels will become impacted and they will die. Puppies and kittens will usually make noise when they need to use the bathroom, which triggers their mothers to cleanse them.