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Archive for January, 2011

Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

 

                Do you remember the precious moment you discovered you were pregnant with your first child? I’m sure that a flood of thoughts and emotions came pouring in. Happiness. Fear.  Excitement. Insecurity. Will it be a boy? A girl? Will it be healthy? Happy? Become a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant or athlete? Will I drive a mini van to soccer practice or cry on their first day of school? You probably felt excited to see their eyes, feel their touch, hear their laughter and rock them to sleep. I wonder, did you ever once think, “I’m ready to compete against every single mother on the planet to prove I am the ULTIMATE MOTHERING CHAMPION!! Bring it on, Moms!”

                Exactly. Neither did I. In fact, until all of this ‘Tiger Mom Controversy’ I wasn’t fully aware there was a competition going on. Anyone else feel that way? Sure, there have been times and certain conversations with the occasional acquaintance that I felt a competitive vibe and I usually distance myself from that type of personality. I can not seem to comprehend why women feel the need to be competitive of one another.  I didn’t understand it when I was a teenager and I don’t understand it now. I’ve always been a jeans & t-shirt kind of girl and never saw the sense of make up. It’s false. You’re pretending to be something you’re not. I have always felt like a person needs to accept me for me, just the way I am or move along. I’m not going to pretend. I’m not going to play games or put on a front.  Now, I’m not saying I’m against make up and if there were a special occasion I might wear it. I’m just saying it doesn’t seem to be beneficial to hide behind it. 

                In the same way, I don’t see the benefit in hiding behind false confidences in ones own abilities. The simple truth is, we’re all wrong; At some point, some days, about some things and even ‘our greatest medical minds’ seem to waver constantly on what qualifies as healthy, safe and good for you. How many different opinions are there about the benefits and consequences of eggs? How many pharmaceuticals have been promoted to be a solution, only to cause more problems? Everyone is wrong. Why? Because life is a learning experience. You do the best you can with the information you have at the time.  Our lives, personalities, situations and the people in them are unique and the variables are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  There is no one right answer for everyone.  You can’t assume that your ways, thoughts and ideas are superior to someone else’s simply because they are different from your own. The only exception might be if someone else’s beliefs and practices inflict actual pain and physical conflict with other people. You’re rights end where someone else’s rights begin.  So what if Mom 1 expects her daughter to practice piano for hours or forbids television or if Mom 2 likes the liberal approach of letting her child express themselves at their own whim.  Neither is right or wrong. Neither is superior or inferior. They are simply different. It is our differences that give life flavor.  Why can’t we embrace the ‘to each his own’ philosophy among mothers? Isn’t it hard enough just getting through the day without attacking each other too? Where is that ‘sisterhood’ women are supposed to be bonded by? These days it seems more like a lynch mob.

                I welcome any thoughts if you would like to share them and please pass this along!

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16oz box of spaghetti

MEAT:

1 Bell Pepper

1 Onion

2lbs Ground Beef (grass-fed, hormone free)

1T oregano

1T garlic

1T parsley

2t basil

2t sea salt

2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) 

SAUCE:

(4) 8oz cans of organic tomato paste

1T oregano

1T garlic

1T parsley

2t basil

2t sea salt

2t wildflower honey

1T Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids

Water

 

                Cook the pasta according to package directions. Either chop the bell pepper and onion or put them in a food processor.  (If your puree them, then picky eaters are less likely to notice. You can hide many different veggies this way and even in this recipe!) Sautee veggies in the oil until tender. Now put in the beef and then the seasonings. Brown it completely.  Next add the tomato paste and about ½ cup of water. Add the rest of the seasonings.  Continue to add water to desired consistency. Serve over pasta.

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Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

Elizabeth Edwards made a statement directed at anyone who attempts to reach out to a grieving person.  She said, “The greatest gift you can give the grieving is to let them know you haven’t forgotten.” Sometimes people are afraid that if they mention the person who has passed away that it will somehow stir up memories and emotions that have finally settled. I can promise you that is a lie straight from the Devil’s mouth to hinder Children of God from reaching out and offering comfort.  I can’t speak for people who have lost a spouse, parent, sibling or friend. The only loved one I have ever buried is my forever five year old son but I assume the sentiment is the same.  There’s never a moment that goes by that isn’t saturated with James.  How would James have liked his eggs? Would James like this movie? Why didn’t I start this tradition before he died? How can I do this with out James? Would James like the snow? What would James be doing right now?  Sometimes it feels cold, calloused and hypocritical to participate in some things and I have to force myself to move forward.  Watching John and Darbie play seems to emphasize the absence of James.  Darbie was his BEST friend and he was SO desperate for a brother to play with. Sometimes I feel cheated FOR James that he didn’t get to play with John.  I know it sounds silly, but serving meals remains one of the toughest parts of my day. In the beginning I couldn’t do it at all. Before James died I would count out exactly how many plates and forks were needed for the meal and keep serving until I ran out of plates. At first I couldn’t even try to grab plates. Counting them just seemed to slap me in the face that one was missing. For a couple weeks I would make him a plate before I even realized what I was doing. Now, I grab a big stack of plates and forks and I stop serving when the kids tell me I’ve made enough plates. I still don’t even want to think about it. Recently my toddler went for her first over night visit with her grandmother.  I made her a plate before I realized she wasn’t here. I broke down. In the night when I got up with the baby I happened to pass by her room and looked in to check on her like I always do but she wasn’t there. I broke down. The void felt too familiar. I tried to remind myself it wasn’t the same type of void and she would be back but it only offered a small bit of comfort. She’s gone for sleepovers with grandma again since then and it has been perfectly fine.  It was just a stage of grief I had to get through. So when I say that absolutely every fiber of your being is saturated with the constant void left by your loved one maybe you have inkling now what I mean. If there’s someone you know that is grieving be brave enough to reach out to them and let them know they are on your mind.  One of the sweetest friendships in my life today began with a polite hug and three precious words, “I haven’t forgotten.”

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Photo Credit: Meshele Tomplait

Before I get started on detailing anything specific about how we approach our home schooling, let me give you a little bit of background. You’ve gotta know where you’re coming from to know what road you’re on!

My husband and I were both raised as only children although we each have half-siblings that are in our lives. Somehow we ended up with five children so far in life (ya never know what God has in store!) and at times wonder if we’ve lost our minds! In the beginning I always intended for my children to attend public school and the oldest one did until around midway through her first grade year.  I hated the whole concept of what they called education. Anytime I stopped by the class was always in disarray and the children were eating something sugary. At the time we were only just glimpsing the horizon of organic foods and nutrition in general so my anger over the sugary snacks didn’t stem from that teaching. I couldn’t understand why this teacher was always complaining about an unruly classroom when she was practically force feeding them candy all day! After repeated attempts to make the teacher understand my point of view and my words falling on deaf ears my rebellious nature took control! I decided I could do this bad by myself and with all the available curriculum out there these days there was no reason why I had to play by anyone else’s rules! Of course, this was just a means to an end and God had a bigger plan.

I began to see my children differently. No longer were they a task that needed completion before 9:00pm. They WERE the thing I got to do all day now! It was my rules! My schedule! My way! It appealed to the only child in me.  To make a long story short, God used this time to nurture my heart right a long with them. I began to understand a bit deeper how the love of God works on a very intimate level. I think this is what the Bible means about children being our reward.

My children have already taught me at least as much as I have taught them. Each day I look for the lessons God would show me as the Potter molds his vessel and makes me an example to my children. An example to show that we never arrive at all God wants us to be but we must be willing to be constantly changed; being molded and shaped by the Potter’s Hands.

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Eighteen Months Later

It’s the day before the eighteen month milestone following the accident of my forever five year old son, James.  Everyone thinks they can ‘imagine’ what it would be like to lose a child but I can promise you that reality always takes on a foreign form.  In my mind I was sure I would shrivel up and wither away if I lost any of my children. I was so sure I would simply stop existing. I would be lying if I said I didn’t FEEL those things and even beg God for them but no matter how much I wanted it to happen it wasn’t going to.  Fortunately, God was able to show me fairly early on that I had a choice to make: I could either force myself to die or force myself to live. Either way, I had to choose it.  In God’s perfect timing, at the time of the accident I found myself 13 weeks pregnant with a child I wasn’t planning to conceive so soon after giving birth to my then nine month old. It wasn’t fair to this child to harm myself and him in the process. It also wasn’t fair to my four living children, the oldest of which would be nine years old just two weeks after her little brother drowned. My love for one child couldn’t surpass my love for them all. Besides, these were going to need me a lot more than James would now.  Do you have any idea how much guilt comes along with that decision in a grieving mother’s heart?  That was just one of many guilt ridden hurdles I would have to face in my journey. Guilt has become the new constant in my life, as I’m sure any grieving mother can understand.  The ‘shoulda, coulda, coulda, why-didn’t-I, If-only, what-if’ barrage of heavy artillery is enough to mutilate the strongest of mental armor. This is why it is imperative that you remind yourself, minute by minute sometimes, what God’s word says about your situation. In this case, God‘s word promises me that we are eternal beings, promised eternal life and having a temporary Earth experience.  We don’t grieve as the world does that has ‘no hope’ for an eternal future with their loved ones who have passed.  We’re promised that one day we will be together again. After that? Who knows? That’s a new topic entirely but at least we can be comforted by the fact that there is, in fact, an ‘after that’.  In the meantime, eighteen months later, I find that I still have to remind myself daily, even minute to minute some days, that there IS hope for the future and a powerful force of forgiveness, mercy, grace and love that is more than able to fend off whatever army of guilt Satan throws your way – if you’re brave enough to surrender to it.

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