Recently, my mom and three of my sisters came for a visit. We had a good time together, and Mom basically spoiled me and my family rotten! That was fun!

We have a bird feeder on our porch. It’s a nice big globe designed to keep the squirrels out of the bird food, which belongs in the slender shaft in the middle of the feeder. This way, the birds should be able to go in and out of the globe and get to the food, but hopefully just the birds can get to it. At least, that’s the idea.

My mom saw our feeder hanging there, but there was no food in it (I must have had “good intentions” on getting to that project for over a year!).  Mom is much better at getting a thing done. She’s the type that makes lists and checks things off. When she saw the feeder, she really liked it and didn’t know if we just had it around with no interest in it, or if we were going to use it.

“I like that feeder,” she said, “And I can buy it off of you if you don’t want it.”

We did want it, but really didn’t have the money in the present budget to fill it (times have been tough for us lately). So, Mom offered instead to buy us suet ingredients and fill it up for us! We were very excited about that. She and I went to the store, so she could purchase the following: peanut butter, shortening, and bird seed.

That evening, we left our baby boy with Mom and my little sisters while my husband and I went on a date. By the time we got back, the suet was made and the feeder was filled. All we had to do was to wait for the birds to come to it.

“They say it takes a week for the birds to find it,” Mom said.

The next day, the squirrels were going crazy! Two squirrels --- no, three! The week ahead ended up being a torture to the squirrels as they tried every which way to get at the suet, only to get little-to-none!

Finally, just as Mom suspected, little birds arrived the scene 6 or 7 days later.

What a very nice gift for a grandmother to give! My little boy notices critters outside and now we can expect education and entertainment to come right to us from the comfort of home, and that without the use of a TV!

Sweet! What a “Tweet”!

Just last month, I celebrated my birthday (and though I am not ashamed of my age, I won’t tell you how old I am, because I guess it’s no longer fashionable to tell).

So as I celebrated my [age unknown] birthday, I was graced with a visit from my mom and three of my sisters. It was really quite a treat, for many reasons. Among them is the fact that I now live very far from where I grew up, so that I no longer get to see my mom and siblings as often as I used to see them.

The night they arrived, Mom suggested we order pizza – her treat. This was really great, because my husband and I have had a tough year financially, so we simply don’t take such gift for granted! Well, when Mom and I went to order/pick up pizza, my sweet mother’s generosity revealed itself like crazy! We came home with two favorite pizzas: a supreme thick-crust meat pizza and a bacon chicken ranch pizza (my hubby's favorite), a calzone, wings, two large salads, garlic knots … am I missing anything? She figured we’d enjoy it tonight and then it would be there to eat for future meals! She was right! And it was fun.

Then the next afternoon, I had the privilege of sharing a part of Pennsylvania with her. I took her (from my place in the passenger seat) to a gift-shop-and-nursery that I like a lot and I thought she would like. I was right! And it was fun.

“Why don’t you choose something here as a birthday gift, Shawna?” Mom said. Mom already brought me gifts in a basket that she wrapped so beautifully, along with some money, and of course, just coming to hang out was a huge enough gift to me! I felt very blessed already, but I was happy to comply. I simply felt more blessed now.

As we wandered this lovely nursery/shop, we came across a live bee box that was IN THE STORE! (I think the bees have a tube that goes in and out of the building…it was totally cool!). All around the interesting display of live bees, were honey products. I chose an expensive lotion called “The Naked Bee” scented “Orange Blossom Honey”.

(Side note: Now when people smell it on me, the comments are interesting…for example, “Something smells like Pez candy.”)

We continued to look around and really enjoyed the place: Mom, me, my toddler son, and my three youngest sisters. Then Mom and I admired the unique natural peanut butter. “Get it,” Mom said, and she bought that for me too (it was honey roasted peanuts flavor). It wasn’t cheap, but it was delicious!

On our way home, we stopped at a store to get ingredients for suet (I’ll tell you more about that in another blog post).

Finally, we pulled up in my driveway, and Mom pulled out a jar of “Honey in the Rough” and gave it to me! Yep, she bought that too, at that special shop.

That night, Mom and my sisters watched our toddler, while my husband and I dressed up and went out to dinner. We had a good time.

And that is the story of a happy birthday this year! Thanks, everyone who made it special, especially my Mom. I love you!

My life as a mom continues to develop as my baby develops!  It's great fun to see my little one growing up. I feel like he is a baby and a little boy all-at-the-same-time.  I love him so much, and I always hope that he will think I am a good mama when he grows up old enough, hopefully, to think about it. A mother's love is a beautiful thing.

It's a beautiful thing to watch a father's love too.  As I watch my husband enjoying his son, and having fun father-son times of listening to music together or hanging out in daddy's office while daddy works, etc., my heart is blessed!

Not every child has a mom and a dad that are near. Not every parent gets to raise their child to adulthood. Let's not take these moments for granted!  My own father died very young which only goes to show that we don't know what the next moment may hold.  Let's hold our children closer. They are gifts to be treasured above the "stuff" that we strive to acquire. Enjoy your children every moment you can.

"It's a beautiful thing to watch a father's love ..."

Does having people over to your home scare you or seem impossible do to because "the house is never right"?  Or you're "not confident in cooking"?  Or you "don't have fancy dishes", etc.?  Here's exactly what you need to lighten up!

There are a few simple key things to hospitality, that make it true, easy, and fun!  

1. Always be ready and keep it simple.  I always keep certain things in handy places (salt, pepper, napkins, etc. etc.) in order to make eating an easy and fun event whether it's just me and my hubby, or a big crowd of people.

2. Keep a clean house daily, but don't strive for perfect.  Everyone feels comfortable in a clean house, but few-to-none feel comfortable in a "perfect" house (where it feels like they can mess something up when they visit you --- no one can truly relax that way).

Three:  When a guest arrives, ALWAYS make it about them and their comfort, NOT about you or your house.  In other words, don't start unnecessarily apologizing because there are dishes in the sink, for example --- instead, give your guest a drink and ask them how THEY are doing.  While it is nice to keep the sink dish-free as much as possible, your guests are not so worried about whether or not you've caught up on your dishes (especially when you are taking genuine interest in talking with them and serving them).

4 (four): When time permits, it's fun to fancy it up a bit and set the table nicely, depending on the number of guests you have.  However, if making everything really nice before guests come is stressing you and your family out, it's really not worth getting fancy.  In that case, definitely return to keeping it simple!

hos·pi·tal·i·ty (noun)
1. Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests.
2. An instance of cordial and generous treatment of guests.

Here is a poem, which was quoted by Elisabeth Elliot, many years ago
(and coincides with yesterday's blog entry) :

Do The Next Thing

"At an old English parsonage down by the sea, 
there came in the twilight a message to me. 
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven 
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven. 
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'

Many a questioning, many a fear, 
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven, 
time, opportunity, guidance are given. 
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King, 
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer, 
do it reliantly, casting all care. 
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand, 
who placed it before thee with earnest command. 
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing, 
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener, 
working or suffering be thy demeanor, 
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm, 
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm. 
Do the next thing."

Years ago, when I was an almost grown girl or a younger woman (however one may look at it), I enjoyed listening to Elisabeth Elliot on a short daily broadcast.  This woman is one of the most amazing, sacrificial women I have met in my life!  (I did once meet her when she spoke at a church in my hometown, when I was standing in the book-signing line).  Her stories are book material and movie material, and that is exactly what happened to them!  

Of all the things that she has shared, the simple phrase from her that has stuck the most with me through the years, is her advice to "do the next thing".  I hope you will be as blessed today to hear this, as I have been!  She told us, on the radio, to "do the next thing".  That means, don't get caught up with the worry and concern of the ten or twenty things that are on your list, and causing you to not really get one thing done well.  

So, there are dishes in the sink, laundry to do, a friend is calling, the kids are hungry for breakfast, baby has a dirty diaper, your husband needs you to contact so-in-so sometime this morning for a work-related question, the bathroom towel rod fell of the wall yesterday and still needs to be repaired... come on, you certainly can't do all that at once!  But do the next thing!  Prioritize.  Change the diaper.  Feed the children.  Wash the dishes (or load the dishwasher). Clean the children's faces and send them to their bedrooms to play while you make the phone call for your hubby.  Etc. etc. You get the idea!  Interruptions may come, but that's to be expected --- that might even be the next thing in that moment.  By the end of the day, you just might have a list --- short or long --- that was accomplished.  Now you can thank God for this, and you will be a more contented woman!  A major key here is:  don't be upset about what didn't get done yet.  Be thankful for what did get done.

Now that your computer break is over, do the next thing.  (P.S.  That doesn't mean "check facebook")  :)

Recently, I was looking over an old blog of mine.  I came across one pertaining to motherhood that I thought some of you mothers would enjoy.  Before you read it, I want to put out a disclaimer:  I understand that there are some special exceptions to the topic I addressed in my blog that day, but I don't apologize for believing what I believe is best for the majority.  As background, this was about five years ago when I was single and running my own housecleaning business.  Today, I'm a wife and mommy at last!  

 Sunday, June 08, 2008

Yesterday, I was at work and I heard the lady on the television praise Hillary Clinton for trying to be the President.  This women said, basically, that Hillary was an inspiration to other women/girls to know that it's possible that they could be President someday.


"BOO!"  I said, directing my opinion towards TV room where my customers sat.  I continued with something like, "Little girls want to grow up to be wives and mommies!  Don't they know how feminist have ruined things for my generation?!  Has anyone said that yet?"

"No," my customer answered understanding me and sympathizing. 

So, I want to know:  Who wants to do things God's way?  Any girls out there want to be a good wife and have a good marriage?  The Bible will give us instruction as to how... plus the Truth that God put in our hearts.  It's the Truth that we long to care for our families, be an emotional support to a husband, be a mom, be a good friend.  We need to be women!  Let's not try to be men.  And the men will enjoy us much better this way, plus we won't give them an identity crisis.  Let them do their job and we will do ours.  It fits.  It's good.  It's fun.  I can hardly wait! 

But Feminists caused us to shoot ourselves in the foot.  Now many expect women to leave their children daily so that they can work, and many think that two parents have to work to pay the bills (probably because they got used to it---it's not worth that extra money (whether great or small) to abandon the children everyday, letting someone else raise them).  Besides, I'm sure that all this unnecessary pressure and guilt for leaving the children each day is unhealthy.  And does the wife have any energy or cheerfulness to give to her husband at the end of the day?  I'm sure this lifestyle isn't healthy for marriages either. 

So, no-thank-you, lady on the TV.  Little girls want to grow up to be wives and mommies, most often---not to be Presidents. 

The other day, my husband came home from a meeting with someone.  The person he met up with needed marriage counselling --- something my husband is willing to do to be helpful, but finds it the toughest kind of work to do.  He came in looking very solemn and he said, "If I haven't ever told you how much I appreciate you... I don't know where I would be without you and [our son] in my life."  It led to a sweet time of us both expressing our love and appreciation for each other.  I don't want my readers to misunderstand --- like you, we aren't lovey-dovey everyday --- we have tough days too.  But this moment, along with other sweet moments was well-worth the mention and treasuring, as we reflected on God's gift to us of each other.  In fact, God gifted us with something good, in spite of ourselves!  I dare say, I don't deserve to have the wonderful man that I have, but God is good.


You may be wondering what this has to do with my blog on motherhood.  It's simple.  Love your husband.  Love him for his sake, for your sake, for God's sake (no, really) and for your children's sake.  Not only is it good for you and your hubby to choose to love each day and to forgive each other for each other's sake, but it's good for your children to have a mom and dad that love one another.  This world is so full of brokenness, let's not add to the mess.