Who says?

I tend to set really high goals for myself and others around me. When I start to feel stressed or out of control, I have the tendency to try to find a better “system” to get it all done. I feel the urge to organize better so that I can be more in control of the chaos around me. I want to be able to do it all, and do it really well. But who says I have to?

I’ve got a couple of favorite blogs I read on a fairly regular basis. They’re written by some really great ladies who have bigger families than I do and they have a pretty similar world view to what we have. I enjoy them and a lot of times they give me some great stuff to ponder and implement in my family. Recently on a blog post an author included her weekly family meal menu and shopping list. I thought I’d take a gander and see what other people plan and eat. (I love food you know). Here is what she feeds her family for breakfast, lunch and dinner…
Eggs & Sausage
Baked Oatmeal
Cocoa & Toast or Cereal
Oven Pancake & Fruit
Sandwiches & Chips
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Taco Salad
Spaghetti & Corn
Hot Dogs & Cheese Slices
Hamburgers & Chips
Quiche & Peas
Chili & Corn Bread or Cinnamon Rolls
Homemade or Frozen Pizza & Salad
Crock Pot Roast & Potatoes & Green Beans
Fajitas & Rice
Potato Soup & Breadsticks
Sloppy Joes & Chips
I read this list and started to feel guilty. My kids get a choice for breakfast…cold cereal, instant oatmeal, toast, or if we have pumpkin or banana bread they can have that. Occasionally they can have Oreos. For lunch it’s left overs, PB&J or something else equally as easy. Dinner I usually cook a decent dinner. But seriously. I started to feel like I was failing my kids. I don’t give them a hot breakfast every morning and I certainly don’t make pancakes or eggs and sausage. I don’t whip up a fancy lunch either. What if I’m failing their little minds and their tummies by feeding them what’s easy and doable?
But then I got a bit of a reality check. Who says I have to make a fancy breakfast or lunch to be a good mom? Who says that my kids will only thrive if I spend my days in the kitchen instead of playing with them or helping them learn in school? Who says I have to do what other moms (who apparently have way more time, energy or help than I do) do? It’s self imposed really. There are times when I have to tell myself “who says”.
I mean, even in the Bible when it talks about women being keepers of the home, it doesn’t say “thou shalt not have dirty floors” or “thou shalt makest thy children gourmet meals”. Although that whole Proverbs 31 woman sounds pretty stellar. Although when you break it down, the woman in Proverbs 31 boils down to this…she’s trustworthy and her husband is okay with her running the household (v 10, 11), she’s frugal (v 13), she feeds her family (v 15), she thinks ahead (v 21), she helps the poor (v 20), she exercises (v 17), she is diligent in her work and brings in money (v 24), she’s wise and kind (v 26), and she’s not lazy (v 27). The other things…hot breakfasts, spotless houses, perfect children in matching clothes (I don’t do this by the way) and floors so clean you can eat off of…that’s all self imposed. It’s this imaginary standard that we all try to live up to, but we never make. My house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy. My kids don’t get fancy breakfasts or lunch, but they’re not hungry and they seem to grow just fine.
So who says it has to look like “Leave it to Beaver”? Who says that anything other than what we’re doing now is better?
I should say this…if you’re one of those moms who CAN do it all and make your kids these really fantastic meals and keeps your house spotless…more power to you! Nothing wrong with that, but know that when you come to visit my house…you may need to lower your expectations just a bit.

Just one more bite

So it’s that time of year again when I’m going through our menu list and taking out stuff we don’t like anymore, are tired of, or that we just didn’t eat and I’m replace them with new meals for our meal rotation. I plan our meals on a 2 week rotation and *try* to buy groceries once every two weeks. There is still the occasional trip to the store to stock up on milk, bread or pick up sale items.

I have to say I’m kind of excited. I really like to read cookbooks. I like to scour them for recipes that I think my family would enjoy, I like to see what other people cook. Sometimes I read the recipes and I think there is no way anyone has ever made this. And if they did…they had way too much time on their hands.
One of my favorite things to do is to look at cookbooks from various parts of the US and see how the “tastes” change. For example, I have a cookbook from the “United Methodist Ladies in South Texas”. It seems like every other recipe calls for green chilies or corn bread. The one I have from Pennsylvania doesn’t have a single mention of green chilies OR corn bread. I have a new Pueblo West Women’s League cookbook that I’m really liking. Again…green chilies, but we have lots of Italian folks around here so there are some pretty great pasta recipes too. The funny thing about this cookbook is that there are a lot of recipes for alcoholic beverages. Something you’d never find in my Mennonite cookbooks from Kansas. But you’d never find a recipe called “head cheese” in the PWWL cookbook either. 😉
One of my favorite cookbooks is the one my grandma gave me when I was 9. It’s one that is blank. She started it with the recipes we cooked that summer…butterscotch pie, cream puffs and coffee cake. I filled in other family favorites and as I got older added some of our family favorites. I can flip through it and remember where I was when those recipes were introduced to our family. I have peanut butter popcorn from when I lived in Manhattan with my future sister in law and we read a recipe calling for 8 cups popcorn as 8 cups UNPOPPED popcorn. We had to do something with it. I have a recipe for chocolate covered bonbons that I got when I was in highschool and made treats for the football team on Fridays. I have a recipe for “The Swap Bark” that I made when we first started homeschooling. We also have a recipe for “Due date soup” that Kerry and I made up when I was very pregnant with Zeke.
So the menu revision isn’t just about coming up with something new for our family, but also about remembering where we’ve been.

I got nothing

I don’t know if it’s because I have a cold (the one everyone else in my family is getting over and the one that I’m just getting) or if it’s because I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head, but I got nothing.

I have been trying to write a blog post for 2 days. I know that I have a couple more posts in my “Leave and Cleave” series, but I can’t make sense for anything. I have things in my brain that are begging to be written, but when I start they hide in the deep dark corners and don’t come back until 3am. I really should have a little notebook to write down my thoughts at that time of the night, but to be honest the thought of actually sitting up in my freezing cold bedroom, using my cell phone for a light so I can see to write and then trying to fall back asleep, just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m pretty sure that if I tried it, I would be awake for hours thinking of all the stuff I need to get done the next day.
I want to write about my family and the things we’re learning together. I want to write something profound and thought provoking. I want to write something that will inspire. But, for now, I got nothing.

Feel the vibe

I’m going to post something intensely personal and open myself up wide to critique and injury. But it’s been rattling around in my brain today and I just gotta put it out there.

I grew up fearing failure. So much hinged on being able to perform well and please those around me. There were times that I felt my very acceptance into humanity depending on if I could act right, say the right things and “fit in”. I spent hours in grade school learning and mimicking the behaviors of those around me. I would study the girls around me in line waiting to go to lunch. I’d watch how they stood, how they talked and how they held their hands when they spoke. I desperately wanted to be a part and not be the “outsider”. I went to school in a very small community and “belonging” was very important. If you didn’t belong…it followed you forever. I never felt like I belonged there and still don’t. But I’ve learned that’s okay.
At home I mastered the art of doing what I was told and trying to limit the “waves” that rocked the boat. I should clarify that my parents weren’t horrible monsters, but they set the bar high and I felt the need to hit the mark. Hitting that mark often determined if I was allowed the privilege to attend a ball game or go on a date.
When I married my husband I had become a really good rule follower and really good “people pleaser”. Tell me what to do, tell me what you expected of me and I would follow your instructions to a T. In fact, I think that my ability to fit in to most situations is because of my ability to “read” people and mimic what I see and hear. I have learned to “fit in” so that I don’t look out of place or like a failure. Growing up I felt that my acceptance, love and inclusion was very conditional and based on my “performance”.
have spent a good portion of our marriage learning to be comfortable in my skin and learning what it’s like to be unconditionally loved. It was and is a difficult concept for me to understand sometimes. I still have trouble grasping how someone can genuinely still like me when I mess up or say something ridiculous. I mean, I know that I unconditionally love and care for those around me, but I have a hard time feeling that in return.
I think that my difficulty in understanding unconditional love stunted my growth in God and has stunted many relationships. It took me a while to trust Kerry to know that he would really love me if I messed up. It has taken me even longer to believe that I have friends who will still like me if I am less than perfect. I stress when I’m put in a position where I feel less than adequate, because of my huge fear of failure and judgement.
My fear has been magnified lately, mostly to myself, in church. I have been playing drums each week for our worship team. I played drums in high school and was comfortable with that. It’s a lot easier to play drums when you have a huge pep band behind you. But when you’re playing in a smaller group, in church, in front of people you know…it’s a whole different ball game. But here’s the thing…I’m surrounded by people who genuinely care for me. They don’t judge me based on my drumming, but I’m still fearful. I have been concentrating so much each week on keeping a steady beat (because I don’t want to be responsible for throwing the song off and “ruining” the moment for someone) that I have forgotten to let the Spirit lead me. I have forgotten that this is WORSHIP. It’s not a “don’t look stupid”, but it’s a GLORIFY GOD time.
Today our worship leader (who happens to be about 5 years younger than I), told me to “feel the vibe” to just work from the “spirit of things and worry about mechanics later”. He said “I don’t care if you mess up…” Whoa! You don’t know how freeing that was for me to hear. I didn’t rock it out during the worship set, but knowing that I was free to make a mistake without feeling like there was a penalty was fantastic. I mean seriously…that little bit of permission felt like it broke a dam. And I have to tell you…it’s not like our worship leader it this big music dictator. But I have been so paralyzed by fear of a mistake and failure that it has prevented me from being able to worship, or even enjoy playing.
I am so thankful that God can use me in my weakness. I am so thankful that he loves me even though I’m imperfect and that I don’t have to do anything to “earn” his forgiveness. I feel very blessed to have a husband to loves me regardless of my imperfections. And I’m learning that I have friends who really do accept me and aren’t going to put me in friend “time out” if I screw up the beat in worship on Sunday morning.
It’s a hard lesson to learn and it’s hard to trust. But lately I’ve been reminding myself that God’s power is perfected in weakness. That is so reassuring! So I encourage you to “feel the vibe” and embrace all you are in Christ. Be thankful that God will use your weakness to show His power.

2 Corinthians 12:9

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.