Monday, September 19, 2011

A time of weaning: The end of a journey, the beginning of another one.

I sat staring at the blank blog page for a few moments, wondering where to even begin.  There is much more emotion surrounding this time than I even imagined.  I had wondered what it would be like, what I would feel, what Aaron would feel, do, say.

Weaning.  There were days that I thought the moment would never arrive.  Then there were days I wish I could have stopped time because I felt like we were on a journey where we had been hurdled through space and time and light speed.  I wanted to stop it, stop time and breath in the moments, trying to imprint the memories so deeply in my mind that it would always remain crystal clear.

Though this time can be quite intimate, I also want to share it publicly for many reasons.  First, because it is a tremendous thank you of gratitude to some very strong women who saw me through from dream, to reality, to sustaining.  Beth, Anna, Jennifer, Dagmar, Solimar, Aisha, Rikki and Nicole!  Women who lifted me up and guided me when I listened to my instincts on childrearing and turned to them for support.

Having failed due to my own lack of education and trying with David to breastfeed:  I learned so much between his birth and Aaron's.  I was determined, come hell or high water to make it work.  To trust my body, to know I was created to sustain life.  And though the beginning months were rough with Aaron and our nursing relationship, I persevered.  There were phone calls mixed with tears to my friends as I sought advice, comfort and knowledge.  There conversations of happiness and thankfulness and I succeeded and made it through the stormy beginning.  And there was support when I journeyed into uncharted waters. 

Extended breastfeeding.  I knew instantly and instinctively I would nurse Aaron until he self weaned.  I didn't know when that would be or how it would happen, but I knew I wanted to do it.  Despite it not being a 'popular option' in the Westernized world, despite the murmurs, the rolling eyes, the "are you STILL nursing?" questions, despite being told it was "just wrong to nurse a 2 year old"....I forged ahead, knowing I was sustaining Aaron and providing with nutrients that changed daily, monthly, yearly with his needs, and providing immunity and antibodies for a healthy immune system.  

And most of all, I'm publicly blogging about this so I can encourage other mothers who want to nurse, who are nursing and who are in "under cover" extended nursing relationships.  I want them to know that they are not alone and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed. 

On Sunday evening, September 7th, 2011 I was cutting the boys hair.  It was Aaron's turn and he sat in the chair like the big boy he is :)  Suddenly he said "Mama, I'm not going to nurse anymore." 

I stopped cutting his hair and asked what he had said because I didn't think I heard right.  But I did.  For a moment I just stood there and then sadness came over me, and then the thought, "well let me wait and see."

A week went by without him nursing or asking.  I was stunned, happy AND sad.  Then one early morning he asked.  I said "how about just cuddling in my arms?"  If he put up a fight I would nurse I told myself, if he didn't then the weaning continued.  He said "Okay, I'm a big boy."  Then a few days went by and he asked again, and the same thing happened.  He's only asked one other time since with the same response. 

I debated a long time, and still do sometimes to continue weaning or just nurse.  After all I said I'd let him do it ALL on his own.  I don't have clear emotions on it, but know that it's time.  And he's doing so well.  Though I'm incredibly sad that this is our last child and I won't nurse another, I tell myself that he had 3 amazing years! 

I never would have imagined at the start of my motherhood journey back in 2006 that I would have done many of things I did.  The family bed, baby wearing, cloth diapering, gentle direction, extended nursing...were things that I hadn't thought about in some areas and was totally against in other areas.  Funny how the heart changes and instincts kick in when that helpless newborn human being is placed in your arms! 

What an amazing journey it's been and now I'm once again heading into uncharted waters in these parenting travels.  I snapped this picture in my yard.  It just hit me one day as I was thinking about all of this, how my children and I are like this picture.  A firmly rooted foundation and a new 'life' springing forth, being sustained, nourished and loved, just as it should be :)

I also know, that in learning this and continuing on the new journey that I'm still not alone! :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unconditonal Parenting

More often than not the path as a parent that I want to take becomes so entangled that I lose sight of how I really want to connect with my sons.  I tend to find more peace and be in-tune with them when I'm calm, understanding and willing to step out of my own comfort zone and lose what "society" tells me I should do.

One way I have begun this journey is by watching Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting DVD.  I've know WHAT I wanted to do since my boys were born.  But DOING it in day to day life can be  quite another thing.

This past week I REALLY resolved to jump on and begun consciously parenting and being the parent I know my boys need.  And with good results and peace in my own soul!

Below are the 10 basic principles of Unconditional Parenting.  Though this is just a glimpse, I highly encourage you to read the book or watch the DVD for full understanding!  Also after the 10 principles I'll add some You Tube clips/excerpts from Alfie Kohn's lecture!

Consider your Requests -
Maybe it is in what/how you have requested that the child is not responding favorably Maybe you need to re-think what you are doing. Are you sure you want to trick the kid to get her to do what you want?

Put the Relationship First -

Being right isn't necessarily what matters; it matters very little if your children stiffen when you walk into the room; what matters is the connection, the alliance, mutual respect. From a practical perspective, the relationship counts, where the child feels safe enough to explain why she did something wrong; when you put your foot down, is it worth any potential injury to the relationship?

The Love has to be Unconditional -

Love withdrawl is conditional love; when it does work, the price you are paying is too high - it says, "You have to earn my love." You go away from me or I go away from you - banishment. Kids need love that never stops coming; affection that does not have to be earned. "No matter what you do, I will never stop loving you." Stop that which gives the opposite message - positive reinforcement when they are good. Items are a display of love or a tool to control - you cannot have it both ways. When we praise them for making our lives easy, they look for that. More praise, the more insecure they become, the more dependent they become on our approval. They have to know they are loved even when they screw up or fall short. They need to know they are loved for who they are, not what they do. Time out is okay when the child decides and the time is something that helps the child center - something fun, diverting.

Imagine how kids see Things -

Look at the world from their point of view! The more you do that, the better a parent you tend to be. When I say, "X", how does she feel? Imagine how your friends (or relatives) seem to your child. From a young child's point of view, we're interfering with what looks fun.

Be Authentic -

Do not forget your humanity. Don't pretend to be more competent than you are, apologize to your child every so often ~ you'll find a reason.

Talk less, Ask more -

Listen, respond, elicit, imagine her perspective-makes you a better partner, too - manager, colleague - What is your perspective? Good parenting includes listening.

Assume the Best ~

A tribute to Children: the best possible motive consistent with the facts. Why assume the child was trying to make you unhappy? Children of a certain age cannot understand promises, sitting still for a long family dinner. Don't assume the worst. We do not always know why kids do things. Kids live down to our negative expectations. Assume the best.

Try to say Yes, when you can -

Do not say No constantly. Sometimes you have to say No. Kids don't get better at coping with unhappiness when they were made unhappy deliberately when they were young. If you say Yes twice as often as you do now, they will still get plenty of opportunities with frustration. Pick your battles. This is not to say Yes out of laziness. Provide guidance, support. Mindful parenting. Say Yes as often as you can.

Don't be Rigid -

Wave the rules. Be flexible. Respond differently to different children and situations, understanding the context. Predictability is good, but don't make a fetish of it. United front is dishonest - more useful for kids to see we disagree and can talk it out.

Let kids decided whenever possible -
Support their autonomy, bring them in on the decision making. Children will feel better about themselves. The way kids make good decisions is by making decisions. Let them decide unless there is a compelling reason not to.

And some clips! 

Not looking back!

As I stooped to pick up a load of laundry, I gazed around my house at the utter mess.  Yes, I said it.  Utter mess!  A sink full of dirty dishes, several laundry piles, toys scattered in the bathroom, the living room, the boys room, our room and the kitchen.  A bowel of goldfish sat on the toy shelf, pretty sure the bathroom needs a good scrubbing, beds unmade...and laughter.  The sound of two little boys building towers and houses with legos as they laughed and pretended they were blasting off to the moon to visit Martian Mickey Mouse.

Messes tend to irritate me.  Just ask my husband.  I suddenly become Mr. Hyde and vow to throw away anything in my path!  But today the first thought that popped into my mind without even thinking was ... "I wouldn't trade this for anything.  I can barely remember life before this life, nor do I really want too."

That's right!  Sure life was fun, we had more money before children.  I did a lot more, ran around a lot more but in the end none of it is as important as my life with my husband and my sons.  I don't long for the days of singleness, I don't miss that "freedom".  I have all I need when I see their smiles, hear there laughter and wipe their tears.  

I still of course have my time with husband, have my time with my girlfriends...but honestly today is the kind of day I prefer more than anything.  A lazy day at home with my family!  No where to be, nothing "important" to do.  Just a time to reveal in the warmth and strength of the love of my family.  

There's no need to look back, there's not need to fret about the future.  I have all I need right here!  

A typical day in our life!  If you drop by, this is what you'll find!  A mess!  A beautiful, blessed mess and lots of fun and play!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cast iron cinnamon rolls! [And muffins too!]

I have been having a grand time finding, making enjoying cast iron recipes!  Because a few people asked, I thought I'd share these [somewhat] healthier versions of old favorites!  


2.5 cups whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon 
3.5 oz melted butter
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk

-Whisk yolks, butter, milk
-Combined in dry ingredients 
-Mix until dough is soft
-Turn/knead on lightly floured surface
-Roll out to a 12x10 rectangle [cutting off uneven edges] 

1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp sugar [raw sugar worked beautifully!]
1 tbsp melted butter

-Mix all filling ingredients until blended
-spread evenly over dough
-I found that almost making a double batch of the filling works better to spread
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbs milk

-Stir milk, 1 tbsp at a time, into powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached
-I also found that this glaze is *okay* for a quick one.  But a cream cheese glaze/icing would be better.  So use what you like.

--After spreading filling onto dough, roll up [jelly roll style] and cut into 3/4-1 inch slices.  
--lay cinnamon rolls [sides touching] into an oil/seasoned cast iron skillet [or baking dish ;)]
--Bake on 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until done.
--Drizzle icing over hot rolls, eat!

[Not in cast iron, because I don't don't have a cast iron muffin pan yet.]

2.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey or raw sugar [I love raw sugar and think it does beautifully!  But any sugar will work]
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil or applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips, nuts or choice or filling.  Can be fully omitted.

Whisk all wet ingredients.
Combined in dry ingredients.
Dough will be thick.
Mix well.
Add in raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips.

--Spoon into greased muffin pan, about 2/3 full in each cup.
--Sprinkle top with some raw sugar and cinnamon.
--Bake on 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until done.   



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bittersweet milestones: Finding me again!

Bittersweet.  That's the only term that fits it best.  Watching David and Aaron's milestones come and go as the months and years go by.  Bittersweet as the my family journey's through this thing called life, wishing many moments would last years.

Today is a bittersweet a day, a finality as a milestone has come and now gone.  For our family, early one, we did the family bed.  It worked well for us and brought about an amazing bond.  Amidst criticism and snide remarks like we were spoiling them, creating bad habits, letting them control us, not being "parent-directed" and creating dependency that would surely never end.  

For the past 4 years we have 1 then 2 then back to 1 little one in our bed.  We did the side car crib method to create more room and it was fantastic!  It kept them close, which made nursing a breeze, yet gave them and us the space we needed.

For the past 4 years I had forgotten what it was like not to have a wee one with us.  Around 2.5 years old David slowly began transitioning.  We said we'd let them do it on their own, at their own pace to ease any fears or doubts they may have.  And to continue to foster that trust with them that we had already built up.  A little over David's 3rd birthday he was mainly sleeping in his own room in his own bed.  He would come back to our bed in the middle of the night for a while.  And then by age 3.5 he was completely in his room.  

We have followed the same path with Aaron.  About 2 months ago he became interested in David's bed, wanting to take naps there and then one night falling asleep there.  We decided to see how he would do.  I said if I heard him cry I would go to him and bring him back to us.  No crying, but I was awakened by padding of little feet then a warm cuddly body.  I looked at the clock, nearly 3am.  He'd gone about 7 hours by himself.  The next night the same thing, and the one after that, and the one after that.  After about two weeks, he was fully sleeping through the night in his own space.  It was time to put up his bed too!  

So now we have a cramped boys room with 2 twin beds , and 2 happy boys who love spreading out all over the place!  Sure they still occasionally come to us, mainly when they're sick or have had a bad dream.  But for the most part, they both have made a giant leap into childhood!

And for the first time in 4.5 years we all are sleeping through the night.  Something I never really worried about anyway, and now it seems so surreal that it's here.  

And now a bittersweet milestone for me today.  Making it truly final, we disassembled our side car crib and have no more 'baby beds' in our room.  I worked this afternoon bringing back a touch of "femininity" to our room.  A lace curtain, a bookshelf with decorative books, pictures and jewelry boxes...a nice lamp.  [My mom was the wonderful one who gave me these things this morning!  She's moving and let come to pick whatever I wanted from her home.]  A fitting moment, "shopping" just for me!  To make our room "adult" again. [Although Eric probably won't be thrilled with the French lace curtain ;) ]

The funny thing is I hadn't really missed that, knew it would happen again one day.  And truly as I look back, these last 4.5 years have flown by.  I'm actually reminded of a passage from scripture:

1 Samuel 1:20-23
20 Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, "I asked God for him." 
21 When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow,  
22 Hannah didn't go. She told her husband, "After the child is weaned, I'll bring him myself and present him before God - and that's where he'll stay, for good."  
23 Elkanah said to his wife, "Do what you think is best. Stay home until you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!"

In a "spiritual" moment of prayer as I opened my bible, it literally fell open to this passage.  It was fitting at that very moment because I had just returned from a "meeting" with someone who felt like I wasn't "parenting" correctly in the site of God.  I was so hurt [not because of how I parent] because it was so out of line for a fellow believer, especially one not married and without children, to try to tell me what God thinks is best for MY life.  I knew something wasn't right about that situation.  So I went home and prayed and that's when I found this verse.  

Immediately I knew that for "this season" I was to raise my boys and when Aaron weaned, that would be the time for me is hard to find the right words for would be time for me to "find myself" again.

Over the next months I forgot about this verse as daily life took over.  And then when Aaron moved into his room, I was laying in bed one night looking at the side car crib, kind of in disbelief that it was all happening and I remembered that passage.  And felt a sense of peace and readiness to take the next step.  I knew my time had come.  In the last 6ish months I've been feeling a huge pull anyway to do more, to work, to begin diving into 2nd calling [helping people, my 1st being a wife/mother].  And to me that is what this verse has said to me all along.

There would be a time for everything.  At one point the children needed me solely, now as they have independence, I too am finding independence in a different way.

All things grow, move on and travel through time.  There's nothing we can do to stop it, make it slow down or speed up...instead we follow the path, we cry in the frustrating moments and still give thanks.  We rejoice in the happy moments, and give thanks.  Time is truly so fleeting.  And I am so thankful for each bittersweet milestone that has come and gone!

Myself, Aaron [at 1 day old] and David at 19 months old.  It truly just seems like yesterday Eric was taking this picture in the hospital!

Making it my own again!  Thanks mom for the wonderful things!  Our room today!! 

Our room as it looked wit the side car crib!  I highly recommend this set up for those who want to co sleep!  It's awesome, especially for 2 children.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cast Iron Love: Part Duex...Fruit & Veggie art too!

My obsession continues.  With cast iron!  I've finally begun branching out and cooking more and more in them.  And I am blown away by the results.  I've never had such easy clean-up of cookware in my life!  Why didn't I discover this art sooner. 

I made our own deep dish pizza one evening and then meatloaf, potatoes and biscuits the next.  Both were hits.  Especially the meatloaf, and especially by Eric, who said ... "This?  Is Good!  Make it more often!"  A huge compliment! ;)

As I cook with them, I do chuckle to myself and think of historical things I have read or seen and note where they travel, many times on foot, with a few staple items.  One of them being cast iron.  That certainly adds weight to the travel!  What a work out!  

Now if only I had an old wood burning stove ;)  


On another note, in the summer homeschooling realm, we've been learning about fruits and vegetables.  The boys have enjoyed watching time lapse videos on YouTube.  It's amazing to see them shoot up from a seed or small plant to a mature and ripe food.   What takes months, is only seconds or moments in video.  The power of modern media!

One of the projects we did was using fruits and vegetables to paint!  There is nothing like putting the easel outside, pouring the paint and letting the boys get it on the paper, themselves and the fruit.  You can't beat the modern miracle of finger paint today.  It's not like the thick staining paints of the 1970's when I was a child.  It paints beautifully, but washes so easily!

The paint "brushes" were cantaloupe, potatoes, corn on the cob, and apples.  
The results?  Beautiful and energetic art by a 3 and 4 year old!  What can I say?  Life in our small home consists of the four of us, but I love it, I wouldn't change it and I give thanks for it, for my husband and my 2 sons :)


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learning to be a Cast Iron cooking pioneer!!!

The cast iron skillet lay buried in my pots and pans cupboard for 3 years. Dirty, dusty and worn, I took it out one day and decided to see what all the fuss was about.  

After asking, researching and reading, I spent one day cleaning and seasoning it!  So easy really.  Give it one good scouring, put a coat of vegetable shortening or oil on it, and bake it on 450 degrees for one hour.  Turn off the stove, let it sit another hour []  I did this several times throughout the day, gave it a few good layers.

The next day I took it for it's first test run.  I baked chicken in it.  I was impressed!  It didn't stick, it didn't burn, it browned beautifully and was moist!  And best of all, the skillet cleaned up in no time, some rinses under hot water, a wipe out with a hot water towel [no soap].  Dryed and a coat of veggie oil.

Cast Iron!  Better than any non stick skillet I have ever used or owned!  I will never turn back!!   I have become a cast iron junkie!  Upon further reading I was even more impressed to learn that if you keep it seasoned and taken care of, the can last 100 years or more!  What a great investment really.  It will certainly last my lifetime and I can pass them onto my children!

I don't even know how I came to own the first skillet.  I may have bought it at a second hand shop.  But I'm so glad I pulled it out that wonderful day!

Since then I cook most everything in it.  Eggs have never been so easy, stir fry, taco meat, sausage gravy.  Then another thing happened.  My mom said I have 3 more cast iron pieces you can have!  WHAT???  Cast iron is not "cheap" initially [at least to me anyway!]

So I acquired a wonderful griddle, another skilled and an enamel coated grill!
The griddle made awesome french toast and the grill browned up our steaks in the oven beautifully!  

And thanks to a gift card, I also was able to purchase a cast iron dutch oven!!  I'll be using it tomorrow for the first time for Hungarian goulash! 

So now I have a nice set that I look forward to using over and over, and hopefully, slowly adding to it!  Just a few more pieces that look interesting ;)

The only thing I wish is that you could make tomato based sauces.  But knowing that I can use them for about everything else, I can live with using a regular sauce pan every now and again :)

I'm also looking forward to making our first "deep dish" pizza sometime this week in the skillets!  I can't believe how very versatile they are!  

Now I just need to fulfill my fantasy of camping and cooking over an open fire with them!  Okay, I'm a dork, I've always admitted it!

Please feel free to share your cast iron stories, recipes, website referrals and love! :)

Here are some great sites I've been referring too for information and recipes!

Here's the beginning of my wonderful collection!!  2 skillets, 1 dutch oven, 1 griddle, 1 enamel coated grill.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Toys, toys and more toys.

For the friends that saw, liked and commented on a Facebook post tonight [Sunday], it's easy to see that I get frustrated not only by little ones who love to play but not clean AND trying to figure out what to do with toys in a small area!

I love our house, the one thing I wish we had though is either at least one BIG bedroom for the all the boys things or an additional room [even small] for nothing but a playroom!  

As it goes, we make do with what we have in life right?  Our house is about 600 sq. ft. max.  The boys room is also a computer room.  So with two twin beds [that will be bunked at a later time when they are old enough.  I believe the AAP recommends children being at least 6 years old.], a computer cabinet and small dresser there is really only a space of about one body length to walk.  So not toys in there [at least to play with!]

Where are the toys you ask?  In the the living room of course, much to my dismay!  I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that having a small space, 2 sons, a husband and myself...won't equal a neat and tidy house 99% of the time.  So I relish the evening hours when little ones are fast asleep and I'm not stepping legos or hot wheels cars, and sometimes saying words that are not too pleasant!  

David and Aaron have their fair share of toys but I don't think they are overly burdened with them.  However a few toys can look like Toys R Us in small spaces.

I'm always looking for new ways [cheaply of course] to organize, make things look tidy yet functional and a more Montessori style for the boys.

If YOU have an ideas, please post!  I'm open.  And feel free to share you storage/toy challenges as well!

Here's the boy's room [With Aaron fast asleep].  To the left of the picture which you can't see is the dresser, then the computer desk is in the nook that you can't see as well.  The little carpet area you see is literally all the room left.

And then here are shots of the living room and how we have the main group of toys/items for the boys.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Three revolutions around the sun and tipi dwelling!

It leaves me in awe as I stand at the end of the proverbial road of time and look back.  My own 40 years on this planet seem but only months.  In the midst of each year it feels long, but remembering the  years...they are too short.

Aaron's 3rd birthday has come and gone.  3 whole revolutions around the sun!  Looking back, it's but the blink of eye to me.  It truly seems like yesterday evening Eric walked across the hospital room and placed him in my arms.  I took him to my breast and thus began his life of nourishment not only physically but emotionally, spiritually and lovingly!  

To put into words what parents feel for there children is impossible.  There are truly no words this side of heaven to define the love that we feel, we breath, we give, we receive.  I always say it gives me a very small glimpse of what God must think of each one of us.  And if I can have the magnitude of love for my sons, how much MORE does the Lord have for me, for you, for us?  Amazing!

And amazing the journey has been thus far!  Frustrating moments of course.  That's a natural part of life.  But I've loved more, what I've learned from my children.  More often than not I find myself learning in the lessons I'm supposed to be teaching them and that humbles me!  

A huge part of me is sad that Aaron is our last baby.  I can no longer wear him because he is much too big.  But I fondly recall the times where he WAS curled up in my sling or ergo, against the beat of my heart.  Sleeping so contentedly, safe and knowing it!  Much to the dismay and remarks of some I do still nurse him and we are doing child-led weaning.  Though it's only at night now, it's an incredible journey that I am so thankful for.  Another milestone that we reached is that Aaron has officially and on his own just like David, transitioned into his own bed.  It was wonderful fostering that trust and closeness with our sons to have them in our room, along side of us as we all slumbered.  And it was bitter sweet as Aaron decided to sleep alone in his bed the first night.  About two weeks later he, for the most part, sleeps all night and doesn't come to me.

I realize that he's growing up and I must let him.  But I look back and realize just how brief those months and years were that we had him 'all to ourselves.'

We are so thankful for the three years that have come and we pray many more healthy years for our sons! 

TIPI time!  Oh my did the boys have the best time ever doing this!   And it was interesting instilling in them the basic concepts of the lives of the Indigenous people on a 3 and 4 year old level.  It's a great opportunity to begin filling them with compassion and appreciation for culture and diversity and struggles we all face as human beings.  

And yes because I'm a dork, they watch Dr. Quinn Medicine woman with me.  But I realized one evening while watching it, though the show itself is fiction, they have researched and interjected non-fiction information.  So David and Aaron are getting a small glimpse what life was like for those people.  They get to see tipis and the dress of the people, hear some of the songs, see the relics.  

Though our tipi is small in comparison  and definitely  not ornate, it was the love and fun that went into it that made it special.  And even more touching when the boys were excited, grabbed their blankets and said "come on mom, let's go camping!"  

I think we need to do a camping trip sometime because they would so enjoy it!


Monday, June 27, 2011

The passion in my heart, the fire in my soul!

I'm finding that after 40 years on this planet, no matter how fast I run, how matter how often, how long or how hard I push that ever consuming fire to the furthest reaches of my life....It comes back burning brighter, making its presence known...beckoning...."DO SOMETHING!"

Sometimes what to do EXACTLY down to the detail can be vague.  What to do generally can be an entirely different matter.

My heart, my soul, my life burns bright AND heavy burdened with thoughts of those who suffer.  Those who sleep tonight without a home, while we have a roof over our heads.  Those who went to bed hungry or were lucky enough to have maybe a meal, perhaps the first one all week...while we have our pantries and fridges stocked.  Those that have infinitely  less than I, yet I take forgranted more often than I'd like to tell you.

Weather or not one shares my faith in Christ these following principles can be understood and followed by anyone of any path.

Three things I know for sure about this longing in my heart....

1.) I know WHAT to do.
2.) I know whom I need to do it for.
3.) I know WHY I need to do it.

1.) Simply?  I want to help those less fortunate.  My heart breaks in a million pieces when I think of the homeless, those without food, without basic human needs being met in any circumstance.  So WHAT do I need to do.

Deuteronomy 15:4-11
4 There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. 5 But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. 6 Oh yes - God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won't borrow from any; you'll rule over many nations but none will rule over you. 7 When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse. 8 No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. 9 Don't count the cost. Don't listen to that selfish voice saying, "It's almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled," and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He'll call God's attention to you and your blatant sin. 10 Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God's, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. 11 There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. 

Those in need.  What I need to do is help those poor.  It's more than my duty, more than my spiritual responsibility, more than a command.  I WANT to help, I DESIRE to help.  It consumes my very being!  I WILL help!

2.) Who should I help?  Where are they?

Matthew 25:32-40
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. 35 And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' 39 40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.' 

I will help those who are the "least".  Those whom we hear people say about them:  "get a job", "junkies", "drunks", "they'd have a home if they worked", "they take advantage of people/of the system", and the list goes on.

The LEAST of these.  I'm not God, it's not my position to judge their hearts.  I'm only commanded to HELP, to feed, to cloth, to give a drink, to LOVE!  To show COMPASSION!  To show Christ's grace and mercy to a merciless world.

Just because we may not think someone is worthy, or they aren't making good choices, doesn't mean God loves them any less.  It's up to God to change hearts, not me.  I'm just here to serve the least of these.

3.)  Why?  I've had people say "you can't save the world"  [although I'd love to try!].  Or they don't really want to be helped.  Let them go hungry a few meals and they'll work.  People fail to realize that so often it takes people changing from the inside out and that my friends can take YEARS.  Years of mentoring, of counseling perhaps, or rebuilding.

Are we mentors to them, are we teachers, are we counselors?  What are we doing to HELP them rebuild?   

Things like addictions, cycles, deep wounds take years to heal.  Simply getting a job won't help.  To give up addictions means to climb out of the darkest hole one has ever been in and while I'm here to be a light, I am NOT THE light.  THE Light is what shines brighetly into that hole.  THE Light is who reaches down there with loving arms to pick them up.

I am just here to serve those in that hole.  Why you ask?

Hebrews 13:2
2 Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! 

Who truly knows when it could be Christ himself that we are serving?  I don't ever want to take the chance that turned Christ away and didn't show the love HE taught me to show because I felt someone was unworthy, or taking advantage, or not worth my time.  

I desire only to serve.  I feel like I'm crying out over and over again "Here am I, send me!"  I'm ready.  Life is all around me, all around us.  People need help every hour of every day.  I pray everyday that I can hit that mark!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fungus, field trips and volcanoes...OH MY!

It has been quite a couple of weeks for the school of Gouge!  The boys, especially David, have enjoyed being home so very much!  

I've been trying to keep them busy with a myrid of fun but educational activities.  Hey, why NOT be sneaky about it when I can? ;)

I realized that even though I would love to take them to "far off places", time and money can be a hindrance.  As I was eating dinner one night I looked out the window to a tree stump where we put bird seed to feed our local birds.  I saw 2 beautifully growing mushrooms.  It struck me that we don't have to "go" anywhere beyond our driveway.  A whole world waited just outside our door to explore!  So exploring we would do!

The next day we went on a mushroom hunt!  We started by watching some time lapse YouTube clips of various fungi growing.  The boys LOVED it!  And it was a great way for them to begin to learn the life cycle via pictorials and simplicity!  

Here are a couple of the clips we watched.

They really loved this one!
Beautiful and haunting. 

More toadstool time lapses 

Blue Oyster Mushrooms 

And then....the beauty in our own yard!

Then something even more amazing happened.  The boys wanted to continue exploring, to discover what they could, to see the world around them!

And they found, beautiful wild vines growing on our front bushes, filled with honey bees!  Wild growing purple heather flowers, wild flowers among ferns and just beauty all around them!

A couple of days later we took a field trip to a local coffee and pottery place in Lake Wales:  Beans-n-Brushes.  I let them pick out something they wanted to paint [both opted for bowls so they could eat ice cream and cereal out of them!  Go figure!]  They concentrated hard as they painted their works of art!  Here's a video clip!


The most fun part of the last couple of weeks for the boys has been our construction and eruption of Mt. Dave-Aaron!  I opted for a simple construction that both boys could do!  It's amazing what some cardboard, wood glue mixed with water, construction paper and tinfoil can do!   THEN it's even more amazing when you add food coloring, vinegar and baking soda!  

First we looked at/read some books from the library on volcanoes and watched some YouTube clips!  [Gotta love YouTube!!!].  Here's a catch little song they loved!

Volcano song 

Then the eruption of Mt. Dave-Aaron

David making it erupt 

Aaron making it erupt 

And the fun photos from pre-construction, construction and eruption!

Life is simple in our home, but it sure is filled with fun! :)