Friday, January 29, 2010

Being a Stay At Home Mom

A sweet friend of mine emailed me the other day with these questions:


What are 5 great things about being a SAHM?
What are 5 challenges about being a SAHM?


As I started to think about the reasons I would give her, I soon realized this was a great blog post!

5 Great things about being a SAHM

1. It allows me to homeschool my children. This is a calling I am very passionate about so staying home allows me to fulfill this calling. Along with homeschooing is my fervent desire to mold, shape and guide my children’s lives. To direct their hearts towards righteousness. Homeschooling my girls all day long is not just about academics, it’s about their morals, their character, and their hearts. I wouldn’t be able to FULLY and WHOLE-HEARTEDLY ensure that my kids’ values were being brought up and trained the way God is calling me to bring them up if I had to go to work every day or if they went to school every day. A teacher or a daycare worker would be doing those things for me. No thanks.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Hey, wait! I love my kids just as much as you do, and I go to work and they go to school.” This is not about who loves their kids more or about who’s doing the better thing. It’s about what I feel called to do and how I’m supposed to do it. Raising our kids and living our lives is going to look different from each other because we are all have unique callings and goals. That’s okay!
And anyway, perhaps if I didn’t homeschool I WOULD go to work. Not sure. But that’s another thought for another blog post.

2. It allows me to take on the majority of the house cleaning and cooking responsibility. It is my honor to be the one responsible for keeping the house clean, the laundry done, the cupboards stocked and dinner prepared. Now, I have a great, hardworking husband who helps me out tremendously. He does not treat me like I am his servant; he does not have high and mighty expectations of me, his wife that I am to fulfill. We are a husband and wife team-he has his roles, I have mine. I take pride in my roles. My husband works really hard to pay the bills and I am thankful I can stay home. I love being able to keep a happy home and please my husband by lessening the need for him to do household chores. It is my way of saying “thank you for working so hard.” He feels respected and showers me with love and offers to take up housey chores and responsibilities as his way of saying “thank-you for working so hard.”

3. It allows me to fulfill my other desires such as writing, running and ministering to women. Some women say they feel like they lose themselves if they do not work outside the home. I am, first and foremost, a Child of God. I find my identity in living my life for Jesus Christ. Living for God means living life in accordance with His Will. I firmly believe that right now, God wants me to focus on two things: 1) Making my husband happy 2) Raising my children to love Jesus.

God has given me desires, talents, gifts, strengths and ideas. They are not to be forgotten or wasted! I love to write (hence my blog and, if you’re friends with me, my super long emails). I used to write for a publishing company (while staying at home) that wrote testimonies for churches. I loved being a part of this fabulous company that worked for the Kingdom and allowed me to use my writing skills. I’m currently writing a children’s book with my best friend. I love women and have a heart for young moms and newly married gals. I’m walking along side a young wife right now who is struggling, offering my advice and wisdom (since I’ve been married for 15 years) and praying with her. I host and facilitate a mom’s group focused on parenting. I love to run! I have run marathons and half marathons… I know I can be a working mom and do all these things, but my point is that I don’t have to give any of it up. In fact, I believe staying home has allowed me to be MORE of the woman I was designed to be because I have the time to do them.

4. I don’t have to go to work! Before I had kids, I worked for Intel. And really, I enjoyed it. Since I am a people person, an extrovert and just a general social butterfly, going to work every day was satisfying and enjoyable. There was a great sense of accomplishment having successfully done my job, received raises and accolades. But I can’t tell you how freeing it is not to HAVE to go to work every day. I don’t have to worry about my performance and how a manager is going to assess my efforts. I don’t have to worry about accrued days off in order to take a day off. I don’t have to work with people who are hard to get along with every single day. I don’t have to go to work! I don’t have the stresses of working for a boss or dancing around office politics. My husband and I can live on 1 income, he is blessed to have a job in this economy, and the stress/responsibility of earning a paycheck is not mine. That is a load off and stress reliever.

5. I get to govern my day. I am not limited to before work hours or after work hours. We all agree that days go by fast and I am thankful that all the things I want to get done (including laundry, visiting, appointments, schooling, playing, cleaning, relaxing, being creative, shopping, etc) are not forced around my work schedule. My kids are able to be part of all sorts of social engagements and sports and music, etc. that don’t cut into evening time because I can take them during the day. All these things BECOME my schedule—according to MY needs, MY desires for my family and MY privileged availability. I feel freedom in managing my whole day, every day.


5 challenging things about being a SAHM

1. There is an organizational and prioritizing requirement that takes diligence in being a SAHM. Someone once told me they couldn’t stay at home or homeschool their kids because they would become lazy and selfish. Yes, I agree that this can become a danger. I don’t live for just myself. As I said earlier, I live for God, my husband and my children. Since I know my purpose in life and have definitive goals, it is easier to stay focused and not lose sight of my duties and responsibilities. I do, however, find myself with too many lazy and/or unproductive days at times. It’s these times that I am the most disorganized and have my priorities out of proper alignment for too long. Like I said earlier, being free to do whatever I want is a bonus, but it can become destructive if I am not diligent in pursuing the right things.

2. Getting private time is rare. Since I homeschool, being at home means being with my kids alllllll day. Some SAHM’s send their kids to school, so have more flexibility to find alone time. As much as I enjoy being around my husband (I really do) and as much as I enjoy being around my children (I really do), I sometimes need to be by myself. I have to be creative during the day if I need a break. I take my kids to my doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, errands…they are always with me. Always being with me in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s what I want. It just makes it hard when I need solitude or a moment to myself. It can be done, though!

3. There are expectations of SAHM’s to prove their worth in society. It is one of those things that can (if I’m not careful) cause insecurities about choosing to stay home. Being confident, prayerful and motivated often combats the sting of the stigma. But often I feel like I should be prepared with clear, lofty, beautiful explanations when I’m in conversation with businesswomen just in case they ask me any questions about what the heck I do all day.

4. Finances can be tricky. We don’t have nearly as much spending money as when we both worked. It takes longer to pay off debt with not as much money coming in. Going out to dinner doesn’t happen as regularly (of course, this could be on the Great list and not just the Challenge list). Having only one income forces families to live more within their means. Having a double income can, not always, but can cause us to go deeper in to debt or live just outside of what we can truly afford. We make a LITTLE bit more, but we spend a LOT more. It’s the American way. I understand that some families could not afford to live on one income and need the double income.

5. However, another challenge for moms who stay home but want to work, is finding that awesome job. I mentioned earlier that I used to work for a publishing company. I was able to write, proofread and edit from my home, on my own time. I was able to incorporate work time with nap time. My friend and I are creating a children’s book that will one day make us millionaires. Or maybe just thousandaires. Either way, we’ll probably pull in some dough allowing us to be financial contributors. It also gives us the satisfaction of doing something productive outside the home using our skills, gifts and talents. So why is this on the challenge list? It can be a tough to find that right opportunity to allow a mom to stay home AND work. But if you want to work, keep looking! Many moms do it and find it is essential to staying well balanced in life. I encourage the Proverbs 31 woman in all of us and strive to be like her, too. I know that even though it’s hard to figure out how that is going to look for each of us, it can be done!

What about you? What are some other great things about staying home? What are other challenges?
I’m sure there are great things about being a working mother and if you blog about it, be sure to leave me a comment so I can go check it out. Remember, my list is not a comparison about why I think it’s best to be a SAHM, but rather, 5 great things for ME and why I want to be a SAHM.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Listen

This morning as I lay in my super duper comfortable king size bed, all cozy and well rested from a full night sleep, I became aware of a sound outside. An irritating sound that did not coincide with my dreamy environment.

Men yelling.
Machinery.
Shovels scraping the concrete.

All of it offended my senses as I adjusted my pillow and stretched my body and wished the annoying racket would all stop.

Right then my husband texted me from work and said "Watch the main video on CNN."

Grabbing my fuzzy robe and sipping a drink of water that sat right there on my nightstand, I headed to the computer.

I watched the emotional video of a Haitian women being rescued, pulled from a collapsed bank after having been buried for 6 days. Completely hidden from the sun, completely out of sight from everyone.

But out of sight does not mean out of mind. For her husband made it to the rubble and knew that his bank-teller wife had to be there and he prayed she was alive. Most men hanging around that area are looking for money, not survivors.

6 days after the earthquake, after removing just the right rock, Husband called into the small dark hole, "Jeanette? Are you there?"

Yes! She is thirsty, in pain, and alive! She calls out words of love to her husband and everyone jumps into action.

Jeanette begins to hear the most beautiful sounds she has ever hoped to hear in her life.

Men yelling.
Machinery.
Shovels scraping the concrete.

I went downstairs to be with my children as they ate their breakfast.
Standing at the kitchen sink watching the men across the street cutting down a tree, I listed to the racket they made....and it was beautiful music.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thankfulness

Like you, I have been immersed in the earthquake tragedy.

Everyday I see agony, pain, death.

I see my children's faces in the faces of the children on the news reports.


The resemblance hits home.

I find myself with such a gut-wrenching feeling of misery for the people there.

However, I also find myself with such huge heart felt thankfulness to the global reaction to donate, help and rescue.





Every time I see or hear of another organization (there are soooo many!) giving a percentage of the profit, or a collection being taken, or any effort of any kind by anyone....I stop and say "Awesome. Thank You."





I'm thankful to America who is Number 1 in donations to Haiti right now.

I'm thankful to the small groups and bible studies who pray and give.

I'm thankful to people like George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, the Trail Blazers, Madonna and so many other multi-millionaires who are giving to Haiti.





I'm thankful for Haitians helping Haitians. So many news reports show civilians uncovering buried civilians. One gentleman spent 3 days buried and after he got out, went out and started digging.





I'm thankful to our adoption agent LeAnne who has been sending updates from Dr. Bernard to let us know he and his wife are okay, and that the children at the orphanage are all okay.





I'm thankful to Bryn (who has spent months in Haiti) who keeps her Facebook status current with the information to which she is privy. She is still working on finding out from Dr. B where, exactly, the kids are as they are relocating them to safer structure. She's also trying to confirm the welfare of the staff at the agency. Keep trying, Bryn.

I'm thankful to the birth father, who selflessly allowed his children to leave his country, his home, his arms; to be raised and loved in my country, my home, my arms.


I'm thankful to my friend JulieBeth, an adoptive mother from the orphans of Ethiopia, who gave to the American Red Cross in honor of my girls' birth father and other children at the orphanage.


I'm thankful to my husband who gave his money and his blood to help.

I'm thankful for my 5 year old daughter who prayed and thanked God that when she gets to heaven, she will see her birth mother again.


I'm thankful to my mother who remembers that life renews itself and babies are still being born.

I'm thankful to my brother-in-law, who's missionary heart compelled him to call and ask for specific things to pray for while he worked.

I'm thankful to my friend Tiffany, an adoptive mother from the needs in the USA, who encourages others to adopt.



I'm thankful to those who have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father who pray without ceasing. He hears. Keep praying.




All this giving... it too, hits home.

Please, leave a comment and tell me what YOU are thankful for.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tragic Earthquake in Haiti

This is the Presidential Palace
Before and After

We don't have much more information that what is being reported on the news. I follow several blogs of those who already have or are going through an adoption. I also follow blogs of US Missionaries and Aid Relief workers, etc. I've been relying on those blogs for information on orphanages and hospitals that I can't find on the news.

My heart goes out to all you in the middle of the process- waiting, reading, praying, to find out if your children are alive. Lord, please be with them. All of them. Amen.

I've learned that all the HFC and NLL kids are OK! These are the kids my daughters lived with for 2 years at the orphanage. I'm sooooo thankful to learn all of them are accounted for.

Dr. Bernard, his wife and the staff at his house have also been accounted for, but the staff at his office smack dab in Port-au-Prince are still unaccounted for. The agent who helped us through the adoption process told me that Dr. Bernard, the 69 year old director of the orphanage, had to jump from a 2nd story window of the Mayor's office.

I wish I was with Anderson Cooper right now. CNN is doing a fabulous job of reporting. I'm saddened to see the death toll will likely reach 100,000. Bodies being pulled from rubble. Inmates escaping collapsed jail. Hospitals crumbling. Anguished voices from within the debris growing silent.

Please, I encourage you to join with my family in donating in anyway that you can to help a country that was already in desperation. I'm hoping that this tragedy could be the thing that finally turns Haiti around. May foreign governments come in and help rebuild a country that so desperately needs direction, honest officials, water, clean agriculture and prayer.

We will likely not be able to find out if the girls' biological father survived the earthquake.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Facebook Bra Color

So there's this thing going around the land of FaceBook where women are to put the color of their bra as their status update. That's it, just the color. It apparently started out as a Breast Cancer Awareness thing. As most of those chain type games do, it evolved into something different; a sexy sort of game to drive men crazy. That was even one of the updates I saw: "Forward this on to girls only and lets drive the guys crazy!" And then today it morphed into a whole new game stating: Our bra colors worked so well, now put a status update depicting your hair style:
Give it to me straight
On top
Wild and messy

Now, I'm not mad at anyone who included me in this tag nor am I offended at all the colors of bras being thrown around the world wide web. However, since I'm pretty sure %99 of my readers are women (hi dad) please keep this in mind --

Do you really want other men picturing you in your red bra? Because they did.

See, there's another thing -- Maybe it was different for you, but I saw oodles of ladies posting their bra colors and not ONE of them was white. Seriously, not one. I did, however, see more than one red, pink, black, blue, lace, light blue and green. So either that's a huge coincidence or everyone wanted the image of themselves to be far prettier (or sexier) than just a plain old white bra. Which tells me that YES everyone really was mindful of that fact that others would be thinking of them in their bra.

What was the last thing they were thinking when they saw the word BLUE on a facebook status? "Hmmmm, what can I do help find a cure for breast cancer!?"


It seems that the generator of this "game" could have been more honest and said, instead, "Hey, put the color of your bra in your status update, don't tell any guys, and we'll see how long it takes for them to figure it out!" Leave breast cancer out of it.

Or, if it really and truley was intended to bring awareness (and maybe it was, like I said, these games morph), then to have said something like "Hey, put the word PINK in your status update, and for every time you see the word PINK today, go donate a dollar to the Susan G. Komen foundation." Or go give yourself an exam. Or call your mom. Or send flowers to someone you know who has it.



I know that part of bringing a grave and horrible thing to people's mind (such as breast cancer) to help find and fund a cure means getting the message out there. The walks and runs and ribbons and donation centers, etc. are means of doing that. And though I don't go donate my money every time I see a pink ribbon, I have, in fact, donated SOME money and I have run in the Race for the Cure. I haven't pictured women in their colorful bras during this time except maybe when I share grievances with women who will have had a mastectomy and need support.

I don't have breast cancer. Neither does my mom or either of my sisters. I have, though, had skin cancer and am a survivor due to early detection! Thank you, God.


There is a special woman in my life who died of breast cancer in 1994. She was my mom's best friend. My whole family is friends with her husband on facebook and though I don't want to put words in his mouth, I just can't help but think he doesn't feel supported or think that his wife's death has been brought to a better light by having scores of women brag about their cute bras.



Some might argue that I'm being too prissy or don't know how to have fun and that I'm making a big deal over this. We all know that men are visual creatures. I promise you, there are many men on FB that pictured you in that red bra. Probably a married man.



One sweet gal commented that due to the rampant breast cancer all around her family and friends, that these types of things are "motivating". You know I love you, girl! I'm just curious, motivating you to do what? See the positive side? Laugh with those who weep? Awesome! Continue to be motivated! But for underwear games, I say, let's keep it to women only and help the guys keep their minds sober. Let's play a different breast cancer awareness game if guys are included. And let's make sure if it's in the name of 'awareness' that it truly is to become more aware of how to help in anyway shape or form.


Since this post is less about breast cancer and more about modesty, here is a verse I like:

"Proverbs 11:22 As a jewel of gold in a swines' snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. "



But since I am sensitive about the subject of cancer, here's a great stat I found from the American Cancer Society website, and a reminder to all you ladies, give yourself an exam (and have those mysterious moles checked out while you're at it):


The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

1. Get serious about a health plan that includes healthful eating and regular exercise. This is on everyone's list, I'm sure.

2. Read the whole Bible in 2010. Thankfully my husband and a girlfriend are doing it with me so we can keep each other accountable. Also, my church just handed out Bible reading charts on Sunday. Convenient!

3. Blog more often. Have you noticed already?

4. Spend more time with 2 certain friends of mine. You know who you are, ladies!

5. Pray earnestly , fervently and daily for the salvation of 4 friends of mine. I love them dearly and want them to experience freedom, peace, unconditional love and eternal life with Jesus.

6. Take a class of some kind to explore and expand my mind/brain (either the artistic side or academic side). Theology? Pottery? Creative writing? Poetry? Debate? Culinary?

7. Become more organized in my daily activities of homeschooling, dinner planning, devotions, etc. Organization is the key to a happy, productive ME.

8. Have people over or dinner more often. Though my timing was bad already. The other night we invited 5 different families over for Pizza and Star Wars and they all turned us down! To be fair, it was last minute and on January 2nd. Everyone was tired.

9. Finish the secret project my BFF and I are working on. Are you excited?

10. Talk to my mother-in-law more often. Love you, MomB.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Speaking of turning 35

I'm teaching my middle child how to Round.
"So mom," she says, "If we round YOU, you're 40!"
--pause--
"Go to your room, little girl."

(Hey, at least I know she understands the concept!)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December 27, 1974

Happy Birthday to my twin sister!


If you're doing the math, that means it's MY birthday, too.

Also, it means we turned 35.


Here we are on our birthday, cheek to cheek.

Love you, sis. Can't wait to meet your baby. Thanks for being my friend.