Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Authenticity, Honesty, and the Stay-At-Home-Mother"

See below for An interesting read from The Christian Pundit
Was a good and interesting read and challenging for me to think through what's the balance between being real vs. striving for perfection as I am in the thick of this motherhood thing...Enjoy!

"At the Gospel Coalition, Brett McCracken takes on authenticity as an evangelical substitute for holiness. He asks, “by focusing on brokenness as proof of our ‘realness’ and ‘authenticity,’ have evangelicals turned ‘being screwed up’ into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness?” Yup. And perhaps few are as guilty as us wives and mothers.
The mommy wars have made great advances in battling the false fronts of picture-perfect blog posts, where dinners always look fabulous, children are always beautifully dressed, and husbands always come home with roses. But we’ve replaced those filtered versions of our lives with other versions: things like honest mommy blogs, leaving the ring in the toilet for guests to see, and posting pics of the overflowing garbage on facebook. “See what a disaster my kitchen is? I’m no perfectionist, obsessive, hypocritical mother!” We’re being authentic and open with one another.
This is as unhelpful as perfectionism, albeit in another direction. As McCracken points out, “authenticity” can distract us from holiness as we confuse it with being and doing what God requires or doing what God forbids. It’s not “authentic” to leave your bathroom dirty in an effort to be honest with your guests—it’s unkind. And perhaps the honest status about being in your pajamas till noon is excusing our collective tendency to sloth instead of domestic industry, being capable keepers at home as Scripture calls us to (Titus 2:5).
Perfectionism and “authenticity” are both enemies of true holiness: on the one hand, living in self-righteousness and the fear of man; on the other, excusing laziness or some other sin. That’s not to say that there are never days when we just don’t manage to clean the bathroom, despite hard work. It’s to say that a clean bathroom, decent supper, and children who are clothed and in their right minds should be normal goals, normally achieved without boasting, posting, or asking for acclaim for all that hard work. It’s not sin to work hard and not get done everything on your to-do list today. It might be sin to flaunt undone work as “authenticity,” especially if we have time to do it and are tweeting instead.
Attempts at “authenticity” reveal something basic about ourselves: we think about ourselves way too much. We don’t want to be perfectionists, so we are willing to have others use the dirty bathroom, visit (or live) with us when we look dreadful, or scroll past pictures of dirty/messy children in their newsfeeds. This might be honest, but really, does anyone think that you, your children, and your house exist in a state of perpetual perfection? No. “Authenticity” might be honest, but is it helping anyone grow in their calling? Probably not. It’s usually false humility. Why false? Well, real humility doesn’t tell everyone about every failing any more than it tells everyone about every success. Maybe when we think more about others than what they think of us, we’ll be able to interact with them in a way that puts us in the shadow and encourages them in their sanctification.
The Bible, not Pinterest, defines sin and holiness. Holiness is growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; loving God above all else and our neighbour as ourselves; working diligently with our hands. Quietly (1 Thess. 4:11). Part of holiness is doing to others as we would have them do to us. That just might include putting on a clean shirt before our husband gets home from work instead of being “honest” with him about the day’s food, sweat, and tears (the children’s, of course…).
God doesn’t call us to authenticity. He calls us to ask for prayer and accountability where we struggle with sin. He calls us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And He commands us to be holy, even as He is holy, because without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Hunter Boots, KitchenAids, and Hudson Bay blankets should be authentic. Christian wives and mothers should be holy, because holiness is the defining mark of an authentic believer in Jesus.
Holiness can’t be gained through an immaculate home, fabulous meals, clean children, domestic confessions, authenticity, honesty, or anything else. Outside of Christ, any of our works are filthy rags. It’s only in Christ that we are holy before God. And it’s then that working hard at our callings pleases God as we seek to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever by doing the good works that He has prepared in advance for us."
January 28, 2014 by RVD in Home, Life and Women

Monday, January 20, 2014

Amazing AND Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

So it appears I have been making pulled pork wrong all these years (I actually haven't made it that often, but still.....) After having this recipe, I now intend to make it Very Often.

Original recipe and photo is from Go here for recipe and photo instructions and go here for some awesome looking coleslaw

Original Recipe: (see below for my tweaks)
  • 4 pounds boneless pork riblets
  • 1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray BBQ Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
  1. Pour half the bottle BBQ sauce into the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Add all the riblets.
  3. Pour the remaining bbq sauce over the riblets.
  4. Add seasonings and brown sugar if using..
  5. Mix to cover the pork.
  6. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  7. When done cooking use a fork to pull the pork apart.
  8. Serve on buns with a side of coleslaw and macaroni salad.

I used a boneless whole pork loin that I had in the freezer, which I thawed and cut in half to fit it in my smaller crockpot. So I did almost half a bottle of sweet baby ray's in the bottom, pork loin, then more BBQ sauce, sprinkled in dry mustard, garlic powder and brown sugar.
And that was it. When I was ready to prepare it all - maybe 4 to 5 hours later, the meat just shredded apart in the crockpot with a fork and I mixed it together and voila! Amazing, deep, rich sauce and I did buy some coleslaw and potato salad to enjoy with it :)

easy, crock pot, pulled pork, sandwiches, summer,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Daddy Days

We sure loved having daddy around much of the holiday season - lots of fun times playing inside and outside - we are so thankful for our Main Man!!!



Teaching L to write emails.....great

Playing outside

youth group time

Daddy with a razor, baby with a toothbrush


 And lastly, the xmas concert where our guy was the narrator! :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

"The important thing about yelling"

Wow - I needed to read this today. Thanks to whoever posted this article on FB.
I highly recommend!
And thankfully, in light of this article and my failures in this way, I can go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow with this verse from Lamentations in mind:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

"I cherish the notes I receive from my children -- whether they are scribbled with a Sharpie on a yellow sticky note or written in perfect penmanship on lined paper. But the Mother's Day poem I received last spring from my first-born daughter left a profound impact.
It was the first line of the poem that caused my breath to catch before warm tears slid down my face.
The important thing about my mom is ... she's always there for me, even when I get in trouble.
You see, it hasn't always been this way.
In the midst of my highly distracted life, I started a new practice that was quite different from the way I behaved up until that point. I became a yeller. It wasn't often, but it was extreme -- like an overloaded balloon that suddenly pops and makes everyone in earshot startle with fear.
So what was it about my then 3-year-old and 6-year-old children that caused me to lose it? Was it how she insisted on running off to get three more beaded necklaces and her favorite pink sunglasses when we were already late? Was it that she tried to pour her own cereal and dumped the entire box on the kitchen counter? Was it that she dropped and shattered my special glass angel on the hardwood floor after being told not to touch it? Was it that she fought sleep like a prizefighter when I needed peace and quiet the most? Was it that the two of them fought over ridiculous things like who would be first out of the car or who got the biggest dip of ice cream?
Yes, it was those things -- normal mishaps and typical kid issues and attitudes that irritated me to the point of losing control.
That is not an easy sentence to write. Nor is this an easy time in my life to relive because truth be told, I hated myself in those moments. What had become of me that I needed to scream at two precious little people who I loved more than life?
Let me tell you what had become of me.
My distractions.
Excessive phone use, commitment overload, multiple page to-do lists and the pursuit of perfection consumed me. And yelling at the people I loved was a direct result of the loss of control I was feeling in my life.
Inevitably, I had to fall apart somewhere. So I fell apart behind closed doors in the company of the people who meant the most to me.
Until one fateful day.
My older daughter had gotten out a stool and was reaching for something in the pantry when she accidentally dumped an entire bag of rice on the floor. As a million tiny grains pelleted the floor like rain, my child's eyes welled up with tears. And that's when I saw it -- the fear in her eyes as she braced herself for her mother's tirade.
She's scared of me, I thought with the most painful realization imaginable. My 6-year-old child is scared of my reaction to her innocent mistake.
With deep sorrow, I realized that was not the mother I wanted my children to grow up with, nor was it how I wanted to live the rest of my life.
Within a few weeks of that episode, I had my Breakdown Breakthrough -- my moment of painful awareness that propelled me on a Hands Free journey to let go of distraction and grasp what really mattered. That was three years ago -- three years of scaling back slowly on the excess and electronic distraction in my life ... three years of releasing myself from the unachievable standard of perfection and societal pressure to "do it all." As I let go of my internal and external distractions, the anger and stress pent up inside me slowly dissipated. With a lightened load, I was able to react to my children's mistakes and wrongdoings in a more calm, compassionate and reasonable manner.
I said things like, "It's just chocolate syrup. You can wipe it up, and the counter will be as good as new."
(Instead of expelling an exasperated sigh and an eye roll for good measure.)
I offered to hold the broom while she swept up a sea of Cheerios that covered the floor.
(Instead of standing over her with a look of disapproval and utter annoyance.)
I helped her think through where she might have set down her glasses.
(Instead of shaming her for being so irresponsible.)
And in the moments when sheer exhaustion and incessant whining were about to get the best of me, I walked into the bathroom, shut the door and gave myself a moment to exhale and remind myself they are children, and children make mistakes. Just like me.
And over time, the fear that once flared in my children's eyes when they were in trouble disappeared. And thank goodness, I became a haven in their times of trouble -- instead of the enemy from which to run and hide.
I am not sure I would have thought to write about this profound transformation had it not been for the incident that happened while I was finishing up the manuscript for my book. In that moment, I got a taste of life overwhelmed and the urge to yell was on the tip of my tongue. I was nearing the final chapters of my book and my computer froze up. Suddenly the edits of three entire chapters disappeared in front of my eyes. I spent several minutes frantically trying to revert to the most recent version of the manuscript. When that failed to work, I consulted the Time Machine backup, only to find that it, too, had experienced an error. When I realized I would never recover the work I did on those three chapters, I wanted to cry -- but even more so, I wanted to rage.
But I couldn't because it was time to pick up the children from school and take them to swim team practice. With great restraint, I calmly shut my laptop and reminded myself there could be much, much worse problems than rewriting these chapters. Then I told myself there was absolutely nothing I could do about this problem right now.
When my children got in the car, they immediately knew something was wrong. "What's wrong, Mama?" they asked in unison after taking one glimpse of my ashen face.
I felt like yelling, "I just lost a fourth of my book!"
I felt like hitting the steering wheel with my fist because sitting in the car was the last place I wanted to be in that moment. I wanted to go home and fix my book -- not shuttle kids to swim team, wring out wet bathing suits, comb through tangled hair, make dinner, scrape dirty dishes and do the nightly tuck in.
But instead I calmly said, "I'm having a little trouble talking right now. I lost part of my book. And I don't want to talk because I feel very frustrated."
"We're sorry," the older one said for the both of them. And then, as if they knew I needed space, they were quiet all the way to the pool. The children and I went about our day and although I was more quiet than usual, I didn't yell and I tried my best to refrain from thinking about the book issue.
Finally, the day was almost done. I had tucked my younger child in bed and was laying beside my older daughter for nightly "Talk Time."
"Do you think you will get your chapters back?" my daughter asked quietly.
And that's when I started to cry -- not so much about the three chapters, I knew they could be rewritten -- my heartbreak was more of a release due to the exhaustion and frustration involved in writing and editing a book. I had been so close to the end. To have it suddenly ripped away was incredibly disappointing.
To my surprise, my child reached out and stroked my hair softly. She said reassuring words like, "Computers can be so frustrating," and "I could take a look at the Time Machine to see if I can fix the backup." And then finally, "Mama, you can do this. You're the best writer I know," and "I'll help you however I can."
In my time of "trouble," there she was, a patient and compassionate encourager who wouldn't think of kicking me when I was already down.
My child would not have learned this empathetic response if I had remained a yeller. Because yelling shuts down the communication; it severs the bond; it causes people to separate -- instead of come closer.
The important thing is ... my mom is always there for me, even when I get in trouble.

My child wrote that about me, the woman who went through a difficult period that she's not proud of, but she learned from. And in my daughter's words, I see hope for others.
The important thing is ... it's not too late to stop yelling.
The important thing is ... children forgive -- especially if they see the person they love trying to change.
The important thing is ... life is too short to get upset over spilled cereal and misplaced shoes.
The important thing is ... no matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day.
Today we can choose a peaceful response.
And in doing so, we can teach our children that peace builds bridges -- bridges that can carry us over in times of trouble.

Rachel's book, Hands Free Mama, describes exactly how she transformed her distracted, perfectionistic, hurried life into one of meaningful connection, inner peace and gratitude. Hands Free Mama is currently available for pre-order and goes on sale January 7th."