Trust to Love and Be Loved

I grew up in a house full of animals. I never really thought much of it. We always had at least one cat, and usually a dog. When my brother and I became teenagers, we decide to buy a horse together and share the responsibilities of it. We had both enjoyed the couple of trail rides we had been on, and the riding in an arena. Well, after one time of cleaning stalls and seeing that there wasn’t much riding time, I really wasn’t interested anymore. Not to mention the Quarter horse we purchased was once a barrel racer, and we weren’t! I spent a few times on the very hard ground. The fun of horse ownership was very short-lived for me. My brother went on to be an extremely good rider, showed horses at the local fairs, winning many ribbons. He took English riding lessons and Dressage. I think of him as the first horse whisperer, before I knew there was such a thing. My sister also showed horses in the cart class, and our youngest brother worked with them a lot as well. For a long time, our family had many horses, and that was their life. The summers revolved around getting ready for the fair, and then the rotation of fair dates in August and September in the upstate New York region.

Animals were a part of my life. They were just always there. I always loved cats, and kittens were extra special. I was in 7th heaven when a stray cat ended up at our house in Arizona. She happened to be a beautiful cat, a long-haired Siamese, with a really rotten attitude. But she was also pregnant we soon discovered. She happily delivered a lot of kittens. (I want to say she had thirteen, but time has faded my memory. It was definitely more than seven!) Sadie thought the lining of my parents bed was the best place to have her kittens. Of course this wouldn’t work, so several times the mewing tangle of fur was relocated to my bedroom, and put in a box. Sadie spent most of her days for the first few days after the kittens were born, taking them back to the bed-lining. The kittens either got too big, or Sadie wore out, but she gave up the moving finally. This same batch of kittens traveled with us when we moved back to upstate New York, May of 1983. Sadie, her kittens, at least one more adult cat and a dog traveled in the dressing room of the horse trailer. I want to say two horses traveled with us, but again, after over thirty years, my memory fades. My father drove the truck pulling the horse trailer, and I drove my father’s Datsun, newly purchased and a five-speed. It was an interesting trip with six people and all those animals!

After marriage, cats were still generally a part of our lives. Many moves made it difficult at times, and I’ve become use to having a house free from cat hair and cat box odors. I rather like it that way. We have one cat, an older cat, and she really enjoys her summers outside. She is a wonderful, loyal cat, rather a watch-cat for our yard. She is pretty savvy as well.

But kittens are still very special. So when my husband sent me this picture last week, I felt terrible.

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He had found them where he works, no mommy could be located. They were weak and very hungry from not eating all day and being out in the 90+ heat. I took some farm milk to them and we were finally able to get them to eat a few drops. My husband brought them home with milk replacement and a bottle from the vet. After a bath in the kitchen sink and the removal of 9+ ticks from their tiny bodies, they settled down to eat, chewing that little nipple to pieces. We were delighted to see them using the little cat box we had placed in their tiny kitty apartment. It always fascinates me to see animals doing activities of daily living with no training! God’s creation is awesome!

One week later, they are drinking and eating from a dish. They run around, hopping over one another and wrestling. Of course the male is the aggressive one, and the female more quiet and loving. She puts up with him and smiles. My husband weighed them last night to see what they should be eating for dry food. The female, the calico, weighed 1.2 lbs. and the male 1.5 lbs. They have grown! This makes adopted mommies happy! And you can see from the picture taken last night that they are pretty happy and content. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you might say.

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They are adorable, and I wish they could stay. But soon they will be in that teenager stage where my curtains are shredded and my sofa hanging in tatters. You know, rather like your home after your human teenagers leave? The plan was to take them to a shelter so they could be vaccinated, fixed and adopted out to a loving family.

It’s only been a week, but love and care have gone into these two babies. They have begun to trust us, whereas just a week ago they were scared and jumpy, trying to protect one another. I would like to think that someone would care for them the same, that another family would love and protect them the same as we would here, but that is not always the case. And that saddens me.

As a Christian, I have been told multiple times by other Christians that animals are only animals and they shouldn’t be treated as humans. And that is correct. They are not human, and as far as I’ve studied in the Bible, I do not believe that they will have a soul that will live eternally as ours does. But animals were given to us to care for, by God. It is His design. Some were given for food, some were given to be companionship. But all are to be protected and cared for by us. This was God’s design. There is no place for animal abuse and neglect. Whatever God has given us, is to be treated with respect and we are to do the most that we are able. After watching these two babies for the past week, again I am reminded at the ability of an animal to trust and love, and that is God-given. Shame and wrath on those that do not respect that!

If you take on the responsibility of an animal, and it is a lot of responsibility, please care for that animal. Have them vetted, have them sterilized so they don’t just have more and more babies that are abandoned and abused. Teach your children how to care for them and love them. If you don’t want to do all the above…don’t have pets! You are not respecting what God has designed. We are the humans, and we are to care for and do what’s best for the animal. Not act worse than the so-called animal.

This was not to be a post about my feelings about how animals are treated, but these last paragraphs have become that. Maybe because of the kittens that were born from a mother that was probably abandoned where my husband works. We have had so many animals over the years that have been left along side the road, or abused. And it is appalling to me. I believe it is to God as well. And someday, it will all be set right.

So back to the cute kittens that have graced our house for the past week. I pray good homes are found for them. I pray the effort and love we have put into them are not wasted, and the trust we have instilled has not put them at a disadvantage. But God knows.

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You Aren’t What You Think!

I’m wondering when your mind and thinking processes catch up to your body. In my head, I think I can still work as I did when I was 18 years old. My brain wants to rationalize as if I was still in my early twenties. “Bungee jump…sure! Why not? Work in the yard for 8-10 hours, take a shower, then go out and have fun until midnight…I can handle that!”

Even up until about 3-5 years ago, I could still handle the working in the yard for 8-10 hours, and even longer. I was a bit sore, but after lying down in a cold room for the night, I was ready to hit it again the next day. Now, 3-4 hours in the same yard, and I’m done-in. And our yard is looking like it!

When we moved here 10 years ago, I wanted a sanctuary. Someplace for me to go and sit among the shrubbery and flowers. A quiet spot to do nothing in, just relax. Well, I definitely have the shrubbery now. It’s still not very quiet. The neighbor’s grandchildren have progressed from the riding bikes through my flowers and screaming, to the teenage years of blaring radios and loud mufflers. Walking into the yard right now sends shivers down my spine as my eyes find every corner of the yard that needs attention.

Yesterday, our youngest and I tackled the ‘monster hedge’. This is what it looked like last March after a good trimming with the chainsaw.

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Spring Daffodils

Now it’s a jungle out there! This is the hedge in the front yard. I have two in the backyard surrounding the garden. I love it for the windbreak and the privacy it gives. But each year, our son-in-law comes over and chops it down with a chainsaw to a more manageable height. And then it grows again! If we lived in the middle of nowhere, it would be wonderful. It grows quickly and it’s hardy. But in a neighborhood with power lines, it’s just too much. Our daughter and I only tackled the sides of the monster hedge, cutting off the branches that attacked our vehicles each time we drove into the driveway. The tops will need the chainsaw once again. The hedge in the front now looks like this picture from last summer, only the hedge is about 6 feet taller:

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Yes, I think my yard is out of control. I think it’s time for an apartment with a couple tomato plants in containers on my tiny deck. And that is not the thinking of 18-year-old me! My younger self was not constrained with health problems or thoughts of restrictions on what I could do. I could do it all! And our poor children were my little helpers as I did. They could all tell you stories of their tortuous lives as they helped me with my projects.

Our son was the privileged crew member on this little stone terrace. It looks so neat and tidy here!

I hope at some point that our children don’t recall just the bad moments of hard work. The sweating hours in the heat and sun. Caring for the younger children in the house, and making meals while I painted outside or worked in the garden. My prayer is that they learned the value of a hard day’s work. The sense of accomplishment from completing a project and having it look fantastic. The knowledge that you can do much with a little elbow grease and the willingness to try something new. Those will last you a lifetime.

Yes, my mind is getting there. After only a couple hours yesterday, I’m done-in today. But you can get down the driveway, and hopefully our youngest is learning something along the way. I’m not as motivated as I once was, something our oldest four children remind me of every now and then. So I guess my 18 year-old brain is beginning to catch up as well! Have a beautiful summer day!

Faith

Bad Things

None of us are without pain or regrets. This life really hurts at times. After a couple weeks of reading some pretty heavy stories about child abuse, this is very fresh in my mind.

When I was first married, I attended SUNY Cobleskill, taking some classes in Early Childhood. I had always loved babysitting as a teenager, and I knew I wanted to be a mother as quickly as I could. (As it turned out, I found out I was pregnant with our first child just a few weeks after starting those classes. This was after a couple of years with infertility and dealing with all those issues. So my college career was cut short after that semester.) Another reason I took those classes was to work for Headstart. I did some volunteer time there, and what an eye opener that was! This is not to say that it was a bad program, only that I observed different parenting than what I had seen before, and it wasn’t always good. I am sure any school teacher could say the same.

I want to use the words, fascinate or intrigue here, but maybe shock would fit better. I am, and will continually be shocked, fascinated, intrigued, and even physically nauseous at what a person may go through in their life.

And still grow up to be a person that is whole.

God has given our bodies and our minds, our souls an incredible ability to heal. And that’s what fascinates and intrigues me. That’s what I write about. Just as a tiny tree may be walked on, the leaves torn off, and the weather tortuous to it…only to stand tall once again…so we are as people.

I personally will never understand the awful things God allows in our lives, and especially the life of a child. They arrive in this world a tiny bundle of expectation and potential, only needing protection, love and training. And to some, this is not important, and not taken seriously. Some abuse this privilege of a child…horribly. But I do know that God does not observe this lightly.

Luke 17:2 King James Version (KJV)

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

No, I do not understand, and someday I will ask God “Why?” But I do know that these terrible, tough times build character, and make a person stronger. I’ve lived it in my own life.

It is very difficult to be thankful in the midst of adversity. It is sometimes more than we can stand to stay in a situation when we want to run. But just as the picture above says, the bad things can, and do put us on the path to the best things in our lives. The key is faith. Faith won’t take away the problem, and it won’t make it better. But it does keep you looking ahead, and striving for more. It gives you hope.

Boldness to Speak

When I sit down to read a book, especially in the summer, I want a light, happy read. I don’t know why this is more important to me in the warmer months, but it is. I desire to read stories about beaches, and warm days on the sand, children playing outside with the fireflies. The long days of summer were always a happy time for me. Hours of swim lessons, and neighborhood friends, riding bikes up and down the sidewalk. Times I thought would go on forever.

But as we all know, they do not.

As far as I can recall, I have not done a book review on here. I review almost everything I can. If I purchase something, I review it. This is important to me because I rely so heavily on reviews of a product before I make a purchase. Sometimes I watch reviews and investigate for months before I buy. I want to know what I’m getting for my money. And usually, the reviews are pretty right-on. Most of the reviews I write are on TripAdvisor and Amazon, and those two places are where I read the most reviews.

So when I read a book, I review it. If I was less-than thrilled with it, I will only give it a star rating. If it was really terrible, I will write my humble opinion, and if I enjoyed it, I will give the reasons why. Today, I read a collection of poems written by a woman that I have come to know through her blog, https://rhythminlife.net

This little book, which you may purchase or read for free if you have kindle unlimited right here: https://www.amazon.com/Audacity-Her-Making-Sense-What-ebook/dp/B07256W1Z3/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498058670&sr=1-1&keywords=the+audacity+of+her was an emotional read. As someone that encountered abuse in my early teens, it really spoke to me. The author lets us into her soul, and that’s difficult to do. Only after much healing, physically as well as emotionally, can a person write with such pain and truth, but not bitterness. This book is a must-read for those that have dealt with abuse as children, or are trying to understand a person that has been abused.

No, this book is not a light, beach-read. But it is an excellent, easy read. Because even through the author’s pain as a child, you sense hope in what she has become today. And that makes me happy.

Thank you, Susan for your poems. For letting us see a glimpse of what has made you the strong woman you are today. Someday, I look forward to a collection of poems on the process of healing, because I know those words are there to share.

Soapbox Post

We’ve all done it…taken our thinking or opinion about a topic or person to the extreme, and lumped it or them into one big melting pot and stirred vigorously. In our world today, this is reaching epic proportions, and it’s rather scary.

I have my hackles raised a bit about this because of an article that was shared about a child that was being home-schooled, and that child ultimately died because of abuse suffered at the hands of the child’s parent. The child’s grandmother is very upset about this, and rightly so. But the grandmother is making the case that if the child had been in public school, this abuse would have been seen and reported, rather than hidden behind closed doors because the child was home-schooled. So now the grandmother wants more rules and laws imposed on home-schooling parents so this does not happen again. This is kind of stated in a nutshell to get to the heart of what is bothering me about this.

I have home-schooled our children over the years, and our children have been in public school, as well as enrolled in a day school with some curriculum I have used. We have moved several times during our children’s school years. I have obeyed the rules and laws of each state regarding home-schooling. Some states were more regulated, others not so much.

What bothered me about the article was that the grandmother was making the case about home-schooling, not about the abuse her grandchild had suffered at the hands of the child’s parent. We as people, tend to strike out when we are hurt, misjudged, maligned, angry or grieving. We all do it, but when we cross over and make other people’s lives miserable because of it, that is wrong.

I believe very strongly that parents are responsible for their children. It is their job and duty to raise that child, to protect them, to feed, clothe and house them. It is their responsibility to teach them right from wrong, and to train them to be upstanding citizens. I personally used God’s Word, the Bible as my guide in this, and that is what has formed my view. But I do not push that on other people, and tell them my way was or is the only way. Each person has to decide their way, each parent needs to decide and carry out what is best for their child. God has given us this freedom, and the government should as well.

This freedom should extend to many areas in life in my humble opinion. If you are a parent, it should be your choice where your child attends school, your choice to vaccinate or not, your choice of where to worship, your choice of what doctor to use, your choice of what to feed your child. More laws don’t make better parents.

We have all seen the news reports of the child abuse in the Catholic church. That does not mean every priest is a child molester. We have heard of Fred Phelps and the very tragic things he did while he was alive. But that does not make every conservative, Baptist preacher the same mindset and way of doing things as Fred Phelps. If you home-school your children, you aren’t hiding behind closed doors to physically and mentally abuse your children. Yes, there are priests, pastors, teachers and parents that have abused children…but not all do. Yes, there are pastors that act crazy, but that doesn’t mean all pastors conduct themselves or their lives in the same manner. Some people are vegetarians, but that doesn’t mean all vegetarians walk around with braids in their hair, wearing jeans with daisies on them and Birkenstocks. And yes, I can remember when this was a thought pattern back in the 1970’s! My mother was very much into the health food scene and we shopped weekly with people that looked like that.

My point…don’t lump everyone or one mode of thinking into one big mess. Yes, we can use general observations in most areas. But when our thinking and observations cross over and take away someone else’s freedom and rights, then it’s wrong.

Unfortunately, children are being abused every day. It’s not a poor or rich man’s problem. It’s not about whether you home-school or public school your child. It’s about the abuse taking place. A parent doesn’t have the right to abuse a child. When a parent does this in the form of physical or emotional abuse, which can be manifested in many different ways, that parent has crossed over into the child’s right to have love, protection, food, clothing and shelter. And that is wrong.

Imposing more rules and laws doesn’t make for a more law-abiding citizen. The law-breakers still won’t care, and the law-abiding will just get more and more frustrated. Hard-working people, and common sense thinking seems to be at a premium these days. And that’s where the problem lies.

I grieve for the grandmother and the loss of her grandchild. But it wasn’t about and shouldn’t be made into the issue of why home-schooling is wrong. The focus needs to remain on the abusive parent. If I go to the grocery store and purchase a food item, and then let it set until it’s out of date, and then eat it, and then get sick…that is not the grocery store’s fault. It’s mine for being an idiot. I can’t go and demand that the grocery store never sells that product because I made a bad decision. Well, I can, and then I would be even more of an idiot! And we see this type of stuff everyday. We as a society need to stop making excuses and address the real issues at hand.

Now I will jump off my soap box!

Projects…Labors of Love

I love watching shows about decorating, landscaping, home renovating, and DIY projects. When the HGTV channel first came on, I was as happy as a pig in cool mud on a broiling summer day. I was amazed that other people enjoyed watching stuff like that too. I just thought I was weird, and my husband still thinks I am. I think it’s fascinating to observe something go from being a wreck, to beautiful. It just satisfies my soul.

Our house has been a project. I would have loved to have had the money and time to gut the place, and then put it back together again as I’ve seen them do on TV shows. After all, it only takes an hour or so, and you have a crew of people at your beck and call…right? And then, voila, your house is perfect and staged. If any of you have lived in a project home, you know that’s not the case. These are the facts:

  • If something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and then some.
  • The estimated cost of a project is about an 1/8th of what it will actually cost.
  • The time calculated to complete the project will be less than an 1/8th of the calculated time frame.
  • My husband loves this one…the projects will never, ever be done. Something else will fall apart.
  • You will grow to despise the big box stores and the mention of a tool.

We have lived in our house since October of 2005. We have painted the outside, which needs to be done again. We had a new roof put on, new bathroom, wiring, plumbing, etc. I’ve landscaped, and made it a real challenge to mow the grass. It would be incredibly boring to just mow straight, walking back and forth for hours. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds break up that monotony. The yard is lovely with shade, peonies and roses fragrant in the air. And it would be wonderful to sit in the yard and enjoy it, for the two weeks or so that it’s not broiling hot outside or freezing. Yes, that is a bit sarcastic, but it rather feels like that much of the time!

Whenever a little bit more progress has been made on our house, I’m thrilled. It’s something I can check off. Our kitchen base cabinets and sink was finally moved to their plumbed location about a month ago. New counters were installed. I love that little corner of the kitchen now!

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Once the wall cupboards are moved and the back splash is up, you won’t see that jagged corner line. But progress has been made.

This picture makes me feel thankful.

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The flowers were a Mother’s Day gift from our third daughter and fourth child. She made my favorite almond flour brownies and cold brew concentrate to go along with it. The little plaque was a gift from the church we are attending. The pastor and his wife had an assortment of signs from Hobby Lobby that the mothers were able to choose from. I thought that was very special. When the kitchen is finished, this will be a reminder for me, that God has already taken care of tomorrow…and all my expectations for anything in this life are really not that important in the light of eternity.

Those pictures make me thankful. Thankful for the time my husband, our son and son-in-laws put into the kitchen project. Our son’s Mother Day gift to me was installing a light in my office and lights in the master bedroom closets. Three more things checked off my list. Our second oldest took me to lunch for Mother’s Day. It was a really good day, the day after Mother’s Day, going to doctor’s appointments, oil change and shopping with a wonderfully behaved one-year old. Our oldest has been a tremendous help with my book editing, and going to events with me, a privilege I never thought I would have. Our youngest made me cake pops with the help of our second oldest daughter and her husband. All of this seems like bragging, but I’m not. I stand amazed at what God has allowed in my life, the gifts He has given me over the years. Special words spoken and written down by our children are sources of encouragement and leave me brimming with love.

This house has been a project. Many days I’ve wanted to just move, and eventually we probably will. But I walk through my humble home and think of all that has gone on here over the years. Each time I flip a light switch, turn on a faucet, or wipe down my new kitchen counter top, the love is there…the projects that have been accomplished for me by those I love. Gutting the house and having a crew put it back together again would have been wonderful. But I wouldn’t have the memories that I have.

March 8, 2008 before the Ball

This is the original corner of the kitchen, picture taken around seven years ago. The new base cabinets, counters and sink is now in that corner. Our family was heading out to our first ball that night. Isn’t my husband handsome? And this is our two youngest, ready for the ball. Fun memories!

Mother’s Day IS Important!

Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day. There are so many days set aside now to remember. You name something, and there is a day for it. A very quick internet search told me that Monday, May 15th is Nylon Stockings Day. I don’t think anyone calls them that anymore, and wearing them is a trial, but there is a day set aside for that. Tomorrow is also Chicken Dance Day. Another fun day to celebrate. Our children and I actually learned this dance to share at our local nursing home a few years ago. Our youngest daughter loved it, but I don’t think her siblings thought it was such a great idea. Saturday, May 20th is, Be a Millionaire Day. That might be fun to try on for a while. But as I said before, if you name it, there is a day for it.

All of that is rather fun, but I fear that days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparent’s Day will get lost in the shuffle. And yes, there is a Children’s Day, but as I always told our children, every day is your day. You don’t have to go to work, your housing and food is provided, and you have terrific parents…so every day is your day! Enjoy! They didn’t think much of that either.

I think Mother’s Day is a special day, and all of us mother’s have a list of what we think would be great for Mother’s Day. Here is a little video giving just a short version of some lists mothers may have. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVuqj0BZIGo I think any mother can probably relate to several points made here.

When I was expecting our first baby, I was about two months along for my first Mother’s Day. I was really excited about it. A day just for me…maybe some chocolate, flowers, etc. My husband was in the Air Force Reserves back then and of course he had his weekend away that first Mother’s Day for me. After feeling a bit sorry for myself, I had a great ending to that day with the return of my husband, and I know he probably brought me flowers, because he always did for special occasions.

Thinking back on that day, I smile, because I didn’t have a clue of what I was celebrating, and I hadn’t even really earned the right to wear the Mother Badge at that point in time. Being sick every, single, day for four months didn’t really count. After I delivered our 9 lb. 6 oz. daughter, three weeks late after several days of labor, I was beginning to have a clue. Along came our second, then our third, fourth and fifth. Every one with the four months of misery. Thankfully the hours of labor lessened with each one!

But delivering a baby isn’t the only aspect of being a mother, and it’s not the most important one. Because you can be a mother without delivering a baby. And that is why I believe we should celebrate Mother’s Day.

My first Mother’s Day back in May of 1987 was very special to me, but with each succeeding one, they became even more precious. The flowers and cards are always appreciated. The chocolate is anticipated. Breakfast in bed or on the way to church would be lovely, or lunch afterwards just as delicious. Jewelry, new clothes, a manicure…all great gifts. But I think any mother would say that the day is made special by the children that made her a mother.

I look back on all those years. The years that seemed as though they would take forever to end when the children were sick and up all night. The years of preparing meals, all day long, the loads, and loads, and loads of laundry. The little squabbles that irritated me, and all the questions asked. I can look back, but all of that fades into a blurry haze, and what emerges is the memory of rocking each child to sleep at night. The stories read, the times of singing when we all did the dishes, and the little squabbles that ended with hugs.

Those years are what make a mother. Those years that flew by more swiftly than I ever thought they would.

Happy Mother’s Day to our three daughters that are now mothers. I wish each of you the same fulfillment and love that I have experienced being your mother. It’s because of our five children that I can wear the Mother’s Badge.

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Shopping Is…

For many, many years, Walmart was my place to shop. I was thrilled that I could go to one place and find everything that I needed for the week. And yes, I went every week. I would generally start in the garden section in the warmer months, browsing the plants and looking for deals. Then would come the shampoo and toothpaste aisles. Of course I would swing through the clothes section, always shopping the clearance racks. Then the last, and most expensive part of the trip would be the groceries. This was my routine and I thoroughly enjoyed it, sometimes dragging several children along with me.

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Last night, my husband and our youngest went to Walmart. Long gone are the days I mentioned above! That store is now my least favorite, and I don’t even know all the reasons why. But of course I’m going to list a few here for your enjoyment! And remember, for the past several years, even getting me into a Walmart is a chore.

  • The prices are not what they once were. Yes, there are some deals still. I usually get my Tide and Downey there. Some things like mini-blinds and curtain rods are still reasonable.
  • Gone are the racks of children’s clothing on clearance with prices marked down to $.50 for a shirt or shorts. I once shopped a full season ahead, praying the clothes would still fit by the time our children could wear them without freezing or roasting. To be fair, prices are higher for everything everywhere. But last night, the clearance rack was not a deal. I know because I had just spent the better part of my day shopping online for children’s clothing. I found better deals there.
  • The atmosphere is not the same as it once was. Maybe I’m coming at it with a different perspective now. My days are fairly quite with a twelve-year old at home. Going shopping isn’t a calming experience. I think that all those hours spent in Walmart were my salvation, my opportunity to connect with the rest of the world and know there was one out there! It was my little treat, and all it cost me was the price of my groceries.
  • People everywhere are over-worked, over-stressed, over-stimulated and just plain depressed about their lives in general. That just kind of oozes out when you are in places like Walmart in my opinion. The clerks usually growl at you, the customers don’t make eye-contact, even if their phone isn’t in front of their face. It just isn’t a fun place to be. And if you are there late as we were last night, the truck is being unloaded…and don’t try to shop then! You have to be one fantastic cart-driver to get around that obstacle course! And don’t even think of browsing a shelf. If you can move the pallet of boxes in front of what you need, you’d better be quick. That Walmart associate has a job to do, and you’re not part of it.

Farmer’s Markets seem to be calling me. When I had several children trailing behind, they didn’t feel like a responsible way to spend my money or time. I wanted to leisurely choose my goods in that environment, maybe sip on a coffee and have a bagel as I chatted with other friendly people and vendors. Plus, to purchase in bulk and get all my shopping done in one place probably wasn’t going to happen at a farmer’s market when all five children were at home.

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This photograph reminds me of a place called the Carrot Barn. It was located in Schoharie County, upstate New York in the Catskills region. The place smelled earthy and fresh. There was local produce, some clothing, some antiques and always a friendly person. They even had delicious baked goods. And there was always music playing. Calming, soothe-your-soul music. Even to this day, our children will hear a song and comment that it sounds like Carrot Barn music.

Those are the memories I want to make now!

This last picture is included because I just think that’s neat! What a way to store shopping carts! Try getting one of those unlocked!

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Shopping should be as it once was. Picture the Waltons, barefoot children trailing into the store greeting Mr. Godsey. They always had something to talk about, he gave them candy. Sometimes he would make a special purchase possible, even when the money wasn’t there right then. Going to the store was a time to visit, to catch up on the town’s happenings. I can even smell the atmosphere…the earthy, fresh aroma of ground coffee beans, leather, spices and the oiled wood floor. And now…

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Confused?

I’m not really a follower. And I would rather not be a leader. But if something needs to be done, and it’s headed to the trash can…then I would rather take charge of it.

I don’t like fads or slang terminology for a certain generation. Although when I was researching my Rubyville series of books, it was extremely interesting and fun to see what slang had been used down through the decades. As far as fashion goes, I love it. I’ve always been interested in what’s in style. But these days there are some pretty weird combinations out there. If it were possible, I would wear feminine, lacy and floral prints most of the time. Do you remember Laura Ashley or Jessica McClintock fashion? I loved it! But to dress in that mode today, all the time, you might as well don the hoop skirts or bustle, you would be viewed as just as strange.

To really be truthful, I would rather that women dressed as they once did back in the 1800’s. My opinion is that women were feminine and pretty, and I think this lasted until the second World War. I realize that our active lifestyle today would not be possible in the clothing from those eras, but there is a sense of sadness for me in that.

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Somewhere along the line, women gained the vote, their rights, the ability to earn an income just like a man…and lost so much more.

Are you confused as to where this is going?

I’m not really a follower, and don’t like to be a leader in most situations. And I believe I was created that way. That does not make me less than a man, or stupid, or not able to take care of myself. At one time, women basically controlled the world from their own little environment of their home, taking care of their family and raising children. They had much information to impart to a child before they left the home environment. Their job was to teach a child to be self-sufficient in the areas of survival. A child learned skills to manage a home, whether it was outside, or inside. The mother had much to say about a child’s political and religious future. Of course the father contributed to this as well, but with young children especially, the mother was the leader.

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Sadly today, grandparents and daycare oversee most of the rearing of children. Then it’s passed onto the school system. When a child spends most of their time learning from someone other than a parent, what view on the world are they going to take?

I don’t want to stir up trouble. But I do want you to think. Of course there are bad situations and scenarios concerning almost any topic, and that includes parenting. We’ve all seen children that would probably be better off being raised by a grandparent, or another loving and capable person. But that shouldn’t be the norm.

For me, having children was a huge responsibility, and I took it very seriously. After all, I had carried that child for almost 10 months, (I never seemed to want to give that baby up!) I changed their diapers, fed them every few hours, cuddled them, and took care of them when they were sick. That was my job, and I didn’t want anyone else doing it for me. I knew I had a tremendous influence in that little person’s life, and that’s how God designed it to be.

Again, I’m not trying to bash anyone’s parenting skills. But I do want to encourage you to follow your instincts as a mother, or father. Do what you were designed to do. Don’t allow society to dictate what you should be. Mothering is the most important job out there. Yes, the pay is lousy, the hours are long, and I guarantee you will want to quit many times over. But there is absolutely no other job as important, no other job with as much influence as the one of being a mother. Take it seriously, and lead those children to greatness.

As usual, I’ve probably rambled a bit. But I guess the bottom line is, don’t be afraid to be a woman or a man, and do the job God gave you to do. There is nothing wrong with wearing feminine clothing if you’re a woman, and the same is true if you’re a man wearing masculine clothing. Why do we all have to look the same? Why do we follow what society dictates? And now society is saying we should be gender neutral so as not to offend anyone. ( Yes, this is a bit of a rabbit trail, and for another post another time!) Why do we care? If we raise our children to have respect for life, respect and love for others, the outside doesn’t matter. The soul does. And that’s what we should really care about.

Eyes Wide Open

Discernment. Now there’s a word for you! Here’s the definition copied from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of discernment

  1. 1:  the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure :  skill in discerning

  2. 2:  an act of perceiving or discerning something

That first definition is where it’s at, the heart of the word you might say, and it’s what befuddles us all. It is something we should all have. It’s a character trait that is developed over our years on this earth. We generally have very little discernment when we are young. A very young child cannot discern whether a stove is hot or cold until they touch it. Hence the need for parents and protection. Discernment should mature as we age, as we learn from touching the hot stove,  and our experiences in life.

Our experiences in life come in many different forms. Some from trial and error. “Wow, that stove top was glowing red and when I touched it, I was burned. It hurt!” Wisdom is another trait that comes with age. But a wise person will begin to listen at a young age to others that have experienced life a little bit. You bring in other aspects of trust and obedience to start working on that wisdom, and it’s what is crucial to raising children. They absolutely have to have areas of trial and error to cement something. But in other situations, it would be really lovely if they trusted and obeyed. “Child, the traffic on that highway is moving at 75 mph, don’t cross the road.”

The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. As a writer, I love to observe people. You can learn so much about a person before you ever even talk to them, just by observing their actions. Most people are fairly easy to read in the broad spectrum of things. Most people don’t hide a lot of who they are. I think it’s more about what we choose to see in someone. The one area I can think of where this is so very true is:

Dating.

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I’m fairly certain that most of us can say we dated at some point in our lives, even if it was only once in more of a courtship-type scenario. We had our eye on someone, they returned that attraction and for a period of time we were known as a couple. It may have worked out and led to marriage, or it fizzled and someone else came along. But during this period of time, we have used discernment to some extent. Maybe not well, or so well that you decided that person was not for you.

Having discernment in our teenage years and early twenties is difficult. Hormones are raging, and we tend to go blind to all the things that other person is showing and even telling us in so many ways. This is when a wise, young adult will seek guidance and listen to others that are older and have more experience in grasping and comprehending what is obscure. 

We have all come across the person that is able to put on a great act. They seem to be the perfect match. They say and do everything just right. The word seem is the one to pay attention to here. No one and no situation is perfect. So step back and observe for awhile. Sometimes this takes a few months, maybe a few years. You are looking for good character traits in a person you are thinking of marrying.

Always observe with both eyes wide open. Listen to what is actually being said, not what you want to hear. Examples of this:

  1. Your boyfriend tells you how beautiful you are, but his eyes are always watching another pretty girl.
  2. He says you can call or visit anytime, but he’s never where he says he’s going to be.
  3. He tells you he’s going to do something, but does something else.
  4. He says he wants to get married, but he doesn’t have a job, a place to  live, a car to drive, etc. He basically can’t take care of himself, but wants to add another person to the chaos.
  5. He says he loves you, but something else is always more important. His friends, partying, etc.

The list could go on and on and I’m sure you all could share some of your own. I’ve stated the above from my female viewpoint, but it can be turned around to fit the guy’s view as well. So many people have made the decision to marry into lots of problems, saying they didn’t know what the person was like. More than likely, that person showed it all, but discernment wasn’t used.

None of us will ever be perfect or find the perfect person. It will not happen on this earth. But we can save ourselves a lot of heartache if we correctly discern a certain situation.

1) Decide what kind of a person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

2) Decide what issues are extremely important to you and stick with them.

3)Don’t lower your standards to just have someone around.

Those three key statements above will take you a long way in making an informed decision about a person. Whether you are looking to be married or even a friendship. They may sound old-fashioned, and maybe they are old ideals. But they worked. Raise your children to be discerning from a very young age. It will hold them well throughout their lives.