Thursday, April 29, 2010

Too much like Martha...

Balance is often hard for me. I put my all into activities and ideas. I am by no means the best at what I do, but I work hard to accomplish things in a good manner. This week Martha and Mary have laid heavy on my heart and mind. I was cleaning up some things and saw where Lily had learned the story of Martha and Mary welcoming Jesus into their home. As I asked her again about what she learned in Sunday School, I’m sure my mind was a million miles away. My mind was on the kitchen and the potty room and what J.J. could possibly getting into at the time. As I half-heartedly told her my own version of the story, I literally remember sarcastically mumbling under my breath as I worked, “I could be a little more like Mary and a little less like Martha.”

Even when I just had Lily I struggled with the balance between homemaking and spending time with her. If I was cleaning I felt like I needed to be in the floor with her and if I was in the floor with her I was thinking of what needed to be done and wandering if I should let her alone to become an independent player. When J.J. arrived, the balance became even more out of whack on some days. Either way, the situation and she turned out pretty much fine. She loves to have us there with her, but she can also find ways to entertain herself.

As I have gone through the week though, I’ve realized my inability at times to just let go and be, to stop what I am doing and focus on where I am. I believe sometimes even though I’m there with my children, I can tend to become disconnected and not really be there.

Martha was so concerned with making her Guest comfortable, she neglected to enjoy His presence. As I tarry about this home, I focus on always doing the right thing and keeping up with this image in my head of who I should be. As I do this, I fail to enjoy those in my presence…even when the One of my presence is the One that matters most.

I pray that God can move my heart to be able to find physical, mental, and spiritual rest from the worldly concerns that keep me from having a spirit like Mary’s.

As I dealt with this even today, I was blessed to find spiritual uplifting from Raising Arrows when Amy wrote about The Perfect Mom.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You want me to eat what?

Food is a serious issue around our house. We love it! We live to eat all the way. We love bacon and sausage and pancakes and roast and fried chicken…you get the point. Southern comfort food is a must! Saturated fat is a food group in our home. But that is changing…

Nate recently had to undergo some testing due to some liver issues. There was a little blood work, an ultrasound, and ultimately a biopsy. The diagnosis was on the better end of liver problems. Best-case scenario was nothing…next best case was fatty liver. And that is where we landed. Medically speaking it is steatohepatitis. Basically, fat has accumulated around his liver and caused inflammation. His doctor has prescribed prednisone, but I have prescribed a diet overhaul. Apparently, fatty liver disease is becoming pretty prevalent due to the rise in obesity and diabetes. One site I found even referred to it as a “rich country disease.” Apparently, our food group of saturated fat hasn’t been pairing too well with Nate’s liver.

So, with the power of food in my hands at home, I am off on a mission. In our seven years together, we have had small journeys of eating healthier. Usually those journeys are short-lived as he longs for something greasy and I long for something sugary. His health is serious though. He has too many things going against him not to get healthy…and I could lose a few lot of pounds, too.

I know the best way to do this is Clean Eating. If you haven’t heard about it you can check it out HERE. I did this about six months after having Lily to lose weight...until J.J. decided to make his presence known and I quit. The general idea is to eat foods that are as whole and natural as possible. Processed foods are horrible for our bodies and one of the main reasons our country is suffering so much with nutritional and health issues. (I know lots and lots about nutrition and fitness and yet put none of it into action.)

So anyways, Nate is completely aware that I’ve been working on new menu plans and trying to find a plan for his new healthy liver! I’m a planner and when I start planning…it’s all about business. So, I get my stuff together and I’m somewhat ready for my grocery trip. Let me repeat, Nate is completely aware that I’m going towards a whole foods eating plan. We discussed this while I spent two hours on the couch Monday night making meal plans. We did discuss gradually easing into the plan. For example, really focusing on drinking only water. (Which I’ve been doing for about one or two weeks now.)

So, how we both found ourselves in complete and utter shock when he met me at the grocery store yesterday I will never know. He arrived and I was pretty much finished with my shopping at Food City with a cart full of fresh fruits and vegetables. This was good stuff and I was pumped! He looks at me with this glazed look and said, “I thought we were going to ease into this?” And I say, “We are. We’re not completely clean eating.” So, he requests for my meal plan. “Well, it looks like we’re completely clean eating to me.” And then I say, “I told you I was working on a plan and this is just preparing us. You sat there for TWO hours while I talked with about meals that would be OK with you.” So, he’s just bumfuzzled. “So, what part of this is not clean?” My reply (snicker, snicker), “Well, I’m not buying bee pollen and we’re not doing natural nut butters, yet.”

So, I admit it. I have a plan and my test subject is not being compliant. Apparently, he declares he has a food allergy to whole foods. So, after a day of good clean eating meals and snacks, he gets some meatball subs for dinner to make him feel more like he's easing into it. (BTW- 44% DV of saturated fat...makes me SICK! Food labels should definitely be a MUST in all food facilities.)

And besides, when have I ever eased in to anything? Remember…?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My baby boy is one!

My little J.J. came into my world a mere year ago and how this year has flown by. We got off to a rough start but my love for him has been so overwhelming from the beginning. When his dad wanted to throw him out, I held him close and just loved him. For those that know J.J., you know his smile and eyes steal your heart the moment you look at him. He is rambunctious, loud, fussy, and uncontainable. At the same time, he is loving, funny, adorable, and cuddly.

After Lily and I made his cake and cupcakes, we headed out for a day at our favorite park with friends and family.

J.J. patiently waited for his sister to blow out the candle before digging in his cake. (Notice the icing already on his hands…) Nana said he’s the only baby she’s ever seen that you didn’t have to put his hands in the cake! She missed him ripping his plate off the table and me catching chicken tenders in mid air ten minutes earlier.

Happy Birthday, my J.J! I love you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Will you go beyond?

I was speaking with a friend recently about my previous work with children who had been abused and/or neglected by their caretakers. She explained how she really didn’t understand because it was a “whole different world” than what she was exposed to as a child or an adult. Many of us go through life na├»ve about the happenings in our country or even our own neighborhood. We know differently, but tell ourselves that everyone else in the world is chugging right along like we are…it makes it easier for us to do nothing.

The children I worked with were physically and sexually abused, nutritionally and environmentally neglected, drug-exposed, and often times just in the middle of a horrible custody dispute that had unfounded accusations flying. I worked both in the role of child protective service worker removing children from their homes and as a CASA representative encouraging the courts to speed up permanency for the children. Being involved to this capacity revealed to me the major instability in the homes of children all around this country.

In recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want to encourage you also to see what you can do to create awareness for child abuse in our towns and in our country. The National CASA website states that, “Each year, approximately 780,000 children in the US are caught up in the court and child welfare maze because they are unable to live safely at home.” Seven hundred-eighty THOUSAND children are unable to live safely at home! (And imagine all the unreported incidents of child abuse and neglect.)

So, what happens once these children are in the court system? Some of them are lucky enough to have grandparents or aunts and uncles or even the other mom or dad to take custody while their custodial parent works out their “issues.” Along with that luck comes the family bickering and the constant fighting between family members. For those not so lucky, they get placed in the foster care system and possibly even moved from home to home. They spend their time being in the custody of the state. Either way, the children’s next steps in life depend on what happens at the next court date, which may not occur for 30 or 90 or even 180 days! Some children stay in the foster care system for years with no stability and no permanency.

That’s where CASA volunteers can make a difference. A Court Appointed Special Advocate meets with the child and becomes the voice for that child in court. By interviewing family members, teachers, counselors, and any other pertinent people in that child’s life, the CASA volunteer makes recommendations to the Juvenile Court Judge as to what would be in the best interest of the child. The CASA volunteer is able to think outside the box of the social welfare system and outside the box of legalese. They are able to go beyond an occupation and get personal with a child. CASA volunteers take the time to go beyond what is in front of them and find suitable placements that no one else knew were there. CASA volunteers encourage for reunification or adoption to get the child out of the system and into permanent homes.

Are you ready to go beyond for a child? Good news, you can! CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life. CASA volunteers are anyone willing to take the time to speak up and go beyond for a child.

You can receive all the training you need at your local CASA program.

Visit the National CASA website to find a program near you.

The local CASA program for Hawkins and Sullivan Counties can be found HERE.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shelly Frank's Cheesy Red Potato Salad

Watch out Paula Deen!

I just had the best potato salad of my life…and it was MY recipe! Here is the deal. I can cook good foods, but I’m not a good cook. If that doesn’t make sense let me put it this way… I’m food ignorant. You give me a good recipe, and it will taste as if the chef made it his or her self. (Well, maybe not that good.) But to handle things on my own, that’s unheard of.

Today I had some red potatoes I wanted to roast and well… I’m baking a bone in chicken in the oven and cooking time would really confuse me if I threw in some potatoes, too. (Like I said, cooks good food, not a good cook.)

I went on a recipe search for cooking the potatoes on the grill and nothing really sounded good so I went with winging a Tater Salad recipe on my own. I figured surely I had enough ingredients in there to get something going…so here goes. The best tater salad EVER.

Shelly Frank’s Cheesy Red Potato Salad

Stuff you need:
(This is my quantity for my 2 adults, a 2 year old that eats like a bird, and a 1 year old that eats like a bear ready to hibernate.)

6-8 Red Potatoes
3 Eggs
2 chopped dill pickles
½ a large sweet onion NOTE: Green onion would probably be better, I didn’t have it on hand.
Black peppercorn crushed (aka, pepper)
Salt (I just dump it in, I don’t know how much? Same with the crushed pepper)
2-3 globs Tbs of mayo
Sargento Bistro Blends® Sharp Wisconsin & Vermont Cheddar with Real Bacon

Boil your red potatoes whole for about 25-30 minutes. You should be able to pierce them with a fork.
Boil your eggs.
Chop your pickles and onion.
Go ahead and dump in the salt and pepper and mix it up.
Chop your eggs and mix in.
Cut your potatoes into wedges trying to keep the pieces about 1 inch to keep it chunky.
Add mayo.
Add cheese according to your own taste. I probably used about ½ cup.

Enjoy! Good stuff!

(I got Sargento shredded cheese on sale last week at Food City. The blend is sharp and mild cheddar with bacon if you want to make your own.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Modern-Day Homemaker

Let me paint a picture for you, my picture of the modern-day homemaker. I agree with the ladies over at LAF that say the world wants you to believe the homemaker is the weaker option, especially if that means being submissive to your husband and depending on him. But there is a bigger picture, one seen for generations to come. Visit LAF to see a different picture.

In all honesty, I believe the term “modern-day” homemaker may not be fitting for the women of LAF and myself. Maybe if you just add Christian to the phrase? I believe there are other homemakers out there that have a different vision than we do. It’s that lifestyle that destroys the vision of where we are going. Some of us have just found this path and find that we are often unbalanced and confused as to how to get on the narrow, godly path and away for the worldly highway. This is my picture of the homemaker.

We awake early to spend time with the Lord in prayer and His Word. Our prayers are for His guidance to bring up our children in the way He would have them to go and to not fall into worldliness. Our prayers are for His Hand to be on us all day, every day.

We are ever present with our children and involve them in our daily lives. They are by our side while we cook and clean, do errands, talk with friends, and worship God. We won’t get a job when they go off to school because they won’t be going off to school. We read, study, and pray voraciously because we know their lives are in our hands. Our concern is not what the world may think, but what God commands. We realize that to teach modesty and humility, we ourselves must be modest and humble.

We try to teach our children to rejoice and praise God in all things. We desire for our children to know God and to be given new hearts. We teach them about their sin and their need for Christ, not on Sundays, but every day and when they sin. As we disciple them, we are more convicted about our own sin that we have seen in them. And then we teach them by our own actions, we must always turn back and depend on God.

We see a sick and dying culture. We see men of little faith. We are reminded of Abraham. We are reminded of how he was given the promise though he never saw the land. It was through his descendents that God fulfilled His words. We see our children and their children and their children being servants for God.

So, our days are spent preparing them for just that.

(And let me add…just as we teach our children to repent, our own repentance is unending because we fail…DAILY.)