Sunday, January 19, 2014

Just a Minute (or two)

Hello, my name is Annalisa and I am a "reactor".  When my children ask for something or whine about something or try and negotiate something I throw out my "no" like Ninja stars.  At times I'm tempted to shut them down before they even have an opportunity to ask.  If...hahahaha yeah IF!...ahem...WHEN an altercation takes place between two of my children I quickly jump in instead of taking a moment to reflect.  How can I hope to break the habit of "impulsive parenting"? 

A lovely grandmother, who is raising her grandchildren, recently read an article about French mamas.   The part that struck her, and me, was that French mamas tend to take a minute or two to reflect before responding to their children.  There is more to what she told me than that, but that was the part that stood out the most.  How might my mama-ing be different if I took and automatic 1-2 minutes?  I had to try it out. (here's one news report about it. )

Now, this has just been a few days AND my impulsive mama-ing is not going down without a fight BUT what I am noticing is even though my children's behavior isn't changing a whole lot, yet, I am finding a few seconds can change the heart of a mama. 

I think we all go through times where we find ourselves challenged by a particular child.  Any wrong done or line crossed seems to be intentional.  Most of us have also allowed totally non-child related stressors to influence our mama responses. 

Today one of my sons was being "saucy".  Before I could even speak to him he was giving attitude and being snarky.  Normally I would have called him on his attitude and disciplined him.  The discipline may have been earned, but if I had reacted at that moment it would have been out of an angry mama heart.  Mindfully taking that moment I found I calmed down and was able to respond. 

I know I have written about this before and I have had my successes and failures, but I so want to master this I'm writing about it again because motherhood is about never giving up.  This time I have let my children know that I may not answer them right away when they ask something.  They know I may send them to their rooms to cool off before I listen to their version of what happened. 

I'll keep you posted and maybe, if this is a challenge in your life, we could join together as we climb over this parenting obstacle.  Let us embrace the joy of motherhood.  It just takes a minute...or two :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Virtuous Woman

 "Who can find a virtuous wife?  For her worth is far above rubies."  Proverbs 31:10

The Proverbs 31 woman is like the Martha Stewart of the Bible.  Here is this woman who has all the giftings I don't and I'm supposed to be like her?!  You have probably already figured all of this out, but I am a slow learner.  I have spent years listening to teachings about this mystery woman who was presented to me, and other women, as the person we are to strive to emulate.  Proverbs 31:10-31 discusses an amazing wife, mother, seamstress, cook, entrepreneur, fit, frugal, humble, high achieving, perfect woman.   How could I ever do or be all those things?!  The image of this woman has been burned into my brain as what a true godly woman behaves like.  If I can somehow turn into Ma from Little House on the Prairie, perhaps I'll have a chance of reaching this level of virtue.  Perhaps if I become this woman my husband and children will be so pleased with the life I've created for them there will be little or no conflict and I might even be able to coax small animals to help with the house cleaning.  Perhaps this wasn't the intent of those who taught on this section of scripture, but it is a burden many mothers have allowed to be placed on their shoulders because of their sincere desire to follow Christ. 
Years ago I stopped buying parenting books.  Why?  Because I had a sort of "a ha" moment.  I had spent years as a young wife and mother pouring through books and trying to apply all sorts of new methods and ideas only to fail a few weeks or months later.  Then I moved on to the next "new" concept.  I finally realized these things weren't working for me because they weren't written for MY family.  Yes, I'd gleaned some good information from the numerous resources, but the reason each author was so excited about the program or chore schedule or organization plan they had created was because THEY had taken the time to investigate THEIR family and discovered would work for THEIR particular children. I had, mostly, figured this out in regards to my children, but I was still trying to be that Proverbs 31 woman.

Guess what?  I'm not her.  I am Annalisa Boyd, wife, mother, bread baker, author.  Does this mean I throw up my hands and stop trying to be a virtuous woman?  NO!  What I think is often missed with regards to the Proverbs 31 woman are the last two verses.

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:30b-31

We are supposed to fear the Lord and reap the fruit we have planted in the life of the home.  I can't be a Proverbs 31 woman but I can be a 6701 woman (my house number).  I can humble myself and learn from my Lord what is needed in my home, with my husband, our children at this time in life.  I can be the expert on my family whether I'm ever a good cook, seamstress, entrepreneur, body builder or not.  

Let us lay down the preconceived ideas that burden us as caretakers of our homes.  Let us instead endeavor to be who Christ has called us to be as wives to the husband we have and mother to the children we've been blessed with.  If I'm an expert on someone else's child I accomplish nothing in my own home.  Let us fill our homes with joy as we take care of the work right in front of us. 

May the Lord be glorified.



Monday, January 6, 2014

Anniversary Sermon

This was not written by me.  This was written by my godfather Fr. Andrew Beck at the 1 year anniversary of his wife's death.  I thought it important to share.

Anniversary Sermon   

One year ago, almost to the day, Kh. Terry Elizabeth died. I wanted to share a bit of what her thoughts were during the last days of her life for I find them instructive.
I imagine all of us, if given the time to do it, would develop a plan to get some things finalized so as not to leave too many loose ends; a time to right relationships and maybe even accomplish a short ‘bucket list’. Terry’s list focused on time with family and making Christmas stockings with several of you (yes, many, many Christmas stockings!) and even a trip to Colorado to spend time with her brother, Steve. To show our kids the lake at his place and swim and paddle with them.
However, that is not what I wanted to speak to. What I really appreciated was a gentle rebuke she gave to me about a month before she died. I had just returned home from a busy work day that included getting the kids ready for school, dropping them off at their preschool, elementary school and high school. It was a rather full day of activity for me.

When I came home I went to see how Terry was doing and to talk with her about the day like we often did. The room was dark and I could hear the air pump inflating her hospital bed mattress. I knew I needed to ‘shift gears’, slow down and be there for her as best I could. I asked how things were going- her tears were my only answer. I began to share with her ‘my day’ and what was going on with the kids and all the ‘busy ness’ of the day.

After a moment she interrupted me. She asked me not to bring ‘distraction’ into her situation. She let me know that life is now passing from her and she can no longer be concerned with the details expressed in this world. She said she must now focus on seeing Christ’s face, focus on life in the next world. She wisely informed me that by this cross she was bearing the world was now being crucified to her and she to the world. She had always been good at being concerned for others and their ‘details’ but now was different-now she needed to focus on the one thing necessary- her final cross.
I can’t remember the name of the TV show back in the late 60’s that was predicated on the main character being told he had a serious illness and had a year to live. The series developed predicated on how that information changed the way he lived throughout each weekly episode.

Even as a young man it struck me as odd, not that knowing your death was at hand would change the way you choose to live but it was odd that this character wouldn’t know that already. It shouldn’t take a doctor to tell him he is about to die to get his life in order. The saints , the martyrs and the Holy ones of our church all instruct us to live out each day with the knowledge that our death is imminent. It doesn’t matter if you think you have 5 days, 5 months or 5 decades to run out the course of your life. Your death is imminent!!!

Knowing that death is imminent certainly should move us to focus on those things that are eternal,  important and most glorious. Knowing that death is imminent should move us to remove ‘distraction’ that might keep us from ‘seeing’ the path -for God leads us on the path of righteousness for His Name sake.

Today we heard II Cor. 4-It was God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” Who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. While we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Monks have often chosen to sleep each night in the coffin they would someday be buried in. That may seem morbid to the world but hyperbole is sometimes the best way to show a point. St. Paul writes to his beloved Timothy- “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier………. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”

This process of detaching obviously is appropriate at one season and very inappropriate at another. There is a time to sow and a time to reap;  there is a time to throw stones and a time to refrain from throwing stones and there is a time to live and a time to die. Terry’s time required a detaching from all that this world had been to her so that she could move into the realm where there is no season or time.

While we draw the breath of life we are to walk in life with the understanding that life on this earth is temporal; it is not our eternal dwelling place; it is to be lived as a sojourner in this world, not as a permanent resident. None of us can afford to miss this point. We are to lay down our distracting burden and take up His light yoke. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. We must learn to wean ourselves from the distractions and attachments that can so easily prevent us from pleasing the One who enlisted us- from experiencing the glory of God in the Face of Christ Jesus. 

Fr. Andrew Beck, October 6th, 2013

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I Can SOOOO Relate!

I was the young mother of one precious daughter at the time.  She was a good baby, but motherhood is a big transition, no matter how much experience with children you have.  There are always people around you who look like they have it all together.  They always speak calmly to their children.  They are always on time.  They even always manage to have time to shower and dress in a stylish way. 

One Sunday my together, stylish, calm, showered friend came to our new members group at church looking exhausted, hair out of place and ready to cry.   Her husband had been on a business trip and her two young daughters were giving her a run for her money.  I know it was wrong of me but I was SO happy to see her struggling so.  I saw, for the first time, that she was a mom like me AND if she is a mom like me then there is hope for me to be a mom like her.  Now what I should have done is tuck that little treasure moment in my heart for future reference on discouraging days.  Instead I kept remarking on how pleased I was to see her hair out of place and commented on how exhausted she looked.  I didn't say it once but several times with her kind eyes pleading with me to SHUT UP. 

It is important for us to share one another's burdens.  It is important to be able to relate to one another as wives, mothers...women.  How can we grow and learn and have a positive impact in our homes if we are stuck with belief that everyone else has it all together?  That would cause many a mother, me included, to want to throw in the towel very early on in the game.  BUT, being able to share those down and dirty real RAW moments helps us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, cling more tightly to the robes of Christ and walk forward in our weakness.  My first daughter will be 20 in just a few days.  I am truly thankful for that stressed out mama, although I have learned to be tactful...more often...

May this new year bring you great joy as you continue to Mama your children.