We Wash Feet

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Archive for the category “family”

Where Are All the Heroes?

I enjoy reading and posting updates on Facebook.  With a modest number of friends most of my posts receive a few likes by friends and a comment or two now and then. My more popular posts having 20-30 likes, so when I have a post that skyrockets over that 30 ceiling, I tend to take a second look.

I recently posted this:

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Why did this post about my husband repairing our central heat and air receive 124 likes or reactions?  I didn’t attach a picture or meme. I didn’t tag anyone.  What was it about cheering on my husband that resonated with my FB friends more than the things I normally share? Why don’t I see more of “I have an awesome man for a husband” type posts in my newsfeed? Men have taken a tough blow over this last decade or two. Just think about it, you can honestly not watch a single commercial or television show without a man being portrayed as weak, ignorant, deadbeat, or unable to control their thoughts or actions. Why am I, like so many others, silent at this onslaught of negative and demeaning characterizations of today’s man? There is something wrong happening here. The men I know are not like this. My husband, sons, dad, uncles, nephews, and various male friends are none of those things. They are strong, intelligent, involved, and self-controlled. So why are men generalized to be less than? What has happened to our heroes, brave warriors, our white hats who ride in and save the day?

Before I go a step forward with these thoughts, you need to know I am a self-confident, educated, and driven Christian woman. I know who I am and where I am going. I make my own choices and live with the consequences, successes and failures.  I’m all for equality and women’s rights and it breaks my heart when I hear of the mistreatment of my sisters.  It turns my stomach when I read about women and children forced into slave sex trafficking. I get angry when I hear about the victims of female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, rape and worse. These things are evil.  These things are not part of God’s plan for His girls.  God has a beautiful plan and design for His girls, just read Proverbs 31 if you doubt God doesn’t want His girls to be self-confident, driven and successful.

I hear so much about breaking through the infamous glass ceiling, rising above past discriminations, and propelling forward for our sisterhood everywhere. I read about women’s rights, equality and liberation. I was born in the seventies so women’s liberation was noticeable, part of classroom discussions, common. As a young women in my junior year at university, I took a class entitled “Spirituality for Women.” Naively, I was expecting a class focused on our Christian walk, after all I was at a private Catholic university, but instead the agenda was more of a recruitment to embrace feminism.  A blessed sister of the Catholic church, hell bent on proving that the female was superior to the male, not to mention her right to enter the priesthood, gave me my first sampling of feminism. It was bitter water. It didn’t take long to realize the misguided direction of her anger. Please don’t misunderstand me here, I believe women should have every opportunity afforded to men but here is where I differ. I do not need to climb over, step on or dismember manhood because I was born female.  Trust me!  I sing my own version of the old commercial’s jingle just fine! I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan!  And I make sure, my husband doesn’t forget he’s a man!

For the sake of saving my husband from embarrassment, let’s get back to the point:

In our pursuit of women’s liberation, we began to shout, “I don’t need to be rescued, I’m not a damsel in distress, I’ve got this.” We empowered little girls everywhere to dress up like princesses and save themselves, their kingdoms, and their subjects! Go Girls!  And that isn’t a bad thing in itself but with those same cries we began to hush the boisterous, loud excitement of competitive games of tag, kickball and foot races, we broke apart the friendly wrestling matches on the school playground and in our backyards. We began to strip away the toy weapons, tiny soldiers and masked heroes from our sons. We awarded participation ribbons and declared them all winners! When our young boys didn’t comply, we diagnosed them, medicated them and wondered why our sons are so, so, so…… them.

Why is it so difficult to embrace the beauty in both the feminine and the masculine?  We are made to be different. To look different, to feel different, to react different. Differences that should be celebrated and nurtured.  Let the little girl dream of her hero rescuing her from the clutches of the vile villain. Let the little boy dream of defending his princess with his sword and shield.  That doesn’t mean she can’t dream of saving the day too or that he can’t dream about being rescued. We do not have to rip one gender apart, stripping it of any fragment of decency to promote another.

Why must we exchange our knights in shining armor for court jesters?
Contrary to what today’s television programming may portray, men are not morons, nitwits, imbeciles or any other expletive.  I am not married to nor am I raising bumbling idiots. My boys, my three incredible sons are being raised as the royalty they are.  Yes all three of my boys are being groomed to be Knights in Shining Armor, White Hat Wearing, door opening, yes ma’am and no ma’am addressing young men.  They are prayed over continuously. They know Mama is their greatest cheerleader and a ready advocate when necessary. They know how to say I’m sorry, excuse me, and use proper table manners.  They can change a tire, check the oil, and move heavy furniture when requested. They can cook, clean, and do laundry.  They are being trained to be strong and fierce, to be gentle and kind. To work hard and provide for their families, to love their wives like Jesus loves them and to raise their children to know God and make Him known. They are becoming mighty men of God. Men who won’t hesitate to defend your honor, stand up for you, fight for you, rescue you, carry you, protect you, provide for you and love you. They are preparing to serve you in the humblest of ways. They are becoming heroes.

I’m for sure playing my part in seeing this happen but in actuality, my role, although significant, pales next to the example they see in their Daddy.  All this day to day training is alongside a father who also lifts them up in prayer, rivals my cheerleading and advocacy and holds them accountable for their actions and words. I didn’t teach them to check my oil or fill my gas or even help me to carry in the groceries. Daddy did that.  They can cook, clean and do laundry because they had a dad to show them through his example and teaching.  This fierceness, strength, gentleness and kindness I’m referring to, they get a front row seat. All this chivalry mentioned, it’s played out before their very eyes every single day. My hero, their daddy, makes me swoon. He’s the hero Bonnie Tyler sang about!  I need him and he needs me.  We are partners, lovers, best friends. He is my husband and I am his wife. We are living the dream.

I want my sons, my grandsons, even my great grandsons to live in and pass down this legacy.  Is it too much to ask for men to be portrayed accurately? Our boys need heroes and examples to follow.  They deserve to see honorable, respected leaders who are motivated and empowered to live life with integrity and courage. They need to see men who are willing to weather the storms of life and take on the difficult responsibilities that come their way. Let’s stop elevating the men who neglect their responsibilities, shirk their duties, and abandon their families.  That kind of man isn’t a man at all and he is definitely no hero.

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This Is Called Community 

IMG_0137We love Friday nights!  We anticipate Friday nights!  We often plan events as to not conflict with our Friday Night Meatballs! We are going on our fifth month announcing weekly open invitations to come have a meal around our table.  I cook up the sauce and noodles, and everyone else contributes sides, desserts, and beverages!

I promised pictures not necessarily my endless ramblings. Ummm  I still haven’t taken any past the simmering pot of meatballs bobbing in a pool of spaghetti sauce. In my defense, I’m not thinking about my camera, I’m sitting around a table with friends and family, laughing, connecting, building community.

Here’s a few thoughts intermingled with more of my random musings on our nights of open door hospitality.

Teenagers, kids, singles, marrieds, parents, grandparents, seniors ALL mesh beautifully. It can get loud! It can get chaotic! Be prepared!

This is called community. 

Everyone likes to eat.  Everyone likes to laugh. All carry burdens. All need each other. Be ready to listen.

This is called community. 

People are busy but even the busiest need down time and nourishment. Everyone needs friendship. Friendship deepens around the table.  It can only happen when you move to be intentional. Be intentional.

This is called community.

A majority of our guests are our church family, people we worship beside Sunday after Sunday and I’m ashamed to admit, most I didn’t really know. At least not in the way that the word family insinuates.

Meatballs is changing that.

Since we began opening our home, I’ve listened to vulnerable, transparent hearts speak of loneliness, grief, restoration, joy and so much more. I’ve got to love on children who have been rescued and adopted, children who pray alongside their mom and grandparents for their father’s safe return, and children and youth bearing unbelievably heavy burdens. I’ve hugged teenagers and spoke life over them, I’ve listened as a weary sister in a new town relaxed, enjoying a small respite from providing care for her Alzheimers stricken Husband. I’ve shared of homeschooling, raising boys, and God’s grace. I’ve invited friends  to join us for church and ensured them of their welcome there.  And when I’ve grown tired, I’ve been blessed and encouraged, listened to and hugged.

This is called community. 

Keep a guest book. On my entryway table, friends new and old sign its pages. It’s fun to record who was here which night. Some nights it’s in the twenties, other nights it’s my family plus one more. There is beauty in both.

I’m thinking of adding a prayer box of some sort on my entryway table. Bearing one another’s burdens is essential to life and well prayer, everybody can use more of that.

This is called community.

We serve buffet style at 6:30. Plates on the counter,  Noodles in pots warming on the stove, sauce and meatballs simmering in the crockpot beside the stove, often times followed by baskets of bread. Salads and bowls rest on the small kitchen table with toppings, dressings and croutons! Desserts on the buffet cart, drinks on the counter with the cabinet doors above swung open to reach our glasses. Simple is best, even if I must fight my inner event planning, tablescaping tendencies.

Oh and If you can’t come at 6:30, come late. Spaghetti warms up nicely in the microwave! We would love to see you there.

 This IS our community. 

A simple Meal with friends 

 We did it. We offered a meal of spaghetti and meatballs. My parents, niece and nephew, my son’s girlfriend, and a friend and her daughter joined our family of five.  My parents brought brownies, my friend brought salad and soda. We had a nice dinner with good conversation followed by a lively round of Apples to Apples. It was a great night.

It just wasn’t what I had anticipated. I expected to have a house full.  I expected the entire community to line up to get a seat around my dining room table, to fight over my company. How conceited is that? I felt disappointed. Emotions can be so weird, after all, there were 12 people present, all of which I adore and love to spend time with and yet I just confessed to feeling disappointed.  

Did I mention, I want to be real? I have to be real. I am real, not a picture perfect Christian with ‘Jesus, others, you’ priorities in a neat little row. You would see right through that anyways. 

I did the only thing I really knew to do. I prayed about Friday Night Meatballs.  Yes that may seem silly to some but I truly believe in a relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ. He cares about me and wants to hear about every area of my life. I take my questions, concerns, successes, and failures to Him. It’s part of who I am and who I want to be. 

So I prayed for contentment with whomever God sends, if anyone.  I questioned my motives. Did I seek Him first? Was this plan from him or was this my doing? Would my time be better spent elsewhere? What is my intention? What made me disappointed? 

What I discovered: My motives were much more selfish than my invitation had suggested. Friday Night Meatballs is more for me than you. I want to connect with other Christians in a deeper way, to fellowship, to build closer friendships.   I’ve ask him to bless this and make it what he wants it to be. 

And just like with God’s grace I get to try again.  Not to host a larger crowd but to participate. To enjoy a simple meal with a guest list of 2 or 22. To laugh, to share, to relish your company. Yes it is still an open invitation and I do hope you join us but if you never do…. I will not be disappointed. 

 

 

 A New Tradition – Friday Night Meatballs

During recent conversations, Mike and I have been talking about God’s desire for our lives, our ministry, and our home. We shared our desire to build deeper relationships with other Christians and to reach others with the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. We talked about linking arms with like minded people to bring change as we serve our community. We talked about how busy our lives and the lives of everyone we know have become. We talked about slowing down and connecting our hearts to others.

These conversations really pulled on my heart strings. It threw me into a planning mode. Now, if you know me at all, you know what that means. I’m a list maker, a planner and easily get carried away. I love planning parties, events, and activities. I have storage shelves stacked with table decorations and serving dishes, not to mention boxes chocked full of reusable, leftover supplies from hosting various events. Give me a theme and I’ll make you a Pinterest worthy plan and throw you a one of a kind get-together. Of course, get-togethers, events and activities take time. I’ve planned my fair share of dinner parties, family cookouts, and small group luncheons. The amount of work they entail makes it impossible to host with any consistent frequency. Obviously, this was not the answer.  

Mike and I both remember our mothers frequently hosting Sunday night meals. I can tell so many stories, of after church sandwich smorgasbords, pizza or chili for whoever showed up. How did our mothers do it? First of all, our parents didn’t make a big deal about hosting family and friends for dinner, in fact, leftovers were often served along with whatever their guests contributed to the meal. This wasn’t the time for fancy centerpieces and cloth napkins. This was breaking bread together.   

Although this isn’t an original concept, it is definitely one neglected in today’s day and age. My family is too busy. Your family is too busy. We rush from activity to activity, shuttling our kids from place to place. We answer yes when we should shout NO! We never consider opening our homes, as we would actually have to BE home. Yet, I hunger for fellowship, friendships that are deeper than Facebook and the novelty of having guests over without a huge fuss. We must open our heart and home.

That’s when I stumbled across Friday Night Meatballs. Over in Philadelphia there is a freelance writer whose article on seriouseats.com went viral.  She started Friday Night Meatballs the movement!  
In another post on the blog, Intentional Grace, Leigh Ann Dutton states: 

 Sharing a meal with friends is an intimate and profound way of living out the Gospel in our homes. Sharing a meal is simple. There is a richness to breaking bread and sharing communion. Of remembering. Of confessing. Of sharing. Conversations are rich when faces are familiar. People are hungry. I want to offer them the Bread of Life. I want my home to be a place that makes it impossible to not think about God. I want my home to be a place of refreshment and community. A place where you can be you, the you God created you to be. 

I share her sentiments and plan to follow not only her more recent example but the example of countless other hostesses.  We are determined to slow down and enjoy communion and time with our friends and family. We are joining the dinner table movement, committing to once a week, regular fellowship with whomever the Lord brings our way.  We are instituting the Friday Night Meatballs tradition in our home!

This tradition isn’t about the food served or the night chosen. Friday night meatballs can be any night of the week and doesn’t have to be meatballs. Some families do Tuesday Night Tacos or a Sunday Dinner worthy of honored guests.  This is about breaking bread together, the being together, the sharing. Mike and I are sticking to the spaghetti and meatballs menu – keeping it simple is important. After a quick review of our calendar, Friday nights will be our night as well.  Of course, do be prepared for hopefully rare exceptions to this every Friday night rule.  Just keeping real people!

 Here’s my version of our invitation:

Starting this Friday, we’re cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who’d like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who’d like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: You are welcome at our table. We’ll just ask that you let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make.
You can bring something, but you don’t have to. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. You might be asked to read picture books or play a video game. We will attempt to spend time together, old and new friends, our community. We are looking forward to time to break bread, share communion, and just breathe together.
You’re invited!
(Our pertinent When and Where information)
Kids are welcome and encouraged. This is meant to be a family affair. If you would, please add your name to the Google spreadsheet and let us know if you want to bring something, it will help us plan ahead (meatballs, chairs, etc.). We look forward to hanging out with you, and we pray you have a blessed week!
Mike and Monica 

Now that the invites are out I’m so excited. I’m hopeful this simple act of hospitality is well received, but whether we have our five or we have twenty-five we are moving forward.  I will be adding our house on the meatball map at http://www.fridaynightmeatballs.com and promise to update you on our fun with future pictures as well!

Summer Begins

School ended Friday with an early dismissal.  Tim practically drug his teacher’s end of year gift into the school.  It was a little bit heavy for a first grader but he was insistent in being the one to bring it to her. His class enjoyed a movie and playtime and a breakfast treat of donut holes, fresh fruit, boiled eggs and co-jack cheese squares. Then we washed it all down with juice boxes. Tim’s class enjoyed one last carpet discussion with their teacher, discussing their favorites memories from the year and piping up to list vocabulary words and their meanings, which seemed more difficult than your average first grade.  It was impressive hearing them add words like infer, sincerely, contrast, and compare to their list, and even more impressive when different kids would pipe up with the correct definition.  I thoroughly enjoyed my “fly on the wall” moment, soaking it all in, especially since these Mommy moments are few since I teach at my child’s school.

 

Tim and I chose a bag of sunshine to give his teacher as a departing gift.  It doubled as a teacher 119appreciation gift because I never managed to do anything during that week long celebration.  I really wanted to shower her with our appreciation for a dream experience in the first grade.

I chose a bright green cooler bag to stuff full of bright yellow, summery items for her to enjoy.  A beach towel, candies, seeds, lotion and body wash, gum, candle, chap stick, and other goodies filled the inside. I didn’t take a picture of the tag I attached but it was a bright yellow sunshine saying thank you for helping us to shine this year.

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After school ended, Jeff picked Tim up from school and took him home.  I stayed for the end of the school year teacher’s luncheon and then headed home to begin our summer vacation!

 

Snow Dazed

This self proclaimed North Dakota Girl (15 influential years), transplanted back to her hometown, TN,  has been experiencing true snow days! In all the years of bitterly cold winters, snowball fights, sledding, snow forts and tunnels, would you believe I never experienced a snow day? That’s right, I went to school in the coldest parts of our nation. (Alaska’s tundra – the exception) Never once did I experience a snow day until Tennessee public school days!

Snow days here are extraordinary. I totally understand why schools are closed and why my northern buddies poke fun at me on Facebook. We were out four days last week and four days this week.  Oh and we actually got snow today! We went to bed with an inch but woke up to about 6 inches everywhere.  My youngest son was up and out bright and early, tracking through the snow.  Bowls of snow cream were made for breakfast for us from the buckets he placed on the deck the night before.

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Then the hunt began.  Even though we claim ND as home we do not own a sled, not a single one.  Of course every store in our county received a phone call, to no avail.  So what’s a dad to do?  No sleds but kids with wishful faces can cause you to do some strange things.  Today it was homemade sleds made out of an old plastic garbage can.  Yep he split that puppy right down the middle and tied rope to the front.

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As soon as the teenagers were up it was off to the sledding hill with their friends, thankfully they let their little brother tag along.  They trudged home through the melting slush an hour or two later with reports that the garbage can sleds were a bust. Dad’s heart was in the best of places, and hey, you never know until you try.   Thankfully they knew some of the neighbors sledding and shared their sleds.  “Thank you Neighbors!”

Tomorrow is yet another snow day and by Monday we will be in March and that should take us into next year without anymore snow!  Oh and I’ve heard, sleds can be purchased online fairly reasonable so maybe next year we can be prepared and share our sleds with the friends who need a ride.

A Family Thought 

Family is important.

Spending time with family is even more so.

So why do we mostly get together only on holidays?   I use to understand that miles held us apart, but now miles no longer separate the majority of us.  We live in the same valley, travel the same highways.

Busy days.

Separate lives.

I do not know my cousins or their kids.

I Facebook. That helps.  I try my best to be at their showers, celebrations, parties and events— when invited.

I Facebook. That hurts.  I wince at out of state wedding pictures and Local birthday parties for littles. I would have sent a gift. Possibly even delivered it.  I want to be included.

Our paths occasionally cross at restaurants ….. community events …….. and funerals. I want to get to know them.   Do they long to know me better, to reminisce of camps and sleepovers and to fashion new memories?

Soon a new year will begin, with new goals and resolutions. I want one of mine to be to get to know more of my family. After all we’ve lived in the same town for most of my married life.  My mother’s family and my father’s are mostly within an hours radius.  Some are further but most are close.

So how do I begin? How can I make this be more than just a wishful, fleeting thought while I’m reflecting on 2014?

Take that first step.  Invite a couple of them to lunch? Include them in my own activities? Ask them how they are doing? Care beyond Facebook or through Facebook.   Be intentional. Schedule appointments.   I think that’s a start, at least I’ve recognized that need, right?  Now let’s do something about it!

A Homemade Christmas 

Christmas lists were written. Jeff wanted a box drum. Wow, good box drums are expensive, at least for our budget. That’s the reason we decided to turn to DIY tutorials and my husbands woodworking skills!  

Cajon Box Drum in the Making

We had to order the snare online but the wood, we rounded up from the local home center. Mike worked tirelessly each evening after work. His office has a workshop in the basement that housed this surprise until Christmas Eve.

name plate looks great

Honestly, we were a little nervous that he would think this was cheesy but I’ve never seen him any more excited about a gift and he’s been playing it ever since.

For each of the married couples in our family, I followed a pin from Pinterest and made my version of this framed Christmas box.  


I bought the shadow boxes, jingle bells, and vinyl at Hobby Lobby, borrowed my friend’s Cricut machine and solicited Mike’s graphic design abilities to make the background. The snowflakes have all of our names and some scriptures written in them.  Each box had gold jingle bells that correspond to the number of years married,  with red representing each child. My sister’s husband’s children are the green jingle bells. Of course each gift came with extra bells for many happy years of marriage.

Every year I buy each son a Christmas ornament that represents that year. This year the older two got homemade ornaments. Jeffrey received a highschool tassel “Class of 2015” inside a clear ornament. For Christian, I bought a bright yellow glass ball and drew on a smiley face. I added some “braces” to the front using tiny jewel stickers.

Class of 2015  Tassel in an Ornament

Class of 2015
Tassel in an Ornament


Smiley Face with Braces - Christmas Ornament

Smiley Face with Braces – Christmas Ornament

It was a great Christmas with memories of this year and money saved!  This blesses my family and serves well.

Thanksgiving Classroom Treats 

I had the privilege of providing thanksgiving treats for Tim’s first grade classroom. They chose pumpkin pie of all things, but I can definitely accommodate!   

individual pumpkin pies

 
These turned out so nice using a muffin tin, store bought pie crust, and a miniature leaf cookie cutter to decorate the tops. I had whipped cream ready for anyone who wants it.  I also wanted to try my hand at making acorn cookies so, using nutter butter bites, chocolate kisses, chocolate chips and some frosting  I assembled a second treat!  

Acorn Cookies for Fall

The treats were a great success and his class enjoyed them! We will repeat this next year unless Pinterest shows me a different treat to try.

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