Nursing Little Ones Through Illness – The Best Days of My Life

I can finally put away the last throw-up bowl.

•  One week ago today, I was rocking my very sick baby sleeping peacefully though hot with fever.
•  Six days ago, I quickly walked my 3-year-old son out the sunroom door to the grass where he let out the sickness that just hit him.
•  Five days ago, I watched my lover-of-life-to-the-point-of-no-sleep five-year-old peacefully sleep on the couch as the sun rose and set (in that order).
•  Four days ago, I lost touch with God’s peace and fretted over my son’s apparent lack of nutrition after sleeping through two-and-a-half days straight without a crumb staying down.
•  Three days ago, we thanked God for our baby’s first birthday, I was blessed by my loving husband who stayed home to serve me as I continued to nurse small children through illness and grow another little one in the womb. I rejoiced at the healing hand of God upon each of my three children. I rejoiced at my son’s return of an appetite and milestone of a piece of toast staying down.
•  Two days ago, I continued to rejoice at the improved appetite of my son. And I did laundry–lots and lots and lots of laundry.
•  One day ago, the bickering of the oldest two was music to my ears after the silence of sickness. God bless them.
•  Today, my husband was able to sleep in for the first time in a long time. The children helped me make pancakes, and we served them with fresh raspberries heaped up high, real maple syrup pouring bountifully, and freshly chilled goat’s milk from the pasture. A friend brought us chicken soup. Family visited. And if you stepped into our home today, you wouldn’t even know what the week brought through our lives.

It was a merry day.

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“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”  Daniel 3:26-28 ESV

No, we weren’t persecuted for our faith like the men in Daniel, but I love the example of them coming through the fire (and causing others to praise God as a result, nonetheless!).  I think that if you were with us today, there wouldn’t even be so much as a smell of smoke on us; at least, I hope there wouldn’t be.  There were definitely times when it felt like a very difficult trial, even a furnace hot on my heels.

 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2

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And you may think it’s easy to say, now that it’s all gone away, that all is well over here.  But it’s God who is good, by whose grace we all stood, and the one who gives us what’s His.  We are blessed and happy, and what a wonderful life it is!

To comfort the little girl as I hold back her hair, tears slowly streaming down her face.  As she expresses to me that often life is too hard and “will you pray God takes this sickness away?”

To change out the bowls so my son doesn’t smell what had happened and was done 5 seconds ago.  And to do it again like it never happened, teaching him to move on and keep smiling.

To hold a baby, hot with fever, for 48 hours without rest.  Except for when my arms let her down to fetch a diaper and cool towel.

It’s a blessing to be a mother of children and nurture them through every need.  Though I won’t meet but a fraction of them, God is all sufficient and able.  I am still thankful to be here to give the tender touch, compassionate eyes, and encouraging words when appropriate.  I have felt the comfort of a mother’s love through fever, cough, and pain, and I remember it clearly every time and again I can rub my own babies’ feet.

“Thank you, mommy”

“I love you; you are the best mommy in the world”

“You never make any mistakes”

Just knowing my love has met them there and God’s love filled in all my gaps, they know I’m not perfect and know I make mistakes, but the beauty is what they see.

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The beauty is what I see.

Through the mess of laundry comes beautiful service.

Through the long nights come the beauty of a lamp that doesn’t go out.

Through the voices in need I hear my beautiful calling… “mommy”

Through the fear I see the beauty of sacrificial love and the fact that I’d give anything for my child.

The stomach flu isn’t disgusting, gross, or detestable, it’s a beautiful opportunity to serve.  To be the most beautiful woman you can be for what turns out to be such a short time.

I am thankful for this week, and though I’m sorry my babies were sick, I am thankful God chose me.

These are the best days of my life.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”   Matthew 25:31-40 ESV

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Goose Chasing

I often feel like I am “chasing geese” (or goats). Sometimes the geese are necessary to chase, and sometimes they are not. I struggle not as much with stepping up to chase the geese as I do with knowing which ones ought to be chased.

Prayers for diligent and graceful living today!

Blue Cotton Memory

A Mother’s Day remembrance from 2012.

duckspond “Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feather’d creatures broke away,
Sets down her babe, and makes all swift dispatch
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay;

Learning how to balance the multi-tasking roles God put inside us challenges me. I learn a lot through my failings, my gracelessness, my inability to do it all. That feather’d creature Shakespeare talks about could be my dreams, my dinner menu, needing to attend to child one’s needs whether it is class work, heart work, discipline-work while another’s need may need to wait 20 more minutes. Being a mother is often graceless like goose chasing.

Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,
Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent
To follow that which flies before her face,
Not prizing her poor infant’s discontent;

My littlest guy, he’s hit…

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Children – All That They Are Cracked Up To Be?

Friday afternoon, my two eldest children stayed home with daddy while baby and I went to an appointment in town.  After my appointment, I thought I would stop at one store in the mall to look for a specific item–in and out.  While on the out, I passed by the check-out counter and overheard a customer rather loudly saying “I have four kids; they are NOT all that they are cracked up to be!”.  My heart gasped.
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Still walking, I held my Ergo-hugged baby close; and I looked down into her sweet, completely-trusting-in-me baby eyes and whispered firmly, “Yes they are.”
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Thank You, God.
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I’m writing this post weary-eyed after a long night of broken sleep.  I was awakened several times by hungry, cold, or otherwise growing-pain-stricken toddlers.
In the circles where you’ll find me, my children are “all that they are cracked up to be”.  Not because they are brilliant or cute or award-winning athletes (they’re tots), but because they come from the Lord.  They’re worth it not because of their merits and behavior (which ebb and flow) but because God says they are worth it.

Psalm 127:3-5

English Standard Version (ESV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children[a] of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

I choose to spend the majority of my time in circles where children are known as blessings, rewards, and wholeheartedly worth the lifetime of tireless work.  Circles in which parents and their children are lifted up in prayer and encouragement.  Circles of armor-bearers in this fight for our children.  Circles of people who have received tear-choked, midnight phone calls from me wondering if I’m doing all I can for my child blessed with an iron-strong will.  Circles where a strong will isn’t a curse, but a blessing that needs to be shepherded.
You see, I subscribe to the belief that I am in a battle for my own children; a battle that is constant and tiring and takes all I have, and that it is completely and unquestionably worth it.
There are other circles where many have forgotten the value of work and just want the gratification.  We’re in a society full-steam-ahead in self-seeking.  Therefore, children aren’t what they are boasted to be in the media: little dolls to dress up in designer duds and competition ribbons who are on this planet for our self-satisfaction.  Absolutely not.  Is that why people have children?  Maybe more often than we recognize.

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There is also the pit of putting down our children, constantly.  In many circles, children are considered (I have a hard time even typing this out; I’m getting choked up) worthless parasites that just suck all the life and money and time out of us.

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When I prepared to give birth to my first child five years ago, I knew there would be trials, but oh, I had no idea what they would really feel like or the extent of the kinds of trials!  I had no idea how painful it would be to make mistakes, to fear for my children, or to realize I’m so ill-equipped without seeking God’s guidance.  And yet, I am so well-equipped, because I have Him, the Father of Knowledge, Giver of Peace, and my Strong Tower.
With children murdered daily under the politically-correctness of “abortion” and a host of other terms of which I am ignorant (praise God), and with the more subtle sacrifice of our children by parents enlisting for every possible way to “get away from the kids”.  I will stand.  I don’t have the strength to do it on my own–physical, mental, emotional–especially with the nastiness that surrounds opinions regarding children and “our rights” on what to “do with them”.  God stands; therefore, I will stand.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
So, when I’m weary, I seek the Lord and take joy in His rich blessings.

Nehemiah 8:10  (ESV)

10 do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In this thing called Motherhood, I take joy

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The Newbie Homesteader

I’m thankful I’ve mastered the art of milking goats so that’s one less thing I have to learn.  I love learning new things, but there’s something about springtime on a farm that makes me feel like there’s just not enough time for everything.  It’s the season of “hurry up” before the “wait”.  Not that there’s a whole lot of waiting on a farm, with so much work to be done all the time.  But this weather has me feeling the urge to get the garden tilled and fenced (from the deer), the greenhouses ordered and up, and the seedlings started.

I love it all.  But I am new.  And sometimes my love for it (and my sense of urgency) gets ahead of my knowledge.

  • What to plant: What do I know how to grow and what do I have room for?
  • How much to plant: How much to do we need and what will space and time allow?
  • How much to plant: Should we plan on extra?  I’ve only canned salsa and apple sauce!
  • How to plant: What soil, temp, water, and room does each plant need to grow properly?

My homesteading adventure thus far has pretty much been built on crash courses.  I think it’s fun!  My husband has a very good full-time job, so our lives don’t depend on our crash-course farming (Praise the Lord).  However, we are in this for the real deal–to save money, to pay off our home, and to live off our own land one day.

I’m pretty sure I’ve overplanted cabbage.  I have a whole flat planted… by the way, that’s 20 sixpacks with 2-3 seeds each (just in case).  That’s 120 if only one seed grows per slot.  Hey, half of those are late bloomers!  But that is still 60… do I even have room for 60 cabbage plants?  That would be a lot of sauerkraut and kim chi–which would be amazing!  But realistically… I don’t know what is realistic.  I haven’t done this long enough, and we haven’t had enough cabbage in the past to be blessed with winter storage.

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Baby Steps of The Newbie Homesteader: on Farming

  • Go ahead and plant it and don’t fret over it.  If you throw out some seedlings this season, oh well.  It’s not a waste because all learning has a cost involved.
  • Ask if anyone would be willing to buy extra seedlings that come up.
  • Don’t bury yourself in books and study while spring passes you by.  Read what you need to do, but don’t get mad at yourself for not meeting every criteria perfectly.
  • Grow fewer things better.

Learning Is Not A Waste

When my daughter was 13 months old and we discovered we were expecting again, my breastmilk was seriously drying up.  We were spending $100 per month shipping raw milk to our door because the sale of it in-store or on the farm is illegal in our area.  I mentioned to a friend that I was considering getting a goat, and within minutes she had found a craigslist ad and I was on the phone setting up a time to meet some doelings just five minutes from home.

Crash course.

We brought home our doelings, and while we nurtured them into adulthood, the previous owner offered to pass on her goat-keeping knowledge to us.  The very first time my husband ever milked a goat was when our new friend needed to go away for a week and asked us to do the milking for her.  My husband’s lesson was a one-time shot and then he was on his own for the rest of the week!  No room for fear or giving up here!  That’s the beauty of crash courses, they teach you to keep going on ahead and not turn back.  Isn’t that the character of farming, after all?

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

Or unused seedlings, or rotten tomatoes, or bug-eaten cabbage.

When the goat would put her foot in the bucket and taint the whole gallon, or catch the edge of the bucket and tip it all over the floor, our friend used to say “don’t cry over spilled milk.  I figure, it just goes back into the ground to nourish the soil for my garden and the grass that grows to feed them anyway.  It’s never a waste.”

I tell you, we have spilled a lot of milk in our dairy-goat days, but we have saved and drank a lot more!

May this be the same at harvest time 2014.

Happy planting!

~Melissa

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Story Time Favorites: Great Books for Little Listeners

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We are very enthusiastic about books and reading in our home, and we don’t read just any book that comes along.

I’ve always read aloud to my children from infancy, never assuming they don’t know what I’m saying just because there are words they don’t say or that we don’t use commonly or that I haven’t specifically defined for them.  Children (and all people) pretty easily pick up the general meaning of new words just by the context surrounding them.  In fact, it’s the best way to introduce new words, because it becomes familiar and normal rather than isolated.

Children also pick up the story you are reading, and this is why I choose books with historical, moral, or innocence value.  Some books are just innocently fun, like just about any book by Arnold Lobel. Others are historically fascinating, like the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And of course all books are written with some worldview or another in mind, and I need to choose those which fit into our worldview to pass on to my future generations.

There are some great books to be found, as well as not so great books.  There is a lot of, well, “twaddle”, as Charlotte Mason would call it.  I think the way the word sounds pretty much sums up what it means.  Useless, amusing filler.  Therefore, I really appreciate when others put together lists of books they have personally enjoyed.  I really want to give you a list (in no particular order) of just a few books on our shelves that have been favorites at story-time.

I advocate staying within your budget!  Many of these books may be found at your local library, used bookstore, or thrift stores.  Just look around.  Your library may have an online database you can search from home.

My children are currently ages 5, 3 and 9 months.  These are the books they enjoy:

Charlotte’s Web

I spotted this book at a garage sale–in with the dozens of other books destined for the trash heap.  I’ve always heard Charlotte’s Web referred to as a classic but had never turned the pages myself or even known what the story was about–until now.  Last fall I read this book aloud to my children (then 4 and 2), and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!  My children have no problem sitting quietly through the reading of this book and are actually the ones who will set it in my lap, eager to listen.  This is a fairly long chapter book with few, albeit delightful, illustrations.

The Bears On Hemlock Mountain

I got this book from the library and was planning on it lasting a while as it is another chapter book.  However, my son (3) really, really wanted to get to the part where it talks about the bears (he looked ahead at the pictures), which isn’t until the end.  So, we all sat down and went through the book… it took half an hour.  Yes, they sat through it, and they loved it, and they wanted to do it again…

Stone Soup

This book is one of my all-time favorites.  Just read it, and you’ll know why.  It is a fun, lighthearted story we all enjoy.  Our children get a kick out of it, and my husband and I laugh to ourselves every time.  Read about how these pigs turn hearts of stone soft again with Stone Soup.

Owl At Home

My parents read this book to me when I was a little girl, and I loved it then!  Though this book comes in a paperback, I highly recommend investing in the library binding.  The paperback I purchased for our family has been loved to pieces.  When my daughter was a little over one year old, my husband and I had read this to her so many times that when she requested it while laying her in the crib at night, we could recite it to her from memory.  Owl At Home is my children’s number one story-time favorite (four years running).

Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton


Two years ago, we first borrowed from the library and read The Little House (not to be confused with the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder).  The book was so delightful, I was eager to see if the author had written any other stories and found this collection on Amazon.  My son brings this book to me almost every story time.  His requests go back and forth between Katy and Mike Mulligan, and when it’s not one of those, it is…

Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton

If you and your children ever visit the Sacramento Train Museum (or any other cool train museums), then I recommend having this cute book about a “naughty runaway engine” waiting at home for your little ones.

The Christian Mother Goose Big Book

We received this hand-me-down from some new friends at our church, and it is so cool!  I’m not a fan of Mother Goose, I’ll tell you that right now; but a Christian version?  This is very well done.  Done well enough to turn a book (Mother Goose) I won’t let into my house into a family favorite.

Last for this list, a bedtime favorite board book with beautiful illustrations..

When Will It Be Spring?

I have the board book because that is what I found at the thrift store, and I really like how well it holds up, but it also comes in paperback and hardcover.

Happy reading!

Blessings ~

Melissa

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How to Build a Strong Christian Home – ebook – get a FREE copy this hour!

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I will just come out and make it plain:  I am posting about this e-book because I will get a free copy if I do so.  You can see the details on A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and maybe even get a facebook post, tweet, pinterest thingy, or blogpost posted in time to get a free copy for yourself too! 

mombutton1I have not read the e-book, so I cannot recommend it with that much knowledge.  However, I have been a long-time visitor of the author’s blog and have found numerous articles and resources valuable and beneficial.

It is my daily prayer to grow into the Proverbs 14:1 woman who builds her house.  And as this is the focus of Mrs. Fuentes’ blog, I am very interested to see what wisdom she has to share in her new ebook How to Build a Strong Christian Home.

Have you read the book?  I would love to hear your comments and reviews!

 

Five-Minute Friday

Lisa-Jo Baker’s prompt was the word “small”.  Being a mother of three, I almost need to say “don’t get me started on the word small!”  I have too many blessings in small packages to name!  I will try to restrain myself =)

I’m staying up late just to write this post.  I figure it’s better to stay up Thursday night than to stare at a screen for five minutes Friday morning when my kids are awake.  Five minutes might seem like small potatoes to us grown-ups, but to the five-and-under crowd, it’s all about the small things…

Staying up late the night before Valentine’s to cut out red paper hearts to surprise my daughter.  I scrounged up some old ribbon (from someone’s bridal shower) and tiny play clothes-pins (from another’s baby shower before any of mine were even a pea in the pod).  Then I found some thumb tacks and hung the long strands of love-cut hearts in the two archways of our home.  Princess woke up early, beaming.

Daddy took princess out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.  I wish I could have caught on camera her bashful, beaming smile when she saw the dress shirt and pants I handed to daddy, which he only wore on very special occasions.

I remembered Rachel Jankovic’s words, and my purpose for this blog… heavy branches.  Bearing fruit.  Even if that means staying up all night cutting out paper hearts.  Doing little (or majorly time-consuming) things to bless others.

Small gestures with big thoughts behind them.

Small things like making bread.  My daughter’s been asking for weeks “When will we make bread?”  But I haven’t made any in so long, I had forgotten that it’s really not that big of a burden.  In fact, I noticed something the day we made bread together, and I stopped to think about it the next time we made bread together just a few days later.  My children sit patiently and wait, regardless of how long it takes me to prep, when they know I’m going to do one small thing that they have really been wanting to do.

So I have a challenge for you–something I began over a year ago and have been inconsistent about myself since but will tomorrow morning pick back up again.  Print out this month’s calendar, and next month’s calendar (and so on), and each day purpose to fill in one small thing (or one big thing!) that you did to make that day worthwhile.  Granted, loving, feeding, and caring for your family makes the day worthwhile, but I’m talking about that little extra thing.  My old calendar has things like, “let kids stay up to see stars”, “had a picnic in the grass”, “met daddy for lunch”, and “read books together”.

Speaking of small, how can such a small, eight-month-old person have such a big voice?

And how can that same, small person have such a big impact on my life?

And how can a small, three-year-old boy, have so much love for God?  “Mommy, when will I go to heaven?” “Why do you want to go to heaven?” “because I love God”

Happy Friday!

Five Minute Friday