Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lemon Shortbread

I've only recently been able to get back to experimenting in the kitchen. First on my list was Lemon Shortbread. I first tasted this wonderful delight many years ago when visiting a dear friend who at the time was living in Cardiff. We were both just learning about organic whole foods and eagerly shared new finds with each other. And so I was introduced to Duchy Originals Sicilian All Butter Shortbread. It was and is for me the perfect treat.

Since moving to Florida it is a treat I've been without, and missed. So I finally decided it was time to make my own version of this light, sweet, tangy treat.

This is my own original lemon shortbread recipe. So far I have not found anyone who hasn't liked the taste of it.

1 cup butter
1 lemon (juice and grated rind)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon of sugar to garnish

Beat the butter until light and creamy (this step makes everything else easier.)
Beat in the juice & rind of 1 lemon.
Beat in the sugar. (All this beating does make a very light crisp shortbread.)
Add everything else and mix thoroughly.
Form into marble size balls.
Place on a baking tray (cookie sheet) and flatten each ball to about 1/3 inch thick.
Bake in a moderate (350f/gas 4/180c) oven for about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar while still warm, and leave on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Allow to cool and enjoy. These are very complimentary to a nice warm cup of Earl Grey tea.

This post and recipe are dedicated to that wonderful friend mentioned above. She knows who she is and I know she will enjoy trying this recipe for herself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mothering and Guilt

There is one thing that seems to be certain when we women become mothers, that we will feel guilty about the choices we make for our children.

False Guilt

At Bible College I remember one of my teachers saying that all guilt is false guilt. It comes from the enemy of our faith, trying to stop us from being more effective in our lives. And in the area of parenting there is no shortage of guilt to be found.

Passing the Baton

Tragically the most common form of mother guilt seems to come from other women. I’ve heard it often referred to as “The Mommy Wars.” It stems from women sharing often unwanted advice about how we should do exactly what they do or did as a mother. Then as we begin to feel under attack and the projection of that mommy guilt, we get defensive and start attacking back to make the other women feel the same way.

Guilt or Conviction

Sometimes it is good for us to feel uncomfortable about decision we make or actions we take. There are occasions when we learn something new and realize that we need to make a change. This is when it is easiest to feel guilt. Yet it is not guilt that motivates us to change. It is conviction about the mistake made that motivates change for the future. This is where the difference is made. Guilty feelings will immobilize us and make us defensive. Conviction will motivate us and help us to make the necessary change.

Living Guilt Free

I have tried to live a guilt free life for many years. Now that I am a mother it is even more important to me to refuse to carry the heavy burden that guilt becomes. I am by no means a perfect mother. I’ve been doing this mothering task for less than two years. I have so much still to learn, and my children are very good teachers. Still I live guilt free. Why? Because I refuse to accept that false feeling of guilt. Instead I focus on keeping an open heart and mind in learning new things. I welcome conviction when I make mistakes. If I get it wrong I want to be able to change it rather than defend it.

Real Example

When I first started introducing solid foods to Aiden at almost six months I had done some learning and decided to start with fruits and vegetables rather than cereals. However like most mothers in our culture I started by serving these foods as mush and on a spoon. I was only a few weeks into this process when I started to learn about what is called Baby Led Weaning. It was so different to anything I had experienced before. After a few more weeks I felt convicted that this new way (to me) was the right way for our family. I liked the idea of Aiden learning to chew before learning to swallow. So I stopped spoon feeding mush. I started giving him food in pieces that he could hold in his tiny little hands, and choose for himself how much he ate. It has worked very well for us, and I plan to go straight to real solid foods with Seth and any other future children when the time comes to introduce solid food.

Instead of feeling guilt and defending my decision to spoon feed mush, I kept an open mind and with the motivation of conviction I made some changes. Now this is just an example from my own mothering journey and is not shared to force anyone else to make that same change. I write to help remove the guilt not to add to it.

No More War

The best thing about leaving guilt behind as a mother is that it puts an end to the “Mommy War” mentality in my life. I don’t have to defend any of the decisions I make. I don’t have to justify myself or make another mother feel bad about the decisions she makes.

There are so many issues that seem to fuel the war mentality. This is so sad. We are just trying to do what we think is best for our children. None of us set out to bring harm to our children. We all love our children. More importantly what is right for me, my children and my family is not necessarily right for every other mother and her family. You are the only real expert on your family, just as I am on mine. You know what works best for you, even when it is the opposite of what works for me.

Leaving Guilt Behind

So I for one am leaving guilt behind, in the dust, as I walk forward in my mothering adventure. May I encourage you to do the same. Refuse to let guilt control you. Be the mother only you can be to your blessings, and let us together bring an end to the hostility of the “mommy wars.”

Have a blessed and guilt free day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dealing with reproductive health choices?

Today I got fed up with reading about how terrible it is that Susan G. Komen for the Cure had withdrawn funding from Planned Parenthood on my Facebook news feed. So I wrote a status update to counter it.

My gripe is not against Planned Parenthood on their own. They are under investigation for good reason. They support pimps who use under age and illegal immigrant girls. They encourage young girls to lie in order to carry out some of their abortion work. Yet this is only a tiny part of it. My gripe is a much bigger picture than just Planned Parenthood.

I have a gripe that extends to all those who push population control at the same time as encouraging sexual activity outside of marriage. It seems ironic to me that the same people who want to control population growth, also actively encourage the very behaviour that leads to growing the population. This is a problem to me, and why I have such a gripe about the subject.

I am no expert. I'm not medically trained. I'm a stay at home wife and mother. I am also a disciple of Jesus Christ. I believe in a literal creation that took only 6 days and happened only 6 or 7 thousand years ago. I say all of this to make clear my context as I share this post. I have no hidden agenda. I do however believe that the Creator who made us knew what He was doing, and knows best how our bodies work.

Reproductive choices is very personal. It is also a very emotional subject. Everywhere you turn it seems like every side (there isn't just 2 sides in this one) is on the defensive, trying to justify why they are the ones with the high ground.

The choice my husband and I have made is one that is not very popular right now, but it used to be the most common one. We simply do nothing other than enjoy our marriage and let the children come as they come. This has not always been an easy decision. The most difficult time for us, and when our convictions were tested the most, was just after the birth of our wonderful first son. Aiden was a home birth turned hospital transfer than ultimately resulted in a c-section. The first thing we were told about another child was that we should wait 2 years before getting pregnant again. We researched and found no evidence for this advice from the nurse who gave it. At my 6 week post-op appointment with the OB/GYN I asked about it. I was told that they prefer a longer gap for a c-section mother, but 6 months would be safe and as long as we were 3 months postpartum it shouldn't be life threatening. So were did the 2 year wait advice come from? I later found out they tell all their maternity patients to wait 2 years, not just the c-section ones. Rob and I had already discussed our options. We talked about doing something to prevent another pregnancy too quickly. We prayed about it too. We came back to the same decision as always. We trusted the Lord. We trusted Him to not open my womb before it was ready to be opened. We trusted Him to heal me from the surgery too. We trusted and we got a 6 month gap between pregnancies, but both pregnancies and birth stories are available in previous posts here on the blog.

The need for population control is a lie. This planet is not over populated. It can actually sustain a much greater population than most people realize. Sexual activity outside of marriage is not a given either. It is possible to choose abstinence. It is possible to only have one sexual partner for life and for that person to be your spouse and for you to be the only one for your spouse too. What about those who don't marry young? I've heard that one too many times and I am here to say even for those who don't marry young it IS a valid option. My husband and I both chose to wait until marriage, and have only been married to each other. We were not young when we got married. I was 35 and he was 41. We didn't meet for the first time until just 2 years before our wedding. We both made choices along the way on our journey towards each other that allowed us to be in this position. Everyone has that choice too.

I think what it basically comes down to for me is that I am tired of hearing about "the poor" and how they are always the ones who end up being victims. I don't want to be harsh, but what about taking some responsibility for your own choices for a change. If you choose to be sexually active outside of marriage don't expect others to pay for your mistakes. They are your choices, so live with them. You have chosen to take the immediate pleasure, but don't want the long term health implications. You chose to do things to your body to stop babies being born while still enjoying the pleasure of sex. Then live with the consequences.

Abortions, hormonal birth control and sterilizations all cause a dramatic increase in risk to reproductive cancers. Prostate cancer is much more common among men with vasectomies. Ovarian cancer is much higher amongst women with tubal ligations. The list could go on, but it does seem that the less children we have and the less we breastfeed the most cancers women are at risk for. Sexually transmitted diseases bring about even more health risks.

I have seen too many friends struggle because of the choices they have made earlier in life. Infertility is on the rise. Reproductive cancers are on the rise. Yet too few want to admit that abstinence is a valid choice before marriage.

I had to watch as a friend took a painful journey through infertility and trying to become a mother. She made some bad choices as a teenager. It did not take a lot of sexual activity to leave her infertile. All it took was giving in to the pressure of 1 boyfriend at the age of 15. She got a STD that scarred her fallopian tubes and left her with just one working ovary. Many ears later when she got married and tried to start a family she couldn't. They chose to seek treatment. Finally they tried IVF. The second time she even got pregnant. But the baby implanted in her fallopian tube and didn't survive. She eventually got to a point of accepting that she would never have biological children. It was all because she made a bad choice at 15. If you ask her if it was worth it I know she would tell you no. She would also tell you that she wishes someone would have told her about abstinence when she was a teenager, instead of assuming and encouraging sexual activity.

I've also watched others battle with infertility, mostly due to bad choices. Some are as simple as using hormonal birth control within marriage until they felt ready to start a family. Then when they felt ready the family never started. Years of artificial hormones have left their bodies confused and unable to conceive.

There are also too many I personally know that have chosen to make themselves infertile after only 2 children. Then within only a few years their marriages begin to fall apart, unable to stand due to the change in the partner that was sterilized. Sterilization does change people, not just physically but emotionally too.

I know I'm not going to change every mind that may read this article. I may even offend some. For me this is a pro-life issue, but it isn't as simple as being an anti-abortion issue. I do believe that life is life from the second of conception, and that all life is precious. I know many couples who would adopt those unwanted babies in a heart beat if they were not hand-tied by overly expensive legal costs. If they cannot afford fertility treatment then they are not going to be able to afford a $30,000 price tag for private adoption either. But the pro-life issue is bigger than just birth and babies. It is also about preventing people from dying needlessly because they didn't know their choices would dramatically increase their risk of a more deadly cancer.

This is not as simple as being pro-life or pro-choice. You cannot truly be either if you only have propaganda from either side to inform you. You can be both if you start looking for the truth that is out there to be found. I am pro-choice. I am pro choosing life by making truly informed decisions that leads to life for me, my family and every other person out there.

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.