The Dutch Rush

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Category: Mothers

for the mothers

I hope all of you mothers have a wonderful weekend!

This post is very similar to the Valentine’s Day post, with the proper adjustments, so this will be brief:

We can’t forget that the way to have a wonderful Mother’s Day is to forget all about ourselves!

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“all settled happiness”

Alfiesfeet

Art by Shirley Hughes

At times it’s tempting to wonder if the efforts we make to serve our families are worth the trouble.

We might be tired of being relied on for comfort, stability and cheerfulness. Sometimes we want to give up on creating an environment of comfort and peace for our people.

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Lowering the Mother’s Day Bar

 

Feeding_the_Young_1850

What if we gave our families the gift of low expectations this Mother’s Day? I know, it probably sounds like a terrible idea. Why would we give them a gift? Isn’t it suppose to be all about us? You also might be thinking that if you lower expectations any further, they won’t even…(you fill in the blank).

But don’t we all prefer receiving true thanks and praise that is not forced or coerced? None of us like to be told that we must praise someone, or buy them a gift. It steals the joy away from the giver. The more we try to push others to pamper and spoil us, the more miserable we become.

How do I reassure you that I know mothers have worth and value while also (gently) reminding you that we are not the most valuable creatures on the face of the earth?

It’s a real fact that mothers work very hard, and it’s easy for our work to go unnoticed. I know. I feel it too sometimes. But we have to remember, the ideas that we feed are the ones that grow. Only as we feed our minds on thoughts of gratitude will we begin to feel the peace we long for.

I wasn’t going to write about Mother’s Day, but then I read this. It has currently been shared on facebook 539 thousand times. There are almost no words to describe what a terrible Mother’s Day one might have with those expectations. (Yes, I know there are some “redeeming lines” at the end, but it in no way cancels out the appalling sense of entitlement throughout…I pity the husband who must make all of that happen.)

As mothers, we sometimes single-handedly wreck our own Mothers Day. Sometimes every year. On a day that we could be enjoying a sweet little card, or a caring phone call, a big hug from our husband, or maybe even a small gift, instead we stand there washing the dishes thinking “It’s Mother’s Day, how could they make me wash dishes?!!”.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because of sin? Society? Self-pity? All of the above?

Please don’t think I’m saying that the celebration of Mother’s Day is sinful and wrong. I don’t think it is. The Bible is full of reminders to be thankful, love, serve, and cherish each other. I think Mother’s Day fits in there beautifully. But it turns ugly when we demand gratitude out of a sense of entitlement, mixed with a heavy dose of self-pity, and start to ask the ugly question, “what about me?“.

Do you really enjoy serving people who are demanding and feel entitled? I don’t. Our families probably don’t love it either.

To my knowledge, scripture doesn’t condone an attitude of entitlement, demanding that we be served on “our day”. It just isn’t there. We can’t “fix our eyes on Jesus” while we’re looking around wondering why we aren’t being served our breakfast on a tray…in bed…on a Sunday morning.

Is it just that I’m a pastor’s wife that I think breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day is a hilarious thought? Of all the insane things to think of doing on our way out the door to church! (Maybe not everyone has to be at church early!)

An even bigger red flag is the idea of skipping church because of Mother’s Day. (I realize that there are special circumstances, some Mothers aren’t believers, I wouldn’t tell you not to take your non-believing mother out for Mother’s Day brunch.) But some of us actually think that we will feel more pampered if we were to skip church to honor ourselves.

What?

As long as we keep making it all about us, it will never be about Jesus.

-Bob Goff

Don’t we pray, and sing, and talk like we want our lives to be a reflection of Christ? But then we want to “treat ourselves” by deciding that attending church on this day of the year isn’t really a big deal.

Friends! This is not who we are suppose to be!

We are not called to create our own kingdom, we are to serve in God’s Kingdom.

Gratefulness from our families can happen right in the middle of all the mess that is getting ourselves to church to honor the One who is worthy of all of our praise.

Some mothers are in the middle of painful estrangements, while others deeply desire to be a mother and cannot. This post is not for them. It is for all of us who struggle in our hearts on these holidays. Some can’t understand what I’m talking about, but others will know that deep sense of unrest on days like this as we attempt to be grateful for anything we receive, but in our hearts we feel that it’s not quite enough.

You may wonder why this matters. Why am I making such a big deal out of all of this?

Because we are the controllers of the atmosphere in our home. Wouldn’t we like that atmosphere to be one of gratitude?

Because these attitudes get passed on from mother to daughter to grand-daughter. We have the ability to change our family culture of demanding to grateful. That is worth our time and energy.

millet knitting lesson

So how do we change the tone of Mother’s Day? I’m sure you have your own ideas, I’ll just share a few of mine.

I’ve tried to make this day a celebration of our family. I (try) to make our favorite food for dinner, and we exchange notes.(My notes for them are to thank them for making it so fun to be their mom. It’s sort of like passing valentines back and forth.)

The most helpful to me is recording precious words of gratitude from my family throughout the year. I love looking back at those little notes, or quotes I’ve written down of what they’ve said to me. This helps on the tough days when I begin to think that no one cares or notices my efforts.

We have life’s moments to treasure in our hearts when we are servants of our family. But it rests with us to be the keeper of those memories.

Recently I got one of my favorite compliments ever. While reading a book to my kids about a mom I greatly admire, someone said “wow mom, she reminds me of you”.

I made cinnamon rolls the other day, and my boys’comments (Oh mom, you are the best mom ever, these are soooo good! Thank you for making these!) beats any card hands down…if I will let it. Later, Michael thanked me for how hard I had worked for them during the day, even though I had a lot of other things to take care of.

These were real, heartfelt words of gratitude. They were unprovoked. I wrote them down.

Blessings on all of you mothers this Mother’s Day. I hope you and your family can have a special day together…with low expectations!

DSCN0516Look at those sweeties…(in 2006).

 

what about me?

Was there ever a question that has caused more damage?

I realize that many of us have difficult circumstances, and that it truly is hard to fulfill some of our responsibilities. We do become tired, and should take a break so we are refreshed to get back up and care for those God has called us to serve. But sometimes that sneaky little thought creeps into our mind and throws everything off balance…

“What about me? Who will care for me and serve me?”

I’m not sure there is a faster way to give yourself a bad day than to ask that question.

Wasn’t that a form of the question Satan asked when he rebelled against God?

Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.

– Oswald Chambers

It’s an insidious question that sinks into our hearts and souls. Like Peter in the Bible, we quit looking at Christ and begin to sink into the waves. In this case, our waves are self-pity.

Sometimes we refuse to do the things that give us peace and relief from our burdens. Even simple things like reading our Bibles, getting to bed at a reasonable time, accepting that break our husband offers us, or making time to get outside for a walk. We refuse to do these things and then we begin to blame our exhaustion on the people who love us most.

Does this make sense? (No.)

We ask ourselves (and maybe whine to our friends) why no one cares about us, why our kids won’t leave us alone for just “one minute”, why we can’t have “me time”, or why our husband would dare to have any needs at all. I think the common phrase is “he’s a big boy, he can take care of himself…doesn’t he know how tired I am?”. How demeaning. That is of course what we would want him to say about us and our needs…right?

I’ll tell you a little secret.

Not one person enjoys spending time with a martyr. Even those of us who behave like one would rather not spend time with one…

Husbands are not really attracted to martyrs. They don’t think it’s cute. Don’t ask how I know this.

Children are uncomfortable in the presence of martyr mothers.

Once I remember venting my frustration to my mother-in-law about the a small amount of time I had to myself each day. She asked how much time I could usually count on. When I told her it was only about 45 minutes, she tactfully said “oh, that’s probably enough”. I can still remember thinking to myself that there was no way that was enough time to myself! NO WAY! But I kept thinking about what she said. And I have come to realize that yes, I can do a lot of regrouping in 45 minutes!

Conventional wisdom (in the Bible it’s called “the wisdom of the world”) says that we should look out for ourselves, take care of ourselves, that we deserve “me time”. (I do think we should plan times into our day to refresh ourselves for our responsibilities, but not to the detriment of our families, and we certainly shouldn’t put it on them to make us take care of ourselves.)

The Bible tells us that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. His ways are not our ways, and certainly not what comes naturally. We have to battle with sin and selfishness. We must serve others continuously if we want to be great in God’s kingdom.

Self pity is one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart. ”

– A. W. Tozer

It is humbling to admit that I asked myself this question just last week. I was going along, enjoying my kids, having a good day, when something caught my attention. I was tired, and not thinking about “taking every thought captive”. I crashed into the dark “what about me”, and suddenly life wasn’t so great anymore. Everyone in my home suffered for my sin, because I am not the wife and mother I should be when I am living in self-pity.

God is so patient with us. He continues to give us grace. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning.

[A way to guard] ourselves from this evil possession (self-pity) is to think about others. Be quick to discern their pains and sufferings, and be ready to bring help. We cannot be absorbed in thinking of two things at the same time, and if our minds are occupied with others, far and near, at home and abroad, we shall have neither time nor inclination to be sorry for ourselves.

– Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Hard Work and Pride

Welcome back to more ramblings on work.

I have good news for us.  Maybe we can knock a few things off our list, because they aren’t about serving our family after all.

What if a lot of the work we are staggering under is self-imposed out of pride?

Pride is sneaky.  We have to constantly evaluate whether or not the work we choose to do is really something that will benefit our family.

Or is much of this work just for our self-image?

There is a great difference in the satisfaction of a job well done vs. the ceaseless drive to never let anyone outdo us.

In his writing on meekness and rest, A.W. Tozer calls this pride an “evil desire to shine”.

It seems common to our gender to make simple things more difficult than they need to be. Why we do we do this. Duh.

It could be simple to get dinner, do laundry, and tidy the house for our husbands.  But no, we won’t let it be simple.  We have to put that special twist on it to make it as complicated as possible.  Because our husbands and kids love it when we don’t have time for them, due to being super busy making certain strange things amazing.

Oh wait. Nope. They don’t really like that.

To do a few things well, (the things our family appreciates us doing) does take some thinking and planning.

Planning can be sort of boring.  Some of aren’t planners.  But it is worth it, because the things that take a ton of our time are most noticeable when they aren’t being done. 

We have to plan ahead so that there is food in the pantry, a continuous supply of laundry detergent, and various cleaning supplies.

Unfortunately, those things will do us no good sitting in our homes if we don’t get up and make use of them.  That food ain’t gonna cook itself…

If you aren’t sure how to do that, Auntie Leila has written all about it.

We also have to get up on time so that we don’t lose precious productive hours of the day. Getting up before our family may happen slowly, over time.

Somebody has to get up early, stay up late, do more than the others if the family is to be a thing of beauty.

-Edith Schaeffer

I love that quote, but I have a little disclaimer.  Edith means average beauty, as you will see if you read her book.  She wouldn’t advocate letting your husband go to bed alone most nights while you stay up making Pinterest crafts. That’s a potential love killer right there.

Edith means that sometimes there are difficult times in family life, and staying up with sick children was one of her main examples. She says don’t make the man who just went to work all day also stay up with sick kids just because you’re tired.  It’s our job.  And it’s hard, but rewarding work.

There is a sense of accomplishment when we have worked hard, and it makes us happy. We are not out to impress our facebook friends.  We answer to someone higher than that about how we care for our family.

A woman who puts aside ‘happiness and fulfillment’ as primary, and begins to think of the needs of husband and children, finds herself amazingly more fulfilled (if there is time to notice) as days go on.

– Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?

I love the book because she gives very honest and real experiences.  One story was about the frustration of the family playing together and having fun while the mother is cleaning up the kitchen, and she threw five plates on the floor. (!)  She describes the long process of becoming selfless enough to have more successes than failures.

My family and your family are worth the effort to have more success than failure.  The work we do for the love of God has great significance.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Humor and a Mother’s Environment

I would be irresponsible to discuss these ideas as if I had it made.  Just so you know.

I found this quote last week:

 We are an environment for the other people with whom we live.

-Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

To create an environment that others would enjoy being part of,  I thought of two critical necessities.

Humility, and a sense of humor.

Without these things, we can drown in seriousness.

One of my favorite marriage books has an entire chapter on the wife (and mother’s) sense of humor.

A sense of humor might be likened to a sort of casual sense of balance. It is a mental relaxation…A person without a sense of humor has a sort of mental “charley-horse”.  She “tightens up” mentally to the extent that her brain becomes sort of lame, unable to see things in their proper perspective.

-Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired

I feel I can speak with some authority on this issue, as one who has had one or two “mental charley-horses” already today.  Unfortunately, today is only half over.

If people are fortunate to be able to recover their mental equilibrium through a sense of humor, twice blessed are those who can see the humor of situations as they are developing. These people are a joy to themselves, as well as to all who are privileged to know them.

-Leo Kinsella

Oh dear. The days when it is not a privilege to know me…

Now back to what Edith is trying to remind the mother about the environment she creates.

Our conversations, attitudes, behavior, response or lack of response, hardness or compassion, our love or selfishness, joy or dullness, our demonstrated trust and faith or our continual despondency, our concern for others or our self-pity – all these things make a difference to the people who have to live in our environment.

-Edith Schaeffer

I’ll be honest.  Sometimes this feels like too heavy of a responsibility. Sometimes I wonder if it matters. I think we only need to look around us on the good days (or the bad, even), and we will find that yes, it is worth every ounce of effort to create a happy home.

It matters terribly to the people who have to spend their days with us. It matters enough to figure out where we left our sense of humor and get back on the apple cart.

The atmosphere in which a child gathers his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents. Every look of gentleness and tone of reverence, every word of kindness and act of help, passes into the thought-environment, the very atmosphere which the child breathes; he does not think of these things, may never think of them, but all his life long they excite that vague appetency…toward things sordid or things lovely, things earthly or divine.

-Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children

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