Those Little Life Lessons I Learned in Grandma’s Kitchen

Those Little Lessons I Learned in Grandma's Kitchen

Opening the side door that she used as the front entry, we walked straight into the kitchen.

Ahead I could see the sewing room, where I would always look to see if there was a new dress hanging for me. Immediately to my right was the first kitchen chair –the special comfortable one with rolling wheels, for my grandpa –one of several chairs set around the 50’s-style table.

There was the smell of bacon grease and the little felt and pop-can-tab lizard attached by magnets to the fridge –a forever-valuable piece of art made by one of her kids.

It was a room full of life.

Where Grandma greeted her camper court customers and clipped dad’s hair. Where cookies often cooled on brown paper sacks and fried chicken came out of the electric skillet.

There were elements of my grandma’s kitchen that I will never forget and that are simple enough for any mom to copy . . .

  • The plates set to warm in the oven and pulled out just when the food was ready.
  • A bowl of cut-up fruit and several forks sticking out of it that she would plop down in front of us.
  • Always a game of Chinese Checkers in progress.
  • During breakfast the big Bible opened and her reading stories that she would embellish with ridiculous details, “to see if we were paying attention.”
  • A preacher on the little TV on Sunday morning.
  • An assortment of small containers pulled out of the fridge with every meal because never did leftovers go in the garbage.
  • A hot wash rag kept next to her plate, to scrub the sticky hands of children who had just eaten.
  • A timer set to go off at random times during a birthday meal, for a surprise present every time it dinged.
  • Toothpicks stuck in the homemade chocolate cake pieces, to keep the Saran Wrap from sticking to the frosting.
  • A brown paper sack tucked into the plastic garbage bag, to save money by making the plastic bags go as far as possible.
  • A freshly ironed dollar bill handed to me once a week for several years, so I could build my own savings account.
  • One can of pop split between two glasses filled with ice, for a frugal but special treat on pizza night.

It wasn’t a big room, and it was mostly utilitarian in appearance . . .

But there I learned to laugh and to be thrifty and to be generous.

Those Life Lessons I Learned in Grandmas Kitchen

*Is there anything special you would copy from your grandma’s kitchen?

Christy FitzwaterChristy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife south of the border (Canadian, that is.) She has two children –a newly married daughter and a son who is a senior in high school, although she is in denial about the latter. Christy is a librarian’s daughter and an English major who loves the smell of a new book and freshly sharpened pencils but who occasionally can be seen in a kayak as her one claim to athleticism. Living in Kalispell, Montana she teaches high school Spanish at a Christian school in the afternoons and spends the mornings writing her devotional blog, Off the Shelf. Her greatest desire is to help people know and understand who God is. You can also find her at Pinterest and Twitter.

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

What His Word Says About How He Sees Me {& 2 Book Giveaway}

What His Word Says About How He Sees Me

*I am so thrilled for you to meet Sara Hagerty! She is a new friend and fellow contributor at TheBetterMom. After meeting her, I began reading her newly released book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, and I literally couldn’t put it down. Her beautiful words and powerful ministry reached deep inside my soul. I pray you will be as blessed and encouraged by her today! ~ Lisa

As I sighed under my breath towards her, I caught her eye.

She’d heard the exasperation that was intended only for me. Her sister was on edge, too. She needed my cheek against hers and my hand on her back, but in my tiredness she got the one-sentence pep-talk that rarely moves a heart. I was coach, today, barking instructions and correcting their errors. I couldn’t see them past the seven things on my list that needed to be done (yesterday) and the fact that I was hours away from dinner and I’d forgotten the main ingredient at the grocery store meat counter. Again.

They were players on a field, not hearts, to me on this day.

But the real evaluation happening in our home was centered around me. Failed! — at the chance to reach her when my sigh betrayed my words. Failed! — at speaking to where she was when I used flat phrases. Failed! — at training when I chose to command, not teach. Failed! — at keeping up with yesterday, which left me in the negative today. All capped off by another family dinner from Chipotle to cover over this mama’s gaps.

I carried my internal report card into the nook off our bedroom, without even noticing. It’s hard to catch on to your own scrutiny when you’re always under it. As I stepped across the threshold into that sacred place where I get to breathe, I heard on my inside His declaration over me: yes, this is good. And I knew as I absorbed the words that “this” meant my home, these children, this environment we’d created in the space that held more laundry and disparate doll clothes and random puzzle pieces than I’d like.

He had a declaration for me that day. It was different than my own.

What His Word Says About Me

Good.

I sank into the overstuffed chair by the fireplace and took note of this pause. He hadn’t waited for a quiet moment so as to better instruct my mommyhood or, rather, to tell me to silence those thoughts. He’d intersected a “C” day on my internal report card with a new grade. The one that actually mattered.

And all of a sudden, I saw it. It was good. My day flipped on its ear after that one phrase from Him. Instead of all the failure, I remembered how she’d let me hold her, long — the one who usually resisted me. And her sister didn’t read words, but pages that day. In my lap. The little tike had a rough morning and I helped him make his bed and he left his room standing tall.

I had missed it all in my scrutiny.

But God had a better word over my day.

What HIs Word Says About How He Sees

The One who spun beauty has an eye for what He made that we can’t mimic; it can only be imparted to us. And any evaluation I might make of my life — and my mess — independent of His, leaves me living in gnawing dissatisfaction.

Mamas, in the twenty-four hour span of today, He saw the dozen diapers you changed and the six times you wiped down the counter after their sippy cup spilled and how you held her, tight, when you really just wanted to plop her into bed. He saw the book you read him, again, and the block tower you built. He saw you folding sixteen pairs of panties and matching an equal number of socks that would be un-matched and worn in days. He saw you wipe her nose that could have just run all day.

He saw your “yes” today. Weak as it may be, His eye witnessed your weak yes.

It’s how He defined you.

Your list is likely different, if you’re like me and fighting a lifetime of negative thinking. You noted when you were short with her. And when you left him to run outside with his shoes untied, just because you didn’t want to tie them again. You didn’t forget that you checked your phone when she was tugging on the hem of your shirt saying “up, Mommy, please.”

We take this information — these analyses on our day — and use it as our catalyst for change. We hang it over our heads like a banner — “better not do that again” — in hopes that a “C” report card may motivate us to make an “A” tomorrow.

But it’s not working. We’re not changing.

Because it’s not the way He works change.

But by my Spirit, He says.

The Spirit of God does not function within our human constructs. His ways that are higher aren’t just better so that we have a tighter list of rules by which we can achieve that “A”. They are other.

They are love of an other-worldly kind.

He sees my weak mommy moments as opportunity and, while not afraid to call them out, He leads me to Himself by His gentle eyes towards my weakness.

What His Word Says On How He Sees Me

I fall under a long line of greats — Abraham, Jacob, David, Peter to name a few — whose God called and labelled them by their weak “yes”, not by their dozens of life-”no”s. They grew because they received, and then believed, God’s perspective on them.

If this mama is going to grow in Him and not just live, stagnant, under a story of what He did once-way-back-when in my life, I need to start believing not only what His Word says about Him but what His Word says about how He sees me. On my worst days.

His love doesn’t fit inside the world’s understanding of love.

And it’s on my worst days, as I mutter one weak “yes” towards Him, that I have the best chance of seeing just how other it is.

Try it on for size: Begin to study in the Word the emotions of God’s heart towards you when you are weak. Give it a week, or three, and watch how you’re relating towards her changes. When we get stuck in our love towards them — when we get stale in our mundane moments — it is inevitably tied to stale impressions of Him. Here are a few isolated verses to start with — however, doing a study on those like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Peter and God’s stance towards them will shed light on how He really sees His broken people:  Exodus 34:6, Micah 7:18, Isaiah 55:7-9, Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 18:35, Psalm 103:10, Psalm 103:14, Psalm 16:11, Romans 2:4, Jeremiah 29:11-12, 1 John 4:19.

For Your Continued Pursuit: John 6:63 | Zechariah 4:6 | Romans 2:4 | Hebrews 6:10 | Hebrews 11:3 | Isaiah 55:8-9 | Psalm 24:6 | Matthew 16:18 | Hebrews 11:21 | Acts 13:22 | Psalm 18:35

A Giveaway for Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Now I’m delighted to be able to offer two copies of Sara’s new book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet! And to give you a sense of how much I enjoyed her book, here’s what I said in my review:

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a very long time. Sarah Hagerty is a particularly gifted writer (she has the most lovely writing style!) and her story touches the deepest of places. I found myself stopping many times while reading and just staring off as I pondered the truth of what she had to say. Inspiring, convicting, and touching. I highly recommend this book! ~ Lisa Jacobson

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

You can purchase her book HERE (I’m actually getting several copies to give for Christmas presents! Shh…..):

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things

You can also enter to win one of two copies here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*A few helpful directions: If you follow either of us on Instagram, simply copy the link provided (example: http://instagram.com/everybitterthingissweet) in the little “box” and you’re good to go!

*Lovely photos are with thanks to Mandie at seeingjoy.com

Sara Hagerty - Every Bitter Thing Is SweetSara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing, both on her blog and in her book – Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, just released via Zondervan.

Sara’s Blog: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet
The Book: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

She graduated summa cum laude, but before the day we applauded her achievements there were approximately 36 months of fatigue and perseverance and anxiety that preceded them.

She would come home exhausted, grab a snack, and head straight up to her room. For three or four hours she would labor meticulously over homework. We would have to make her come downstairs to eat dinner.

And since she was a girl, there were lots of tears to go with those hard days of work.

We had a large ottoman in the living room at the time, and when things got bad she would stand at the end of it and do a full face plant on top of it, with arms flung out to the side in total exhaustion and despair.

We found that adorable.

Here’s what I learned as a mom –you can’t do the work for your kid. Of course, for me that partly included my lack of intelligence and the fact that I had not been able to help her with schoolwork since about third grade.

Our kids have to go through their hard times of struggle and labor, and we need to let them do this.

But we can come alongside them, kind of like a chase vehicle in a bike race. So here are some things I did to encourage my children through their hard days…

5 Ways to Encourage Your Stressed Child

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

  1. Quietly open the door, without saying anything, and put a plate full of hot chocolate chip cookies on the desk next to her. Don’t forget the milk. (Really, this is all it takes to receive mother-of-the-year award.)
  2. If possible, make her comfortable where she is. I used to heat the rice bag for my daughter and go lay it on her shoulders while she was doing homework. (We live in cold Montana, so this was comforting.)
  3. You know all those chores you hound her to do? Take over some of those for the day.
  4. Praise her work ethic. I would say something like, I always hoped you would grow up to be a hard worker, and now you’re doing it. Not many young people have a good work ethic these days, so I’m proud that you do. An employer is going to really appreciate that quality in you someday.
  5. Assure your child you love her separately from her achievement. I remember sitting in the car with my daughter one day, and she was teary because she thought she might get a low grade in a class (which for her meant a B. The horror.) I said, You know, your dad and I love you so much. Even if you get a B or a C or flunk, we still love you. It’s okay.

We all must go through hard times, but when we follow Jesus He comes close to us and gives us all the resources and strength we need to plug away toward our own completion and maturity.

As we allow our children to work and struggle, while we come alongside them with encouragement and comfort, we are mirroring this work that God is doing in our lives through Jesus.

*What support and encouragement does your child need from you today?

Christy FitzwaterChristy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife south of the border (Canadian, that is.) She has two children –a newly married daughter and a son who is a senior in high school, although she is in denial about the latter. Christy is a librarian’s daughter and an English major who loves the smell of a new book and freshly sharpened pencils but who occasionally can be seen in a kayak as her one claim to athleticism. Living in Kalispell, Montana she teaches high school Spanish at a Christian school in the afternoons and spends the mornings writing her devotional blog, Off the Shelf. Her greatest desire is to help people know and understand who God is. You can also find her at Pinterest and Twitter.

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

How to Restore Your Soul…When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Mind

How to Restore Your Soul When You Feel Like You're Losing Your Mind

To this day I don’t know just how it happened.

She was the most adorable baby girl you’ve ever seen and I was beside myself with gratefulness for her.

First there was her big brother who was very busy and all of 18 months old.

Then there was this tiny pink thing.

My very own sweetheart.

She was beautiful alright, but not the greatest sleeper. She wanted to nurse all night long and it took some of the fun out of it, if you know what I mean?

So I’d been doing this all-night party thing for several weeks when I started getting delirious. A little loco.

One night I found myself walking with her in circles until 2 am  when finally . . . at last . . . got the baby darling to sleep. I gently tucked her in bed and quietly crawled in next to my sound-out husband.

And collapsed into a deep sleep.

For about 12 whole minutes.

That’s when I heard her soft cries starting up again.

I roused myself and leaned over the white, lacy crib and I . . .well, I screamed.  

Something like this: Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!

My poor husband bolted upright in bed, immediately on high-alert. “What is going on here?!”

I stared at him wide-eyed—nearly as shocked as he was. Disbelief at what I’d done. Ashamed and embarrassed.

“I dunno, Honey. I guess I kinda . . . snapped.”

And so her daddy tenderly picked up our baby-doll and took over where I left off. But as he left the room, he gently admonished,

“Hey, don’t let yourself get in that place again, okay?”

Ah yes, That Place.

I can assure you that I never intended to “get there”.

Since then – four boys and four girls later – I’ve learned more on how to avoid getting to That Place.

Hands of mother caressing her baby girl sleeping

Here are a few tips on how to restore your soul when you feel like you’re losing your mind. A mix of spiritual, physical, and just plain practical ways to keep from yelling into the baby’s crib and other crazy-mama moments . . .

What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Mind

1)  Get the rest you require. Make it a high priority because it can make all the difference. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. Go to bed early or take a nap. Ask friends or family to take over and curl up in a quiet place. Get serious about getting some sleep.

2)  Do this in Christ’s strength. Not your own. Don’t convince yourself that “I” can do this, but minister in His power rather than your own. Place Bible verses around the house, sing praises, and pray as you go throughout your day. Motherhood is a spiritual endeavor.

3)  Don’t neglect your own needs. Sometimes a mom gets so busy she forgets to eat right, to shower, and even go to the bathroom. She forgets to love with her husband or talk to a good friend. My dear, how can you fill up your child’s heart if yours is on empty?

4)  Be willing to ask for help. At first it felt rather stupid and weak, but I figured it was better than a break down. So one older lady folded clothes for me. Another teen girl came over to play with the children. We even sacrificed for a season and had a cleaning lady come in.

It’s now been 19 years since I yelled into the crib.

How to Restore Your Soul When You Think You're Losing Your MindThat baby girl is now a lovely young lady and I’ve asked if she remembered me losing it with her?

She put her arms around me and said she only remembers snuggling together, reading stories aloud, and splashing in mud puddles.

And I’m beside myself with gratefulness.

My very own sweetheart.

Resting in Him.

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*How about you? What kinds of things do you do to restore your soul? I hope you’ll share with us!

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

Free Printable: 17 Wonderful Ways A Woman Can Find Rest & Refreshment

17 Wonderful Ways A Woman Can Find Rest & Refreshement  - Printable

Sometimes my husband comes in and says to me, Will you just sit down?

Stop what you’re doing and rest a while.

And I start to protest. Explain to him all that I have to do and take care of and finish up and . . . .

And I forget that one of the things I need to do? The thing that you need to do too?

Is rest.

Refresh.

Maybe you’re too tired, too busy to even remember what it means to renew your body and soul.

So here’s a new “To Do” list for you.

Yesterday I wrote down all these creative ways to rest. For you and for me. Bunches of different ways we can find a little quiet and renewal.

You can post it on your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror – anywhere that you can see it and be reminded that God designed for you to rest too.

Rest, my friend, and be refreshed.

(Click the link below to download as a free printable)

17 Wonderful Ways to Find Rest & Refreshment – Printable

 

17 Ways to Find Rest and Refreshment - Lisa by the River

Resting in Him,

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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson
*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

17 Wonderful Ways A Woman Can Find Rest & Refreshment

17 Wonderful Ways A Woman Can Find Rest and Refreshment

Poured out.

That’s how I’d describe it.

Not simply tired or busy, but completely poured out.

It wasn’t a complaint or even a whine. Just a stated fact.

I was run-down.

Now please understand, I LOVE what I do. I love being a wife and I’m happy being a mom. I enjoy running our home and I’m grateful for church and ministry.

But sometimes . . . sometimes, I get worn out. Plain and simple. With nothing left to give.

And that’s not a good place for a woman to find herself in, is it?

Done in and wiped out.

So I’ve learned that if I’m going to do this thing—this wifely-motherly-homemakey-workey-ministry thing—for the long-term? Then I needed to figure out how to find rest and refreshment so I can have what it takes to pour out to others.

A lot like you.

I need to stop. Rest. Restore. Refresh.

Now I can almost hear you protesting from here . You’ve got young children. You work two jobs. You’re taking care of your parents, or maybe his. You’ve been ill, or someone in your family has been sick. Possibly for a long time. You’re homeschooling, or carpooling, or running a ministry.

You can’t stop . . . and yet you’re poured out.

So today I’m going to share – not just one way, but 17 wonderful ways you can find rest and refreshment. And maybe you can’t do all of them, but I’m certain you can pull off at least one of them. Probably more, if you set your mind to it.

So pause a moment, won’t you? And rest along the way. 

Rest and Refreshment - Walk in the Fall

17 Wonderful Ways a Woman Can Find Rest & Refreshment

  1. Go for a walk.  Not only does a walk refresh your heart and mind, but it can also refresh your body. If I can’t get my walk in earlier in the day, I’ll pop something in the oven and when my husband gets home I’ll give him that look – the one that says I think I just might go insane if I don’t get out for some fresh air.
  2. Run a hot bath. Soaking in a warm tub, with a drop or two of essential oils, eases my stress and tired body. Makes you sleep better that night too!
  3. Read a good book. I don’t even know if I can explain it, but when I got lost in a good book, it soothes my mind and renews my perspective.(Here’s a great recommendation if you want one: Evidence Not Seen.)
  4. Change your attitude. It’s amazing how much more energy you have when you’re not fighting against what God has called you to do. So if you sense you have resistance?  Then repent, rejoice, and see how renewed you feel!
  5. Sing a song. We used to take our children on these long hikes and toward the end, when their little bodies were starting to droop, we’d sing a song the last way down the mountain. Well, it works for grown-ups too!
  6. Create a place of rest. See this swing on our front porch? This small spot of sunshine? This is one of my best places of rest. Slipping out there for a few moments does my weary spirit good (even if a small person sometimes finds me there – see #9).Swinging
  7. Pray quietly. When it’s crazy-busy and everyone is bustling about, maybe whining and crying (and that would include me too), I’ll slip back to my bedroom, kneel down, and say a small prayer. Asking God to give the strength and grace needed to carry out this day. *Highly recommended
  8. Give thanks. This one is closely related to #4 above. Rather than focus on the trials and the challenges, begin giving thanks – preferably aloud – for all the blessings that you enjoy. You just might have more than you remembered.
  9. Snuggle up. With someone you love. My personal favorite.  Taking a few minutes to cuddle with a little person . . . or maybe that Man of Yours, if he’s around. Or sometimes I just give hugs all around – from the youngest to our teens!
  10. Cancel an activity. Ha! You didn’t even know you could do this, did you! Well, you can. The world will still keep going ’round, even if you do cancel a class, a meeting, or event (I know, because I’ve tried it).
  11. Take a power nap. This is one of my secret weapons: the 20 minute power nap. Fan, ear plugs, covers over my head . . . and recharge! Try it, you’ll find it works wonders.
  12. Do something you love. Maybe this seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes doing something is even more refreshing than doing nothing. For me that might mean baking homemade bread, but for you it might mean painting, scrapbooking, writing, or building. Take an hour and just do it! You’ll feel better when you do. Rest and Refreshment - Making Bread
  13. Call a friend. Talk on the phone or see if she can meet you for coffee. Being able to laugh, cry, or share my struggles with a friend can be very healing.
  14. Turn in early. Another ha! Go to bed at an insanely early hour. Don’t watch TV, close your computer (well, after you’ve read this post, of course), forget the nagging piles, and just. Go. To. Sleep. I’m telling ya, 8 hours of sleep can make you into a new woman!
  15. Slip away for a short break. Schedule a break, dear lady. No one (no one!) was made to keep going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–and that even includes you. Get creative if you have to, but make it happen.
  16. Soak in the truth of Scripture. Place Bible verses strategically around your house or work area that remind you of Who you can rest in. (You can get free printable Scripture cards right here.)
  17. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Just stepping outside and enjoying what the Creator has designed can reach your soul and renew your spirit. Wherever you live, look up at the vast sky or find a small flower that fills you with joy and wonder.  (I love to share the beauties of the Pacific Northwest here.)

Rest and Refreshment - The Three Sisters Mountains

Don’t you feel better already? Knowing  you have all these wonderful options? I thought you might.

Pick one to try . . . and then another.  Maybe even one a day!

Rest, my friend, and be refreshed. 

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish. ~ Jer. 31:25

*What are some of the ways you find rest and refreshment? I’d love to hear!

Resting in Him,

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P.S. Yes! Here’s a printable of these 17 Wonderful Ways. Something for you to hang up where you can see it when you’re too tired to think of ways to rest.

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson
*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).