There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Is Almost Here!

   As much as I love teaching when we get into the month of May I go back in my mind to being a little 5th grade girl sitting in my classroom.  In May our teacher would raise the windows to cool the room and although my body was sitting at the wooden desk lined neatly behind someone else's, my mind was outside under the big trees that lined our school.  I wanted so much to be out enjoying the warm breeze, the newly leafed trees and playing--not doing school.  I'm sure I wasn't a very productive student in the springtime because my heart and mind were already on summer break!
  Well, not a whole lot has changed.  I truly feel for my children when they have a hard time concentrating this time of the year.  I give them the standard lectures on how the end of the year grades are SO important so they need to focus on those last few tests, but inside I'm with them--dying to close the books and get outside!
   My husband says that the reason I love children so much is because I've never quit being one myself.  I don't argue that point because the last week as I go to sleep at night I try to think of what the children and I will do this summer.
  Sometimes I'll try to think of a theme.  I love the camp theme for kids in the summer.  You can have "cabin clean-up" each day and have a winner at the end of the week--boys against girls.  You can have a canteen and when they do good on chores and projects they earn reward money that can be spent at the canteen.  It can be chips, candy bars, granola bars, cheese crackers or coupons "good for a McDonald's ice cream cone" (each one having a value put on it in your fake money) but kids love spending money at the canteen.  By the way, the canteen is only open at certain hours of the day!
  You can have craft projects you do together.  These can be carefully disguised jobs that you're wanting to get done.  I'm trying to figure out how to slip in my "sand and paint" the little table for the front porch into a craft project for the kids this summer! 
  You can have badges that the kids earn by carrying out their craft projects or doing a nature project.  You can teach them how to make lanyards, how to sew a simple skirt, baking 101, make and paint your own birdhouse, backyard garden, etc.  All this keeps the kids busy and happy and teaches them something new at the same time.  I don't know about anyone else but I enjoy these projects just as much as my kids do.  I've been a mama long enough now that you can do just about anything with a kid and if you're into it with them wholeheartedly they're going to have a wonderful time!
  One year when I was at Alicia's helping after a baby (I believe it was Macey Joy) I brought "camp in a suitcase" with me when I came to watch the children while Alicia recovered.   I had scarves (like the boys scout and girl scouts wear) that we sewed badges (special buttons and beads) on when they earned them.  We had canteen, morning devotions, game time, craft time and rest time. (that last one was Grandma inspired and needed!)  We had cabin cleanup contest, special treats to make and eat and we even designed and made our own camp flag. On each Friday evening we had "awards night" where the kids earned their choice of $1 gifts from Dollar Tree for being the one with the most initiative on their chores or the most cheerful or that learned all of Psalms 100.   The camp was called Camp Tamarak.  (My name is Tamara Kaye and I was really pleased with the name of the camp. :)
   Something else kids love is being out at night in the summer.  My kids and I have always loved building campfires and sitting by it after dark.   You can chase fireflies, play flashlight tag, find the summer constellations and tell them stories by a campfire.  You can teach them to make S'mores, try making some hamburger packets or other campfire food, and if you're really brave you can even camp out with them in the backyard.  I have actually built tents with sheets and clothespins over a swing set and had a wonderful time camping out with my kids. 

  Children love games and adults seem to draw back from games with children because, well, because kids can sure complicate games with their playfulness and their argumentiveness with one another, BUT they love games and they need games.  So I plan a game night and make myself do it.  I've found once I get into it I have a wonderful time and it if you make rules and stick to them everyone learns about cooperation and taking turns and you learn all kinds of new things about your kids!
   When I think of summer and kids I think of several things that you cannot fail with.  Eating outside is one.  Set up a table outside and roast some hot dogs, throw the chips on the table and have popsicles or ice cream cones ready for the end of the meal and you've got happy kids!  Summer is such a fun time for outdoor meals and snacks.  I've made my kids sack lunches or bought the little plastic trays at WalMart and let them carry their lunch outdoors to eat in the treehouse or fort.  Makes it so special!
  Another sure winner is water to play in!  Rather it's just a large tub of water they're allowed to play in with toys and cups or a small pool you keep carefully maintained ,(and I know what a job this is as we had a wading pool almost every year we lived at the Swan Pond parsonage that I cleaned manuall.) kids and water love each other on a hot summer day.  One of the funnest $1 investments I ever made was a bunch of water balloons with the little gizmo that goes on your outdoor water faucet to fill them with.  So fun!  Get a big trash barrel and let them spend an hour so filling them and then let them go at it. (with you in the middle)  Makes for a good half day of fun!
   Another fun toy that kids love to play with is sheets and/or refrigerator boxes.  Have your hubby stop by an appliance store and get a couple refrigerator boxes and then you and the kids can cut, paint and play.  I've made a Noah's ark out of one for Asher's third birthday, made nice big long tunnels for the kids to play in, made a castle, a fort, a pirate ship and a playhouse out of refrigerator boxes.  You can even let the kids cut up scrap fabric and make curtains for it.  You can attach it to the side of a swing set for a huge fort or hideout.  My kids have been detectives, spies, Civil War soldiers, pirates, and the list goes on and on and a refrigerator box has been part of the props many times.  As far as the sheets, you can make a wonderful tent over a clothesline, you can create instant shade on their swing set, and you can drape them over tables to make hideouts!  I remember having the kids completely convinced that we were hiding from Indians that were attacking when we were under a draped table!  
  I know there's more but the last one I can think of is taking a walk.  Where we live now it is beautiful and it is so enjoyable to walk the neighborhood.  My kids and I take penny walks sometimes.  You take a penny along and when you come to a corner you toss the penny to determine if you're going straight or turning!  We've forgotten the penny at times and so we'll throw the water bottle or something else we find to decide is is left, right or straight!  I also turn walks into scavenger hunts.  The kids get a certain amount of points if they see wildlife, a certain color of flower, an insect, children in a yard, a clothesline and the list can go on and on.  Last year I threw in that they would get 500 points if they saw a bear!  Much to my surprise a house had a wooden bear on the porch and one of the kids got the points!  Another time it was a frog and some people had a yard full of fake frogs!  You can reward the one with the most points however you wish.  You know, the losers have to wait on him all evening or something like that!

   This summer gas prices are high, my husband is working off hours where we will be home almost every day but I am looking forward to summer.  Years ago a lady wrote in a book I read how blessed you would be if you learned to find joy in those things that were God-given and were free.  Watching children play wiffle ball in the twilight, telling stories as you sit on the porch swing and watch fireflies blink.  Bathing a baby and teaching them to play with bubbles.  Being thrilled with watching your coffee perking on a counter with dappled sunlight mixing with the steam.  There is so much to do with children that is free or almost free.  If you're struggling financially right now it isn't the time to mope because you can't run to the amusement park with your kids this year--make your own amusement park in your own back yard and have fun!  If you ask the Lord to help you see this summer through the eyes of a child you can make it the most memorable summer your kids ever have and years later they'll say, "Mom, do you remember the summer when....."  and that will make it worth it all!

With love,



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Post-Mother's Day Thoughts...

  I had a wonderful Mother's Day this year.  The celebration began on Saturday morning when at 8:15 a.m. a florist delivered me a beautiful hanging basket of bright peach geraniums!  I was curious as I opened the card, and to be truthful, Nevin has always been the one that has sent a rose to plant or flowers as a gift so I half-expected them to be from him.  I was already chiding whichever child did it in my head for "spending extra money they didn't have" but yet thrilled that I was that important!  When I opened the card it said, "I love you.  Alicia"  I had had a rough night physically but it was all forgotten in a second as that warm feeling of being special and loved went through me.  She couldn't have picked a better gift at a better time.  Thank you, my dear Alicia. (and family)
  Then the mail arrived and John knocked on the bedroom door with it behind his back.  He said, "You got this" and handed me an envelope, "and you got this!" and handed me a package!   They were both from Niki.  The envelope held new pictures of our precious grandbabies and the package was a coffee mug with pictures from the last year of the Lott family!  The pictures are on my dresser and the cup has the perfect place in my Hoosier cabinet!
  My next blessing was a visit from my mother-in-law which I thoroughly enjoyed.  We had asked her to spend the weekend with us as this was her first Mother's Day without Charles.  I love her as if she were my own mother and am so thankful for her.  We all went "flower shopping" for a while and found beautiful hostas at K Mart.  She and I both benefited from that trip because Gary went back later than evening and got us each two of them for Mother's Day.
  We bought the food for a simple Mother's Day lunch of hoagies, oven fries and fruit and cheese.  Cierra made brownie bites and Gary  bought chocolate ice cream and low calorie/low fat chocolate syrup so we could have sundaes  I was thrilled that we found the exact things on sale at UGO for my Mother's Day lunch I had asked for.  (They even had chicken and turkey submarine [a.k.a. long strips of deli meat] for $1.59 a lb.!  All we had to do was load the sandwiches!) 
   John bought me the clothesline I had requested so I could freshen my drapes this summer and hang out my sheets weekly.  Cierra bought me the can opener that was on my "wish list" and Gary bought me two hanging baskets of ferns and two hostas.  I'm a blessed mother, with or without gifts--but it sure is nice to have them express their love by showering you with gifts!
  I talked to all my children on Mother's Day and the crowning glory of a present was a personal letter written to me from my son Nathan.  It arrived by e-mail and when Gary came to see why I hadn't come to bed at 11:37 p.m. I was sitting there crying for joy at the sweet letter of gratitude from my son.  It was the perfect gift.
  His letter made me think about the choices I'd made as a mother.  Most of my choices were made from watching the example of my own precious mother and from believing the Bible is true and if we do what it says we will reap good fruit in our lives.  My choices were also a conscious decision on the part of my husband and myself being very serious about raising our children for the Lord.  I remember both of us being very nervous about the huge responsibility we had taken on when we had our first little baby girl! 
  I remember our discussions about the seriousness of being responsible for living souls and us making a definite choice for me to be a stay-at-home mother even if we had to "sell the furniture out from under us" for me to do so.  I also remember when Niki became school age many conversations about her education and once again we made the decision to see to it she got a Christian education and together "counting the cost" of this and deciding that whatever the cost our children would have a godly Christian education not a Christless one that challenged all we believed to be true.
   The Lord always sent the right sermon, the right book, the right person into our lives when we were "paying the price".  I remember reading the book Growing Up God's Way by John Stormer and reading about Susanna Wesley saying that the reason she hesitated to give advice to other mother's about child-rearing was that "so few mothers would take the center of their life and dedicate it to rearing godly children". (not a direct quote but how I remember it!)  I decided then that I would take the best part of my life and dedicate it to raising children for the Lord. 
  I remember another friend handing me the book, What the Bible Says About Child Training  by Richard Fugate.  After reading it I had an even deeper sense of responsibility to obey the word of God above all else in rearing children because God Himself held me responsible for it.  It changed my thinking and my life as a mother in a positive way.
   The last few days I've pondered all of this in my heart and yearned for the Lord to continue to use me as a godly woman, wife and mother till the day I die.  Today I was checking e-mails and a blog entitled "What's Been Easy About Losing 25 Pounds" caught my eye.  In this article he talked about "paying the price" to lose weight and get fit.  I had been thinking about "paying the price" but in the spiritual realm for two days now!  Every thing he said fit hand-and-glove with what I'd been thinking about concerning my role as a godly woman.  He talked about making a daily decision to "pay the price" and the long-term benefits you would reap.  He asked you to join his Spark group and list as a comment how you paid the price that day.  It inspired me and made me want to become a part of "paying the price" in the area of health, nutrition and fitness.  But it also inspired me to renew my commitments to "pay the price" in my spiritual life, and to think about it on a daily basis.
  An hour or so later it was time to exercise.  I don't hate exercise, I hate the time it takes out of my busy day.  Each day the man that wrote the book 8 Minutes in the Morning (by Jorge Cruise) has a little self-talk he wants you to do before you exercise.  Today's was about "Loser Zones".  In his book he had the quote, "You will never find time for anything.  If you want time, you must make it." -Charles Buxton, American writer.  That went right along with my philosophy that you will find the time and the money for anything you truly love and want.  He asked the question, "What are your Loser Zones, and how many hours per day do you spend Loser Zone activity?"  The number one loser zone he listed was television viewing--up to 30 hours a week for the average American!  He also mentioned aimless phone conversations, surfing the internet, etc.
  Once again my mind ran to the spiritual realm.  Where were my Loser Zones that kept me from spending more time with the Lord in His word and in prayer?  I could name a couple right off the bat.  Was I willing to "pay the price" so I could reap the benefits?  Who might I see saved this year or rescued spiritually if I was willing to "pay the price"?  What might happen in my own life and that of my family if I was willing to "pay the price" and move forward with the Lord to a higher plane than I've been on? 
  Today I was motivated in the spiritual area and in the physical realm to be a better mother this year than I was last year.  To yield what I wanted to see stronger bonds, sweeter relationships and spiritual fruit in my life and the life of my family.
  Because I'm a mother of older children and younger children I am already reaping some precious fruit from my children that lets me know it was worth every ounce of "paying the price".  My son's heartfelt thank you letter left me knowing it was worth every sacrifice I'd ever made as a mother.  Knowing your children are safely in His flock and fold givs you a good night's rest. 
  I thank the Lord for giving us a guide book and for His faithfulness in sending instructions when we are yearning for them.  I thank Him for letting me have the privilege and responsibility of being a mother, and I thank Him for entrusting those precious little souls into my care for a few years. 
  I pray that you too will count the cost and decide that it's worth every precious sacrifice you make to see your children "spiritually" healthy and satisfied.  May the Lord use this to encourage you to not be "weary in well doing" but to keep on keeping on as a wife and mother separated "from the world unto the Lord".   May God strengthen and encourage each one of you as you raise your family for Him.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Memory Lane- #1

   I don't know why but my heart has been going down memory lane in a big way for over a week now.  I have thought so much about people and places that have influenced my life in a major way.  Maybe it's because I'm in the autumn of life and maybe it's because the Lord has been giving me a grateful heart lately.
   My first memories are of a little house on Jay Street in the town of Dunkirk, IN.  Dunkirk was a small town with a train track dividing it.  My maternal grandparents lived on Railroad Street and my paternal grandmother lived on the other side of town on Pleasant Street.  What sweet memories the town of Dunkirk has for me.
   The house we lived in was a dark green shingled house and I was a very little girl.  My only memory there is of a Christmas tree and my dad throwing his shoe at a mouse that ran by the tree and killing it.  I remember my parents thinking that was very funny and all of us laughing.  End of memories in that house.  I have lots of memories of how the house looked by looking at pictures and hearing my parents talk abou it. 
  I also have the memory of my dad telling that while we lived there my sister Kristi would ask to go to church when the church bells rang on Sunday.  He said that bothered him--but not enough to get him to go to church.
  Then he began working with a bricklayer named Paul Vice who was also an evangelist.  Paul Vice was going to be preaching a meeting at my dad's mother's church.  It was Sugar Grove Methodist Church, a little country church that I remember us going to some when I was very small.  He asked my dad to come hear him preach there and got my dad to agree.  During that meeting on January 25th (I think I have the date right) my dad and mom went forward and got saved.  Life changed for our entire family after that--my parents salvation saved their marriage and allowed my dad to see household salvation.  I can't imagine how happy his mother must have been.
   My only other memory of that period of my life was that my Grandpa Ike left and I didn't see him again until I was in about 4th or 5th grade.  I am not sure if what I remember really is in my memory or it was told to me by my parents till I think I remember it, but I have a memory of my Grandpa Ike holding me, playing with me, riding me on his foot like I was on a horse and then he was gone.  My dad told me he left right after that evening of spending time with us.  He was a womanizer and had left more than once but this was the last time.  I only saw him twice after that.  Years later when reading my grandmother's journals I read where he would come home and run up bills, leave after getting indebted, ask for forgiveness and come back only to put them in debt again.  Finally when he asked to come back she told him no. 
  These were the days when to get a divorce the person who was wronged had to file for the divorce and my grandmother would never do that.  She told me that although he had broken his vows she was not going to break hers.  He never did get his divorce but lived in Florida with another woman till his death when I was a senior in high school.  My grandmother's willingness to be true to her vows in spite of what had been done against her made a huge impression on me as a young person.  I knew when I married it was truly "for better or for worse" and planned to see it through because of my grandmother's advice and example.
  My Grandma Nelle's house had a beige living room, a flamingo bedroom and a turquoise kitchen when my grandpa left her.  I have never liked those colors on the walls of a house.  It gives my heart a little downward tug to think of her kitchen back then and I didn't like it till my dad remodeled it for her.  Who would think that even the colors affected the sadness I felt at losing my Grandpa Ike as a very little girl. 
  I still remember the smell of the Dove bar soap in my grandma's bathroom, my fascination with her razor laying on the side of her tub, how I loved her collection of cameos and her hair reticule and bakelite set of brushes and beauty items on her dresser.  I think of my love of  her teacups and the little China doll on her curio shelf with glass lace on her skirt tail.. 
  At my other grandparents I spent many a rainy afternoon on a butter yellow glider in their screened in porch and today a glider like it sits on my porch.  I loved my grandmother's book shelves with their glass fronts and the wonderful smell of stationery when I opened them.  I loved the Big-Little books on those shelves and the little box of games my grandpa kept in there to entertain us.  I loved my grandpa's Popular Mechanics books and find myself looking for reprints of them in bookstores.  I loved my grandmother's orange teakettle, her African Violets that lined her sunny kitchen window and the grape arbor in the back yard with the porch swing under it.  Oh, sweet memories.  Thank you Lord for bringing them back to me to relive those lovely days.
  With that I will conclude  my first trip down memory lane.  I'm writing this mostly for my children, but also for my spiritual children.  We don't realize how much one person can affect the rest of our lives.  It is so important to surround ourselves with the right influences and to see our children are surrounded with the right influences.  Childhood influences affect us for the rest of our days.  As a young woman I felt my Grandmother Mettler was my best friend.  As a little girl my Grandpa Mettler gave me many pieces of advice and I've not forgot a one of them.  I'd say at the time he didn't know if I was listening or not--but I still remember our talks.
  How does that affect me today?  I am now a grandmother and I know that every conversation might mean the difference in my grandchildren's lives.  I try to have time with them that they will look back to with the sweetest of memories and not to take them for granted. 
   I also try to remember that every spiritual decision I make will affect my entire family--for good or for bad.  I pray that I will make decisions that will bring more of the Lord into my family's heart and life.  And I pray that the Lord will teach us all that today is tomorrow's memory.  May all of us live in such a way that when we are gone "we being dead still speak" to our family.