Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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Mentor Monday: My Friend Natasia

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of your influence, even in a short amount of time.

I only knew Natasia for a few months before we lost touch.

She was a young pastor’s wife at a local church we attended very briefly during an insanely difficult time in my early teens.

She was my mom’s friend, really.  I mean, I was there.  But I was a kid.

She was classy and beautiful, but that is not how she impacted me most.

She always spoke to me with interest and respect.

She didn’t treat me like I was little or silly.  She took a genuine interest in me.

She was even my pen-pal for a little while after we moved away.

She’ll never know what an impact she had on my life.

(Well, maybe she will.  I’ve gotten back in touch with her family through Facebook.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE Facebook?)

She was an example of faith and grace.  She loved her husband and her future children.  She had a great story about her commitment to wait for the guy God had for her.  During a time when it was easy to feel disillusioned with Christianity, I remembered her kindness, her love for Jesus, and her authentic life.  She inspired me to want to be like her.

Later, as a young pastor’s wife myself, I often remembered of the kind of pastor’s wife she was.  I knew she was the kind I wanted to be.

She mentored me just by being who she was.

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of your influence, even in a short amount of time.


Have you ever had someone who mentored you just by their example?  What about someone who influenced you through just a brief friendship or contact?  Share in the comments!


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What to Do When You Are Bored (To the Younger Ladies…But Ideas for Everyone!)

OK, ladies, I’m not trying to be mean here but it just is amazing to me when people complain about being bored.  We live in such an interesting world and there is no way on earth I can possibly do all the wonderful things I would like to do.  So here is a list of possible things to do when you are bored, just for inspiration.  This is especially for those of you who aren’t married, and even for you who don’t yet have children.  Don’t waste this time in your life!  Use it for God!

  • Volunteer at a church.  Call your church office.  They probably have plenty of volunteer opportunities.
  • Volunteer at a charity.
  • Learn a second language.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Learn a craft, such as sewing, jewelry making, or painting.
  • (There are so many free online resources for learning things like these!)
  • Spend time with a housebound person.  They become very lonely.
  • Visit a nursing home.  Nursing homes can be intimidating, but they can be black holes of loneliness for the elderly.  Ask the staff to connect you with someone who has no visits from family or friends.  There are plenty of them.  Elderly people can tell fascinating stories and are often full of wisdom.  Sometimes their minds or ability to communicate are gone and there is no reward except for knowing that you have loved them and provided companionship.
  • Adopt an elderly person who is not necessarily housebound.  Rake their leaves, change light bulbs, and do other tasks they are no longer able to do for themselves.
  • Get a job. If you have a job, get a second job.  Save your money or give it to a worthy cause.
  • Go on a short term mission trip.
  • Enroll in college, trade school, or seminary/Bible school.
  • Spend time with God.  Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have at this stage of your life to spend uninterrupted time with Jesus!  It will lay the foundation for the rest of your life.
  • Volunteer to babysit for your pastor’s family or another young couple who may not be able to hire a sitter regularly.  Don’t be offended if they don’t take you up on your offer, they will appreciate your heart all the same.
  • Offer to help an overwhelmed young mom (or even one that doesn’t seem overwhelmed—heh!).  Maybe she needs someone to give her a hand with organizing, cleaning, or running errands.
  • Write encouraging notes to those who might need them.
  • Pray.
  • Grow a garden, even a collection of potted plants.
  • Travel.
  • Read biographies of great Christians and world-changers.  These can be lifechanging!
  • Keep a journal.
  • Try your hand at writing fiction or poetry.
  • Seek out a mentor, an older Christian woman you admire.  Ask her to meet with you for discipleship, or just to be available to answer questions and chat.

Basically, it boils down to two things.  Love Jesus.  Seek to become all that He wants you to be.  And love people.  Pour yourself into them.  You can’t lose!  And you won’t be bored either!


Body Image

Thinness as ideal beauty has been on the American scene for a long time.  Girls have been pressured for years to be very thin.  I know people who let their morning weigh-in determine whether they have a good day or not.  Our identity is so often wrapped up in how skinny we are.  In a culture with so many eating disorders and so much pressure to look a certain way, how can we help our girls to have a healthy body image?  I have more questions than answers.  But with 3 duaghters, I think about this a lot.

Beautiful women weren’t historically portrayed as super-thin.  This painting is by Mary Cassatt.

And Rubens, of course, is known for his substantial beauties.

But even in American culture, the pressure has mounted.  Here’s Doris Day…

Eva Gabor…Slender but not skinny…

Sophia Loren.  Wow!  What a beauty!  But she’s pretty heavy by today’s standards.

And of course, Marilyn Monroe.  She wouldn’t get a second look today.  Instead of being a sex symbol, she’d be selling Nutrisystem with Kirstey Alley.

By contrast, today’s fashion magazines that our girls read tell us that they should look like this.


And this…This girl should be the poster child for anorexia, not working as a model in the “beauty” industry.

Most celebrities are skinnier than celebrities used to be.  Look how tiny Kelly Ripa is.

Even Jennifer Garner, one of my favorite ever actresses…How adorable is she?  But is this degree of thinness realistic or even desirable for most people?

When celebs put on a few pounds, our culture views them as fat.  Back to what our girls see as “ideal”.  Tyra Banks is a Victoria’s Secret supermodel.  That’s what our culture values as beautiful.  So when she gains 30 pounds, she’s considered “fat.”

Does Jessica Simpson look fat to you?  Me either.  But the media had a field day with her weight gain.   They scream in our daughters’ ears that if you weigh this much you are fat.  And ugly.  Doesn’t that break your heart?

As much as I disagree with her beliefs, I think Oprah Winfrey is a great example of someone who is confident and beautiful without  having to be a size 0.  Isn’t she pretty?

I wonder, as moms, how we can help our daughters.  Certainly we want them to be healthy.  Obesity isn’t good for anyone.  And whether we like it or not, we are influenced by our culture to some degree.  There is a weight where we all feel pretty–we just want to make sure that, for our girls, it’s not unrealistic and that they don’t base their self-worth on that.  They need to know that they are beautiful even if they aren’t at their “perfect” weight.  And for younger girls, it shouldn’t even be on their radar (although it probably is because they hear so much about it, no matter how sheltered they are.)

I hear that we as moms should be good role models.  Do we constantly fuss about our weight, check ourselves in the mirror, smooth our tummies, and talk about our thinness or lack thereof?  Do our little girls grow up believing that they are less if they weigh more?  Do we tell them they are beautiful no matter what, and then sabotage that message by our intense, vocal dissatisfaction with ourselves?  It does no good to try to shelter our daughters from society’s lies if we believe them ourselves.

I hear that we should simply focus on healthful eating and make sure our kids are active.  I’m a low-energy person, especially after having 5 kids in 10 years.  But one of my goals is to be active with my kids, to play sports with them and just have good physical fun.  I want my children to see me making good choices.  I fail at this a lot.  But I hope that most of the time I’m able to pick myself back up without too much drama and make better choices the next time.

So, like I said, these are the things I hear and the things I hope to do–but I have more questions than answers. 

So I really, really want to hear from YOU!  Tell me what you do to help your daughters be healthy and secure with a healthy body image!

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Cheap, Easy, Creative

I kind of cringe whenever I hear someone say that they can’t have a cute/decorated house or dress themselves or their children nicely because “I can’t afford it.”  I’ll add, don’t look at my house or clothes as an example, I’m in decorating and fashion preschool.  But I’m learning.  Between frugal decorating and clothing blogs, and my creative friends, I’m getting lots of good ideas.  Here are a couple I ran across yesterday.

Creative Juices Decor. Wow, this chick has made some amazing Pottery Barn knock-offs!  She guest posted here about how to make an adorable vintagey clock face. I love it!

One of my favorite crafty/housey blogs ever, Pleasant View Schoolhouse, posts an idea for the most frugal, cute, fast and easy little girl skirt.  With nothing more than a few thrifted t-shirtsand the most rudimentary sewing skills, your little girl can have a whole rainbow of soft, adorable skirts.  I’ll definitely be trying this one.

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I’ve wanted to talk about a few issues pertaining to daughters, but for now the thoughts haven’t gelled in my head enough to commit them to the keyboard. In the meantime, my friend, fashion blogger Rebecca, linked to this excellent Washington Post article about girls and dress.

In the past I also enjoyed Wendy Shalit’s book A Return to Modesty. It’s not a Christian book–Shalit is Jewish. I found her thoughts extremely insightful.

On one hand, I think it’s amazing that these issues even have to be addressed. (I’ve been told I’m a little naive.) On the other, I think it’s important to recognize that the way we adorn ourselves outwardly is merely a reflection of what’s really important–the heart. There’s a fine line between giving our daughters guidance about their outward appearance, while maintaining a focus on inner purity. A wholesome heart will naturally be reflected in wholesome attire, I think.

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Girlie Stuff

Well, this will not have any great recommendations like my post about boys, just a couple fluffy ones for girls. I’ve been making these simple headbands for my girls. (Don’t look too closely, there are some loose threads and other imperfections, not to mention that the picture’s dark.) You can download the free pattern here, and it’s simple if you have even rudimentary sewing skills. And actually much cuter than my picture.

Totally unrelated, Elizabeth saved all last summer for and American Girl doll and has really enjoyed their web site. I am super-duper-very-much NOT a fan of computer games for kids and rarely allow mine access to the internet, but I will even let her play the American Girl games every now and then for a treat. They are exceptionally wholesome and play pleasant music, which is a huge plus for me. The only slightly objectionable thing I’ve found on their web site is the occasional mention of green this and green that, which I simply steer to a conversation about stewarding well what God has blessed us with (including creation), rather than radically saving the earth by human effort. But that’s just me.

Anyway, if you have a little girl and need a safe place for her to go online, I highly recommend the American Girl site.

A side note: If you allow your children on the internet at all, make sure you keep the computer in a common area of the house and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use a filter!!!