My Boys

I love to stand back and observe the boys. I prefer to do it when they don’t know I’m looking. Then I play a little game…I like to try and figure out where every goofy mannerism comes from. Sometimes I see a set of a jaw just like their father, sometimes I see a slight crossing of the eyes which comes from me. I watch them giggle at things that are not funny, me again. I watch them figure out complex problems and look pleased with themselves, definitely Dad.

These are enjoyable creatures that the Rev and I helped bring into the world. But oh my, some days I feel so pressured by the responsibility of it all, the fact that I have to try and make them into respectful, caring men, husbands, fathers. That is a HUGE job.

But you know what? I’m not in this alone. First off, God gave me my husband to father these boys. He does an incredible job. He can jump in just when I am ready to go into crazy mom mode. Sometimes he even jumps in long before I reach that point. He is an incredible and unselfish provider. He is a fabulous example of how to be caring, yet strong.

But, even if the Rev were not around, I would still not be alone in this feat. God promised that he is with me always. I remind you, and myself often, that people let me down. They really cannot help it. I let people down all the time. I am flawed. All of humanity is flawed. We are full of sin. We cannot escape it. Because of this sin, I will always be an imperfect mother, no matter how hard I try to achieve perfection, whatever that will look like. Thanks be to God, that he is perfect, and dependable, and steady and sure. He’s unchanging.

So, when I look at my boys, trying to see pieces of me and my husband in them, I hope to also see bits of their Heavenly Father in them as well. When I look at Andrew I see a staunchness and a firmness that I pray will keep him in his baptismal grace. When I look at William I see the kindness in his eyes, that comes from the compassion his Heavenly Father has. In Owen I see a yearning to know more of God, and an eagerness to tell others what he knows. And lastly, in Ethan I see the childlike, innocent faith that we all should have. He does not question, he just believes!

An Open Letter to President Elect Barack Obama

Dear President Elect Obama,

Congratulations on being elected to hold the highest office in the free world. You have taken on a difficult and daunting job.

I did not vote for you.

This is no secret.

The fact remains though, that you will be our president in a few short months. I am bound by the fourth commandment to act in a respectful manner towards you, whether I agree with your views or not. I am admonished in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism that “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents or other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

I am oddly grateful for an opportunity that your ascending to the office of the President affords me. Since the time that my children were very small, I have had a photo of President Bush displayed in our living room. Ours is a patriotic family. I have taught my children to respect those in authority. Friends and family who have noticed this display have asked what we would do if a Democrat were elected president. We have always responded that if the new president wished to gift us with a portrait, we would display the leader of the free world in our home.

I have the opportunity to teach my children a new kind of honor and respect, the honor and respect that is more difficult. It is easy to love and respect a beloved parent, it is harder to respect a neglectful or abusive one. Likewise, it is easy to respect a president who shares your views, it is harder to show respect to someone who shares few if any of your ideals. Thank you for this challenge and opportunity.

Mr. Obama, rest assured that I will pray for you, as I have prayed for Mr. Bush. I pray that you can lead our country in such a way that we can come together as one nation under God. I pray for your family, as the White House can be a hard place to raise a family.

God Bless you, Mr. Obama, and God Bless America.

Sincerely,

Pam Thompson

For All The Saints

I did it again…I cried in church tonight. It happens every All Saints Day. We sing For All The Saints and I feel very brave and strong and sing joyfully for about three verses. Then I weep. I’m not a terribly emotionally charged person. I don’t cry about much. Unless I am pregnant Hallmark commercials have no effect on me.

I am much more stoic than my mother, she cries way more than me. I grew up watching my mom cry in church. She is emotional, I am made for mothering a gaggle of boys.

But when we are dealing with God’s awesome promises, and the foretaste of heaven and visions of all the Christian saints, all bets are off. When I picture my loved ones and brothers in the faith all endlessly praising God, clothed in white…I weep. And what mother would not be moved by the thought of “Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.”

Between the readings tonight we sang another one of my favorite hymns, Behold A Host Arrayed in White”. We sang the first two verses between the Old Testament and Epistle lesson, and the third verse before the Gospel. When a hymn is split up, I find that I pay more attention to the words. Because of this I noticed something I had not noticed before. Near the end of the first verse is the line:”They now serve God both day and night; They sing their songs in endless light.” To me this line speaks volumes about vocation. Is that not what we are called to do? Are we not to serve God both day and night, by living out our callings, whatever they may be?

The motto of the hospital where I work is “Let all be received as Christ”. This seems like such a simple and basic principle, and just a natural outpouring of how we should live out our lives as Christians. BUT, reality and our fallen condition leaves us with crabby coworkers and difficult patients, and things that cannot be made better, and somehow receiving all as Christ becomes difficult, but a calling none the less.

I cannot wait for the day when serving God both day and night entails singing songs in endless light…I have a lot of favorite hymns!

Come Lord Jesus.

Behold a host, arrayed in white, like thousand snow clad mountains bright!
With palms they stand; who is this band, before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame, who from the great affliction came
And in the flood of Jesus’ blood are cleansed from guilt and shame.
They now serve God both day and night; they sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring as they all sing with angels shining bright.

Chicken Stew

I made an awesome meal tonight. It is from my favorite healthy mom cook book, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers This book is part book, part cookbook. It is full of the reasons why we need to feed our families healthier food, and ways to get our families to eat such food.

Now, my good friend Esther over at Mommy Diaries has a different approach, she follows the Sneaky Chef school of thought, and she knows that I don’t. I’m a meaner mom, and that is OK. I figure I want my kids to know that they are eating their self proclaimed “yucky stuff” and that they either can eventually grow to like it, or at least respect it. The Moms’ Guide authors are not against drowning food in ketchup if needed, at least it has lycopene.

So anyway, I was pondering dinner tonight and I had some boneless skinless chicken breasts to make something with. The problem is that I made garlic and herb marinated baked chicken last night, and I needed tonight’s meal to seem different somehow. I went to my favorite cooking website, allrecipes and found no inspiration. So, as I often do when I need new inspiration, I turned to my gigantic stack of cookbooks. Some of my cookbooks are more well-loved than others, this particular book has survived a coffee spill and more than one tomato sauce splatter. I paged through and found this gem of a recipe, a take on Chicken Fricasee. This is healthier than it’s traditional counterpart because carrots and mushrooms are added for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and I fried them in a moderate amount of healthy olive oil, and I added very little salt.

Chicken Stew with Baby Carrots

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each cut into three pieces
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 10 oz package presliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp bottled crushed garlic
  • 1.5 cups all natural chicken broth (I use Kitchen Basics)
  • 1 16 oz bag baby carrots
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce (I was out, so I left it out...tasted great anyway)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives coarsely chopped, or 1 2.25 ounce can sliced olives, drained, optional
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper

Place Chicken and flour into a bowl and toss to coat chicken evenly. Shake off excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about three minutes.

Add the mushrooms, garlic and a few tablespoons of the broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. If the chicken sticks to the pan, add additional broth, loosening brown bits from the bottom.

Stir in the carrots, the remaining broth, the tomato sauce, olives and Italian seasoning. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat ans simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Remove the cover and simmer until the carrots are tender and the stew thickens, an additional 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serve with Polenta or Pasta (we had wagon wheels!).

 

Time Management

I am starting to feel the critical load of motherhood, and all of my other vocations.

In my old life, when the Rev pastored a large congregation, I could melt into the background, bake an occasional pan of bars, teach Sunday School when I felt ready to do so, and make an occasional pot of lenten soup. Now, we have this fledgling mission congregation. I feel a lot more stressed now as a PW. I’m not whining, or complaining, I’m just putting the facts out there. When we have such a small group, my absence leaves a gaping hole if I skip out of something. For the past two weeks I have taught Sunday School for kids ranging from age four to age 10…too big of a range…I need to ask for help, but then I feel guilty because it takes someone out of Pastor’s class, and to me that seems unfair.

Now I’m working. I’m only working a few days a week, but they are long days leaving me selfish for time with the boys when I am not working. I am getting my first real taste of mommy guilt. At the same time it is nice to say yes to a few more things that were no in the past. And I can’t lie, I enjoy my job. And, truth be told, it would have to happen sooner or later, we have four boys that will want to go to college, and that is coming up QUICKLY.

We have consciously limited the boys’ outside activities. They are pretty much focusing on Boy Scouts, which offers them all the variety and adventure a boy could want or need. But with three scouts now, that is three different scout schedules, which is one more thing to balance between church, school, and work.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life, I think that we have what many people long for, and I am thankful for what we have. Through it all I am still very adamant about family dinners together, and time together doing fun things, balancing out the work of being in a family. I think sometimes I secretly long for the days when the boys were little, but back then I could not wait for them to grow up and be self sufficient…how fickle we women are!

I need to constantly remind myself that I daily sin much, and I am in daily repentance. I am thankful for a forgiving Father!