In Honor of Mother’s Day

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A Mother’s Heart

The pain of a child is magnified
In the loving heart of its mother
She carries the burden and feels the hurt
more deeply than any other.
Regardless of the child’s age,
she never really lets go.
The apron strings may have been cut,
but with heartstrings it’s never so.
Joy to joy and trial by trial
she watches her baby grow.
Tenderly caring, worrying and wondering
in what direction their life will go.

The happiness of a child is multiplied
in the loving heart of its mother.
She cherishes the smiles and records the laughter
all stored in her memory forever.
Regardless of the child’s age,
she lives for those happy moments.
Their laughter is music to her ears.
Her children fill up her senses.
Their smiles are her treasure,
their hugs her fortune,
and when they say, “I love you”
her day is won!

The life of a child is held forever
in the loving heart of its mother.
The deepest pain, the greatest joy,
The heart of a mother is like no other.

                                                                                                      © 2019, Brenda Lenz

Moving On

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I’m going to be totally transparent here.  I am a dreamer, and I’m a little spoiled.  I blame my husband for the spoiled part.  He does everything in his power to make me happy and  when I really want something, he’ll move heaven and earth to get it for me.  Just as a small example; I decided I wanted a dog a couple months back.  Rich has NEVER wanted a dog.  In fact, he has been adamantly against living with one the entire 27-years we’ve been together.  It is the ONE thing I thought he would never let me have my way on.  I was wrong!  We lived with a little bundle of half beagle/half rat terrier energy for exactly one month. At which time I decided I’m not such a dog person and this particular dog needed a younger home.  My husband spoils me.

This combination of spoiled and dreamer causes me to have a hard time with the harsh realities of life.  I’ve been this way my entire life, even when I was up to my eyeballs in harsh realities; being homeless for one (that story is for another post).  My oldest son once referred to me as an “ostrich mother hen”.  Even he was aware of my need to bury my head in the sand while attempting to control my circumstances  at the same time.  Interesting visual, isn’t it?  😂

I enjoy making things look beautiful, my life included.  So, when things get ugly I do my best to spruce them up.  When my efforts end up being futile I get frustrated, confused, sad.  Eventually, (recently actually) I learned an important lesson.  Sometimes life is just ugly.  Sometimes things are really hard and there’s nothing to be done, but do your best to move on.  Sometimes God’s answer to my prayer is, “No. My grace is sufficient for you.”  Which means that He will help me to move on because that’s what I need to do.  And sometimes I really need His help!

When I’m tempted to try and resurrect something that is long since gone, or recreate the original situation when I don’t like the way it has changed.  Those are the times when I really need the strength, peace, and grace of God.  My kids are grown and they’re not magically going to turn back into 5-year olds.  My health has diminished, I’m aging, and there’s nothing I can do to be 25 or even 30 again.  The one constant in life is change and it amazes me how much I fight against it if it’s not a change I wanted.

In the midst of many changes in my life, I am doing my best to adapt and adjust my attitude. I’m trying to look forward rather than back.  It’s not easy and I have moments when I feel only loss.  Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Attitude is everything.  I believe that.  Every day I need to make the choice to look forward, to have a positive attitude about the future and all the possibilities that are there for me to discover.

God is good and He has good planned for me.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT.‬‬  Sometimes the good takes the path of hardship on its way to me and I have to look hard for it, but it always shows up.  I was never promised a perfect, pain free life.  None of us were.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬. Sometimes things are just hard and there’s nothing to be done except pray for what you need to get through it and move on.

😊💕

This I Well Know!

man and woman standing at seashore

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Milestones.  I’m not exactly sure why we mark them except that we seem to have this innate desire to keep track of events that we consider important.  I am no exception. I am our family’s self-proclaimed historian and an avid scrapbooker.  My husband and I recently marked a milestone that we are very thankful for – our 25th wedding anniversary!  Yay!  🥳💕

To mark the occasion and celebrate we spent a fun-filled week in Branson, Missouri with very dear and long-time friends.  It was a wonderful week!  Branson is not just for retirees.  There is something for people of all ages.  We shopped, saw a couple of shows, ate amazing food, and saw some awe-inspiring views.  We took a helicopter ride, rode on a riverboat, and thought about horseback riding 😉  Most importantly, we spent quality time together.  Some of my favorite memories from the trip were sitting on the deck of the condo we were in, watching the river go by and talking.  It was so peaceful!

Twenty-five years is a long time to spend with one person.  My history prior to meeting Rich would lead one to believe that I would never celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary (three failed marriages and many abusive relationships), but God is good!  He changed my path, changed my story, and here we are!  More in love than ever and still the best of friends!  I am convinced that there are two secrets to a happy and long-lasting marriage; friendship and Jesus. Rich and I were friends before we were anything else and Jesus is the foundation on which we’ve built our life together.

It hasn’t always been easy, by any means, but in comparison to what I experienced before Rich it has been bliss!  We’ve had a few rough patches, but our friendship and our faith have seen us through.  We have almost always been able to talk to each other and I have never forgotten why I fell in love with him in the first place. As for him, he gets more adoring with each passing year. He spoils me and truly makes me feel like I’m the most important human on this planet to him. I can’t really put into words all the ways in which he is perfect for me. I truly believe that God created Rich just for me.

As of today, we have made it twenty-five years and one week.  I don’t know whether the Lord will give us another twenty-five years or twenty-five days. Either way I look forward to every minute I get to share this life with my best friend and the love of my life!  I am a very blessed woman and this I well know!

😊💕

Kitchen Genius

Last week I had a couple of grandgirls over for a sleepover. One of them, Leah, has enjoyed being in the kitchen since she was little.  She’s very creative and likes to invent things.  My plan was for us to make banana muffins together.  Leah, however, needed to take it to another level.

We started with out basic banana muffin recipe and this time Leah did most of the work while I supervised.  After all, she’s 11 now and quite capable in the kitchen – not to mention tall enough to reach just about everything that I can reach. 

After the muffins were baked is when the real fun started.  Leah decided she wanted a peanut butter filling in the muffins.  So, we brainstormed a couple of ideas for doing that with muffins baked in a liner.  After trying a couple different methods including sticking an icing tip directly into the top of the muffin to extrude filling into it that way, and using a straw to make a small indentation to put filling in, Leah had a stroke of genius.  She used a small spoon to scoop out some of the muffin from the top, piped filling into the indentation, then sprinkled it with pieces of the muffin she had removed.  Brilliant!

 

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The result was quite tasty and not too bad to look at.  I’d say our little pastry chef has some potential.  The recipe is below if you’d like to try it out for yourself.

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LEAH’S PEANUT BUTTER FILLED BANANA MUFFINS

3C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1t. Baking Soda
1t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking Powder
2C. Sugar
1C. Vegetable or Canola oil
3 Lg. Eggs
2t. Vanilla
4 Ripe Bananas, coarsely mashed

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Mash bananas and set aside.  Whisk together all dry ingredients except the sugar in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, beat wet ingredients and sugar to blend.  Stir in the banana.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.  Drop batter into muffin cups with an ice cream scoop.  Bake 25-30 mins. until tops are golden brown.

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING

1C. Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2C. Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2C. Powdered Sugar

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Let muffins cool completely. With a small spoon scoop a small amount of the muffin out of the top.  Using whatever icing tip you prefer, pipe a small amount of filling into the recess you created in the muffin.  Sprinkle the filling with pieces of the removed muffin and enjoy!

A Very Thankful Thanksgiving!

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The food table. We did buffet style this year.

I know Thanksgiving has passed, but now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’d like to share some important things that happened and for which I am truly thankful.

As most of you know, for the past six months or so I have been living with Cervical Dystonia.  What that means is that doing simple tasks is no longer simple.  Pain, frustration, and a soft neck brace are now my daily companions.  So, as you may imagine, the thought of cooking a Thanksgiving feast was a bit daunting.  The past few years my sister has been doing most of the cooking with everyone else bringing a dish or two.  This year, however, she was blessed with the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii with her son.  So, Thanksgiving at my house was on this year.

Praise Jesus, I had some help!  My sweet daughter brought several dishes, two of which were family traditions that I handed over to her.  My son and husband were big helps as well.  I feel I should stop here and explain that my idea of a Thanksgiving feast includes appetizers, a plethora of desserts, and a drink station to rival Buccee’s (that’s Texas for 7-eleven on steroids).  Just for fun, this was our menu plan:

164C0249-4EDB-42CC-8A38-B5681764275BOh!  We added deviled eggs which I boiled, two of my grands peeled, and Shauna deviled once she got to the house Thanksgiving day.  I also added Pumpkin Bread to the dessert list and the cocoa was homemade from scratch, as was everything, actually.  So, what happened that made me so thankful besides the availability of all this amazing food?!

Aside from all the help of my awesome family (my grand-girls Leah and Karlyn were especially helpful), I was able to do all that I did!  Two days of shopping and three days in the kitchen – cooking, baking, cleaning, and prepping.  I wasn’t sure that everything on the menu would make it to the table, but it did and then some!  We fed eleven people at a beautifully set table and the food was amazing!  In addition to all of that, we also had a thankful tree that my grands crafted and hung by the front door.  Beside that was a basket of leaves, pens, and tape so everyone could fill out a leaf with what they were thankful for and hang it on the tree.  I think we filled it up pretty good.  😊

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I am amazed at God’s goodness! At one point during our planning and doing, my daughter, Shauna, said to me, “Do what makes you happy!  If it’s more stressful than happy, just step back from it and breathe instead.  We’re gonna love you either way, it’s going to be a great day!”  How sweet is that?!  And, she was right.  That’s exactly what I did and it all came together . . . beautifully!  In spite of missing some significant loved-ones, it was a fantastic day!  Great food, lots of love and laughter, and much thankfulness!

And today I rest!  I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little wiped and my neck muscles are a little more unhappy than usual.  All-in-all though, I feel extremely thankful, grateful, and blessed!  Bring on Christmas!!

🎄😃💕

What Women Want

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Good morning all!  Today I’m going to touch on a subject that I don’t normally.  Romantic relationships.  This could, potentially, get a little complicated since I was never a single Christian.  I didn’t start following Jesus until about a year after I was married to my sweet husband.  So, to keep it simple, I’m just going to speak to my experience.

I am not, by any means, a relationship expert.  In fact, while I have been involved in many relationships in my life, before Christ most of them were disastrous.  My current husband of almost 25-years is my fourth husband.  I was 21 the first time I walked down the aisle and I am now 58-years young.  I’ll let you do the math and you will see that my younger years were, shall we say, full of experience.  😏  If you know my testimony, you know how true that is.  If you don’t know my testimony and would like to, you can read it here.

Okay.  Now that I’ve established my lack of credentials, let’s get to the heart of the matter.  What women want is what I would specifically like to address here.  Partially because men seem to still be stumped by this question of what women want and partially because we women seem to have a hard time communicating the answer.  IF we even know the answer.

I think we all know that women want to be loved.  That seems to be common knowledge to some extent; women want to be loved and men want to be respected.  Here’s a little twist to that for you – women also want to be respected.  We want to be cherished, protected, and we want you to read our minds.  Unrealistic, but true.  Men, we want you to just know when we need to be held and when we need to be romanced, when we need you to do the dishes and when we need you to notice that WE did the dishes, when we need you to fix something and when we need you to just listen.

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I know this sounds impossible, but if you REALLY know your woman, you’ll know and that’s the bottom line for us.  We want you to KNOW us.  You’re not really reading our mind, you’re simply knowing us.  On the other side of that coin, women, your man can’t really know you if you’re not communicating with him – especially in the beginning of the relationship.  You have to tell him what you want and when you want it.  Tell him when you really need him to bring you flowers, or a Sonic drink, or your favorite latte’ from Starbucks.  Tell him when you’re exhausted and need him to take over bedtime with the kids.  Whatever you need or even really want, TELL him.  That doesn’t guarantee that you will get what you need or want, but I promise that there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that you’ve communicated with him.  Sometimes, I felt better just saying it out loud and after that, I could let it go.

This communication thing needs to work both ways.  I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for sharing this (I don’t really think he will or I wouldn’t share it), but my husband is still learning the communication thing.  He tends to be a bit passive/aggressive sometimes, keeps things inside, and when they really pile up on him he does the silent thing.  It’s actually quite subtle and if you didn’t know him, you might not even recognize it.  He’s REALLY good at it.  After almost 26-years total of being together, however, I can see it.  I know when he’s pouting, I know when he’s angry, and I know when he’s just plain tired.  I know these things because I know HIM.  This is scary to say, but sometimes I even know WHAT is bothering him without him telling me.  I know, freaky, right?  That’s what years of being with the same person will do for you.  Or maybe I should say, years of caring about the same person.

You can be with someone forever, just going through the motions, taking them and your relationship for granted.  I’ve seen it.  It’s terrifying.  There’s no growth, no real joy, no real investment in the other person, just habit.  It’s sad and it’s avoidable.  Communication is key; real, honest, sometimes difficult communication!  And a lack of defensiveness.  That’s been a hard one for me.  I’m a lot of Irish and I’ll fight you in a heartbeat if you come at me.  Unless I make a conscious effort to drop my defenses, which is a very important thing in a marriage – or a relationship headed for marriage.  I MAKE myself listen calmly and respond as rationally as possible.  That’s where a lot of Jesus comes in for me.  He’s the center of our marriage and He makes these real and sometimes difficult conversations possible and fruitful.

I realize that I am coming from a place of great blessing.  My husband is a wonderful man.  He almost always puts me first and approaches difficult conversations very tactfully.  He never says a harsh word to me or outright accuses me of anything.  He approaches our relationship with a team attitude.  He is 100% invested in me and our relationship.  He almost always gives me what I ask him for, and quite honestly, I’m spoiled.  He loves Jesus and Jesus helps him love me the way he does.  My man is rare.  I realize that not all relationships are like ours (obviously, I’ve lived the other side of this coin) and that things I’ve said here are not so black and white for some.

I can’t speak to every relationship, obviously.  What I can speak to is my experience with relationships and what I’ve learned.  These are the highlights for me:

  • Take the time to be friends first.
  • Communicate honestly and as calmly as possible.
  • Invest in the other person and your relationship.  Always make time with each other a priority.
  • And, most importantly in my experience, make Christ the center of your relationship.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been a single Christian.  I have been in three prior marriages and have had countless boyfriends (seriously, my sister and I tried to count them one night and kept losing count.  Sad, I know.)  and no relationship has been as good, as healthy, and as fulfilling as when Jesus was in the center.  25 years of marriage will attest to that!  That’s just my experience.  Take it for what you will.

Wow!  This has been a long one.  I apologize for taking up so much of your time.  I guess I consider this an important subject.  😁  I also should probably change the title of this post to “Communication in a Romantic Relationship”, or something like that. While I do want men to know what women want, or at least what some women want.  Obviously I don’t know what ALL women want.  I guess, more importantly, I want to see healthy and happy marriages where couples flourish and enable each other to be the best that they can be.  That’s my hope for MY marriage.  That’s what THIS woman wants and my man better know it!  😘

(He even takes selfies with me!)

😊💕

Moments of Mourning

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Once upon a time I had small children.  My life was full and busy.  Sometimes I resented the demands put on me by motherhood, but most of the time I cherished and enjoyed it.  I actually had children in my home for 37-years.  There’s a big spread between my children.  Their ages are 37, 30, 24, and 21, and I took care of one of my grandchildren for awhile who will be 12 in November.

My children are all grown now and my granddaughter spends most of her time with her mother, which is a good thing.  I am finally, at the age of 58, basically an empty-nester.  My 24-year old son still lives with us, but he’ll be leaving for the mission field soon.

These days, instead of making breakfast and waking kids up for school, I wake up to a quiet house.  I make myself some coffee, turn on some instrumental worship music, and start my day with a devotional.  To young mothers, that probably sounds like heaven and some mornings it is.  Other mornings, not so much.

I try really hard to not make my life completely about my children, to have hobbies and other interests.  I don’t want to be that mom that falls apart without her children to take care of.  Now is the season to be just me again; rediscover passions and interests that there was no room for while raising children, reconnect with my husband in a whole new way and actually have time for him, deepen my relationship with Jesus and spend more time with HIM.  The world is my oyster again!

That’s my attitude some mornings, but other mornings, like this morning I find myself mourning the loss of my young children.  I miss them!  Their laughter, their sweet little faces, watching them play together, the way they’d sit in my lap and say adorable little kid things, and their pure love for their mommy.  Those wide-eyed little faces saying, “I love you, Mommy!”  God, I miss that!  I miss seeing things that I’ve seen a million times, brand new through their eyes.  I miss so many things!

My youngest is 21-years old!  He’s technically been an adult for three years now and still, from time to time, I find myself heart-broken and crying.  Will it always be like this?  Will there always be these moments of mourning?  I really don’t know because I’ve never been here before, in this empty nest.  They come to visit, children and grandchildren, but it’s not the same is it?

Some mornings the peace and quiet is really nice, and some mornings not so much.  Moments of mourning show up uninvited.  The question is will I let them in and visit awhile or will I embrace this new season of life and shut the door on them until they stop coming?  Good question.