Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beauty's Kitchen

When men reject Truth and scorn Goodness, they impoverish themselves and their culture, like people who reject meat and bread to live on broth. After generations of broth, we do not know we are a soul-starved, emaciated people until we pass Beauty's kitchen, until we smell the delights therein, and remember we are hungry


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grace, Mercy, and the Spanking Spoon

My daughter looks angelic when she lies.
Her blue eyes widen, her face takes on an absolutely cherubic innocence and she insists, passionately, that she is telling the truth. It is only upon further questions-- sometimes repeated questioning-- that the facade gives way to what is truly in her heart.

Image courtesy of hannah-stock

As my daughter grows older and, well, more adept at sinning, I find myself confronted with new battlegrounds in the war for her heart. Tearing books? Drawing on pillowcases? Lying to my face? Do I know this child? Of course I do. Ember is realizing that she has the capacity to choose her own way or God's way and the battle is at times intense. As her mother, I am called to fight this battle alongside her, whether it's the first time or the fifth time. Or the fifth time that evening.
Is it exhausting? Yes. Can it be discouraging? Yes. Is it crucial? Yes.

When you are training a small sinner, it can be easy to get distracted by the outward sins because they are often loud and messy and, quite frankly, inconvenient. Toddlers do not often sin quietly, as anyone who's sat next to a two year old tornado in the shopping line can attest. They sin when we are tired, when we are busy, when we are trying to cook dinner or put the baby to bed or give the dog a bath. Figuring out what they've done wrong isn't usually hard. The danger can be that we spend so much energy focusing on these very obvious acts of sin that we forget what's going on in their hearts.

When dealing with Ember, I have learned time and time again that when I get caught up in her actions, I miss the opportunity God has given me to teach her through her sin. I forget, sometimes, that her sin isn't primarily against me but against God. He is the one first and foremost whose relationship must be restored before any human relationship can be right-- even the mother/daughter bond. When I forget this, I tend to react emotionally and superficially. My child disobeys. She lies to cover up the disobedience and so she is spanked. Her sin is preventing me from getting what I want-- peace in the household, obedient and happy children-- so I am offended and in a huff. Nothing is gained, and at the worse the door is opened to improper discipline whether in too harsh words or unkind demeanor.

But when I remember that it is God who has been wronged, my focus shifts from any injustice I imagine myself to have suffered and moves to what I can do to restore Ember to her heavenly Father. I look past the thorns and thistles of her actions to their roots in her heart, to the sinful thoughts and attitudes that caused her to do wrong. Why did she disobey? What was she thinking? When we have these discussions, far more is gained than mere reactionary moral chastisement. She isn't just learning to do what is right; her thoughts are held to the truth of God's word and she is, by grace and mercy, learning how to think right. The spanking spoon is important. But the truth behind the spanking is even more important.

Our little ones' hearts are so often like sand, at this age. They are so open but prone to great influence by their surroundings. Don't let outward action keep you from reaching into your child's heart to continually shore up that which is good and patch any places Satan may have eroded. By God's grace, the truth we zealously guard now may one day harden to cement and form the foundation of their lives as good and happy children of God.

Image courtesy of hannah-stock

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not A Good Writer

Pen a few poems, stack up a few stories, acquire a few articles, and sooner or later you will run into the question-- am I a good writer?

Do not entertain it.

I have wanted to tell stories since I was old enough to scribble fantasy tales in my unicorn notebooks, and when I was nineteen I decided to become Serious about it. I wanted more than anything to write a Very Important Book that was worthy to join the ranks of that most elusive and admired of creature, the Published Author. But was I good enough? Were my words, my characters, my passions worthwhile or should I go back to the unicorns?

That question started small but quickly grew into a screech that drowned out any creativity I could muster. Every tiny flaw in my writing was held up to this imagined Good Writer Scale as time and time again I abandoned manuscripts in search of the One that would be Good. Meanwhile I was writing less and less; in fact, I no longer considered myself a writer. I'd have ideas, turn them around in my head for a few days, savoring the creative juice, then leave them to dessicate because I still couldn't answer that question. Would a Good Writer do this? What if I end up with an entire book that is horrid and unreadable and, worst of all, rejected?

One night my frustration drove me to ask my husband a direct question. Ladies-- do this only if you want a direct answer. I asked him if he thought I had what it took to be a writer (again, trying to answer the Good Writer question) and he said no. I gaped like a fish. Was my writing bad? No, he said, but I had done very little to demonstrate that I had the desire or the capability to complete and submit substantial manuscripts and that he wasn't even sure I liked writing. He said it made me miserable.

I fumed.
No desire? It's called mom of small children disease. At the end of the day I desire sleep.
Complete and submit? I have two short story publications, one contest honorable mention and a handful of copy ads....
Writing miserable? It's my passion, my calling, my dream, my....

Oh wait. He was right.
Writing did make me miserable because it had become a hamster wheel of guilt, shame and self-judgment. Trying to be a Good Writer sucked every bit of life, joy, or passion out of my writing. I had given up on each sentence before I was even finished typing it.
And sure, I'd published little bits here and there but it had been eight years since I finished anything substantial. Eight. Years. Even my most cherished excuse-- the sacrificial mommy-- seemed a bit thin when I thought of other writers who managed to finish entire series of novels while they had small children.

I realized I had two choices. Walk away from writing and spend my life doing something else I love or shut up and write with everything in me.

Constantly asking myself if I was a good writer was utterly the wrong question. If I ever were to decide the answer was yes, I would become self-satisfied and complacent. If I kept convincing myself that the answer was no or you'll never know, then I would continue to hate everything I created. I decided never to entertain that foolish query again. Instead, every time I sit down to write-- or even when I'm not writing-- my question will be what am I doing to become a better writer? I will never, ever arrive because there is no destination. Twenty years from now, I will still be honing my craft, sharpening my skills. When I wrote my first novels at ten years old, that was my thirst...to learn everything I could about writing and literature. I was insatiable.
I want that back, want it forever. Writers whose skill surpass my own are not causes for Good Writer Shame but food and drink to my craving for knowledge.

It is also the wrong question because I no longer care.
The second epiphany occurred while I was browsing a fan fiction site that hosted some of my old stories. (Yes, I wrote fan fiction. I admit it.) Even reading them years later I could tell that I loved writing those stories, that I wrote with confidence that I had something worth saying. I decided at that moment that I would write what I loved and how I loved and if every other person on the planet decided it was trash, so what. I have wasted eight years writing for other people and it's about time I started writing for myself.

I will be a writer because, quite simply, I will write. Without that act, I can have all the literary aspirations I want but they are pointless, like an obese woman telling themselves they can be skinny any time they want...they just haven't gotten around to it yet. I've lost almost a decade to that gibberish. I refuse to lose any more time.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go write.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ember's First Poem

A sweet moon up in the sky
laid an egg on a star.
Someone jumped way up high
and touched the egg.
They ate it
and a baby was born
and her name was Ember.

-- Ember McSpadden

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Best for Babes Ad Campaign

Breastfeeding is hot. It's domestic and more than a little dissident in our current culture, which is why I'm happy to participate in Best For Babes' ad campaign to spread the word. Their motto:

To help moms beat the "Bobby Traps"-- the cultural and institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. To inspire, prepare, and empower moms. To give breastfeeding a makeover and give the moms the solutions they need to make it work.

Their credo:

ALL moms deserve to make an informed feeding decision, and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months 2 years, or not at all. ALL breastfeeding moms deserve to succeed and have a positive breastfeeding experience without being “booby trapped”!

The ad campaign:

And my favorite....

Head on over to Best For Babes for more info, campaign graphics, and more.

Five Minute Bacon and Cheese Snackwich

Today is a Hungry Day. Little One is nursing in rapid machine-gun fire bursts due to her teething blues and I have no time to sit down and plan out a healthy, satisfying, tasty snack. I barely have time to slurp coffee with one hand while I put her in the sling with the other.

Thanks heavens for the microwave and for inspiration (desperation?) because I managed to hit upon a fast, blissful snack that can be healthy-- or not-- depending on what you do with it. I just used what I had on hand but if you substitute reduced fat or fat free cheese you can up the health-o-meter quite a bit.

5 Minute Bacon and Cheese Snackwich

1 Arnold's multigrain sandwich thin
2 slices turkey bacon
1-2 slices Provolone (or other sliced cheese)

Microwave bacon to desired crispiness. Blot to remove excess grease.
Fold bacon to fit on sandwich thin, cover with sliced cheese.
Microwave an additional 20 seconds or until cheese is gooey.

Pick up. Blow on fingers. Eat. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Blog redecorating is just about as fun as house redecorating only much less expensive. I got tired of the drab colors so I've changed things around and even gotten fancy with the fonts. Thanks to dafont.com for the cool (and free!) typography!

Maybe now that things look better I'll get around to posting more....my craft blog has been keeping me busy. I hope all you Fearless Readers enjoy the new look as much as I do.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

snow fall

take me like snow
hold me on the edge of melting
on your tongue
then let me dissolve
into winter kiss
let us blanket the ground
and give no thought
to spring