She works with willing hands.

More Scary Mommy

Scary Mommy

Well, last week was cray-cray.  (Did I instantaneously age myself by using that phrase?)  Being published by Scary Mommy was thrilling and a little, well, scary.  (Let’s just say that some of the mommies over there are frightening…appropriately so, I suppose.)  As I’m learning, thick skin is required when you write for an audience of any size.  Most of the comments I received were lovely and supportive, but there are always the feisty ones in the bunch…makes things interesting, I suppose.

And I think the boss-ladies over at Scary Mommy like my writing, because they’re publishing me again!  (And yes, I’m still freaking out and I’m just as excited as the first time.)  My next Scary Mommy piece is pretty personal, and to be honest I’m a bit nervous about it.  But I strive to be a truth-teller – both the pretty and the ugly – and it’s a piece of my truth.

Thank you for reading, and for all of your encouragement.  Your supportive words embolden me and warm my heart.  This whole writing and blogging experience is a crazy, electrifying ride, and I’m loving it.

Even when it feels scary.

Five Things I’d Like To Tell The Teenage Me

1. Remember that guy who made you cry when you were waitressing?  He told you that your face is pretty and asked why you wear so much make-up.  He said you should go wash it off, and you were so embarrassed.

He was right.  You wear too much make-up.  You are a girl, and you’ll look mature soon enough.  Stop cheapening the natural beauty God gave you.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).

2. Remember when you won that big writing contest in sixth grade?  You love to write, and you’re good at it.  Don’t let people tell you that creative writing lacks value and you must choose a more practical profession.  Don’t be persuaded that making buckets of money is the ultimate goal of education.

God gifted you with an affinity for the written word and the art of creating it.  You believe that words matter – and you’re right – they do.  So write.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23).

3. Stop giving yourself to that boy.  You’re not going to marry him, and he doesn’t value you as he should.  You are a treasure created in God’s image – treat yourself as such.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

4. I know that being a teenager is difficult and confusing.  It is for everyone.  I know that people are mean (don’t be one of them!) and teenage heartache is aptly named because it actually hurts your heart.  Sometimes life is hard…but this too shall pass.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

5. People will hurt you – terribly.  But God will not.  You are so loved by him.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Writing for Scary Mommy

Scary Mommy

 

So I’m sort of freaking out.  Next week my writing will appear on the mega site Scary Mommy.

Known for their snarky humor and edgy content, Scary Mommy is a place for imperfect parents (of which I am one).  Their Facebook page, which boasts nearly 1.5 million likes, is emblazoned with the disclaimer:

Attention!  Scary Mommy is intended for people who have a sense of humor, an appreciation for sarcasm and wear panties that don’t easily get in a wad.  You’ve been warned.

Over the past many months I submitted a number of articles to Scary Mommy, and this is the first that they’ve chosen to publish.  It’s also my first paid writing gig, which makes me feel sort of legit.

Some of you may consider my Scary Mommy piece edgy, but it’s a piece of my story, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I just hope your panties don’t wad up when you read it.  You’ve been warned.

xo

Protecting My Children From Pornography

My little ones are six, four and two, so some of you may ask, “Why is it necessary to protect such young children from pornography?  Are they really going to come into contact with it?  Shouldn’t they be playing on swings and watching Curious George?  Shouldn’t you wait until they are teenagers to discuss the ugly topic of porn?”

Look, I understand those questions.  They are important questions to ask.  They are also questions that Jersey Boy and I have deeply and thoughtfully considered, and here is our conclusion:

Yes – in the year 2016 it is necessary to actively work to protect even our preschoolers from pornography.  Here is why:

1.  Pornography is everywhere.

Formerly relegated to seedy porn shops, the underside of teenage boys’ mattresses and secret hiding spots in marriage bedrooms, porn now exists everywhere, all the time.

Do you have a smart phone in your hand?  Well so does the person next to you.  And anywhere a portable device with internet access exists, so too may porn.

As a parent of young children, you must not be naive to the real possibility that your little ones could be exposed to porn while playing a video game on a friend’s iPad or watching YouTube videos on a parent’s cell phone.  All it takes is one wrong click…one suggestion by a friend who wants to show your child something “really weird” or “cool”…and just like that your baby could be exposed to graphic images that they’ll never un-see.  And the internet porn of today is far more disturbing than what was widely available back in the 80’s and 90’s.  This is not your father’s Playboy.

Research indicates that most children first view pornography before the age of twelve, with some sources stating that the average age of first exposure to graphic porn is eight.  Yes, eight-years-old.  You can do the research yourself, and if you’re a parent you probably should.  But get ready to be disgusted, because the facts and figures are bleak.

2.  Porn is dangerous.

A mountain of mainstream, secular research tells us what anyone with a true devotion to the Christian faith already knows – porn is dangerous.

I can anticipate the eye rolls.  Yes, there is also a mountain of hypocrisy in this area among the Church and Christian leaders.  Christians are not “above” the lure of pornography, and many Christians have experienced the humiliation that comes when their career, marriage and reputation are destroyed by the wicked pull of pornography.  Countless Christian leaders have learned the hard way that pornography is not an innocent, victimless and private diversion.

If you think that your pornography use is a private struggle, you are wrong.  Porn is affecting your romantic relationships or marriage, whether or not you admit it.  It is also affecting you personally in profound ways.

Porn is bad for your mind.  Studies show that viewing pornography causes dopamine spikes in the brain, and over time the brains of regular porn users respond like that of drug addicts.  Repeated porn exposure also dulls the brain’s reward network and response to pleasure.  This results in the need for harder core and more deviant images to illicit the same mental and physical arousal.

And even worse, porn is bad for your soul.  And I am not just talking about men’s souls.  I am talking to women…to housewives…to my peers.  Any Christian who repeatedly struggles with and then returns to pornography has every reason to fear for the condition of her soul.  Does an unwillingness to resist the pull of pornography reflect a regenerate heart?

As Tim Challies puts it in this excellent article, “If you have no sorrow for sin, if you have no real desire for victory, if time and again you recklessly choose your sin over your Savior, you need to ask yourself this: Do I love pornography enough to go to hell for it?”

As a parent, I want to do all that I can to protect my children from the mind and soul damaging affects of porn.  And that starts by never viewing pornography myself.

3.  Young children are capable of understanding that viewing certain images will hurt their heart.

You may be thinking, “Okay, porn is bad for my kid and they are likely to see it when they’re young, but how am I supposed to “protect” them from the inevitable?  Is it appropriate to explain pornography to a young child?  How could I possibly find the words to do that?”

No, I do not think that it is appropriate to graphically explain pornography to a young child.  However, in addition to obvious things like not permitting them to use the internet alone and installing good filters, there are ways to teach little ones to resist the urge to look at images that may “hurt their heart.”  These are the words that Jersey Boy and I use with our kids.

We teach our children that God gave them private spots that are not for other people to look at or touch.  They also understand that they should not look at or touch friends’ private spots.  They know the proper names for their private areas, and understand that they can always ask mommy and daddy questions about their bodies.

We discuss internet safety with our kids, and explain that they are not permitted to use the internet alone because there are pictures and videos on the internet that could hurt their hearts.  We explain that Jesus wants us to protect our hearts and minds, and be careful about the things we look at.  We explain that some of these online pictures show other people’s private spots, and that viewing those pictures is bad for our hearts.

These are basic conversations.  My children have no true grasp of what pornography actually is and what it does to people.  But Jersey Boy and I are starting the conversation now, while they are little and are apt to listen intently.

4.  We have an opportunity to lay the foundation now.

When it comes to the topics of sex and pornography, Jersey Boy and I want to be the authority in our children’s lives.  We desire to have the opportunity to point them to God’s design for sex and his warnings throughout Scripture about guarding our hearts and minds.  We want our littles to know that they can talk to mommy and daddy about anything, and we will tell them the truth.  So we don’t shy away from difficult conversations, we embrace them.  They are opportunities to point our kids to Christ!

5.  Above all, look to God.

As much as I want them, I don’t have all of the answers, and I don’t know what the future holds for my children.  I don’t know what they may unwittingly be exposed to in the future, or what sin issues they will struggle with as teens and young adults.  But while they are little, I’ll do the best I can to protect my children from pornography, and I’ll teach them about its dangers in age-appropriate ways.  And of course, I’ll look to God.

Father God, thank you for being above all things.  I know that I can look to you for my hope and refuge when the facts of this world seem bleak.  Lord, I pray that your will be done in my children’s hearts.  Please protect them from the dangers of pornography.  Please shield their young eyes from the sin and bondage that it brings.  Thank you for loving them even more than I do.  To you be the glory forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Basic Pimiento Cheese

Pimiento cheese is a southern thang, y’all.  And as a gal with southern roots, I grew up eating it.

But here in the northeast (where I’ve lived for many years), it is more of a curiosity.  Folks may be aware of it, but they’ve probably never made a batch of this yuminess from scratch.

A perfect appetizer, pimiento cheese is delish on good crackers or fresh veggies.  Lots of southern folks also use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches – which are crazy good.

It’s easy to make, and this basic recipe only contains a handful of ingredients.

Make some now.  You’ll thank me later.  Here’s how.

Grab this stuff:

pimiento cheese ingredients

And two eight ounce blocks of good and sharp cheddar cheese.

cheese2

Now grab a large bowl and your grater.  You’re going to use the side that shreds the cheese finely.

bowl and grater

Grate the block of orange cheddar.

orange cheddar

Now grate the block of white cheddar.

white cheddar

A word of caution – do not use pre-packaged shredded cheese.  The results will be no bueno.  You want to buy good cheese and do the shredding yourself.

Now grab your one-third measuring cup.  Make sure it matches your bowl.

one third cup

Measure two-thirds of a cup of good mayonnaise.  Some folks are picky about their brand of mayo, and I gotta say, Wegmans makes some good mayonnaise.

Plop it in with the shredded cheese.

mayo

Grab a spoon and stir to combine.

Now grab your pimiento and thinly slice it in one direction,

pimiento

then the other.

pimiento slice

Throw your diced pimentos in with your cheese and grab a fork.  Mash to combine well.

Next add one-half of a teaspoon of black pepper, and a few pinches of cayenne pepper, to taste.  (A little goes a long way.)

cayenne

Now use your fork to mash it all and combine well.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, so that the ingredients have plenty of time to make friends and get good and tasty.

Serve on good crackers like so:

final pimiento cheese

This is a basic recipe, and you can zhoosh it up to your liking.  Some folks add diced jalapenos, garlic, finely grated onion and even dill pickles.

So pretend you’re a genuine southerner and make some pimiento cheese.  It’s darn good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. block of extra sharp orange cheddar

8 oz. block of extra sharp white cheddar

2/3 cup of good mayonnaise

6.5 oz. jar of pimientos (strangely, pimientos can be found in the Mexican section of my grocery)

1/2 tsp. black pepper

a pinch or three of ground cayenne pepper, to taste

2015 In Review

2015 was a year that took me far, far away from my comfort zone.  I struggled with – and was challenged by – what I believe God was asking me to do with this blog.

When I first started Unbored Housewife in February of 2015, I wanted it to be light and enjoyable, free of heaviness and any hint of sorrow.  I wanted to write about my lifestyle as a former lawyer turned stay-at-home mom to three kids ages five and under.  Far from the perfect veneer displayed by many bloggers, I decided not to manufacture anything for the purposes of this blog.  I would write about the life that I’m already living – and the food that I’m already cooking for my family.  I wanted to be genuine.

But at the same time, I was wary about sharing too much about my Christian faith.  I didn’t want to alienate any potential readers, or turn off any real life friends.  I wanted this blog to be just lightly seasoned by my faith – not too salty – nice and palatable.

But as the months passed, I felt God tugging on my heart.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

These are the words of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, in Matthew 5:13.  He spoke them when he was giving the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus continued:

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

I am a person of faith.  That is who I am.  And Jesus Christ is more important to me than anything this world has to offer.  To make this blog only lightly seasoned – not too salty – would be the opposite of being genuine.  It would be wholly inauthentic.

So I started writing about my faith, and the ways that God changed me.  I shared my abortion story, knowing full well that writing about the wildly divisive topic of abortion is one of the fastest and surest ways to drive away readers.

But Jesus calls me to be salt and light.  And how can I be salty and bright if I’m hiding the things Jesus did for me?

No, 2015 was not easy, and I laid awake many nights fearful of what I so openly shared.  I also had many difficult conversations (both virtually and in person) with friends and readers who had abortions themselves.  Some of them had abortions when they were just girls and some of them had abortions after they were raped.  Their stories are difficult and painful – and I will take them to my grave.  I am thankful that they trusted me enough to tell me their stories.  But it was hard.  And I ache for them.

So I don’t know what 2016 holds – only God does.  I’ll continue writing about my lifestyle as a stay-at-home mom raising three crazy kids, including the meals I prepare for them, the lessons I teach them (and they teach me), and the joy that they and Jersey Boy bring me.  But I now know one thing for sure.  God is calling me to be salt and light, and write about how the truth revealed in his Word changed my life.  I am a person of faith – and I put 2016 in the hands of my Savior.

Happy new year, folks.  Thanks for making Unbored Housewife possible.  You bless me so.

xo

What’s wrong with being a princess?

The other day, my Baby Girl was in the arms of her grandfather (who goes by the moniker “Big E”), when he lovingly referred to her as “sweetheart.”  She immediately placed her slender little hands on either side of his face, and drawing his gaze directly to hers, she proclaimed:

“No.  Me princess.”

Before I had a daughter, I was anti-princess.  Not in an aggressive and vocal way – but I had a strong distaste for the little girl princess culture.  Shirts emblazoned with phrases such as “I’m the princess,” or “Daddy’s little princess,” or even worse “I didn’t ask to be a princess…but if the crown fits…” received eye rolls from me, and I silently judged the parents whose little girls donned said shirts.

As a lawyer who understood the challenges that professional women still face, I determined that if I ever had a girl, she would know that she was valuable, but not in a delicate fairy princess sort of way.  My daughter would wear a shirt that said something like “I’m not a princess – I’m a boss,” or “Why be a princess when you can be a president?”

But like so many matters in parenting, I found my theoretical pre-daughter anti-princess ideology evolving after Baby Girl’s arrival.  And it began when, to my dismay, Jersey Boy started calling our daughter “Princess.”

Understanding the importance of cultivating their father-daughter relationship and desiring that Jersey Boy feel connected with Baby Girl, I chose not to discourage him by voicing my distaste for the pseudo-royalty nickname.  He was her daddy after all, and he could call her whatever darling little name he chose.  I had to admit, it was a little sweet.  And she seemed to love it.

With two older brothers and a house full of trains, trucks and soldiers, Baby Girl has spent much of her two years playing with “boy toys.”  But the truth is – she is fascinated by princesses.  She adores the sweet pastel pink and violet dresses, the flowing hair and sparkly tiaras.  And despite my reluctance, many of her Christmas gifts this year were princess related.  I suppose, as a family, we are finding ourselves firmly immersed in the little girl princess culture.

And you know what?  I think I’m okay with it.

If Baby Girl feels like she is daddy’s princess, is that really a bad thing?  If Jersey Boy makes her feel beautiful, delicate, valuable and royal, is it wrong?  Soon enough, the world will give her a host of perverted messages about her value and worth, and if she spends the first several years of her life being told that she is precious and cared for, I think I’m okay with it.

So sure, Jersey Boy and I will also teach her that she’s smart…and tough…and capable.  But can’t she be those things while wearing a lacy dress and a tiara?  What’s wrong with being a princess?

All is calm…all is bright.

Ahhh…now I can breathe.  This Christmas season was a true whirlwind.  And a true joy.  Surrounded by people who love us, my littles, Jersey Boy and I delighted in celebrating the birth of our Savior.  We hosted our first Christmas Eve open house (with lots of guests), and then we traveled to visit family on Christmas day.  It was a lot of work – and a lot of fun – all wrapped up in one big Christmas package.

And then today we did nothing.

Well…nothing except this:

potty training V

Today we potty trained our third (and probably last) child.

I’m not sure how I feel about being a diaper-free house, but it marks a new chapter of sorts for our family.  No more babies.  I don’t know whether to cheer or cry.

So instead of doing either, I cracked open this bottle of wine:

good jersey wine

And boy, is it good.

A Christmas gift from a friend with good taste, it’s a blend of Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Gewurtzraminer.  I looked it up online and it has won some fancy pants awards.

And look where it’s from.  Try as I might to deny it, I have a thing for Jersey.

So tonight Jersey Boy and I toast (with our lovely fancy pants wine) to the calm of our post-Christmas whirlwind, to the bright joy of celebrating Jesus’s birth with loved ones…and to no more diapers.

Merry post-Christmas to you and yours.

xo,

Unbored Housewife

Nana’s Caramelized Onion Dip

Last weekend, we traveled to Dirty Jersey to visit Big E and Nana.  (And no, I don’t actually think that Jersey is dirty.  Most of it is quite lovely.  But I’m a Pennsylvanian and we pick on New Jersey just like any annoying bigger sibling would.  Consider it a term of love.)

Anywho, Nana is Jewish, and she held a little Hanukkah party.  We read the Hanukkah story, lit the menorah,

lit menorah

and played dreidel.

We also ate some yummy and traditional Hanukkah food, including melt-in-your-mouth brisket and potato latkes.  But my personal favorite dish of the day was Nana’s Caramelized Onion Dip.

To borrow the words of any good New Jerseyan, this dip is bangin’.  I plan to serve it on Christmas Eve.

After our church’s Christmas Eve service, Jersey Boy and I are hosting a big open house, and I need to serve food that can be prepared ahead of time and simply pulled out of the fridge when it’s party time.  This dip will be perfect.  Much tastier than the junk you find in the chip aisle at the grocery, this onion dip contains seven simple ingredients, and it’s easy to make.

Just don’t tell Jersey Boy that there’s mayonnaise in it.  He hates the stuff.  Happily unaware that this dip contains mayo, he gobbled it down at Nana’s house and proclaimed, “This stuff is good!”  What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Here’s how you make it:

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cups thin-sliced onion

2 tsp. chopped fresh sage

3/4 cup mayo

3/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sage.  Stir.  Turn the heat to a low simmer, and continue to cook.  Stir occasionally, adding a few splashes of water to bring up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Continue until the onions are deep golden brown, 25-30 minutes.  Remove and cool.

Whisk together the mayo and sour cream.  Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What Having An Abortion Taught Me About God

As I’ve shared before, fourteen years ago I had an abortion.  It was a horribly sad and traumatic experience, and the grief resulting from my choice to kill my child will stay with me for the remainder of my days.  I know that there are no tears in heaven, but here on earth I still weep regularly for that baby who would today be a teenager.

But I have not faced my pain alone.  God has been with me through it all.  And he has shown me so much about himself along the way.

In the days following my abortion, God used the people around me to point me squarely towards him.  He used my roommate to bring me to the offices of Amnion Pregnancy Center where I met my counselor Jane.  And he used Jane to point me to the Bible, God’s Word, which is the means by which God speaks to his people today.  Through the grief of my abortion, God blessed me with the desire to seek his Biblical truth, and he taught me these things about himself:

1.  A good tree does not bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:18).

When someone is a true follower of God, having placed their trust in Christ Jesus as their savior, the Bible says that they bear fruit.  This means that their faith is evident in the way that they live their life.  They seek to glorify their savior by obeying his commands and abiding in his love.  If a tree is healthy in its core, it will bear good fruit.  But if a tree is sick and rotting inside, its fruit will likewise be rotten.

Before my abortion, I would have called myself a Christian.  I grew up in a non-denominational Christian church, and attended corporate worship every Sunday up until middle school.  I prayed “to ask Jesus into my heart” when I was four-years-old.

I could have explained to you that Jesus is God’s son and that he died on the cross.  I could have told you that three days after Jesus died, God brought him back to life and he later ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.  I knew many of the “correct” answers, and I believed myself to be a follower of Jesus.

But in retrospect, my fruit was rotten.

Nothing in my life reflected a regenerate heart.  I displayed a pattern of flagrant and willful sin, believing that I could repent and ‘get right with the Lord’ when I was ready.  After all, I wasn’t really hurting anyone by partying like my peers and having sex with my boyfriend.  I was arrogant and selfish, but then one day I got pregnant, and God taught me that…

2.  All sin is serious.

In Romans chapter 6, the Apostle Paul explains that while Jesus’s death on the cross sets Christians free from the wages of sin, those of us who are in Christ do not have a license to continue in willful patterns of sin.  All sin is serious, and heinous to God.  By continuing to willfully sin by engaging in premarital sex, I displayed a heart that failed to take sin seriously.  And the unavoidable truth is that…

3.  There are consequences to sin.

And those consequences are grave.  Back to Roman chapter 6, verse 23 tells us that, “the wages of sin is death.”  Paul uses the word “wages” in this verse to illustrate that we “earn” death by sinning.  In other words, we deserve death because we’ve worked towards it.  By continuing in sin, we earn not just physical death (as we will all die one day), but we also earn eternal death (meaning hell).

But we can’t forget the second half of verse 23, which reads: “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Meaning, sin = eternal death BUT Jesus = eternal life.  And once God called me to finally, truly, follow Jesus, he slowly taught me that…

4.  I am redeemed and set free.

I am still learning this all the time.

God’s compassion towards me is overwhelming, and wholly undeserved.  When Jesus died on the cross, he bore the weight of all sin, including the sin of aborting my child.  Although it has been many years since my abortion, this is still hard for me to understand, and sometimes still hard for me to accept.

In John Piper’s short book Exposing the Dark Work of Abortion, he says: “Jesus did not mainly come to stop abortions in this world.  He came mainly to die for abortion-committing sinners.  ‘I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance’ (Luke 5:32).  There is one way to know God as your Father.  And it’s the same for the people at Planned Parenthood, and the people at Pro-Life Action, and the people at Bethlehem Baptist Church—Come to Jesus.”

Maybe you’ve had one abortion or many, or maybe you’ve convinced a girlfriend or loved one to have an abortion.  Please know that God is rich in mercy, and he will forgive you if you turn to him.  Repent, and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

5.  All things for good.

Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

My abortion was a wretched, painful and heinous act, and the weight of it has been immense.  Far from a carefree act of female empowerment and bodily ownership, aborting my baby caused me deep emotional scars that I will always bear.  The guilt of my choice has been tremendous, and my abortion is something that I would prefer to keep hidden, stored away from the world.  So why on earth would I confess it to anyone who reads my words?

The answer is because as a Christian, I respond to Romans 8:28 by choosing to publicly confess my abortion in the hopes that it will point others to Christ.  Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, he bore the weight of my sin, and I am no longer guilty in the eyes of the Lord.  For that I am beyond thankful.

It is my prayer that God will use my abortion story for his purpose – and for my good.