Monday, March 01, 2010

Mama Monday

Today's Mama Monday is Sarah Joy from the beautiful, interesting, and informative blog Sarah Joy Albrecht.I became friends with Sarah when she contacted me during my last pregnancy and asked me if she could pray for me...such a delight. This woman loves the Lord and lives life firmly anchored in Him, though living a life in another country amidst many things that are different. I know you all will enjoy her interview...and learn a lot! I know I did.
Please pop over and visit Sarah Joy. Leave her a comment! =)
Ladies I bring you:
Sarah Joy

Hardest thing about being a mom—

> Having children watching everything I do is probably the hardest part
> of being a mom. It is very humbling when a child asks why you’ve lost
> your temper or why you don’t feel like saying you’re sorry to
> someone. Motherhood is sanctifying. There’s no room for selfishness
> or pride. The moment the house is clean, there is inevitably a spill.
> Motherhood has taught me much about patience and priorities.

Describe your living situation--

> A rented, robin’s egg blue house in Goshogawara, Japan.
> Goshogawara, Japan is the place where we currently call home. Originally from Chester County, Pennyslvania, we
> moved to to northern Japan in November of 2008 due to my husband’s
> work as a defense contractor.
> While the temperatures are comparable to our home in the US, we live
> about 30 minutes from the Sea of Japan, and there is a lot of moisture
> in the air. In the winter, it snows daily. There are many ski resorts
> nearby. Our roof is slanted at about a 60 degree angle, a standard
> design here, so that the snow does not accumulate and damage the
> house. At present, there is a pile of snow from the roof “avalanches”
> that covers the lower half of my kitchen window.
> Our house is a modern yet traditional Japanese style house, complete
> with tatami rooms, and shoji sliding paper-covered doors. As one would
> imagine, it takes a great deal of tenacity to clean chewing gum off of
> a woven rick-stalk floor, and it is quite easy for a three year old to
> poke a finger through the paper on the doors (although I was relieved
> to find out that Japanese moms regularly have to repaper their doors,
> too).
> One thing I love about our house is the bath. Here, baths are used for
> soaking, not scrubbing. The bath area is like a giant enclosed shower
> with a tub. You scrub first in the shower area, rinse, and then climb
> into the bath. There are drains on the floor, and you can fill the tub
> to the brim and any water that goes over the edge goes right down the
> drain. You can set the exact temperature you’d like, and reheat the
> bath at the touch of a button so that the bath water can be reused.
> Something tough to live without is heat. While the kitchen and the
> living room have heated floors (the hot water, which would be on
> anyway, circulates through pipes under the floor to keep them warm),
> the rest of the house is not heated except by kerosene space heaters.
> In the winter, the rooms are about 4 Celsius, but I have seen the
> room thermometers at “0”, which is as low as they can measure. We heat
> up the rooms before bed, and then turn them off when everyone is
> settled. We use hot water bottles in the children’s beds to help keep
> their little feet warm through the night.
> I’m also living without a clothes dryer and a “real” oven (mine is the
> size of a small microwave).
> From our back yard, we have a lovely view of Mt. Iwaki. We share our
> driveway with our landlord and a mini-community of about six Japanese
> farmers. We are surrounded by rice fields and greenhouses, and the
> farmers grow everything from persimmons to negi, or Japanese leeks.
> Our landlord is in his late 70s and is very kind. While we have quite
> the language barrier, we are always exchanging food and helping each
> other with the snow removal. Through gestures, gifts, and helping as
> much as we can, we have become friends.
> Favorite blogs/websites—
> Peacemaker Ministries - Because of
> this ministry, I am on the other side of some deep conflicts. Whether
> you’re interested in personal peacemaking or trying to help others,
> the resource section of this site is rich with helpful
> getting-to-the-root articles. Start with the foundational principals
> section and then work your way through.
> The Homeschool Lounge- This community of homeschool moms make for a great resource for curriculum questions, learning styles and teaching advice, day-organizing tips and much more. As I live in a very isolated place, THL has become my virtual homeschool
> support group. My children have pen pals and participate in the “Flat
> Stanley” project with a number of families here.
> My favorite blogs, including this one, are listed on my site,
> Sarah Joy Albrecht .
> How do you find balance in your life—
> Since the beginning of the year, I have made an effort to go to bed
> before midnight and to wake up before my children. I’m feeling more
> rested and calm when I wake. The result is that I am prepared for my
> children, so that I can meet their needs when they wake up without
> beginning the day with a meltdown.
> My husband often works until late. Instead of family time at night,
> we have breakfast together. My husband cooks! It’s a chance for the
> kids to talk to their dad (he is very talented in math and science.
> It’s not uncommon for conversations to end up on the dry-erase board
> in our kitchen!), and to share what they are thinking with the family.
> We plan upcoming things to do together - we’re taking a trip up to
> Hokkaido Island for the snow festival next
> month - and projects we’d like to work on as a family. My husband
> reads a chapter from the Bible to the children while I was the dishes.
> The way we start the day seems to set the tone for the rest of the day.
> One word that describes you—
> Happy
> Favorite treat--
> Homemade strawberry shortcake:
> Bisquick shortcake
> Sliced strawberries marinated in orange juice and sugar
> Homemade vanilla whipped cream
> My birthday is in May, just at the time when strawberries are
> abundant. This has been my birthday treat for years. Back home, my
> husband and I hosted an annual Memorial Day pig roast and would invite
> the entire neighborhood. We’d make matches from 50lbs of strawberries
> from our local orchard. Last year, there was a church picnic that fell
> on my birthday. I was able to get my ingredients from the base. It was
> the first time my Japanese friends had tasted strawberry shortcake. It
> was so much fun to share my favorite treat with them. Their smiles
> were one of the best birthday presents ever!
> Favorite food--
> Curry. I love all kinds. We eat some form of curry about twice a
> week. Tonight we had Sinagpore Mei Fun. Did you know that there are
> many different types of curries, all over the world?
> (About Curry) Here in Japan, the curry is more
> like a stir-fry with thick and gravy-like curry sauce. It has a
> sweeter flavor that Indian curry and often has more of a tomato-onion
> flavor. The curry roux comes in thick blocks that look like baker’s
> chocolate squares and are pasty and grainy, like a bouillon cube.
> Hobbies/interests---
> Writing is my all-time favorite hobby. It’s also a bit of a chore
> and/or emotionally traumatic sometimes. Recently, I wrote about a
> discussion with my children about the earthquake in Haiti.
> (Here.)
> As I wrote about my answer to “why did this happen?” I was overwhelmed
> with tears as I wrote about Christ’s love in the midst of the tragedy.
> It wasn’t easy, but working through emotions by writing always helps
> to lift a huge weight off of my chest.
> Homebrewing beer, maintaining my windowsill garden (I grow shiitake
> mushrooms and fresh herbs), reading (just about everything), and
> writing good old-fashioned snail mail letters are some of my favorite
> things to do. I enjoy being with people and love to make big dinners
> and inviting people over for fellowship.
> I have a few collections that I add to when I can : Feathers and sea
> shells (my children bring them to me), old books (especially
> dictionaries, poetry, and grammar/style guides), painted metal trays,
> pressed flowers, vases, serving bowls and antique table cloths. I love
> bringing out my table-items when I have ladies over for tea. I enjoy
> pampering them and making them feel special, even if it’s just sharing
> a snack in my kitchen.
> I couldn't live without—

> The Internet. Being as the closest English library is two hours a way,
> the Internet is my interaction with the English world. I read books
> online, look up recipes online and stay in touch with my friends and
> family back home.
> What helps me through tough days---
> Tough days seem to happen when everyone is feeling overwhelmed. Even
> with a fairly simple lifestyle, running a household of seven,
> homeschooling and helping with our missionary’s church plant can get
> to be a lot to handle sometimes.
> Finding little moments of beauty, fun and relaxation in the day makes
> a big difference.
> Taking a quick shower in the afternoon seems to be better a pick-me-up
> on tired days than a cup of coffee. When I’m done, I brush my teeth,
> put on some makeup and dab a bit of perfume
> behind my ears. It perks me up, and leaves me feeling refreshed for
> when my husband comes home.
> On days when kids are melting down, I push to get through school work
> to a point where we can safely put down our pencils. Then, we do
> something fun together for a change of scenery.
> In the summer, it might be going for a walk outside, catching
> butterflies, or to playing at a local playground.
> In the winter, we might have a hot chocolate snack break, watercolor
> paintings to send to the grandparents, or play a round of RockBand2
> with me singing along while the children play the guitars and drums.
> Simple dinners on tough days, or even take-out, keep kitchen mess at a
> minimum and help expedite end of day routines and bedtime.
> What the Lord has been speaking to you about lately—
> Mt. 5:13-16
> "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,
> how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything,
> except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the
> world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a
> lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it
> gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light
> shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your
> Father in heaven."

> That being “tolerant” and “politically correct” by and not talking
> about our Christian faith is like putting a lamp “under a bowl”. In a
> culture where Buddhism and Shintoism permeate all aspects of life, the
> contrast of "don't talk about God or politics" in American culture has
> made me realize just how much Christians subdue their beliefs to fit
> in with the people around them.
> If Jesus was able to be publicly crucified for our sake, surely we can
> be bold enough to proclaim that He is the One True God and that there
> is no salvation apart from Him without fear of what people think.
> There is no fear in love. We must love people enough to tell them the
> Truth.
> What do you like best about yourself—
> I seem to be able to cheer people up when they are discouraged :)
> If I could encourage a young mother, I would say--
> Relax. It is easy to get caught up on the latest baby gadgets and
> parenting methods. Like adults, young children have basic needs -
> food, clothing, rest, warmth, cleanliness and lots of love. If you
> provide for basic needs, you are doing well. Don’t compare yourself to
> women in magazines. Instead, find what works for your family and go
> with it.
> Give your children little things to be responsible for even from a
> young age. Encourage them to do well, but expect for them to make
> mistakes -- don’t get upset when they do. “It’s okay, Mommy makes
> mistakes, too. What can you learn from this so you can do better next
> time?” Once, I broke my favorite bowl, in front of my children, when
> it slipped out of my hand while doing dishes. My daughter made sure I
> wasn’t bleeding and then repeated back to me what I had often said to
> them, “Are you okay mom? It’s just a bowl. We can always replace a
> bowl, but we can’t replace you!” Talk about choking me up!
> As they get older, they will be help more and more, and you find that
> they will work along side of you as a team.
> One word I like to focus on in parenting is the word “nurture”, which
> comes from the Latin word /nutritura/. “Nursing” and “nutrition” come
> from the same root word. I try to be purposeful in the way that I
> parent, as if to give good food to my children with all that I do. And
> yes, I do fail.
> Three books that changed your life-- (besides the Bible)
> Reading is one of my favorite things to do. It’s very hard to narrow
> down this list. These three books are ones I buy extras of whenever
> there is a sale, so that I can pass them on to people who need
> encouragement:
> 1. Sink Reflections
> This book was written by “The FlyLady”, who runs the home organization
> site, Yes, you could learn how to clean your house from going to her website, but this book gets to my heart because before the author was “The FlyLady”, she struggled with
> depression. She had to live in a mental health facility and was so sad
> and discouraged, she had to take baby steps to get back to where she
> needed to be. One of the most memorable parts of her story is how her
> one assignment for the day was to brush her hair and to think about
> how good it felt to have tangle-free hair. Then, she was assigned to
> get dressed, from head to toe, every day. She slowly got her life
> back. Sometimes, especially after a life changing event (such as the
> birth of a new baby, a job change, a move to another country, etc.),
> women can get very burned out. It happens to the best of us. This book
> is very tender yet direct. I read it when I need to find the road back
> to order in my home. This book makes a great gift for new moms who are
> feeling overwhelmed.
> 2. Sexual Maturity for Women
> Published in 1976, this book is out of print, but it can be found
> inexpensively at online second-hand stores. My mother in law gave me a
> copy when I married her oldest son, and I have given copies to my
> friends when they get married. Although the “s” word is in the title,
> the book only alludes to intercourse. Instead, it talks about
> cultivating the intimacy between a husband and wife and practical
> things a wife can do to help keep her relationship with her husband
> strong. There are many great cartoon pictures in this book that leave
> a jovial yet lasting impression. I don’t think feminists would like
> this book very much... but that’s okay with me.
> 3. Behold Your God
> I have been a Christian since I was four years old. Yet, it wasn’t
> until I read this book did I ever stop to think about getting to know
> God as He revealed Himself in scripture. Behold Your God changed the
> way I looked at God and how I relate to Him. The format is simple,
> with chapters on individual attributes of God. There is a brief
> commentary from the author, but the majority of the book is scripture
> references, pointed digging-deeper questions and plenty of space to
> write answers based on the scriptures given. It’s a great book for
> both personal devotion or group study. I like to give this book to
> friends who are struggling spiritually and have asked for prayer.

Sarah and her children at the Snow Festival..

Sarah and her beloved husband

Thank you so much Sarah Joy!!!!

***I know my Mama Monday posts are sporadic lately. You don't mind, do you? =) I think I will try to feature a Mama a month, or perhaps 2 Mamas a month. So keep coming back! And thanks so much for reading!


Aimee said...

reading about her home in Japan was fascinating! loved learning about nurture/nursing/nutrition...fascinating. And homebrewing beer?? awesome.

MrsAlbrecht said...

Aw! Thank you Andrea! ::blushing:: What a treat it was to find this post in my in-box this morning!!!

Much love,

Susan said...

Sarah is a dear friend and is missed so much here in PA! Such a great interview, Andrea!

Sarah, if you're reading this...I just had Sinagpore Mei Fun the other night too!! Cheers, my friend.