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Friday, August 31, 2007

Back on the Bookshelf: Her Name Is Woman (Book 1)

WOW~ Just finished the first of this excellent two-book series, called "Her Name Is Woman" by Gien Karssen, and I can't wait to tell you about it! If you don't yet have Fall reading plans, get thee to an online or real bookstore (or to your local library, even better!), and begin this series.

If you enjoy reading biblical historical semi-fiction, ala Francine Rivers' "Lineage of Grace", this will not only be right up your alley in terms of enjoyment, but it is also an EXCELLENT, biblically-informed way to acquaint yourself with the women of the Bible ("big": Sarah, Rebekah, Mary, mother of Jesus, and "small": the Queen of Sheba, the widow at Zarapheth, and Naaman's Jewish maid).

She takes each biblical account and walks through the woman's heart, life, and experiences as we know them in the Word, weaving in cultural and historical information, to provide us with a rich awareness of these biblical women, and a powerful understanding of their lives.

Some of the things I like about it: she sticks to biblical truth and doesn't chase rabbits. And yet, she perceives nuances and details in the biblical text that reveal character traits and relational insights that really increase your understanding of the biblical stories. I have learned SO much about biblical women that I used to think of as minor or not worthy of focus. She has illuminated the biblical text in a real and insightful way, and I believe everyone could benefit from not only one careful reading, but also from having this on your bookshelf, and being able to pull it out as a bible study tool when reading about the women of the Bible.

Additionally, this would make an EXCELLENT women's group Bible study, with each week focusing on 1-2 women. Each chapter (one chapter=one woman) begins with the actual biblical text relating to each woman (for women like Sarah, who span chapters and many stories, she pares it down to the most relevant and pertinent portions). Then she ends each chapter with a series of questions designed for further discussion and insight into the women of focus, and questions that help us consider the applications of the text into our own lives.

This series is excellent- I may do a post soon with insights gained from the series, but for now, I'd just recommend that you put this on your reading list and allow this interesting Bible study and meditation tool to inform, enlighten, and challenge you in your understanding of biblical women!

Show & Tell: A Few Good Men & Their Thoughts

Just a few links today, but they're ALL worth reading... take a few minutes to check out each of these:

(only half in jest) Tender consciences and the preaching ministry of faithful shepherds is resulting, today, in many reformed men repenting of their hard-heartedness toward brothers in Christ evidenced most clearly by the chronic neglect of the biblical command, "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss." We know we must repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance, but how?

May I suggest, brothers, that we not try to bridge this gap all at once, but rather take a few baby steps to cover the distance between our current practice and biblical obedience. Starting with manly hugs seems a reasonable baby step, doesn't it?

You know how I like to end these with a laugh- and that last link does the trick- so with that, I'm outta here. If you haven't yet, go read those articles!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Laying Sod

Note: This is a modified entry from my homemaking blog. The pictures are the same but I have added or deleted parts of the descriptions. There may still be some overlap but there will also be more detailed information.When we decided to by this house we had the main goal of buying waterfront property for family use. If you have read any of my other blogs you will know what a strong emphasis

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Society vs. The Biological Clock (aka "God's Design")

The last century of mainstream American society has played a vicious trick on women by feeding us a big fat lie. We've all heard the lie, and most of us have recognized the lie as a lie:

"You can have it all."

There were many steps that got us here, and many will argue about the importance of each of these, but here they are, in my view (cause this is my blog and I get to say what I think) :

  • The first was the public education movement, which removed from women the career of being an educator and mentor for their children, and put children's minds squarely into the hands of government. (Unfolding Grace has a excellent new post that outlines Thomas Jefferson's thoughts on public education. Pop over and check it out to understand the shift that has taken place in our society's views on public, compulsory education.)
  • Next came the birth control movement, which suddenly gave married woman some other option than being a mother. (An incidental result at the time, this move also gave married and unmarried woman alike the freedom to sleep around without consequences.)
  • The women's liberation movement came next, suddenly giving the married woman (whose birth control and nifty home appliances gave her much unused time once her 2-ish children got off into school) the opportunity to not only work, but to "be equal with a man" and have a career.
  • Then came the sexual revolution, naturally. "Men have been able to sleep around indiscriminately without consequences," went this line of thinking, "now I can too!"
**** Note how each step progressively brought the woman's heart farther away from the home, her husband, and her children, and focused it more and more on herself.****
  • Then came the abortion movement. This is the obvious next step. When you have a society of people who have, for 50-ish years, been able to fairly predictably avoid having children, and it has become fashionable and even desirable to do so, and then you add in two ingredients that lead towards unwanted children: (1) men & women who are not married to one another mixing in the workplace day in, day out, and developing dependent relationships on one another (i.e., a businessman and his secretary- both of whom come to rely on each other- him for her assistance, and her for his praise-- sounds ominously like the marriage relationship, doesn't it?), and (2) the idea that sex is divorced from commitment and that you not only can but should engage in intimacy with anyone for whom you have feelings, then abortion is the next logical step. Of course it is; how could it be otherwise? Society now has come to *need* it. Because children are no longer a delight and gift within the family structure, and the family structure isn't the primary focus anyway. Suddenly, women who have had affairs and did not consider the consequences of their actions , OR young women who bought the lie that they could have it all and sleep around without consequences ALL find that God's plan for biology still works as it has for thousands of years... when you have sex regularly, there is a great likelihood that you will become pregnant. When the focus is all on "me", a little person inside of me seems less and less like a blessing and more and more like a liability. Thus, abortion is an easy "out". (Of course, the after effects of an abortion are far less easy.)
  • It is at this point that we come to the present generation.
Women who grew up in or after this generation of educational "freedom", "equal" opportunity, and abortion on-demand have truly had entirely different input into their hearts, minds, and lives than any generation of women before them. We have been told things like:

"You can have it all."
"You can be anything you want to be."

"We've made sacrifices so that you can live your dreams."

I should point out that it was very obvious in the "education" that most of us received from society that "having it all", "being anything we wanted to be", and "living our dreams" was, primarily about career. Not family. Not housewifery. Not being home with our children. And certainly not more than one or two of those (heck, if you really want to live the dream, who needs kids?)! See this article if you don't think that last point has become mainstream.

At this point, society's trickery catches up with all of us. Here is the way that each of these steps has the potential to harm us and our families today:
  • Little boys and girls, from a young age in this public system of education, are geared towards careers and "dreams" for which compulsory schooling cannot prepare them. They must pursue higher education if they are to obtain the dreams that they've been given.
  • They are given "sex education" from sources other than their parents, beginning at a young age, which (contrary to what proponents will tell you) has brought with it a higher degree of youths having sex at increasingly younger ages. Many are put on birth control (chemical interference with a young body) or have abortions (at an age when they are unable to even comprehend the risks or damages that it will do to them for a lifetime) to deal with the unwanted pregnancies that sexual intimacy has brought.
  • The education they receive in government schooling is, at best, amoral and insufficient to prepare them for the work they will need to do in order to make ends meet.
  • Then they are shipped off to college, where sexual misbehavior and drunkenness is the norm. They hear from parents, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly, "wait until after you achieve your goals to get married." (I recently wrote about this.)
  • Then, if they are to "achieve their dreams", they must often enter either grad school or land themselves in a lucrative career, neither of which allows for the average person to also successfully pursue and have a marriage or family of any kind.
  • Finally, around the age of 30, they may begin to feel the desire for a family, which used to kick in and be the norm when the hormones are a'raging (around the ages 15-25). {By the way, we're just fooling ourselves when we say it's wiser to wait until you're older to have a family, because then you're more "mature". A hundred years ago, average eighteen year olds in America were vastly more mature than the average twenty-eight year old in America today. The main reason? Responsibility. When responsibility is cast on young people who have been properly trained by their parents, they mature. They grow up, even if that "family" is being sprung on a "young" 18, 22, or 24 year old. We've all seen the "kidult" phenomenon, of kids living at home well past their mid-20's. We're treating grown men and women like children, and so they act like it. OK, tangent over.}
  • All the prospects have been beaten and battered just as they have been, and it is difficult to find anyone with whom to fuse a life and become one with. (Because, typically speaking, one's life up to that point has been centered around the self: his/her own goals and dreams, and no one else's.)
  • If one is successful in finding a godly marriage partner at this point, one is then inundated with advice to "wait a few years and really get to know each other before beginning a family." There is significant difficulty in fusing two separate lives and careers after more than 10 years of self-focus and self-promotion.
  • At that point, the couple is nearly 35 (some are near 40), and the physical realities set in: it is difficult to get pregnant when one does not ovulate regularly; it is difficult to have a healthy pregnancy when the odds of disease and genetic problems have risen greatly from just 5-10 years previous; it is disconcerting to realize that one will be nearly 60 years old when a child graduates from high school ("wasn't my grandma about 60 when I graduated?"), and the difficulties become more and more apparent, and one finally realizes that you can NOT "have it all". (An interesting USAToday op-ed highlights how the limits of the biological clock are hitting women hard!)

As a peculiar people (1 Pet 2:9), as aliens (1 Pet 2:11), as strangers in this land (1 Pet 1:1), as pilgrims (Heb 11:13), as people who are called to be separate (1 Pet 2: 9-10) and different from the world in which we live, our lives should look different from the world. People ought to see the differences in how we live and ask, "what is the reason for the hope that is within you?" (1 Pet 3:15) But as John Piper has said, all too often, they aren't asking, because "we look like we're hoping in the same things THEY'RE hoping in!"

We need to consider the advice that we give, whether to other Christians or to our children, and examine whether it lines up with the Bible or with society. The two are not always at odds, but in this instance, and on many of these issues, our ideals and "dreams" ought to look different than the world's. It should be clear that our goals for our children are not the same as theirs. It should be clear that our methods for raising our children are not the same as theirs. It should be clear that our hope is in something other than the "American Dream". It should be clear that we differ from the society around us in meaningful ways- that we are not self-focused, that we do not look down on marriage, children, or the family in any way, and that we are not willing to sacrifice all things at the altar of self-promotion and career.

[Please know that it is not my intent, in ANY way, to wound or condemn those who find themselves in the situation of singleness later in life, whether of God's calling on their life, their own choice, or because of circumstances out of their hands. Rather, my aim is to clearly show that the plan of mainstream American society isn't working, and is actually HARMFUL to those who try to follow its pattern. - Jess]

Edited to add:
This related article, released January 2008 is worth reading: DOES FEMINISM FAIL WOMEN?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Alcorn's Dialogue About Birth Control

This is something I've linked to before, but I want to share it in its entirety here today. Except for the crack about Texas (grrrr.....), I love this dialogue! It is certainly the most thorough I've found at really examining all sides of these issues. As Christians, we need to examine things beyond what the culture tells us, and this fake "dialogue" is an excellent examination of how to think through the implications of children, birth control, and family life. It's definitely worth reading through to consider various objections to and issues with birth control and family planning methods. Hope it's challenging to you as it has been for me! -Jess
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A Dialogue about Birth Control

by Randy Alcorn

The following is a conversation between two Christians who have different viewpoints on the issue of birth control. (I've made up the dialogue, but much of it comes out of discussions we've had in the Bible college ethics courses I've taught.) Think about the points they make. You will likely agree and disagree with both of them at different times. Hopefully this will help you develop and clarify your own position, which may combine elements of both or be very different from either.

I don't think we as Christians should use birth control. What do you think?

> God intends us to exercise wisdom and use our common sense, doesn't he? If a man and woman are fertile, having sex in the fertile time of the month, there's a one in four chance of pregnancy each time. Even with nursing, you could have ten or twelve or sixteen or even more children, unlimited children, just like people used to have. Is that really what you want?

It's not about what we want. God is the giver and taker of human life. Let him do what he wants. Besides, children won't be unlimited. We'll have a certain number, a finite number God chooses.

> Well, that may sound noble and spiritual, but think about what you're saying. Why don't you just let your nails grow and never shave? Why do you take a bath and not let nature take its course? God made us rational beings. He expects us to control our physical functions. We cut our hair-but since it's natural to have long hair and long nails, doesn't that mean we're interfering with God's natural order?

But isn't there a difference between cutting hair and clipping nails, on the one hand, and preventing children on the other? Hair and nails aren't people, children are. Hair and nails are never said to be blessings of God, but children are. Reproduction isn't just a biological thing. We don't make babies, God does.

> Well, God created the reproductive process, yes, so he set in motion what leads to the conception of each child. But that doesn't prove he superintends personally over each and every child who is conceived, does it? He's their Maker, yes, but it doesn't mean he intended for each and every child to be born. Think of children conceived outside marriage or by rape.

But they're still children, and he's still their Creator and Psalm 139 seems to show he has a plan for their lives. Besides, God created sex to have children. Isn't that the purpose?

> Bearing children isn't the only God-given purpose for marital relations. God made man and woman to complete one another and to fulfill each other's needs. Having sex also reduces the level of sexual temptation-read First Corinthians 7:2-5. Men and women are commanded to have regular sexual relations. If they don't use birth control, married people will be afraid to have sex, knowing they couldn't handle all those children. Marriages will suffer if contraceptives aren't used. Besides, newly married couples have lots to adjust to already-the last thing they need is an early pregnancy too.

Come on, where's your faith? You need to trust God more! Who says having children harms a marriage? Sometimes it really helps the marriage by getting the focus off each other. Do you really think God will give you more children than you can handle? Besides, God didn't just suggest we be fruitful and multiply, he commanded us.

> You think you've taken the moral high ground, but be sure you look at the rest of Scripture too. "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" was a command to Adam and Eve, Noah and Israel, but not to us today. There is no New Testament command to be fruitful and multiply. God told Noah to build an ark too-are you doing that? They stoned adulterers in the Old Testament, but that doesn't mean we should do it today. Many Old Testament commands don't apply to New Testament believers. Read Romans 7:6, Galatians 3:23-25 and Hebrews 9:15-17. See, I've studied Scripture too! Besides, the earth is already full. We've got too many people, not too few. I'm not even sure we should bring children into such an evil world.

The world is evil, but God is good, and he's a lot bigger than the world too. A world like this needs righteous families with lots of righteous children. And many Old Testament commands do apply to us-no, we don't stone adulterers, but we do live under the command to not commit adultery. God didn't have to repeat the command to be fruitful in the New Testament. It's obviously still in force until he specifically rescinds it, which he never has. Look at the principle, the timeless truth behind the command. He wanted his people to multiply in times of old. Doesn't he want his people to multiply today? As for the earth being full, that's just a population control myth. The entire population of the planet could fit into the state of Texas with less population density than many major cities in the world have now.

> Well, who wants to live in Texas? Just kidding. I see your point, but what about quality of life, and giving each of your children the individual attention he deserves? Who can do that with eight or ten children?

A large family doesn't have those children all at once. The older ones can help you with the younger ones. And not everybody will have a large family either. Some people don't use contraceptives and have only one or two children. Ironically, there are a lot of people who use birth control for eight years, decide to have a family and are never able to. If they hadn't been using contraceptives for those eight years, maybe they would have had children.

> That's just speculation. Let's talk about what we know. God always makes his moral will clear to us, doesn't he? He tells us not to commit fornication or adultery or incest. He's very specific in his commands, especially concerning sex. But he never says "don't use contraceptives," even though they were used in the ancient world. If he doesn't want us to use birth control, why didn't he just come right out and say so?

Sometimes he gives us commands, other times principles. No, there's not a direct command not to use contraceptives, but there is a direct command to be fruitful and multiply. Doesn't that assume that at best birth control would be the exception not the rule? For instance, in times when parents are in bad health or it's risky to the mother or there's insufficient finances or probability of severe handicap. I mean exceptional situations.

> But once you say it's all right to use contraceptives for the sake of a woman's health or for any other reason, you're saying "God wants us to use wisdom and common sense when it comes to having children." That's exactly what I've been saying all along! It's just that I think using wisdom is the rule, not the exception.

But so much of our so-called wisdom is just worldly thinking. Society used to view children as an asset. Now we view them as a liability. Even in the church people with large families tend to be looked at like they're weird, because we've bought into the Planned Parenthood mentality that children are inconveniences that interfere with our lifestyles. Psalm 127 says children are a blessing from the Lord. Money is a blessing too-are you going out of your way to avoid God giving you money? Why not? How many other blessings are you trying to avoid to the extent that you're trying to avoid having children?

> Yes, children are a blessing, but we don't always want or take an offered blessing right now, do we? If someone offers me a free vacation that's a blessing. But if I have other responsibilities now, I might postpone that free vacation until three years from now, when I have time and money to enjoy it.

Won't God provide you the time and money you need if he chooses to give you children now rather than later? Besides, God says it's a blessing to have a quiver full of children. If you keep postponing having children, you won't have a quiver full.

> Having more children was desirable when medical care was primitive and infant mortality was high and people lived in an agricultural economy, but it's a different world now. Plus, they had so many miscarriages and shorter lifespans, with fewer years of fertility, that these were natural limits on number of children. They might have fourteen children but only seven would live. Healthy women in this society, with longer childbearing years, could have twenty children, with none dying as infants.

Using contraceptives puts us in control. Do you see any references to God's people using contraceptives in Scripture?

> Which supports my point, not yours. Like I said, contraceptives were used in ancient cultures, and if God had wanted to forbid them, he would have done so! There are direct commands against idols and child sacrifice and a hundred other pagan practices, but no commands against the use of contraceptives. I can only conclude they must not be forbidden.

That's an argument from silence.

> Right, and so is yours, isn't it? Just because they didn't have as reliable contraceptives as we do doesn't mean we shouldn't use them, any more than we shouldn't fly in airplanes just because our ancestors didn't. Besides, God's will isn't the same for all of us-for one couple a full quiver might be twelve children. For another it might be one or two children.

Right. But shouldn't we let God decide that? What if Susanna Wesley and her husband had exercised birth control? John Wesley was their fifteen child and Charles was their seventeenth. Jonathan Edwards was an eleventh child, Dietrich Bonhoeffer eighth, Charles Finney seventh, Dwight L. Moody sixth. Aren't you glad their parents didn't practice birth control?

> How do you know they didn't? Maybe it didn't work or maybe Moody's parents started using it after the sixth child-who knows?

Didn't you tell me once your dad was the tenth of thirteen children?

> That's right.

Okay, then let me ask you-are you glad your grandparents didn't limit their family size? Because if they would have, you and I wouldn't be having this discussion! We all should look at our own family histories and ask ourselves "what if they had chosen to limit their family size to what we have?" If they would have, lots of us wouldn't be here. Doesn't it disturb you that the church's attitude about having children is much more like Margaret Sanger's than Susanna Wesley's? We can oppose Planned Parenthood's involvement in abortion, but let's face it, Christians today have been infected with the Planned Parenthood mentality. "I will choose on my own terms how many babies I will have and when." Aren't we just playing God when we do that? How can that please Him when we try to take control from the sovereign God?

> Well, ultimately He's still in control, of course. God's will can't be thwarted, so if he wants you to have more children you can't stop him anyway. Birth control is no obstacle to God. He can still do whatever he wants. My little brother was unplanned by my parents, but he was planned by God.

Well, if He can do whatever he wants whether or not you use birth control, why would you use birth control in the first place? Our choices do make a difference-is it possible God had other brothers and sisters planned for you that didn't slip by the contraceptives? Besides, think about the terminology: "birth control." Who's in control? We're trying to be. And if God gives us free choice, that means he lets things happen that aren't his perfect will. To do everything we can to not have children and then say God's in control and can give us all the children He wants isn't very genuine, is it? Using your logic, suicide and murder are okay because God's still in control. Or if God wants you healthy, it doesn't matter if you eat junk, don't exercise, drive recklessly and don't wear a seatbelt, since he'll just accomplish his will and make you healthy anyway.

> My point exactly, but in reverse-if you don't use birth control, all things being equal, you're going to get pregnant, and that's just a biological reality, not a miracle. Some people are less fertile and might have just two or four or six kids, but my wife has gotten pregnant each and every time we've not used contraceptives. You can count on it. So why not use common sense and contraceptives to space out pregnancies? We all agree that we should eat right and take care of our bodies and prayerfully plan our lives. Why is birth control any different?

Well, I'm not sure, but I keep wondering if God might view it as different because it involves children created in his image. Seems like a pretty big difference.

> The Bible says "If a man fails to provide for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:7). The more kids we have the harder it is to provide for them and the greater danger we will disobey this command.

This is by far the most affluent society in human history-and with one of the lowest birth rates in history-and you really think that's a danger? Or are we thinking that "providing" means lavishing on children material wealth that doesn't just meet basic needs but provides for extravagant wants? Our children don't have too little material things, they have way too much already. That's one reason children from large families tend to be more responsible, harder-working, and less spoiled and selfish. They also know how to relate to small children because they've been around them and helped care for them.

> Fine. I'm not arguing it's wrong to have a large family. I'm just saying if I don't want to have one, I don't have to. It's a question of Christian liberty. Read 1 Corinthians 8-10, on the issue of eating meat offered to idols. God's will isn't the same for all of us. It's a mistake to try to impose your standards on others in gray areas. If you don't want to use birth control, you don't have to. But don't act like it's a clear-cut biblical issue when it's not.

But isn't God repeatedly portrayed in Scripture as the one who opens and closes the womb? Then who are we to try to open and close the womb with contraceptives? Isn't that playing God?

> But those passages are the exception, not the rule. God miraculously opens and closes wombs in certain cases, yes, but that doesn't mean having and not having children is always a miracle. God also miraculously heals and sends sickness, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to prevent sickness, does it?

There you go, buying into the Planned Parenthood mentality. Pregnancy isn't a sickness, it's a blessing!

> That was just an analogy. Lighten up and stop accusing me of being unspiritual. I'm trying to do what's right too. Once again, you're avoiding my main point, which was that God's opening and closing the womb is related in Scripture to certain exceptional cases where He decided to supernaturally intervene. Normally, he just leaves it up to biology. God created the reproductive system like he created gravity. When gravity takes effect, it's not a miracle. When a woman gets pregnant it's a remarkable thing in one sense, of course, and you can talk about "the miracle of life," but it's something God has set up to work that way. He's built it into nature.

But, again, pregnancy is a blessing.

> But that doesn't mean anything that reduces the chances of pregnancy is a curse. For instance, breastfeeding affects hormones in such a way as to greatly reduce the chances of pregnancy. Surely you're not opposed to breastfeeding for that reason, are you?

Of course not.

> But why not? If pregnancy is always good, and preventing pregnancy is always bad, then the choice to breastfeed must be wrong. And the choice to have sex in a nonfertile stage of the cycle rather than a fertile one must be wrong too. That's just taking your position to its logical conclusion, isn't it?

God has built the natural contraceptive/child spacing effect into breastfeeding, and that's fine. But that's very different than man-made contraceptive devices or chemicals. God has the right to space out children using his created means. But that doesn't prove we have the right to do so using our created means. He's God, we're not. He's the Creator of life, we're not. He has the right to inhibit pregnancy, we don't. Pregnancy is a blessing.

> Of course, it usually is. But not always-you said so yourself. Having a baby can hurt a woman, hurt a marriage, and hurt other children whose parents don't have the resources to care for another child.

If you look at it from a limited human point of view, sure, but not if you look at it from God's point of view.

> Are you so sure God's point of view is the same as yours? You may sound spiritual, but it also sounds spiritual to say, "I'm not going to lock my car, and I'll leave my keys in the ignition, because I trust God to protect it." Then when your car gets stolen you can say, "it must have been God's will." But don't you have a responsibility to make intelligent choices and then trust God as you make them rather than instead of making them?

I try to protect my car from theft because theft is a bad thing. That's different than trying to protect myself from having kids. Children are a good thing.

> We have friends who held your position. They didn't use birth control and then within six years after marriage they had five kids and it was overwhelming. They felt like they were neglecting the children and each other. The wife was even afraid to have sex, and 1 Corinthians 7 shows that's not a good situation. Anyway, after the fifth child and no longer having sex, finally they decided to start using birth control. And they felt guilty and defeated. But if they'd have had the same five kids spread out maybe over ten or twelve years, they could have handled it. Maybe they could have had more. And meanwhile it wouldn't have hurt their marriage the way it did. It just calls for some common sense-and not all common sense is from Satan. Some of it's from God, isn't it?

But if God is sovereign, He knows all that. He can provide the resources.

> And if God is sovereign, He can keep your car from getting stolen, and he can provide the resources if it does get stolen. But you still lock your car, don't you? By the way, I thought it was Catholics who don't believe in birth control. You're a Protestant.

Am I now? Hey, thanks for letting me know that. What would I do without you? But why should it matter who else believes a position and who doesn't? Besides, the fact is that all the church fathers and Protestant reformers opposed the use of birth control. No Christian group or denomination-Protestant or Catholic-ever supported the use of contraceptives until 1930.

> So what? The church has been wrong on lots of other things, hasn't it? Christians had slaves for centuries and interpreted Scripture to defend it. Maybe it took until 1930 to come out of the dark ages and figure out contraceptives were okay after all. Like you said, it doesn't prove anything what someone else believes about this issue.

But isn't it arrogant to think that since 1930 the church came up with the truth, and coincidentally it was right when the secular world was really pushing family planning? Did Christians really discover some new insight hidden in the Scriptures that no one in church history saw until then? Or is it that the church has just conformed to the drift of society, and adopted the ungodly anti-child pro-abortion philosophies of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood?

> I'm not talking about abortion-I'm completely opposed to that. I'm just talking about preventing conception, which is something entirely different. And I still say you already conceded that sometimes it's right to try to avoid pregnancy. Didn't you say that?

All right, yes, I think there's a time to try to postpone or avoid pregnancy, it's just that I don't think we should be so quick to do it. It should be the exception, not the rule and a married couple should regularly come back to God in prayer and ask him if now is the time to stop avoiding pregnancy and call upon him to provide or withhold children as he wishes, not as we wish. And if we're going to do family planning, let's not use unnatural devices and chemicals. Have you heard of Natural Family Planning?

> You mean the rhythm method? That's really ineffective, isn't it?

The rhythm method was based on the calendar and biological averages, so it didn't work well for all those women with irregular cycles. But Natural Family Planning is extremely effective. It involves abstaining from sexual intercourse only for the window of days each month in which pregnancy is most likely. The Sympto-thermal Method of NFP is 99% effective, which is at least as good as the Pill and much better than the barrier methods.

> But your goal is the same, to not have children, right? So what's the difference?

It's a way of achieving or avoiding pregnancies according to an informed awareness of a woman's fertility. It's medically safe, healthy, highly effective and it encourages communication between marriage partners. Couples who use it say it draws them closer together.

> But isn't it unnatural to have to abstain from sex for a certain time each month?

You don't have to abstain. It's your choice. You can have sex in the fertility window, but in doing so you say to God, "we're open to a child if you choose to give us one." But exercising self-control and postponing sex for a few days is no big deal. It can increase intimacy by anticipation, making it all the better when you come together. Besides, sexual self-control is important anyway, to be sensitive to your partner's needs and in cases where business and other things result in physical separation.

> I still say it's not good for married people to abstain from sex. Remember First Corinthians 7?

If you think you can't go several days without sex, you're wrong-and your marriage is in trouble! Sex is a beautiful and wonderful gift of God, but society has lied to us when it acts like sex is an emergency. It isn't. Of course, like First Corinthians 7 says, you should only abstain from sex by mutual agreement, and it shouldn't be for too long, but couples using NFP find it isn't too long. They say it increases their intimacy and builds their character. Couples practicing NFP have extremely low divorce rates.

> Well, it still sounds weird to me. Personally I'd rather just use the Pill or something easy.

It may not be absolutely clear whether or not we should use contraceptives, but it's certainly clear we should never use abortifacient contraceptives. So that eliminates the IUD and the chemical contraceptives, including the Pill, Depo-Provera and Norplant, because they all thin the endometrium and make it inhospitable to the newly-conceived child. They can prevent implantation.

> You're kidding me.

No, I'm not. When an already conceived child can't implant in the endometrium because of the effects of a chemical or device, then it's an early abortion. And the birth control pill manufacturers all list this function as one of the things that makes the Pill work. Remember, the child conceived six days ago is just as human as the child conceived six weeks or six months or six years ago. So, if you're going to use contraceptives, choose something that runs no risk of abortion, such as condoms, diaphragms, the sponge or spermicides.

> But the Pill is so much more convenient and effective than barrier methods!

Convenience and effectiveness aren't the issue-unnecessarily creating a risk of abortion is morally wrong. Besides, don't forget about Natural Family Planning, which is both effective and natural. It's not always convenient, but it has a lot of other advantages.

> Well, I don't know about that. But I have to say that while I believe in Family Planning, I can't support planning family size by running the risk of killing a family member, no matter how young or how small.

Well, we sure agree on that.

> I guess I better think this through. I don't want to assume something just because society assumes it. I memorized Acts 17:11 about searching the Scriptures daily to evaluate what's true and what isn't. Maybe I'll start by reading what the Bible says about children and having children and exercising wisdom. Maybe I'll ask God to open my eyes to his perspectives, and show me if the way I think comes from my culture and upbringing or if it comes from his Word. I want to please the Lord. If I need to adjust my thinking-and my actions-I'm open. And I hope you are too.

Good point. Just because I'm taking a position that's different from my culture, it doesn't mean I'm right. Sometimes the culture is right, even if it's just by accident. It's not about rejecting whatever society says, it's about embracing whatever God says. I need to take a closer look at some of the Scriptures you mentioned. Let's both do all we can to listen to our Lord, and to follow him as best we know how.

> And not to condemn other Christians just because they believe using contraceptives is okay.

Yes. And also not to look at a large family and make demeaning comments such as "they reproduce like animals" or "don't they know about birth control?" or "you're not going to have another child are you?"

> Yeah. I have to confess to that one myself. I've been dead wrong, and probably defensive too. That reminds me of a passage in Romans 14...okay, here it is. I'll read it: "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another."

Good word. We need to stop judging each other, leave that to the Lord, and start having open dialogue in which we can share Scripture and insight and experience.

> Right. I've got to run, but how about we pray together as we seek God's will on this?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Blessings & I hope this gives you some things to ponder, no matter where you fall on the issue~

Saturday, August 25, 2007

SAVE MONEY: Food & Cooking

Always eat your leftovers! Don't waste the things you've already made. If you can't bring yourself to eat it one more time, freeze it in single portions to heat up sometime when you don't feel like cooking!

Never let food spoil in the fridge, pantry, or fruit basket- use up the bananas and make banana bread, chop up your tomatoes and make a sauce or paste to use later, cook your meat before it goes bad and freeze it to use later, and make a white sauce with any extra milk you have so that you don't have to pitch it when it goes bad! This is HUGE for me, because when I'm pregnant and tired (read: RIGHT NOW), or if I buy too much at the store one week, and then I don't use it, it goes to waste. Then, I have wasted our money and we essentially have to pay double the next time we buy that item (because we've already bought it once).

Have a planned out menu and make a shopping list according to your plan. That way you don't overbuy when you go to the store.

At the same time, allow yourself the freedom to adjust your week's menu if you get to the store and find a great deal on something on sale that week!

Implement a baked potato or soup night every week!
Baked potatoes with all the fixins comes out to be a quite delicious and inexpensive meal. Soup (especially those made from scratch) with crackers or bread on the side is another great idea. Either way, if you do one a week, that will decrease your food bill by quite a bit!

Serve vegetables with your meals. People will eat less of the expensive stuff (meat, cheese, pasta, whatever) if you have a good selection of vegetables as sides.

COOK AT HOME! Invest the money you would spend in one trip to a restaurant in a classic, good quality cook book and commit to trying one new recipe a week. Or look on the internet and get some great ideas for free (even better-- just be sure to write them down!).

Learn to make basic things from scratch. White pasta sauce is so cheap to make from scratch, and you can make it in all varieties! Pancakes that are just as good as the Aunt Jemima mix you buy for nearly $3 a box are easy to make from scratch! The more you learn, the more you can make, and the cheaper you can make it! (If you have no idea how to do any of this, post a comment and I'll be glad to do a separate post about cooking from scratch!)

Learn to make your restaurant favorites at home. That way you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get your favorite things! Take time to learn how to make a good, juicy bacon cheeseburger. Learn to grill a delicious steak. Teach yourself how to make specialty butters to flavor your meat, potatoes, and other foods in gourmet ways!

Just doing these frugal things in the way you EAT will save a lot of money, and it will add up over time!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Show and Tell: Unpacking Some O' the Things On My Mind

  • VINEGAR!!! I have been adding in a little vinegar to each load of whites I do, and I am really astounded at how much the "gray" that can sometimes set in (particularly to underwear/bra stitching and the like) just comes right out with a little vinegar added to the wash! Here's a link to a great article about many uses for vinegar: I Heart Vinegar.
  • Encouragement for any wife or mom: HE SEES.
  • STUFF! Overwhelmed with an abundance of knick-knacks, junk, toys, and boxes of who-knows-what? Pop over to Sara's place to get motivated to deal with your stuff!
  • What Does the Bible Say About Modesty? An interesting look at the modest heart, by Min The Gap.

  • Let me share with you a post full with WISE thoughts on biblical parenting in an age of pop-child-psychology and worldly parenting methodologies. My friend has been burdened by an increase in the use of labels and medication when dealing with good old-fashioned sinful problems in children. I think her post is dead-on, and we Christian parents need more of this truth in our hearts and minds.
  • Family Scripture Memorization: (I got this link from another blog, so you may have already seen it, but I just wanted to encourage you to begin doing this as a family.) Take less than 5 minutes a day and read through a passage together, memorizing it one line at a time. Over the course of a month (easy, possibly less), that passage will be written on the hearts and minds of your family. We have begun memorizing Psalm 1 together as a family, and my heart has already been encouraged by the questions and conversations it has spurred on.
  • The Contempt Shown to Parents of Large Families- Until we told people that we were expecting our third baby (two years ago), I hadn't experienced this level of interpersonal rudeness over any issue in my life. Now that I'm pregnant again, some of the responses have convinced me all the more that this article is often, sadly, true. Should God give us another child at some point in the future, I find myself wanting to wait to tell certain people about it until we call them from the hospital when he/she is born. And sadly, that's not a joke; I'm entirely serious.
  • Having griped about the negative response we sometimes get about the size of our "brood", let me echo Amy's words, celebrating God's faithfulness, in her series, "LIFE WITH THREE UNDER THREE".
  • For those of you who have asked, I found a website for analyzing your children's MBTI personality types. It helps narrow down the options and is less specific for younger children (since, as I mentioned, it is much more difficult to "type" a young child).
  • Radical environmentalism at its worst: saving the earth from children? How about instead being a steward of the earth FOR our children?!
  • I'd never heard of this woman or this song until I visited this site... and no, I'm not typically a fan of country music, but this song is EXTREMELY touching and speaks volumes about the value of each precious child, in a very poignant way.
  • A mom of seven offers a challenge for birth control proponents: What good thing on the planet is purposely prevented? (An interesting question and discussion... you can read my comments and conversation with the author if you scroll down). I've always thought this is a good question in general to make people think about how they view children.
  • Okay, now for a little levity: (warning, not for young readers or for old readers who may be offended by a little language)- I can't vouch for the entire site, but this woman is hilarious in her no-holds-barred critiques of baby names!


  • Alex & Brett Harris, those guys who started the Rebelution, have joined the ever-growing camp of Huckabee supporters. CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO they put together of Huckabee's message, from debates, interviews, and speeches. It's the best I've seen.
  • HIJACKERS! Post hijackers, that is! Read it and see if you are one! :)
  • To spew or not to spew? Everyday Mommy suggests that humorous bloggers should use a little icon to warn readers that they may not want to drink beverages while reading their posts. I second this motion! If your post is going to be hilarious, give us a little warning: PUT DOWN THE DRINKS! (And you know who you are, dcrmom!)
  • Why is Hollywood Afraid of Abortions? by Al Mohler
  • Here's an interesting article about friendships among women. A quote from one of my favorite authors is included in this article: "C.S. Lewis says that we know we've made a friend when we can say to the other, 'What, you too?' "

Lots of links here... I hope you find some good reading among all these random thoughts/links unpacked from my brain!


Do you...
  • ...encourage your children to wait until they've obtained a certain level of education before they consider marriage?
  • ...deride or belittle young couples who marry at (what is now considered) a young age?
  • ...tell your children they shouldn't get married until they're "financially ready"? (whatever that means!)
  • ...praise people who wait until they are older to marry? (for reasons like achievements, career, or educational attainments)

If so, I'd ask you to reconsider what you are teaching your children.

I believe we do our children HARM when we give them contradictory messages about purity and our expectations for their young adult lives. For example, many parents expect their children to wait until they are married to have sex, but then ask (and encourage) them to walk through their young lives unmarried, beginning in puberty through high school (which is hard enough!), but then continuing straight on through college, and into grad school, with the goals of financial freedom and career success being placed above marriage.

Let me say, as I've had people suggest otherwise, that I too want to have confidence in my children (and in the things that we've poured into them) and will entrust them fully to the Lord. However, I do not want to put pressure on them or place unnecessary expectations that will ultimately lead to impurity, simply because they were made to feel that they were too young to marry, or that I expect them to "get through" certain hoops before marriage is prudent (in whatever terms I've decreed).

I believe we Christians have taken on the world's priorities in this area, and our children and their marriages will suffer if we do not look at God's perspective on marriage and family and adjust our views accordingly. These institutions (and not financial stability or educational achievement) were given to us by God as primary means of our sanctification and growth. We do wrong when we give our children priorities that line up more with those of the world than those of the Bible.

Here's an article I'd recommend for further consideration: A Peculiar People: Sex & the Young Christian

Let us not place unnecessary yokes on our children's necks that even we ourselves would not be able to live up to. So many men and women of recent generations (which married around 20-25 years old) did not make it to their wedding beds pure. In a generation that is DAILY surrounded by messages that scream out that sex is "no big deal", we are foolish to believe that we can encourage our children to postpone marriage until they reach their late 20's or early 30's or beyond and then also expect that they will (by and large) make it to their wedding beds unscathed by the lust of their flesh.

Just something I've had on my mind... hope it gives you food for thought as well! As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why We Homeschool (well, the big reasons anyway)

Just yesterday, I was asked by a friend if I would share with her why we homeschool... that she hadn't ever felt strongly about it one way or another, and would I, as an excited homeschool mom, be willing to put together a compelling "case" for why someone should consider homeschooling. So I did what she asked. I thought about posting it here and then thought, well, it really was written for and directed to her because she was interested. I'll wait and write about this another time on my blog.

But then, to my surprise (and I must admit, delight), Lauren Hill (a sometimes-commenter here who shares a name with an interesting hip-hop artist) asked in the comments of my last post if I would share the reasons why we choose to homeschool. So, here are our reasons (the big ones at least!), Lauren (and anyone else who is interested):

I would LOVE to share with you why we homeschool! There are so many reasons, so this will be long- but I want to give you (as much as possible) the whole picture of why we have chosen this method of schooling.

We want our kids to be salt and light, but first, we think they need to be prepared for that. Like a young plant, they need protection and the right "input" so that they will be a strong vine, able to produce fruit LATER. Lots of people take different views, and that's OK... but we believe young children are easily swayed and pulled by opposing views. Kids are impressionable. A la Deuteronomy 6, we want to impress them, regularly, throughout the day, as we're walking, etc... with the things of God. We want to build into them a strong foundation that cannot be shaken.

We'll have no problem releasing (in fact, we WANT to release) our kids to be salt and light at SOME point (maybe 6th grade? Maybe 9th?, depending on each child, somewhere around that time), but they need to first learn how to stand on their own, lest they fall because they weren't yet strong enough.

(Rather than some other person doing it for 8+ hours a day) The people I can impact the most in this life, particularly at this point in our family- with young children, are the members of my family. And that's great, because that's who God's going to hold me responsible for!

I see our kids as little arrows (Ps. 127) that can be shot out into the world one day- and I want them to be ready to be used by God for His purposes in the battle we're in at that point. So I want to pour myself into the task, the ministry, of sharpening and fine tuning those little arrows, so that when they are shot out, they will shoot straight and far. I want to sharpen them so that they can deal a mighty blow to the enemy when they are ready to be shot out.

Me personally, I don't feel that the first few years of life, and then a few hours each evening is enough to mold and shape these precious lives. I don't want to give them over to someone else to shape and mold for 8-10 hours a day. Not when they are still young and impressionable. They will fit into one mold or another. That's how kids are. They want to imitate, emulate, and be like those that they see and admire. I want to show them what God's mold looks like, and how they can fit their unique talents, abilities, and gifts into his mold of a righteous life lived with an eternal perspective and Kingdom priorities.

(3) I SEE MY MINISTRY AS IN THE HOME FIRST- anything else comes second.
Please don't take this as accusatory of anyone else's way of doing things... but I see my ministry as being done THROUGH my role in the home- as a wife and mother. And I believe that as people see that this is a priority in our home, that they will notice something different about our family, and essentially, "know we are Christians by our love". Homeschooling is one way that I can invest and pour the things of God into my children.

It is hard when we young moms have several little ones, are learning how to manage a home, trying to live up to everyone's expectations and still have time left over at the end of the day for our dear husbands. What I have come to is this: I can do what I can do. Relationship with God first. Relationship with Doug second. Relationship/ Mentoring/ Teaching/ Shaping/ Pouring myself into kids third. Anything else, after that. I can do what I can do. And I can't do it all. And that's OK.

I understand that homeschooling can seem like a HUGE item on the growing "to do" list. But in these early years, I'm already spending virtually all my time with my children. It is not then vastly more difficult to learn how to be a bit more structured and do school with them as well, so that we can continue shaping them according to God's standards while they are young.

I want our kids to be involved in our work and lives- able to take a trip out to a village for a weekend or week with dad occasionally. Able to go to a woman's home and play with her children while she and I talk and form a relationship. I want for them to be able to take part in what we're doing, rather than having a whole separate life that revolves around whatever schooling they are in. And I want for us to be able to take part in what they're doing, demonstrating to them just how committed we are to the task of raising them up to love and follow Jesus and to love and serve others.

If I can teach them, in the early years, to love reading and learning, and encourage them in their curiosity, then they will be prepared in a BIG way for whatever they'll encounter in any school environment in which they may be put as they grow and later, in college. Many schools focus on rote, boring learning approaches, and I don't want my kids to think that learning or schooling is boring and repetitive. I want to be able to take them to the museum one day for "school" or watch National Geographic specials about Africa rather than memorizing sentences from a geography book. I want to be able to show them how we balance our finances during math lessons... and show them real world applications for things we're learning in school. Essentially, I want to encourage them to love learning. And I don't think there are many schools that actually do this effectively. A person who loves to read and learn can do just about anything they put their minds to do.

*Another neat thing about homeschooling is that you can get it all done (even at the complex levels) in less than half the time it takes at public schools. There is no stopping for the bad kid in the class to be dealt with (again and again), no switching classes and running to the locker, no required "homeroom", no recess (you can build that into afternoon play time), no dumbing the class down for the lowest common denominator... each child can learn at his/her pace, learn the things he/she needs to learn, and even have time to focus on things of interest. (I've heard of homeschooled kids getting to spend a couple hours a week reading up on what would normally be considered college level or higher work, simply because that interested them.)

* Additionally, homeschooling allows the flexibility to stop school or start to suit your family's schedule and needs. You can put the normal curriculum on hold because your son has suddenly taken a HUGE interest in airplanes, and you want to take advantage of that and spend 4 weeks learning all about the ins and outs of airplane mechanics, physics, manufacturing, history, etc. Or your daughter has an opportunity to go on a business trip with Dad for 2 weeks and she can just go! No problem! Take a few books with her and let her read in her spare time but spend time building a relationship with Dad.

*I love the curriculum we use- it is reading-based, where we sit down together and read about the world... they definitely expose kids to various (opposing) worldviews and real life, so it's not as narrow as other Christian curriculums I've seen, and it's not done through workbooks and tests, which is great. It's real world-type learning, and I LOVE it. And Ethan loves it. (Heck, Baxter does too and he's not even old enough... he just LOVES looking through all the fun books.) Anyway, if you're interested you can check it out at

So, in a LARGE nutshell, :) these are the biggest reasons why we homeschool... plenty of people do it differently, and I respect many who have made different choices. But this is why we've made the choices we have so far. Any other questions? Ask- and I'll try not to be so long-winded. ;-) I'll say the same thing to each of you that I said to my friend: I hope this helps you consider something different- even if you end up choosing something different- at least to think through other options is a good thing! :)

Milestones? Or Guilt-Inducement Based on Absurd Expectations?

I just got a BabyCenter update for my fourteen month old (I don't even know why I still bother with those things... it's absurd how UNhelpful and UNinsightful they are...), and one of the "featured" articles was about writing.

Not an article to help me write in her baby book, or write about her. No, this was an article to assure concerned parents that their kids were going to progress just fine if they (the 14 month olds) weren't yet writing. Are you kidding me?, I want to yell... So many studies have shown that early education is actually not helpful at ALL but is in fact detrimental to curiosity, brain development, and intelligence at later ages. And yet they are still writing articles like these? Aimed at the moms of FOURTEEN MONTH OLDS? Do they mean to make moms nervous about things they'd never be worried about or even think up? Are they nuts?!?

Yes, the picture is a total joke. No, Maranatha's not yet writing. She's not even coloring. And that's OK. She's learning to talk, learning what comedy is all about (she's a natural), learning about what we don't touch, and that we don't bite, and how to play with older brothers, and to be gentle with little babies, and ALL KINDS of other things. I'm certainly not concerned about when she'll start writing!!! The thing that saddens me, though, is that there are plenty of first-time moms out there, in a community far removed from any family members or wise women from whom to learn, who will buy into this stuff and begin worrying simply because this kind of thing tells them it's normal to worry about such nonsense.

Seriously, if moms are neurotic, stressed-out, and over-concerned about parenting minutia these days, I think publications like these are at least partially to blame.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Homemade Baby Wipes

You may remember that I've been cloth diapering my precious daughter lately. Once you make the switch, and are already washing the diapers regularly, there is absolutely no reason not to also use cloth wipes. But even if you don't switch to cloth diapers (yet!) ;), I would encourage you to considering making your own baby wipes at home. The money you'll save is significant. The environmental impact is nice. The confidence of knowing what you're using to clean your baby's face, hands, or bottom is wonderful.

Here are THREE EASY STEPS to making your own homemade baby wipes:
1. Buy the wipes you want to use. I bought a nice variety of wipes in fun patterns from Zannadu cloth diapers (oops, looks like they are now out of business). You can see the five patterns I chose ... the thing I love about these is how soft they are. (Well, and the fun patterns make them FUN to use!) One side is soft flannel and the other side is micro terry cloth... so they're super soft on tender bottoms but also have some grip to get gunk off skin! If you're even somewhat skilled at sewing, you might even be able to make your own!

I also bought some cheap washcloth-material mitts that they sell here. It makes for easy cleaning, and I wanted to try a variety of options. For what it's worth, these do work OK, but I do prefer the soft ones I got from Zannadu. I tend to use the washcloth ones for cleaning her face and hands.

2. You can use any wipes container you want to. Because I have so many wipes and like to do it in bulk, I double whichever recipe I'm trying and pour it over the wipes in this great container:

That way, I can keep the diaper rash cream and Vaseline (that's the yellow circle container) right there in the container and have it handy when I need it. But lots of wipes-making moms just use the wipes boxes you get from Huggies or Pampers and fold over their wipes inside the case.

3. Make your baby wipes solution and pour it over the wipes inside the box. I use the large plastic cups that restaurants give out to mix up the solution and, so far, have tried 2 different "recipes".

First, I tried this recipe (which works fine):
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp oil (olive oil, baby oil, whatever simple oil you want to use)
- 1 tbsp baby soap
MIX WELL and pour over wipes in portions.

An even simpler recipe, that has been great for her poor little irritated bottom (a result of the bathroom issues one often faces from changing bacteria when moving overseas) is this one:
- 1-2 tbsp of lavender smelling baby oil
- 2-3 cups of water
MIX WELL. Add wipes to box in small portions, pouring portions of the mixture over the wipes until both wipes and wipe solution are gone.

[I plan to try more entirely natural wipes solutions once I get my bearings here and have better language skills.]

This has been such a surprisingly easy solution to buying wipes from the store, and the cost savings is significant. Even if you just wanted to use this for after-meal face and hand wipes, I believe you'd see savings and enjoy the process as well!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Keeping Track of Cups & Towels

Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of whose cup is whose, isn't it? The more a family grows, the more one is required to come up with creative solutions to manage things that can easily pile up. Not only is it hard to keep track of which towel or cup belongs to whom, but continually washing more than is necessary adds up to bad environmental stewardship. Bath towels, washcloths, and drinking cups are the things that I've been tackling in this last month.

For towels and washcloths, I've bought two of each for each family member. So I'm green, Daddy's navy, Ethan is turquoise, Baxter is royal blue, and Maranatha is purple. And each person has two coordinating washcloths. No more wondering if your facecloth has been used on some little behind! (egads!) And no more running out of towels... everyone's got two. You use one for a few days to a week (the little ones bathe much less often, and you're clean when you use it anyway), the other one's in the wash. Oh yeah, and I bought some lovely white ones to have on hand for guests.

As for cups, I borrowed an old idea from a friend of mine... we have a cutting board that we've drawn little circles on and everyone gets one cup a day (minus coffee cups for adults). That way, there's none of this "no, MY cup was the blue one" business. Kids, you pick your cup in the morning and you keep up with it throughout the day. If you're not drinking from it, back on the board it goes. I wrote names in the middle of each circle and drew a picture for easy identification for the 2-3 year old range that doesn't yet read but can remember, "mine's the one with the smiley face." Here's a picture of it:
Yes, we currently have two empty circles. One will, obviously, be for the new baby when he/she is using cups. The other will serve as a guest spot until any future family members make their debut. And no, just because there are 2 extra spots doesn't mean that's our limit or something. That's just what would fit on the board. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Walk-a-bout the Gardens

Each time I do a walk-a-bout the gardens I discover new plants. I'm excited even though I am sorely missing my main vegetable garden this year. Plans are underway for a late season garden as soon as it cools a bit more at night. I'm hoping to plant towards the third week of August for our zone. In the meantime I've been starting herbs and discovering what is already growing

Friday, August 10, 2007

Who Are You "One" With?

This one is for all you married folks out there: Who does your heart know better than any other? Who does your heart break for? Who do you empathize with more than any other? Who are you most knitted to? Your husband? Or your children?

This is something that's been on my mind lately... I fear that too many Christian women are daily choosing to become ONE with their offspring rather than with the man who they married. Too many women have their emotions and their identity wrapped up in their children. Too many women have their hearts knit to their children in a way that ought to be reserved for their husband. Which is why it is often the most difficult time of their lives when they have an "empty nest". They have spent more time cultivating relationships with their children rather than the relationship they share with their husband.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that we shouldn't invest in our children, nor am I saying that we shouldn't be emotionally tied to our children, or love them deeply and value them as the gifts that they are. As a stay home mom of three (and a fourth on the way), I completely understand the complete love and affection we moms have for our children. I understand the commitment we have to raising them well, investing in them, and delighting in who God is making them to be. I understand the feeling that this is "what I was made to do", or the difficulty of remembering at every moment that they are only ours for our time.

But, biblically speaking, children are not for keeping. They are a blessing. They are likened to olive shoots around a table... they are truly gifts from God. And yet, they are likened to arrows, to be shot out into the dying and unbelieving world. Additionally, they ultimately are to leave us and cleave to a husband or wife.

They are not things that we are to ultimately KEEP. We are not raising little persons who are primarily for ministering to US, in our hurt and broken places. We are not raising little people who are to become a shoulder for us to cry on, or a friend to us. They may become that. Prayerfully and with God's grace, they may become precious friends.

But the primary reason that they have been given to us is so that we might refine and help them to be sanctified so that when they time comes for us to shoot them out, as arrows, they will be ready to live for God's glory. Children are not for US, but for HIM.

Additionally, our marriages are not for US, but for HIM. However, there is one thing that differs about this relationship from ALL others in our lives: this one relationship is to shine and sparkle in such a way that others are more aware of the relationship that Christ longs to have with His Church, because of the way we are one in our marriage. Put another way, the Oneness of each marriage is designed to serve as a picture of the Oneness Christ will one day share with His Church.

Big responsibility on our part, really. As imperfect humans, there is no way we can successfully live out the perfection of the relationship the Church will one day have with Christ in eternity. But that is the picture our marriages are designed to give.

We are united with our husband; we are to cleave to our husband. We are not to be "united" with, nor are we to cleave to our children.

And yet instead what we have, all too often, I'm afraid, are Christian wives who give more of themselves to their children than to their husband. More of their heart and emotional investment to their offspring than to their beloved. More of their thoughts and attention go into their relationship with their children than any other relationship-- more than their husband, and more than God.

So, tell me- what do you think about this? Is this really an issue in the lives of Christian women? Do you see it in your friends? The women you know? Even possibly in your own life? Thoughts or comments are welcome!

(Incidentally, I've gotten several e-mails lately asking me how to comment- just click on the words that say "7 comments" or "0 comments" or "33 comments", and a pop-up box should appear. If it doesn't, you can click on the headline of the article you wish to post on, and scroll down and there should be an option for "Post a comment". Click on it, and you should be able to leave your thoughts!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Godliness & Sexuality

Here's a VERY interesting quote I came across in my recent reading. Rebecca Jones, in "Does Christianity Squash Women? (A Christian Looks at Womanhood)", writes:

"My husband and I (who still have a lot to learn about marriage) have hit on a formula for Christian marital success: 'A woman must realize that it is godly to be sexy, and a man must realize that it is sexy to be godly.' "

What say YOU? Thoughts, comments, questions are all welcome in the comments section!

Friday, August 3, 2007

How Christian Parents Talk About Sex, and How We SHOULD Talk About It

Tell me if any of these sound familiar from your upbringing and what you were told about sex:
  • Men want sex and will do anything to get it.
  • Women don't want it and will do anything to get out of it.
  • Men need to do without every now and then. It's good for them.
  • Good, Christian women don't enjoy sex.
These messages were repeated or implied again and again in a variety of ways by the Christian culture in which many of us grew up. Our parents' generation often bought into this mindset- that men want it, women don't, so men have to do without unless women feel particularly cuddly or generous.

But in this day and age, to believe things like that is to play with fire. Even back then, it was utter foolishness in light of a biblical command to "not deprive one another".

(And yes, I do realize too that at the same time, the message from culture was that free love is where it's at-- is it any wonder why so many Christian women don't even consider the possibility of enjoying sex? In their minds, "Only the bad girls do that!")


Imagine if all his life, your husband had heard that all you wanted to do was to TALK. That any nice thing you did for him would be so he would share his feelings and thoughts with you, be interested in hearing about your day, etc. That no matter what you did, TALKING was ON YOUR BRAIN. But imagine if the overarching point he heard was this: GODLY MEN DON'T TALK TO THEIR WIVES. AT LEAST NOT VERY OFTEN. AND THEY SURE DON'T ENJOY IT WHEN THEY DO.

It wouldn't be too surprising then, for men to start feeling protective of their conversation. For men to loathe conversation and begin begging off... finding ANY excuse to avoid a chat with the wife. But if there was a verse explicitly stating, "do not deprive one another of heart-to-heart conversations", then he would be sinning every time he begged off. Every time he sought out an excuse or tried to pretend he was asleep just so he wouldn't have to talk, he would be sinning. As are many Christian wives today who are disregarding the verse in 1 Corinthians that says that we are not to "deprive one another" of intimacy.

Going back to those original ideas I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the problem with that whole way of approaching sex is that it doesn't allow for a point of freedom or release. It just essentially said, "Sex=bad. No sex=good!" There was no point at which parents said- "it won't be this way forever, sweetheart. One day, you'll be able to revel in this gift from God!"


All your life, growing up, you see your mom and dad planting a beautiful garden in the backyard. Varieties of flowers and plants grow, and it's a beautiful place. You haven't seen all of it, because they built in some private places just for the two of them, but what you have seen looks lovely. Sometimes you aren't sure what all the varieties are, or the names for everything, and sometimes that embarrasses you, but the truth is that you're proud that your parents have a beautiful garden.

There are fences around it, and there's an open door at the gate. Your mom and dad both recognize that there are more beautiful gardens, more well-kept gardens, and more colorful gardens outside that gate, but they don't want to walk out that gate door because what they have inside the gate is so stinking good. They don't even look too far over the fence. They try to satisfy themselves completely within the fences.

When you begin growing up and developing feelings for someone of the opposite sex, your natural feeling is to want to have a backyard with that person and start planting flowers. But your mom wisely takes you aside and says,

"Darling, it's natural for you to want to share a garden with someone. And the truth is that you can plant flowers here, there, and everywhere- but that's not the same as having a beautiful garden all your own that you and your husband have planted together. In fact, doing it that other way will cost you so many emotions and hard work that you can't even comprehend now. It will waste much of who you are on something that doesn't last. It's worth the wait to do it right.

"Here- come out to our garden with me and I'll start telling you a little bit about these things... this is a ____ plant, and this one is for ____. You can see that we've planted this tall tree here, so we don't get envious of the beautiful garden in neighbor Sandy's yard. She's got a curvy green thumb, and her garden is EXTRA well-kept, so your father particularly planted THAT tree THERE so he wouldn't covet what she has in her garden.

"Here's why we put the fences up in these particular places, to protect us from wandering into places that didn't belong to us... and let me tell you something, we have an EXCELLENT time together in this garden. There's simply nothing like having a beautiful backyard to enjoy time together in- but it's worth the wait, darling. It's worth waiting for the ONE right person in life to plant your garden with.

"Oh I can't wait for you to begin planting yours- it will be so beautiful. Until then, let me continue taking walks with you and talking to you about the beauty of God's design in all of this."

Catch my drift? Instead, most of us saw single, carefree people planting things all over the place with all kinds of people and appearing to have a great time at it, and meanwhile, all our parents had was brown, poorly cut grass. And what they told us was: DON'T LEARN TO GROW ANYTHING. DON'T FOCUS ON THAT. NO ONE ACTUALLY HAS A PRETTY GARDEN ANYWAY... SO IT'S A FOOL'S ERRAND.


There's a beautiful garden for each Christian married person to enjoy spending time in, if we'll just cultivate some beauty in that place, spend some time there together, and revel in the gift God gave us within our very own fences!

[Please note: my parents actually did a good job of living out a loving marriage relationship as an example for my brother and I. Don't take this post to imply otherwise. Rather, I'm making some generalizations about what most of us heard regarding sex, from culture and the Christian community, when we were growing up!]

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