Tuesday, July 31, 2007


This is so interesting. I'm not even sure what to say about it! I stumbled on this article about how Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will be providing homemaking courses this fall. The "homemaking concentration" to a Bachelor of Science degree plan will offer courses on such things as the home, children, sewing, and cooking.

Obviously, this kind of decision has created some controversy. Here is what the course description had to say about it:

"The College at Southwestern endeavors to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture," a description of the program reads. "This is accomplished through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today."

OK, first thoughts. I think it's good that they realize there is merit in these skills. I am glad to see that kind of shift in thinking. My first thought was, "Wow. This is needed!" However, I also see the point of those who have said, "Is there really a need for courses in this?" Some have argued that you can find out all the information you need from books and the internet.

Or I was kind of thinking I could learn them from older Christian women...it's just a thought.

But the truth is, we live in a very different world. There are women like myself who find themselves wanting to be good homemakers, but lacking in skills. I am a product of the generation I was raised in. From Kindergarten on I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was never suggested to me that I should learn to do the things my mom did all day (who was a homemaker until I was around 9 years old). Oh, I didn't leave the house completely clueless (my mom taught me a lot), but neither do I feel I was actively "prepared" to be a homemaker.

And I can't get the movie Mona Lisa Smile out of my head. My favorite quote from the movie comes from Julia Stiles' character when she is speaking to Julia Roberts' character about her decision to not go to law school.

Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?

Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.

Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart.

You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.

Yes, reading about all this just took me right back to that movie (which was set in 1953.) It seems strange to me that in this day and age a college would be offering such courses. Are they needed? Sadly, yes. It makes me all the more determined to teach my daughters homemaking skills AND a love of using those skills for the Lord.

Also, I need to remember that although I consider myself to be one of the "younger women" that are spoken of in Titus chapter 2, to some I am really one of the "older women." There are plenty of older women who can teach me a thing or two! But to my daughters, the girls in our youth group, and young married women or brand new mothers, I actually fall into the other category. Am I doing all I can to teach them the things spoken of in those verses? I think it's needed today more than ever.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Making a Home

We visited a home last night that was so lovely the entire youth group was in awe. No worries about their behavior...after months of devotionals in the youth suite at church (Read: less asthetically pleasing) they were grateful for the beautiful new setting.

Our girls were really pleased too. Especially with the bathrooms. Little Bit: "Mommy! There are magazines in here!" :) Now, my house will probably never look like this one did. First of all, because, although it was beautiful, it's not my style. Secondly, because 90% of what I saw was breakable. I am pleased to say that nothing was broken during our visit.

The lady who lives in that home has obviously spent hours and hours thinking about her house and working on it. It's a wonderful place to invite guests to.

And then there's our home.

Sweetheart asked when we were going to have the youth group over to our house again. Daddy mentioned that we needed wallpaper in the front hallway first. (OK READERS I KNOW I SAID I WOULD DO THAT A FEW MONTHS AGO, BUT I DIDN'T, OK? :) So, that needs to be a priority. Also, I tore the front room up making a homeschool classroom out of it only to find out that the shelves I need from IKEA are out of stock. So that room is jumbled mess with all manner of books and papers and notebooks stacked on the floor. Then, we unbunked Sweetheart's bunkbeds this weekend and gave one of them to Little Bit (a big girl bed!). So now their rooms are a mess also because we quickly pushed things aside to make way for the moving of the beds. I won't even talk to you about the living room.

I so often spend my time thinking about MY home as being for MY family. I forget we need to be ready to use our homes for service to the Lord. So now I will work today with a new goal in mind. We have a couple at our church who we have been meaning to have over for Bible study. They are good enough friends that they would understand if our house were a mess. But really, wouldn't it be nice for them to go home feeling grateful for the lovely home they got to visit and study the Bible in? I know the way we treat people when they come over is more important than how the home looks, but...

To those who think homemaking is not all that important, I would disagree. Have you been in a home lately that was really and truly "made?" (Not just "cleaned up" for company.) I want that kind of home. I think my generation is so casual about everything else in our lives, and that casual feeling has played out in the way we keep our homes, too. I'm not sure a lot of women my age know how to make a home. It's more than just keeping things clean. It's tons of little touches throughout the house that make things so lovely. I've seen a glimpse of it, now how to accomplish it?

I need some ideas...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Want to Worship (but I'm weary)

This morning as I rolled over in bed and began going over the up coming day in my mind, a thought occured to me. It was Sunday morning, and we were going to be going to church. (That wasn't the thought.) My mind immediately went to the worship service. Sigh. I wish I were more excited about that part of the morning. The truth is, I am a little tired of the worship service.

Earlier this summer I posted about a little church we went to with my grandmother when I was growing up. It was just all so simple. I love our church. But after 36 years there, we have seen lots of changes. Things ain't the way they used to be! I just long to sit there by my family and hold a hymnal and sing. I want to see one faithful man leading singing up front. I want to hear an expository sermon preached straight out of the Bible. I want to hear prayers from men who have prepared their thoughts ahead of time.

But is that really it? Does the improvement of "my" worship experience depend on hymnals and song leaders and sermons? Are those things the answer?

But (sigh) I am tired of slides. And videos. And praise teams. And loud instruments. And VERY CONTEMPORARY UPBEAT songs. And very modern saaaaaaaaaaaaaaad feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeling songs. I am tired of sitting and standing. I am tired of worship being such an "experience." I feel wrung out when I leave.

I truly want to worship. I want to let God know how wonderful He is. I want to pray. I want to sing. I want to listen to God's word spoken and read. But I've been having trouble lately.

Here was my thought. (It's just a thought) If Jesus were to visit our "worship centers" during that hour, would He clear the room like He did the temple? What things would He throw out? What would stay?

Because I really just want to worship Him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How Much New Life Can You Handle?

I used to be scared to pray, "Your will be done, Lord." I am ashamed to admit that, but it's true. I thought if I prayed that little prayer that God would take license to do ANYTHING to my life that He wanted. And maybe I wouldn't like the changes He made.

Like, what if He called us to be missionaries in some far-away place? What if He called me to adopt 15 troubled children? What if He....just any number of things. I was much more comfortable praying my "suggestion prayers." You know the kind? That's the kind of prayer where you pray about your life and spend your whole prayer time "suggesting" to God what things might be a nice answer to prayer. Basically, you have worked out the whole solution to your problems and you just really need God's stamp of approval and everything will be wonderful.

Can I just tell you that doing things God's way--the very little that I have done this in my life--is wonderful?

Our family has undergone major changes in the last 2-3 years. I would have never prayed for these things to happen. I never even thought these changes were possible! I cried and went back to work after the birth of my children, never even thinking that there was any other way. The year I stayed home, I watched our savings slipping through our fingers and thought, "It's all over. There is no way we will make it." I was exhausted from trying to make the changes I wanted in our life and trying to make them by myself. (Guess what? It wasn't working!)

I finally got the nerve to pray that prayer. I prayed for God to change our lives and to change us. I prayed for Him to show us how He wanted us to live. I was pretty sure we weren't there. What really convicted my husband and I was this thought: Other than where we spend our Sunday mornings, if you placed us next to an unsaved family, what would look different about our lives?

And God answered. He started with me and my heart. And then bigger changes started taking place. Finding out what God's will for our families is, and getting a taste of doing things His way has shown me how much peace there is in being inside the will of God. I never want to go back.

If I could spread this one message in my life I would be happy. I want people to know that God's plan for the family works. The order He established is wise. There is peace and joy in doing things God's way. I have heard all your excuses. (But you don't know MY husband. We are just too deep in debt. But I am not cut-out to just raise kids all day. Etc. Etc. Etc.) I know the excuses because I have spoken many of them.

I will say it again: God's plan for the family works. Have you prayed for God to show you how He wants your family to be? What is keeping you from praying that little prayer?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Raise Your Hand If You Think Too Much

I've been thinking a lot about the end result of our parenting. When our first daughter was born everything seemed like such a whirlwind. I went back to work after 3 months and I remember just stumbling around work that day trying to form a complete thought and wondering what it was I used to do there. All I had worried or thought about for 3 months was diapers, feedings, naps, cute outfits, my own weight loss, and enjoying every single moment of my daughter. Parenting very quickly took on a new weight.

I can't remember exactly when it happened. But at some point it occured to me that we didn't just have a baby...we had a child. To raise. All the way up. Seems kind of obvious? Well, it wasn't to me. Just as "being pregnant" turned into "(gasp) we are having a baby!", "we have a baby" turned into "we have to raise her!" I didn't just become a mommy--we became parents. And we had no plan.

Thankfully, God changed all that. I am light years away from where I started as a parent. I don't have it all figured out, but I certainly have more insight into this task than I used to.

I don't believe most people (Christian or otherwise) actually think through their parenting all the way. You just dive in with both feet and try to keep your head above water for 18 years. New decisions come up and you talk to some friends, decide which way you will go and continue on. Folks, even Christian parents operate this way. It should not be like this.

We have the Bible. We have prayer. We have older women to teach us. And we have a great responsibility. Not to just work out a compromise with our little one to get through the meal and on to the next thing----but to train them, to teach them, to disciple them. To hold our children to a higher standard so that when they are not in our arms or homes anymore, they will be able to stand firm. It isn't about "making it" through the day or a difficult stage, or the teenage years. It's about raising godly young men and women. That goal alone changes our daily decisions about how we handle things. Or it should.

I know I keep talking about this, over and over. Others say things much better than I do. Mrs. June had some good thoughts today over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home. Also, Grafted Branch really made me think at Restoring the Years yesterday.

Do other people sit around and think about things like this? Do they put this much thought into the thing called parenting? I'm thankful for women like those mentioned above because it lets me know that I am not the only one who thinks about these things on a weekday night.

Monday, July 23, 2007

So, About These Schemas...

I was rambling on last night about something I remembered from college. (Yes! I actually learned something!) Here is how all this applies to homeschooling. Don't you like how I sound like I KNOW something about homeschooling even though I've never actually done it?

First, here's another example of a schema: the doctor's office. Most children learn very quickly a few items about the doctor's office. Even little bitty kids who don't speak in complete sentences tend to know 1. It could hurt like last time 2. I will get a sticker/treat when we are done. Each experience at the doctor's office provides more information that will be filed away in their little brain under "Doctor." Some friends of ours from church adopted a foster child they had been raising since she was 6 months old. She's 5 now, but about a week after they got her in their home they found out she had to have open heart surgery. Her schema of "Doctor" is far fuller than my children who basically know shots and stickers and toys in the waiting room. Recently a baby was born to one of their relatives and her mom thought she had prepared her daughter that this would be a happy time at the hospital, but she was traumatized nonetheless. Her schema of doctor just includes far too many unhappy things. Sadly, some children's schema of "family" is the same. But that's another post...

So working off of this schema knowlege (ooh, you can have a schema about schemas!!) unit studies make perfect sense. My child gets interested in something. I run to the library and look up all manner of books and activities on the subject and we submerse ourselves until we are sick. I KNOW that children learn this way. I used "thematic units" when I was a teacher. That's what we called them. The only difference was I told the kids what they would be interested in. When we studied fairy tales, I turned the classroom into a big castle with dragon's footprints leading the way in from the hallway. When we studied pigs, I built a pig-pen in the reading center for them to sit and read in. (I really did.)

But here's my problem with unit studies. Sweetheart was all interested in Indians and I could have dove in head first creating the best Native American unit of study you've ever seen! But within the week--she was not interested anymore! It would have been such a waste of time and energy on my part. She got what she wanted from my minimal efforts. A whole unit was not needed. Now, there have been times when she stayed on something for forever! You just cannot tell.

I still think unit studies are cool, but I will not be using them exclusively for this reason. However, this does not mean that you can't follow your children's interests. I think when children are interested in learning more, they will ask. Our job as parents, and teachers, is to provide them with the information they need. But to not go overboard or above their interest. It's a delicate balance.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Little Here, A Little There

If I reach way back to my college days and early childhood education classes, I remember something about how children learn. This particular thing I remember well from my classes (goodness knows I put most of the rest of it out of my head). It is the concept of schemas. The way I understand it, each new "topic" that children learn something about is a little schema. Think of it as a cloud or bubble. When my older daughter was a baby, she would play with a ball. When we played ball, I told her, "roll Mama the ball." Thereby giving a name to the toy. As she grew and got more experience with balls, she added to her schema. Every sphere or circle she saw was a ball. Daddy's basketball was one kind of ball. The round part on the end of the lollipop was another kind of ball. Even when we read books, she would point to the o's and say "Ball!" When she called Cheerios balls, I corrected her and said, "That's a circle." Now a new little cloud branched off from the original one entitled "circles." She quickly added to this schema new knowledge of circles.

This explanation of how children learn is easy enough to understand, even if you never sat through hours of courses on the subject, right? (And no matter how poorly I explained it!) Every new piece of information is filed away in the appropriate little cloud or bubble in the brain. Some schemas are larger than others. Most little children know a lot about "McDonald's" and not so much about "chemistry." They will add new schemas as they grow and develop.

I was reminded about this lesson from college earlier in the week as I was watching how Sweetheart has learned this summer. Now that I am no longer dependent on her school to pour knowledge into her head during the school year, I feel a new responsibility. A few weeks ago she became very interested in Indians (Native Americans). She already had learned how to shoot a bow and arrow and owned a toy one. She wanted a headband like an Indian would wear. She asked for her hair to be put into braids. Obviously, she already has some knowledge of Native Americans filed away in her brain. Then, her cousin brought over her American Girl collection Kaya doll. Then, we checked out the first book about Kaya from the library. Then, she wanted to watch her Pocahontas movie again. Then it was over. Just when I thought Indians would be with us for quite a while, her interest was over. I guess she filed away all the new information she wanted on that subject for now.

Yesterday my mom and I took the girls to the museum to see the Frogs! exhibit. When we got home, she asked if we could look up the rain forest on the internet. Specifically, she wanted to look at monkeys (?). There was a portion of the exhibit where she got to swing across some monkey bars just like the monkeys in the rain forest do. That's the part that caught her interest. Who knew?

So, what does all this mean for homeschooling? Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my thoughts on this. (Don't want to make this post too long!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Waiting For Perfect

I realized yesterday that I have been putting off a lot of things. There are several little projects around the house that I think about doing all the time...and then put them off again. Why? Because the time is not perfect.

Here's what I mean: I have one more section of a valance to sew for my kitchen window. When I finish it, the kitchen will be complete. The window has been sitting there without a valance for months. It looks like it's missing a tooth. Why don't I just go do it then? Well, my sewing room has a lot of junk in it right now so that I can't get to the sewing machine very easily. One thing in the way is the ironing board. And there's no sense putting the ironing board away until I'm done with the laundry. (Brenda exits to do laundry--valance forgotten.) Another thing in the way is art supplies/school supplies. I need to do some work in our home office so I will have a place to store those items and then my sewing room will be ready to use. (Brenda exits to go work on home office--valance forgotten.) That's how it happens. That is also why I have one light fixture that is antique gold and one that is painted silver in the bathroom. (It's so much trouble to get the paint out and then I would probably get interrupted and then wouldn't have time to wash out the brush.)

But what if I just jumped in and did it? Do I really have to wait for the perfect time/circumstance/place? So today I marked one project off my list. I put wallpaper border up in Sweetheart's room. I just got everything ready, called my dad to come help and did it. It all took less than an hour. I could have found a lot of excuses for not doing this project today, but now it's already done.

We hear a lot about perfection. People are very fond of saying things about perfection. Here are a few:
"They are just perfect for each other."
"In a perfect world..."
And the big one..."Nobody's Perfect!"

If you Google the phrase "nobody's perfect" you will get over 2 million results! There are songs with this title, movies, even books. It's one of those little lies we hear so much that we believe it. I've even read about this church with a sign on their door with the same message. But is this true? As Christians, should we just throw up our hands and say, "Oh well, nobody's perfect." (Therefore I am not perfect. Therefore I have a built-in excuse for why I have or have not done things.) If Satan can keep all Christians believing this lie, then we will stay like we are always.

What does God have to say about this?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

I get tired of hearing about how we can't expect much more than we see around us. The Lord is Perfect. I will put myself (and my family and my house) in His hands.

What a perfect place to be!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

100 Posts Already? (Boy, Do I Talk A Lot!)

Can this be possible? I knew I had a lot to say, but man! My husband is the one who encouraged me to begin this blog after he started his. He thought I would enjoy writing and I guess he was correct!

So, in honor of my 100th post--here are 100 things about me. (Try not to fall asleep on your keyboard!)

1. I live in the town I was born in.
2. Specifically, I live on the street I was born on.
3. Well, actually I was born in a hospital. Not the street.
4. I am the 3rd child in my family--all girls.
5. I shared a room with one of my sisters until she moved away to college.
6. We grew up talking to each other after the lights were out.
7. After she moved to college, I caught myself starting to talk to her at night and then I would remember she wasn't there.
8. After I got married I discovered my husband did NOT grow up talking after the lights were out and that he wanted to go to sleep.
9. I also grew up reading in bed at night.
10. Another difference between my husband and I.
11. Now I read in the living room.
12. Even without my example, my older daughter likes to read herself to sleep.
13. I guess some things are genetic.
14. I have never broken a bone.
15. I pop my knuckles.
16. I don't pick up dead bugs.
17. I will sweep them up, however, if my husband is not available.
18. I had braces for 4 years and got them off in time for my senior pictures.
19. Neither one of my sisters were so lucky.
20. I have known my husband my whole life.
21. I remember being taller than him.
22. I am not taller than him now.
23. My hair was white-blonde when I was little.
24. Now my hair is very brown.
25. I hate to quote VeggieTales, but I love my lips.
26. They are one of my best features.
27. People who knew me when I was little are blown away when they meet my 2nd daughter.
28. She looks so much like I did--even I can tell.
29. In fact she thought a baby picture of me was her. So even she thinks we looke alike.
30. I had one of the best mother-in-laws in the whole world.
31. She died of breast cancer when I was pregnant with our first daughter.
32. I still miss her.
33. We used to shop craft shows together.
34. Some things we bought I didn't want to get rid of.
35. Then I realized they were old, out of style, and my mother-in-law would have gotten rid of them EONS ago.
36. I hate hosting garage sales.
37. I just give my stuff away. It's so much easier.
38. My birthday is in the beginning of January.
39. I never had a birthday party (with kids) growing up.
40. It's a really rotten time to have a birthday party.
41. There was an ice storm the week I was born. (on the gulf coast!!!)
42. All the power was out at our house when they brought me home from the hospital.
43. They took me straight into the kitchen and opened the oven to keep me warm.
44. My dad says I've always liked the kitchen since then.
45. That means I like to eat. Not cook.
46. I also, apparently, liked bathrooms because my parents swear I always wanted to go potty just to see what color the bathroom was where we were.
47. My current bathroom, by the way, is sage green.
48. Green is my absolute favorite color in the world.
49. I could have a green house in every room and be happy.
50. When I was little, purple was my favorite color.
51. I think this was because purple=grape candy.
52. When I was 4, my aunt and uncle adopted a little girl from Korea.
53. I was very jealous of the attention she got.
54. I couldn't give her hand-me-downs because purple clothes did not look so good on her.
55. I wanted to play with her, but I was closer in age to my boy cousin so I got stuck with him.
56. We had a beagle growing up named Tippi.
57. When we were first married, we had a black mutt named Hayley.
58. We don't have a dog now and our 7 year old desperately wants one, but she has asthma.
59. My husband and I do not want a dog right now.
60. We are living in our 3rd house.
61. I love decorating and fixing up homes, but I don't really know what I'm doing.
62. So, I like to watch HGTV.
63. I do not like to watch golf.
64. When I was growing up my dad always was watching golf, and now my husband does.
65. The sound of a golf tournament on TV makes me think of Sunday afternoons.
66. I was a teacher for 11 years.
67. I got the "Rookie of the Year" award my first year.
68. I think I was a really good teacher at first.
69. After I became a mom, I couldn't be as good of a teacher because I didn't want to stay at school late all the time doing "super teacher" type things.
70. I was so happy to quit teaching. It wasn't fun anymore.
71. I decided to be a teacher my junior year of high school.
72. I don't change my mind all that often.
73. I finished college in exactly 4 years.
74. I had to take a lot of summer school and full course loads each semester to do it.
75. I couldn't get married until I was through, so that was pretty good motivation.
76. My husband asked for my hand in marriage while my dad was laying in a hospital bed recovering from a triple bypass.
77. We were engaged for more than 2 years. We had to postpone our wedding once.
78. My college roommate and I went ring shopping as a hobby during college.
79. We tried on a LOT of rings.
80. We were in each other's weddings.
81. I was in another friend's wedding and I wore borrowed shoes.
82. They were 1/2 size too small, but it's only for a few hours, right?
83. I couldn't feel my feet by the end of the wedding.
84. My college roommate and I had babies 1 day apart. We called each other from our hospital beds.
85. I would like to have another baby, but I think I'm the only one in this house who does.
86. I would much rather clean than pick up clutter.
87. I have never ridden in an ambulance.
88. Besides having babies, I have never been in the hospital.
89. I have been out of the country--to Mexico. We ate at a restaurant. Then we went back over the border.
90. I have been to California, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. I think that's all.
91. I have been stung by jelly fish a few times.
92. It REALLY hurts. My husband knew what to do, though.
93. He takes really good care of us. I always feel safer when he's around.
94. During Tropical Storm Allison, our home flooded.
95. My husband stayed up all night watching the weather.
96. We started picking stuff up about 30 minutes before the water came in.
97. Our boat was in the driveway and we were ready to evacuate along with our pregnant neighbor and her husband.
98. We didn't have to, but I know my husband would have gotten us all to safety.
99. We got caught in a storm in our boat once. We had to jump out onto a bulkhead.
100. I will have to tell you that story sometime.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fourteen Years Ago Today...

...I was walking down the aisle. Right about now, as a matter of fact. After 5 years of dating/being engaged, we were finally going to be husband and wife! My dress was marvelous (bought on sale for $300--far less than many people I knew were spending!), my husband (who had been fishing all day) was NOT sunburned (thank goodness!), and the church was packed. I was so excited!!! My college roommate and my sisters stood with me in the beautiful dresses my mom had sewn and S.'s best friends were standing with him. Since we grew up in church together, we knew pretty much all the same people. It seemed that everyone we knew was in that room.

We left the reception and changed clothes before heading off on our honeymoon. S. would be leaving to go back to his ship in less than a week, but nothing could dampen our spirits! After a few days in San Antonio, we came home to a tiny one-bedroom apartment. I lived alone there for the first 6 months of our marriage, visiting back and forth at least once a month between here and California. Then, in February of 2004 S. came home from the Navy and we truly began our new life together.

We have lived in 3 different houses, attended 2 churches, owned too many vehicles to count (and several boats), worked around 8 different jobs, welcomed 2 beautiful baby girls into the world, buried too many relatives, and grown closer to each other with each passing year. When we were in our early twenties and getting ready to walk down that aisle, I could have never imagined how our lives would be 14 years later.

We are VERY, VERY blessed.

I know I am one of the most fortunate women I know to have a husband like S. I am looking forward to all the years to come.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Has Time For The Husband?

I understand the beautiful order of the family which God has established. I understand all the reasons behind this order. I agree with it wholeheartedly. However, these days it's hard to keep things in order. In my heart I may have things prioritized correctly, but I also have to show that with my actions.

It's not a very popular view. I would dare to say that there are tons of people who are Bible believin', church-going Christians who don't know or understand how God set this all up. I thank the Lord for showing it to me a few years ago. It was one of the first major revisions to our family that He made.

With all the chaos of this weekend with Little Bit's broken elbow, etc., my husband fell very short of the place he deserves. I suppose it's understandable that things like this come up, but it's time to get things back to the way they need to be. Now that our daughter has a cast on her arm, she's going to sleep in her own bed and S. can get off the couch! Also, she will need less and less attention as her arm heals and more of my attention can go to what it needs to.

We have had some very restless nights. When my husband left for work this morning he looked so tired and stressed out. It made me feel really bad for him. I was trying to think of what I could do to make things easier for him. Here are some things I thought of...

1. Having him come home to a clean house! It doesn't have to pass the white-glove inspection, but being able to walk into a room that is free of clutter and looks nice will be so relaxing. I know I would love to walk in the door after a hard day of work and see a straight house. After all, home shouldn't cause more stress---it should help the stress of the outside world melt away. I want our home to be a haven for him.

2. Having his clothes clean, ironed, and ready to wear. It's always those mornings that you are running late that you can't find a matching outfit, complete with clean, matching socks to wear. Placing a priority on my husband's laundry over mine and the girls' is important. After all, where do we have to go? Plus, looking sharp at a new job is always a plus!

3. Having meals and snacks ready and available. Even if I have already been to the store that week, I know there are certain things my husband likes to have on hand. I need to be mindful of the things he likes to snack on, drink, etc. and make sure we are stocked up. He is too tired when he gets home to be running to the store.

4. Making sure I have enough time and energy for him. If you listen to the world, you would be engaged in meaningful activities with your children right up until bedtime and then it would be time for "me time." This is not the way it should be. There is nothing wrong with planning for the children to spend a little time playing in another room in the evenings. Also, if they go to bed on time you should have plenty of time left over before your own bedtime. They are, after all, children. And they are not on the top of the list.

5. The last one has more to do with God being first in your priorities. Be sure to spend time in prayer and Bible study. And remember, you don't have to have a scheduled hour and 1/2 of "personal Bible study." God hears your dish washing prayers just as well. Ironing? Pray for the person whose clothes you are ironing. Keep your Bible out so that when you sit down for a break you can just pick it up and read for a few minutes. Keeping your thoughts on God and His word will help you in your role as wife and mother.

Well, these are just a few of the ways which we can help our husbands. Don't worry about whether or not your husband "deserves" this kind of treatment either. He does, simply because he is your husband.

There are some great things being written about how we treat our husbands lately. Go here to read a wealth of information on honoring your husband.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What Was That I Was Saying About Friday Nights?

What was that I said? Fridays are wonderful and all that?

Well, I forgot about one kind of Friday night that is not fun.

That is the kind where you spend 6 1/2 hours at the emergency room with your 3 year old who has broken her arm.

That's not my favorite kind.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Nights (A Look Back in Time)

Friday nights were never anything particularly special when I was growing up. It was the night before all the cleaning began. (Saturday was cleaning day around our house.) The first time I remember Friday being special was when I was between 10-12 years old. My biggest sister was dating a guy from church who played on the church softball team. Their games were on Fridays. Our middle sister was also a teenager by that point and mostly went along to the games to hang out with all the other cool teens.

I was torn. I was allowed to go to the church softball game with my sisters, which would have made me totally cool. But, The Dukes of Hazzard came on at 7:00. What to do? Yes, I stayed home to watch the best show ever with my parents and we totally enjoyed it. Friday nights were terribly exciting!

When I got a little older, the junior high group at church would sometimes have lock-ins at church. A lock-in is when you stay all night at the church. You get pizza, play games, watch movies, eat snacks, and stay up all night making a terrible nuisance of yourself to the poor, tired adult sponsors. It was great fun, but I greatly suffered the next day. Other kids in the junior high group got to go home and sleep until noon after such an event. But not me. Oh no, I was greeted by a grumpy boss shoving a vacuum cleaner at me. OK, the boss was my oldest sister. We all vacuumed our church building on Saturdays for years. We made like $40 a week, which to an 8th grader back then was big money! There is no suffering like staying up all night only to fall asleep on a pew at 6:30 in the morning and then have to start vacuuming a few hours later. With a mean boss. And no union rep.

When I was 16, I was dating my (now) husband. When I started dating S. my parents said, "Be home by midnight." Obviously they liked him, because a midnight curfew had been unheard of before then. The thought of staying OUT until 10:00 or 12:00 is amazing to us now.

But while we were dating in high school, Friday nights were very busy. S. and I both had jobs and then had to go home and get ready. It took a full hour and 1/2 to shower, choose the right outfit, beg my mom to iron it, poof up my hair and bangs, apply makeup, and be ready to go. We had a lot of fun, but don't think it was all dinner and movies. We spent just as many nights sitting on the Flagship Pier on Galveston Island fishing, or playing basketball. Obviously I was in love.

My freshman year of college, Friday nights were spent driving home to see S. or waiting for him to drive up there to see me. (It was only an hour 1/2 away.) Actually, my classes let out at noon and that's when I usually hit the road. I missed him so badly all week and couldn't wait to get home for the weekend. Gas prices were not what they are now.

For the remainder of college, S. was in the Navy. These were the saddest Friday nights ever. I worked at a daycare in my college town and by the time I got off work at 5:30, mostly everyone was gone for the weekend. I rushed home as fast as I could because staying in that apartment by myself was unheard of. Even though home was sad too. I spent my time going places with my sisters, or friends, or maybe just writing letters to S. Oh, and sitting home waiting for his phone calls. This was before e-mail or cell phones people. The best technology we had was that little feature on your phone where you could have your calls ring at a friend's house. I did that a lot so I could still go do something and not miss S.'s call. Other weekends we all stayed up at college and had fun. I did have fun. But I missed him so much.

S. got out of the Navy six months after we were married. For months, maybe even years, my heart would just leap for joy when I rounded the corner and saw his truck there. Just having him home was so wonderful, I didn't care what we did. And now of course, we have kids. And we don't do much that most people would consider wonderful. But I know better.

Friday has always been one of my favorite nights. And now I get to share them with S. and 2 beautiful little girls.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It May Get Worse Before It Gets Better

After my discouraging day a few days ago, I decided to just relax a little. I appreciated all the thoughtful comments, by the way. So I am not Super-Wife, Super-Mom, or Super-Housekeeper. But I want my family to be happy! So I have been enjoying my girls these past few days. The house is a wreck. I didn't even cook the last 2 nights. I can't go on like this every day, but we sure have enjoyed our days a lot more.

I also have been working on the house a bit. I love decorating and looking for things for our home. It's totally frivolous and for a few years I have not done it. I always bargain shop, though, when I decorate. Yesterday, a local craft store had so much stuff for 50% off that I just couldn't pass them up! Now I have several little projects like recovering a lamp shade for Little Bit's room, painting some letters for her wall, and sewing a duvet cover for Sweetheart. I figure the summertime is the time to pour my energies into these type of things. And our home will be much more beautiful because of it. My sister and I are painting Sweetheart's room tomorrow, too.

I was trying so hard to be someone my daughters could emulate. Now I see they would much rather see a Mommy humming while she works on something around the house and stopping to smile at them every now and then than a Mommy who is barking orders and frowning because of all the things she has to do. So, lesson learned.

Tonight everyone went to bed happy and loved. There are stacks of books lining the hallway (in preparation for tomorrow's painting), craft projects on the kitchen table, quilts all over the couch, and wet swimsuits hanging up to dry in the bathroom. Evidence of a good day.

So, to my husband: I promise I will get the house back in order. I'm working on it. But since I'm working on me at the same time, it may take a little longer. Just warning you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

If It Weren't For All This Technology!

I hit the wall last night. I was frustrated because the kitchen was a complete mess after I had worked so hard to clean it perfectly just a few hours before and a certain 3 year old was trying my patience. I have been home full time for 3 weeks now. And it is a lot to adjust to.

I'm sure those of you who have always been home cannot relate. Some moms quit working the minute they found out they were pregnant. Others have never worked outside the home. I am not one of those mothers. I am 36 years old. I have 2 children. We have been married for 14 years next week.

Yet I feel like I'm just starting out.

And then there are these moms who seem to just breeze through their days with 10 children who are all homeschooled, can their own vegetables, sew all their family's clothing, rise early to have personal devotional time each morning and write as though they love every single minute of it.

I realize they could be lying! :) I have never once thought, "Man, I wish I could be like that." But I think that deep down I wished for something they have that I percieve myself to not have. My husband asked me last night while we were talking, "Just what is your standard?" And it hit me this morning...it's pretty darn high. I never really thought these things out, mind you. They were just sort of rattling around in the back of my mind. All these picture of godly women who seem to excel at being wives, mothers, housekeepers...these were in the back of my mind.

You realize that if I didn't have access to the internet I wouldn't know anything about families like this. And yet I am so glad that I do. These godly women have raised my standard in a good way. Now I just have to find the balance.

I never dreamed I would be home. I never saw myself as a "homemaker." I never thought we would be homeschooling. So I am trying to fit myself into these new roles and it's giving me a little bit of trouble. My husband, too, is at a brand-new job where with a lot of responsibility. Add to that the weight of being the only source of income for our family, and you've got a lot of stress between us.

So today I am wandering around doing those things that need to be done and asking the Lord,
"How do you want OUR family to be?"

What kind of family will we be? How will my home look? What kind of homeschool will we have?What kind of mom am I? No, I don't think it's just all up to us how we want to be. I think there is a standard and it's found in God's word. But surely there is room for our individual personalities, preferences, likes and dislikes, etc. I just have to figure out how this all works.

For something that is supposed to come so naturally, this sure is hard sometimes!

Man! Do I need to shut-up and just go fold the clothes already or what?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Strength of Home

I talked with a friend this weekend. Her boys are 22 and 17. I have known them their whole lives. I watched her with them when they were younger. Her older son has brought her a lot of pain lately. He is not living his life the way she would have hoped. Without getting into details, he is making a lot of mistakes. A lot.

I get worried when I see children turn out this way. Could he come back and turn his life around? Of course. Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son? The teenage years used to seem SO far off that I couldn't worry about them. But now I do. I fear for my children to grow up and turn away from that which they have been taught. I am more aware each day that the decisions I make now will make an impact later in their lives.

I have been working on "tying strings of fellowship" with my daughters. I have been working on training and being consistent. (See here for more information--boy am I glad I read this book!) No one was out of control, but there is room for improvement! We make conscious decisions of what our girls are exposed to. And when they are exposed to it. And what we will tell them when they run across things that are not of God. We must prepare them. They must be prepared to be godly women, to be wives, mothers, and to stand firm in the faith. There is SO MUCH that they need before we are ready to turn them out on their own.

Will it be enough?

At the end of their time in our home, will we have supplied them with what they need to live a godly life? With all the other influences warring against our efforts every day, can what this home provides counteract all of that? How can I prepare them enough, protect them enough, teach them enough to be assured that they will be ready when they are grown?
How strong is the influence of home? I don't know, but thankfully, God is stronger. We will rely on Him.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Just Some Things Before We Go

The girls and I are heading out of town this morning (in the rain) for a few days. There will be (*GASP*) no internet connection where we are going. Well, actually there is one aunt with internet connection, but she really doesn't like it. She has learned to check her e-mail and that is about it. Maybe I can sneak over there to check mine. A few things before we go:
  • I finally ordered To Train Up a Child. I don't know why I hesitated to order this book for so long. Probably because I read some of the controversy over it. Or maybe because when I first heard about it, I only had an ultra-compliant 5 year old and a 1 year old, who had not yet shown her true personality! I am glad I got it. I finished reading it last night. Now we have some work to do. I was very convicted about how I had been handling some things. Also, I finally understand about tying "strings of fellowship" with your children. The whole picture is starting to come together. I hope to see the fruit of all this soon, but I'm afraid 3 days with grandparents, aunts, great-aunts, and cousins is probably not the best training ground!
  • Also, I am having this little dilema over homeschooling. When I first started reading about homeschooling over a year ago, every book was terribly slanted towards unschooling. Curriculum is evil and all that. But time spent on a Yahoo group that I am a part of, as well as blogs I've read, convinced me that there are lots of people who use curriculum and it's OK. I know there are different methods, but to read most of these books you would think that no one ever sat their child down at the kitchen table to work. I don't plan to spend every waking minute at the table. I know that learning happens in lots of ways and that's the beauty of homeschooling. I respect the Pearl family and when I read their take on homeschooling, I understand what they are saying. But my daughter and I, we both love school. I'm not saying I loved public school--I am very glad she is no longer there--but we love school supplies and workbooks and crisp, clean writing paper, etc. Sitting down to do lessons is not a terrible experience for her. I know, I know. You are all going to say that we have to find what works best for our family. And I know we will.
  • Lastly, can training and teaching at home override other influences? Say your children are exposed every week to something you do not agree with. If you teach them at home what you believe, will it all turn out OK? Or will the influence of seeing the wrong thing every week be too strong of a force?

See you in a few days!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Raising Girls--The Future Is Now

At our house our interests are not divided. We are raising 2 girls. If we were raising some girls and some boys then our parenting would differ for each gender. They would not be treated the same. However, mindful that every decision we make for 7 year old Sweetheart is setting a precedent for 3 year old Little Bit, (of course taking into account their different personalities) we have to really think things through. But the fact of the matter is we only have around 8 years of parenting experience. I often look around at families whose children are older in order to think through some decisions long before we have to make them.

Families come up with all kinds of rules, just as they did in my family growing up. There was a certain age when we were allowed to shave our legs. There was a certain age when we were allowed to date. When to begin wearing hose and heels had to be thought through. (To think I ever looked forward to that!) You better believe if I got to do something early--my 2 older sisters would point that right out! We watch the parents in our youth group make decisions about when their children can date. Can they hold hands at church? Is her outfit appropriate? Will he be allowed to go see this movie or that concert?

As I've said before, looking around at other families kind of helps you make some decisions. Either about how you want to do things--or about how you will NOT do things. I have to be very careful with this method, however, because I want to be sure to base our decisions not on those around us, but on God's word. Yesterday I stumbled on another example of that.

I was looking at The Modesty Survey. This was a very interesting survey to me because it took specific examples from today's styles and made statements about them. Respondents were Christian males of all ages and varied backgrounds. Statements such as: It is immodest for a girl to expose her legs up to mid-thigh. (64.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed.) I think every young teenage Christian girl should sit down and go over the results of this survey with her parents. It is very eye-opening to know what things are stumbling blocks for guys. Honestly when I was younger half of this stuff would not have even occurred to me. It is a very interesting survey.

However, I cannot make decisions about my modesty or my daughters' modesty based on this survey without holding it up against God's word. These are things I cannot hold off on thinking about. Teaching my girls now what's appropriate, when they are much more willing to listen, will really help things later. So I have to decide: if shorts a certain length will not be OK when they are teenagers or older, should they really be wearing them that short now? (They aren't, but that was a recent development.) The point is, these "future decisions" that we face making really can't wait. Even if we change our minds later, we need to have thought out and studied on these matters long before our daughters get to the age when we have to proclaim our decisions.

So I can no longer sit around saying, "Boy! I'm glad I have X amount of years until our kids are ready for _________." We need to know now how we plan to raise them and how we plan to get them to where they need to be.

Oh, and by the way...Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Standing Out

Friday night my daughters and I went to eat at a popular local restaurant for supper. While we were there another family was sitting next to us. This family had chosen an "alternative lifestyle" shall we say? It took me a while to decide what sex of person I was looking at. Walking out, a group of young teenage girls were walking into the restaurant. They were dressed in popular, current, trendy teenage clothing. (Read: immodest)

All these sights got me thinking on the way home. How do others see our family? Do we stand out? Do they know we love the Lord? How would they know that?

So I got out my Bible and started looking up verses. It occured to me that there are two ways that my family and I should stand out.

1. By sight only (Those who see us say, out at a restaurant, but never listen or talk to us.)
2. By our words and deeds. (Those who not only see us, but hear us and watch us in action.)

Tonight I want to talk about the first one: how we stand out to those who only see and observe us. This would include a lot of factors. Our dress, our facial expressions, our gestures, the places we are, the activities we are involved in, and even how we react to those around us.

What does the Bible say about all this? Without getting into extensive Biblical commentary on each of these points (like I could anyway, HA!) here are some thoughts. In 1 Timothy 2 there are some thoughts on our dress:

9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

In 1 Corinthians 11 there are some thoughts on our hair. A snippet:

14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

OK, so our physical apprearance should differ from what we see in the world. But do non-Christians sometimes have long hair and wear modest clothing? Sure! That's why that really isn't enough. What else might a casual observer of us or of our families see? Here is a verse about our actions:

12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
I found so much information, in fact, that I just started making some columns. Folks, God's word has so much to say on this it's crazy! Why haven't I ever thought before to study this? It's very important how others see us! It is our witness to the world. Here are the verses I have looked at so far: Galatians 5:19 and following and Ephesians 4:17-5:17.

I want to keep studying this. Specifically how we should appear to those who observe us. Any thoughts? I could use the help! Feel free to comment.

One last thought: we are so concerned these days with making the "lost" not feel uncomfortable (being politically correct has bled WAY over into church) that we find ourselves blending in with the world. But shouldn't we stand out?