Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Looking Ahead Just a Bit

When I had a preschooler and a baby just a few years ago...this stuff could not have seemed farther in the future. But now that Sweetheart is a big 8 years old and Little Bit will be 4 next week...well, our family is changing a bit.

I've been thinking about having the talk about the body and all that involves with Sweetheart. It's not necessary yet, but it will come up VERY soon. Am I ready? Do I even know how to handle such a topic? It's going to open up a can of other topics too as she will surely begin to doubt her former theory that babies just spontaneously grow inside married women's tummies. She knows God makes them. She knows God opened and closed wombs in the Bible. She knows how they come out. It's just that she doesn't yet know that it, um, takes 2 to tango.

I read about this book earlier in the week. I want to see it in person, but it looks promising. I'm not even sure I want to use a book for this kind of stuff. I honestly don't know how people approach this stuff. A lot of my friends that I visit with often have children younger than mine. I do know that I want this information to come from us at home. And in a truthful, godly way.

And that led me to thinking about all the "rules" of our house in the future. When will they be allowed to shave? To wear make-up? To babysit? To go on "group outings" with mixed company? How will we handle the whole dating/not-dating/courtship/too much to even think about scene? I have to think about these things NOW. I cannot wait until they are upon us. (And yes, ALL of this will be discussed first and foremost with my husband. I'm just thinking out loud here.)

Can you tell I'm a little nervous? And I'm also a little miffed that I need to think about some of this right now. She's 8 for crying out loud!!!! Do girls really start shaving at age 9? Do they really wear make-up at 10? Do they really start liking boys and thinking about that all the time at 11? Is this what I want for my girls? Is there another way? Or am I kidding myself?
I mean, do I HAVE to have a tween? Or even a teenager for that matter? Didn't I read somewhere that "teenager" is a relatively new term? Back in the olden days you went from girlhood to young lady. Why can't we have that at our house? I need to read up more on that.

I'm not talking about forcing them to stay young and innocent and naive. I'm just talking about not accepting the world's standards (as usual-I'm second guessing everything lately!) or even the way other Christian families at my church handle things. I want to please the Lord in this area and study what His word has to say. I don't even know where to begin.

OK, my bloggy friends with older girls. I need some help here. Resources? Advice? Thoughts? You can comment or e-mail me!
Thanks so much. I'm done fretting now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Family That Plays Together...

S. has been playing golf seriously for a bit over a year. This is a relatively new sport in our household, although it's the sport I grew up with. Walk through our living room any evening and chances are the Golf Channel will be on. (At my Dad's house too!)

S. grew up playing football. He was 5 when he started and his mom had photo albums full of all the times he was in the paper growing up. He was quite good, apparently. He played football until his junior year of high school when he switched to basketball. That's when we started dating. We played basketball on dates, I watched him play basketball. He was quite good.

He never played baseball in his life but when he joined the church softball team one year, he had very little trouble picking up the game. Sports just seem to come easy to him. And that's why golf is giving him a little bit of grief. You see, he isn't in the percentage he wants to be.

What? Let me fill you in on my husband's percentage theory.

See, S. grew up fishing. His step-dad would take him salt water fishing on the piers all the time growing up. He also had 2 best friends who fished all the time with him. Come to think of it, when we weren't playing or watching basketball while dating, we were probably fishing. But that's a post for another day! Anyway, when it comes to fishing he just plain knows what he's doing. Whenever some tourist comes down to the pier with a way too big rod and reel and a shiny new tackle box you can just see S. shaking his head inside. So sad. Poor old 90 percenter. You see, 90% of the people don't know what they are doing when it comes to fishing. And the other 10% do. Can you guess which group S. believes he belongs to?

But he's been frustrated about golf. I finally figured out why.

"You're a 90 percenter when it comes to golf aren't you? And it's killing you!" He had to admit it was true. He cracks me up.

It probably doesn't help that he takes Sweetheart with him to the driving range with her new pink junior golf clubs and watches her hit an entire large bucket of balls straight as an arrow.

And she might not even appear to think about what she is doing. And it's also been reported she might twirl around in a circle after she swings just for fun. And yet? Her balls go straight every time.

That might add to the frustration, don't you think?

And the priceless part was the way she picked up a Golf Digest when they got home and sat down to peruse it, serious as she could be.
Happiness is not knowing what percentage you are in!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Waking Up in the Mission Field

My husband and I have always talked about being missionaries one day. When we were in high school we had the opportunity to see one of the Mercy Ships. That night we talked about how one day we would be missionaries together. S's mom had always told him that she thought he was destined for such a thing. Fine with me. I was just excited he included me in those plans! Ah, young love.

We still bring up the subject now and then. We have put off thinking about the whole thing whenever I was pregnant. We have decided to wait until they were older. We have thought about short-term mission work we could do with the kids. We know missionaries. We know former missionaries. We know people who grew up in missionary families. It's still in our plans for one day in the future.

When we bought our first house 2 years into marriage, I dreamt of raising our family there. We did end up moving into a nicer and newer house when I was pregnant with Sweetheart. So, then I pictured having teenagers in that house. I pictured hanging their graduation pictures on the wall at that house. I pictured them coming home from college to that house. I was set. We had a house and we would raise our family and gather belongings and everything would be great and comfortable.

Flash forward 7 years and find me packing again to move into this slightly smaller, much older house. I could care less what our house is like as long as I can make it into a nice home for my family. After all, one day we may be living in a hut in Africa!!! And? I will make that hut a wonderful home for my family. Being a homemaker doesn't mean buying a house and living the American dream. Being a homemaker means I can make a home for my family no matter where we find ourselves.

In line with that kind of thinking, I worked hard to downsize our belongings when we moved here. We can't just live and keep collecting stuff that we have to move and pack and take care of the rest of our lives! We need to be ready to serve the Lord. How can we be ready to go do His will if we are tied down to a house and stuff and debt, etc? Good thoughts. (In fact I think after living here 1 year it is time to de-clutter again!) I am absolutely convinced that going to do God's will is going to be an exciting time in our lives!

But what about when God says, "Stay"?

So we find ourselves in a mission field right now. Where we live, where we work, where we attend church---we are being called to serve. Right now. It isn't foreign. It isn't all that exotic. It isn't far away. Can this really be missionary work?

But we find ourselves in a position where we know some people who go to church but are not disciples. Some people who have heard the name of the Lord, but whose lives have not been changed or transformed. And some people that we would actually not choose to have our children spend time with. And in those respects, this is exactly like missionary work.

So my home....this home...for however long we live here, must be ready to serve the Lord. I must be ready to have people over. I must be ready to cook meals. I must be ready to share what we have. I must be ready for...things I cannot even imagine. I really can't.

Because I don't know what this "local missionary" thing looks like. But it sure feels nice to know we have the opportunity to serve the Lord RIGHT NOW and not sometime in the FUTURE. Instead of planning and dreaming of what might happen one day, we find ourselves here...right now.

May God use this family for His glory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Training...

Raising these daughters of ours is an on-going process. We are out of the diapers stage. We are all self-feeding (just working on the manners part). Everyone, for the most part, sleeps through the night. When I look back to just a few years ago it is amazing how independent everyone has become.

But I am not NEARLY finished raising them. They are very young and need guidance and constant watching. We have been involved with a homeschool play group this year and I have been SO impressed with the children's behavior. It is a very mixed group with children ranging from 1 month old to 18 years old. The first week we were there, the two oldest children arranged games for the other kids to play. I watched in amazement as older children stopped and helped younger ones tie shoes, as they all stopped playing to see if my daughter was OK when she fell, and just generally took care of each other. All the teenagers were involved with what the other children were doing, instead of hanging around the adults or sulking around in the corner that they even had to be there. MUCH different than what I'm used to seeing! I complimented one of the moms and she was quick to say, "Oh, our kids can be like any others. Just wait and see!"

Well, a few weeks later I am still impressed. However, last week a whole bunch of children were playing outside unsupervised. Sweetheart had been instructed, "Stay inside the fenced area." I went out and couldn't find her. When I finally did, I saw that they were pulling limbs off of trees and having a big "girls against boys war." It wasn't anything big, but they were all in areas they probably weren't supposed to be in, climbing on things they shouldn't be climbing on, hitting harder than they should have been, and tearing up young trees that did not belong to them. Supervised...none of that would have happened. I know it could have been much worse, but it just made me think that unsupervised, all children can start down wrong paths.

I'm not just homeschooling. I'm not just staying home with my kids. I'm not just keeping house. Every minute that they are awake I am training them. As a Christian, I understand the concept of training. The Bible talks about it. I have read excellent material on it. I am learning how to do it better every day. And it's not too hard to find examples of poor training if you look around.

This morning I watched a clip on the Duggar family. You can see the clip at A Wise Woman Builds Her House. Meredith Vieira of The Today Show is interviewing the Duggars in New York when she asks their oldest son, Joshua, a question. He gives his mom credit for training them well. "Training?" Meredith Vieira stammers. At the end of the interview, she compliments them saying, "You have trained them well."

The concept of training is strange to the world. I have heard all the "what do you think they are, dogs?" comments before. But the effect of good, godly training are obvious and it's hard to deny that it's good. Very good. All the years of training your children will pay off with the good fruit their lives produce.

And how can you train them if you are not with them? Just a question.

So, I will log off now because mine are awake. Have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

October Has Been So Much Fun!!!!

We started the month off by going to "the trailer." When we tore my grandmother's house down several years after she died, my parents bought a 2 bedroom trailer and parked it right where my Nanny's house had been. My aunts and cousins live in the same town and I have always greatly enjoyed going to visit. Now, even though they don't have grandparents who live out of town, my girls get the pleasure of visiting this same small town and staying at "the trailer." (When they tell people where we are going, we feel very classy. Why didn't we start off calling it "their country home"?)
The week we were up there, we happened to be studying cowboys. My parents added so much to our school fun! We made stick horses for the girls one afternoon and then my dad was in there making gauntlets and spurs and all sorts of things for them. Here are some shots of our cowboy cookout one night.

My mom and Sweetheart enjoying hamburgers and baked beans.

And Little Bit enjoying her cowboy supper.

While we were there, my cousin called and asked if the girls would enjoy helping her feed some baby goats. Would they?

Sweetheart loved every minute of this. Little Bit was a bit more unsure of these unpredictable baby goats. And there were dogs. And rusty things. And dirt. So naturally she was a bit uncomfortable. Have I mentioned she likes order and cleanliness?

And when we got home it was homeschool day at a local very fun museum type place. The tickets were cheap and we had a great time! Here are the girls enjoying our picnic. YES, that is a retention ditch behind them. There was a nice picnic area, but it was very far from our car and S wasn't there to carry the cooler and I saw other famlies doing this right by the parking lot, so we just followed suit.

Then we went on a little tram ride they offered. I wanted to capture the moment so I took a picture of the girls. Hey, wait a minute! I'm not going to be in any of these pictures. Sweetheart, will you take a picture of Little Bit and me?


Oh, now Little Bit wants to take one. OK--do you see Mommy and Sissy in that little screen? You do? OK, push the button!

And then a very kind girl behind us offered to take our picture.

Later, Sweetheart officially became a Brownie!

Last weekend, we attended a local pumpkin patch/fun type thing at a church nearby. Here is Grandma and the girls.

So far, this has been a really fun month! I never would have guessed how much time there would be to do fun things and still learn (maybe more than if they were in school!). I am a huge fan of homeschooling now. It feels like we are finally a family and our house is really a home instead of just a pit stop where we land each night.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Acronyms Are Making My Head Hurt

Up until now, these posts I've been writing about all the different Bibles out there have been "for your information" kind of posts. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I wanted to share what I learned when I was deciding what kind of Bible to buy for my daughters. I hope the information has helped someone.

But now, I am going to delve into different territory. This post is about my own quest to find out "what version should I read?" Now, first I had to wonder if there is one version that is the right one. Or, is there just a "best" version? God's word is inerrant, but surely all these different translations or versions contain the errors of the men who did the work of translation. After all these years, some people argue, how could there possibly be any version that is still as it was originally intended to be?

In this study of mine, I was curious about these folks who have been labeled "KJV only." I had heard my mom say that my grandmother would read nothing except the King James Version of the Bible, but I just chalked it up to an old woman who was set in her ways. Through the internet, I have discovered that that was most likely not the case. I have read various arguments about why the KJV is the only, the very word of God to English speaking people. I have gained a great respect for the KJV through this research, but I'm not sold. Maybe it's because I've never had an opportunity to ask questions and actually talk to someone with this belief. I'm still thinking on everything I've read.

I was raised using mostly the New International Version (NIV). To be honest, S and I have lost some respect for this version through our research. It remains the most comfortable one for me to use right now because I am very familiar with it. But not to worry, there are many others I can try! For example, I could try the ASV, CEV, ESV, NASB, NCV, NIrV, NKJV, NLT, The Message, TNIV, and on and on and on and on. It it enough to make one's head hurt, isn't it?

I can only imagine the task of wading through this as a seeker or new Christian! May I encourage anyone who has not already done so, to look into the background of the Bible you are reading? Just so YOU will know? There are other ways to choose a Bible version:

1. Ask someone you admire what they read.
2. Pick the one your preacher uses during his sermons.
3. Use what the majority of your church uses, so you can "follow along" easier.
4. Go the bookstore and pick the one you like.
5. Use the one you were given as a gift.
6. Use the one you've always used.

I have done a few of the above myself. But now I want to know more. I usually hear people say, "I prefer..." just before they list the name of the Bible they read. I understand, I really do. But shouldn't it be about more than my preference?

Obviously my earlier research made me cautious. Then I became very leery of The Message being used as "just a different version of the Bible." Have you heard the background of that book? It is a book, by the way. It was written by one man. Sure, he looked back at the Greek text when writing it, but still. When The Message first came out, it was touted as a paraphrase. Many older folks compared it to The Living Bible in the 70's. (Holy cow! You mean The Living Bible was a paraphrase, not a translation? I had the children's version of that growing up!) People enjoyed reading it because it brought some freshness to the scripture. But as the years wore on, it began ranking right up there with any other translation on the market. It's just one of many, many choices.

After hearing The Message used in sermons, we purchased an NIV/The Message parallel Bible. This Bible has both "versions" side by side on each page for easier comparing. And a whole lot of the time, I find The Message to be WAY off. But it's fresh all right, if that's what you are looking for.

I've already told you that we own just about every Bible under the sun (well, they are all in English!). When studying scripture, we don't hesitate to crack out many different versions to look at. I do believe the KJV to be one of the best, most reliable translations we have found. It is so difficult to read that we sometimes use the New King James Version. I know there are many who would disagree with that move. I am reading a few different versions right now. Trying them out--if you will.

There is really nothing to do but study for myself, and pray. If God can use handwriting on a wall, and even a donkey to speak to people...then surely there is an answer to this dilemma. It's just that now that I know more about some of what's out there--I feel this is a more important decision than I once realized.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Part 3--Those Pesky Little Pronouns

While I was researching Bibles...I ran across one other thing that concerned me. I have done my own research online and I have seen enough to be concerned. Now, I have no way of checking the quotes I have read or finding out if what I am seeing in articles and on various websites is fact or fiction. But I know enough to be concerned. And that is my whole reason for these posts: I want others to be concerned. Concerned enough to check the versions their children are reading. Concerned enough to pause and really look before they buy.

The item that came to my attention is the issue of gender-neutral Bibles. If you have not heard of this, then you are probably saying, "Huh? Gender what?" They have been called other things such as "inclusive," "gender inclusive," and "unisex language" Bibles.

The marks of these translations is that they have traded pronouns such as HE, HIM, or HIS for more neutral pronouns like THEY, THEM, THEIR or the second person YOU. That way, you see, no one is left out.

A quote from this very old article: "Pressure for unisex language came from women who, in the words of Mr. Walker, "felt left out" by the traditional language." Oh! I see. Women felt left out. Kind of like how you can't say stewardess anymore, but have to say flight attendant instead, right?

It's not just the pronouns, either. MAN, MEN, MANKIND is replaced by PEOPLE, SELF, HUMAN, MORTAL, etc. FATHER is changed to ANCESTOR or PARENTS. Wherever it used to say BROTHERS it now says BROTHERS AND SISTERS. What's the big deal? It's just a little word. It surely doesn't change the meaning of the text, right?

The big deal is that it is rooted in feminist influence. The problem is that I read how America wasn't ready for this new translation so it was printed in Europe instead. And then they found a way to get it printed here in America under the name NIrV (New International Reader's Version)--a children's Bible! And honestly, who sits down and reads their kid's Bible cover to cover? So who is going to notice something like this? Especially when we are so used to having to be gender inclusive in our everyday lives?

By the way, they did get the Bible printed a few years later under the name TNIV (Today's New International Version). I have looked at a copy of this translation, although we don't own one. There are websites which painstakingly list out verses that change meaning due to these "little changes." I don't have to list them here. Just Google it and see for yourself.

And if you understand the effects of feminism--then these types of Bibles are surely cause for concern. When God's intended roles for men and women are so blurred in our everyday lives, do we really need a Bible that helps us blur them even more?

Just my little words of caution.

Next time: The Acronyms Are Making My Head Hurt

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Part 2--You Sure Can't Judge By The Cover

If you haven't been to a Bible bookstore lately, then you may not be aware of the blitz of marketing going on in the Bible world. When I was child, I think Bibles were pretty much black. And if you were really fancy, the pages were edged in gold and maybe had those little finger tabs to help you find the books of the Bible easier. Or, maybe you had your name printed on the cover! Ooooh!

Not so anymore. Some of them are just so attractive! This one came with a free bracelet when it first hit the stores. Here is one in camo--just because. I loved this one when I first saw it. Here is a New Testament patterned after a teen magazine. Yes, it's really a New Testament.

It seems that buying a Bible for someone is very difficult these days. I mean, which KIND of Bible? Is it for a boy or a girl? (It matters.) For a college student or a "tween"? They've got one for everybody. What probably started out as trying to make those basic black covers more attractive (I prefer maroon, personally.) has bled into trying to make the inside of the Bible more attractive as well.

What do I mean? Well, just read the description that comes with this Bible marketed to teen girls:

"Do you ever feel that the Bible is "too big and freaky looking"? Are you ever too intimidated to read it? Revolve is for you. It's a Bible that looks like a fashion magazine! With this relevant format and over 500 further-study notes, you'll feel comfortable exploring the Scriptures. Features Include: Blabs (Q & A), 12 Month-Long Calendars, Love Notes from God, Issue articles, Basics of Christianity Articles, Quizzes, Beauty Secrets, Relationship articles, Devotional Reading Plans, and more!"

Oh, how I wish I were kidding.
I first stumbled on some reviews of the many teen Bibles online. In particular, I read about the NIV Teen Study Bible and really couldn't believe what I was reading. So when I saw one of the teens at church with the same Bible, I asked him if I could look at it. Buried in the pages of the Bible are some glossy pages with cool hip colors and graphics. Each page has an alternative definition on it of a certain word. The first edition had this: "Sex-(alternative definition) another fun thing mean adults tell teenagers to keep away from." I believe newer versions have different wording. His did, anyway. But what scared me about all this is that this is EXACTLY the Bible I would have picked for my teen! I have an NIV Study Bible and I use it all the time. Great! One for teens--I'll take it.
My point about the two Bible versions above is that you are not just handing your kids the word of God, but also some articles (written by whom?), quizzes (magazine style), beauty secrets, and lots and lots of information on dating and more. Much more.
The one that concerned me the most of all the Bibles I researched was the NIV True Images Bible for teen girls. I wouldn't report on something that I had not seen with my own eyes. After reading about this Bible online and this article, which you must at least glance over to believe, I met an 11 year old girl who owned this Bible. I saw the articles with my own eyes and let me just say that I think I learned a few things by reading them and I am in my 30's! It horrifies me to think of my daughter reading these articles, while her eyes and thoughts should be on the word of God!
I know these topics are real. I know teens daily face them. I am sure you could collect stories of girls who were helped by this Bible. But I just want parents (and grandparents, and anyone else who would buy a Bible as a gift) to be aware that when it comes to Bibles these days--you really better look between that beautiful cover and past all the freebies and cool stuff that come along with it--and read exactly what you are handing your children.
Because if you are like me*, you might not like what you see. And you may just go buy a really "boring" Bible and put it in a cute cover for your daughter's Christmas present.
Next up: Part 3--Oh, Those Bothersome Little Pronouns!
*And if you are not like me--you can dismiss all of this as my own opinions. I "warned" a friend and they didn't see anything wrong with the Bible their child had. So...feel free to disagree.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You Sure Can't Judge By the Cover

We kind of collect Bibles around our house. I tease my husband because he has so many different ones. S was formerly in the Navy and one time I saw a "SAILOR'S BIBLE" at the Bible bookstore. I immediately acted like I was breaking out in a cold sweat and shaking as I walked slowly toward the Bible that WE DON'T HAVE!!!! (My sense of humor--one of the many reasons he married me.)

For years we have kept all of our Bibles, except the ones we are currently carrying with us, on a shelf together. We jokingly refer to it as the "religious shelf." And you have to say that with a very pompous sounding voice, by the way. We do give Bibles away whenever needed. If someone comes to our house and we find out they don't have a Bible--you better believe they are going home with their choice from the religious shelf. It is painful to know that we freely have all these Bibles in our home and Christians in other countries are lucky to get their hands on a Bible at all. We would give all of them away if we could except one for our family. But which one would we choose to keep if we could have just one?

AH HA!! THAT is the point of this post! (You just knew I'd get around to it eventually, didn't you?)

Before I get too far into this, let me give you some background on our Bible experience growing up. We both grew up with a mixture of versions or translations in our homes. We also both grew up with grandmothers who read only the King James Version. Since S and I grew up at the same church, I would have to say that the main version or translation (I know there's a difference, but you are going to see me use those terms interchangeably) that we grew up using was the New International Version (NIV).

Now, if you are a new Christian or perhaps have never been to church, what I just said was a bunch of nonsense. Believe me, even as someone who grew up in church, I'm about to confuse myself!

I've heard different things about different versions over the years. The real trouble began for me when I had to buy Bibles for my children. We had a lovely little hard cover baby Bible both girls carried to church back when they still stuck everything in their mouth. I wanted them to get in the habit of bringing their Bible to church so this was the one I bought them. Slob didn't hurt it at all. From there they graduated to The Young Reader's Bible. I knew this was not a real Bible, but rather a Bible story book. So last year for Christmas, with Sweetheart being a reader and all, I decided I needed to purchase real Bibles for both girls.

And I was completely overwhelmed.
I sensed this was a very important decision and I began by visiting the Bible bookstore. Silly me.
There are hundreds and hundreds of Bibles to choose from. It is absolutely mind-boggling. I had no idea where to start.

Of course I was drawn to cute little things like this. But I was leery of purchasing cuteness over quality. And then there were some that were just cool in a weird sort of way. At the same time, S was involved in youth ministry so I decided to see what kind of Bibles the teens at church carried. For weeks I accosted the children and teens at church: Let me see your Bible. Who gave this to you? Your mom? Where did she buy it? Can I look at it for a minute?

And then of course I hit the internet. And what I found was very interesting, but it will have to wait for the next post.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Coming This Week...

It's Arthur Week around here! We are doing our first author study on Marc Brown this week. (We aren't calling it that--you try explaining an AUTHOR study on ARTHUR to a 2nd grader!) Sweetheart loves Arthur and always tries to catch it on PBS in the afternoons. It seems like we've read all the books, but I just read tonight that there are over 100 of them, not including the new chapter books, so I guess we have a few to go.

Arthur has been a favorite around here for several years. When Sweetheart was in 1st grade at public school they sent a note home about "character dress up day." Boy was I excited!! Here was the school that never did anything fun. We knew what Sweetheart would be immediately. My mom actually sewed the jumper for her with one week's notice. She's such a gem! So here was my own little D.W. on that day. (And on a side note: only 2 or 3 kids in her class dressed up and no one said a word about the costumes all day. Yeah, it was a blast.)

There is one sour note in our Arthur plans this week. Little Bit (3 years old) was traumatized by meeting Arthur at our local bookstore for storytime last year. Sweetheart has always enjoyed going to character storytimes. But then she has never been afraid of costumes. When she was 2 or 3, the babysitter dressed her up for me to pick up after work and rush over to the bank to get her picture made with the Easter Bunny. She knew where we were going. She marched into that bank with her little purse on her arm and said, "Where the Hop?" She looked around. Then, "Oh! There the Hop!" and proceeded to priss right over and climb up in his or her lap for a visit. So, character in costume are Sweetheart's friends.

But not so with the younger one. When I saw Arthur was coming to the bookstore we made plans to go. Little Bit even seemed excited. After all, Sissy watched Arthur every day on TV, so Little Bit knew all about him. I kind of forgot she's not a fan of the costumes. She had her back turned when Arthur came out and when she turned and saw him she ran to us, crying. Folks, he WAS big. His head was huge! Daddy rescued Little Bit and they left to go to another section of the store.

I thought that was it, but boy was I wrong. "Big Arthur" will probably never leave our conversations. We discuss how they took off the costume and probably put it in a box. Every time someone mentions Arthur she makes us clarify..."Little Arthur." Sweetheart gets in trouble for whispering "Big Arthur" when she wants her sister to leave her alone. And? The funniest was the day we used our little stuffed Arthur doll to terrorize the baby in her doll house. (Watch out baby! Big Arthur is coming!!!!) I thought Little Bit would fall down laughing. I had taken pictures of the costume from the bookstore and oh how I wish I could download them--but true to my word I deleted them after the unfortunate foxhole episode.

Little Bit was standing by me at the computer one day while I searched through pictures for something. "Big Arthur" suddenly popped up on the screen and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that she DOVE under the computer chair HEAD FIRST. Exactly as a soldier would dive into a foxhole. I promised deletion after I finally calmed her down and that is what I did. So, I have no pictures to show you.

I will be very careful this week to only study about "Little Arthur." AND--we will have fun!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Keepin' It Real

Bloggers have been accused of being fake on their blogs at times. We only show a certain part of ourselves to our readers and sometimes paint a nicer picture than is actually true.

I just wanted you, my readers, to know that here at The Family Revised we do not adhere to these false practices. I am all about being honest and real with you.

I'll prove it.

A while back I posted a picture of my living room. It was all clean and shiny and wonderful. Here's a reminder:

But I just want you to know that this is NOT an actual representation of our living room. Here is the stark reality of our lives when we have been running like chickens with our heads cut off for 2 weeks straight:

Making my readers feel better about their own houses. Just another service I provide here at my little blog.

Have a great day!

Why Don't I Just Do It Already?

Our family is undergoing some major changes. Good changes. Changes that have stretched and strengthened our faith. I have been willing to look twice at every single thing we do. Is it what God would have us do? Why do we do this? I have re-thought our dress, my relationship to my husband, my job--lots of things. Why? I want our family to be a godly family. I want to obey and please the Lord in everything.

There are several areas I'm thinking about right now, but for obvious reasons, Halloween is one of them. I've been discussing this with a friend lately who is also struggling with how her family has "always" done things. I told her my "plan" for not participating in Halloween. I told her my why. And then I told her my own personal "alternative" for this year. (Again, why do we need an alternative if there is nothing wrong with the real thing?)

So why can't I just drop it already???! Why can't I just say, "We are NOT participating in Halloween this year. Period."

Because leaving old ways is hard, that's why.

Is it because people will think I am strange? Do I care about that?
Is it because I don't want to "hurt" my children? Is that the best decision for them?
Is it because I don't want to hide myself away from the world? Am I afraid I will miss some great opportunity to share Christ?
Is it because I don't want to be "too" radical? I mean, if I just go and make some statement about how Halloween is evil, I will offend someone! (Gasp) So, we preface our statements with "For me..." or "Well, I felt the Lord convicting me..."But aren't' there some things that God holds ALL Christians to? Or do each of us have an individual plan from Him?

If I really believe that as a Christian, I should not participate in Halloween--then what exactly is the dilemma? And I'm not just talking about Halloween here. Anything that I have read and understood in God's word and need to obey--I should just do it already! Why the hesitation?
Holly, when talking about her own family's transformation, said it well when she said, "Every step that we took outside of the “norm” of our friends felt so lonely." It really is hard changing.
Will I feel the need to have alternatives when my children are old enough to date? Will I stick to my guns? Will I keep the girl's hair long if all the styles change to very short? I could go on and on. Will I continue to hesitate to obey God and His ways?

Here is some perspective:

I recently learned of a festival I had never heard of before. I won't be specific because I don't want to pop up on a Google search, but it happens in a large city in California each year. From what I read, police turn their heads as over 400,000 people walk around in various stages of dress, performing s*xu*l acts and celebrating certain f*tish*s. I literally COULD NOT BELIEVE it when I found out about this annual event. I even went to thinking the e-mail I had just received about it HAD to be a hoax. (Guess what? It wasn't. If you want to know the name of the event I'm talking about, just e-mail me.)

The point? OK. This festival disgusts me. I would NEVER participate in such a thing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it does not please the Lord.

Should I then think of an alternative so my family will not be left out? A little cleaner version, perhaps?

Certainly not! The very idea is crazy! So why is it so hard to separate from the world and start living by God's standards in every little thing? I know that is an extreme example, but...

...if it pleases God, shouldn't I jump to do it?
...if it does not please God, shouldn't I stay very far away?

What exactly is the dilemma here? I want to be bold enough to unapologetically live my life for Him.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live 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.
1 Peter 2:11-12

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's Just That It's In My Face All The Time

I am raising daughters. I have said it before: my interests are not divided. Raising boys is different. Raising a mixture of boys and girls is even more different. Both require different parenting. But in this house, we are raising only girls. And we are raising them to be godly women.

Having these girls has made me think about a lot of things over the last few years. I've had to think through modesty, dating, women's roles, college, homemaking skills, etc. Some of it is the here and now for us. Some of it looms on the horizon. But I want to be ready.

However, here is where we live...

We were at Wal-Mart a week or so ago. The girls and I had just rounded the corner with the shopping cart and S. was a few feet behind us. A lady stopped me and inquired if she could ask me a question. Her question was, "Have you heard of "god the mother?" (I think she would have capitalized that g, but I cannot.) I told her I had. She wanted to know where I had heard it. I told her I couldn't remember, but that I believed it was wrong. She held up her Bible and said that scripture talks about "god the mother" all over the place. Unfortunately for her, S. stepped up just then and asked her to show him where--where does it say that?

I say it was unfortunate for her, because if there is one thing I know about my husband--he LOVES to discuss scripture. He loves God's Word. And he knows it, too. We think she approached me because it seemed I was the mother of 2 girls, shopping all alone. Too bad for her.

S. motioned for us to go finish shopping and I gladly left him to debate with this misguided woman and the man standing silently behind her. Later I remembered, it was a friend from high school who liked to talk about "god the mother." I believe that the "appealing" part of this thinking is that it puts women in a more prominent position. You know, where they should be and all.

And then today we began learning about fire safety. I had printed a little sheet off the computer last night that showed all the gear a firefighter wears. You know, kids are scared when they see all that coming towards them during a fire, so they should be prepared. Well. When I handed the sheets to the girls to color I noticed that the firefighter was a woman. Hey, I know that there are thousands of women firefighters in this country, but it just annoyed me. Because I know the only reason they chose to put a woman instead of a man is to prove a point. It's like propaganda, I tell ya.

Then we went to the library where I selected several firefighter books from the non-fiction section. I didn't really bother to look at them before we headed home. How controversial could they be? Sweetheart really liked one book. It shows a female firefighter living in the fire house with the male firefighters, "getting" to do everything they do. She thought it looked like great fun and began talking about how she wanted to be a firefighter when she grew up. One picture even showed the woman sitting and lifting weights in between fires. "Whoa, Mom! It says '25' on the end of her weight!" Yeah. Good. This is the example I want for her. The very fact that the book includes lots of pics of the woman firefighter opens up the possibility in Sweetheart's mind that it could be her one day!

So what I'm saying is that feminism and feminist thinking is absolutely everywhere. We are saturated in it. It is even in the church. To an extreme with the woman at Wal-Mart, and to a lesser degree (subtler) in our churches. How do I raise daughters around these influences without them being influenced by it all?

Well, first of all I am assuming that feminism is bad. You might disagree, reader. To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time noticing feminist thinking because I am so used to it. I grew up in the 70's and 80's. I don't know any other way.

Except that when I read the Bible--I see something different.

Here is a quote from a site I found today on Women's History.

"Traditionally a middle-class girl in Western culture tended to learn from her mother's example that cooking, cleaning, and caring for children was the behavior expected of her when she grew up. Tests made in the 1960s showed that the scholastic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school. The major reason given was that the girls' own expectations declined because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood. This trend has been changing in recent decades."

So, I find myself feeling as though I'm trying to "return" to another time period. Some would feel that I am going backwards. I WANT my girls to believe that these things are expected of her when she grows up. I'm not so sure I want them to dream of careers. Is that wrong? Did she start thinking like this because of her years in public school? Is it just the swing of the proverbial pendulum?

I believe it is more. I am not looking to women's history to make up my mind about how I will raise my daughters. I am not looking at society or the world. I am not looking to any famous Christian authors. I strive to look at God's Word only. But it's difficult when this other is in our face all the time.

**Please don't read this post as an attack on female firefighters who could one day save my life. I know. They work hard. It isn't about them--it's just that I believe those pictures are included in the children's book very purposefully.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Back When I Had It All Together

We have reunited with our old Bible study friends lately. We, and our friends, are hungry to study God's Word and find not enough time to do it. So, we are trying to get together every other week to study. I have thoroughly been enjoying these times. We never know what direction our conversation will spin into and last week we didn't even get to the passage we had our Bibles opened to.

We were talking about submitting to husbands and how freeing it is when you finally get it. My friend asked me, "What made you finally understand the concept?" I told her that honestly, it started when I read Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl. Of course it was the Lord that spoke to my heart and helped me understand His truths, but that book was the beginning of newness around our house. I had just never heard it SAID like it's said in that book. She just lays it all out--no excuses. No tip-toeing around hard truths. I told my friend she could borrow my copy when I got it back from my sister. She asked me when I had read the book. I thought and told her, "Well, it must have been within the last year because I read it at this house and we've only lived here a year." Thinking back, I now remember ordering and reading it at our old house--but still, it's been within the last 2 years that I read it.

"Really?" she asked, incredulous.
"Um, yeah. Why?"
"Because I thought you had all this figured out a long time ago. You certainly acted like it."

Hmmm. So she thought that I was submissive to my husband, but I know better. How can that be?

At church we recently read the story of the "prodigal son". If you've grown up in church, this is a familiar parable to you. If not, take a minute to click the link and read it. It's short.

Now we all can see the sins of the wayward son. He dishonors his father by asking for his inheritance while his father is still alive, squanders the wealth, does everything he shouldn't do and end up in a pig pen. It's all very obvious.

But the other brother is a lesser character in this parable. Someone in our Bible class pointed out that although he was the "good son" and had stayed home doing what he ought--he also had some problems. When he found out his father was throwing a party for his no-good brother he was very unhappy. Although his actions had been correct, his attitude was not.

Ah. Two kinds of sin. One--obvious action. The other--not so obvious wrong attitude and heart covered up by right actions. And there was my answer. I may have looked like a submissive wife 10 years ago, but I most certainly had a wrong heart and attitude. I would not want anyone to know how ugly my thoughts could be back then.

As we all go about our tasks this week, we must remember to make sure that our actions AND our attitudes are proving to the world (and to our families) that we have been transformed. Because they both matter. They really do.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Hardest Thing To Tame...

Sweetheart and I read James 3 each day during Bible a few weeks ago. The repetition was good as on the fourth day she asked what a certain word meant. It took that many days for her to wonder. And what made no sense to her on the first reading, she could explain to me by Friday.

Oh, but reading and doing are two different things.

I have heard her tone of voice, not necessarily her choice of words, over and over this past week. It has not been pleasant. Most of the words were directed at her 3 year old sister, who can be enormously exasperating. I understand, and's not OK with me. Her tone of voice has even been out of whack when speaking to me lately. That is VERY not OK with me.

She is only eight years old. She is already eight years old. It all depends on how you look at it. Either way, it is my job to teach her God's ways.

Oh, and to be an example for her. (swallowing hard) Come to think of it, I seem to remember hearing this tone of voice before in a much older person who should know better and knows what all the words in those verses mean. Sigh. Why can't they imitate me when I'm doing things right?
So we will keep reading and studying verses about our tongues--ALL of us. I want the members of this family to look godly, but sound godly too. Our girls are at an advantage in that they have not learned to express themselves through curse words. (Sweetheart did tell me she knew a bad word the other day--the "s" word. Which turned out to be...shut-up. Oh I love her.) So, I am thankful for that. But how you say something is as important as what you say.

Do others hear love in your tone of voice? Wait...I need to personalize this: Do others hear love in MY tone of voice? Am I saying encouraging, edifying things? Am I slow to speak? Have I tamed my tongue? God's word has a lot to say about how we sound.