Monday, January 23, 2017

Raising My Girls to Stand All On Their Own

The "Women's March"  was held this week.   As I read signs that were held up by so many of the women, my heart breaks at the state we are in.  Talk about a different worldview.

When I first heard about this march, my first understanding was that it was going to be inclusive and represent all women, and its purpose was to spread awareness of real problems that women are facing today.  I didn't have high hopes for this march, but I was honestly surprised by what I saw.

So many of the signs I saw were vile, vulgar, and intensely prideful.  It was heart-wrenching and made my stomach ache.  These poor fools with their signs full of anger, hatred, and flat out lies.  I saw many signs that were proclaiming that it is women that rule the world, that men are now second to women, and that the patriarchy needs to be smashed. Whatever that means.

They talk about how important it is to understand America's "women's rights history", though their own understanding is completely skewed by a narrative that is completely different from the original feminists in this country.

There were even signs blaming other women for their problems and, to my absolute dismay, blaming the very babies that they are going to murder.

99% of women participating in this march are women that promote the idea that their own worth comes from their mother, rather than the One who created them.  That is something I won't ever be able to get behind.  If your mother decides a few weeks before you are born, even after you are born, that you are not worth her time and affection, you can be murdered.   Your opinions on your own life do not matter.  Not only that, but then the mother is to be celebrated for her bravery and willingness to think of herself first.

There were hundreds of these signs and so many of them proved one thing:  these women care way, way, way too much about themselves.  The popular Maybelline slogan, "You're Worth It", has worked its way into their mentality and there is nothing you can do or say to stop them from doing what they want with their lives, bodies, and souls, no matter how much it damages them in the end.

The fact that so many women have gone from understanding that abortion is murder to suddenly proclaiming that it is a woman's right, is proof in itself that their argument is severely lacking. Science never changed. The science still says that there is a heartbeat and therefore, there is a life.  This means that there will never be a firm foundation for them to stand on.  This argument will come crumbling down in the coming years, and someday they will be ashamed to tell their grandchildren that yes, they did support the murder of children for the sake of their inconvenience.

I pray that my girls will live in a time where this happens.  When woman are truly taken care of and abortion has been completely eradicated.  When women realize that men are not the enemy.  When women can finally accept the fact that men and women are complimentary to each other.   When women realize that the only solution to changing deceitful and harmful men is in fact, Jesus.  Only He has the power to change the hearts and minds of sinful men.  The love of Christ can and will make a difference.  All the yelling, screaming, and name-calling in the world is not going to change those men.   The revival of the gospel is the ONLY way to change a society, without it, the society fails. Just as so, when men are no longer living under God's authority, when there is no standard to which they hold themselves to, they will fail.  These men are failing because they are living according to their own standards, and that is where sin runs rampant.  Anything goes when you live by your own standard.

Quite frankly, and I am speaking to women here, I'm baffled that one could think that the government or any man-made societal change could possibly have any effect on things like rape, sex trade, pornography, and so on.  There is a reason the Bible talks so much about purity.  It's not to deprive nations of pleasure, it is to save them from their own deceitfulness.

I want to be clear here that I am not blaming women for the actions of men, I am calling out women for not respecting themselves and giving fuel to the very fire that they are trying to put out.

If you don't want a culture full sexual predators, quit promoting a sex-obsessed culture.  Quit taking off all your clothes and dancing like you're in a porno on New Years Rockin' Eve.  Quit listening to the hate-filled, over sexualized music of Beyonce and Jay Z.   Stop promoting male celebrities that joyfully express their mistreatment of women, and quit celebrating the female celebrities that have repeatedly admitted many shameful sexual acts towards men.  Stop watching the movies without substance, that scream nothing other than "sex sells".  By promoting these things you are only promoting the objectivity of women more and more.   You've turned yourself into an object instead of a human being that is to be cherished. It is true, you reap what you sow.   Instead of flaunting yourself for the attention and pleasure of others, respect yourself and set an example for the young ladies in this world.  Teach young women that their bodies and minds are worth protecting!

As it stands now, my girls are going to grow up being fed lie after lie after lie about womanhood.  It is my job to combat these lies with truth that can only be found by those who seek it.  It is my job to teach them how to stand on their own two feet, and to never follow the crowd.

I can't make the decision to follow Christ for my girls.  That is entirely up to them.  I can only teach them what I believe, and what I have learned over the years.   But here is the thing: I really believe what I believe.

While I would love for my children to follow in my footsteps, I know that God is in complete control of this.   He will lead them to Himself if that is what is to happen.  I have complete faith that no matter what happens God will work everything together for the good of those who love him.  And I do love Him, and I intend to continue loving Him for the rest of my life.

I believe God is love, and God is good all the time.  I will not be afraid of what may happen to my children's hearts and souls, I will instead have faith that God is faithful and just.  I choose to trust Him, because any alternative is completely futile.

I am fully committed to doing just as God has instructed me to do with these children:  Teach them in His ways.

These are just some of the things that I plan to teach my girls as they grow:

Life is not only about you and your feelings.

Love must always win out over your feelings.

Love is not a feeling, it is something that you do.

Trials are going to happen.  How you react to those trials matters deeply.

Your virtue affects your entire life and beyond.

Study the Bible to glean truth from God himself.

Study the Bible to fully understand its origins.

There is such a thing as absolute truth.  Truth is not relative.  If it was, all existence would be complete chaos.

The universe is ordered, not chaotic.   You were created with that same order and design, from the moment you came into existence.

The biggest lies are often disguised as truth or created out of partial truths.  Be extremely cautious with your affections and beliefs.

Discernment is essential.  Never take anything as fact without a thorough understanding of the source.

Study history to the very best of your ability. Knowing where we've been before will prevent you from making the same mistakes again and give you something useful to keep you afloat when defending yourself against constant crashing waves of a willfully ignorant society.

Read a LOT of books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Never read textbooks.

If you want to understand how the world works, go to God, the source of all knowledge, first.  Then, go directly to the sources of the scientific advancements in history.  Read the writings of Hippocrates, Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Archemidis, Copernicus, and other modern scientists and scientific papers as well.  Read as many original writings as you can find.  Read "Darwin's Origins of Species", not what people and textbooks say about it.

People love to say whatever is on their mind, whether or not they know it to be true or not.  Don't be one of those people.  :-)  Think well before you speak.

Your worth comes through Christ.  He is the only rock, the only foundation, that will ever offer you true stability in this life.

Be confident in what you know, but be humble enough to admit when you are wrong or that you have been deceived.

When dealing with the obvious, critical truths, don't let your faith waiver.  Uncertain people will say all sorts of things to try to shake you.  In that case just walk away, pray, and be confident that God's got this.

Serving others is the only true way to better yourself.  Devote your life to serving others and you will find joy.

It doesn't matter what another person believes, or how much they try to deny you from living out your faith.  You must love always.  Be kind and gracious.  Show mercy, even while they throw stones.

Never stop learning.

Never stop striving to improve your walk with God.

Men and women were created by God to serve each other in a way that only He could have ever designed, and it is absolutely beautiful.

There is nothing to fear when you are in Christ.

Stand up for what you know to be true.

Stand on your own.

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Turning Thirty-Two

I remember how I felt when I was about to turn twenty-two.  All birthdays up until that one were fairly significant, but twenty-two was the first year that I felt like adulthood had finally crept up on me.   At that age I was recently married and found out I was expecting my first baby!  I cherished my twenties.  I always remembered hearing my Mom say though, "The thirties were the best."   I have since heard that from many others, and since I turned 30 in 2015 I have seen this in my own life.

I was reading a book a couple weeks ago and had to laugh when I came across this paragraph.

"I start my monologue, the same one I did in the Showcase.  Over and over in the play, my character says, "I'm thirty-two years old," as if that should explain everything that's wrong in her life.   I don't know what it's like to be thirty-two, but I can imagine. I imagine that she means she's stuck in an in-between time, she's at an age that isn't a milestone but more of a no-man's-land, an age where she's feeling like her hopes are fading."  - Frances Banks (character from Lauren Graham's novel, 'Someday, Someday Maybe') 

I laughed because this is not me at all.   In fact, the only time I ever felt like that was when I was turning twenty-two.   That was my in-between time.  I felt lost.  I had all these desires to do so many things, but no real way of accomplishing those things.  I wanted to help and serve and encourage, but everything seemed to just be at a stand-still.

Thankfully, after my first daughter was born when I was 23 things began to change for me.  At around 24 or 25 those fears that I had had began to dissolve when my daughter started to interact with me and I finally faced the reality that this little being was going to grow into an adult, and it was going to happen much faster than I ever anticipated.   I suddenly realized that I never was lost, and I started seeing all of the ways that God had been preparing me for this my entire life.  It was truly incredible when I began to piece these things together.

I had a real job to do that was so significant that no other job could compare to it.

Fast forward to now...

I am the happiest and most content with my life than I have ever been.  At least since I was about 8 years old. ;-)  Not much can top being 8 years old.

Everything about my life is exactly as I dreamed it would be.

I am married to a wonderful man who loves me dearly. This year we will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary!

I have not one, not two, but THREE amazing daughters.   I can honestly tell you that I never thought I would ever really have children.  I didn't think it would ever happen, just as I didn't expect to ever be married.  I always thought, though, that if I ever did get married and have kids, I had hoped that I would one day have a daughter.   God has blessed me with THREE of them.  These girls are my world.  They are the reason for so much of what I do on a daily basis.

I seriously have my dream life! 

I am sometimes saddened when I realize how so much of our society thinks that I have chosen to waste my life by not working full time and aiming to better my own "career". I know it's just ignorance, but the fact is that God has given me a beautiful life that I do not deserve. Everything about what I have right now is because of Him, and there is no other way to explain it. It's a dream come true.

When I was a teenager, God gave me the desire to know Him (not just about Him). It was through this faith in the reality of Christ that I fully began to see life from an eternal perspective. Making intentional decisions about my life became something that I did with ease. I had no fear of what other people would think.

And my choices have been extremely intentional. Nothing was accidental, decided for me, or chosen as a "last resort". When I was twenty I became FULLY aware of how fragile life is. My mom dying young had an enormous effect on my views on life.  When I made decisions like choosing to not to date just anybody that came along,  to save my first kiss for my husband, to not continue college, and to not work full time, it had absolutely nothing to do with something I had been told to do or was forced to do, they were things I decided to do for the sake of my own walk with Christ.  Through God's leading, I intentionally chose the "jobs" that I felt were the most helpful to others and worthy of pouring my time and efforts into.  

My desire for life, after age 20, was for nothing more than to devote all of my time to serving Him and serving all of the people around me.  In that respect, really nothing has changed.  I still have the same desires, and I continue to aim for less of me and more of Him.  

As a result of all of these decisions that God led me through, this is where I am now.  And I am loving every bit of it. 

  1. Most of the time, I am home with my family.  I get to do all of my favorite things: create a beautiful living space, organize, discover new ways to better the functionality of the household, learn new things every single day,  make good use of our resources, spend tons of time with my kids, read to my kids, teach them, provide them with much-needed life skills.  Working to serve my family on a daily basis is by far the most enriching and beautiful part of my life on this side of heaven.  
  2. I am a teacher.   I get to teach my own kids!!! How incredible is that?!  It's such an amazing blessing to be able to do this.  Right now I have this wonderful opportunity to learn with my kids and be present when they learn how to read, how to multiply, and how to write. Not only do I get to teach my own kids, but I get the opportunity to teach two different groups of amazing kids each week on Mondays (Classical Conversations) and Fridays (Living Legacy Academy).  
  3. I am a photographer.  I get to spend a couple months out of the year photographing families, children, and special events.  Photographing for me is much like painting.  It is an art that I thoroughly enjoy and take every opportunity I can get to do it.   My website is down right now so I can't link to it but I will have it up and running by spring! 
  4. I am a writer.   For the past 7 years, I have had the opportunity to write monthly articles for a local magazine called Hood Magazine.  I have also earned a little extra income through blogging over the past 8 years. This allows me to share my faith, to express and organize my thoughts, to clear my head, to encourage others, to teach, and so many more things! 
  5. I am finally doing something to combat cancer.   If you did not already know this, my mother passed away from cancer in 2005.  Several of my family members and friends have fought the disease as well.  Cancer is a major threat and there are many, MANY different types and causes. There is so much "research" out there that is just not helpful in any way.  Most of what you will find on the internet does next to nothing to fight this disease.  So aside from finding ways to aid the the real work being done to find cures, there is not a lot we can do to fight it. The little that we CAN do though, is something I believe we all should do.  That is to eliminate the harmful chemicals out of our home to the very best of our ability.  There is no way to truly live free of these harmful chemicals, but you can help yourself and your family just by changing the way you think about these things. Through Norwex, I now have the chance to help improve the quality of life of my friends and family members through teaching the many ways to clean and run their household without harmful cancer-causing chemicals.   It is my desire that everyone would throw out all of the junk and gunk that is filling the air and dust in their home, making them even more susceptible to illness, and just fill your home with things that you know are safe

This birthday was a good one.  I am looking forward to the future. I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of my 30's, my 40's, 50's, and so on.  I am so happy to be where I am right now.  I feel so completely blessed. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top 5 Reading Goals + Lists for 2017

I have four big goals this year.   

One of them is to read more often. 

I am SO excited about this list!  I estimated how much time I'd actually be able to devote to these books.  I don't know if I'll get through them all. This is my first time doing this sort of thing so I honestly have no idea of what I'm actually capable of.

Many of these books have been on my "to-read" list for many years already.   I chose books that would inspire me, encourage spiritual growth, educate me, and of course, entertain me. :-)  Some fiction, some non-fiction.  Some intended to be read on my own, others intended to be read aloud to the girls.  There are several audio books as well.  Most of these books were recommended to me by friends. There are a couple of authors on this list that are actually friends of mine, others are books by family members of one of my favorite authors.  I'm looking forward to reading every single one of these books! 

My Top 5 Reading Goals for 2017

1.   Complete year one of the 2-year Bible reading through YouVersion.
2.   Read aloud to the girls for at least 10 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.  I plan to use this year at a glance calendar from Read Aloud Revival to keep track of how many days we read.
3.   Read or listen to all of the books on my 2017 Book List.  This works out to about 3 books per month, 4 or 5 when including audio books).
4.   Read aloud the books to the girls from my 2017 Read-Alouds list.  (2 per month)
5.   Be consistent in encouraging my girls to read on their own and to each other on a daily basis.

Bible Reading:

ESV 2 Year Plan through YouVersion (We have a Facebook group with 10 of our friends that are also participating in this plan at the same time!).

2017 Book List (2-3 Per Month)

BOLD = Read
Italic = Currently Reading
  1. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis 
  2. The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis
  3. The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson
  4. The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson
  5. The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer
  6. Teaching from Rest - Sarah Mackenzie 
  7. Hogwarts Library 
  8. Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
  9. The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
  10. The Pursuit of God  by A.W. Tozer
  11. One Perfect Life by John MacArthur 
  12. The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman
  13. The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain 
  14. Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans 
  15. A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
  16. Because We Are by Ted Oswald 
  17. Early to Rise by Andy Traub 
  18. Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss
  19. Wordsmithy: Hot Tops for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson
  20. Concise Theology - J.I. Packer
  21. Elizabeth Prentiss - More Love to Thee by Sharon James
  22. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
  23. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 
  24.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
  25. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  26. Raising Grateful Children in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch 
  27. Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt 
  28. Theodor Seuss Geisel by Donald E. Pease
  29. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
  30. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham 
  31. The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease 
  32. The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials about Classical Education by Leigh Bortins 
  33. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic 
  34. Getting Started with Latin by William E. Linney
  35. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
  36.  Watership Down: A Novel by Richard Adams
  37.  Visual Theology by Tim Challies 

Audio Books (1-2 Per Month)
  1.  The Story of Western Science by Susan Wise Bauer (Audio | January-March)
  2.  Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies (Audio | February-March)
  3.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Audio | Mid-April) 
  4.  Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews (Audio | April)
  5.  The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gitwitz (Audio | April ) 
  6.  The Tempest  by William Shakespeare (Audio | April) 
  7.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Audio | May)
  8.  The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer (Audio | May)
  9. Anne of Green Gables by (Audio | May or June)
  10. The Wind in the Willows (Audio | May or June) 
  11.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (July)
  12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Audio | June/July Road Trip) 
  13. The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare (Audio | July)
  14. The Iliad by Homer (Audio | July or August) 
  15.  The Odyssey by Homer (Audio | September)
  16.  The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan (Audio | October) 
  17.  The Children's Book of America by William J. Bennett (Audio | September & October) 
  18.  Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (Audio | All Year) 
  19.  Foundations by R.C. Sproul (Audio | All Year)
  20. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (Audio - 67 hours!  I expect this one to take 2 or 3 years, and that is if I am very consistent in listening.)

2017 Read-Alouds (Goal: 2 Per Month)

BOLD = Read
Italic = Currently Reading
  1. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith (Audio and Read-Aloud)
  2. Ember Falls by S.D. Smith
  3. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  4. Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard: A Peter Nimble Adventure by Jonathan Auxier 
  5. Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt
  6. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre 
  7. The Wonderful O by James Thurber 
  8. The 13 Clocks by James Thurber 
  9. The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
  10. 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
  11. Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare 
  12. Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson
  13. Emily by Michael Bedard (Picture Book)
  14. All The Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlin 
  15. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlin 
  16. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  17. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale 
  18. The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley 
  19. Virtuous by Nancy Wilson 
  20. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater 
  21. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson
  22. Complete Fairy Tales & Stories by Hans Christian Andersen  (We'll at least read a few of the stories out of this.)
  23. The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
  24. The Aesop for Children by Aesop

Cycle 3 Related Reading:

Landmark Books:  The Landing of the Pilgrims, The American Revolution,  Meet George Washington, Meet Abraham Lincoln,  Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, The Pioneers Go West, and several others as we find them.
Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage
Little House on the Prairie
How the States Got Their Shapes  (Read book along with re-watching the show)

More coming soon.

...and picture books galore from the library.  :-D 

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