Sunday, April 29, 2012

Romans 8:28

This week, our church lost a member of our congregation.

Today we held a memorial service.

Wednesday night was mind-boggling and frightening. We could hear the sirens as our Pastor called us and asked us to pray. At that point, you could tell he was in shock, and it wasn't until his next call, about 10 minutes later, when we understood hat was actually going on. And at that point, it was to confirm that what he had seen was not only our friend being hit, but dying in his arms.

We don't know why he was on the road at that time of night. We don't know why he didn't call someone else for a ride, as he very often did. Contrary to the news story, he was not on his way home from church; he never made it there. We don't know why; he never, ever missed service, if he had to hitch a ride, call for a ride, pray for a ride, or walk there. This was the man who walked himself to the dump, with a grocery cart full of his trash, on a weekly basis, if he couldn't find someone with a truck to help him out.

We don't know why.

What we do know is that he told us, told the Lord over and over again that he would do anything to be in his service. And he did. Sometimes it was picking up trash, sometimes it was setting up the coffee table before service...he did whatever he could to help, the point of being in the way sometimes.

That was something that you heard a lot at the memorial service today. How often Don could be in the way. He was rather eccentric, having lived alone with his wolf dogs for many years, and he was rather omnipresent. Wherever you went in town, in church...there he was; walking, looking for a ride, or trying to find a way to help out, even if it meant he was a bit in the way sometimes.

So we don't know why he was on that road at that moment. He did have a knack for being in the way... his heart and mind was so focused on the Lord. Having nothing does that to you, just like the Bible says;
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:3-6

And he was. When Don had nothing, he had the Lord.
In his very last, very violent moments on Earth, he had the Lord and even the blessing of his Pastor at his side. It has been good for our church, to be reminded where our Pastor excels- at being there when people need help and comfort the most.

Our Father does not neglect his children.

We don't know why Don was there on the road when he was, in the way as he so often could be, well-intentioned as he was....but we are certain that just as usual, he was there, in the way, because of the Lord's leading in his life.

We are sad that he is gone from our midst, but we are overjoyed that he is with our Savior.

And when we think of why God had him there, in the path of that drunken driver, on a road where so many drunks have swerved before and never had to face the consequences of their actions...we are humbled, we are awed, and we are certain of the good work that the Lord is accomplishing through this  tragedy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Does Motherhood undermine me? What about you?

Katie Allison Granju, often referred to as one of the pillars of modern attachment parenting, wrote this post in response to another book that states that modern motherhood undermines women.

By modern motherhood, the original author, Elizabeth Badinter, apparently means of the attachment parenting variety.
Now, while I don't think of myself as an attachment parent, Badinter's clever title, ecological parent, does feel a bit more accurate. See, I don't believe in following any particular parenting philosophy, other than the Bible.
Our God created our bodies with certain purposes, rates of development, and natural processes. I like to pay attention to those things, to the elements he put around us in the world for caring for ourselves, and his idea of discipline ( as outlined in the Bible and in his own dealings with us). That later point is where I am most likely distinctively not an attachment parent.

However, Granju and I actually do differ on parenting, she does a wonderful job defending our position. Her article is worth reading.

One of the biggest issues for me is that modern "feminism" makes the assumption that we become mothers only as a secondary choice to being what we really want to be. The problem with that is that with modern feminism we were told that we were not only equal to men, but essentially the same as men. Equal and same really aren't the same thing. Two things can have equal value without being the exact two same things, with the same functions. Anyhow, now that we are equal to men ( and Biblically, we always long as you read what God planned, not what humans messed up)....we are essentially less as women.

Once upon a time, it was enough for a little girl to want to grow up to be a Mama. Go into a public school and ask a classroom full of children and see if any little girl would answer " what do you want to be when you grow up?" with " Mom, Mommy, Mama, etc." If she did, she would likely be asked " yes, but what else...what job do you want to do?"

One upon a time, if a girl wanted to be a mother, it really was seen as the highest of callings- that wasn't just a sentiment for Mother Day advertisements....

My Honey relayed a conversation he overheard at work yesterday. It made me feel dirty and ill for the rest of the evening. Two men in his office, one of  whom we like and respect, were talking about the new body parts they would love to get for their wives. Not things their wives had asked for....but things that would improve their own attraction to their wives...if you get my drift.
My husband turned around to look at them, apparently with a look of disgust on his face, and our his friend responded with something to the affect of " I know, I know...your marriage is perfect and happy and you will grow old together....but some of us need more."

Some of us need more ? Once upon a time, being the mother of his children was enough to make a woman invaluably beautiful to a man. Regardless of all of the temptations of men's flesh, the mother of his children was upon a pedestal- the source of his legacy. Today...well, the kids are cute...but I would really like it if on top of that she brought home a good salary, so we can have that second brand new car...and she had Victoria's Secret style breasts. Forget what those breasts were actually made for....
I felt ill all evening about those comments, not because my husband made them....but they made me feel as ugly and unwanted as they probably would have made those wives feel. To think that they gave their bodies totally to their husbands, to create healthy children for them....and all Hubby could think of was how it's just not good enough anymore. It belittles all of us.

 It's no longer good enough to be a mother, so we are no longer smart enough, no longer pretty enough, no longer capable enough.... if we choose to be mothers.

If we choose to be mothers, the modern mentality tells us that we will also have to be so much more...and even then, that won't even be enough.

So no, modern motherhood doesn't undermine women...the modern, unbiblical mentality surrounding us does.

Monday, April 23, 2012

So much to do, so little time....I think

 Any prayers that were lifted up for our church situation were dearly appreciated. For now, things seem to be resolved. There are some hurt feeling, but we all must keep in mind hat are real purpose is- glorifying God and reaching out to the lost. It's a young church, we are all growing, and we will see where God leads us.
 All three of the SoulFull babies, spontaneously, showed up 2 weeks early. I thought from early on that there was no way that it could possibly work out that way a fourth time....but I am starting to think that it just might. Everything seems to be progressing like it did with my other babies, and so...we will see. I am interested to see where my Mama's intuition will be right o target and where it will be off-base. For the record, I am guessing a Boy, the first week of May ( I'd love the 1st...but I am think thinking something like the 2nd or 4th) ad just hovering around 8 lbs, just over or just under by a couple of ounces. I am due May 17th and have bee told the baby is in the 96th percentile for growth......again...we'll see.....
With the house (mostly) clean, and things (mostly) organized, and the farm work (mostly) up to date right now, I feel like I am ready. Of course there are many other things that I would still like to have time to finish, but....we shall see.
 The biggest problem are not the things that I have had on my to-do list, but new things that have cropped up. We have been babysitting Grandma SoulFull's cat for the last few months. We are not indoor pet people, but he is not too bad to have around, and of course the kids love him. However, this weekend The Boy showed me some bites on his stomach....something that looked eerily like flea bites. The, while I was out and about on Saturday, Mr. SoulFull found one of the foul beasts. The cat has been sleeping with The Boy, a arrangement we knew we would be changing once Captain Seahorse arrived anyway. I want to start working on teaching baby to sleep away from me a little sooner than I did with the BumbleTot. We will still have the hammock in our room, but I was hoping to put the little one down in the crib, and boy or girl, The Boy's room is the only room with enough space, for now, to accommodate the crib.
Now I am torn between the worst of two worlds- nasty bugs or nasty poison. I am *hoping* that just maybe, the bugs ad the bites were both acquired outside ad tracked in by the humans, and we don't actually have a animal-induced invasion. But what if we do?!?!?! I can't bring a baby into a house where he or she might get eaten by fleas....and I am equally terrified of spraying poison in my house. I was thinking that tea tree oil might keep them off...but what if they are already living in here...what do I do then?
So with (hopefully...maybe) less than two weeks to go ( and I could be totally fine with The Little Captain coming later...I just wouldn't know what to do with pregnancy past 38 weeks)....I have to figure out how to get rid of this itchy little problem.....ideas?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Prayer Please

I don't know that anyone is reading this,but I am asking for sincere prayers. We have some issues going on within our church that have spilled out into the community.Not everyone in the church is aware of these  issues,but Mr. SoulFull has been put in a hard place where he is responsible as a servant of the church and foremost as a servant of Christ,o not just  ignore these things that have been brought to him by people in the community. I think we can all agree that when a church has behaved in such a way that multiple counts of wrong-doing are being brought forth from the greater community ( believers and non-believers)....something is deeply wrong; actual wrong-doings or not.
He does not at all want to be usurper of authority, but he also recognizes that the ultimate authority is God, not church leadership. He needs prayers on how to leave his personal feelings out of this, how to lean on and discern God's word, and to follow the Holy Spirit's guiding.

We genuinely believe in the need for a biblical church in our area.We care less that it is IFB than that it is truly biblical,because sadly, we are finding that the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. I really do not want to leave the church. I do not want to show our children that the right solution is to walk away,but from my Mama perspective, it is so tempting to find somewhere else- start fresh, using what we know now about church politics, to make a wiser decision about a church. The woman in me just wants to spill out all of the issues that have happened, so that people understand why we feel so troubled. We are trying very hard to behave in a biblical way, however. So please, please, please, pray for us and pray for our church.

Busy days

I know that some day I will look back and long for these days. I love being with my children. I love having a day like yesterday where it seems that we defeated some of our homeschooling challenges. I do not love feeling like I only have enough time to get he basics done ( as in basically keeping the house from being a disaster...), especially when there is so much to do.I know that it will be both easier and more difficult, in turns, with the Little Captain Seahorse here. On one hand....I can bend over....on another hand, I will need more breaks to accommodate my little friend's appetite :) It's all a season though, right? we just need to be patient and realize that someday......someday, making sure that someone did their best work with their handwriting, while the laundry gets put away....will be the sweet, simple kinds of concerns that we miss.

Tomorrow, we have an elderly missionary couple coming to stay for the evening. They are lovely, lovely people, and I felt so blessed to meet them last year. She was a missionaries child also and taken to a POW camp during WWII. It just so happened that we were studying the missionary Hudson Taylor when they came to visit...and she had been in the Hudson Taylor missionary children's school in China when she was taken by the Japanese. Her story is amazing and touching, and what an incredible blessing for my children to get to hear this bit of history !!! Not just history, but history that glorifies our great God. I have a recording of her story, and I may ask her permission and see if Mr. SoulFull will put it up here for me.
 Mr. SoulFull has been keeping regular correspondence with the gentleman, and when it turned out they would be making a trip through these parts, he asked about staying for a night. I am learning not to be prideful about how I keep my home ( or my bedroom). I know that these sweet humble people don't care if we have a guest bedroom just for them, or gourmet food to serve, but I do want them to be comfortable and worry that our bedroom is not ideal for them. I am off to get the chores done....wish me luck ;D

Monday, April 16, 2012

Letting them be them

Amy at Raising Arrows has written another wonderful piece.
I think about this a lot; how to impart our values, without forcing them to be little copies of myself.
It is such a conundrum, but I realize that it is not just one for the conservative crowd. Having worked in public school, I realized that all parents are doing this. the kids with Mohawks don't come from parents that wouldn't either have ( or wish they had) Mohawks themselves. Parents dress their children as an extension of themselves- a statement about their ideals; whether that be mini- Baby Phat sweatsuits, punk rock designs, or pinafores and suits.

The interesting part though? The conservative side never claims that they are doing it in the interest of the children "expressing themselves." In reality, as I mentioned, the counter culture side isn't doing it for that reason either, though they may claim too. Try to find such a counter culture family where they aren't a little embarrassed about their girls wanting to wear pink. ..or their boys inexplicable love of playing army.

I think about this far more than in modest, but I am at that point that Amy points out- the one where they state choosing their own outfits, their likes and dislikes. I've never had a problem letting my kids wear rain boots every day if they liked to, or costumes to the grocery store even.In fact, if I were honest with myself, the arty side of me revels in those choices a little bit. However, let me children seem to know my taste ( pointing out things that I like) but what they point out for themselves is consistently counter to my own preferences for children's clothing....think mini-teenager type clothing and cartoon characters. Amy's post gave me some thinking points for where to draw the line and where to let them go.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peace, Part 2

I have not been zenned out this pregnancy, as my dear M-I-L would say.

It seems that somehow, I forgot that when I ask God for answers, he provides them.

Instead, I have been worried, stressed, and pondering the "right" decisions. I have worried and fretted over things that were not mine to worry and fret over. Though I logically realize that spending time worried about the birth is like planning for an opulent wedding without ever thinking about the actual marriage, I was letting myself get sucked into the worry-machine; that machine which I think has been created to take us further and further from God's intended design.

There is certainly a place for medical intervention. Miss Fi is a beautiful example. Sometimes though, we can become overly dependent on medicine and forget who enabled our minds and hands to discover and utilize that science. While Fi's surgeons worked, we prayed. We prayed for their hands to be guided, their eyes to be clear, and their hearts and minds to remember that there was someones baby girl on that table, not just a work project.

Prayer works.

We know that she had the best surgeons available- from a worldly sense and a faith sense. Every year, I send them a Christmas card, to thank them, to show them what they were part of. Every time we get follow-up care at the big, renowned cranio-facial surgeon's office, I hear how even he is dumbfounded to read the extent of her actual injuries....because they are not obvious on her face.

So why...why in the world, would I spend time worrying. Why would I not remember the peace that comes with trusting the Holy Spirit, even in the darkest of moments, let alone the most beautiful ?

Because it is amazing how little faith even the faithful can have.

So this pregnancy, I feel that one of the special lessons God has for me, to renew and reinforce, is to lean on him. Wait for answers. That is not something that I am fundamentally good at. I am an answer-getter. I like to find solutions, for myself. Ohhhh goodness, time for some humility, right?

BumbleTot was our first home birth, after a hospital and then an overseas hospital (essentially a birth center). How could we go back after that? After the experience of having a provider who not only used the medical knowledge God enabled her with, but never forgot the importance of the God that created the process. When my water had been broken for hours and hours, she did a blood draw to check for WBC....but she also sent the Mister and I off to pray together quietly. Let the Lord guide us to the next step. He did...and as soon as I surrendered, as soon as I surrendered to letting him be the answer-getter, I had not only a solution, but I had peace.....I also had a suddenly(after 20 hours) very quick labor :)

So this time around, we waited. We decided to receive care from the military midwives, all along feeling that they might not be God's final answer for us. We still don't have a final answer---but we do have peace.

For an answer-getter...that is amazing. From a worldly sense, a person who likes to have answers, likes to make plans, couldn't possibly have peace when there is NO PLAN.

We are learning to lean on the Holy Spirit for answers. He always brings how how could I ever forget that? It doesn't just concern this baby's birth either.
We have been dealing with some fairly serious issues within our church- the kind of issues that make people want to walk away from a church...the kind that make some believers walk away from the faith. We don't know what will be the ultimate outcome,but we do know the job that God has laid on Mr. SoulFull ( and his help meet) for now. We are faithful that as long as we are faithful to his specific calling for us in this situation, we will know the course of action we should take.

Same thing with our baby. We are leaning on him. We prayed about the pregnancy and realized that there is something about being treated by people, even midwives, that work in a hospital setting. They are trained to handle complications...and so they seem to find them. I think that even utilizing this group for pre-natal care has shaken my trust in the process God created. These people don't (can't ?) acknowledge the one who created the process. In trying to reconcile their way of handling things with my own intuition and knowledge, it seems I forgot to acknowledge him too.

Since I have had this epiphany- this careful remembering of who is really in charge- amazingly...I feel the best I have this entire pregnancy. The thing to remember, just like the situation with Miss Fi, is that we could do everything medically right and still have a "bad outcome." Conversely, we could do everything wrong and have a perfect outcome. Science acknowledges this fact too...not just us religious zealots.

So we are planning for a home birth after all. We have our supplies gathered, our reading materials checked and bookmarked, emergencies prepared for...but most importantly, we have our (figurative) prayer shawls on. A home birth may not be the outcome. And I am fine with that. We are confident that when the day, the time comes, the Holy Spirit will lead us to exactly the right decision at exactly the right time.
 This is not about free birthing, woman power, or shirking the establishment. It is about following God's perfect will for our family.

We felt lead to begin preparing for this, with certain medical indicators that would let us know that God was pointing the other direction. Those medical indicators seemed fairly likely to occur, and yet...they haven't. So we proceeded. We have other indicators (outside of actual emergencies) that have been laid on our hearts as indicators to go to the hospital during the labor...and again, we will be glad to follow God should those things arise...or if just a guiding from Him indicates so, regardless of medical evidence. We would have loved to plan this with  godly midwife, but unfortunately,we cannot find a midwife, who would support our family-vision, willing to travel to our area.

I have no idea where this will end up happening...home, hospital, side of the road.... but I am totally confident that God will let us know what to do in the end...and with that...there is so much peace.

* If you read this, we would indeed welcome prayer: mostly, for us to be receptive to the Holy Spirit's leading.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Favorite quote of the day

From Miss Fi, in reference to The Boy, as she donned her jacket for their impending outside adventure.....

" it's just great because he's like my brother and my science teacher- he knows lots of things and teaches them to me!"

Now tell me, where you can get that at a public school ?

Peace, part 1

When I was pregnant with BumbleTot, my Mother in Law always said she had never seen me so calm and peaceful. I tend to be somewhat of a type-a personality, though that has dulled as the years have passed and the number of children increased. Anyhow, she still says it now; " you were so zen."

 Which, in all honesty, is a miracle unto itself. It's not like I was dealing with a low-stress situation; I was still in school, we had a stressful move onto the military post, a deployment to Iraq, and of course Miss Fi's brush with death/near disfigurement and the slew of long, sad, stressful follow-up appointments at the large far-away Children's hospital. Yet there I was...completely "zenned out", as my dear Mother in law described it.

That's where God named BumbleTot for us. As I remember it, though I am sure it is just one of those collage memories that occurs when there are just too many things happening to remember clearly- it was when I was standing in the street waiting for the ambulance that God laid BumbleTot's name on my heart.

I had been kind of hoping for another boy. or maybe up to that point I just thought she was a boy. We had a boy's name picked out for years. Something that Mister suggested, from a book we both loved.

But God laid this name heavy on my heart, and from then on I felt like I not only knew she was a girl, but I knew why she was here and what she would be called.

Because this name meant "bringer of joy."

In my very darkest moment- when I thought I might lose my little girl- then when we were told she would be horribly disfigured- God told me that there will be joy.

and there has been.

Not only does BumbleTot's name fit her, but God has brought intense joy along with her. She is a hard person not to be joyful around; she is intensely funny and darling. She is also a power toddler....think of typical toddler behavior and put it on steroids.

The joy that God brought along with her surpasses her. There is more to it. God taught us that joy is not about our situation but about our hearts. It is so very true.

We found joy in the depths of darkness. He showed us how. Then in the sweetest of gifts, he brought us up out of that darkness with nary a blemish. Miss Fi shows little signs of her ordeal to the unknowing eye. An accident that was inches from taking her life, or her eye, isn't even recognizable to people who don't know it is there. Yet, we had been told to expect 5-6 more surgeries ( besides the 5 hours that put her back together) just for her to look vaguely normal.

That's not to say that our family doesn't have some of the trauma issues that are associated with going through something like that. We notice her scars. We deal with the eye infections that come because of it. We deal with the knowledge of how something small can cause big heartache, and we are powerless to do anything about the ignorance around us on this particular danger.

But we are joyful. We are grateful. We see God's goodness, and we are entirely aware of WHO caused such a good outcome for our daughter.

So what does all of that have to do with carrying this baby....?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One of those days....that turns out to be perfectly lovely.

Yesterday was Mr. SoulFull's bonus day off for the holiday. We used it to tackle some more of the Spring chores list, but after my one chore for the day, I was spent. I cleaned out the car. That's it. I am not sure if that is more of a statement about my lack of endurance or the filth of the car...but I am pretty sure it is the latter. I pulled so much trash out of there, it was....just gross. I'll leave it at that. Anyhow, now it is spic and span----ready to go another several months before I get around to it again ( the sad truth)...but at least I won't feel like I am strapping my newborn into a rolling bio hazard.

Maybe it was because of my hard work yesterday, but today has been slow going. We welcomed our new fowl to the farm yesterday, and it has already proven to be quite entertaining. The Boy is certain that the guinea fowl are actually some kind of prehistoric creature, with the horns on their heads and all. they are lavender, and if it weren't for their horrid heads, they would be so beautiful. But The Boy is right, they look either ancient or alien, and I can't decide which. Either way. they are much quieter than I am accustom to ( recalling my little girlhood in the deep South), but that could just be our honeymoon period.

The ducks are charming. I was watching them and thinking "now I see Miss Potter!" Pit pat paddle pat, pit pat waddle pat. It's so true.

The children are charmed by the turkeys, and we have already received one, big, fascinating egg from them.
The new chickens are all of the same kinds of breeds we already had; Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and Ameracaunas. So they are fitting in nicely, and one Red has particularly taken to The Boy- coming up to him to be picked up and stroked like a cat.

But in discovering that, we also discovered escaped goats...and my, how that takes away from getting any schoolwork done.

* I wrapped up this post for the day, with intentions of finishing it up about how some days, nothing gets done. My floors were dirty laundry piling up, ad schoolwork behind.

I'm glad I stopped writing. Maybe I would have doomed the day,with my attitude or self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just after this, we managed to get the goats, at the least, out of trouble for the time being, and since The Boy had finished his school work, he went out to adventure while I tried to finish up with the girls and get lunch going.
He came back in to show me not only the duck eggs our new little friends had gifted us with, but also a small bunch of wildflowers, just for Mama.  Plant identification is not my strong suit (understatement...remind me to tell you about the beautiful plant that I just loved that had been cultivated in all of our flower beds when we bought the house.....).
So I thought we could salvage some school time before I headed off to my appointment; we got online and attempted to identify one of the very charming flowers he had discovered.

It turns out it is one of these, and apparently they are rare in our state. In fact...they aren't supposed to be picked. Turns out, we are blessed to have a whole patch of them, growing out of sight in a wooded spot. I told The Boy not to worry, none of us knew,but now we wouldn't pick them. What a sweet little blessing- to find such a precious little discovery !

Mr. SoulFull came home to stay with the children, as opposed to our usual set-up, where I drop them off at the military compound with him and pick them back up before heading home. The NST appointments are thankfully short, and so he is able to take a short break to visit with them...they look forward to hanging out with Daddy at the hanger. Yesterday sounded even more wonderful. As soon as I left, Mr. SoulFull says he thought to himself I could get yard work done, or take them for a walk. He went for the walk, which is no small feat with our Miss Fi...little Miss tiptoe through the Tulips. He even let her take her bike. I made her day ( though she is back to running a fever....). What should be a 20 minute walk took an hour, but Mr. SoulFull did it. They went into our little town, making a stop with one of our favorite, God-loving shop owners...and then a special trip to the town Cookie Company. What a special day with their daddy.

How could a day like that be a bust?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pardon me, while I find my voice

 I have been a life-long people pleaser.

I was born that way, as far as I can tell. A product of either my first-born status or my anxious childhood...or maybe those traits just all go together, with no concrete cause and causation.

I started writing, because I was a people pleaser.
My third grade teacher, the first person who ever told me I was good at anything, told me I was good at writing. She sent me to a Young Writer's Conference at the local community college ( the same college where I would later finish my last two years of high school/first two yearrs of college). I wrote for her, because she told me I was good at it. Because  she smiled when she told me, and because it felt so good to be "good' at something.

But like everything in life, I tailored what I said and how I said it to what I pereceived the audience wanted to hear.

 different audience, different voice.

But I am done. I don't want to be a people pleaser, I just want to be a God pleaser.
The reason I am writing here is more important than who might be reading.
So why am I writing?

To have something for my dear children.

Something so they can remember what life was like, "back then" when they were small...and things were simple to them, but complicated to me.

 Something so they can know who I am, what I am thinking, what is important to our family, and how grateful I am for their existence.

Something that might be used for them to see the grace of God through their Mama.

Something that will bring glory to God.

So pardon me, if you are reading this, while I figure out how to combine all of my personas into my writing...if sometimes it feels a bit schizophrenic. I am learning how to just be me- God-loving, God-fearing, irreverent, analytical, whimsical, and yet practical- grateful for who God made me, and even more grateful for the work he promised to complete in me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Forward

Today, it feels like it is really here. Spring. Finally.
 Of course, it may snow, or hail, or pour rain again. Maybe tomorrow or maybe in an hour. It is the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Maybe it is only through the light of our homeschooling curriculum, but every time I hear someone complain about the climate, I just think of the explorers, the pioneers, who fought their way here, so hard, just to have a taste of the richness God put here. Not that they were crazy about the months of soggy cold either.

Today, the little girls have succumbed to whatever nasty bug it is that has been circulating through our little church community. Miss Fi has taken to her bed, but BumbleTot, even with a high fever, refuses to be deterred-especially when her Daddy is doing yard work.

By order of the Army, he has the day off today. I suppose that the secular push of our government only extends so far as it goes before robbing them of any more free time. If Easter equals Christ, we should ignore it...but if it equals a day off...while then by all means, we're all Christians.

We are glad to have him home though, and the nesting seems to have hit him this time around too...or maybe it is just the draw of new man toys with which to play.

 The family that is bequeathing us their slew of poultry ( to include a pair of Lavender Guinea Fowl, it turns out) let Mr. SoulFull have use of their chipper shredder today. So he woke up, on his day off, with a need to get to work before the sun even started its day. The combined work of January's ice storm and the fellows' gathering efforts left us with a pile of limbs in the middle of our mini pasture. A pile larger than any of our livestock and big enough to spark a little boy's imagination.

Today, Mr. SoulFull is shredding that pile of adventure into wood chips for the front garden. The goats are currently grazing, unfenced, at the side of the house. Too fat or too loyal to leave.

BumbleTot is standing at the gate that divides our yard from the animals yard. She has on her ear protection, and her work boots. Her Daddy probably doesn't even realize that she is there. She knows where to find her work gear. She thinks it is her duty to ride on the lawn mower with Daddy, or shotgun in the truck...wherever he is while he does work around the property. She wears that pair of adult-sized earphones with dignity.

I am typing here, enjoying the sunshine coming through the window and watching my poor little lamb call after her Daddy. She teases him incessantly, like nothing you have ever seen from a toddler- but he started it. She is the baby he was home for- the whole first year. The one he caught himself in our upstairs bedroom. She pushes his buttons. She acts just like him. Working with him...wanting to be his tiny shadow, is how she shows him that she really doesn't mean any of it.

How will things change with this new baby? This baby that will change her status. She has been unique, even as the third child, because she was the first one that was as much his, to him, as she was mine. The Army kept him so much, so far away from us, so often during those first years. He missed so much of the other children's early lives that he couldn't always connect- jumping in and out, getting snapshots of what it was to have small children in the house.

I think it was that closer bond that initially  fully convinced him of "no more children", and yet ultimately God used it to change his heart, allowing this new baby to come into the fold. Being a part of the everyday, he realized the level of commitment, work, and exhaustion that could go with small children. But as that tiny shadow got bigger,God could guide his imagination...for all the work, how much more joy could there be?

Things are coming to life out the dirt, in the life and change; it's our current theme 'round these parts. We are entering uncharted territory, in more ways than one.

So I just think of those explorers; coming to a place where they just knew there would be great treasure, but in no way prepared for the cold torrents that could come along with it. They believed in Manifest Destiny, that it was God's plan that the U.S reach from sea to shining sea...and through their experiences it did, it does.

I believe in Manifest Destiny too. I know that our upcoming changes will be both overwhelming and overjoying. I know that they are part of God's perfect plan for us.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Little Girls and Dresses

 This dear woman shared something today that is dear to my heart. We currently attend a church that requires girls and ladies to wear dresses whenever they are doing business, teaching, etc. on behalf of the church. I have chosen to wear dresses in my personal life anyway, but for reasons not entirely like that of my pastor and his family. For me, it was largely because I began to realize that I felt more comfortable in dresses and was only wearing jeans because I felt like that was what was expected by the world. I also love to feel lady-like. growing up in a family with no Godly, womanly guidance, I had unknowingly began to form into a female misogynist. Coming nearer to God, having a loving husband, and learning the joys of family changed how I saw women, and how I saw myself. I love to embrace the fact that God made me a woman, and it wasn't an accident...and it is not just different anatomy. God created something special when he created woman, and by embracing all things lady-like, I feel like I am praising him and thanking him for his deliberate, precious creation. And yes...modesty does lay into it, but as you see, it is rather secondary for me.
 I have seen skirts worn to church that are much less modest than the jeans another woman wears.
My husband confronted  our Pastor on whether he is saying that the Bible says we have to wear dresses or not. We know the passages that are interpreted to mean this, but we don't believe that they are specifically saying "skirts and dresses only." The Pastor agreed. To him it is just a measure of modesty, and he feels that the best way to insure modesty among the congregations, especially when they are representing the church, is to require dresses. Because of my personal convictions, it has not been a big issue for me, but I appreciate where it has caused problems for others. We did differ, however, in how we felt that little girls should be dressed. My husband and I hadn't felt it necessary for our toddler daughter to always wear only dresses or nightgowns ( lieu of footed or legged pajamas).
We have taken a path much like that of The Modest Mom and her family. We don't believe that the Bible says we HAVE to wear dresses, but that we do have to dress modestly, and I want to dress in a way that revels in the fact that God made me a woman :) Yet, as she said,  on a tiny girl, the figure isn't an issue. I have heard the excuse to start them on dresses young so that they know how to wear them, but I don't necessarily think it works out that way. That said, I did dress Miss Fi in lots of dresses----I was just so excited to have a girl....she had plenty of dress wearing practice ;)
 However, she is tall and long-limbed ( much unlike her mother) and it was when she was 4.5 that we went to have photos done at the mall. I took her with her hair all done in a little button up top and a pair of pants, so that we could change into our pretty dress clothes there. It was when I realized that her figure from behind looked like the models on the boards in the malls...that I decided it was time to wear dresses. That should reveal the sickness of our society- two fold.Not only do we sexualize children, but the ideal female figure (from mall advertising perspective, at least) is that of a long-limbed child...just add breasts.
 As a result of that experience, discussion, and prayer, she now wears dresses, often with leggings underneath. They look more little girlish, and it is what she wants to wear anyway. BumbleTot wears dresses (again with leggings or stretchy pants underneath)because she wants to do what big sister does, not because we feel that she must. She still wears her footie pajamas to bed too. If I ever have a little girl that does not like wearing dresses.....well, we will see how we handle that. The goal for us is preserving their girlhood and modesty...not dress-wearing in and of itself.

*I wanted to edit this to say that I credit Amy's writing at Raising Arrows for helping me to articulate my own dress-wearing convictions. She also happens to have a great piece on biblical beauty today !

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On Raising Little Men

The Boy showing off his
 monkey-like skills
 When The Boy arrived, in all his red-headed, blazing glory, the first thing I said to the nurse, upon being told that he was a boy, was " he's going to be a man someday?!?!"
----- how is that for a mouthful in a sentence?
I grew up with sisters, and from the moment they placed him, arms and legs flailing, into my arms, I knew my mind was about to be blown. That is not to say that with his subsequent sisters I haven't had moments in which I realized that " oh no...that is not just a boy thing at all." It's just I knew that raising a boy was going to challenge me, pull me out of my shell, and force me to see things in ways I had never thought of before.
 He has...done all of that and more. One of the things that we are dealing with lately, with renewed vigor, is his need for activity. He was a crazy active toddler, to the point that the pediatrician decided we should see the specialists, and they decided that he had some kind of sensory disorders. In the time since then, I have realized these things aren't disorders...but the need for action, other words....what little boy ( or child) doesn't have these "disorders" to some extent?
 Over the years, his tendency toward calmness has grown and grown, to the point that I began to forget about the wild, climbing toddler, in all but that abstract way in which we reflect on who are children were and who they are now. Yet lately, it has resumed, or maybe I am just getting to spend the whole day with him again, and I am just seeing what he was getting out at recess.
 Our school day incorporates play breaks and P.E. Yet, this has not been enough, and on non-school days, his need to try to wrestle his sisters, climb, shout, and jump off things has become nearly overwhelming....and one day, just home from a prenatal appointment, I was nearly at my wit's end- "stop grappling your sisters?!?!"
 Then it hit me...something useful I might just have picked up at public school.
Our very wise Principal had a special way of dealing with high energy kids. Instead of taking away recess time, as is customary punishment for multiple offenses, she would send them run laps and get some of "it" out.
 So there, at my wit's end, I sent the boy into the rain (with a raincoat) with the instruction just to run, run in circle around the until you don't feel like you need to body slam one of your ( all to willing) sisters.
 The glee in his face ?!? Being told TO GO OUT IN THE RAIN!?!?! Had Mama lost her mind? or had all of his dreams finally come true?
 Not only did he go out and run, but he decided, without my suggestion, to do push-ups, jumping jacks, and of course, some aerials off of the playground toys.
When he came in, he was wet, but he was gratified. He needed this; I needed this. And more, I felt like I understood my boy more than ever. Maybe not the mysteries behind those wild green eyes, but at least a kind of cohesion between the two of us; one I haven't felt since he was an infant - one where I just instinctively knew what he needed.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why isn't this guy in first place ?

This story shows the deliberate way that Ron Paul's campaign is establishing its (and his) honesty in the political arena. Yet somehow, the article comes off to me, like it is making fun of him or accusing him of playing some kind of game. Games are played in politics- every charming remark, every everyday-kind-of-guy gesture, is calcualated to make us feel a certain way. So even if this is a game of some sort, one to make us feel like " WOW, this guy is honest", the outcome is still the same; he really is reporting even the smallest of expenditures---A big difference from a government in which HUGE bills are pushed for passage without anyone even knowing what is in them...