31 October 2014

Family snippets

"I am horrible oppressive Tyrant Daddy! No fun allowed in this kingdom!"
-Jared, as he runs around the living room with a giggling Ellie slung over his shoulder

Ellie cracks us up. She is learning new words all the time ("chocolate," "clock," "dirty," "hot," and "see ya" are her recent additions, though most are only comprehensible to her doting parents). She has also decided that she needs to match me as much as possible. One of her favorite activities is Tell Me What That Is Called; she points at stuff and demands that I say its name. Well, she especially loves to point out things that she and I have in common.

"Hmm?"
"Those are your socks. And these are my socks."
"Hmm?"
"That's your fork. Yes, I have a fork too."
"Hmm?"

My second pregnancy has definitely been different. I have prescription steroid cream, deployed sparingly but regularly, which takes care of my eczema--so I don't have to deal with the horrendous rash of last time. I am endlessly thankful for that, because the time I spent fighting that rash was the most traumatic period of my life so far. I can recall all sorts of unpleasant experiences without a twinge, but if I even start to think about those miserable months, I feel panicky and desperate and want to cry.

Other positive differences: morning sickness disappeared sooner, I know what I am doing pregnancy-wise and don't have to research my brains out over every decision, I am a lot more confident about my ability to birth a baby, Jellybean moves alllllll the time and that's fun, and even though I feel enormous I don't look too big (well, not big for 30 weeks pregnant). We think I'm carrying her higher than I did Ellie.

Negative differences: I worry more about this baby's health, mostly out of a weird sense of guilt. I think about her less during the day because I'm busy with other things--mostly her nutty older sister--and I forget to take my prenatal vitamins and so forth. Then I worry that my neglect will cause her to have poor health or some unexpected birth defect (or in my most frantic moods, a stillbirth). Also, I've had major issues with my hip this time around. My left sacroiliac joint goes out easily and so depending on the day, I experience anything from a small "ouch" when I move suddenly to constant pain.

27 October 2014

what is God up to?

To put it baldly, I spend most of my day cleaning messes. Vacuuming cracker crumbs, washing stinky diapers. In the middle of this I often feel like a hamster spinning a very menial wheel. I start to wonder what I am doing with my life. My answers aren't terribly satisfying: I am ironing yet another hamper of wrinkled shirts. I am buying yet another tube of toothpaste. I am pulling yet another heap of weeds.

Whoopee.

Then I remember that I am not the main character in this story. God is the protagonist of history, including my private slice of it, and He is an active God. He is always at work. He is always succeeding in His work. My work just falls into line behind His.

Watering the Garden, E. Ridgeway Knight

What is God doing? I ask. Can I see what's really going on here?

That question transforms my perception of the day. I quickly see that God is busy: He is providing for our family, increasing our love for one another, and shaping a toddler's tiny heart (and two big adult ones). He is making us more like His son and building us into the church, His bride. He is enabling us to carry out His commands. What's more, He chooses to accomplish a lot of that work through me. I start to see the connections between His agenda and the little tasks I'm doing.

That excites me. It makes me realize how honorable those tasks are. Even when they look boring--even fruitless--from the outside.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before Him.

-Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

21 October 2014

running from time

Every advertisement in America assumes that we want to look younger, and since advertisers are pretty good at sussing out the mood of the populace, I guess we do. Apparently we are all trying to return to the best days of our lives (defined as "the days when we were unwrinkled, skinny, and burdened by as few responsibilities as possible").

This passion for youthfulness bears ugly fruit: orange spray tans and reconstructed noses always ring false. It's also a phenomenal waste. People shell out extravagant sums for plastic surgery, spend hours sculpting their muscles at Crossfit, and fret endlessly over one too many appetizers eaten at the party last night. Imagine what all that money, time, and energy could achieve! Exercise is great. I love cosmetics and clothes. But how sad to see them demand more of us than our love for God and all He has called us to. (Even worse is when we think that we need to have our appearance nailed down before we can attend to those other things.)

Mrs Adrian Iselin by J.S. Sargent
Anyway, we all lose life eventually. No one defeats age, and I think that embracing truth is typically more attractive than painting on a lie. As we care for ourselves, do we endeavor to  honor what God has created, or do we try to turn ourselves into someone else entirely, a mythical ideal concocted of magazine clippings and hairspray? There's such a difference.

I see wise older women acknowledging who they are, enjoying the beauty that is reserved for their own age, and looking so amazing because of that. Then I see women forcing themselves into a cheap imitation of who they were decades ago, running from time, only to find themselves exhausted, unhappy, and decidedly plasticized.

I am still young myself, but I already notice age altering my hands. They work hard: plunged into hot dishwater, sorting through dirty vegetables, scrubbing mold from shower tiles. The work shows. They're starting to wrinkle and lose their elasticity. I know that one day the rest of my body will follow suit. My veins will stand out and my skin will droop. Some of the damage will be due to the march of time, some to nourishing children, and some to the unforseen mishaps of life. That's okay. I am not interested in fighting reality. I am interested in embracing the beauty God gives me every day.

16 October 2014

phfr #13

Linked up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

pretty 

I made a cute mobile for the nursery, using an embroidery hoop and a collection of doll ornaments. (We have so many ornaments that we can barely fit them on our Christmas tree, so I decided to use these to decorate the girls' room instead.)
happy

Applesauce season is underway. I've canned sixteen quarts so far (that was 38 pounds of apples . . . lots of peeling) and I plan to put up at least 40.

funny


Ellie is learning to put Duplos together. She has to concentrate very, very hard.

real

Ugh, receipts.

09 October 2014

Weekend linkage

A good deal of serious material this week.

"He's Not Scary, He's a Little Boy." I found this very helpful. If Ellie made a rude comment about someone's appearance, my first instinct would be to hush her and scurry away. But this mom says:
If you are the parent whose child says another child looks funny or scary, don’t simply say "That isn’t a nice thing to say." While you are right, it’s not nice, simply saying that and walking away still isolates my child.  The next time follow that statement up and tell your child, "I’m sure he’s a very nice boy, let’s go meet him."
"My Husband Divorced Me For His Gay Lover, Then Took Our Children." A sobering story that needs to be told.

An NPR feature on plastic surgery in Brazil. Some of these women's comments were so sad: beauty is the foundation of a good life, and beauty is defined by a very narrow set of standards (not that different from our own culture, but apparently Brazilians are more open about resorting to surgery to achieve their ideal). I'm not against these procedures but find their extravagant overuse disturbing.

"50 Classy People From the Past." Some of the captions are adorably naive, but the pictures are fun.

08 October 2014

Ellie and her words

Ellie has exactly four words so far.

daddy (often used as a catch-all word that means "something having to do with parents")
uh-oh (a constant refrain: she dropped her fork, I dropped a book, the squirrel she's watching dropped an acorn)
tea (repeated rapid-fire whenever she spots my mug)
teeth (sounds remarkably like tea: she just really likes to brush her teeth)

In addition, she uses signs for food, water, and all done; employs a sort of quizzical squeak to request things or ask what they are called, or otherwise get my attention; and shakes her head violently to signal no.

I look forward to the time when she will be able to articulate her thoughts, but for now, she communicates pretty well in her way.

06 October 2014

don't be a dumb-dumb, or, just a few catchphrases

Know what really gets steam coming out of my ears? People who cherry-pick Scripture. To faithfully interpret God's word, you have to consider the whole thing, not prance about picking verses you happen to like and shouting lalala I can't heeeeeear you to the rest of it. Consider my most un-favorite category: the false teachers who claim that since the apostles commanded wives to "be submissive to their own husbands," if a husband is abusive, his wife must quietly accept his abuse in order to honor God.

Self-Portrait With His Wife Isabella, Peter Paul Rubens
My first instinct is to say "what a bunch of dumb-dumbs," but I'll attempt to be more articulate: anyone who even entertains that interpretive possibility is not using God's word to help them understand His will.

To start out, Peter reminds husbands that their wives are fellow heirs in the kingdom of God. Thus everything that God says to believers in general includes wives. For example, we are told by Jesus Himself that if Christians have a grievance against another, they have recourse to a careful process of justice within the church. God provides protection for His people through the care of fellow believers. Scripture nowhere suggestions that wives are suddenly excluded from that process and protection just because they got married.

The government is endowed with authority to prosecute wrongdoers. A husband who abuses his wife is doing wrong and deserves prosecution. But how is the government supposed to mete out justice if the wife refuses to speak out of a sense of "duty?"

Further, a wife's role is not primarily defined in terms of submission. Way back in Genesis, God defines a wife's role in terms of helper: he creates a noble and capable soul given the task of supporting and sharpening her husband. She is called to do those things submissively, sure, but submission does not preclude a wife from carrying out the rest of Scripture's commands. If she sees her husband locked in sin, it would in be completely unloving on her part to let him continue unchallenged, either by her or by the church elders.

After you read all of those Scriptures (and more!) and ask yourself if a wife should accept abuse in the name of submission, you say no, clearly not. She should lovingly rebuke her husband, appeal to the church for her own protection and her husband's good, and seek aid from civil authority. That's straight from the word of God. Then when you get around to the verses about submission, it's clear that-- taking into account everything else God has said in His word-- the submission He commands cannot possibly mean "putting up with" a husband's unrepentant, grievous sin (whether that's abuse or something else). Biblical submission means a lot of things, and plenty of them are unpopular in this era, but it sure doesn't mean that.

In my opinion, this applies to a lot of other bad teaching. You take one or two verses that seem to make a clear statement on a particular topic, and you start spinning a new theology of parenting, or politics, or sexuality. Of course, you don't bother to consider what any other passage of Scripture has to contribute to the discussion. Usually that consideration would force you to significantly adjust your initial interpretation. Inconvenient for you, perhaps, but ultimately bearing much better fruit.

This is why God calls us to study the entire Bible, not just a few catchphrases. That was the real point of this post, but I took the long way round just so I could pontificate on one of my own pet topics. :)