Wednesday, April 28, 2010

expanding into freedom

the Christian life and doctrine is full of paradoxes that are difficult to grasp, but must be embraced in faith toward God. Jesus was both God and man. God is both three and one. to die is gain. and how about this one: submission brings freedom. yes, submission to God really does, and here is where i have learned it: in marriage and home life, where He is gently, gently teaching me to stop striving and giving me the courage to submit to my husband and to submit to the way He made me to be. the more i have allowed this to happen, the more contented, joyful, and free i have become.

for much of my Christian life, i didn't understand why i still felt so restless and discontented. i could hear a really great, meaningful sermon on doctrine or Christian living, and still come home and have so much anxiety and double-mindedness, not knowing what God wanted for me, not knowing what i wanted for myself. for my entire single life i ran around being all crazy about finding the will of God for my life and wishing so bad that i just had a burning bush to tell me exactly what to do! getting married was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it began in me a death to self and a refining process that i could not have experienced as a single with thousands of options before me. yes, it was horribly hard, and still is sometimes, that is why it is called "death," but i wouldn't trade the freedom i have found for anything.

God does, thankfully, tell married women in every age group exactly what to do: older women are to teach the younger women "
to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." (Titus 2:4-5). and younger married women are obviously supposed to then learn and DO THESE things! yes! having children! being submissive to their husbands! being homemakers! does it not say so plain and clear in God's word? why do married Christian women of today act as though they had a thousand options, to shut off their wombs' function for personal gain, to go out and work, to grumble against their husbands? God actually calls failure to obey Titus 2:4-5 a blaspheming of His word! yet how His word would be honored if the Christian older women really took that call seriously and each one taught the younger women in her life the above virtues! we younger women really need a lot of help! i am thankful at least that i have stumbled upon some books and ministries where older women are reaching out to the younger on these topics.

i know now why the church sermons still left me with a confused life view: because while the doctrine at the pulpit is indispensable, the average male preacher has not the foggiest idea about the soul and marrow of a woman's existence. they are usually as confused by the entrenched feminist views as we are! not to mention that it would be entirely ill received if a man were to pontificate on how women need to stay home and have babies!! which is exactly why the Bible gives that task to older women with the necessary softness and experience. instead, we younger women are left out to follow the world's ideas of womanhood. (i find it sad as well that we have intimidated our Christian men, who might have a good feeling for the true order of things, into becoming a bit spineless: they concede to being homemakers as well, and feel that in order to be loving, sensitive, non-chauvenists... they must support their wife in her career (or her ministry) and her decision not to have children, or only one or two, and then to continue with the career when she puts them away into public schools.)

the directions of titus 2 are very hard to swallow in the world of today. they sound so back woods! so oppressive! yes, satan has done a good job deceiving us and blinding us to the true potential of womanhood and motherhood by demeaning it so much that even Christians can no longer embrace the true value of it. one friend of mine wrote, "
it would do God such a disservice to reduce women to a womb....a real travesty of His intention for us all..." and that is how deep the deception has gotten! that we would see the way He made us as demeaning, a reduction of value! that is truly the world's feminist influence talking. satan is the one who wants a woman's greatest calling to be seen as dirty work, of little value, and undesirably narrow. did God not Himself make us with a womb? the word "woman" in the original means "womb man." yes, womb man! that says a lot about God's intention. it is by the womb that He chose to call us, to set us apart. it was God's own defining characteristic of women! and we are made in His very image! "El Shaddai," the almighty, literally means "breasted one." yes! God has a MOTHER heart as well as a father heart! in Genesis 3, satan has enmity with the woman because of the potential of her womb and her training up of godly offspring, specifically the messiah. satan still hates the womb for that potential, the potential to raise up armies of strong contenders against him! we need to open our eyes to the sad deception of the last century and see exactly how valuable we are. the feminists are wrong. they shout and shout for their rights because it is "my body," and yet they do not even fully embrace the way their body is made! they cut off the very function of their womb in order to have the freedom to... to what? to become more like men! or to merely have the freedom to entertain themselves! how sad! reducing? NO, to embrace the womb and the offices God gave us as women is not a reducing, it is an expansion. an expansion into freedom, peace, and POWER.

Romans 9:20 warns, "who are you, o man, who answers back to God? the thing molded will not say to the molder, 'why did you make me like this,' will it?" of course one has to freely embrace it all as God's gift, in order to gain freedom. we cannot be free when we strive against it or are forced into it by anyone else (as it is in some muslim circles. we can all see it becomes oppressive when forced). i am not one that believes that women shouldn't have the right to work or vote. but yes, it seems logical that when married, God made it such that children would follow, and once a mother, why be a mother halfway? we are called to be homemakers; "workers at home," as some translations put it! that doesn't mean we can't have business ventures on the side (see the woman of Proverbs 31!) but it does mean our first concern is for the home, and that we are THERE. our work is just as valuable as the husband's, but it is at home. we guard against all kinds of evils and combat problems in society by being at home and training up our children in a godly way. and by embracing the children that God wants to give us, we will not be reduced, we will be expanded! our influence in the world expands, our personal peace and freedom in Christ expands, our patience and kindness expands, our wisdom expands, our legacy expands. most of the time, if Christian parents are faithful, their children are faithful to God as well. we are not guaranteed the faith of our children, of course, but often God does choose to call the children of faithful families to Himself. how we Christians like to complain about the way the world is going, when we ourselves were the ones who chose to narrow the positive influence in the world by limiting our offspring so we might go off and enjoy ourselves.

of course, the Lord knew this was going to happen, and predicted that we would be hated and persecuted in the last days, and that there would be all kinds of social problems, but that doesn't negate individual responsibility to do as He says. all that being said, however, i definitely understand that the Lord does not limit Himself and that He has indeed chosen to still use many women in other powerful ways, who were not convicted to this effect. (partially also because men have not stepped up in the way they were called to, either, as it was in the story of Deborah in the Bible. i am so thankful that the Lord gave me a husband that led me in this way, staying true to the Word and calling attention to the worldly deceptions in me.) "He is not a tame lion," as C.S. Lewis liked to say. He has so much grace and may work in any way He wants. and as always, i still have such a long way to go in becoming the Biblical wife and mother i am called to be: in hospitality, gentleness, giving, etc.
"not that i have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, i press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." phil. 3:12-14

May He lead you to embrace the peace and freedom He gives through submission.

Friday, April 23, 2010

homeschooling and unschooling

recent discussions with friends on homeschooling have forced me to clarify my stance on the matter, and really get down with what i believe about this subject.

i used to believe that homeschooling was a neutral matter--could be good, could be bad. then i believed one should pray about it for each child and decide that way. then i believed that it would definitely be good for us, because the education one can receive at home can be so much superior (with less time-waste) than the education one would receive in CA public schools. (thinking, "i wouldn't mind sending them to montessori school, but since we can't afford that...) now i have come to believe that it is pretty much a must for Christian parents in a secular age.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says,
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

if we are to be speaking to our children of the Lord's commands all day long, yet we are only with our children in the evenings, or afternoons, we are only partially fulfilling this command of God. He also puts the responsibility of the teaching on the parents, and there are many other places in scripture that affirm this. (see end of paragraph for further study) So I believe that even if children are at a Christian school, the Deuteronomy 6 mandate is not being obeyed.
(Deut. 4:9-10, 4:21-24, 6:1-9, 20-25, 11:18-21, 31:19-21, 32:46-47.
Psalm 45:17, 48:12-14, 71:18, 78:1-8, 79:13, 145:4-5.
Proverbs 6:20-24, 31:1. Isaiah 38:19, 59:21. Joel 1:3)

i can see why not all Christian parents would want to accept this. they might send their children out in order to "be a light in the world" or to "challenge and grow their faith." Nowhere in scripture does it support either of these ideas. Christian mothers may also fall into the trap of wanting to get some time during the day to be involved in ministry or help earn income for the family (which God clearly puts on the husband. will He not be faithful and provide enough with the way He has set things up?) and while the scripture does not directly say "thou shalt homeschool," i think it does give parents full responsibility for the godly education of their children and it does make sense to me that when they are gone in a secular environment most of the day, one has to backpedal very hard to make the godly education still THE biggest factor in their young minds. not to mention that the implied things of scripture need not be deemed unimportant. let us remember that the trinity itself, a foundational doctrine, is not spelled out in black and white in the Bible, but implied. because i believe that God has set up children to be with their parents at all times during their early years, and most of the time during their growing up years, i personally do not think that young children need to be sent out into the world to be a light or to have their faith challenged just yet. we must use the years of impressionability to form their minds always toward God. the most important thing the Lord wants us to teach our children is to fear Him. Can we do this as effectively with the school teaching them otherwise? the Lord does call US to be a light. He calls US to be a witness for Him. i believe it is a sad disservice to our children if we put them out there as if they were an arm or a leg of ours, expecting them to shine the light for us, when they have not reached the age where we would consider them "accountable." the Bible seems to favor long preparation times for ministry and service. Jesus himself officially began His ministry at age 30. i hope we don't think His early life was a waste of time!

one friend of mine argued that some parents would be just miserable homeschooling, and it would be better for them to send their children to public school. really? what is parenting? what is motherhood? the Bible says that women will be made whole through childbearing (1 Timothy 2:15)! this speaks of the fact that motherhood is a great sacrifice, and it is through this death to self that we grow and are made whole in Him. i would not describe myself as a natural homeschooling mom. i would have much preferred, at one point, to have most of the day to myself again, to work at my own thing, to get my "down" time, and to "recharge." but is that the kind of wholeness God wants me to have? i find that if i am convicted about something in the Lord, He gives me the strength and the joy to carry it out as well. of course this cannot be recommended for a non-Christian, who might actually go crazy! but with the Holy Spirit, i will never be afraid of the sacrifices He asks me to make, or the path He decides to send me on! submission is a beautiful thing.

i realize that most children in public school who have involved, sincere Christian parents at home, do end up following the Lord when they grow up, but i think a lot of confusion and time-wasting frivolity comes in in the meantime. (it did for me.) also, along with homeschooling, i think early child training is totally key, and parents must be loving and gentle as well as firm in their approach. (the Bible teaches gentle and total communication with children, it is not just "spanking is the only thing to do.") i am seeing now that i did not have consistent and insistent early childhood training in respect, thankfulness, cheerfulness, immediate obedience, listening, etc. what i want for my children is to be able to follow the Christian path without that too-commonly-seen-as-necessary period of rebellion. i reject the idea that the period of rebellion is inevitable and that it is even good. i think God would rather have that we never rebel. it IS possible to experience His goodness and be on fire in spirit faith without that experience. and that is why i look to families who have raised children to adulthood who 1) are contented, sincere, brave, joyful, on-fire christians making a difference (NOT separated from society as adults), and 2) haven't felt the need to rebel. all of the families like this i have researched have homeschooled. so i see it not only as encouraged in the Bible, but also supported by real life, modern day examples that i can observe for myself. now i think for me one of the hardest things has been to humble myself and get the stereotype out of my head that homeschooling families are boring, or that the life devoid of rebellion is boring. yeah. that's been a challenge.

the other concept i've come across recently is "unschooling," which is basically an extension of modern psychology trends crossed with new-age humanist beliefs about how to raise "free" and creative children. my friend pointed me to a blog (walk slowly, live wildly) that expounded in some depth about the theory of "unschooling," though i had already come across the concept in real life situations.

i sort of love it, sort of hate it. like the ideals behind it, love that they (and we!) live in a country where this is (still) allowed, and i agree with what the author says about socialization, reading, and math. however, i think this is a really misguided way to raise a child, especially for Christians. God gave us specific roles for a reason. and the specific roles are only for specific seasons. one need not feel sorry for a child for having parents that raise him up toward godly goals, restricting his choices especially while young, because this child eventually becomes an adult with his own children, and will get his turn to make all the choices! the parents have equipped him to make the right ones. i think it is wrong to teach a child that they are on par with adults in all ways. of COURSE their value is the same, but their roles are different, and their level of knowledge is very different. God put parents in the seat of authority over the child to teach discipline, self-denial, and self-control, (doing so with great love, constant communication, and gentleness,) and a love for learning. Proverbs 22:6 says, "train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." are the parents in the unschooling world doing anything resembling training? if anything, they are training the child to believe he is his own master, needing not to answer to anybody. parents should never feel bad for training into a child Biblical concepts and values. the Bible says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7), and we should start from scripture when it comes to education theory, not just throw it in there somewhere as one piece of the pie, should the child ask. there is much depth in that concept of training. it is not just pointing them in the right direction. it is consistently and continuously reinforcing things to children to teach them "the way they should go." not letting them go their own way, or choose their own path from childhood, but showing them the right path and training it into them.

I find that a lot of the time, as i used to be, parents are afraid they will crush a child's creativity, or spirit, if they give too much direction or restrict choices. the Bible speaks directly to this concept as well, and thankfully i came across this verse and was freed from the wavering lack of confidence i had in the way to go about child rearing: Proverbs 15:4 says, "A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit." this dispels the notion that one crushes the spirit by training a child or limiting choices early in life. instead, the way to crush a spirit is to have a manipulative, harsh, or "perverted" tongue: speaking things in rashness, irritation or anger, or speaking things that are distorted or untrue. personally, i found that when i let my youngsters have their choice of everything, it would lead to stress and be so unworkable that eventually i would get irritated and snap at them. giving toddlers a lot of choices or trying to accommodate their wills as much as possible is doing them a disservice. they don't even KNOW what they want, poor things, they are given over to the whims of their flesh! sometimes i would find that sparrow had asked for twenty things (some directly contradicting the others) in the space of five minutes, and no matter how much i tried to give her them all, she would still go on wanting, and being unhappy! i'm sorry, but a child is NOT a mere "guest in your home." a child is your God-given responsibility, to raise up in the ways of the Lord. let us take up our task with fear and reverence, that we might present our children to Him whole!

the family of "walk slowly, live wildly" will raise a very self-confident and independent child, and that is where i think they've gone wrong. nothing in the scripture indicates that we should focus on self-confidence nor independence. indeed, the scripture decries these "qualities." i am not speaking of God-given self-worth here, but society's interpretation of self-confidence, which really boils down to self-love, something quite ugly. i know it is a total social no-no to be down on self-confidence, but it's TRUE. well, time will tell, will it not? i have found that the families who have used a style of parenting that originates in the Bible and doesn't sway to current social trends, have ended up with children who ARE very capable and smart and innovative as well as able to follow the Lord obediently, not stifled and boring, if you can imagine! (gasp!) and then there is the practical factor: the family in the above-mentioned blog, has a mere two children. would their parenting style work with three, four, ten children? Nooooooo.... and yet, God somehow (mistakenly?) made our wombs to work over, and over, and over again. it seems that God designed us to have big families, and it would therefore be wiser to adopt a parenting approach that would work with many children, whether you have one or one dozen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


there is so much to catch up on from the last few weeks. yes, we now live in san francsico! i never thought i would live in san francisco. it was a city i visited during a spring break in college. a city to be gawked at, enjoyed, arms flung wide. and then go home to your quiet corner and think about it all over several months. right? coming here is a bit like journeying to europe. it is not for living in, is it??!! for me the high cost of living has always been the main deterrent (ever since having children, that is. i picture myself now rather in kansas with a quiet place that may accommodate a garden and a tree house.) who wants to live in an amazing urban scene when one by necessity stays home all the time anyway? but i knew santa barbara was not the place for us to stay either. that has been on my heart for several years. i am SO relieved we moved. and in recent years it has become clear that san francisco is a place where we must be, at least for awhile. thomas has been feeling the call for this city in many ways, and i love that it is my duty to follow and support, not worrying about cost of living and details about the future. if i were the head of the family, i would worry, you see. but God has made my job very clear, and so i am not stressed by decisions that are not mine to make. where God leads thomas is where He is leading me. that is marriage, and i feel blessed for the protection and covering it affords. of course i do not sit there like a doormat. my opinion is made known. but i speak it as my opinion, not my ultimatum. and peace reigns in a house with an arrangement like that. how thankful i am to have learned that!

the weeks before the move were rather stressful, yes, i kept feeling that i would like to pack more every night and the days were dwindling. i know how crazy it is to move, but i have never done it with two children before. and i was determined to pack everything in an organized fashion this time. thanks to emilie barnes' "survival for busy women," i had my packing plan, i just needed time to implement it! but i did in the end manage to pack most of our things with my very organized card file system. (now if only i could have convinced my husband to let me do the same with his things as well!!!) still, the end was very, very crazy. we got a storage space in santa barbara for now, because we were staying with thomas' friend Al in SF to begin with. during the last few days, he did nothing but move things into storage, sell furniture, clear things out, etc. etc. which left me to finish the home packing and do all the cleaning. poor thomas, i am sure he would have loved to take over a lot of the cleaning. he was just too swamped. then there was easter in the middle of it all (easter was on sunday the 4th, and tues. the 6th was our last day in the apt.) and for me the challenge was finding time to do this intense work. mostly during children's naps and night sleeps. my MOPS table ladies came through in an amazing way. every night for the last week, someone brought over dinner for us! that was such a gift from God, i had no idea i would need that, but i did! most of my afternoons are normally spent preparing dinner.

we had people stop in here and there to help clean, too, what amazing friends we have made! holly lomelino took my children more than once so i would have time. melissa came by several times, naomi dillon cleaned my entire fridge and freezer, heather purvis came over and worked on blinds, baseboards, bathrooms and cupboards! abby swaney from mops took the girls 9-5 on monday. i have never left them for that long! monday night i stayed up til 3 am cleaning, since i had no arrangements for the girls the next day, but i was able to drop them off at holly's again, praise God, and that is where they stayed until 10:30 that night. we were intending to leave on tuesday after we got it all cleaned, but by tuesday afternoon there were still piles of unorganized things on our living room floor, and it was getting quite clear that this would not be done in time to make a 350-mile trek that evening. we made arrangements to stay at the dillons that night. another big thank you! holly had sent over some boys from the dp house, and that was such an encouragement to me, in that last stretch, we didn't even know them, and they came in there, and did everything i asked! baseboards, walls, light fixtures, vacuuming, blinds, windows, closets. i know it would not have gotten done without them. and they accepted nothing in return! they didn't even want pizza! wow, God has his angels everywhere.

i had been pretty concerned about inhaling cleaning chemicals in my pregnant state, but there was nothing to be done about it. by tuesday evening, however, i started to feel very strange in my abdomen. my stomach had been hurting ever since lunch, and now i thought i was feeling tightening in the womb, and i hadn't noticed the baby moving. horrible thoughts. melissa was over cleaning out the space under and behind the fridge, and she made me sit down for awhile. she prayed for me, and as soon as she did, the baby started moving. soon i was able to start vacuuming again. and on and on we went, until yes, 10:30 that night. when i saw the bags and bags and piles of things that we were intending to bring to san francisco now (instead of storing), my heart sank. there were already 2 motorcycles and 2 bicycles in the back of the truck, and then to bring 3 guitars?... the girls and i had in the volvo filled with 3 suitcases and 2 plastic bins and a pack n play and some bedding, and bathroom stuff, and then the food for the journey must fit, and laptop and bible and children! we had to fit a crib mattress into the truck for sparrow to have a bed at al's, and then there was all of thomas' needed clothing and some file boxes with paperwork and thomas' feldenkrais blankets and random bags of: children's helmet, bicycle helmet, lamps to bring, etc. my, it was a stash! but somehow the next morning he made it all fit, and by 10 am we were really off on the journey!!

the girls and i listened to sparrow's new cds from holly: "questions with answers" which i'd never heard of before. it is all systematic songs about the basic doctrine questions, with verse references in the songs, it was amazing! i was getting all choked up with it! ah the beauty of truth. it is a 3-cd set by Dana Dirksen, a mother of six. get your hands on the original, lovely, edifying music at Songs for Saplings. I LOVE that we have come to this crazy city, and my Sparrow now belts out "will God ever die? NO! God lives forever!" as we are out and about, instead of some meaningless swill about duckies on a pond... seriously, these songs playing in the car as we drive about town reminds me why we are here, and that we are part of a different culture of peace, joy, and victory! here is a little synopsis of our journey north:

10 am- the journey begins! golden and sparrow really into saying "goodbye, goleta! goodbye mountains! goodbye santa barbara beaches!"
11 am-golden falls asleep. blanket in her window keeps out the sun.
12:30 pm- atascadero. lunch at in-n-out. i had been talking to omi on the phone for 40 mins. or so. (still no baby for her. now due end of april.) girls love the french fries. change golden's poopy diaper standing up in the parking lot. (my dream: every public place equipped with a changing table.)
1:30 pm- on the road again.
2 pm- sparrow falls asleep. i am almost falling asleep myself. need coffee!
2:45 pm- starbucks stop near salinas. oj for girls. change golden's poopy diaper again! on grass this time. good thing she tells us when she has a poopy diaper! i wouldn't have checked...
3:30 pm-on the road again.
4:30 pm-near san jose. bathroom stop at krispy kreme. make an obligatory purchase of 1 donut to share among us. golden learns the word "donut" with alarming speed. golden poops again! (aren't you supposed to poop less while traveling?) thank God krispy kreme has a changing table. thomas puts gas in the truck. almost back on the 101, we see the traffic is really slow and make a quick turnaround, stopping off near a business park with some grass and trees. girls and i take a walk and play with the snapdragons at google headquarters.
5:30 pm- on the road again. traffic is slow but not awful. we've gotta go forward.
6:15 pm- arrival in san francisco at 121 gladstone ave. uncle al receives us with such loveliness. a whole room, with a beautifully made up futon bed awaits. thomas unpacks the cars and then goes to trader joe's to get us some dinner. golden falls asleep before dinner in the pack n play. sparrow stays up late. 1st evening in san francisco!

yes, and uncle al has been super lovely the whole time: patient, gentle, allowing free use of his kitchen, bathroom, etc. he lends me his gps system, gives advice on the city, helps bring in the groceries, plays with the girls, and generally never has any disparaging tone or word. but we know we can't stay here forever! we MUST get our own place, and thomas MUST get work. we are leaning on the Lord, crying out to him, but we know we must also act. applications are in to peet's and trader joe's around town, and that may be what is necessary in the beginning, but i have faith for much more, a job that will make thomas amazed at God's specific provision and grace, a job that will pay for cost of living here, and we know that that is what God will bring if He intends for us to stay.

the girls and i have been having a bit of a vacation feeling, exploring the city, and it has brought very memorable adventures. they are adjusting beautifully. in this whole process, golden even weaned herself! i don't think i've nursed her even just for comfort in several days! she now prefers to snuggle. thought i was going to have a hard time trying to do this without overwhelming her about the timing of the move, the baby, etc. i really didn't want to wean her at all, i think she's too young to have it forced on her, so i am glad she did it herself.

all in all, we are doing great. so thankful to the Lord for all the friends who supported our going and gave money, time, etc. to make it happen. so many of our SB friends sacrificed for us, and that is humbling. Christ in action. the church here is great, we have been to 2 sundays now, and people are really excited we are here. i think that the intensity of the city has also spurred us on to increase the intensity of the Christian training of our children. our family devotion times have been sweet. all to God and for God, we remember He is good no matter what happens.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

excited about letters

sparrow has been getting into the beginnings of writing letters. the first sound we have worked on is the "oo" sound, and her first written words were "boot" and "boo." this was not a systematic teaching of mine, but rather grew out of a book we were reading called "toot and puddle" by holly hobbie. (a wonderful book with great illustrations.) the repetition of the short name "toot" made it easy for her to learn to read it, and we went on to writing from there.

here are her first written words:

doing great, and she writes whenever she gets the chance! but look what ended up on her grandmother's easter card last night!! i laughed until i cried.

then tonight, she wanted to play "coffee." she said, "i'll be the person that earns the money and you be the person that buys the coffee." she poured me a nice latte that cost twenty dollars. then she wrote me a receipt!

i am loving this. precious moments in the midst of moving craziness.