Monday, November 30, 2009

Options

Christina's new favorite thing to say is "Can you give me some options?"

Whether the question is "What would you like to eat?" or "What show would you like to watch?", her response is always "Can you give me some options?"

It was really cute at first, and I know she picked it up from me.  I would ask her a question and she would say "I don't know," so I would say, "Would you like me to give you some options?"  But now she says it ALL THE TIME.

Even if I tell her no, I won't give her any options, she'll follow up with "Wanna think, think, think?"  She got this from the TV show "My Friends Tigger and Pooh."  There's a song on it that goes like this:

Now's the time to think, think, think.
If you have a problem, think, think, think.
Look at every clue like the Super Sleuths do
And just think - think - think!

It's really cute, but when you hear it every day, it kind of drives you crazy!

P.S.  After writing the word "think" that many times, it's kind of lost it's meaning!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Halloween?


OK, so I know it's past Halloween now, so it's an odd time to be writing this.  I also know that Christina and I had lots of fun this year celebrating Halloween, so it may seem wierd that I'm questioning it.

Recently I've been catching up on the blogs that I follow, and since many of them are written by Christian women, there have been lots of opinions going around about whether or not to celebrate Halloween.  Obviously, Halloween isn't Biblical.  (Actually, most of our American holidays aren't - nowhere in the Bible does it talk about commemorating Jesus' birth with a Christmas celebration, or His resurection with an Easter celebration.  As I understand it, these holidays were created by the Roman Catholic Church to draw attention away from pagan celebrations that were going on at the same time - note how Christmas is right around the time of the winter solstice, and Easter is at the beginning of spring.)

One blog that I read simply listed some scriptures and directed the reader to pray and follow God's leading.  Here are some of the scriptures that really affected me:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil . - 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. - Phillipians 4:8

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ... - Titus 2:11-13

This really makes me think that maybe it's not such a good thing to be celebrating Halloween.

One day shortly before Halloween, I took Christina to what we called the "Halloween store" - the old "Circuit City" store, which, since having gone out of business, had been transformed temporarily into a Halloween costume/decoration shop.  While there was a small section of the store with toddler costumes, which is what I was there to look at, most of the store was filled with lots of scary decorations, many of which had motion sensors, so the scary monster or decapitated head would start moving if you got too close.  It was then that I noticed an emotion in Christina that I had never seen in her before.  She was clearly terrified of being in the store, and yet she had such a curiosity about it that she didn't want to leave.  She had me carry her the whole time, and many times she buried her face in my neck, but when I said that we were leaving, she didn't want to go and started to throw a tantrum.  It really makes me think of when I'm watching a horror movie - I'm scared, but I don't turn the movie off - I want to see what happens, even though I know it won't be good.


Even during our trip to the zoo, when we went into the "Boomazium," Christina was really scared and had me carry her the whole way.  On Halloween evening, my father-in-law and his wife took Christina trick-or-treating around their neighborhood while Sean and I went out to dinner with a friend.  It sounds like everything went great until they got to a house with a motion-sensored ghost that was right around Christina's height.  Christina got scared and didn't want to go to that house, and then, to top it off, a lady in a witch costume came out and started playing some spooky music on her guitar.  Suffice it to say that after that house, Christina decided she was done trick-or-treating.


Thinking about all of that "evil" that Christina was exposed to makes me feel really bad.  If we're supposed to "meditate on" things that are "true...noble...just...pure...[and] lovely," then Halloween seems like the exact opposite of that.  The hard part is, of course, figuring out how to not celebrate Halloween when all of our friends and extended family do.  Even my church participates in a local "trunk-or-treat."


I've thought about finding a church that hosts a "harvest festival" or "harvest party" on October 31st, but as this website (scroll to the second article) points out:


The Harvest Party is usually referred to as the Christian alternative to traditional Halloween hijinx. Alternative, however, implies substitute. It assumes our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won't be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something.


Now, as I said before, I feel torn.  On the one hand, I feel like there are lots of ways to "tone down" Halloween and make it less scary - after all, there are plenty of very cute costumes that wouldn't be considered scary or evil at all.  But...it does seem like it would be hard to get away from being exposed to anything scary on that day, since I'm not in control of what other people wear as costumes or use as decorations.  And ultimately, Halloween is not, and never will be, a Christian holiday...even if churches do join in on the celebration.

In any case, thank goodness I have a whole year to think about it and make a decision!

Friday, November 13, 2009

How I became the wife I am today

I have changed SO much since I got married, and I'd like to share that story with you.

Sean and I got married pretty much right out of high school - I was 19, Sean was 18.  Both of us come from families of divorce - his parents divorced when he was 2, my parents when I was 16 (although my parents are now reconciled and living together).  I definitely came of age with the belief that a woman can do anything a man can do, and that marriage should be a relationship between two equal partners.  Basically, I thought the main goal in life was to find happiness for yourself.  Boy have my opinions changed!

Shortly after getting married, Sean was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas (he was in the Marine Corps), so our first experience of living together was thousands of miles away from our family and friends.  I soon found out this was a blessing in disguise.

As a newly married, newly cohabitating couple, we of course had fights, and each one seemed like the worst fight we ever had, even if it was about something trivial.  During that first year I called my mom SO much to vent about whatever fight Sean and I were in the middle of.  She was always totally supportive of me, and she would get good and mad at Sean WITH me.  I soon learned the problem with this.  Because even after Sean and I had talked things out and made up, my mom would still be holding a grudge against him.  It took me a few years before I realized that for the sake of my marriage, I had to stop venting to my parents.  So now, whenever they ask about how things are going between Sean and I, I always say we're doing great.  It's really hard to say that sometimes, when inside I'm REALLY angry and need to talk, but I've learned to keep my mouth shut!

Before we decided to have kids, Sean and I both worked.  He was still the main breadwinner of the house, as he was in the military, while I was basically going from job to job, trying to find a good "fit."   During this whole time, Sean did most of the cooking for us, and I did the cleaning (which really consisted of dishes, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom when it got to looking REALLY bad).  I had always planned to be a stay-at-home-mom once we had kids, and Sean let me know that in exchange for that, he wanted me to start cooking for us.  For some reason, I fought SO hard against that.  I had it stuck in my mind that I shouldn't have to cook.  Everything had been going just fine as it was - so why did it have to change just because I stayed at home?  Wasn't taking care of a baby considered a MORE than full-time job?  It was really a pride issue for me.  And I'll tell you, I really fought the idea as long as I could, and Sean knew it was something I wasn't happy about.

Then I got pregnant, and I quit my job shortly before we moved back up to Washington.  Sean and I decided I wouldn't work for the rest of my pregnancy, because let's face it - no one is going to hire a visibly pregnant woman.  And in any case, it would have only been a few months of work, because I planned to quit as soon as the baby was born.  And that's when Sean "put his foot down."  If I was going to stay at home, I was going to cook our meals and make his lunches for him to take to work.  ARGGGGGHHHH!  So, I did it, but I had a BAD attitude about it.  It took a really long time before I realized how God was at work in me during that time, destroying all that nasty PRIDE that I had in myself, teaching me to SUBMIT and OBEY.

When Christina was born, Sean and I went through a really rough patch.  I don't think either of us realized just how hard being a parent is.  On top of that, Christina had colic for the first 4-6 months of her life, so ALL of my time was spent taking care of her or sleeping.  I'm sure you see how this can be really bad for a marriage.  Sean was feeling neglected, so he turned to his computer games for distraction, and I was feeling exhausted and angry that Sean wasn't helping me out more!

Things definitely improved for us as Christina got older and a little more independent.  Both of our parents helped out with babysitting so Sean and I could go out on date nights.  And little by little, we connected with each other again.

But really, up until fairly recently, I always resented Sean a little bit for the freedom that he seemed to have.  When he comes home from work, he can relax and watch TV or play on the computer, while I take care of Christina pretty much 24/7 (not to say that he never plays with her, but it's only when HE wants to).  He has made it very clear to me that it is his job to go to work and support our family, and it is my job to take care of Christina and do all the cooking and cleaning.  Again, I felt that ugly PRIDE flaring up again.  Why should it be MY job to take care of Christina even after Sean got home from work?  I had friends who would hand off their kid to their husband as soon as they walked in the door.  These same friends would go to "moms night out" events while their husbands stayed at home with the kids.  To this day I have never been to one of those events.  And I thought it was just so UNFAIR.

But God has done a lot of work in me, and in my husband too.  I did a lot of reading on the subject of submission (One good book is Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford, and another is The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Larua Schlessinger.)  I've come to see what a BLESSING (not an OBLIGATION) it is to take care of my family.  And as I've submitted to my husbands wishes (for childcare, cooking and cleaning, and intimacy), I've seen his love for me grow and grow.  He constantly tells me how good I am to him and how I make his life so much better.  And, a few months ago, Sean agreed to watch Christina for a couple hours every Wednesday evening so I could go to a Bible study (Considering he's not a Christian himself, this was a HUGE blessing!).

Recently, I saw a clip from the Rachel Ray Show on a blog post that talks about women who are living the way I am.  Stay-at-home-moms and wives who take pleasure in cooking and cleaning and keeping a home while their husbands go to work and support the household.  Now, to be honest, it would be hard for me to say that I really "take pleasure" in cooking and cleaning!  But at the same time, I wouldn't want my life to be any other way.  I'm not speaking for ALL women, just for myself, when I say that I truly believe that "my place is in the home."  I am SO looking forward to homeschooling Christina and seeing her grow and mature right before my eyes.  And I am so greatful to be able to bless Sean by taking care of our home and allowing him the freedom to relax when he gets home from work.  I never thought I would end up so "old-fashioned," but I love it!

P.S.  Here's another great blog post about being a "retro wife": On One Income

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christian dressing

No, I'm not talking about a new salad dressing made especially by/for Christians!  I've recently become interested in the way that Christians are called to dress (as in clothes).

Picture from Garlands of Grace

On Friday I read a blog post about Christian head covering.  I didn't even know that head covering was scriptural, until I was directed to 1 Corinthians 11:3-16:

3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
 11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.


There are lots of different opinions on this subject.  I've read that some people think that long hair is considered a covering, while others believe that you should wear a fabric covering over your hair.  Some people believe you should only wear a covering when praying or at church, while others choose to wear a covering all the time.  Some people believe that only married women need to wear head coverings, while others believe ALL women should.  I'm not sure how I feel about the subject, but I plan to do some more research on it.

In any case, reading about head covering got me interested in what the Bible says about how women should dress.  I found this blog which explained more about the subject.  It cites Deuteronomy 22:5:

5 A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.


Picture from The Play Dress


In biblical times (and really up until about 60 years ago), women did not wear pants - only men did.  What this says to me is that Christian women should wear dresses or skirts, not pants or shorts.  Of course, only a few verses later, the same chapter says:


11 Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. - Deuteronomy 22:11


and

 22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. - Deuteronomy 22:22


So I do see how that particular command may be seen as more cultural than as a command still to be followed today.


The Bible also says:

2 Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil.   Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams.  3 Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered.  I will take vengeance; I will spare no one." - Isaiah 47:2-3

What this seems to say is that having your thigh uncovered is likened to nakedness.  So, the dresses and skirts that we wear should be knee length or longer.


I believe that the idea of dressing modestly ultimately points to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:


28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


As a Christian woman, it is my responsibility to make sure that I am not enticing any man (other than my husband) to lust after me.

After some thought and prayer on the subject, I've decided that I'm going to start wearing skirts everyday instead of pants.  This will not be an immediate change.  God made it very clear to me that I am not to use this new command as an excuse to overhaul my wordrobe and buy a bunch of new clothes.  Instead, it will be a gradual process.  I'll start wearing the skirts that I already have more often, and when I need to buy new clothes, I'll focus on skirts instead of pants.  (This goes for how I will dress Christina as well.)

The thing you should know about me in accepting this command from God, is that I am a jeans and t-shirt girl all the way.  This will not be an easy change for me to make.  But I've already noticed that just by wearing a skirt these last few days, I've thought more about God and how I'm doing this for Him.  It keeps my faith at the front of my mind - and maybe that's why God called me to take on this command.  He's reminding me once again that it's not about ME, it's about HIM.

If you'd like to read more about the subject of modest dressing, please check out these articles:
*The Bible's Dress Code
*Dresses Only

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Teeny Tiny Hamburger!

Am I the only one who thinks these hamburger gummi candies are just adorable?  They don't taste very good, and they're WAY too chewy - but they're SO CUTE!


Are you frustrated?


I've had a tough last few days with Christina.  I don't know what's going on, but she is going through a very defiant phase (which I know I've mentioned before - it comes in waves).  But she's also very good at picking up on my emotions when I'm losing my temper.  When I get upset, I tell her that "I'm very frustrated right now."  So now, when she notices that I'm in a mood, she'll ask me "Mommy, are you frustrated?"  And if I say yes, she stops what she's doing and gives me a hug.

She asks me if I'm frustrated if I'm in any mood other than happy, so I know I need to start putting names to my other emotions as well (sad, bored, etc. - I even told Sean I was feeling melancholy the other day!).  But I'm so glad that Christina can recognize when I'm not happy and that she wants to make me feel better.

I recently picked up a book from the library called No Matter What, by Debi Gliori.  In it, the child fox, Small, is feeling "grim and grumpy" and acts out by upturning the living room.  When the parent fox, Large, asks what's wrong, Small begins to ask if Large would still love him if he were a "grumpy grizzly bear" or a crocodile.  Large reassures Small that he will always be loved, no matter what.

I read that book to Christina last night before bed (and after a particularly "tantrum-y" evening).  I told Christina to always remember that no matter how frustrated Mommy and Daddy get, and no matter how mad she gets or how many tantrums she has, Sean and I will always love her.  I think God must have planned for me to pick up this book when I did, because the timing was perfect.  I don't think I impress enough upon Christina that love doesn't go away just because we're angry.  In fact, the reason we get so angry is because we love so much.

As a parent, I want the best for my child.  I want her to be safe and happy, and I also want her to grow up understanding that she IS under authority.  I want her to choose to surrender her life to God and submit to HIS authority.  And I know that in order for her to understand what that means, she has to know how to submit to parental authority first.  I've told her before, after a time-out, that she has to obey Mommy and Daddy because God put us in charge of her.  Obviously I'm very careful not to abuse the authority that I've been given, but I want her to know that by obeying us, she is obeying God and making Him happy.

So many people just HATE the idea of anyone being in a position of authority over them.  But you know what?  Submitting myself to God's will is so FREEING!  It means that I don't have to worry about my life - God will take care of me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  -Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.  -Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version