The Flip-Side of Interrogation

As you are well aware, we visited several daycares, centers and in-home facilities.  Whenever individuals found out we were Christian, they asked our stance on Halloween.  I responded that we are okay with it, so long as we steer away from satanic things.  The more people inquired, the more I started asking myself questions.

1.) Why do we celebrate Halloween if we pursue Christ?

2.) How did Halloween originate?  Is it any more pagan in origin than Christmas and Easter (which have merely been adapted throughout church history for Christian purposes)?

3.) If permitted from a biblical standpoint, to what extent is it acceptable?

4.) Am I reluctant to give it up because I would be stigmatized at work? With friends?  How much do I need to let go of approval addiction?

5.) Isn’t Purim similar enough?

6.) What is truly living in the world but not being of the world?***

7.) Can we just enjoy the candy aspect of it?  Isn’t this what children really think it is about?  Are we promoting diabetes?  Why are so many food holidays about junk food and carbs?

8.) People are killed and sacrificed on Halloween in rituals.  Are they not killed and sacrificed in rituals on other days too?  What makes Halloween so evil?

9.) Why are we so mesmerized by the paranormal and supernatural, but struggle with Christ’s authority and power?

10.) Can’t this time be used for fellowship and evangelism?  (We met our neighbors about 3 years ago by going trick or treating.  No one came to our door.  As such, we went to them and handed out candy.  Not only did we meet our neighbors, we have founded friendships and been able to share the love of Christ over meals and general interaction at other times of the year.)

Perhaps we over-spiritualize too many things and under-spiritualize others.  Oh Lord, grant discernment in these muddy waters of living in the world, but not of it***.

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A First Observation: A Day Care Experience

We had a daycare tour, one of many in the next couple of weeks.  (We have seen three so far and have seven more to go and one left to schedule; we saw one months ago.  That would bring the total to around 12 observed) Gosh, I am exhausted.

Yesterday was a good visit.  The director was more reserved than I am.  Sometimes I find it hard to gauge the room when personalities vary.  Extroverts tend to express emotion openly so you can read their feelings pretty easily.  Anyways, other than not being 100% sure as to the “feeling” of the director about us, it went well.  We even witnessed one of the firsts in our search experience, let alone total experience with childcare (i.e. church nurseries).

There was a man!  *Stand aghast folks*

Yup, and yes, there was a small part of me that had an initial trepidation (a byproduct of sexist culture).  Then I thought on it and said, “Yes, this is equality.  This is incredible.  The director didn’t discriminate based on sex.  Females are just as capable of abuse/assault as a man.  A man can be just as competent in childcare as a woman.  This makes me inexpressibly happy.  My kids love their dad and will have a male role model if they attend here.”

I’ve often wondered why daycare is such a female saturated market.  Yes, there is something to say about general interest.  However, how much of that is natural interest or coerced?  When we live in a society that sometimes labels dad watching the kids as “babysitting”, it is no wonder that we segregate fields.  Men are not inept at caring for a kid.

It is a sad state of affairs when society thinks women are better at it.  We aren’t better, we are just different.  In fact, I tend to think my husband is better at spending time with the girls than I am.  He is a much more patient and gentle person.  Things don’t bother him as easily.  My husband is perfectly capable of such things.  I get frustrated when women don’t trust their husbands to watch the kids.  If you don’t trust your husband to watch your children, why did you marry him?

I guess that is too accusatory.  Yes, I know people change.  Kids have their own personalities that can flow more readily with one parent’s personality over the other.  However, there needs to be trust in parenting.  If you trusted that person enough with your body or enough to make a public covenant, why not trust them to care your children?  Finances? (This excludes cases of abuse, sexual assault, addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn (specifically child), and poor mental health status of course.)

All this to say, I admired the courage of this man to be willing to endure criticisms of women.  I admired the director’s boldness in hiring a guy which might jeopardize her enrollment figures (with our society the way it is).   I admire the parents willing to entrust their children with a man that isn’t “family” (but could be considered as it eventually).  You should be applauded.  Way to stand against biases, stereotypes, and judgement!

Needless to say, this place is ranking high on our list.  The main drawback is distance.

 

Unearthing Holiness: Spearing the Sea for the Soul

Mud squished between my toes,

water lapped at my ankles.

Dirt crusted my nails

as I dug through earth,

uncovering the shell.

Pocketing my discovery, I continued to venture forth,

trailing behind our knowledgeable Aboriginal guide.

As my thumb flicked the rough surface of the mussel,

my other hand intertwined with my husband’s,

we listened to our guide regale us with folklore, tradition, and culture.

He cautioned us to tread lightly,

not racing.

Do so and your feet would become ensnared by the mangroves we were meandering through.

So slowly we traveled,

careful thought on foot placement so as not to jab the sole.

mangroves

While traipsing, we caught sight of a crab.

We thrust spears and caught future nourishment.

spearing crab

Eventually we found ourselves at his doorstep, the stoop surrounded by fresh coconuts.

coconuts

Our guide, Juan picked it up, hauling it into his parent’s home.

Inside, he continued to tell us stories as we munched on our fresh morning catch and ripe fruit.

crab dish

Time was steady here, it was a simple life, difficult, but enjoyable.  We lounged, tired from fending for our own food.

When you empty yourselves of busyness, savor the moment, you’ll truly find the abundance of living in the present.

This was a taste of sustenance living, this was fellowship, this was an earthly embrace with the divine…or most certainly a close encounter.

If you are interested in such an experience, please contact Juan.  You will not be disappointed!  This remains one of our favorite memories to this day.  It was one of the best authentic experiences we’ve ever had while traveling as a couple.

http://www.walkaboutadventures.com.au/Walkabout/Home.html  (Port Douglas, Australia)

(Whenever I write a travel blog, I secretly hope that #BMTM (bemytravelmuse) or Nomadic Matt will stumble across it.  I admire their work and would enjoy their feedback!)

Checklist for daycare

As I continue my hunt for care, I came up with a list of questions to ask when I go on tours.

*The most important part of a child’s care is nurturing their soul.  This is best when care providers assist spiritual development.  Some facilities provide this, but it is not common place anymore.  When a facility can not be found that will help nourish this aspect of a child’s education/development, it must be done at home.  Barring this availability, I found that the checklist below is a good outline when interviewing potential babysitters/daycare centers.  (Since ultimate education, spiritual development, and character shaping is the responsibility of a guardian anyways.)

  • How much outdoor time do kids get a day? Are they allowed to play in snow/rain?
  • Are meals included? What types of meals are given?
  • Are cloth diapers permitted to help alleviate diaper costs for families?
  • Is technology/screen time limited to less than 2 hours a day?
  • What educational model/theories do you ascribe to?
  • Are there field trips?
  • Are contracted days required for payment for sick, vacation, or holiday time?
  • How sterile do you keep your environment? (Too sterile?)
  • How much is tuition? (Paid weekly/bi-weekly)
  • Are there discounts: sibling, military, financial relief?
  • How are teachers screened?
  • How do you ensure kids are not being abused (spanked without necessity (i.e. dangerous situation)…used to discipline when kids hit other kids, etc.)
  • How do you discipline/correct a child?
  • Are kids forced to sit and learn if they aren’t feeling like participating or will alternate activities be available?
  • What certifications/credentials/etc. are required by your staff? How well are your providers screened?
  • Are kids forced to a schedule or do you operate on as-needed basis (i.e. diapers every two hours, but if peed 10 min. after a diaper change, they will be changed again)? e. feed when hungry rather than force to eat at set times? Sleep when fatigued or sleep train?
  • Are kids taught practical life skills: food prep, cleaning, hygiene?
  • Are you licensed/credentialed?
  • Do you have a code for taxes so I can file for deductions?
  • Do kids get to interact with the various ages or are they limited to kids only their age?

Best wishes on your search friends.  It isn’t an easy task to entrust children with friends or family for extended periods of time due to having to work, but we know, ultimately, God watches over our little ones.  We can only have so much control.  It is also our responsibility to let our little ones fly, reach their potential, and be disciples themselves, rather than always being sheltered and relying on guardian opinions and faith.

The Costs of Childcare: Heavily Reliance on Prayer and Christ devotion.

A friend recently fell ill and is unable to watch my daughter Willow now.  Willow will be returning to the care she had prior to this friend homeschooling her.  It is more convenient, but not ideal.  I am on a hunt for very specific criteria.  Sadly, the facility that meets my criteria isn’t available until January.  Baby 3 arrives in March and then we will need to terminate any childcare because it will be too expensive.

My wishlist:

1.) Bible verse memorization and Bible study

2.) Multi-age (I don’t want kids divided by age group.  I don’t like this in schools and I think it is a horrible model for real life.)

3.) Heavily focused on outdoor play (even in “inclement weather”; my philosophy is that there isn’t bad weather, just inappropriate attire for the climate).

4.) Montessori or child-led learning (work in the interests of the child…if they aren’t feeling it, let them stop and come back until focus can be had).

5.) Teaches basic living skills: hygiene (nutritious eating, teeth brushing, hair combing, using the toilet), cleaning, and cooking

6.) Exciting field trips—fire stations, zoo, etc.

7.) Teaching basic finances (that money doesn’t just come on trees and so you have to work…like chores)

8.) MINIMAL SCREEN TIME (THIS INCLUDES IPADS, COMPUTERS, PHONES)—MAXIMUM 2 HOURS A DAY!!! (PREFERABLY NO MORE THAN 30 MIN.)!!!!

Preferably, cost would be around $200/wk (max $400) if the provider offered meals and was willing to do cloth diapering for infant/non-potty-trained children.

God performs miracles and since I have spent nearly the whole day perusing options, it appears that this is an instance where I need a miracle.  Sometimes trust is easier in theory than it is in application.

Weaned for Witness: Letters of Gratitude and Charges to my children

I didn’t know it when you entered this world.  “They” always said that God’s timing was perfect.  When you are in the throngs of sorrow though, that isn’t what you want to hear.  In hindsight, it is so true.  You were and are the child we prayed for, that our hearts yearned for.

To my eldest daughter, Willow:

We waited four long years and suffered a miscarriage before we got to hold you.  Your smile brightens up the darkest hours.  You are incredibly jovial with such zest for life.  Enthusiasm is infectious and you spread it wherever you wander.

I could never have anticipated how you’d bring me closer to righteousness though.  Yes, parenthood helps us to understand God better because we understand him as our provider, care-taker, and nurturer.  However, I didn’t know I’d encounter grace when you convict me of sin.  I didn’t expect you to have a greater handle on theological concepts than I do.  Jesus did though.  “He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matt. 18:2-4.  

When we are in the car, I sometimes get agitated, borderline road rage filled.  When I grumble or yell, you’ll perk up.  Sometimes you shout and sometimes you whisper, “Mama, stop being so angry! Slow down.”  I take sharp curves a little too quickly and you’ll utter, “Whoa! Easy!”  In those moments, I am reminded to slow my pace, that I don’t need to rush, but to embrace the sacred moment of the present.

Occasionally, you catch me venting of a person who has frustrated me.  I’ll spiral to the pit of gossip, but just as I’m teetering into that gorge, you call out randomly, “We must obey God, pray for each other.”  You are most likely reciting those verses from route memory because it is part of your homeschooling curriculum.  However, God brings them to your mind in the hour I need to hear them the most.  While I might get frustrated that you have caught me in sin, I am grateful.

When I am sick, you throw a bag of candy into the grocery cart.  Apparently, I need it because I’m nauseous, or at least that is what you tell me.

You snuggle up next to me and pat my back when I am in pain.

Sometimes, when the back pain is severe enough, you offer to give me a massage.

When your sister is crying, you say, “It’ll be alright Fiona, you don’t need to cry.  I’m here.”

My heart swells and I couldn’t be more proud.  I pray you continue to act with such compassion, such tenderness, and such conviction.  You have been my remedy to sin malady at times.  Yes, I know it is God doing the work, but he really does use vessels and I’m glad it is you speaking to me.

To My Fiona Joy:

Willow was a long awaited prayer.  You are my most blessed surprise.  Your giggles penetrate somber air and morph the ambiance to joy.

Most of the time you really are your name.  You radiate pure joy.  You are contented to play with a toy for hours, studying its intricacies.  While I can’t know it yet, I have an inkling that you will be predisposed to mathematics and science, towards logic and reasoning.  It is my prayer that you would use it to speak truth with grace.  Continue to spread pure joy as you rest in the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are young yet, but I can see the buds of faith.  One of your favorite songs is the B-I-B-L-E.  You shout the word with such gusto!  You are drawn towards the Bible and flip through its pages with cheer on your cheeks and a smile stretched across your lips.  Quietly you listen to prayer, absorbing all that you can.

My daughters, God has blessed your father and I so richly.  It is our prayer that you continue to walk with the Lord, growing closer to him each day, and one day will spread this good news with others through love, hospitality, and service.  It has been our prayer that you would do a great work for the Lord together.  I can already see amity between you two; I pray it continues with richness and depth.

As we prepare to meet your sibling in March, we pray that amicable relationships will develop between all three of you.  We would love for all of you to pursue the Lord without abandon.  May you minister together as a tight knit group, a family entrenched with love.

We are excited to see this new dynamic. It’ll be interesting to witness how God continues to work through and in you all through your encounters with us, each other, and the world.

Go forth in love dear children knowing how deeply you have been loved and longed for.

 

*We: Your father and I

#howiwillchange

There are many men being mocked for realizing how they might have contributed to sexual harassment, assault, or rape and saying they want to change/modify behaviors and attitudes.  Sadly, the mentality of “boys will be boys” is rampant in the world.

“Boys will be boys” doesn’t take into account that some behaviors should not be tolerated.  I don’t want my daughters to violate other people.  Should boys be permitted to do this simply because they have been labeled “more visual”, “more physical”, or “more active”?  There are biological differences between men and women.  Yes, men, on average, tend to be physically stronger than women.  It is a byproduct of increased testosterone.  These differences do not excuse inappropriate behaviors or attitudes.

When we tell women to buck up, to just accept this language, we do a disservice to both men and women.  We aren’t challenging men to be better and we are making women endure objectification.

“Locker room talk” doesn’t have to be crass.  You can talk about beauty in non-lustful ways.  For those who are Christian, we are charged to do this!

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,  and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:29-32 (NRSV)

https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Foul-Language/

KJV

Ephesians 5:4 – Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Colossians 3:8-10 – But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  (emphasis on filthy communication)

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

2 Timothy 2:16 – But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Matthew 12:36 – But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Can we make jokes and have humor?  Yes, but as we see in Eph. 5:4, we are not to have filthy jesting.  I have partaken of such humor unfortunately.  I am called to repent and be transformed in the renewing of my mind though.  I need to do this.  If I make crass jokes am I being loving? No.  I am known as a Christian through love, self-sacrifice, and encouragement.  It is necessary we do this.

We should not sit idly by and accept lewd speech as acceptable “male” talk.  Even women can foul in this area.  Women shouldn’t objectify men either.  We are to be self-controlled in word, deed, and thoughts.

The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good andhonorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow ofhis heart.” Lk. 6:45 (biblegateway.com)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

-Ps. 51

When we alter our thoughts, our words will change because our hearts have been revived towards purity and holiness.  When our words change, we will begin to see our actions following suit. Then society will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and his immeasurable grace.  Praise be to God, the author and perfecter of our faith.

 

#metoo

Sitting and leaning against the silver railing, perched on the step,

while a friend was cross-legged on the ground.

Intrigued by her story, the naive girl leaned forward.

A curious boy next to the girl.

Slowly, finger tips slid up the shirt then trailed down,

dipping into jeans and then underwear.

Here was the friend regaling a tale.

Surely his hand couldn’t be slapped away or words cried out without drawing attention to the situation.

Silently she sat, biting the inside of her lip.

She didn’t want it even though she grew moist with each twirl of his digits.

Her body lying to him about the pleasure she wasn’t experiencing.

The story concluded.

Sadly, the damage of the experience did not.

The girl took a trail of self-deprecation, loathing, and wounding until freedom was found in surrender.

Freedom was finally gained in admitting the pain, forgiving an abuser, removing the masks, and clothing herself in the identity of a royal’s daughter.

She’d have to forgive again to the teen who tried, but without satisfaction, to lick between her legs, and to a lustful guy who broke her heart because she refused to give him a bouquet and a pearl.

Those moments left scars oozing into a marriage and into its sacred bed.  The knight cradled her gently, to no avail.  She tried and she tried to relax in his embrace.  Friends told stories of extreme pleasure, but while content, still has yet to experience that joyous release of building, intentional, satisfying tension.

Not until the media’s wall was plastered with signs did she have the courage to confess the history, the path towards forgiveness, and the adoption of a true identity.

Perhaps now she’ll no longer be a captive of these negative antics, but instead relish in her husband’s compassion and finally squeal in being set free.  She will be free to enjoy the removal of guilt when indulging in romance; free to know tainted memories do not define her.

Christ’s strength is made perfect in human weakness; the testimony of restoration is a most gorgeous tapestry.

 

Tongue and Cheek

Bucking, spitting the bit;

but how smooth the Spirit would be

if only the metal tamed and bridled

this furious rush.

Flames follow

burning any resolute chance in its quake.

Such is the venom which flows from a restless,

disquieted, envious, grumbling soul.

Purple pulse’s call

A blade shakes,

light dancing on sharp, rusting metal.

Silent screams

echo endlessly

until porcelain cradles rose draped cream.

Momentary relief bows to eternal regret.

The tale’s regaled.

Hearers cloak themselves in velvet,

burying in black

a once vivid dreamer now burned to ash.