Monday, April 30, 2012

Counter cultural part 2

"If I had never been offended, I would never have gotten saved."

A dear friend told me this recently. And I was impacted by it.

Also I had a dream. It was a weird and funny dream, but I also thought it might have been a God dream.

In my dream I was on a talk show, I thought the 700 Club, being interviewed for having a lot of kids, and they were asking something to the effect of, are you trying to compete with the Duggars? And my answer was that I honor the Duggars, that I think they are amazing and graced by God for the role they play in our nation, and that we are simply a humbler, less organized, less photo ready, less populous family - that we let people know that having lots of kids is great even if you don't have your act together. Something like that. Then after the show, or between shows, the Duggars were at my parents house, and she was sweet and full of compassion towards us.

I felt like I need to let my little light shine, so to speak. I love people who live what they believe. I love seeing people's convictions walked out. I have strong convictions about some things that I walk out with a measure of integrity. I have others that I walk out with a measure of flakiness. And I have others that I wish I walked out but just don't. Yet.

So, as I write about my convictions, please know that you needn't read it, and that if you do, you need to hear God and follow Him. I daren't put a yoke on you that He has not. But at the same time, I feel convicted about NOT sharing what God has done/is doing in my life, and my feeble efforts at following, and the budding fruit I see when I obey.

All that is pretty much a disclaimer.

Counter-cultural part 2.

On facebook the other day I found myself in a conversation with complete strangers (isn't facebook wonderful that way?) wherein my friend who I know well was asking all her friends that I don't know at all for help in selecting a movie for her daughter's 80's slumber party. Of the several movies suggested, I had seen all of them at some point. Most of them I saw when I was older than the 9-12 age bracket she was dealing with. Only a couple of them could I endorse for my or other people's children.

I guess everybody's brain is not like mine. We don't all remember what we watch and hear with the same clarity, for better or for worse. We aren't all impacted as deeply by what we watch and listen to. For example, I love the movie The American President. Except that when I watch it, I change my entire world view and for that 2 hours and the time following, I become a liberal Democrat, believing in gun control and sex outside marriage. Acht! And there are snippets of shows I've seen, over the years, that are forever burned in my memory, causing me to stumble, ready sin just lurking around the corner.

Because this is true, and I know it is true, I watch almost no tv, very few movies, and am pretty hyper about what I let my children watch. Not as hyper as some. Probably not as hyper as I should be. But hyper, nonetheless. To the point that, during this facebook conversation, I found myself horrified at the suggestions offered, and got all riled up, having to bite my virtual tongue, so as not to offend.

But should I have? Should I have just offended? Am I salty and lighty enough?

I don't want to be a part of inserting scenes and words and worldviews into anyone's memory banks that become a foothold for the enemy later. I don't want to mar the page of anyone's memory with crud they have to repent of and renounce and deal with for their whole life. And I'm tired of it in my mind. So I will be outspoken for the sake of purity of what we see and what we hear, even if I am not perfect in this area - far from it.

What are we watching? What are we listening to? What are we depositing in our spirits? What are we allowing our children to watch? What deposits are strangers who do not share our principles or worldview making into our children's minds and hearts?

Are they being trained by what they watch to believe romance is appropriate for 11 and 12 year olds? Are they being trained by what they see to believe that the earth is billions of years old and the Bible is just another theory? Are they learning that siblings are brats and friends are way more important than family? Are they being trained to think that having stuff and looking cool is what makes a person valuable? These are just examples. You have to guard your mind and heart. You have to guard the minds and hearts of those entrusted to you.

It's so easy to be a lazy parent regarding the tv. It's so easy to let Barney be the nanny. But we are abdicating our precious God-given role if we allow strangers to disciple our children. And we are training their brains and spirits for lesser things.

I am preserving a generation of those who have not bowed the knee. It makes me weird. And that's ok.

(Ironic post script: daughter #2 just came up and described a scene from a tv show they had watched via netflix that I knew nothing about and had not given permission to watch, at least not that I remember. Yeah. I have a long way to go.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Liking Children. Or not.

"You must really like children . . ."

I get this a lot (along with, you must be really organized, or patient, or a saint). I have a standard answer that might be offensive. I say, "I like my children."

And I've been realizing lately that the children I tend not to like are children who tend to get what they want all the time.

Children need to have their wills opposed. Even shy, easy, compliant children need to be told no. They need practice obeying someone else's will. They need to learn to adjust to a reality not of their own choosing.

Not only does always getting their way make an unpleasant child (and it does), it also sets them up for a crappy life. Marriage will be rough for someone who always has had their way. A job will be hard for someone who has never submitted.

I would even go so far as to say it is dangerous to grow up always getting what you want. From traffic violations to shoplifting to marital fidelity to heart attacks - doing what is right when you don't feel like it is a pretty critical skill to have.

I have a friend who, when her now quite grown up daughter was a baby, would diaper the child on the run. She didn't make her lay down and hold still long enough to get a new diaper. She chased after her. (I assume when the diaper was poopy that she would. And maybe it was only in that setting, when the play and friends were hard to resist, that she allowed it.) But that is a situation that requires opposition, really. The child has to be required to lay down and hold still till she gets a clean diaper and pants back on. That is the age and situation my kids first defy me, usually. I call it Greco-Roman diaper changing - when it becomes a wrestling match. But it is a battle you have to win. You are the parent, make them do it. Pop their little fat leg, strap them down with your leg, get a partner to help, whatever it take, do it. Somehow make it happen.

Because if, when she's one, you can't get her to hold still for a diaper, then, when she's 14, how will you get her to do her homework or get off the phone or take off that inappropriate outfit. (I have a rule by the way about inappropriate clothing - we don't have it in the house. If it isn't in the closet, we don't have to fight about they can wear it. Things just get lost in the wash sometimes . . .)

If she won't come when you call her at 2 years of age, will she come home in the evening when she's supposed to at 16 years?

If we appease our children with food/snacks/juice when they are frustrated/angry/disappointed, how will they content themselves when they are adults and part of their lives is in the tank.

These are the little battles. The battles that come later are bigger and harder.

But the biggest reason our children need to find their wills opposed is because, as Christians, we conform our will to His. We lay down our lives and take up our cross and follow our Master. It is His Kingdom, not ours. Jesus Himself learned submission as a child. He had to obey His earthly mother and father.

Following Jesus, choosing His will, not mine, is not something I find easy. How much harder if I was used to getting my way all the time? When we have children we hope will grow up to follow Jesus, we do them a real disservice to not teach them submission about little easy things. We set them up for much harder battles later.

He who loves his child, disciplines him. If you love your kid, make sure you tell him no sometimes, even if he is the kind of kid who pretty much does what you want him to do. Make him learn to submit to your authority. It's good for him, and you'll probably like him better.

(2 afterthoughts - 1. Be realistic about the battles you choose, make sure you are making age-appropriate requirements. 2. Don't ever discipline a kid in anger, ever. Ever.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What is the point?

I'll make it quick. The point is Isaiah 44. It is belonging. It is written on my heart, on my hand, I belong. He asked me, I said yes.

Not eating sugar, beginning last summer, was about a food addiction, about being healthier, about losing weight. Not eating sugar, not drinking coffee, beginning in November, was about saying yes to God about a Nazirite vow, a fasted lifestyle, about belonging. I believe God wants me to lose weight and to be healthy. I believe He wants me to look like I belong to Him. Because He loves me, He wants me to have self control, to be a good example for my children, to not have high blood pressure. But above all those things, He wants me to not be a slave to my appetite, instead to be devoted to Him.

The scale is not the point. Finding other ways to satisfy my appetite is not the point. Deciding not to have sugar, but to have a candy bar made with sugar alcohol when I need a fix completely misses the point. Grabbing a green tea latte when I'm feeling the need instead of drinking coffee is not really different for my spirit.

Living a fasted life means that I go to Him and fill my spirit with Him rather than anesthetizing my heart with my drug of choice: food.

I want, desperately, to belong to Him. To put in my mouth what my body genuinely needs, and to feed my spirit with what it genuinely needs. I love Him. I want to choose to fill my mind and spirit with His Word, my time with His presence. I want, I long, to be a worthy bride, valuing with my life that which is most valuable, calling nothing else fair unless it be His beauty, His face, His Word, His voice, His Name.

I am His. I want to live like I am His.

I heard a teaching last night by a guy name Paul Washer. Want your butt kicked hard? Look up Paul Washer on youtube. Whoa baby. He asked this question - if you want to know what you love, what do you think about? Well, I think a whole lot about food. What I'm eating, what I'm not eating, how many calories, that sort of thing.

Not that those are bad things to think about. But I am missing the point. He set me free so I can be free, not so I can be a different kind of slave. I am free from serving my appetite. I am free from serving my flesh. I am free to love Him best, free to worship Him only. I am free from needing that drug. I need Him. Good news: I have Him. Exceedingly, abundantly beyond what I can ask or ever even think. Without measure. That is the point.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I've been wrestling lately.

I'll be honest. If I had really thought about it, I think I would have said that our biggest battles are behind us. Our counter-cultural battles, I mean. The More Kids Than Normal People Have battle, which leads to the Big Van battle. The Home School battle. The Limited Media and Carefully Chosen Friendships battles. The Modest Hand-me-down Clothing battles. The Family Culture rather than Peer Dependent Culture and Courtship rather than Dating battles. The Adopting When You Have So Many Kids battle and the Pregnant Again After A Down Syndrome "Scare" battle.

I thought those were the big ones. But I am beginning to think the biggest battle may be ahead of us. The What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up battle, closely linked to the College Question.

My husband, who really is on the same page as me, had a momentary lapse into the way pretty much everyone thinks the other day. He was having a conversation (one I try to avoid) with the kids about "goals", a.k.a. What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up. The reason I try to avoid it is because I don't think you know what you want to be when you are young, and I don't want to put pressure on them to try to decide too soon. But it also is a wrestling question, because it brings my counter-cultural stance into sharp focus.

Daughter number 3, the one with all the dimples, replied that she would like to work for the Animal Rescue People (we recently had a visit from them when a 3-legged neighborhood kitten was stuck down in an unfinished home/empty basement next door). My husband said the words he has been conditioned by our culture to say, "Well you won't make much money doing that."

I responded like a razor (lovely), "Really? Is that really your response? She doesn't have to provide for a family. She doesn't have to be the breadwinner for her husband and children. Does she really need to choose a career what makes a lot of money?"

The silence roared.

Later he assured me that he wasn't really thinking when he said that and it didn't indicate his true beliefs (that kind of conversation has the potential to make a wife like me feel like, what the heck am I doing this for if we don't see eye to eye about something this important).

***Pardon me if I've talked about this too much already. I don't remember.***

I believe the Biblical view of this is the following:

Daughters are welcome and expected to stay in the home until they are married or if they are a temptation to the dad.

If they were to become widowed or single after being married, they are to be welcomed back into the home.

The Biblical and ideal model for a home is for the wife to be the keeper of it, and for the family to be open to the Lord giving them children, and if He does, for the wife to be at home with them.

So I am encouraging my sons to pursue a future that will allow them to support a wife, to say yes to God for children, and to have their wives to stay home with the children God gives them.

If my daughters feel strongly about pursuing a career, especially one that genuinely requires a college degree, we will support them, and encourage them to do so debt free, paying as they go, taking as long as is necessary, but I will not encourage them to do such in a way that causes them to end up with any of the following guilt trips:

I have to work to pay for my college debt.
I have to work because I spent so long going to college/worked so hard getting my degree/getting where I am.
I have to work because I am the one who makes more money/has insurance.

If my daughter chooses to, for example, become a surgeon, I will encourage her to do so in such a way that does not produce a debt so large that she HAS to work for 5 years before she can have kids/get married.

I know they might do something else. I'm not controlling them. I'm training them. What they do in the long run is between them and God. I get that. But that is what I believe is the Biblical model.

Hence the battle. My eldest daughter, in particular (because she is first born, she is the first one in the decision making que), is "college material". She could do whatever. If she wants to go to college, fine. We will support her with whatever she pursues. And we are preparing each of them, thus far, for college. We are trying to equip them, with their home school education, to be ready for pretty much anything. If the last year I teach her is the last "learning" she does, then it will have been a good education. If she launches into further education, she will be ready for it.

What I won't do is lay a burden on her that if she doesn't go to college she will be wasting her smart brain. Because smart brains can be used for lots of things, and not all of them make lots of money or require college degrees. All she has to do is make enough money to pay for personal spending. Am I being naive? Maybe.

But here is my counter-cultural soap box. IT IS BIBLICALLY APPROPRIATE FOR PARENTS TO SUPPORT THEIR GROWN UNMARRIED DAUGHTERS. We will raise them and prepare them for marriage, and until the Lord brings them into whatever He has for them, they are under our provision.

Monday, April 23, 2012

5 months and 1 day

That's how pregnant I am. Or 22 weeks 7 days. More than half way. With my first child, as I've said before, I was content to stay pregnant for however long. I felt great. In fact, I think I agreed to that first induction because it had never occurred to me not to. My doctor offered to induce me 4 days after my due date, I said yes.

With each additional pregnancy I have begun to retreat into my cave more and more. The last week, the last month, the last trimester. As my due date approached, I would flake out, cancel rehearsals, disappear.

But for the last few pregnancies, I feel that way even before I take the pregnancy test. I just want to hide. I still enjoy quiet moments with close friends, but I don't want to do group things, parties, social gatherings. If I could do it, I'd stay home from almost everything, school, church, soccer.

I want to be home. I would love to just be here, doing mommy things. That's not my normal way. But as a pregnant person, I like to be home, especially when my husband is also here.

I suppose that includes this blog. I haven't written lately because this didn't feel like it was part of my cave. But here goes, a smattering of the many thoughts I've neglected to mention in the last several weeks. Sorry. Here is my update at 5 months and 1 day.

My favorite thing (read: obsession) is to read birth stories. I have focused on natural birth stories this time. I am committed to not having an epidural for this baby. I have given birth 3 times with one, 6 times without, and 2 in the process of receiving one, which I do not recommend.

I have changed my eating strategy. I am no longer focusing on major protein intake. I've decided that is for people with pre-eclampsia. I don't have pre-e. I have high blood pressure. My mom has high blood pressure, my dad has high blood pressure, and I have it. I have it because I am fat and it is in my genes. It is worst at the end of my pregnancies because that is when I am the biggest.

So I will take drugs for blood pressure when it happens, if it happens, and in the mean time, my goal is to weigh as little as is possible when I deliver. Today I weigh about what I did when I got pregnant (204.5). I would love to get back under 200 lbs. I think if I could deliver a baby at 180 something that would be even better.

So instead of my big protein thing and low carb thing, I am watching my calories. Still avoiding refined carbs. Still not eating sugar. Still not drinking coffee. Still trying to eat a lot of veggies, because they are more satisfying. I'm using my little kitchen scale and measuring things. I'm using to keep track of what I eat.

It feels more like self-control, more balanced, more sustainable.

I'm also chewing gum when I need to be done eating but feel like eating more. That is an amazing trick!

I am so focused on pregnancy and labor and delivery. I've been reading lots of stuff about natural labor and there is weirdness out there in pretty good supply. The spectrum is astounding.

On the one extreme are people who schedule c-sections electively. Maybe they want to pick the day, maybe they are afraid of labor, maybe they just honestly don't want their butt to get bigger, but there are those who choose to never even feel a contraction.

Then on the other end you have the placenta-eaters. There exist in the world today, maybe you are one of them, who prefer to give birth alone, keep the baby connected until it stops pulsating, keep the placenta, cord and all attached to the baby until it all falls off, and rip a chunk of the placenta off and chew it up and swallow it.

And there are variations all along the way. So many questions. Induce or not. Natural induction methods or not. Cord clamping now or later. Epidural, other drugs, drug free. Vaccinate? Circumcise? Antibiotic drops in eyes? Give the baby a bath? Giving birth under water? At home? In birth center? In hospital? My head begins to roll. Unbelievable. Not only the number of things to disagree about, but the vehemence with which people disagree.

Here is what I am firm on.

I am giving birth in a hospital with an ob. Yes it is just in case, but in that case, that is where I want to be. I believe with my ob's support I can have the kind of birth I want to have in the hospital. I think with my blood pressure a home birth is not really an option, and frankly, I need the couple days off, alone with my baby, before I come home and get eaten alive by the other offspring.

I would like my delivery room to be dark, quiet, and void of medical personal until I am ready to deliver. This might mean they have to stand in the hallway. I'm not worried about it. I will push when I am ready, my husband's job is to tell them or catch the baby himself. I don't really care if my own personal ob makes it to the room in time. I hope he does, but if not, I've had a baby on the bed before, I think it will be ok. I don't want a bunch of medical staff standing around with big eyes wondering when it's going to happen. I need a little privacy in transition to work through it, they can come in when I'm pushy.

I think there are good reasons for cord clamping, baby bathing, and the antibiotic drops just aren't that big a deal to me - none of those things is worth a fight to me. The idea of having a baby born underwater gives me the willies, and I don't care to catch my child myself or who the first person to hold them is. They're going home with me, rooming with me, I don't think they'll remember.

I will circumcise my boys because God had the Jews do it, that's all the reason I need. I vaccinate my kids for most things because I think vaccinations are a good thing, most of the time. I don't vaccinate for chicken pox (not for children anyway, if I have a kid reach physical adulthood w/o getting it, I'll have them vaccinated) or stds ("cervical cancer"). If I have a child who walks down the path of being promiscious, then we will have a very sad visit to the doctor office and get that shot, and the pain of the shot will be the least of our tears. But I'm not going to do it just in case.

Giving birth at home sounds grand. Actually, laboring at my favorite campground in Michigan and giving birth on the beach sounds grand, if I could somehow work out the bug thing, and the sand thing, and somehow ensure the ideal temperature. But I can't work those things out, and I can't guarantee that my babies will not need a little something when they're born, and so I will do it the way I've been doing it.

But the epidural. That is one I will fight on. I want to enjoy every contraction of bringing my baby into the world. I want to partner with my Creator and my husband in this process, and I believe that pain in labor means I need to do something different to help the baby come down. If it hurts, I need to change positions. My experience with epidurals bears this out. I just have to keep moving, adjusting, relaxing, trusting, focusing on my God, my husband, and the baby I'm bringing forth. The pain is not my focus. The baby, the journey, the Mighty One, the wonderful man with me, these are the things my heart needs to focus on.

And I would never again choose to be induced for anything other than a medical emergency. I was the worst about it in my early babies, being impatient, self inducing, whatever. Don't do it girls. It is a bad idea. Your body knows. Trust it, trust God. Be patient. Wait until you are ready. So.Much.Better.To.Have.A.Baby.When.Ready.