Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I was watching my girls swinging today and it got me to thinking. What goes up must come down. It's a law of nature. None of us is immune. None of us escapes the pull of gravity. Baby Lu is still getting used to the concept of swinging. Just when she's flying high with a big smile on her face, her forward momentum comes to a stop and she starts falling backwards, unsure of what's happening. Then the smile returns as she rises on the other side.

Do you ever feel like that in life? Two steps forward, one step back? Just when you think you've got some momentum, you begin losing ground? What about your spiritual life? Just as we're all under the physical law of gravity, we all begin life under the spiritual law of sin. We're powerless to overcome it. We can no more conquer sin than we can gravity. Christ changes that for us and in Him we can overcome sin, since He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

We're still swinging, though. We have our ups and our downs. Paul did. Peter did. I suppose that should make us feel better. Peter says, "Do not think it strange, this fiery trial that is before you." Paul gloried in his infirmities, that Christ might be magnified in his weakness.

I just love feeling the wind in my hair! I love forward momentum! I do not like standing still! And I hate going backwards! But, the great thing about swinging is, for each arc of the swing, there are two ups for every down. I know in my life I've had many more ups than downs. In fact, the ups have been innumerable so that I tend not to even keep track of them, whereas, the downs have been few and far between. Somehow the downs get remembered, though. Why is that?

Keep in mind, as long as you're swinging, a down will always follow an up. Be encouraged! But on the bright side, an up will always follow a down, so hang in there! And if you're a Christian, no matter how much of your life seems to be lived in the "downs", remember that all eternity in the presence of Christ will be an "up", unlike any you've known. I think this is what Paul meant when he said that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom 8:18) And again in 2 Corin 4:17 when he referred to his many trials and persecutions as "light affliction, which is but for a moment" that "is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

And I'm grateful that the Lord is able to turn even my downs into ups for His glory! So I keep swinging, trying to keep better track of my many ups, trying to more fully enjoy the wind in my hair and the forward movement He gives me, and remembering during the downswing that this is not a surprise to God, that it's not an anomaly, and that another up will follow, whether in this life or the next.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Story of the World Giveaway

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that I get to keep on learning right alongside my kids. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I like history! Last summer I read some very interesting books about subjects as diverse as Arctic colonization and the American dust bowl, and you know what they shared in common? History. How can a person get to be my age and not know they love history? The boring public school system, that’s how. We use Sonlight curriculum and are studying World History this year. The kids and I look forward to our read aloud time everyday.

Sonlight World History part I (core 6) uses Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World volume 1: Ancient Times and volume 2: The Middle Ages as primary texts that serve as the backbone that everything else attaches to for the World History core. This is actually our second year in a row to read Story of the World volumes one and two. Last year we were using Story of the World on its own for history and this year when I made the switch to Sonlight I found we were happy to read them again.

Here’s what I love about Story of the World. Susan Wise Bauer really does teach history through the telling of stories. For instance, the story of Lei Zu and the Silkworm which recounts how the sharp witted empress of China noticed that a silkworm’s cocoon is comprised of tiny threads when it fell into her hot tea one morning and began to unravel, is much more interesting and memorable than just reading in a text about the Chinese being the inventors of silk. The stories are fun to read and rather than focusing on the rote memorization of dates and names, they give an up close and personal look at what it might have been like to actually be there in that time and place in history.

I highly recommend The Story of the World series to anyone who is having trouble getting their kids interested in history. In fact, even if you aren’t homeschooling, this is an awesome read aloud series that’s fun for the whole family. Big D happened to be passing through the living room the other day while we were reading and it captured his attention causing him to sit down and listen to the rest of the story. It’s sure to capture the attention of your family, as well.

Here’s how you enter:

Comment on this post about how you make history come alive for your kids. I’m struggling with getting in our map and timeline activities. Any suggestions, other than just do it? I know I should probably put the map in a more visible location. Crafts and projects intimidate me, but I have a very artistic daughter who would probably learn well this way. Even if you’re not homeschooling, tell me how you get your kids interested in history. There will be two winners. First prize is for both volumes 1 and 2 of The Story of the World. Second prize is for volume 1 only. I’ll draw the winners Friday morning.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Exploring the Indian Cave

Last night I posted about getting there. Things went along much better once we arrived at our ranch in Palo Duro Canyon. We were there to celebrate my mom's birthday and what she wanted more than anything was to explore a real-live Indian cave on the neighboring ranch. We've heard stories about it for years and have always wanted to check it out for ourselves. The owner of the ranch that boasts the cave acted as our tour guide for the excursion. He couldn't have been nicer and was thrilled to show it off.

This cave has been excavated by a local university, but they opted to leave the Indian paintings in the cave. I'm so glad they did. You lose something of the authenticity when admiring Indian paintings within the environs of a museum.

Here is some of our party including the brave soul that my husband and I ditched on our way out of town.

Looks like a hand, doesn't it? I was thinking the Lone Ranger only got it half wrong. The fingers were open when they greeted passing white men with "how". Turns out I was totally wrong. According to the experts, this is a prairie fire.

I had this one pegged for a buffalo, for sure. Turns out it's supposedly a Texas Longhorn. Hmmm. A fire and a Longhorn. It didn't take Big D long to make the connection. BBQ. (This is just our interpretation of the paintings, they may have some much more profound meaning.) Did I mention the cave exploration was before dinner.?

Baby Lu with the birthday girl. 49 and holding.

Some of the kids entertaining themselves back at our place.

One of our friends we ditched on the way out of town. See, we made it up to him. Doesn't he look like he's having fun?

Our American boy, who else? Notice his t-shirt I found at Target.

Baby Lu feeling a little left out.

Grandma soon remedied that!

Twinkle Toes posing with her Grandpa, my father-in-law.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hard to Follow!

Today was my mom's birthday party. She decided to have it at our ranch which is just under an hour from town. She invited several of her friends and some of mine, too, so that the kids would have company. My friend and her son came to our house first so that she could follow us to the ranch. We traded kids around since we had a neighbor girl going with us and our oldest son was riding with them. We loaded the car, including the dog. I had to run back inside for a hat and sun glasses. I grabbed a bottle for the baby. Then we pulled out of our garage and hit the road. Big D and I had lots to talk about so we were just chatting away. After being on the road for about 25 minutes I mentioned casually that I hoped my friend was still following us since I hadn't given it a thought since we left the house. Big D looked at me with an expression of horror and said, "Oh, no! I never pulled around in front! I told her to stay right there and I'd pull around! We left them!"

Big D immediately pulled off the highway and we just sat there for a minute absorbing what we had done. He asked me if I knew my friend's cell phone number. I told him that I didn't, but that it didn't matter anyway since we don't have a cell phone. (Note to self: Get a cell phone.) So, we sat there for a few more minutes. And waited. The kids got unbuckled and turned around in their seats so they could look out the back window. Everyone in the car was straining their eyes toward the horizon on the lookout for a grey Honda minivan. After a few more minutes Big D asked me if my friend was a risk taker. "You mean besides being friends with me?" I quipped. He went on to explain, "You know, either she's the kind of adventuresome person who will set off for a destination she's not sure she can find, or she's the type to just say forget it and go home." I said that I thought she would give it a try. So we waited some more, all the while feeling really stupid for leaving them and wondering how in the world two grown people could be so dumb.

Big D was the first to spy them. We all let out a sigh of relief and Big D and I laughed with embarassment. We got back on the road, sped up, and tried to muster our best we-feel-really-bad-about-what-just-happened faces. Big D was pointing at me as we passed them as if to say it was all my fault. I was rolling my eyes as if to say yeah right, he's the driver. (I'm reminded of the time I fell asleep on our way to Indiana, Big D's home state, and woke up in Illinois. But that's another story.)

We did find out later that my friend once jumped off a 50m platform with a parachute. Yep, she's a risk taker, and I for one am glad.

I know there's a lesson to be learned here somewhere. There's definitely one for you. If Big D and I ever offer to let you follow us anywhere, you might want to come prepared with a map. We can be hard to follow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bye-bye Barbie?

I was a tomboy, but my best friend had lots of Barbies, so I grew up playing with Barbies, too. I got into it kind of late in childhood. I think I was 10 or 11 when I played with Barbies. I had a few, maybe 5 or 6. I wasn't into the clothes, so I don't think I had any fashion accessories. I vaguely remember a Barbie McDonalds that I had a lot of fun with. And Wonder Woman, she was cool! (What I mostly played on my own was swim team! I'd design dryland and water workouts, keep track of all my swimmer's best times, and create different winning relay combinations.)

My oldest daughter received her first Barbie when she was 3. Since then we've accumulated quite a collection of the dolls and vehicles and pets and furniture and clothes and shoes and purses and dishes and food, etc. Keeping track of all these Barbies and accessories is tiresome and the girls bicker often about which shoes belong to whom. This is annoying. It doesn't seem fair to make the older daughter (8) share her Barbie stuff with her younger sister (6) who is our destructive child. But more disconcerting than this, I don't like the way I hear my girls playing.

It started shortly after I allowed them to watch the movie High School Musical. It looked perfectly innocent to me. It was rated G. Some of the songs were cute and catchy. I had no idea there would be a sequel and a threequel and in general become "all the rage." What I wasn't prepared for was all the boyfriend talk that would come out of it. So, my husband and I made a rule that when they played Barbies, they could not play "boyfriend". We told them that Ken, or Troy, or whoever those boys are could be friends, brothers, or they could stage a wedding, but there would be no boyfriends. (If this seems strange to you it's because we do not intend to allow our children to date.)

They have done a good job of respecting this rule, but I find that I still don't like the way they play. It's very shallow. It's not real life, at least not our real life. It's all parties and fashion and coordinating shoes and purses with trendy mini skirts. There are no grandparents or families with kids of all ages. I just recently realized that Barbie is a slice out of 20-something singles life. This is a part of my life that I'm glad to be out of and grateful the Lord brought me through unscathed.

Also, since our girls have brothers, we did not want them leaving any undressed Barbies around, ever. This seemed like a do-able rule when we made it, but I've since realized that it's anything but realistic. We have a 3 year old. Enough said.

So, I've been thinking for awhile now that we need to get rid of the Barbies.

I have good girls and I didn't want this to be a punishment for them. I've been dropping hints for a few weeks, but dragging my feet on dropping the bomb. Then I had a great idea. Why not replace Barbies with something similar that will avoid the issues we've had. I've told you guys before that I'm a slow learner. I'm sure I'm the last mother on the face of the earth to figure this out. I decided we'd ditch the Barbies and replace them with miniature dolls. My girls could each get a dollhouse for Christmas and they could slowly build their doll and furniture collection from there.

I love that miniature dolls represent a more true slice of life. You can find whole familes with kids of different ages. There are grandparents. Their clothes stay on! I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner. The girls are so excited and they even found a dollhouse church complete with pews online. The Measle says she really wants the church, because she wants her dolls to be Christians and worship the Lord. Isn't that the sweetest? (Now I can't see Barbie's heart, but judging from her priorities, it's not looking too good for her, is it?)

I can't tell you how happy I am to be saying bye-bye to Barbie once and for all! And I'm ready to welcome play in our house that imitates our version of real life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homeschool Humor

I was trying to explain odd and even numbers to the Measle. I tried explaining that if she could divide a number into two even groups then it was an even number. She wasn't getting it. So I tried being more specific. "If I gave you 4 cookies and asked you to share them with your little brother, how many would you each get?" She was still having trouble. I got out some of American Boy's duplo legos that happened to be within arm's reach and tried again with that scenario using the legos as our imaginary cookies. Finally, she got it! Meanwhile, American Boy is running down the hallway with a sparkle in his eye calling, "Cookies? You made cookies? Where are the cookies?" I hated to disappoint him, but I said, "Oh, honey, we don't have any cookies. We're doing Measle's math." He took one look at those legos and said with a shake of his head, "That's not math!"

Mr. Monk picked up one of his dad's garage sale vinyl records and exclaimed, "This smells just like our Arthur Scott Bailey books! Is this just the smell of old?"

I asked Mr. Monk if he was wearing the same shirt for the 3rd day in a row. He corrected me that today's the 5th day. I'd say it's time for a change, but then again I like the idea of less laundry! Besides I need my boys to wear the same thing several days in a row to make up for my girls who go through at least three outfits per day.

I liked writing a series of posts. I'm thinking of doing one on nutrition or exercise. Any interest there?

And the Winner is...

I realize some of you are going to lose all confidence in my process for selecting a winner. I wrote down all the names on slips of paper. Some of you had four or five slips with your name. The kids get to take turns drawing and today it was American Boy's turn. He's only 3 and can't read, yet. Not only that, but he doesn't know any of you.

So I admit I thought it more than a little strange when he picked...

I guess sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Valerie has won every contest I've had so far. She has been a faithful follower of my blog from the beginning and we've become friends, so I couldn't have been happier. She did add my button to her blog and post a link, so her name was in the bowl 5 times.
I don't need your address, Valerie. In fact, I think I have it memorized.
I want to thank everyone who entered! I so enjoyed reading all your insightful comments!
I do have another Barnes and Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so stay tuned for more giveaway fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Journey to Becoming Quiverfull Part Vb: In Answer to the Argument for Allowing Birth Control for Kingdom Purposes

John Piper’s second argument for the allowance of birth control is a stronger one, in my opinion. He asks couples to look at their hearts and examine their motives for not wanting more children. Selfish, worldly reasons such as children being an expense or too much work are anti-Christian and not acceptable according to Piper. He argues in favor of using birth control only if it is for “Kingdom reasons”. He doesn’t really develop this point, but leaves it to our own consciences. The problem is it’s hard for me to imagine a circumstance in which having another child would interfere with our Kingdom purposes. I’m sure there is one out there, so I’ll concede this point in theory to him, but in reality I’m having trouble putting my finger on what type of circumstance this would be. For instance, one might argue that Christians serving in China should follow the one-child policy there in order to be effective missionaries. But, I know of a wonderful Christian family of 10 that God has used mightily in China over the last 30 years. Some of their kids are now second generation missionaries.

Piper makes this argument from 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul says it would be better to be single like him in order to be free to devote oneself totally to the service of God. Since marriage is declared good by God in Genesis and a wife a gift from God (Proverbs 18:22), Piper uses this 1 Corinthians verse as a kind of “ministry caveat” to the previous declarations. Now just because I can’t think of an instance in which having another child would force one to give up or compromise their Christian ministry, I’m not willing to say that could never be the case. I agree that if there were such a circumstance where a couple knew for certain that having a child or another child at the present time would prevent their being able to serve the Lord, then they should abstain with prayer (again 1 Corinthians 7) during that time. Piper doesn’t suggest abstinence in this case as I did just now, but allows for the practice of birth control under these conditions. I still only see one instance in the Bible where the act of intimacy is enjoyed apart from the possibility of procreation and it turned out badly for both of them (Gen 38).

To get to the heart of the matter, we have to address whether having children can prevent or impede one from serving God? I have certainly heard women say that they can’t serve in the church or elsewhere right now because their children are their ministry. I disagree with this type of thinking, but would argue that it’s a separate issue than that of family planning. Don’t we all know women with just 1 or 2 kids who are too “busy” to serve? I love the example John Piper gives on one of his Battling Unbelief DVDs about one of his members being too busy that day to read his Bible. John asked him if he ate breakfast. The man replied that he had and John said, “Well then you weren’t too busy.” Is it possible for a Christian to be too busy to serve God? I think Piper would say emphatically, “No!” Continuing with this line of thinking, don’t we also know women with many children that still manage to serve God at every opportunity? We had a family in our church last year with 7 kids and their mother was always on the lookout for ways they could serve. She would take her kids to help out the elderly in our church with yard work or whatever needed to be done. She also took a special interest in a couple of the younger women and was faithful to call them and pray for them. I think that developing a heart for service, which all Christians must do if theirs is a genuine faith, is a separate issue from that of having children. Why can’t we just trust God to give us children if it will not interfere with our Christian ministry and to withhold children from us if it will interfere? Why must we presume to know better than God what is best for His servants and His church?

And lastly, Piper takes a stand against abortaficient methods of birth-control, but leaves it to his followers to determine which those are. If you believe life begins at conception then it’s a pretty long list that includes all hormonal methods of contraception and IUDs.

I hope I’ve done justice to John Piper’s stance on birth control. This is not an area that he’s written very much about. I love John Piper and Desiring God Ministries. I love reading his email sermons and I found his study Battling Unbelief to be life changing. If I may end on a note from that study: Success in the Christian walk is all about having faith in future grace. I believe being quiverfull is also about having faith in future grace, faith that God will supply the means to love, nurture, and train up for Him any child that He chooses to bless us with.

Thank you for bearing with me through this series. I'll draw for the winner of the Barnes and Noble $25 gift card tomorrow morning, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Journey to Becoming Quiverfull Part Va: In Response to the Stewardship Argument for Family Planning

John Piper of Desiring God Ministries in response to several questions over this issue has allowed for the use of non-abortaficient birth control. Go here to see several questions and answers about family planning on the Desiring God website. After reading his brief responses to the issue of Christians and contraception, it appears Piper makes two arguments in favor of allowing for the use of birth control. His first argument is over the principle of stewardship and that’s the one I’ll address in this post. Piper is in complete agreement that the Bible holds children up as a blessing and reward from God. He goes on to say, though, that just because something is a blessing, doesn’t mean we should always seek it. The exact quote from the Desiring God website is as follows: “Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it.” I disagree that the receiver of the gift has much control over when and if he comes into possession of said gift from the Giver, but I’ll attempt to address this argument anyway.

I want to begin by using Christ’s teaching on stewardship. In the parable of the talents (Mathew 25 and Luke 19) Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusts his goods to his servants and upon his return rewards (or condemns) the servants according to how much each made out of what he was given. The whole point of this parable is that stewardship is maximizing what God has given us so that we can turn around and give it back to Him. Has He given us money? What are we doing with it? Has He given us time? What are we doing with it? Has He given us knowledge? What are we doing with it? Has He given us fertility? What are we doing with it? Nobody would say, “No thanks, God, I don’t want to know any more. I’m on information overload. I can’t handle learning another thing from Your Word. I’d rather remain ignorant”. This is not the question. The question is how are you using the knowledge He’s given you? Is it causing you to be more obedient to Him? Are you trying to pass on that knowledge to others by teaching your kids or in your local church? In the same way I would argue it’s what we’re doing with our children that’s the issue here, not how many we have. Are we teaching them about the Lord? Are we doing Scripture memory with them? Are we having family worship? Are we disciplining them in love? It was not the place of the servants in the parable to tell their master how many talents to entrust to them any more than it’s our place to dictate to God how many children He should give us. That part’s up to Him, our part is what we do with them once we’ve got them.

What if I tried to apply Piper’s “stewardship” argument to another kind of blessing that God gives? What about the blessing of agricultural productivity or the fruit of our ministry for that matter? We can plant seeds, but God must give the increase. It would be unthinkable to not desire God to give the greatest increase in these instances, would it not? Do we pray for our missionaries that God would save only a few in their midst or many?

God also uses the terms “barren” and “fruitful” to refer to the state of our spiritual lives. After listing the fruits of the spirit in 2 Peter 1:5-7 Peter says, “For if these things are yours and they abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We all know what Peter’s talking about here. As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord we should also grow in obedience and holiness which is manifested by how we act. Certainly we wouldn’t desire to show just some fruit of our knowledge of the Lord. Every Christian knows that the goal is to grow as much as possible! We want to bear the most spiritual fruit that we can. Is it so hard to believe that Peter chose these words because his audience already understood that being barren (unable to have children) is a curse, but fruitful (having many children) is a blessing? The same is understood in agriculture, as well. You don’t desire just a few crops to grow here and there, but a bumper crop, as many as will fit. I think the meaning of fruitful is obvious. Full of fruit. The idea here is not just a few, but overflowing with whatever is being described. In other words, wanting just some of a blessing when you decide and if you decide is in direct opposition to the whole concept of fruitfulness.

Piper talks about rewards in Battling Unbelief and how it’s NOT wrong to chase after the right kinds of rewards (in this case heavenly ones). Piper argues in favor of pursuing God’s rewards at the cost of temporary worldly rewards. I don’t know why children wouldn’t fit into this category, as well. A child has a soul that will never die. The old saying “you can’t take it with you when you go” is only true of material things. It’s not true of children. This is why teaching our children about the Lord is so important (Deut 6). Piper endorses large families and says he loves seeing large families in his church. I think his concern is, or should be, that the parents in his church, regardless of family size, are busy teaching their children to love and serve the Lord.

Stewardship is all about the managing of resources. We know that every good gift is from God (James 1), so He is the gift Giver and we are the receivers. I agree wholeheartedly that we are to be good stewards of what the Lord entrusts us with. I do not agree, however, that stewardship has anything to do with when or if we receive the gift. The key to being a good steward is the understanding that nothing is ours, it all belongs to our Master. All of our resources are God’s. Our life is not our own, it is His. Our time, money, abilities, health and physical capacity, understanding, material possessions, relationships, and even our children are His. What are we doing with them? Will our Master be pleased with us? Will He say at the end of our lives, “Well done good and faithful servant? I know that is what we all desire to hear.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Journey to Becoming Quiverfull Part IV: Back to the Bible

I know some of you have been wondering why I didn’t just get out my Bible at the beginning of this journey. Remember, though, I was already aware of the quiverfull verses. I had just interpreted them to mean something different. For instance, I’ve written in a previous post how I assumed God told Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28) and then Noah and his sons (Gen 9:1) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, because the earth was empty then (and full now, I mistakenly believed). I just thought we were the last frontier here in Texas, but now that I realize the earth is not overpopulated I have to wonder if maybe God didn’t just mean what He said. I could give you statistics about how all the people in the world could line up next to one another and all fit in Texas, but I think it’s fairly obvious if you just take a look around you. We went to Kazakhstan a few years ago to adopt our son and couldn’t believe the wide open spaces we saw out of the airplane. It’s a huge empty country. Even in India and China where the cities are crowded, it’s not that way in the countryside. But, more importantly to me, we are released specifically in the New Testament from the ceremonial and food laws of the Old Testament. Why wouldn’t God specifically release His church from the “be fruitful and multiply” passages, as well? The absence of a repeal makes me think that it’s most likely still God’s plan that His chosen people (now the church) welcome, rather than avoid, having children.

Interpretations of the Onan incident (Gen 38) are all over the map. When I first studied this passage about a decade ago while reading through the Bible, it puzzled me. I was not quiverfull and this was a problematic verse. It appeared that Onan was killed by God for practicing birth control. The concept of Levirate marriage, or a brother marrying his deceased brother’s wife, in order to give his brother an heir, was not a strictly enforced law, but more like an honorable cultural practice. In other words, violating Levirate marriage brought shame to the family, but wasn’t punishable by death. So why did God strike Onan dead? I decided it must have been because the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. So, again I had dodged the quiverfull implications by explaining away a passage of Scripture as an exception, but not the rule. Living in this anti-child culture, though, helps me see the Onan incident in another light. Maybe God struck him dead because he was all too willing to have relations with his deceased brother’s wife, he just wasn’t willing to father her child. His Levirate marriage was on the outside only (surely he desired to avoid bringing shame on himself by refusing to marry his brother’s wife), but God sees what’s done in secret and Onan’s selfish heart caused him to disregard God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. If we interpret the Onan passage in this way then birth control is frowned upon by God, to say the least.

What about natural family planning? Many Christians argue for the allowance of natural family planning by citing 1 Corin 7 where Paul talks about husbands and wives not depriving one another except for a time that they may give themselves to fasting and prayer. I think what is in view here is an interruption of intimacy for spiritual reasons, not physical ones. I’m not going to argue that point, though. It definitely does open up the possibility for NFP. However, the key is they’ve interrupted their relations. I find nowhere in the Bible a passage that condones an intentional separation of the act of procreation from marital intimacy. Of course, God is the one who opens and closes the womb, but His sovereignty doesn’t release us from obedience to His Word.

Then there’s the famous quiverfull passage that refers to children as a blessing and reward (Ps 127:3-5). I think even more compelling than the Bible verses that call children a blessing are the many passages that show the great travail of women in the Bible who are barren (Sarai, Rebekkah, Rachel, Samson’s mother, Hannah, Elizabeth). Barrenness was viewed as a curse and when God opened the womb it was accompanied by great celebration and rejoicing. These personal examples reinforce the Biblical principle that children are to be seen as a blessing. Moreover, if these women are to be our models, children are to be sought after and prayed for.

I also pondered anew when I went back to the Bible what it could mean that women will be saved through childbearing (2 Tim 2:15). I think the most likely interpretation of this verse is that though sin entered through one woman, Eve, women could “redeem” themselves, so to speak, by raising godly children. I think this verse is making a statement about how women can make a difference in their culture for good by bearing children and training them up to love and serve the Lord. I can’t help but see the rampant feminism, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery in our culture as a flood that could very well destroy the world as we know it and childbearing as the “Ark” that God has provided to save us. The door is open, but nobody wants to go in. It seems we’d rather drown ourselves in our iniquity as a culture than seek to be rescued through the raising up of a godly generation.

So, there you have it. My quiverfull journey in a nut-shell. This is a personal conviction for me. It's something I'm passionate about and love sharing, so thank you for "listening". It's not, however, something that is up there with the gospel for me. It's not something I'd leave a church over or pick a fight about. Ultimately, I believe God is sovereign over the womb no matter what we do. I know too many people who have gotten pregnant when they were practicing birth control (I guess this was the problem, they were just practicing:) and too many couples who wanted desperately to have a child but couldn't, to believe the power to procreate resides in man. So please take this as what it is. One person's journey to a change in thinking that has led to a change in lifestyle. Maybe God will bless it and maybe He won't. That's for Him to decide.

I’m going to write one more post in this series in answer to a good question I received from a follower and friend. I welcome any other questions, as well. I’m just trying to get at the truth like all of you and I want to thoroughly think through all relevant issues. Thank you for bearing with me through this series of long posts. I promise I’ll get back to cute pictures and punch lines ASAP.

$25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card Giveaway!!!

I use my credit card points to get gift cards. Normally I await the Barnes and Noble gift cards eagerly, but right now I'm snowed under in books. I have so many books, I don't know what to do with them all (some duplicates will be appearing in upcoming giveaways). So, naturally I thought a blog giveaway would be fun.

The winner will be determined the morning of Thursday September 24th.

You can enter to win the $25 gift card as many as 7 times. Here's how:

1. Comment on one (or more) of my blog posts in my journey to becoming quiverfull series. You can earn up to 2 entries this way.

2. Copy my blog button to your blog (let me know if you've done this in a comment to this post).

3. Link from your blog to my series on becoming quiverfull (let me know in a comment to this post.)

4. Follow my blog (let me know in a comment to this post.)

5. Follow me on twitter (let me know in a comment to this post.)

6. Twitter (tweet?) or facebook about the quiverfull series and provide a link to one of the posts (let me know you've done this in a comment to this post.)

So you can have up to 5 comments (entries) on this post and up to 2 comments (entries) on my journey to becoming quiverfull posts.

I've just enjoyed writing this series so much that I want to share it! The fourth post in the series is forthcoming.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Journey to Becoming Quiverfull Part III: Investigating Patriarchy

America Alone was a wake-up call for me. I immediately began searching for corroboration. Maybe this Mark Steyn guy had it all wrong. Ever the academician, I scoured the internet for social commentary and economic articles on demographics or declining birth rates. I was soon introduced to Phillip Longman, Sr. Research Fellow with the Economic Growth Program and Research Director of New America’s Next Social Contract Initiative, through his Foreign Policy article entitled “Why Men Rule” subtitled “And conservatives will inherit the earth.” This latter part was right up my alley. So, Mark Steyn wasn’t alone. I learned of Phillip Longman’s 2004 book The Empty Cradle: How falling birthrates threaten world prosperity and what to do about it. I also found a less academic, but interesting none-the-less article called “Birth Dearth” by Michael Meyer published in Newsweek. It’s subtitled “Remember the population bomb? The new threat to the planet is not too many people, but too few. How the new demography will shape the coming century.” And finally, an article on the return of patriarchy by Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called “The Return of Patriarchy? Fatherhood and the Future of Civilization.” Now I had a new rabbit to chase down. Patriarchy.

The term patriarchy caused me to immediately conjure up an image of Abraham, Isaacc, and Jacob, the well-known patriarchs of the Bible who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. I found my initial gut reaction to patriarchy was one of disdain. I envisioned a misogynistic culture rampant with polygamy and abuse towards women. But patriarchy in its purest sense, I learned, is about Biblical male headship. A patriarch in this sense is a man who is the husband of one wife, as opposed to one who refuses to bear the responsibility of marriage or worse one who marries one after another, moving on to greener pastures if and when he pleases. A patriarch is a father who takes responsibility for the provision of his children in every sense of the word: economically, educationally, emotionally. He loves the wife of his youth unconditionally. He never leaves her or forsakes her. He embraces the responsibility of a family, rather than shunning it for his momentary pleasure or creature comforts. He works hard for the ones he loves and doesn’t resent them for it. He leads, yes, but as most good leaders do, he serves the very ones he leads and counts it an honor.

I may not have been raised quiverfull, but this brand of patriarchy was something I understood. My father embodies all these noble qualities of a patriarch and it was something I wanted for my family. My husband and I had decided early in our marriage that I would go back to school and work as a means of supplementing our income. We didn’t need the money or the benefits, but we wanted them. And the truth is I didn’t want him to be my head. I wanted equal headship. So in the process of trying to be free I made myself miserable. I resented him that I worked two full-time jobs, as all working mothers do. But at this point in my journey I began to wonder whether I, we, might be happier if I quit my job and stayed home. True, it would free up an enormous amount of time for me and we would be able to home school our children which appealed to us. I wouldn’t be so stressed and hurried and I could finally be the homemaker I was always dreaming of, but what about the extras that my working gave us? It wasn’t just about money for me, either. I have to confess that it was a blow to my pride to give up an identity outside of my family, and to give up the shared provision for our family and decision-making abilities (read spending) that conferred. Thankfully, my husband had been independently arriving at this same conclusion through his suffering both as the forgotten member of the family whose needs were pushed to the back of the priority list and as the guy who had to moonlight as Mr. Mom whenever I was at work. So we made the decision two years ago that I would be a stay-at-home mom.

I’m not trying to step on any toes here. Remember I was a working mom, too and I know how deeply I loved the Lord and my children. I love them no more now than I did then. Let’s stand back for a moment and look at the big picture. Surely we can all agree as to the benefits of patriarchy as a cultural norm. Imagine if there were no single mothers and no fatherless children. In fact, Biblical patriarchy also extends a man’s responsibility to the dependents of any deceased brothers. So even in instances where a man dies leaving a wife and children, they would be cared for by his surviving brothers. Biblical patriarchy includes the idea that a man cares for his parents, as well. Are you seeing the public policy implications here to everything from social security and health care to welfare and subsidized daycare for single moms? The economic ramifications alone of a cultural abandonment of Biblical patriarchy are staggering and this is just what our nation has done. Now think of the social consequences. Divorce and dysfunctional families become the norm. Many couples choose to delay or forego marriage altogether in favor of remaining free from family entanglements. Children grow up without their fathers in many instances and with unavailable fathers in many more. I soon realized we would be better off as a society to love patriarchy, rather than loving to hate it.

The mental image conjured up by a society held captive by feminism of a caveman hitting a cavewoman over the head with a club and dragging her back to the cave by her hair is a gross misrepresentation of Biblical patriarchy. Of course there have been abuses just like in every area of life. God sets a standard and man breaks it. This is how it’s been since the garden. Just because we’re sinners and don’t live in Utopia is no reason to throw out all ideals. It’s understandable really why the world wants nothing to do with patriarchy. But it’s alarming that the church has also largely replaced patriarchy with feminism. The church is becoming indistinguishable from the world on far too many fronts and this is one of them.

I hadn’t realized how firmly I’d been entrenched in feminism until I initially reacted with repugnance to the concept of patriarchy. I have to confess it took me by surprise when I found security, meaning, and freedom within the tenets of Biblical male headship. You may be wondering at this point what patriarchy has to do with being quiverfull. Under the system of Biblical patriarchy women are freed up to devote themselves fully to their families. The birth rate in our country and the rest of the western world fell when women went into the workforce in mass droves, which in turn was made possible by the pill. See the connection? Both patriarchy and quiverfull ideologies depend upon the embracing of Biblical manhood and womanhood. And this sent me back to the Bible to finish my journey.

What do you think of patriarchy? Do you think women are victims or beneficiaries under this type of system (if practiced properly)?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Journey to becoming Quiverfull Part II: Unlikely Beginnings

My journey to becoming quiverfull is an interesting one, and probably not typical, so I thought I’d share it. I grew up in a Christian home where life was valued and the Bible taught. I knew the “be fruitful and multiply” verses were in the Bible and I thought how perfectly logical it was for God to command a few people on a large, unpopulated planet to multiply and fill the earth. I bought into the old agrarian society argument. Everyone knows when you live on a farm, the more hands there are to help out, the better. But, I also believed the zero population growth propaganda taught in public school. About how our planet was overpopulated and couldn’t sustain any more growth without inflicting catastrophic damage on the earth. (Why I never bothered to look out the car window on one of our innumerable road trips or out of the airplane on one of our many flights, I have no idea.) In this way of thinking children are almost lumped in with cigarettes as something enjoyable for the moment, but being that they’re so utterly unwholesome, they’re to be indulged in limited quantities only, if at all.

I approached parenthood like everything else in my life. I had a plan. My husband was the last of four kids and I was an only child, so we decided while we were dating that we would have four children. (Isn’t it funny how you think you can decide something like that?!)

Well, everything was going according to plan until I read the book America Alone by Mark Steyn. The interesting thing is that nowhere in this book is the word “quiverfull” mentioned. Mark Steyn is not, as far as I know, a Christian. He’s a witty writer, political commentator, and radio talk show host. His book America Alone was on the New York Times bestseller list and my parents read it first and then loaned it to me. Mark Steyn’s parents are European (from Belgium, I think) and immigrated to Canada when Mark was young. So he has a vested interest in both Europe and Canada, and speaks with authority on the cultural, economic, and demographic effects of rampant socialism on a nation. (He currently lives in New Hampshire.)

What America Alone did for me is caused me to think beyond myself. It caused me to take a good look beyond my desire for us to travel as a family, or afford college tuition for our kids, or fit comfortably into a restaurant booth or our SUV for that matter. America Alone made me think in a way like that famous JFK quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country?” I started thinking about how our family affects our local community, state, country, and even planet. It also made me think beyond my time. Without ever using the term “legacy”, this book made me think about my legacy. I had always thought legacies were for the rich, the famous, the brilliant. After reading America Alone, I realized we all leave a legacy. And it left me wondering what mine would be.

Now surely there are many ways to leave a legacy. Teachers have a great amount of influence, as do pastors, writers (especially those in Hollywood), and sports heroes (sometimes regrettably). But the book America Alone is largely about numbers. Steyn talks about falling birth rates in the West and the many ramifications including problems funding retirement and healthcare of an aging population by a smaller workforce, as well as changing cultural identities such as the Islamification of Europe (birth rates remain high among Muslims worldwide).

I’m certainly not famous or brilliant. I am not a pastor or leader of any sort. I’m absolutely not a sports hero. And I teach only my children. But in this one area of birth rates maybe, I thought for the first time, just maybe my husband and I could make a difference.

Think about the Duggars, the now notoriously fecund couple expecting their 19th child. If they succeed in passing on their conservative Christian belief system to their 19 kids (which seems likely when considering the older ones have already embraced it) and their 19 kids also have large families, and so on, imagine the cultural impact of this one couple over the next 50 years. Think of the political consequences alone for a moment. The liberals are the ones who preach choice over children, feminism over femininity, gay rights over the sanctity of the family. Where will all the liberals be in 50 years? They aren’t reproducing themselves, but what of the quiverfull families? Their progeny will vastly outnumber any remnants of the suicidal marriage-, family-, and baby-hating liberals. So their only hope of survival as an ideology is to brainwash the nation’s children through the public school system and Hollywood. Add to this the tendency of quiverfull families to home school, and the liberals have a real problem. (It won’t take them long to realize this and then the days of home schooling will be numbered.)

It was out of this epiphany that the decline in birth rates in the western world is causing a global economic crisis that I began to think that perhaps the “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” verses in the Bible may be appropriate for our time after all. I began thinking about what it would be like if the church ignored the culture and abandoned birth control. I began to imagine how different our nation could be in just a couple of generations if Christians welcomed children and trained them up to love and serve the Lord. Now that’s change I can believe in!

We all leave a legacy. What will yours be? What will be our nation’s legacy? What about the church?

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Journey to becoming Quiverfull Part I: What is Quiverfull?

First of all, for those of you who think I’ve taken up archery, or worse yet that I’m talking about some pathophysiological process that involves bodily tremors, let me define “quiverfull”.

Quiverfull is a fairly recently coined term that is sometimes used as an adjective, as in we are a quiverfull family or we practice quiverfull family planning, and sometimes used as a noun, as in the recent Quiverfull movement. The word is derived from Ps 127:3-5 that talks about how children are a reward, and likening them to arrows in the hand of a warrior declares the man that has his “quiver full” of them to be happy or blessed. The full extent of the meaning and practice of quiverfull, varies almost as widely as the people who refer to themselves as such, but it always carries with it the idea that children are a blessing from God and that the command to be fruitful and multiply (given initially in Genesis 1:28 then again in Genesis 9:1) is never rescinded. Therefore, quiverfull families tend to be larger than average. Some, quite larger.

Quiverfull as an ideology extends beyond just giving up contraception, though. It includes the acceptance, no embracing of God’s Word and His sovereign control over every aspect of our family life. To some this means accepting a closed womb and doing nothing to enhance fertility. To others this means being open to adoption as a means of practicing “true religion”. To some this means trying to have as many children as possible. And to others this means not “trying” to do or not do anything in regards to family planning, but to let God determine the number of children they will have.

Since this is the tale of my journey, I’ll further define what quiverfull is to me. I believe God is absolutely sovereign over every aspect of our lives, whether we choose to “give” Him that control or not. In that sense being quiverfull tends to lend to my husband and me more power than I believe we have in determining the size of our family. I am under no illusion that I can change God’s will. So, quiverfull to me is about obedience to the Word of God in this area of my life. It’s about accepting and embracing the role I play in life for the brief time I’m on the planet. It’s about welcoming children as the blessing God says they are and training them so that they will be like arrows, fiery missives to spread the gospel far beyond where I will ever tread. Arrows, like God’s Word, the Sword of Truth, an offensive weapon used to combat the worldliness of our culture. And as a weapon is to a soldier, my security in the battle that is life. It’s amazing when you think about it this way. What soldier would go into battle without a weapon, or with as few as possible? And which of us would choose NOT to receive a reward from the very hand of God?

The problem is we are no longer in agreement with God about what constitutes a reward. I bet we can all agree that a surprise $1 million inheritance from a distant relative would come as a welcome reward. Well, what if you had to jump through a few hoops to claim it? I know I would bend over backwards to accommodate the giver of this gift. I’d be willing to travel around the world to pick it up if need be, charter a plane or boat, whatever it took. I would put my life on hold to obtain this reward. It would be unthinkable to say to my magnanimous relative that we weren’t interested in the hassle of claiming our million. It doesn’t make sense. No one would be that short-sighted. But it appears we have been. We’ve thumbed our noses at a reward from God (that carries over into eternity) in order to have our momentary conveniences.

Being quiverfull to me means that I agree with God that children are what He says they are: a gift, a reward, a blessing, an inheritance, not what the culture says they are: a drain to society, a pollutant to Mother Earth, an inconvenience.

What is quiverfull to you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Day in the Life

When people see me around town with my children in tow they often say something to the effect of, “Are they all yours?” Or, “Oh my, how do you do it?” I usually reply along the lines of, “Yeah, they're a real blessing. It’s a lot of fun around our house.” Because they are and it is. Here are a few of the highlights, or punch lines, from a typical day in the life of our family.

When chastised for not waking up promptly this morning, Measle (6) protested that it was not her fault. She didn’t know she was supposed to wake up. She was sleeping. “It’s not my fault if I don’t know and how can I know if I’m sleeping?” And the defense rests.

Then as I was sitting at my computer Mr. Monk got up from his school table, walked over to me and asked, “Mom, how many meters are in 6 feet?” I grabbed a sheet of scratch paper and started asking him questions. First I asked him how many inches were in 1 ft and he said 12. Then I asked him how many inches were in 6 ft and he said 72. Then I said how many cm are in 1in and he said 2.54. Then I said, “OK, now what did the question say?” Mr. Monk looked at me kind of funny and said, “What question?” “You know, the problem we’re working. What did the original question ask?” He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. This went on for several frustrating exchanges until finally he insisted, “Mom, you don’t get it. There is no question. I mean, there was no question. There was never a question! I was just wondering.”

My initial reaction was, “Well, why the heck are we working this problem? I mean what kind of person sits around wondering how to convert 6 ft into meters? And why aren’t you doing your school work, anyway?” It took me a few minutes to see that he’s curious and that’s a good thing. I have no idea why he was curious about that particular problem (instead of his homework), but at least he’s curious. Curiosity I can work with.

A few hours later, when asked about his day at “school”, All American Boy (3) said his favorite part of his day was science. Not playing at the playground, not eating lunch, not working puzzles, but science. Hmm. I wonder what 3 yr old science is like.

Then tonight after dinner, Twinkle Toes (8) turned on the oven, arranged cookie dough on two cookie sheets and baked cookies. Meanwhile, Mr. Monk (10) asked his dad if our pasta came from his garden. Should I be concerned about this? Is this a boy thing? Of course, this is the same boy that when questioned this summer about why he was getting into the car with his slippers on explained that it was because all his socks were dirty. I’m sure that made sense to him, but to the rest of us…

And just to top off our day, Baby Lu thinks she can play the piano.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tales from Kaz Part 2: Our Wild Ride

This is installment two of our Kazakhstan adventures from almost 3 years ago.

Today after our afternoon visit at the Baby House we decided to get really crazy and go for an outing in the woods. This is always everyone's favorite Semey attraction and we decided if ever we needed a pick-me-up, it was today. Once there, it was very pleasant. The Irtysh riverflows on one side of the woods and is very picturesque.
We also happened upon the "wedding tree" just as a newlywed couple and their friends were enjoying a toast. They asked us for a blessing and we came up with "long life and happiness" which they seemed pleased with. The Kazakh tradition of the wedding tree is that after getting married and drinking toasts, the groom climbs this very tall tree (in his suit and dress shoes) and hangs the champagne bottles from one of the highest branches. We got to watch him climb to the top of the tree and clapped when he made it. That was fun. Getting there was another story.

I have to tell you something about the driving here and our driver situation for you to fully appreciate this. The roads are perpetually covered in snow and ice, and the cars just kind of drive where they want to. One of our first days here Big D asked our translator if in the summer time there are lines on the road and she said yes. Evidently anything goes in the winter, though. The first driver we had was Wadzeem. He looked like a KGB agent right out of a movie. He had an icy personality, never smiled, and never talked (we would appreciate this later). He sported a large scar on his face that made him look even more the part. Big D remarked about him that he was a little afraid Wadzeem was going to slit our throats.

After a few days Pasha, the regular driver, got his car fixed and started driving us. We were relieved initially at having someone with some personality, of that Pasha has loads. Pasha doesn't speak English, but he loves trying to communicate with us. Since our Russian is worse than his English, it's pretty hopeless. I was never good at charades. After a few days of trying to guess what Pasha was trying to tell us and listening to a techno rock Russian Christmas
carol that he liked to play over and over again, we began to miss Wadzeem. Pasha drives a 4WD vehicle that looks like a moon rover. It just rolls over anything in its path. Recently our coordinator has needed Pasha to drive her, so now we have Kola.

Kola is a fossil and has been a taxi driver for over 25 years (his second career). He drives this car made in Moscow during Soviet times called a Volga (named after the river). Big D likens it to a model T in more modern casing (think 70’s). All the breaks grind except the front right one, which keeps locking up on the ice. To make matters worse, Kola still drives like a 20 something year old. At one point we were passing a tanker truck on a two lane road while Kola played chicken with oncoming traffic. It was a very tense drive!

Some of the landmarks we passed on our way to the wedding tree included a brick factory that puts out toxic fumes (lots of workers there have died of lung cancer according to our translator), a children's summer camp (located across the road from the brick factory),and a cemetary where a baby was left to die (he now is a healthy, happy American). We also visited a "healing” spring where a bunch of nuns were massacred. Somewhere along our journey today Big D cracked.

He's been the positive voice of reason and compassion on this trip, but this was the final straw. He was so homesick last night. I felt bad for him, but was secretly glad he finally felt what I've been feeling for 11 days now. Anyway, we survived the trip, came home and popped microwave popcorn (another good story- I'll post about appliances later) and watched Sleeples in Seattle. In the opening scene that shows the Chicago skyline Big D said with tears in his eyes and longing in his heart, "look at that, we have hundreds of cities just like that!"

Well, as my mom reminded me our first day here, my dad has always described an adventure as having a miserable time a long way from home. (Now you know where I get it from:) Then this has certainly been the adventure of a lifetime!

Sleepless in Semey,

Big D and I am blessed!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How do I get there from here?

I've decided Baby Lu is my most mischievous child. Maybe she just has the least supervision compared to when the others were her age. At any rate, she's always getting into trouble. I heard her distinctive yell for help the other day and grabbed my camera on my way to assist her (I had an inkling about what she'd gotten herself into). This is what I found.

She's quite competent at getting into jams, whether it be getting stuck under the coffee table or toppling over into the bathtub, but she's utterly helpless at getting herself out of them. Look at her. It's as if she's asking me, "how do I get there from here?" She sees me, she just can't get to me! Thus, her cry for help.

All too often the same can be said of me. Perhaps Baby Lu is just a chip off the old block:) Only it usually takes me longer to realize that I need to call for help.

I've been working through The Pursuit of Holiness book and study guide with my wonderful women's Bible study. Every week we're so inspired and so convicted. We resolve and we determine. But still I find myself wondering, "how do I get there from here?" I know holiness is the goal and not only my goal, but my purpose. I can see it exemplified in the life of Christ, but when comparing my life as it is with what it ought to be I still can't help wondering "how do I get there from here?"

I have to call for help. The good news is this is one prayer that I can be assured God will answer in the affirmative.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

God didn't make it a mystery how we get there from here. It's not by my own power, but through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). And He doesn't strengthen me by zapping me, but by working in me as I study His Word.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:1

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16

So if we know how to get there from here, what are we doing here??

Winners of the Intelligent Design Book Giveaway!!

I have two repeat winners! I would say that means you're lucky, but I don't believe in luck!

Jan- Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe

Valerie- The Lie by Ken Ham

Bridget- The Lie by Ken Ham

Billie- Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells

And Mum-me- you win the best, most thought-provoking comment award. And since getting feedback is what it's all about, I'm going to send you another copy of Darwin's Black Box that I was holding back for a special occasion.

Bridget and Mum-me please email me your addresses at spidel@suddenlink.net

I've got the others:)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tales from our Kazakhstan adoption journey 2.5 years ago

As you know from Counting my Blessings my husband and I travelled to Kazakhstan almost 3 years ago to adopt our fourth child, second son. I recently added a link to my blog to follow the journey and in the process started reading it again. I couldn't believe that I had forgotten some of these stories. I laughed out loud at some of our adventures and thought I'd share a few of them with you all from time to time.

Big D and I want to share with you a few notes on the food
here. First of all, shopping is not for the faint of heart. Daily
we scour multiple stores including our personal favorite "The
Chicken Store". We think this is just the affectionate name given it by our driver, Pascha. We're unclear about the reason. They do sell chicken, but I think it's a
play on words or something.

Mixed meat
I decided before coming to Kaz that I was coming as a vegetarian.
I'd read about their liberal use of horse meat and I'd seen pictures
of meat hanging out in open bazaars. The USDA leaves lots to be
desired, I'm sure, but I find myself suddenly comforted by their presence. Regulations on the butchering and processing of meat- probably a good idea.
Big D, on the other hand, like Esau, enjoys spicey meat. So every time he orders something off the menu, it's with meat. The interesting thing is that often the dish professes "mixed meat". Beef, horse, lamb- what's the difference? It's meat. I
don't know if they like the taste of mixed meat or if it's more for
convenience sake. You run out of lamb- no problem- just throw in a little extra horse

We become elated when we recognize something that looks familiar in
the food department and since I had just eaten our last breakfast
bar from home I was on the lookout for breakfast food. I found
muffins in the bakery of the chicken store and was anxious to get our translator over to find out what kind of muffins they were.
Our conversation- Me: "Larissa, what kind of muffins are these?"
Larissa: "What mean what kind? They are muffins."
me: "I see that they have raisins in them, are they bran muffins?"
Larissa: "No, not brown, they are muffins, they are yellow inside."
I try one last time: "But what do they have added to them? Are
they blueberry muffins- what kind of muffins are they?"
Larissa, exascerbated with me- "They are muffins! Like cake, but

Just as I was reaching for a Nestle chocolate bar, Katya, our young
substitute translator stepped in with "May I make a suggestion?"
What could I say? I mean, the last thing I need is advice in
picking a chocolate bar, but she's so eager to please and we'd been
disappointing her by going straight back to the apartment daily and
had yet to take her up on her invitation to see her city. So I
said "Sure, of course, you can." She handed me two different
chocolate bars made in Kazakhstan. We tried them out later that
evening and although the taste wasn't bad, it was chocolate after
all, it was as if air had been bubbled throughout the bar. It was a
funny texture. It didn't feel like a chocolate bar. Our initial hypothesis
was that this was a way to save money by diluting the chocolate and
selling it by the volume and not weight. The next time we were at
the chicken store, though, we noticed that even Nestle markets
an "Aero" bar for Kazakhstan. I guess they just like air in their
chocolate bars.

Pasta sauce
One thing they do have here is pasta- spaghetti, macaroni, rotini,
you name it. So I immediately put some in the cart and started
looking around for some sauce. On the aisle opposite the pasta was
ketchup. Unphased, I continued searching for a nice big jar of
Prego. When I asked Katya where the pasta sauce was she pointed to
the ketchup. I said "You put ketchup on your spaghetti?" "Of
course," she said. We even had Katya ask the store clerk, whom we
ask something strange of daily I guess, and she said that was all
they had. Later, at the chicken store (they must cater to expatriot
Americans)Big D spied, could it be, a small jar sporting the name
Pazy, that looked just like Ragu. Yes, Pazy, is Ragu in Russian.
We were thrilled and very proud of ourselves to have found a jar of
Ragu in Kazakhstan. Big D cooked it up that afternoon, and we're
sorry to report that it was not the real deal. It tasted like a
cross between ketchup and mild salsa.

We've noticed that the only section of the grocery store
with shelf after shelf of selection and variety is the alcohol
section. It's crazy. No instant cocoa for miles in either direction,
but 30 kinds of vodka.

I'm sure there will be more later.

I am blessed! and Bid D (yearning for some Tex Mex)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Than My Fair Share

It seems to me like I have more than my fair share of unusual experiences.

Today I was at the UPS store with my three youngest children mailing books to the winners of my last giveaway. I have a little trick that I use when I'm out with multiple little ones in tow. I tell them to put their hands in their pockets to avoid the temptation to touch, or hit, or shove (you get the idea). So Measle and All American Boy are walking around the UPS store with their hands in their pockets. Next thing I know I look over and my 3 yr old son is eating cherub tomatoes. Evidently he and his sister had picked them from their dad's garden while playing in the back yard. And always one to be prepared, and usually a little hungry, my All American Boy decided he'd put a few in his pockets for later.

I thought that was cute and had a nice chuckle over it. Then after I finished stuffing and addressing my envelopes I notice my 3 yr old with a green onion in his hand nibbling away at the green part. He acted like it was the most natural thing in the world. Like he was chewing on a stick of gum or something. I thought that was truly strange. The cherub tomatoes I could understand, because we eat them raw. But, of all things, a green onion? I wonder what made him decide to take an onion for the road. Well, I'm sure the Measle must have been behind it somehow.

Yes, I think I have more than my fair share of unusual experiences. I also have more than my fair share of kids. And more than my fair share of friends. And more than my fair share of love. And more than my fair share of joy. And more than my fair share of blessings. And more than my fair share of grace.

And more than my fair share of html strict 1.0 errors, at least according to technorati. 487! And 186 warnings. That's gotta be a record. (That's just a little blog humor- sort of. I'm laughing through my tears.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Phantom pains, they come and go

Twinkle Toes is my drama queen. Any of you familiar with the type? She started yelling in pain today out of nowhere and grabbing her leg. I asked her if she had done anything to it, I examined her leg, I did all that I knew how to do for a phantom pain as this by all rights appeared to be. Finally, I decided that it was sympathy she needed, so I mustered up my most sympathetic voice and said, "Oh, Twinkle Toes, I'm so sorry that your leg is bothering you. Knowing you're in pain just hurts our hearts." Mr. Monk added with irritation, "Yeah, and our ears!" So much for being sympathetic.

I couldn't help but notice tonight as we were at a barbeque with friends that Twinkle Toes was running and jumping and playing as if she hadn't a care in the world. Then as we were getting into the car at the end of the evening she acted like she was about to start in again, so I quickly reminded her that I had seen her running on her leg just minutes before. I also reminded her of the importance of being truthful. "Well," she said, "My leg is better, but just now I hurt my ankle."

Kids. We would never try to get away with that, would we? Not us mature, honest adults.

On one of the DVD lectures that accompanies Battling Unbelief John Piper relates a story about accountability. Before John Piper meets with people to counsel with them he makes a habit of first asking them if they've met with God that day. One particular man told John that he hadn't had time. John asked him if he ate breakfast that morning. Well, yes, the man told him. Then you had time John said. His point being that meeting with God should be our top priority of the day, more important even than eating. "Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Mttw 6:25b

Just like my Twinkle Toes and her leg, you'd think it's almost painful for us to draw near to God in His Word and prayer by the way we come up with excuse after excuse for why we don't have time. Then when it comes to something we "want" to do, we have all the time in the world. (I feel a little conviction here over the amount of time I've miraculously found for blogging of late.) The kids and I are working through the American Bible Society reading plan in the mornings and we're in Psalm 119 right now. There was a verse in this morning's reading that hit me like a ton of bricks. v 118 says "You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood." This verse stands in contrast to the majority of verses in Psalm 119 that reveal David's desperate longing for God's Word with his whole heart. And there it is. We either love God's Word or we don't. We can't have it both ways. For those who love God and His Word is the hope of salvation. For those who deceive themselves that there is something better out there, more worthy of their time and affections, is rejection. Their deceit is falsehood and offers no hope. They're lying to themselves. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too busy for God. This is a self-deception of our times. Well, maybe not just our times. Walter Marshall said of this in 1692, "What a strange kind of salvation do they desire that care not for holiness....They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state....They would have their sins forgiven, not that they may walk with God in love, but that they may practice their enmity against Him without any fear of punishment."

I'm grateful God teaches me daily through my kids (I told you I'm a slow learner). I needed the reminder today that the excuses I make for not having more time with God are just as obviously false to Him as Twinkle Toes' phantom pains that distract and prevent her from school work and chores, but somehow never interfere with recess. God gives us all 24 hrs in the day. What are we doing with them?

Intelligent Design Book Giveaway!!!

I have 1 copy of Darwin's Black Box, 1 copy of Icons of Evolution, and 2 copies of The Lie- all great intelligent design books.

Darwin's Black Box is written for the lay person, but is not what I would call an easy read. It's well worth the effort, though, in my opinion. Behe argues in favor of intelligent design based on the complexity of molecular biology, something he's well acquainted with.

Icons by Jonathan Wells is a much easier read and focuses on debunking the famous icons of evolution (what you learned in public school) one by one. It would be appropriate for high school students on up.

The Lie by Ken Ham is written for kids. My 10 and 8 year olds have been enjoying it.

How to enter to win one of these books:

Read my post on choosing God over Darwin and comment on it. I would love to hear your experience with evolution indoctrination or attempted indoctrination. What ministry or book or DVD, besides the Bible, has encouraged you in your "intelligent design" beliefs. Please be sure to tell me in your comment which book or books you're interested in and I will do separate drawings for each.

You can also comment here. Either place is fine. Is this a topic that interests anyone or is it just me?

And the winners are....

The 3 winners of my Royal Attributes of God book giveaway are...



and Valerie

Congratulations! Please email me your address at spidel@suddenlink.net and I will get your books in the mail to you. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we have.

Thank you everyone for playing and please enter my next giveaway that will be announced shortly. I'll be giving away some intelligent design books- some for adults and some for kids.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why I believe God over Darwin

When asked to theorize in the absence of hard data Sherlock Holmes objected. "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." Does this sound familiar? What's the first thing that popped into your mind when you read that description of poor deduction? This is one of many reasons that we choose to homeschool our children.

Charles Darwin cannot be faulted for his careful field observations made prior to our knowledge of molecular biology. But, herein lies the problem with formulating theories in the absence of hard data. He could not have imagined the complexity of life that has been uncovered in recent years. Also, he assumed the existence of transitional forms. Again, rather than formulating a theory around data, he held to his theory and argued that these "missing links" just hadn't been found, yet. It's been over 100 years since his death, and there are still no transitional forms that have held up under scrutiny.

I love the end of Psalm 100, "His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations." The Bible has held up much better than Darwin's theory and it's been around for much longer! The Bible and Darwin's theory do have one thing in common, though. They have both spawned religions. That's right, Darwin's theory of macroevolution (the theory that gradual beneficial mutations are selected for and eventually result in a change across species), is a religion whose advocates cling to it in a blind faith, desperate to deny the existance of a God that requires submission and worship.

Richard Dawkins, one such "man of faith", in The Blind Watchmaker defines Biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." He goes on to argue (again with no data) that it is natural selection that gives this illusion of design. Watching him deny God so vehemently in Ben Stein's No Intelligence Allowed betrayed the degree of emotion invested in his "belief system". I'm reminded of God's rhetorical questions to Job in ch 38. I wonder if God will ask Dr. Dawkins questions such as these one day in the not-so-distant future? (I have a feeling God will not interrogate Dr. Dawkins so tenderly as He did Job who was after all a righteous man.)

v4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me if you have understanding.
v5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
v6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
v7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
v8 Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
v9 When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
v10 When I fixed my limit for it, and set bars and doors;
v11 When I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!'
v12 Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
v13That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?

There's really no good place to stop until the end of the book, but I'll let you pick it up from here in your Bible.

We are truly blessed among God's people to live during a time of scientific discovery that shines light on the blemishes in Darwin's theory, but finds no fault with the Word of God (how could it?).

Stay tuned for some great book giveaways. I have one copy of Behe's Darwin's Black Box, one or two copies of Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, and one or two copies of The Lie by Ken Ham. More on this great giveaway in an upcoming post.

Hooray for Sonlight!

Don't you just love a good project?

We've changed over from Robinson curriculum to Sonlight curriculum and we received a BIG box of books yesterday. I love it already! My favorite part is the amount of time we spend reading together everyday! This curriculum was made for us! Why didn't I know about it before?

Sonlight, in case you don't know, is a wonderful literature-based curriculum that inter-weaves history, geography, reading, Bible, and language arts using texts, biographies, maps, and historical fiction. Each day my kids read for an hour and a half on their own and we read for an hour together. (I love that I have discussion questions for each day's reading so I can make sure they're understanding what they read!) We also spend about an hour and a half on math (Saxon) and 45 minutes on Language Arts. I cannot tell you how much I love the Sonlight core program even though we just started. Last year we read The Story of the World volumes one and two for history. The kids loved it and we all enjoyed the narrative style, but none of us felt we retained it like we should. I tried to supplement with reading from the library, but it was kind of hit or miss. This year with Sonlight we're revisitng The Story of the World volumes I and II since they serve as the backbone of the core 5 program, but this time we're also reading more than 30 books that cover every time and culture. The kids also have map and timeline activities incorporated into each day's assignments. This helps them maintain a sense of the big picture of world history.

So, if you LOVE books like I do, this may be the curriculum for you.

Speaking of books, this is the last day to comment on my book giveaway post for a chance to win a copy of The Royal Attributes of God, a lovely book for children that gives simple explanations and verses from the Bible for 30 different attributes of God. It also has beautiful watercolor illustrations on each page (I am a little biased since my friend painted them.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What makes your homeschool day a success?

Mr. Monk missed a couple of questions on his math homework today. I asked him, as I always do, if he understood why he missed them. His response was, "Yes. I did them completely wrong." After he corrected them I asked whether he could work them the next time. He said, "probably." Not the most encouraging way to start our day!

The reason I relate this story is that I've been thinking lately about what makes a day of homeschooling successful. In the old days, when I would pick one of my little ones up from school, I would ask them about their day. My concerns were 1.)did they stay out of trouble, 2.)did they make good grades, and 3.)did they have a good time- in that order. Now that my kids are at home, have my goals for them changed? I find surprisingly, yes. While I do still expect my children to behave, I find that I'm not as concerned about academics as I once was. Maybe it was my competitive nature of wanting my kids to do as well as or better than other kids. Maybe I felt how well they did was a reflection on me and wanted the teachers to think well of me. I don't know for sure, but I know that academics is not my top priority with my kids.

Today was a great day of homeschool, despite Mr. Monk's struggles with math. Today was a success because Twinkle Toes wanted to read to her sister without being asked and her little sister basked in it.

Today was awesome because the Measle wanted to pack her little brother's lunch for his first day of "school". She took the job very seriously and told him to be sure and eat his cherub tomatoes from Daddy's garden because they were his only vegetable!

Today was great because we read our Bible at lunchtime.

Today was a success because we grew closer as a family.

Academics are important, too. I want my children to be used by God to their fullest potential and for this to happen they need an education. But, I've known a lot of smart people who were fools. I want my children to love the Lord and love one another. When I see that happening, it puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step!


Labor Day at the Ranch

First things first. Big D and Twinkle Toes off to the shooting range. If you think this is weird, it isn't. It's a Texas thing.

My dad's in the other gator.

My three littlest ones swinging sweetly.

My All American Boy on his gator.

One of our sweet friends holding Baby Lu.

Baby Lu inside the ranch house that my mom keeps looking so cute.

Measle and her brother in the ranch house.

My mom, grandmother, and our friend making yummy lunch.

Baby Lu worn out from all the good food and good times.

Mr. Monk enjoying the zip line. I wish I'd taken a picture of him mowing!

My mom holding Baby Lu and a friend of ours posing with the canyon in background.

I joined my mom and Lu.

Lu wasn't so sure about the hike. She's holding on for dear life!

Don't forget about the attributes of God book giveaway. Comment in the previous post for a chance to win one. I have three copies I want to give away!


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.