Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Raising a Daughter Now

I’m raising a daughter in a culture that barely knows which way is up.  Many of you are too.  Every single day, there seems to be new opportunity to throw up my hands in disbelief or exasperation--not at her, but at a world that inundates our girls with all things counter to purity, loveliness, modesty, lady likeness and the value of family.  Sometimes I feel like crying-- or screaming.  What I see and hear gives me a renewed passion to PRAY that my kids would have an insatiable HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness.  It’s the best defense... or offense depending on the way you look at it.  Of course, culture is after our boys too but one thing at a time here.  Remember, I don’t multi-task well.

I remember taking one of my first road trips with Jeff.  At the first pit stop, I purchased a couple of magazines.  At home, we subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens and, of course, Southern Living.  I always wanted something different for the road, something I would never subscribe to so out of the gas station I came with probably Glamour and Vanity Fair-- something like that.  I don’t know how far down I-20 we got before Jeff started asking me questions about the magazines, but it wasn’t long.  Finally, our conversation ended with his asking me to think about just not ever looking at those types of magazines again.  He did his best to explain his thoughts on beauty, expectations, expending time and energy on what is temporary etc.  In my early 20’s I don’t think I got it but his challenge resonated in me and so I just never bought those magazines again.  With a few {almost 21} years of hindsight, I have been so grateful.  At 42, I get it.  And with an 11 year old, formulating her ideas of beauty, noticing my every minute and watching every move I make in front of the mirror, I get it.

Over the years I have been very aware of the unattainable attractiveness portrayed, not just in magazines but now, ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Billboards, newspaper ads, catalogs that land in our mail box, commercials, side bars on the internet, shopping malls and even radio ads that advertise surgeries and procedures of all kinds to "improve" ourselves.  She sees them, hears them and she has valid, impressionable thoughts about each and every one.  And unfortunately, it’s not only about the clothes, the makeup, the skin, the physical features, but it’s just as much as what the models are communicating with the looks on their faces.  Beauty?  Hardly.  All of that doesn’t compute with her but it does make her feel strange and I know because she tells me.  These sultry looks~ and that is putting it mildly~ are hard to explain to young girls.  I am sure they wonder what it’s all about.  The best I’ve done is to try to explain that there is nothing wrong with those “looks” but that those attitudes are reserved for husband and wife and that it won’t be long before she understands that more fully.  Not long enough, I tell you.  I despise all of these distractions, potholes, TRAIN WRECKS that fill her vision as she is figuring it all out.  She’s asking, What will beauty mean to me?  Am I beautiful?  How much time will I spend on it?  Will I learn to be content in my own skin?  And a big one, how has my mom dealt with it all these years...... and how will she in the years to come?
{And Daddys out there, I just have to say, you have so much to do with how all of us girls answer these questions.  I beg you, BE a part of these conversations.}

I talked to a godly women in her late 70’s the other night who had lost both of her daughter-in-laws to divorce.  These women, each of whom had served faithfully in the church and were devoted mothers and wives, walked out on this lady’s sons.  The women left their husbands and children after at least 20 years of marriage.  Both women had rekindled high school sweethearts on Facebook and had allowed the hook of the world to penetrate deeply..... completely rearranging their priorities and devotion to their families.  Can Glamour magazine do that?  Or Facebook?  No, but I do believe those shifts in our heart’s devotions start somewhere eventually leading to a choice whether to cross the line or not.  If the shift can begin with a Vanity Fair magazine, I don’t want it anywhere near me.   Just think about it.  And proceed wisely.  And cautiously.

Charm is DECEPTIVE {delusive - deceitful - delusory - false - misleading} and beauty is FLEETING {transient - transitory - fugitive - ephemeral - passing}, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.  {express warm approval or admiration, respect and gratitude}

Can we cast a vision to our daughters of what it means to be praised by her family and close friends?  To let her in on how amazing warm approval or admiration from ONE man is?  Can we express how extremely satisfying it is to be respected and to receive thoughtful gratitude from those we know?  We all know this has nothing to do with the product with which we wash our hair, the color of our eye shadow or the purse on our hip.  I have to ask myself REGULARLY, what am I communicating on a daily basis?  What does she see that’s important to me?  My hair or my heart?  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?   That’s because it is.

God wants to be our Teacher in this.  He knows our hearts.  He knows what our girls need.  I just need to spend more time asking him and listening.  When I start feeling like this, He reminds me of the verse, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {2 Peter 1:3}  In 2013 and beyond, Julia has everything she needs in this life to live it out in a godly way.  I think, for some of that time, because I am her mother, I am big part of that.

And because of that, I need Him more than ever.

I am reading Vicki Courtney’s book, 5 Conversations You Must Have with your Daughter.  I have only read the first conversation which is “You are more than the sum of your parts.” which covers all aspects of physical appearance, the culture’s powerful influence and ways to keep the conversation open with your girls.  She’s candid, practical, and her research is impressive.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Road Trip #1

We checked off Summer Road Trip #1 last night about 10:30.  I’ll have more to say and more pictures another day but I did learn some new things about my family while we were in the car:

Julia would rather drink a hot can of ginger ale than go in the gas station and ask if there is a charge for a cup of ice.  Her solution ~ as her solution has always been ~ ask her brother to do it who would ask a squirrel in winter for its very last nut AND walk away with it.

Jeff knows the lyrics to the song Big Green Tractor.    I did a double take and wondered who was driving our car down I-20.  Has he ever ridden on a big green tractor?  My city boy.  He actually knows a John Deere from a Kubota, but where he might consider a Kubota, a true country boy would never.  {“They ain’t from around these parts.”}
He went on to notice how many of the country songs mention Georgia.  I then gave him my spill on how Georgia is really the most “Southern” state -- even though Florida is more south-- it’s not even close to “Southern”.  Maybe parts of northern Florida but that’s about it.  Now, I LOVE Florida, but only for its beaches-- and for offering hushpuppies instead of fries with every meal.  Southern hospitality has been diluted there by, well, you know.......those snow birds.  Am I going to post that?

Brighton can fill up a Starbucks grande cup several times a day.  That’s all I’ll say about that.  Except that I have a new deep gratitude for those little green stoppers Starbucks has.  Also, he plays VERY little on hand held devices in car when minutes must be earned by reading.  Not. Giving. Up.

Me? I'm totally normal - no surprises, no idiosyncrasies whatsoever.

I found something else out while in the car but not about my family.  As Jeff and I charged each other’s phones or answered texts for each other-- because we'd NEVER text while driving....I noticed something on his lists of texts.  I saw a couple from men that had smiley faces on them.  Not the ones you make with a colon and a right parenthesis but the ones you purposefully download an app for......with a mongo range of emotions to express.  I think they are actually called emoticons or something.  I am all for men showing emotions but these little pictures on their texts caught me off guard.   Maybe their phone changes certain symbols to these faces without their knowing..... maybe they find them easy to communicate what they want without typing letters.  I don’t know but enough on that.

We spent a quick 24 hours in Soperton to load the wood Jeff and crew had pulled over spring break.  I won’t forget this sweet labor of love that took me eight years to get him used to the idea.  I am so glad the wood is finally in Fort Worth!  Thank you, Jeff!

And Gabe took good care of Risky while we were gone.  We weren't sure if kitty would still be with us when we returned.  So this was a relief.

It was hard to awaken my kids this morning for Kids Kamp when I knew they would have slept for a VERY LONG time.  They played hard and enjoyed their cousins and grandparents in Atlanta.  I look forward to posting pictures of time with the Sanders/Speirs real soon!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Farm to Table

Jeff and I often say that Julia was born in the wrong century.  She still loves prairie dresses and spends her money on calligraphy pens.  One Christmas I wrote that she was torn between crocheted shawls and North Face jackets.  I think the real deal is she’s caught in the middle of growing up.  Cartoons and “real” movies.  Chapstick and lip gloss.  Flats and wedges.  Nancy Drew mysteries and some books I’m just not real sure about.  Sharing a room with her brother and having a huge need for privacy.  I do wonder if her love for history and simpler times will stick with her through the transition to young lady.  If not, I wonder what will fill up that hole because it will be a big one, but right now, it’s still full.

When my friend Nikki emailed me about Elizabeth Anna’s Farm to Table Camp, I didn’t even ask Julia if she wanted to do it.  It was a no-brainer after I read the description:

“The course consists of a whirlwind A-Z on the world of permaculture. Activities will range from the basics of edible and ornamental gardening, farm to fork cuisine, basic animal husbandry and the philosophies behind natural gardening.”

 I just signed her up.  And I am so glad I did.

She brought home a few things each day, but my favorite was this--

She filled it with words.

The Garden

A secret place you can come to
A wonderful place to see
A place full of colorful plants
just for you and me.

Let's go to a garden, 
just you and me.
A secret place, a wonderful place
that you should really see.

Early in the morning, the rooster starts to crow.
Everything in the garden starts to show.
The beautiful color, the flowers in bloom,
But by the time it gets to noon
They are thirsting for water.  

Ducks waddle.
Chickens scuttle.
Ladybugs crawl.
Butterflies flit and fly.
Songbirds soar.
Goats clop.
I stop and look around some more.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pericope No.8 {Summer and Misplaced Nesting}

It's Thursday!! {NOT Tuesday!!}  Summer is in full swing as our last day of school was the Thursday before Memorial Day.  Our days are COMPLETELY different now and the first two weeks of summer have been.......well, glorious.  Late night reading and lazy mornings.  And I have no math papers to grade.  Yes.  I am all about summer.

So here are my "parts of the whole".

They started framing our home on Monday of this week.  I love “they”.  Lots of love will be going out to “they” over the next few months.  Without “they”, we’d all be in a mess.  So the first problem is, I am nesting. Too early. Is that right?  Like, I want to set up another home.  This rental home is great but I am on to the next place in my mind.  I am accumulating things for later.  I like to purchase things bit by bit as I don’t like to spend a whole bunch of money at once.  The second problem is we are running out of room here.  I have ugly evidence.

This space gets the MVP-- 2 lamps, 2 lamp shades, an owl made of driftwood, a 72" grill cover, a pot, asparagus fern, a Jedi light saber and 3 European shams.

And down the side of that armoire....This lovely stack has changed many times-- light fixtures-- not "corrosive"-- just used boxes off Etsy, I guess, curtains from Restoration Hardware outlet, inserts for silver drawers, pillow covers...  The boxes serve as a great drink rest for when I get to read!

Clothes that won't fit in the tee-niny closets and new sheets and comforters for new home

Bathroom mirrors on Jeff's side of the bed

And that from only my bedroom.  This pile above has only been there since the week we moved in and it's RIGHT beside my bed.  I look at it several times a day, dig stuff out several times a week and refill the box with new random things.  It's bad.  But there is no where to put these things.  Promise.

How do you like the cooler look in the dining room?  I used it back in February for a retreat and it sat there until about 2 weeks ago after Jeff said, "Now you are just showing off."  When I realized it was becoming a functional dropping place, I moved it.  Hardly to a better place but at least it's not in the dining room.  

This is the kind of thing I find myself getting happy about picking up-- a dish towel to go in that pile beside my bed.  And if I were the kind of person to give household advice, I would say buy your kitchen towels in the BATH section-- fluffier and MUCH prettier!

We started off the summer with a couple of piano things-- a piano guild here in town and then traveling down to San Marcos/San Antonio area so Julia could play in the State Federation competition.  

We spent one day at Sea World.

Shopping at outlets... and finding something we'd been looking for.

Then we came to the cat saga.  I won't bore you with all the details but here are the main points:
Got boat out of storage.
Stray cat had kittens in our boat.
Kittens road in boat to our house without Momma Cat.
Kittens petrified, hid themselves and did what kittens do--- in the boat.
Jeff wants kittens OUT.
Jeff stalks boat.  These kittens are street smart.

After one week and one day, not without MUCH drama {even human bloodshed}, all kittens removed from boat.
Kittens don't like dog kennels.
However, Jeff has soft spot for one kitten in particular.
Creative homes found for 2 other kittens.
I find cat food in kitchen cabinet.

Meet Risky.

My best laundry tip to date {money left in pockets}-- this will buy many Sonic Happy Hour drinks this hot summer.  Very happy.

Maybe the most exciting thing to start off our summer-- pouring the foundation and seeing the house go up.

Lazy mornings to snuggle with B fresh out of the shower.  {I left this one extra dark on purpose.}

Realized the other night I had had this shirt longer than I had had B.  I have things older--sweatshirts, t-shirts etc but I would never wear them out of the house!  I knew it was old, but I didn't realize how old.

Love the margin of summer--- for friends {and their parents}, for Legos and for snow cones

Grateful for Jim Redwine and the Thursday Boys crew-- the highlight of B's Thursdays for sure.

They beat the Dads EASILY!!

Big part of summer-- reading all the books we can't read during the school year!

Hoping YOUR summer will start by Friday afternoon if it hasn't already started-- don't fill up all the space.  Engage and Enjoy-- my mantra for now.
Happy Summer!!