Saturday, February 28, 2009


Not much blogging around here the past few days. Not much to say. The kids are busy. The adults are working. My grading load will be extremely heavy for the next 3 weeks or so. And, as we all do, I go up and down in how I feel and respond emotionally to the struggles we've got going on right now. Today is a down day. So, at least you all know that I'm ordinary now :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's happening?

Well, Adam has been home for two days with a stomach bug. He rarely throws up. (This is only the 4th time in our marriage, and 2 of those were for food he ate, not illness.)

Philip is enjoying his senior year just a LITTLE too much. His grades are slipping. His parents are worried. He is practicing his trumpet just a little more than last week. But his mother jumped on him last night and told him she was DONE bailing him out! Why do teenage boys sometimes seem to become LESS responsible as they age? I ask you!!!

Anna is enjoying being in the play. And she is in a really fun literature class with some other sharp students. Now, 2 years ago, I taught these same kids and they were abysmal. But forcing them to rise to the occasion, and teaching them now to understand the literature, and helping them feel competent and confident -- well, that has produced some kids who are in grave danger of actually enjoying their education.

Peter is trying to be more organized, but mostly failing at that. His friends (in Anna's class) asked me to tell them some stories today from Peter's childhood, which I did, describing him as an adorable outdoorish boy with curly blond hair and a penchant for carrying knives and hatchets. We returned quickly to literature.

Julia is tired of Girl Scouts. She wants to be homeschooled. She is with a rather rowdy, ill-behaved class of kids. We're thinking about it. If you know them, please don't tell them I think so!! (She's not always perfect herself.)

MK is awaiting the arrival of 31 research papers in her lap tomorrow, which will require immediate attention.

And I won't go into deeper thoughts. I'll save those for later.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Looking backward

I've been looking backward in my life lately. Adam encourages me to do this, and it's especially useful in times of stress or trial. Looking backward allows the Christian to see what God has done in the past and helps him to trust God to provide once again.

As I mentioned before, this is the 6th time in our marriage that Adam has been looking for work. I suppose that used to be unusual, but these days it seems people change jobs more frequently that they used to.

So, I want to remember what God has done for us in the past. And when I contemplate this, I really am amazed at the wonderful things He has done in each of those situations; each time He has produced a promising result.

1st time: Adam dropped out of seminary for lack of funds. He was looking for work, any work, with a young(ish) wife and new baby. God provided a really nice job as a bank VP - allowing us to buy our first house. That was wonderful provision.

2nd time: Adam was looking for work in a really stressful time, when it did not seem he would be employable at all, but God provided a job in just 6 months. On top of that, it was the job that kept us for 6 years in one place (the longest we've ever lived anywhere yet), and it was the job Adam has loved most of all the jobs he's had.

3rd time: God provided a job quickly, and placed Adam in his first church position, something he'd wanted ever since he started seminary. This was a happy thing.

4th time: This time Adam was out of work for a long time, but he was very ill. During this time, God provided complete healing for his illness, and really made him a new man. He is more fit and capable than he's ever been before. God eventually provided work as well, and got us both back into education.

5th time: God provided work for both of us in a hurry! In only 2 weeks, we both had teaching jobs. Amazing.

6th time: is this time. Look what God has done. He can do anything, and He will provide this time as well. I'm looking forward to finding out what wonderful blessing we will receive that we didn't even realize that we needed. I'm praying toward that end.

Of course, I could have dwelt on the negatives of those situations: the griefs and offenses and hurts. But those are not God's work, they are my own. As each turn of life lays down upon the last one, I try anew to put aside bitterness and anger and embrace the blessings in each new path. God makes sure they are always there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Okay, ladies. Now this is a recipe I got from my mother. Adam and I are continuously amazed at how the recipes I get from her must morph over the years, because after a couple of decades, her meatloaf (or spaghetti, or roast...) and mine don't resemble each other! Go figure.

The two women themselves, however, become more alike as the year go by!

Anywho, here is my meatloaf recipe. I don't really measure for this one. My philosophy about meatloaf is, the moister the better!

Ground beef (I like chuck, but it ain't cheap anymore!), say 2 pounds
Oatmeal - maybe a cup? Less? Don't hold me to it.
2 eggs
Mix these three together with a bit of salt.

In a saucepan on medium, heat lots of ketchup. Put in more than you think you'll need, and you'll still run out. I'd say at least 2 cups. Also add (and stir):
Mustard, at least a 2 tablespoons
Brown sugar, maybe 1/4 cup. That might be a bit sweet...
Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is the only way to go.) I'd use about a tablespoon, but don't let it dominate your sauce.
Apple cider vinegar, oh, about 1-2 tablespoons.
A little salt
Vary these proportions to your liking, if you make this more than once.

[I'm not usually a let's-just-throw-those-ingredients-in-there kind of gal, but for some reason I do this on meatloaf.]

Heat the sauce to a light bubble. Pour a good bit into the meat mixture, until it's nicely moist and blend well. Save some of it to put on top of the meatloaf too.

Most people form meatloaf into, well, a LOAF. But for years our family has preferred it in individual rounds, about the size of a large bun. That way, each person gets more of the slightly-crusty outside, and we all know that's the best part! Just form them into mounds in a casserole dish and pour some of the sauce on top of each one. Save some sauce also to put on each mound again, about 20 minutes before they are completely cooked.

Cook the meatloaf on about 350 for 45 min. - an hour.

This is especially good with mashed potatoes and green beans. Comfort food!

A dishwasher lesson

I just walked into the kitchen. The sink (both sides!) was full and overflowing with dirty dishes. Now, I don't mind loading the dishwasher; it's kind of fun to put all that yuckiness in there and know that it'll come back out sparkling.

But the dishwasher is already full. Clean and full and waiting to be emptied. That's the girls' job. So I holler to them, "Girls, come empty the dishwasher so that I can fill it up again."

(Which they are now doing)

As you all know, this is a time of trouble for us. My husband has been told he doesn't have a job anymore, after the end of May, and it's not a great time to be looking for work. We've been in this spot before. As a matter of fact, this is the 6th time in our marriage when Adam has been at loose ends, looking for a way to support us. You'd think we'd be used to it by now!

When trouble hits a Christian (or anybody) for the first time, it's like a tidal wave. You see it coming and scream, "Oh no!!! Why me!! Help!!!"

After it's happened a few times, you sigh deeply, steel yourself, and mumble, "Here we go again." And try to suppress any twinges of panic.

II Corinthians 12:9-10

"Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with (or I delight in) weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul had been through a lifetime of hardships and calamities. He learned to trust God thoroughly in them. He finally saw them as blessed times, times when God's provision and strength in those calamities were delightful to him.

Oh how I long to learn that. How can I learn to welcome difficulties? Job loss? Uncertainty? Hardship? Because I should be able to recall that God's strength will be here for me, and the feeling of His strength in me, at those moments of utter weakness, is a spiritual wonder. It is an inner miracle. I can feel His presence with me at those times in a way cannot feel it at any other time.

I have days when I forget these things, and my heart is dejected. Hopefully, this verse will remind me. Like the dishwasher, I must be emptied by trials, so that I can be filled again with His strength!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And now for some flowers:

The very first periwinkle bloom in the yard.

My flowering quince is becoming quite nice these days.

This daffodil head, and many others, are about to burst open! So many around our neighborhood are already in full bloom, because they are in full sun, but this little fellow only gets afternoon light.

Most of our camellias are being slow and shy this year, hesitant to show their beauty.

Only this little lady has been brave enough to show her face.

Our backyard in February

There's Lacey!!

Adam turned two of the garden beds today. Last year these were tomato beds; this year we'll put lettuce, radishes, peas and some carrots here.

A cross-section of some stumps from the backyard. I thought the design was lovely. I have two of them on the patio now, serving as little tables. One must improvise!

Philip, doing bike repair. The green bike is being cannibalized to facilitate the repair of the nice Peugot. It was not going well.

Proverbs 23: 13/14

Molly - here's some thinking:

I do think it's silly to assume that mothers then (or fathers either) NEVER swatted their children. Never smacked them on the bottom to get them going? Why do you label it "American-style"? Even Greek schoolmasters in the Golden Age used a good swat to keep discipline! Spanking of children has been prevalent throughout history (Augustine is a good example) and is not a recent "American-style" thing.

Besides, the "style" of the punishment is NOT the issue here. The issue is, is corporal punishment encouraged? Yes it is. You just can't get away from that, although you may try :) And if a beating with a rod was condoned (which is rather tough!), then lesser forms would certainly be allowed.

Yes, I'm aware that many ancient peoples had a different view of the afterlife (esp. the Greeks), although I think David shows in the Psalms that he certainly understood it, as a man who understood God's own heart. He did not see merely a place of dead people. He referred to a pit, and removal from God's presence. No one is saying that spankings alone are going to keep someone out of eternal perdition. But even the OT Jews would see this as "corporal punishment keeps a child away from death." It helps children avoid dangerous options. Death comes from sin. Punishment helps to avoid sin. It is a deterrent, and the change in behavior steers the child toward righteousness. Isn't that rather plain?

As an aside, Jerome's Latin translation in 400 AD translates "sheol" as "inferno."

And I must say that when God put his words into men's mouths even thousands of years ago, he still had all his children in mind. He designed his word to be clear, and to be eternally helpful. The concepts given are not only culturally applicable 3000 years ago. God wrote his eternal word to be accessible to us without being scholars of ancient culture.

My hubby is checking the Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He's my resident language scholar. All the words used in the verse in question, which are translated "child" repeatedly in English translations, literally mean "boy" (Latin) or "child" (Greek) or "boy" (Hebrew). This last, from the Hebrew, can be translated as "babe, boy, child, lad, servant, young man" in English. The term applies to anyone from infancy to adolescence. And the Jews really wouldn't have seen a teenager as, well, a teenager. (Now that IS an American invention!) A boy became a man at 12. So a boy would be 11 or under. My husband used his Hebrew Bible, an online Strong's Concordance, and his Hebrew lexicon (Davidson) - which defines the word as a "male infant." One other verse that uses the same word is Ex. 2:6 (baby Moses in the basket); it's also translated as "son" and "youth" in OT passages.

What is Discipline?

Molly's comments have made me consider again the importance of discipline, particularly in the form of punishment. Is it Biblical? Is it loving? What is its purpose? What happens when it is not done?

Molly, I will say that I feel that your rendering of the proverb mentioned is stretching the text a bit. I dislike it when people take a piece of Scripture and rework it in such a way that they diametrically change the very intent of the text itself. I know that your desire is to understand the text, but I feel that you are restricting it to meet the conditions of your parenting philosophy. Instead, our philosophies must conform themselves to Scripture. That text says plainly, to me, that corporal punishment is important, that in fact it has redemptive qualities. In other words, it can change a person's behavior and turn them from the road leading to hell and destruction. In no way was the other commenter (who happens to be my husband) saying that Christ's saving blood is unnecessary.

So, I want to look more closely at God's discipline of His children. That verse, Prov. 23: 13/14 is a good starting place: "Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him ("smite him") with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod and deliver his soul from Sheol."

First: basic principles. Is corporal punishment encouraged here? Yes.
Is the absence of corporal punishment in a child's life damaging? Yes.
Does this punishment help to turn the child from destructive ways? Yes.

Now, corporal punishment is not the only way, or even always the best way, of punishing a child, or helping instill discipline (eventually self-discipline) in him. It is just one way. It is not for small babies. It works best on young children. If you use it effectively and properly, you shouldn't need it for your teenagers.

Let's look at some other verses:
Hebr. 12:5-13 I'm not going to type out this entire passage, but I'd strongly encourage you to read it. Here is some of it: "... you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the LORD, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the LORD loves He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives.' ...God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children....We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them...He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness....To those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

This passage refers to an earlier passage in Job, the man punished by God - chastised by him VERY physically - perhaps more than any man.
Job 5: 17 - "Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds and His hands also heal."

From these verses we learn that punishment is harsh, painful, and irksome. It is also done in wisdom and love, with a goal toward change and healing. It produces righteousness and peace. God uses harsh discipline on his children so regularly that it is clear it is an excellent, useful and necessary method.

But is all this Scripture merely metaphorical? Can't we just correct with our words, and dispense with actual physical punishment?

No. God doesn't, and neither should we. God tells us how to live, but we are, in our natures, disobedient (as our children are) and fallen (as they are), and we do not listen to mere words, even God's words! It is lovely when we do! It is lovely when our children do! But often we need physical, demonstrable pain to force us to comply. We're stubborn. Our children are too. (But of course, that all goes back to how we view children, or humans in general, which is worldview stuff. Perhaps that is where we differ.)

Another proverb: Prov. 3:11,12 - "My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights."

Again, this punishment and severity comes not from anger, or hate, or desire to control. None of those are mentioned. It comes from love and delight. God knows for us, as we know for our children, that real happiness is found in obedience and conformity to righteousness. Punishment is evidently a great tool in producing that, according to the Scriptures.

I could spend hours on Job and the severity of his trials, of God's delay, of his feelings of aloneness. I could spend even longer describing God's scourging of me in order to change me (on the inside, not superficially) to what He wants.

And I do think that's the core issue here. Who must conform, the parent or the child? Who knows best, the parent or the child? And why do Christian parents reject principles that are so clear in Scripture? I think there is real fear of not using this principle correctly, but that doesn't mean that we can neglect it instead. If this principle is used so frequently by God on His own children, for their good, can we safely reject it in our own parenting? No.

Please don't misinterpret my post here as advocating spanking children for petty things, in anger, for control, or even on a very frequent basis. We should use this carefully and wisely because it CAN be misused. The purpose of corporal punishment is not to do physical damage, but to cause a heart change. If this were not possible, God wouldn't do it. It's not the only way He causes our hearts to change, but it is certainly one way. To deny that is to deny Scripture.

Friday, February 20, 2009

On a lighter note...

Meet Valentine.

Adam gave me this bear before we were engaged, right before. I was in the hospital with severe Mono. The doctor wouldn't even let me go home from his office, but sent me straight to the hospital. Adam went home and packed my bag!

Adam was so sweet to me then! He brought me flowers. He took off time from work to visit me, and even lost his job over it!

Last night Adam was asked by a couple at church to go to a Civitan dinner in honor of the clergy. He was given these 2 lovely potted plants. See the little cookies on the left? They're actually dog biscuits! Heart-shaped! Some of his girl students were making them for scouts, and sent some home for Lacey.

Ah, supper. Tonight is comfort food: meatloaf, Italian potatoes, and green beans. I can't wait. That meatloaf has been smelling fabulous for an hour. I'll have to post my special meat loaf sauce sometime.

And he's gotten a roaring fire going for me tonight. Isn't he a doll?


Here are more thoughts on this parenting issue.

Thanks so much, Molly, for you response. I appreciate it very much. I understand that AP parents really don't see their philosophy or its methods as child-centered. I understand that you see the grace in this philosophy. And I also see the various AP folks whose blogs I've read as people who are very determined to make a firm shift from previous parenting styles that they believe are damaging.

I also appreciate that you've also taken a good bit of time to evaluate AP and find places where you feel this philosophy mimics God's parenting. I do not know that that offers a solid Biblical support for AP in its totality; it only means that there are ways that you see it as a parallel.

Your repeated references to GRACE intrigue me. In the church today, this is a huge issue. Much of the modern church focuses on only this aspect of our relationship with God, as if believers have tunnel vision and can see only grace. There is little understanding of his judgment, or his wrath, or his immutability, or his power, or his discipline. Those are uncomfortable elements, and are avoided. Grace is a wonderful thing, and more pleasant to embrace. So, grace becomes everything. But it's a rather narrow way to view God.

Now, don't get me wrong -- Grace is HUGE, and is a foundational part of our relationship with Him. But grace itself is also more complex than most Christians realize, and certainly more complex than your comment implies.

When God allows my family to go without any income for 2 years, is that grace? Yes.
When God gives my mother cancer, is that grace? Yes.
When God causes my pastor's wife to die and leave 4 young children, is that grace? Yes.
When God allows an illness to plague my husband for 15 years and nearly destroy our lives, is that grace? Yes.

Where is that kind of grace, in your parenting? Or do you pick and choose what kind of grace applies? I know these are blunt questions, but they are honest ones. If you want to claim God's parenting as your guide, be careful. He's a mighty tough parent.

Now, many of the beautiful, individual points you made are rather general, and apply to many parenting styles: the importance of comforting and snuggling and physical contact; offering gentleness and forgiveness; not seeing the child as an enemy; servant headship/authority. I've used all these, and more "grace-based" concepts. They are not unique to AP. Some were even included in the Ezzos' philosophy. (And I remember, because I spent hours listening to their tapes!)

All I'm saying is that some AP methods concern me and seem child-centered. Just because a mom using AP feels tender, nurturing or comforting toward her child, doesn't mean that bad methods will be turned to good. Intent isn't everything. I do agree that, with tiny newborns, these methods are usually fine, and are used by almost ANYONE. We tend to hold, snuggle, comfort and protect newborns. I worry that AP parents don't necessarily see these methods as diminishing as the baby gets older. They wear their 3 year olds like they wear their 3 week olds. I think some AP moms love these methods as much for their own comfort as for the baby's.

J - as I've said before, I'm not an Ezzo advocate. Also, as I've heard you say of your own blog, this is my space, and I can state my opinions here. Yes, we disagree, but it's certainly not "unfair" of me to verbalize thoughts I've spent 20 years developing. I am addressing the aspects of AP, not that I've made up, but that have been described to me many times online, by its supporters. I do not agree that they are good for the child, or for the family.

*** *** *** *** ***

I do think I've explained much of my own parenting beliefs rather extensively in the past 2 days. But for a recap, here they are:

1) I believe in examining the Scriptures for instructions, and examining God's parenting for examples, as much as is possible, first. This includes discipline, tenderness, firmness, correction, punishment, and forgiveness. I need the discernment to know which ones to use in which situations. I think it's important to know in what ways I CAN imitate God's parenting, and in what ways I CANNOT, and should not, because I'm not able to.

2) It's important to consider always whether the traits you're training into your child are traits you want him to have long-term. It's important to realize that your actions toward your child are training habits and expectations in him. Don't train IN, things that you'll later have to train OUT.

3) Your children are sinners, and they are sinners from birth. You should assume that they will display selfish characteristics. You should anticipate that they will disobey. If you consider your child to be intrinsically good, then you've already violated #1.

4) Children need to be independent, both for their own sakes and the parents'. My parenting should produce children who can easily, confidently, and lovingly remove themselves from me, and attach themselves to a spouse and to God. This removal is a gradual process.

5) No parents have to "endure" the "terror years," indulging children when they are young. Children can be obedient and self-governed even when they are in pre-school. They will demonstrate the qualities you expect and require of them. If people move away from you in a restaurant, that's a bad sign.

6) God has designed the center of the home to be the marriage. Children are most happy and secure when they see their parents loving each other and focused on each other. Children who are the main focus of the home are unhappy and insecure.

7) Be flexible. There's no perfect, single recipe for all children, for all families, for all situations. People who say so haven't learned differently yet. The only standard is God's word.

8) Pray for your children. Be sure to ask forgiveness from your children when you've wronged them. Parents who have never done this need to begin. Allow your children to age and mature, so than as they pass into adulthood you can consider them to be your friends and equals.

--- Okay, so I waxed eloquent when I got going! Is that enough positive for you? These are beliefs I solidified with my husband well before I (or anybody else perhaps?) had even heard of AP, so they weren't formed "in opposition." I've seen the truth of these beliefs played out in my own children and others I know,and their neglect produce children who are painful to be with.

Enough for now! I've enjoyed this thinking and processing!

A little clarification:

Thanks, J. for your response - you're brave to read all that! And I appreciate your honest response.

First I'll say that I did try to give a positive depiction of AP by describing it initially as its supporters have described it to me. And I do think I spent quite a bit of time describing my own position and why I hold it. I just think when you read my post, the negatives of AP jumped out at you.

I'm not proposing the Ezzos' philosophy, and I'm especially not advocating their feeding techniques, which I think I made pretty clear.

I do take exception to your description of AP as being "not child-centered." I do not see how it can be otherwise. The whole method seems to me to focus on the child, on the mother's attending to the child. And where is the father in all this? Where is the marriage? From reading material yesterday on one of Sears's sites, all I read were the frustrations of "mom" with "dad" about he just doesn't "get" the child-raising thing.

And nice as all the long quotes from Sears are, they don't prove anything to me except that the man writes well. Frankly, I'd really like to know where he's coming from theologically before I trust him. What understanding of God, and of who exactly we humans are in relationship to Him, does Sears have? Before I start using his methods to develop the child God has given me, I want to know if he has a godly understanding of who my child is. And this is not an attack on Dr. Sears; he may be a fine, Christian man. I tried to find out, and found nothing. I would use this evaluation on anyone before I adopted their advice.

Although the parents I was describing may not have known about AP, or knowingly practiced all its detailed methods, I do think they have subscribed to its underlying philosophy. When I got done with all the thinking and typing last night, I talked with Julia. She asked what I'd been doing. I told her I was thinking about and writing about parenting philosophies. She told me she was "all ears" and wanted to know what I thought. I described to her the practices of AP, and she said, "Do you mean all those spoiled kids in my class at school?" It was the first logical connection she made also.

On another vein: How far can we take our comparison of ourselves to God, as parents? Are there any ways that God parents, that we shouldn't? I think there are. There are things that God can tell to his children, that we simply can't. Here are a few:

"I'll never leave you. I'll always be here for you."
"I'll protect you from everything. Nothing will hurt you."
"I'll always provide for you - you'll never be in need of anything."
"I won't let you be sick - everything will be okay."

Now, we've all heard foolish parents say things like this to their child. These are lies when they are said by human parents. I can't promise those things. They may comfort a child in the short term, but leave them devastated in the long term. I'm harming my child by promising things I can't do long term.

I shouldn't promise them with words, or with actions.

I do feel that many AP practices come close to doing this, and may well have this effect on the child. When does one stop demand-feeding? Co-sleeping? Hauling the child around on the hip? Does one assume that the child will always, on his own, separate himself?

I know of kids who don't, and of parents who allow it.

Well - I'm late for work, and need to go. These are just thoughts. But fundamentally, I do see AP as a child-centered philosophy, and I know absolutely that this is usually disastrous for children. I also want to know what the Biblical foundations are for AP. I haven't heard that yet - and I don't mean accidental parallels; I mean deliberate grounding in Biblical thought. Is it there?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's my parenting philosophy?

I've been thinking on this issue a bit lately. Of course, because Adam and I have been parents for 19 years, we've thought about this many times. One begins a parenting philosophy with the newborns and toddlers, adjusts it as children grow, and fine-tunes the philosophy as one ages and the results of one's philosophy bear fruit.

When Philip was born, the Ezzos and their parenting ideas were very faddish with Christian couples. Many tried their feeding schedules, and ruminated on their basic tenets that the center of the home was the marriage (not the child), children needed to conform to parents (and not the other way around), and that children were fallen creatures.

The feeding schedule worked okay with Philip, but did not work with Anna. I decided I would modify it, making it less severe. I still did not want to practice demand feeding (as we called it then). If I didn't want a 3 year old to be able to holler and have me jump, why would I begin to train him for that kind of behavior when he was 3 weeks old? At that time, much of what helped me decide about these everyday child-rearing issues was that crucial question: am I training into my child the traits I want him to have 5 or 10 years from now? Am I preparing him for life?

So, because I wanted a child who would be independent of me, I thoughtfully trained children who could be so. And because I wanted children who would not think the world revolved around them, I raised them to understand that our home did not revolve around them.

I had friends who nursed their babies every hour. They were exhausted and sleepy. So were their children. I saw these children over the years. They continued with the assumption that it was their mom's job to adjust to them, and not the other way around. Now, Adam and I see kids like this every day at school. They struggle with serving others because they have always been served. They are angry when their needs are not met immediately because that's what they're used to: their parents have trained them in it.

We had friends whose children slept with them. We knew one couple who could tell the doctor exactly when their second child was conceived. They knew this because their first child slept in bed with them, and it was the ONLY night in that whole month that their 2nd child could possibly have been conceived. Even their sex life revolved around their toddler.

Adam and I didn't want a marriage like that, nor a home like that. We decided early on that the BEST thing for our children, and the most spiritually healthy thing for our children, was for our marriage to be solidly the center of our home. We feel still that God designs families that way.

And we wanted above all for our parenting philosophy to be grounded in our theology, with no inconsistencies.

Now, the parenting trend has swung full-circle, even among many Christians. The Ezzos are out, baby and bath water. Dr. Sears is in. If you don't know him, he is the proponent of Attachment Parenting. From what I've read and heard, this philosophy advocates constant contact with the child. The child's requests are met immediately. The child eats when he wants, is worn by his mother on her body and sleeps with his mother. The product of this attention is supposed to be a child who is firmly attached to his mother (or father) and therefore feels extremely confident of their attention. He knows that they will listen to him and respond, and that his needs will be met, and his voice will be heard, and they will respond immediately. This is supposed to produce a confident child.

We used to call this spoiling, frankly. AP advocates balk at this; they say you can't spoil a baby (boy, have we all heard that!! usually from grandmas :)) Do you handle a 3 week old differently than a 3 year old? Yes. But do you consider with your 3 week old that you are forming a 3 year old? I hope so. I find the AP ideology to be rather heavy with the demands of the child. AP advocates repeatedly say that their giving to their children is a sign of love, that parents are called to sacrifice for their children. This sounds good. What can be wrong with love and sacrifice?

AP advocates often tell American parents that theirs is the "natural" way to raise children, that women in most other countries (one lady even said ALL!!), wear, sleep with, and demand-feed their children. Women in 3rd world countries. I won't even go into the weaknesses of this argument - why is this considered 'natural'? Why is this definition of 'natural' superior? Why should I pattern my parenting techniques to agree with women who probably do this from necessity, have other 'natural' habits I would never adopt, and who may have no understanding of Scripture?

(If you're still reading, you're a better person than I!)

Which approach is more biblical? Honestly, that's what's important to me - because I know that God's directions are what's best for my child. Not necessarily a doctor's, and certainly not a secular doctor with books to sell. As with all things in life, I must sort my parenting philosophy according to God's word, and be willing to jettison anything that doesn't conform to His truth.

I read a blog called "Mommy Life." The Christian lady there, with decades of mommying experience, is a strong AP advocate. She makes the point that when God parents us, he responds to our needs. He sacrifices for us. He keeps us near His heart. He hears our cries.

But he hears our cries because he lets us cry. And the very neediness he responds to, he has also given to us. He puts us into dire trials, so that he can rescue us. Do we ever do that to our children? I'm trying to imagine an AP parent trying that technique!!

God's parenting is complicated. He punishes us. He tells us that punishment is something given to children, and it's a sign that we are his children. He commands us to use the rod on our children - that not to do so will spoil them.

Does God ever seem far away? Oh yes. Do we cry out to him and wonder where he is in the darkness? Yes. Is he listening? Yes. How many times have I stood in the hallway, listening to my child's crying in the crib, deciding whether it is a cry I need to answer or to leave alone. I believe God does the same. Parenting takes discernment.

Does God ever delay in responding to us? Oh yes. Does he ever tell us no, when we ask. Oh yes. Do we make unreasonable requests? Yes - as do our children, even the young ones. I sometimes wonder if AP advocates think that babies are wiser than parents; they imply that. (That's not a Biblical concept, but it is familiar to those who've studied the old Romantics like Wordsworth or Whitman. Hm.)

Most of all, God is the parent and I am the child. I am his subordinate. I submit to him. He has a standard I am to comply to, not the other way around. I don't define God; he defines me. When I don't conform to him, he reproves and corrects me until I do. Is he merciful? Kind? Patient? Yes, all those things. But is he persistent and determined that I will conform to him? Yes also.

We've raised four kids. They're not perfect, but they possess the traits we wanted them to have: independence, confidence, self-assurance and service. They are very close to us. I don't want children who cling to me; I want children who cling to God. Apparently, it has worked. They know I love them (just as I know God loves me) because I'm willing to correct them. I consider indulgence to be the easy parenting road; discipline, even in the early stages, is the hard one.

Parenting philosophies often seem to work. We must discern whether the success is because of, or in spite of, the methods they espouse. But methods that produce whiny, selfish, insecure, angry children over and over again, clearly are flawed. Those over-indulgent techniques are used by parents of many of our students these days, with the above results. The intent may well be love. But the result is disastrous.

If you have opinions and want to state them, please do respond. If you disagree, that's fine. I won't delete your comments, and I welcome debate. I just ask that you comment kindly and thoughtfully.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The kids

I thought I'd write a post about the children, to let you know what they're up to.

Philip - He's not practicing his trumpet like he used to. I think perhaps it is slowly passing from his life. I imagine he'll always enjoy it, and play a bit. But I think it was a big part of his life in 9th and 10th grades, when we were moving, and he was transitioning, and didn't have many friends. It filled his time and gave him a challenge. I think he learned much from it. But life is fuller now for him, and he has activities and friends. He also enjoys watching some fun shows online, he's taking some pretty tough classes this year, and he likes to spend his spare time photoshopping pictures. He does really beautiful work, and I wish he could sell some of it and make some money from it! Maybe I'll post one of his pictures here for you to see his talent.

Anna - Right now, Anna's doing cross-stitch. She's very creative with handwork. I don't think I'd call her artistic in the traditional sense; she can't really draw or paint or sculpt. But she knits and sews and does things like that, and does it rather well. She's also enjoying her 3rd year being involved in the school play/musical, and each year she gets a larger part. I'm particularly pleased with how Anna is maturing at last, and with how well she's doing in school. She is extremely disciplined, and although she comes across as a blondish airhead at times, actually she conceals a pretty ruthless zeal to succeed. She's taking honors classes now, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if she did an AP course before she finishes.

Peter - Peter is blooming into a real teenaged boy. He is all about the chicks. Of course, he's trying to be gentlemanly and obedient about it all, but frankly he is thrilled to be in high school where the girls are nicer and not so silly. He, however, has no clue how to interpret all the sly innuendos of feminine communication, and regularly gets himself into fixes. Adam and I try to rescue him with good advice. Peter's also such a hard worker outside. He is our grunt man in yard projects, while Philip is snoozing in up on a Saturday morning. We're thankful for his teachable spirit.

Julia - Oh my, all of our children are such little individualists, and display such distinct character, and she's no exception. We watch as she struggles through being part of a "class" in school, when all her instincts tell her to be a loner. She does enjoy her friends a lot, and they enjoy her. But she loves to play outside. She has a little grass fort in the shrubbery. She strolled into the living room the other day and asked if I had a copy of Homer's Odyssey. Now she's reading it. Because she lives in our family, she doesn't know that it's odd for a 4th grader to read that. I don' think it's odd. She is forgetful, and lives with her mind in imaginary realms. She has been out of dress-code so often that she's lost her dress-down privileges until the end of the grading period. She just doesn't really think about it in the morning. She sings and hums and makes up games. Like the others, she's fiercely competitive, argumentative, and defensive. Like them, she's also loyal, encouraging, and bright.

That's all for today. One must write about the children when one's day is "ho-hum."

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Staff of Life

Today was a bread-making day. The weather was on the cool side, but sunny, and Adam spent almost the whole day outside. We had some friends over this afternoon and they enjoyed the warm bread with honey-butter. Yum. This is only the second time Adam has made loaves in his oven (usually it's pizza).

After he had a hot pizza fire in the oven on Saturday, he checked the oven on Sunday morning, and it was still 200 degrees! He also trimmed the apple trees today.

For those of you wondering about the job situation, we're confident the Lord will work out the right job at the right time. Meanwhile, Adam will pursue any possibilities as aggressively as possible. He's applied to several already online. There are a number of churches in the area looking for pastors. He is rather excited about the possibilities, I think. Please continue to pray. We know that the Lord will provide for us, because He's promised to. We just wonder how He will do it this time. It's always interesting to find out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Low-key Valentine's Day

We took it rather easy today. Nice weather allowed us to be outside a good bit, and Adam did some more work on the doors for his oven. (He decided to have an inner and outer door, to help in retaining heat in the oven.) We had a gift card to a restaurant and went there for lunch, and then did one of our favorite dates over the years, especially when we have no money to spend: we went to Lowe's and walked around, looking at the home-improvement items we'd like to buy someday :) We also glanced at the early plants they had out. It's fun to think of spring just around the corner.

After pizza for dinner, we went to visit a few older members of the congregation. Adam had made me some yummy home-made pecan turtles, so we took a few to our friends.

And we ended our day by watching one of our very favorite, old-time shows: Scooby-Doo. And the episode? "The Menace in Venice." I think it's my all-time FAVORITE Scooby, and I hadn't seen it in years. All the kids remember it from years ago too.

Not a bad Valentine's Day! Tomorrow Adam will preach, and teach Sunday School, I'll teach Sunday School also and play the piano, and afterward we have a spaghetti supper at church, which is ALWAYS fun.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Girls

Okay, so we all know that Julia is a nut. She has a pet rock, which she rescued from the backyard. Her pet rock, which she named Ferret, did not get a spot in the rock wall, and was found abandoned on the ground. She washes Ferret, and she drew a face on one end of him. (I do hope it was the correct end.) And today, she used one of Grandfather's old socks (I know he'll feel honored) and made Ferret a pouch, so she could more easily carry him around.

Up-close of the pouch, and you can see Ferret's face. Little ferret-face!

For a moment of reprieve from all that, here's a shot of Anna, holding a lovely purple and white chocolate heart-shaped sucker that she made for me today after school, at Culinary Club. Ain't she sweet?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Looking Foolish:

Today we had a school pep rally. One of the entertainments was to coerce a pair of middle schoolers, a pair of high schoolers, and 2 pairs of faculty, onto the gym floor for humiliating activities. You guessed it - the cheerleaders (whom I also torture in the classroom) picked me. What did I have to do?

Do the hoola-hoop. My hips don't do that anymore. And there's no waist left.

Hit a wiffle ball with a pool noodle. I swung and swung and swung. 3rd time's a charm!

Jump rope. Now that I can still do. Slowly.

And last, ride back down the length of the gym on a little floor-level, 4-wheel scooter. The students told me they had never seen anyone use a scooter with such dignity. I told them I had learned it in London.

AND, my team didn't even come in last!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I was going to say "Bad News" but that sounded a little melodramatic. Besides, I'm not exactly sure if it IS bad news. Today after school, Adam was told by the administration that he will not be offered a contract to teach at the school for next year.

They stated that there was no complaint against his job performance, and they were not dissatisfied with his performance. They also would not tell him why he was not being offered a contract. It's rather a mystery.

Now Adam has been wanting to be a pastor for many years, and here is another opportunity for him to pursue that desire. We will need to pray, and pray some more, and hope in what the Lord has prepared for him to do.

Needless to say, I have a painful, hollow feeling in my stomach. It's stressful when one's income looks like it's drying up. We'll have to revert to "crunch" mode, in which we don't spend any extra money AT ALL. In other words, our plans for Anna's braces will have to be put on hold. No eating out. No shopping. No house enhancements.

But we've been down this road before, several times. And the Lord always provides. I do believe that He will provide work for Adam, and hopefully pastoral work. We want to stay here, if we can. If I continue at the school, which I hope to do, then the kids can still attend there, although we do pay partial tuition, and that is expensive for us.

So - please pray for us, that God will provide in a way that allows us to stay here. We love our church, and we also want our kids to be able to stay in one location for long enough to consider it "home."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Just in case my parents have been missing her, here are a few pictures I had:

She had beguiling green eyes.

Sylvester with her human slave. Anna

Monday, February 9, 2009

She's back

Many of you may not be aware of this, but a number of years ago, I lost my daughter. It happened rather gradually, but I realized with dismay that the loving, sweet, winsome, happy child that I'd known had disappeared. In her place was a budding adolescent with attitude. This new girl was grumpy, mean, easily-offended, moody, hard to live with, and most of all -- she thoroughly disliked her mother. Me. That was about four or five years ago.

I always knew it might happen, and when it did, I told myself that my daughter was still in there somewhere. I told myself that for about two or three years. Then I wondered if the change were permanent. I was sad. I wanted my daughter back.

And then, about six months ago, I noticed slight improvement. And about a month ago (maybe less?), finally, she was back. She's cheerful, smiley, positive. And she gives me unsolicited hugs. That hadn't happened in I-don't-know-how-long.

So, as an encouragement to any of you moms out there with daughters about to head into that dark maelstrom of puberty: hold tight. The daughter you love will return to you. Try not to do any permanent damage to the relationship, but at the same time don't make any dire concessions. When the storm is over, she'll emerge from the shadows, smile, and say, "Hi, Mom!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I think this might be the "blog look" I've been searching for. I wouldn't have thought plaid would be my thing, but I really like it. I hope you do too!


Just to give you fair warning: I'll be experimenting with my blog backgrounds a bit. I'm looking for a background that goes nicely with my blog colors, which are chosen to go with the picture at the top. I took that picture myself :) at Falmouth, Mass. one summer. I like the color of the water, and especially the moss on the rocks. Let me know if you think I pick one that is PERFECT!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Alright: Imagine with me. Visualize the glass sliding doors replaced with double French doors. The ugly brick steps gone also. Instead, a deck coming off from those doors, out toward the dirt area. On the far side of the area, a curved wall of dark green plastic-that-looks-like-wood. In the deck, a hot tub. Steps come off the deck to the rest of the patio, which is all covered with a pergola and shade fabric overhead. Around the edges are large pots with plants and some wysteria climbing its way up the pergola beams.
What do you think? Possible?

How they conquered the beast:

These two men hit the job early this morning, after a pancake apiece.

Although the stump is only tipped, Peter takes a premature victory pose.

Ruminating on how to proceed.

By the time I returned from my weekly trip to Salvation Army, they had conquered the beast, cut him up, and tossed him (well, that might be hyperbole) into the bed of the truck.

Now our (very dirty) patio is ready for some beautification! One of the things that will happen is a wall on that outer edge so the neighbors' dogs can't see us and bark at us ALL DAY LONG.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I am frazzled

Isn't that what you say when you're SO tired? What a long week! I think I'm still adjusting to second semester, and it's February! Some of us are just slow.

Today we had "swap day" at school. This was a brain-child of Adam's. 4th/5th graders get to come up to the middle school for the day, and 8th graders get to visit the high school. Everybody shuffles around, and chaos results. And we teachers try to salvage a few brain cells in the fray! Not to go into details, but I ended up with 41 students (give or take a few; I didn't count; there were too many) in my 3rd block class. I shoved the tables against the walls and just had them sit in chairs. We had to do things that didn't involve writing or desks, for 1 hour, 25 minutes. And it worked. But I am pooped.

Mother, thanks for the fun card. And Gloria - my mom sent me that fun article that Mr. Cotton wrote about you. What a dear! That was a sweet article, but we loved the picture of you best. I told Adam you were clearly having a big guffaw right at that moment, and I could just hear you!

Peter will get that stump out tomorrow, "come hell or high water," as they say. That's not cussing, is it? But he'll get it out. I'll take pictures. It's turned into lovely weather, at last.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on that tree

Peter continues to dig aggressively under this tree. He cut a big root today, which you see here.

Even Julia's getting in on the action.


Waffles seemed like a yummy option this morning.

Snow day

Not much, but it was enough. Enough for what, you ask? TO CANCEL SCHOOL!! We are a happy, sleeping-in family today!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Peter and the Patio

Adam lends a hand to Peter, on the patio. They're trying to get the big jack, under the tree roots.

See the jack, inside the hole? Peter's been digging away at that root system.

Peter with his lovely date, at Winter Formal

The latest on Mother

Hi all -

My mom did go for her post-op checkup. She was a little anxious about having the drip tubing removed and the stitches, but both were done with minimal amount of pain. They did the CT scan. The spot on her lung turned out to be a calcification, as I understand it - harmless and not to worry about. However, they did detect 3 other, tiny little spots, so small that they could neither biopsy them or tell what they are. They will continue to monitor these and check them in 3 months, I believe. If they grow, they will biopsy them and pursue it; if it's cancer they'll do chemo then.

So for now she will just do radiation on the arm. We're very thankful. All in all, it was a positive visit. Thanks so much for your prayers!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For the past week or so,

We've had new birdsong in the morning. It sounds like spring, although it's not really, yet.

Today it will be sunny and almost 60 degrees, if the forecast is true. It will feel like spring, but it's not yet.

I'm eager for spring, and then eager for summer.