Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Real Talk or Baby Talk?

Forgive me a small chuckle, but I'm still smiling over all the raised eyebrows from this past week. Every time someone hears my new favorite phrase, they give me this odd look. I pretend not to notice, but can't help laughing inwardly.

I've despised redundancy my whole life. And parents that use their obnoxiously nasal tone to remind their children, "Say please" or "Say thank you!" just drives me crazy! Silently, I vowed never to become a broken record.

Yeah, right!

Some days I repeat myself so often that I want to scream! "Excuse me?" is heard echoing off the walls (in my voice) almost 24/7. Here lately, I've been having a hard time with responses, not just getting the correct response, but just getting one period! The girls have been taught "Yes, ma'am/No, sir," etc... but some days you'd never know it had been drilled into them since infancy!

This is especially difficult when they're in another room. I give a command-- nothing. I don't know if they heard and are obeying; heard and are ignoring; or simply didn't hear.

So, I found my new favorite phrase, "Acknowledge, please!" (And the girls correctly respond, "Yes, ma'am!")

Despite the raised eyebrows of friends and strangers; a look which clearly express disbelief at my using an eleven-lettered word on my 3 and 5 year old, I've never discussed the definition of "acknowledge" with them, and they've never asked what it means.  Given the context, they figured it out on their own.

Since "baby-talk" drives me crazy, I talk to my children like I expect them to understand me. Everyone else is surprised when they actually do! But I have to admit that even I was stunned when, at the age of three, Joanna used the word "ingenious" correctly in a sentence. But I shouldn't have been surprised. Language must be learned, but it can't be learned, if it isn't used.

As you can imagine, living with the Amish people was culture shock for our family. (I think it was hardest on Mom!) Besides living without electricity or indoor plumbing; raising gardens and caring for animals; wearing Amish clothing and driving a horse and buggy, we also faced a language barrier. The Amish speak a brand of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. It isn't a written language, and has many varying lingoes. Although most of the adults could speak English, the children didn't typically learn it until they started school. And the adults would talk in Dutch until we entered the room, then switch awkwardly to English.

Since we were young, and spent most of our time with the other children, my siblings and I picked up the language a lot faster than Mom and Dad. To this day, I will occasionally find myself talking Dutch in my head, or quietly whispering "Sasch still" to a fussy baby.

Today I used a Dutch phrase without thinking about it, and marveled that, after so many years, it would just pop out of my mouth like that. So it got me thinking about language and how we talk to our children.

In our community was an old lady named "Grace" who adopted a girl about my age. Her new daughter, "Becky" didn't know Dutch, but Grace didn't baby her or switch to English. From the day she brought Becky home, the girl only heard Pennsylvania Dutch from the lips of her new mother. When Grace said, "vesch du hents" Becky would be punished for not washing her hands. When the Mom said, "hoke on-na," Becky would be punished for not sitting down. As harsh as this seems, I've never known anyone that learned a language, or a new lifestyle, quite as fast as Becky did!

I'm not endorsing harshness, but at the same time I wonder how many parents are just afraid to be parents and to really talk to their children, educating them with words? Do we bring them up to our level, or just condescend to theirs? Are we too fearful to communicate with great expectations?

Do we really TALK to our children? Or do we just Baby-talk them?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Skating On The Promises

This morning's sermon was extraordinary! I don't think I could even begin to do it justice, but there was a quote that jumped out and grabbed me:

"The weakest child of God can take the smallest promise of God;
stretch it over the mouth of Hell and skate across it."

WOW! What a thought!

The Scriptures are so full of the promises of God, that none of us should ever lack comfort, assurance, or faith. Yet we do. So many times we fret and worry regarding our lives, our souls, and our futures.

So it got me to thinking...what promise can I use to skate over the mouth of Hell?

Instantly, Romans 5:9 popped in my head, "Wherefore, being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."

But this promise does not always comfort me. I struggle constantly with assurance of salvation, since my heart is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9)

Then I thought of another favorite promise, "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)

Again, this failed to encourage. This is talking to the children of God. How do I know that it applies to me? Prayerfully, I bowed my head right there in the service, asking the Lord for one promise that I knew applied to me. Like a still, small voice, it came; "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:6-7)

This may not seem like much of a promise, but it was the greatest encouragement I could receive at the moment. I sin often, willfully. I stumble and fall on a daily basis. Yet my Father doesn't leave me in that sin. He rebukes and chastens me. His Spirit convicts and pricks, bringing me to a state of repentance. He never gives up or lets go. And His preserving grace is no less amazing than His saving grace. What a promise! What a Father! Clinging to that promise is like holding a chain to which all the others link. If I am His child then they do apply to me and I can boldly take comfort from them.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,
but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth
the peaceable fruit of righteousness
unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:11)

Are you Skating on The Promises of God?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fire Away!

Five months ago today, I started this blog, not really sure where it was going to take me. My first post, Wisdom Without Kindness terrified me beyond belief! I couldn't begin to describe the heart palpitations and sweaty palms that I experienced before hitting the "Publish" button that first day! In some ways, blogging has gotten easier. But I still find it difficult to bare my soul to friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers.

Unbelievably, I've had 1,472 visits in the past five months; greatly exceeding my expectations! This may not seem like much to some bloggers, but it's definitely encouraging to me!

There have been many times that I was tempted to quit; Hope and Promise was "supposed" to be my last post, but I couldn't help myself. There's so much that I still want to share.

One thing that has always bothered me is the acute awareness of my own failings; as a mother, a wife, and a child of God. I know our fallen tendencies to place people on a pedestal and expect perfection from them; or to place ourselves on a pedestal, looking down on others. I wanted this blog to be a forum for discussion and an opportunity to throw around ideas, not a place for me to "soap-box preach." But this doesn't happen very often, so I'm not sure if it's my writing style that prohibits comments, or if most of my readers are just incredibly shy! ;-)

SO, I'm offering an automatic entry for a prize drawing of the book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God to anyone that comments on this post. Just please let me know ways that I can improve my blog! Remember, I'm still fairly new at this and am not sure what you are experiencing when you visit. These comments can be about the topics, appearance, posting problems, facebook links, my new blog "Golden Apples",  and etc...  (You could even just list your favorite post or topic.)

Passionate Housewives Desperate for GodEvery time someone comments, I will place their name in a hat. On July 1st, a winner will be randomly selected to receive a new copy of this delightful book. (Even if you already have one, it's OK. They make excellent gifts!)

So, fire away!!!

Blog Posts with the Most Views:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Passionate Housewives!

Passionate Housewives Desperate for GodNEW on Golden Apples!

Please check out my new book review: Passionate Housewives Desperate for God on Golden Apples!

"Ever since I can remember, I just wanted to be a Mom. No fancy career or title, no aspirations beyond the cradle. Maybe I was just deprived of all ambition, or maybe I desired the highest calling of all..." Read more...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Keeping our Hearts

"But why, Mommy?" the voice of my five-year-old was full of genuine bewilderment, as she climbed onto my knee and gazed into my face searchingly. I had just informed the girls that they couldn't watch a certain movie that had been given to them by a friend. Her tone held no rebellion or defiance, and I knew that, "because I said so" was no answer for this question.

But what should I say? I could go into detail about that particular movie, criticizing the sensual way in which the main character dressed, walked, and talked. I could mention her utter disregard for authority, and the ungodly, autonomous philosophy behind the "just follow your heart" and "do what's right for you" mentality. I could bring up the unbridled witchcraft and sorcery to which they would be exposed, and the list goes on...

But Joanna's only five. I looked back into her eyes and took a deep breath. "Honey, that's not the kind of movie that Mommy and Daddy want you girls to watch..."

Before I could finish my sentence, the quivering voice of my three-year-old broke in next to my elbow, "But Mommy," she sobbed, "we like it!"

Tears filled my eyes as I gathered Felicity onto my lap. Gently, quietly, I explained, "Issy, just because we like something doesn't mean it's good for us."

"You know girls," I continued, "if we were having trouble with lots of rats in the garage, your Daddy would have to poison them. But he wouldn't put the poison in food that the rats don't like. He would put it in something that smells good, looks good, and tastes good. The rats would eat it and want more. But an hour later, they would be dead, because there was just enough poison to kill them.

My audience was listening attentively as I continued, "The people that make those movies don't worship God, and they don't love Jesus. They're going to do everything they can to poison your minds, but they know you wouldn't watch something that was really wicked, would you?" The girls shook their heads emphatically. "So these people take stories that make you feel good inside and they put things in them that don't seem very bad. But eventually, it poisons your mind and makes you distrust God and His Word. It makes you want your own way, rather than listening to your parents or following the Lord."

With wide eyes, Joanna and Felicity gazed at me. I could see their mental wheels turning, "Girls, I know you don't understand all of this right now. But someday you will. Until then, Mommy and Daddy have been given the responsibility of guarding what goes into your minds and your hearts. Can you trust us?"

Big smiles beamed from two faces as they squeezed me affectionately and ran off to play. But the rest of the day, my own words haunted me. How many times have I allowed the world's philosophies to find root in my mind and heart? How many hours have I wasted in front of a black box, feeding upon the husks of the world? I know, compared to many Christians, I'm very picky about what we watch, but we aren't told to compare ourselves by ourselves. Am I emulating my Savior?

In brokenness, I knelt by the bed. His presence seemed so far away, yet I knew that it was my heart that was far from Him.

Thankfully, He is a very gracious Father.

"Keep thy heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23

Related articles:
Feeding Our Emotions
Felicity's Green Thing
Heavenly Genetics

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feeding Our Emotions

Almost eleven years ago, I moved in with a family here in Pensacola. Before long, I had become close friends with their daughter, Sarah, who had just turned sixteen. We had so much in common and enjoyed our time together immensely. But isn't it amazing how you can be so close to someone, and then completely lose contact in a few, short years? Looking back, I realize that both of us had a lot to learn; some things the hard way. Now, as we are renewing our relationship via Facebook, it's equally amazing how the Lord has been directing both of our steps all these years. Now we have even more in common: our love for Him.

Last week, Sarah tagged me in a note on Facebook, and I wanted to share excerpts of it with you. The Lord has been dealing with me regarding similar issues for some time, and I wonder how many of my readers struggle with the same?

    "This past weekend I was quite sick for several days, and during one of those days I had a chance to catch a few episodes of a new show everyone is raving about, called "Glee". I don't usually watch much TV, but many of my friends were talking about this show and how good it was, so I figured I'd check it out. I was thinking, "Hmm, high school glee club, how bad could it be?" Now, I wish I didn't know the answer to that. This entire show is based on a group of highschoolers that go around sleeping with each other, and trying to be popular. I watched the first 2 episodes of the season, and then one of the newer episodes just recently aired. So, in the first couple of episodes the teacher of this Glee Club is married, but having this emotional affair with another teacher (spending late nights with her alone at the school "cleaning", etc). In the last episode I watched, he is in the process of a divorce with his wife, has slept with multiple woman, and the teacher he had a crush on is angry because of the multiple women. The highschoolers are making a list of who's the hottest and who's the most popular, plus one of the former cheerleaders is pregnant."

     "Seriously, CHRISTIANS! Wake up! Why in the world do we watch this kind of garbage and then expect our lives to look different than the world! I will say, the sinful flesh in me was interested in the show, because us women are particularly weak to anything having to do with romance, relationships, or gossip. However, the fact that it was completely and utterly sinful left a horrible taste in my mouth and I couldn't continue watching it because there is nothing God glorifying about it, in fact quite the opposite. I knew that I couldn't watch the show, and still have peace from the Lord..."

     "I think as Christian women, we need to take a stand against these kinds of shows and as sisters in Christ we should encourage each other to seek out Godly ways of spending our time instead of wasting them on TV shows that don't glorify the Lord. I know how hard it is, and I know how I still battle against my flesh, but knowing I have sisters standing with me, helps and encourages me to no end! Watching garbage that Hollywood throws out there, produces in me a spirit of discontent, and makes me feel things I shouldn't feel as a Christian woman (and let alone, a Married Christian woman) It's not OK for Christian men to watch pornography, so why should it be OK for Christian women to watch shows (Allow me to add: or read novels) that completely feed their emotions and desires in ways that only Christ or their husbands should?" (Sarah Elizabeth Davison: Garbage In, Garbage Out)

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

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Golden Apples (My new blog!)

I've been trying to come up with a way to organize the few book reviews that I've written on this blog, as well as the many others still to come. Finally, after much thought, I've begun to create a new blog, given exclusively to that purpose.

Playing on Proverbs 25:11, I've named my new blog, "Golden Apples". It can be found at this link or web address:

I've only moved one book review so far, but hope to continue soon. Please let me know what you think!

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" Proverbs 25:11

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Simple Life and Laundry

I've been thinking about laundry all day. Kind of hard not to think about it when you're up to your ears in it. Why is it that something so "not difficult" can be so difficult? I mean, it requires very little talent, limited strength, and minimal stress; yet it's so hard and unpopular! Maybe we dislike it because it's mundane.

It didn't used to be so mundane. I remember when it was a full day's work. We grumble about Mondays now, but to me, Monday used to mean "Laundry Day."

First, the fire was kindled under an iron cauldron which was brimming with water. Know how the water got there? Yep. You guessed it! Buckets, after buckets, were carried from the spring-fed spigot by tender, brown arms.

Once the water was finally boiling, those same arms carried buckets of the boiling liquid to a covered porch where the smell of bleach and lye, mingled with sweat, left a lasting impression.

The Amish mother that I helped frequently, thought it was her mission in life to break the spoiled, city girl. I'll never forget the moment she announced that, from then on, I was to clean all the dirty diapers-- by hand. Glancing at a 5-gallon bucket full of the week's feces, just soaking in bleach water, my sensitive stomach did a few loop-de-loops. She was joking, right? Wrong.

When the diapers were scrubbed to her satisfaction, they were dumped into the James' washer which was filled with boiling water and a bar of Lye soap. Then the torture began. Using the hand-agitator, my task master insisted on 200 strokes (one-way), per load!

Next came the hand wringer, which was conveniently located between the wash and rinse tubs.

Wringing the laundry once after washing, then again after rinsing, it was finally ready to hang on the wash-line.

Later that afternoon, a week's worth of clothing, diapers, and bedding were removed, folded, and put away before bed.

Ah, the "simple" life!
(Now why am I complaining about laundry?)

For more on our experience living with the Amish, please check out my previous post: Ah, the Simple Life!