Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My feet hurt. My feet have always hurt, they have never been very cooperative feet, but lately they hurt all day, every day and worse. No matter what shoes I wear, (Or don't wear) or whatever else, my feet hurt all the time and it makes the simplest things in the day a chore. But I am trying to look at the occurrences in my life differently, rather than circumstances to fuss against, or as a punishment from God for one thing or another, I'm trying to see them as something that comes directly from Him and I'm trying to ask and understand from Him what I am to do with it all. And I pray and I think and I look around and all I can come up with is that I am done with housework. Is that a horrible thing to say? I've done it for 20 years now, I've got big kids all around me and I just can't keep up with it anymore. Even putting all the laundry away seems like this big mountain and it is simply because every step I take... HURTS.

I don't know what else to do. I have always been a walker and I've never minded caring for the family. Housework has never been something I would complain about, I don't mind cleaning the kitchen or sweeping. Rand has always tried to get me to give more over to the kids and I have just had a hard time doing it. I just like feeling like this is my house, you know? But I just can't deny it, Shayleen is going to have to take over and get the others working and I am just not going to be the one that can be the main player... Argh.

So what am I going to do? Well, schoolwork, obviously. That is a good portion of the day. But also, I think I am going to draw. I don't have any real talent, I can't organize, I can't garden, I can't do anything really very useful. It seems like the only natural skill God had placed in me is to be able to draw pretty pictures. Not very useful, but I guess that's what I will do. Read the Hobbit to my boys (and drag them through their math) and draw pretty pictures. Hows that for retirement plans?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A couple weeks ago a guest speaker at our church made the statement that he thinks we Christians are really good at separating ourselves from pagan culture but we really don't find a way to create Christian culture. Like when you have a person that when you talk with that you always gossip. Then you realize you shouldn't gossip, but then the conversation dies and you don't know what to say. When he said that I thought "Oh! That's so true!"  I think that it's true in a lot of areas. It seems like in times past maybe we knew some of it and had culture in those areas (like child raising was much more Christian in times past and has largely been replaced with secular culture... I think anyway.) and some areas I don't think the church has really reached maturity, or frankly even tried to. Have you ever heard anyone talk about Christianly city planning? Shouldn't we? Is there city planning that would be distinctly Christian? I think that we should be sending missionaries into the field of city planning.

When we lived in Portland there was a move to ban snout houses. (Snout houses are the ones where the garage juts way out toward the streets and the front door in hidden way back.)  They said they are architecturally ugly and that they hinder community because people drive into them and go from the garage to the house-neighbors never see each other. Oooo the conservatives were all up in arms. How dare they tell us we can't have our snout houses!

Well, I kind of felt like they had a point...

But how should a Christian city look? I love to read Dwell

.Personally I think it absolutely the very coolest magazine out there. Well, top 5 anyway.
I love to see the creative ways people came up with to make good use of a dinky little space. How they position their windows in a crowded city to make it feel private and secluded. How groups of people get together and make a community house together that still affords everyone privacy yet encourages interaction between them. Houses as culture. Houses as good neighbors. Houses as community. Houses as art. Very. Cool.

I wish more Christians would take this up as a serious point to study-a Christian point to study. We shouldn't be the ones in the back of the room griping about the ideas brought to the table for solutions. But too often we are.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I miss Portland.

Can I just say?

Lately I've just been going around feeling mopey like I'm just kind of homesick. I really miss Portland!

I miss Pizzacato. I know there are others but the ones in Portland taste different. The ones in the suburbs smell like the suburbs. They taste like the suburbs. The ones in Portland taste like Portland.

I miss the crazy lady who used to walk past our house in an evening dress and a long cigarette and scream obscenities at men. Poor wretched soul.

I miss walking out the front door and smelling coffee in the air.

I miss all the groovy gardens.

I miss the way all the kids on the street shared their outside toys. In our neighborhood, the rule was you could ride anything left on the sidewalk as long as you didn't take it around the corner. Here if my kids leave anything on the sidewalk the neighbors drag it back and glaaaaare at us. *sniff*

I miss popping out the door and running to Saturday Market at the drop of a hat.

I miss jumping on Max to run to Loyd Center.

I miss the waterfront.

I miss street musicians.

I miss street kids with mo-hawks with heights that defy gravity. Walking their tiny kittens on leashes.

I miss yuppie moms in jogging clothes and running strollers trotting all over town with coffee cup in hand.

I miss the big free sample Saturdays at New Seasons.

I miss our neighbors who used to start their family reunion with bagpipes.

I miss smelling Bento on the streets.

I miss funky little import shops and boutiques....

I miss waking up at night to the sound of street guys pilfing the bottles and cans in our backyard..

I miss sitting outside coffee shops watching the kids draw with with sidewalk chalk.

Portland was hard to live in sometimes. But golly. It was never boring.....

"Don't it all seem to go, you don't know what you've got till its gone."

I miss Portland. *sniff*

(The above photos are credited to Portland Ground Providing homesick Portlanders with a place to go and sniff..)

Friday, June 25, 2010

I love this video. Absolutely love it. I love Coldplay.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I do want to clarify that I do indeed know that not every guy who comes in our back door (at our house friends usually use the back door.) is here on some covert operation to "check us out." Now everyone is probably paranoid to visit us. heheh. Actually that thought comes from countless courtship articles that I've read (how amazingly pathetic that I could read so many books/articles and be so lost, huh?) Actually, I don't think anyone has. How sad. We aren't as in demand as I might like to believe.

Anyway, I think a lot of my antagonism comes from just a general feeling that I am moving in a lot of areas and I want to know really what I think and why. I think for a good while my spiritual life was kind of stymied because I kind of came at things from a conservative-good, liberal-bad sort of view point.  When I went into the homeschooling culture I went in whole hog and the only other family we knew who were doing it made Mennonites look wild. That isn't hyperbole. I consumed a lot of homeschooling magazines and books and analyzing every little thing, threw away the TV,  wore jumpers, and really, really tried to fit in with the whole uber-conservative homeschool crowd. We even visited a Mennonite church once. But I could never really feel like it was me, or that it all belonged to me. Some of it did, and still does. I still love reading to my kids, I still homeschool, all that... But I also have to admit things that some of those people I knew then would find shocking. Like that when the Talking Heads come on, I turn it up really loud. I ALWAYS hated how I felt in the dresses. They always made me feel fat..I wore them completely out of trying to do what God wanted... (well, and it was my little protest sign for myself in Portland that I wasn't going along with the whole "question gender" type thing... and in Portland if you have more than 3 kids you either belong to one of two groups-welfare addict or religious freak. Neither is very well looked upon in Portland, but if I was going to have to be one or the other....)

Anyway I think I felt a lot of guilt over things that I didn't need to feel guilty about. Some of the things I took on I did because I was convinced and some things I did because it seemed like that was the thing to do... And I think in a lot of areas I'm just questioning things. I don't want to knee jerk in the other direction and just be liberal for liberal's sake either. I want to be "convinced in my own mind"..

Maybe *I'm* the one looking for an iron clad guarantee that I'm doing everything right and that all the out comes rest with me. Because if I didn't admit that the whole idea of making a mistake terrifies me, I would be a liar. But I suppose all the risks involved are meant to drive us to prayer, and believe me, I do.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm not trying to come down on people who have used and advocate this model, I'm really not. I hope it doesn't seem that way. I know godly people who believe it is good for them.  I guess I've just experienced the frustration of seeing it as a standard that somehow we are supposed to live up to and not seeing it fit into real life. It does seem like it would make everything really simple. And it holds out a sort of promise of shielding our children from heartbreak and sin, though I'm not sure it can totally deliver on that.

And it isn't always the most conservative people who are the most judgmental. Sometimes people have a certain standard because they sincerely want to do right. They aren't always looking over at you and thinking things.

I want my kids to be established in godly marriages. I want them to be established with partners that want their family life to reflect the glory of God. I want them to desire to BE godly, not just look godly. I want my kids to desire godliness in their own right. I want anyone who marries them to want to be godly. I want it all to be real, not just living up to appearances.

I guess the last thing I will say that I'm concerned is when we are so concerned about sin, or that our kids are doing things "right" (according to the model, not scripture, that is.) that everything gets over analyzed and a standard is set over other people's children about how they are measuring up to some model. It is wrong to make a person feel ashamed of something (like talking to someone she/he has permission to talk to) if there was nothing to be ashamed of going on. It is wrong to back talk or cast suspicion on a person's character because they aren't measuring up to your model. This is wrong. Someone should not be condemned according to anything but the Word of God.

People are people. They aren't going to fit into your slots. Our kids are people. They should be treated like human beings with their own minds, feelings and sense of dignity.

Just because people don't do things the way you are doesn't mean they aren't being thoughtful and careful.

So many of us just bumbled into marriage. We are all trying so hard to do better by our own children. Many of us have more examples of what not to do than what to do. But God has been faithful to us and He loves our kids more than we do. We shouldn't act like any little mistake is going to ruin their lives forever.
Another thing I don't like is I think it can tempt the boys to be a little sneaky. Maybe not all of them. But if a boy knows that if he doesn't have all his career ducks in a row and if he knows he cannot flinch toward a girl and reveal his feelings he is going to become very skilled at guarding his facial expressions. Is this the best virtue we want in the boys who come for our daughters? The ones that are best at hiding their feelings? I'm all for self control and all, but... really?

Because what do you do if the boy does flinch? Do you ax him? Tisk, tisk, she's on to you, I guess you're out. What if he feels like he has competition and she could be making decisions and he feels like information he could give her would pertain to that decision. What if she WOULD want to know. Is he supposed to just passively sit by? Is THAT what we want in son-in-laws? The ones who were so dis attached? Really?

Save me from the boy who comes into my house to observe and see if my daughter measures up. I have no interest in that boy. Save us the compliment.

I like a little life in a boy's eyes. I find forthrightness refreshing.

If we weed out the boys according to their ability to stuff their feelings then it seems by default we are placing stoicism at the top of the list of qualities we are looking for.

and furthermore.... (Continuing from below)

I'm not real impressed with this whole courtship model (the career first, then look sort of thing described below.)

 I want to be careful here and I want to be kind. I know some families that have used it and are happy with how it worked for their family. I am totally into having people be free to follow their convictions and do what ever they feel is right for their family. I know what it's like to be on the conservative side and have people look down on or pooh-pooh you, and I know what it's like to be on the liberal side and feel judged and condemned.  Either way everybody has an opinion... and I mean everybody.


Like I said I'm  not thrilled with it. It looks really good in theory, and I understand some of the intentions behind it and if a young man feel convicted to follow it then he better well do that. (But if he knows he isn't ready and he really feels like he can't say anything to a girl or her family until he is, then he really should guard himself closely and not make excuses to hang around her or her family. I don't see any virtue whatsoever in leaving a girl hanging and wondering.)  I think there are some unintended consequences that I am not comfortable with.

I like to get to really know people and I'm kind of slow about doing that. If a young man is interested in one of my daughters I especially want to be able to take my time and get to know him. I'm not so much impressed with things like having your own car, college degrees, money in the bank, stuff like that. I mean these things certainly are nice and I'm not saying if a guy has had the fortitude to complete a college course or be diligent about saving his money that these are not commendable, they are. But this is a small part of a much larger picture in my mind.

Like that Shania Twain song-that don't impress me much.

 My husband has worked for some really wealthy people. Pro basketball players a couple of times, a screen writer, the founder of the addidas company, let alone countless people like heart surgeons, dentists, people with a whole lot more money in their pinkie than we'll see in years. We carpeted our entire house once with brand new carpet ripped up from one family's exercise room because the wife decided she didn't like the color.

Some of those people were happy, had nice families, etc. And some of them, though really good on the marketplace were miserable failures at home and you could tell it.

And my daughters ultimately have the same God caring for them that has provided for me all these years.

So yeah, vocation is a really good thing. I talk to my son a lot about his. It's where a man will spend a good portion of his life, and I want my daughters to have a man with some vision for his life.

But it's just part of it all.

My daughters are easy to be nice to. My oldest, especially, has a sweet, non confrontive disposition and she's easy to be nice to. I can't really tell anything about a guy if he's nice to her. But what I want to know is how he treats other people. How does he act toward the guys he sees as competition? How does he act toward the people who bug him? That he doesn't have a whole lot of respect for? Is kindness still important to him? Or does he think they are fair game for him to insult? Does he sulk? Does he care about being kind? Or is self righteousness a higher virtue.

How will he act toward her when she does something that makes him realize that she isn't perfect? (Because that day will come.) Does he care still and encourage her toward righteousness? Is his impulse toward encouraging and building up? Or does he find more satisfaction in standing apart, arms folded with a condemning air?

What about when he hears rumors about her? Will he come back to her and ask for clarity? Or will he assume the worse until otherwise proven? Because girls get talked over. And pretty girls especially.

Will he stick by her when her friends don't? Can they talk? Do they want the same things? Do they laugh at the same jokes? Do they get along with each other's families? How does he make decisions? How does he handle it when they disagree? Does he stay calm or does he get all threatened and agitated? Are they kind of on the same level as far as how much time they like to spend with people?

I don't know how you get to know these things without spending time with people. I'm simply not comfortable with the idea of a guy coming on the scene with courtship as the primary motive at that point and expecting the whole 6 month courtship/6 month engagement thing. I don't like being rushed that way (and the guys seem to feel like they've done their time and have waited a long time-and they usually have at that point-and they are in a little more of a hurry.)

I don't want a guy to come in and sell himself to us. I want to feel like I know him. Especially these homeschooled boys-they know the pitch they are expected to give. That he wears a tie, tucks in his shirt and talks good tells me nothing. I want to know the boy. Clothing styles come and go and everybody looks back on the clothes they wore as teenagers and well...

There are different kinds of careful.

 There is the careful that keeps everyone at a safe distance until we are practically ready for the alter, and there is the kind of careful I'm talking about. The keep your enemies close kind of careful. Not that the boys are the enemy, but you know.....

Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more to say later....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We got internet back-yayayay! It's slower, but it's something, anyway. Anyway, it's just in time but it's good timing because I have some things rattling in my brain and I hope I can at least smooth them out here....

Courtship, courtship is what's on my mind. Courtship models, friendships, all that stuff.
The courtship model I know best I guess is where the guy works really hard to get himself ready career wise. He doesn't really look around or anything until he is ready to start a household. Maybe he has a few likely candidates in mind but he doesn't do anything until he can make marriage a priority.
But say there are two people who go to church together. Say they are good friends-they have mutual friends, they go to some of the same social events, play in Christmas plays, sing in the choir, stuff like that. And they become friends over a course of time. After a while it gets pretty apparent that they "click". They are 18, but he isn't ready to get married and they both know that, but they do enjoy being around each other and everyone knows it, and they both know it. So for the time being, they visit at church, social events in connection to church, and other things like that with groups of friends, while he works and goes to school and she does her stuff. Both of them have the trust of their parents, they are both honest, good Christian kids who want to do right of their own accord and not just because their parents are holding a sledge hammer over them. They both hold the same doctrine and basic similar outlooks on things.

I feel ridiculous almost for having to ask this but is this such a big deal? If a girl has friends that have sisters who have been married at her own age-making lifetime commitments, and with the help of God have been entrusted with the creation of an immortal soul-that is were pregnant with their first baby, should she not at 18 be able to decide that she is interested in considering this young man when he has his financial ducks in a row and in the meantime wants to visit with him at church and choir and share music and talk about stuff? I'm not talking about holding hands, let alone kissing. I'm not talking about making big commitments or going off in cars alone together, or being alone in a room together even. I'm not talking about being on the phone with each other for hours or talking romantically. I mean that when they are going to be at the same place at the same time they look forward to it, and they seek out each other when they get there and they are usually in the same group of friends together. They enjoy each other's company and their faces show it when they talk.

Sometimes in our desire to protect against sexual sin we get a little myopic.

Where do we want our kids to meet other kids? How do we think they will get to know each other? Is everything so alarming that every stinkin' little thing needs to pulled out to the extreme like some big taffy pull? Do we want our kids to feel like everything they do is going to be so analyzed and picked over that they are afraid to be friends with the opposite sex at church? How do people get to know each other?

And if the kids are talking with their parent's permission, is it anyone else's business?

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Never under estimate the destructive powers of a herd of little boys. Shay left my bedroom (for five seconds! She swears.) with the laptop open and a cup of coffee (with only like half an inch of coffe left! Really! She swears!) So the little boys  bound into the room, like a bunch of baby otters romping together on my bed. Coffee is sprayed everywhere, everywhere I tell you, including all over our laptop. It really is a marvel to behold, actually. I wish I could get paint to cover as well as they got that coffee. If we weren't mourning the loss of the laptop (alas) we could only stand and marvel. The only computer in our house with internet connection. Alas. I am typing this at the library. Feel our woe.