Monthly Archives: July 2008
(This is continued from the last discussion on preparing daughters for marriage by helping them build life skills.)
We want to build solid relationship skills in the lives of our daughters to give them the best opportunity for future success in their marriage and in their families.
One of the biggest factors in marriage that leads to divorce is the inability for husbands and wives to communicate with each other. Knowing someone intimately allows for us to know the hot buttons to push in each others’ lives as well as the strings to pull in order to get them to do what we want them to do. Healthy communication in a marriage rejects these destructive behaviors and begins with recognizing both the eternal worth of the other person and the desire to serve each other on a daily basis. Learning how to do this in the home among family members is the foundation for daughters to know how to communicate with their husbands.
I think there are two tools that can be quite effective to increase the quality of communication in the home. The first one is to learn to talk with others using analogies. One day I was trying to explain to my husband the frustration I was experiencing of the continual clutter in our house that came from the toddlers’ toys, homeschooling projects, and endless stacks of laundry. I told him that just the fact that it is never completed was a tremendous discouragement to me. He was really not relating to what I said to him until I remembered what his office had looked like the last time I had visited him at work. His desk and work tables held organized stacks of file folders, each holding the records of open jobs, all organized in a way that was helpful to him. So I suggested that he imagine having someone come into his office at various times during the day and running roughshod through his folders, reorganizing his filing system, and leaving only to return at any random moment. And then I told him how discouraging it was to think about getting up the next morning and doing it all over again! He was able to get my picture when I painted a word picture for him that conveyed the meaning while speaking his language.
The other tool I have found to be really helpful to me has been to be part of a Toastmasters Club. While most people think of this group as preparing people for public speaking, in fact, the most important part of their meetings involve listening in order to give the speakers helpful criticism that will improve everyone’s communication. Learning how to listen, really listen, is more than half of communicating and as we learn to listen to our spouses and our children, we will grow and build healthy relationships with them.
Remember, too, that the examples you set for your children will be one of the greatest factors in their ability to communicate with a future spouse. If all our children see is anger or indifference expressed through our communication, that is what they will learn and practice. If they see genuine caring and attentiveness to the thoughts and beliefs of others, that is what they will embrace.
The Bible has a lot to say about relationship skills and gives us very specific instructions in how to build them. They are found in the one another commands that apply to all of our relationships, both between husband and wife, and parent and child, since all of the above are also brothers and sisters in Christ. Ultimately, it will be through obeying these commands that any of us will enjoy the benefits and delights of a godly marriage.
Finally, one more point I think is important to consider as we help our daughters develop godly relationships is that we want to raise daughters who eschew either radical dependence and or independence. Instead, we want to see our daughters develop a healthy view of biblical interdependence with others.
Young women who tend toward a hyper independence often experienced a parenting example where the father was extremely controlling and the mother was passive. Others have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of fathers or others and thus protect themselves by building relationships with no men. Still others become overly independent because they have bought into some notion that to be successful, they have to compete with men. All of these myths result in failing to build good relationships with either men or women.
At the other end of the spectrum are women who become overly dependent and passive, behaving like children and not being able to take the initiative to behave as responsible adult women. Our goal is to raise daughters who will recognize the value of relationships with others within the body of Christ and specifically within their homes where they can minister to one another and depend on one another in God-honoring ways.
Also, there are several articles on this blog regarding applying the one anothers in our homes in the April, 2007 archives.
Next I will discuss the importance of daughters preparing for marriage by being students of the Word.
One of the most hair-raising and yet enjoyable aspects of my husband’s military service as part of a Special Forces unit was going through jump school. It began with 6 weeks of intense physical training that included hiking for miles in heavy equipment, verbal and mental abuse, and intense preparation for equipment malfunction, all of it leading up to the most dreaded “tower week.”
Made to simulate the actual doorway and parachute hook-ups of a transport plane, the tower is 35 feet tall, what I am told is the psychological height for coping with the fear of heights. Repeatedly they hooked up mock chutes and jumped out, practicing their landings, the final week of training culminating in making the 5 jumps required to receive the coveted airborne wings.
Clay tells me that as prepared as they were and as natural as the procedures had become after repeating them hundreds of times, standing with his toes over the edge of the aircraft doorway and peering down 2000 feet below at the drop zone was something he will never forget. The 35 foot tower was nothing compared to the real thing. While all the grueling preparations were necessary and beneficial, they didn’t really prepare him for the exhilaration and satisfaction of actually jumping out of the real airplane.
We both had a similar experience when we got married. We had gone through pre-marriage counseling that, in retrospect, was quite good and insightful. But all the theories and books to read in the world do not prepare you for the real thing, that jump into space known as marriage.
The most recent statistics tell us that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce and that includes those between Christians. A few weeks ago, as we visited with a friend from our college days and we began to ask him about different people we had known, it was stunning to me to hear how couple after couple had divorced, all of them Christians and many of them in full time ministry.
I couldn’t help but wonder what might have made a difference in the lives of these couples that could have led to long, happy marriages and what ways we, as parents, can help to prepare our daughters for marriage, if the Lord wills it in their lives. How can parents better prepare their daughters for “the jump?” I believe that there are three basic areas, life skills, relationship skills, and spiritual growth, where we, as parents, can do this, all the while realizing that the success of any marriage, as with anything else in life, is by God’s grace in our lives.
The first things we can do to help our daughters prepare for marriage is to give them opportunities to learn a variety of life skills they will need. As I have looked at the Proverbs 31 woman from this practical standpoint, I see a woman who was able to work inside a household budget that included purchases of clothing and food. She was able to make money both from the work of her own hands and in making wise investments. She also gave of her time and resources to care for the poor and needy and in all things she was diligent and confident.
The application of these truths will vary from household to household but they can include having daughters work through a basic consumer math textbook to understand the financial areas that are necessary in running a home and in planning a wise investment strategy. It might include reading books that give important instruction on home keeping or basic household maintenance and appliance repair. It could also include taking a class on nutrition or pregnancy and childcare or a course in sewing or home decorating. Learning specific skills or securing a degree, either from home or on campus, that could produce the “fruit of her own hands” has endless possibilities and should be considered in light of a daughter’s talents and abilities. These could even involve apprenticing with a master teacher or craftsman or opening her own business. And volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center or in a city mission could also prepare her for ministry opportunities to the poor.
Each parent will need to decide the best way to help their daughters become accomplished in life skills and to pursue them purposefully. The important thing to remember is that we need to work with our daughters to have a plan that they are excited about and where they will blossom and grow into adulthood.
We also need to allow them to fail. Research shows that daughters who are overly protected grow up to be bland women who are hesitant to make their own decisions. On the other hand, girls who have been given space to be creative and to exercise their own ideas, sometimes even failing, become women who are confident and able to succeed in all areas of their lives.
Next, I will be writing about helping our homeschooled daughters prepare for marriage by succeeding in personal relationships.
For those of you who have never been in the Midwest in late July or early August, I thought you might enjoy these photos that my son took early this morning. I remember the summer we came back from Germany after living nearly 4 years at the foot of the Alps. I don’t think there was anything more beautiful than those corn fields. It was home.
These reminded me of one of my favorite poems. It was written by Leo Dangle in his book Home from the Field and is called Farming in a Lilac Shirt.
I opened the Sears catalog.
It was hard to decide–dress shirts
were all white the last time
I bought one for Emma’s funeral.
I picked out a color called plum
but when the shirt arrived,
it seemed more the color of lilacs.
Still, it was beautiful.
No one I knew had a shirt like this.
After chores on Sunday, I dressed
for church. Suddenly the shirt
seemed to be a sissy color
and I held it up near the window.
In the sun the lilac looked more lilac,
more lovely, but could a man
were a shirt that color? Someone
might say, “That’s quite a shirt.”
I wore the old shirt to church.
And every Saturday night I thought,
Tomorrow I’ll wear the shirt.
Such a sad terrible waste, to spend
good money on a shirt, a shirt
I even liked, and then not wear it.
I wore the shirt once, on a cold day, and kept my coat buttoned.
In spring I began wearing the shirt
for everyday, when I was sure
no one would stop by. I wore the shirt
when I milked the cows and in the field
when I planted oats. It fit perfectly.
As I steered the John Deere,
I looked over my shoulder and saw
lilac against a blue sky
filled with white seagulls
following the tractor, and not once
did I wipe my nose on my sleeve.
I am typically one of those people who makes a big mess when she cooks and I actually like to make up recipes from scratch. This is not one of those recipes. In fact, though I made it up, it is super-easy because it is made from pantry and freezer items. It is filling, can be stretched to feed extras, is a comfort food and a one dish meal, and it costs about $1.00 per serving. I like to serve it with a salad and dinner rolls or fresh bread from the oven. I am giving you the large version that I always fix, which serves 10-12 normal people and less Campbell teenagers, but it can be easily adjusted down to serve less people.
Chicken Au Gratin Casserole
4 boxes au gratin potatoes and ingredients listed on box to prepare
dried minced onions
dried parsley flakes
fresh ground pepper to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
In large lasagna size pan, place all the potatoes and add the ingredients listed on the box.
Place chicken breasts in mixture.
Sprinkle with dried onion and parsley; add pepper.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, covering with foil if it gets too brown. Allow to sit 5 minutes and serve. I have also covered this in foil and placed in my oven on 200 degrees and allowed to bake for several hours so it would be ready when we came in from church. You can also prepare this as directed and then place in a crock-pot on low. For variety, try the scalloped potatoes or the ones with bacon bits added. You can also replace the chicken with several cups of leftover ham.
I wanted to pass along this fine series of articles that Cindy Kunsman uploaded today in case anyone missed them. I got a chill when I saw that she had similar thoughts to those I made in my current podcast.
August 1 ~ God’s Curriculum for Homeschooling Moms, part three
August 8 ~ Militant Fecundity vs Children as Blessings, part one
August 15 ~ Militant Fecundity vs Children as Blessings, part two
August 22 ~ The Sweater Years ~ how homeschooling moms can prepare now for the empty nest, part one
August 29 ~ The Sweater Years ~ how homeschooling moms can prepare now for the empty nest, part one
This month I will be completing the 3rd of three parts on the truths in the book of 2 John as they apply to homeschooling moms. If you haven’t yet listened, be sure to go back to the archives and listen to all three podcasts. If you are interested in obtaining a CD with all 4 So You Think You Want to Homeschool podcasts and the 3 podcasts on 2 John as a set to share with those who are beginning or thinking about homeschooling or who are beginning to burn out and need some encouragement, drop me an e-mail at email@example.com. The CD’s are $4.00 postage paid.
And then I am diving into those scary waters in homeschooling circles by discussing the topic of family planning in a two part series I am calling Militant Fecundity vs Children as Blessings. With all the discussion about waddling and swelling women popping up around the homeschooling blog world the past few weeks, I thought it was time to weigh-in, no pun intended…..well maybe it was. But since this is such an important topic I am excited to be discussing it here.
The last two podcasts this month are on the topic of preparing for the days when homeschooling in your home is completed. This is one of those topics that I am not seeing much if anything written about and I believe it is a really important one. Years ago we didn’t hear much about menopause and so many women have found out, some too late, that there are things that we need to do in our younger years to prepare for that time physically as well as emotionally. I believe the same is true for homeschooling mothers as they prepare to send their last children off and they are given the gift of more time combined with wisdom from the Lord. I am excited to be sharing these two podcasts and am praying that they will encourage all homeschooling moms, even the younger ones who will need to think about the coming changes in lifestyle sooner rather than later.
“The first, and most important thing to remember, is that God is sovereign in the lives of your children even as He was sovereign in your own salvation. Perhaps you have a child who is struggling in his faith or is even now rejecting Christ as his savior. Maybe you have a grown child who has not only rejected Christ but is living a life of debauchery and rebellion. As heartbreaking and discouraging as that certainly is, we have to trust that God’s ways are not our ways and that His timing is not ours. We are responsible before Him to be faithful in presenting the Gospel to our children and for nurturing them in His ways, trusting that His word will not return void. But we must remember that our children’s salvation is by the grace of God by faith alone and that we cannot do anything ourselves to convict our children or to bring them into the family of God.” Listen here for this week’s podcast entitled God’s Curriculum for Homeschooling Moms, Part 2, from the book of 2 John.
We are celebrating yet another birthday today. Our son, William is twenty today. We named him William James because it means strong-willed defender of the truth. Our prayer for him is that he will be just that all the days of his life.
I can’t hardly believe how fast the time has flown. He was born nearly on his due date, in the hottest and driest summer I can ever remember. There were birth complications and a near C-section and lots of learning disabilities down the road but he is precious and wonderful and Clay and I are so thankful that the Lord gave him to our family. This is the child who swallowed a handful of coins and had to have surgery. This is the child who shoved a plastic yellow BB up his nose and had to have surgery. (Both instances took place in other homes where the families didn’t realize how fast and creative this toddler could be!) When he was only two he started escaping from the house and we had to put large bolt locks at the top of all the outside doors. This is the child who thought he would “go camping” in his closet and rolled out sleeping bags, closed the door, and lit a camping lantern….and set the house on fire…on the windiest day I can ever remember. One of our children said that Will is the one who has taught us all the character quality of attentiveness and it is true.
Will picked what he wanted to do today so we went to a matinee of The Dark Knight (absolutely awesome!) and had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, followed by a DQ ice cream cake and two episodes from the 6th season of the Monk DVD his brother gave him. Happy Birthday, Will. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being Will’s mom. Here’s to celebrating many, many more wonderful days together!