Showing posts with label Daughters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daughters. Show all posts

Beyond the Fridge

Doesn't this painting just make you smile? I can't look at the beautiful colors and composition without cracking a grin. Lucky me, because it now sits just outside my kitchen, where I'll pass by countless times a day. I'd been admiring this for weeks as Amanda worked on it in the studio she has created in her room, so tonight she brought the finished product to me as a gift! (Incidentally, this is her first oil painting!)

Amanda based this painting on Leonid Afremov's Amsterdam.  It is on a 16x20" canvas and took her about two months to paint. On seeing the end result hanging she commented, "I've graduated from the fridge to the wall!"

Art supply organizer Amanda made

Advice for a Drooping Soul

My younger girls and I read and discussed George MacDonald's The Wise Woman (aka "A Double Story" or "The Lost Princess") a while back. It tells the tale of a princess and a shepherdess who, while having quite different natures, were equally wretched.

John Collier, 1883

One, Princess Rosamond, has no self-control and displays all her emotions in violent outbursts.

Young Shepherdess, Bouguereau, 1868
The other, Agnes, the shepherdess, maintains strict control on her outer self, but her sin actually appears even uglier as self-love and  conceit rule her life every bit as much as the Princess's passions govern hers.   

To get a taste of how MacDonald nails our sin nature, take a look at a few excerpts. 

Early on he writes:

It was, indeed, a  peculiar country, very different from ours -- so different, that my reader must not be too much surprised when I add the amazing fact that most of its inhabitants, instead of enjoying the things they had, were always wanting the things they had not, often even the things it was least likely they could have. 

MacDonald makes it clear that, in part, the parents of both girls bear responsibility for their daughters' characters. Here's a bit about the princess:

As she grew up, everybody about her did his best to convince her that she was Somebody; and the girl herself was so easily persuaded of it that she quite forgot that anybody had ever told her so and took it for a fundamental, innate, primary, first-born, self-evident, necessary, and incontrovertible idea and principle that SHE WAS SOMEBODY. And far be it from me to deny it. I will even go so far as to assert that in this odd country there were a huge number of Somebodies. Indeed, it was one of its oddities that every boy and girl in it, was rather too ready to think he or she was Somebody; and the worst of it was that the princess never thought of there being more than one Somebody -- and that was herself.

Rosamond, who is spirited away from her castle by the Wise Woman, is given the task of taking care of the fire, dusting, and doing a number of other job at the Wise Woman's cottage. Used to doing as she pleases, she makes only the briefest attempt at dusting, then immediately grows discouraged:

But the wood-ashes flew about so, that it seemed useless to attempt getting rid of them, and she sat down again to think what was to be done. But there is very little indeed to be done when we will not do that which we have to do. 


Agnes, on the other hand, when given similar tasks, approaches them head on, but her problem is different:

By this time her old disposition had begun to rouse again. She had been doing her duty, and had in consequence begun again to think of herself as Somebody. However strange it may well seem, to do one's duty will make any one conceited who only does it sometimes. Those who do it always would as soon think of being conceited of eating their dinner as of doing their duty....Until our duty becomes to us common as breathing, we are poor creatures.

As we read, the girls and I talked about whether we more closely resemble Rosamund or Agnes. At least two of us do find Agnes uncomfortably familiar.

When we look closely at our hearts, wondering if we will ever change, it can bring us to despair. Unless, that is, we take our gaze off ourselves and turn to the One who has promised to complete His work in us.

In Romans 7 Paul talks about wanting to do what he knew he should do, but being at war with his inner man. Near the end of the chapter he breaks off his lament to shout,   

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Matthew Henry had this to say in his commentary on Romans 7, v. 25:

It is a special remedy against fears and sorrows to be much in praise: many a poor drooping soul hath found it so. And, in all our praises, this should be the burden of the son, "Blessed be God for Jesus Christ."

I'd recommend "The Wise Woman" for both mothers and daughters. MacDonald had uncommon insight into human nature and offers much wisdom on child rearing as well. Oh, and as you read and see your own sin more clearly revealed, keep Matthew Henry's advice in mind.

All paintings above are in the public domain and may be found at

Mamas, Teach Your Daughters Well!

Titus 2: 3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (ESV)

Annie helps her mama wash some dishes.

When I entered marriage some twenty-nine years ago, I deluded myself into thinking I was pretty well prepared for the domestic side of things. After all, I knew how to bake bread and make delectable desserts, garden and can the produce, and sew clothing and quilts. I’d even, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, won the “Crisco Award”, a prize given to the top home economics student in my junior high school. I somehow glossed over the fact that I’d hardly ever cooked a complete dinner, almost never did the laundry, and knew next to nothing about cleaning a house. Better prepared for a career in a chemistry lab than a home, I had to play catch-up for the first many years of our marriage. In some ways, I still am.

Women of my generation often had mothers who wanted to make their daughters’ lives easier than theirs had been, so they shouldered all the home duties themselves or had outside help. With a cleaning lady to take care of the routine cleaning and an ironing lady to do that task, the fact that those jobs needed to be done barely crossed my mind, much less the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish them.

I don’t think things have changed all that much in recent years. If anything, young women seem to come to marriage with fewer skills than my peers did back in the ‘80s. As moms, we have all sorts of reasons for neglecting to teach our daughters to be home-keepers. Here are some of the common things we tell ourselves:

  • I want my children to have time to enjoy being children.
  • I didn’t have to work when I was young, so why should my little ones?
  • It takes twice as long when I have my child(ren) working with me.
  • The job is never done well enough when a child cleans the bathroom (OR does the dishes, sweeps the kitchen, etc.)
  • They make so many messes when learning how to cook! (Or break so many dishes doing the dishes!)
  • But I treasure the time each day to cook alone!
  • She’s so busy with schoolwork, music practice, and sports, she doesn’t have time to take on home responsibilities!

So we teach them how to tie their shoes, how to read, how to conjugate Latin verbs, and how to solve simultaneous equations, but we neglect to teach our daughters how to cook and clean a home, how to mend and wash clothes, and how to love and care for children. We should not neglect the former, but certainly also do that latter!

Guess what? This failure to pass on home-making skills isn’t anything new! Read this passage written by Lydia Maria Child nearly 200 years ago!

The fact is, our girls have no home education. When quite young, they are sent to schools where no feminine employments, no domestic habits, can be learned; and there they continue till they 'come out' into the world. After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have either leisure or taste for the inelegant, every-day duties of life. Thus prepared, they enter upon matrimony. Those early habits, which would have made domestic care a light and easy task, have never been taught, for fear it would interrupt their happiness; and the result is, that when cares come, as come they must, they find them misery. I am convinced that indifference and dislike between husband and wife are more frequently occasioned by this great error in education, than by any other cause.

Mamas, it is plain hard work to teach our children, both sons and daughters, how to work in the home. But as we do so, we will be blessing them by helping them build a strong work ethic and giving them skills they will use throughout life. As they grow in competency, they will become great helps to you as well. Begin early. Let your young ones work alongside you, and then increase their responsibilities gradually as they mature. With our daughters, we need to be helping them develop skills that will allow them to flourish as managers of their future homes. Be intentional about what you teach, and as your daughters reach their teen years, look over each one’s abilities to see which skills need more practice. We’ve found 4-H very helpful for teaching practical skills such as sewing and cooking. But, however you do it, make sure that you are faithfully passing on your domestic knowledge and preparing your daughter to be keepers at home.

Fear or Faith?

In Girl Talk, co-written with her daughter Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, Carolyn Mahaney writes of a time she and her husband were interviewed at a parents' meeting at their church.
   The moderator asked C.J. and me, "If you could parent your daughters all over again, what would you do differently?" It was not a tough question. While I am aware of numerous ways I would want to be a better mom, one thing stands out far ahead of the rest.

   I wish I had trusted God more.

   For every fearful peek into the future, I wish I had looked to Christ instead. For each imaginary trouble conjured up, I wish I had recalled the specific, unfailing faithfulness of God. In place of dismay and dread, I wish I had exhibited hope and joy. I wish I had approached mothering like the preacher Charles Spurgeon approached his job: "forecasting victory, not foreboding defeat."

...As women, aren't we all vulnerable to fear, worry, and anxiety? And few areas tempt us more than mothering. But faith must dictate our mothering, not fear. Faith, as it says in Hebrews, is the "assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

   Faith toward God is the foundation of effective mothering. Did you catch that? Here it is again: Faith toward God is the foundation of effective mothering. Success as a mother doesn’t begin with hard work or sound principles or consistent discipline (as necessary as these are). It begins with God: His character, His faithfulness, His promises, His sovereignty. And as our understanding of these truths increases, so will our faith for mothering. You see, it is relatively easy to implement new practices in parenting. But if our practices (no matter how useful) aren't motivated by faith, they will be fruitless.   - Girl Talk, p. 65

P.S. If you have a teen or near teen daughter, Girl Talk makes an outstanding book for a mother-daughter study! My younger two girls and I are going through it this year, and I so treasure the sweet times we are having on Wednesday mornings.

Polished Palace Pillars - Strength and Beauty

Psalm 144: 12 Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, And our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace; (NAS95)

Psalm 144 paints a picture of our sons as grown-up plants and our daughters as cornerstones or corner-pillars, fit for a palace. The picture of sons makes sense – they should be mature, healthy, fruit-producing plants, not weeds or thorns. But I’ve always been somewhat mystified by the metaphor for daughters. Nice picture, I’ve always thought, imagining the Porch of the Caryatids on the Erechtheum, a temple on the Acropolis in Athens, though I wasn’t altogether sure this was exactly what the imagery implied.

Thanks to Nancy Wilson’s excellent CD set on Mothers and Daughters, I now have a better understanding of this beautiful word picture. In a nutshell, our daughters ought to exemplify both strength and beauty. Think of a column or cornerstone, Mrs. Wilson says. What does it need to do? It shares in bearing the weight of the building. Our (older) daughters (and we ourselves) ought to be able to bear much weight. Women do this by serving the church and one another. To see what this resembles, take a look at I Tim. 5: 9,10 which lists the qualifications for a woman to be put on the list of widows:

I Tim 5: 9 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

By doing these things – good works, bringing up children, showing hospitality to strangers, washing the feet of the saints, and assisting those in distress – a woman bears the weight of the needs of the church, the body of Christ. These are things we ought to do ourselves, and the very things we ought to encourage our daughters to do so she can be a pillar or cornerstone.

One more thought about helping our daughters develop strength so she will be able to bear weight. As parents of little ones, we do all we can to protect them from dangers and difficulties. This is good and right. But as our children grow, we need to gradually stop protecting them from every situation in life that makes things hard and instead teach them to rely on God.

But that’s not all. This pillar is not merely strong and functional, sturdy but ugly. No! It is also beautiful, carved or fit as for a palace! Beauty begins on the inside and works its way out. (I Peter 3: 3,4). We need to help our daughters grow in beauty – first by developing a gentle and quiet spirit, but also by helping them to be attractive and feminine, or as Nancy Wilson says, “Attractive without attracting.” Adjectives that come to mind that characterize beautiful, strong women include these: noble, graceful, poised, stately, dignified, pure, and lovely. Not exactly a caryatid standing for centuries frozen in stone, but a God-fearing woman who pours out her life in service to her family and church. Now that’s a picture I can wrap my brain around!

Proverbs 31: 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

When we see our daughters well-established and stayed with wisdom and discretion, as corner-stones are fastened in the building,--when we see them by faith united to Christ, as the chief cornerstone, adorned with the graces of God's Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is naturally rough, and become women professing godliness,--when we see them purified and consecrated to God as living temples, we think ourselves happy in them. (Matthew Henry)

Where the women are strong...

Lake Wobegone: Where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Dear Kara,

You asked me the other day why a guy would ever want to marry a strong woman when he could choose instead a sweet and naturally submissive woman. I gave you a few answers, but since I have been thinking about this more, I wanted to write more in depth.

When I asked your dad this question, he just snorted with laughter. To him it seems so obvious. “Well, he says, I guess it depends what that man wants to do. It might be compared to the difference between a race horse with some spirit and a tame pasture pony. If a man is going to do hard things, he will probably want a wife who will be a bit spirited, but have real backbone.” (Or he said something to that effect.)

It’s no secret that one of the things that most characterizes our church is that it is filled with strong men. The elders, pastors, and deacons give it strong leadership, and you see the young men growing rapidly in strength. Perhaps a better kept secret though, is that CGS is populated with all kinds of strong women. Just look at the wives of the pastors and other elders. To a one, they are women of courage, conviction, and perseverance, women who are a real strength to their husbands and to the body.

What is a strong woman anyway? Is it antithetical to being a biblical woman? In my mind, a strong woman is a woman who is courageous (which means doing what is right even, and especially, when it is hard), a woman of conviction, and a woman of perseverance. It is not uncommon that very bright women (like you, dear) are strong. There are so many women that I think of. Mrs. Cuffey comes immediately to mind. Imagine the strength she had to continue believing and praying all those decades, waiting for Dr. Cuffey to come to the Lord, and then the joy she had when it come to pass in their last years on earth. I also think of your Aunt Terri. When she endured the armed robbery in Ndola while Uncle David was out of town she did not shrink up and ask to immediately return home. Instead her faith and her commitment to being where God had called her husband (and therefore herself and the children) was only strengthened. This is true strength.

The women of the Bible are not wimpy ladies either. You have Sarah who submitted to her rather imperfect husband (making herself beautiful by her submission! – I Peter 3:5,6), even when it meant she was put in a precarious position in Egypt. Ruth chose to follow her mother-in-law and the one true God rather than stay in her own country and worship their gods. The Proverbs 31 lady is no candy either. And then you have Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as a young girl willingly accepted the very strange and awkward news that she would become the mother of the Messiah, and then she is one of those few (mostly women) who are at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies. These are just some of the very strong women in the Bible.

The common ground for the godly women of the Bible is that they were submitted to the Lord. And those who were married were submitted to their husbands. This is key. A strong woman who is not submitted to the Lord and to her husband will be a huge pain to everyone. But one who gives herself first to the Lord and then to her husband will bring great joy. She can be a bulwark of support for her husband, especially in those difficult times of life.

OK, there are a few caveats for strong women. Really you have heard all of these from us before! First, strong women need strong men. Second, strong women need to work extra hard at learning submission. Third, strong women who hold strong convictions need to work on learning when to speak and when to hold their tongues. (Prov. 11:22)

I’m so glad that you are learning and really desire to be submissive, now to your dad, and eventually to the man God brings as your husband. One of the sweetest things I have heard is your Lafayette pastor’s wife’s comment on how she found you to be so obedient (for such an independent person) or something like that.

I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine, a very strong woman, and one of the brightest women I know. Formerly she was a feminist, but the Lord has remade her heart and she now relishes in all ways her femininty. Because she has such a fertile mind, she is always coming up with new ideas. Desiring to submit to her husband, she runs her ideas past him, and he usually tells her, “No.” So she was taken aback a few months ago when she shared with him her latest idea for a writing project which would involve a great deal of sacrifice. Her husband heard her out, and this time, instead of saying no he said, “Yes, I think you should do it.” So faithfully every day since January 1 my friend wakes up very early to spend time studying and writing a beautiful devotional guide on the names of Christ. Since I am on the email list to receive these each day, I know that she does not miss a day, and they are often sent before 5 AM. She told me how knowing that her husband wants her doing this project gives her motivation to get up on days when she might want to slack off. Submission, for this strong woman, has brought freedom, freedom from taking on too much, and freedom to pursue those things the Lord calls her to. (If you would like to receive these daily devotionals, please read the comment below which gives my friend's email address.)

So, why would a man choose to marry a strong woman? Maybe because he wants a woman who will not give up easily when life is hard. Maybe because he wants a woman who will stand firm when opposition and trials come. Maybe because he wants a woman who will use her strength and ideas not to go her own way, but to work as his helpmate. Remember Pastor Bayly’s charge back in October to young men to find a wife who will be a challenge. A strong man is not threatened by a strong woman, but rejoices instead in the woman that the Lord has given him.

Well, I was supposed to be cranking out another review instead of writing this, so I need to close.


P.S. Don’t you think that part about the men being good looking and all the children above average is also true at CGS?

Speaking of College III: Contentment

Titus 2: 3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. At a recent graduation ceremony I listened as the guest speaker addressed the graduates about each one’s life calling. Typical commencement fare. What I found disheartening was at no point did he distinguish between the young men and the young ladies, and though there were more young ladies than gentlemen, never once did he mention the calling of motherhood. I expect this in the culture at large, but this was a Christian high school. Within the Christian community we need to be holding up the roles of being a wife and mother as more valuable than a “prestigious” career.

With such an emphasis on careers and workplace “equality” for women assumed as the best, I suppose our missionary friend’s concerns about women and college, mentioned in my previous post, are understandable. By having a college education, he wondered, does it make a woman become career oriented, and thus, harder for her to be contented as a “keeper at home?” Sometimes this is the case. Our missionary friend’s wife graduated from one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the country, and yet she struggles with wanting to be “in ministry” equally along with her husband, rather than seeing what a rich ministry the Lord has for her as a wife and mother.

But just because a woman has a degree does not mean that she necessarily would prefer a career! Over the years some of my good friends have included a former lawyer, banker, financial planner, computer sy-op, occupational therapist, and many teachers. None of these ladies resented giving up her “career” for the higher service of being mothers.

Before Tim and I married I decided not to pursue what was then my dream of becoming a doctor, and instead give myself to what the world sees as the inconsequential job of being a wife and mother. My best friend in college, Lori, is now head of a breast cancer unit in a major hospital. I can’t tell you that there have never been moments when I did not wish that I could have it all, what she has AND what I have, but those times are small compared to the vast majority of time when I am in awe that I am allowed to care for and raise in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” all these growing people.

Contentment is a difficult thing. It is so easy to look with envy at someone else’s life, not knowing the struggles and suffering that that one has. Over the years I’ve know many discontented and contented moms, and the difference has never been whether she had a college degree or not. You can be discontented because you are not using your degree in an outside the home career. You can be discontented because you never finished that degree and wonder what you are missing. Or you can be wonderfully contented loving your husband and children.

The key is not whether or not a young lady attends college. College can be terrific preparation for a young woman to become a wife and mother IF her heart is turned towards the Lord as she walks through this time in her life, as it needs to be in all other times. Trumping what our daughters learn in college will be their own convictions plus family and church experiences. Does she desire to submit herself in obedience to the Word of God? What models does she see around her? Does her own mother thank God for the responsibility and gift of being a wife and mother? What does she see in the lives of women in the church?

Psalm 113: 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.


Now, dear readers, I have written many words on this subject, and there is much more that could be said. I could write a post on why every daughter ought to go to school with her older brother (though we don’t know how we will accomplish that with our next one!) But I am ready to hold my tongue on the topic of daughters and college. Still, if anyone is still reading, I’d love to hear from you, whether you agree or disagree. Maybe there are some aspects or issues which I have overlooked or minimized. I hope some of you will weigh in and let me know your thoughts!

Speaking of College: Part II - Is it a Waste?

My oldest daughter, Kara, at times enjoys shocking people. One of the ways she does this is by telling them what she hopes to do with her life. A typical conversation might go something like this:

Person: So, what are you studying at Purdue?
Kara: Classics, with minors in art and history.
Person: (Not necessarily even sure what that means) Oh, that’s interesting. But, um, what do you plan to do after you graduate?
Kara: (Assuming her “wicked grin”) I’d really like to be a mom and homeschool my children.
Person: Oh. Really. That’s nice. (Changes subject.)

Actually, the responses Kara gets to her answer vary depending on who she is talking to. Sometimes she is surprised by those who actually view her answer with respect, because it is not always those you might expect. (I am wondering what the person thought who read her recent scholarship application, one in which she had to write a press release she’d like to read about herself in 25 years. Kara could not write something purely designed to make the dean happy, but what she came up with was quite entertaining, while still scrupulously honest, and to my heart, moving.)

One Sunday evening this spring I was able to attend church with Kara and Andrew in Lafayette. I spent a fair amount of time in the nursery with Benjamin, who didn’t appreciate sitting after riding in the car for several hours. What an unexpected blessing from the Lord this was! While there I was able to talk with a lovely older woman, also a mother of many children, who has been homeschooling for 25 years, nearly a decade longer than I have! As we discussed various homeschool issues, the topic of girls and college came up. Her daughters all desire to become wives and mothers (and the oldest ones are now) and follow their mother’s example, but until that time, they need something else useful to do. This wise mom told me that she tells her daughters to study whatever is interesting to them.

When we decided to encourage Kara to attend university, Tim and I had several goals in mind for her. We see this as a time for her to further train her mind, learning how to think objectively, to argue and reason, and to further hone her writing skills. Of course this will not always be done by agreeing with what is being taught! But by age 18 we desire that all of our children will have a solid grounding in the Word of God and be ready to stand firm against the culture, explain their faith, and clearly differentiate truth from the lies of man. College also provides further practice in learning how to learn, helps refine study skills, and pushes students to a higher level of work. For Kara, as she has taken classes in American literature and Greek art, her faith has been strengthened as she has more clearly seen the darkness and emptiness of people living without God, and the fullness and completion of those who are filled with the hope of eternal life in Christ.

It is our hope that Kara, and our other children, will one day be blessed with a godly spouse. But because the steps of man are ordained by the Lord, and not by us, only He knows the plan for each one. And if our daughters do not marry, or until they do, they need productive work to do. For some this will mean training that can only be gained at a university. Kristen wants to be a nurse, while Kara might teach.

Of course, if/when they have children, it is our hope that our daughters will want to homeschool them. While it is not necessary to have a degree to do this (study after study shows that to be true), a carefully planned course of study can be a great aid in preparation for homeschooling. If I were to do it over again, I am not at all sure I would study chemistry, or at the least I would incorporate a broader range of electives, such as more history and literature. Kara’s classes so far, and the ones planned, are laying a terrific grounding for teaching children one day.

Expanding her world is still another of our goals in sending Kara two and one-half hours north. This has definitely proven true. It has been a joy to watch Kara’s compassion for hurting people, both fellow believers and non-Christians, grow tremendously this year, though this is also not without difficulties. In addition, the life experiences she is going through are helping her grow and mature in the Lord, as she learns to trust Him in ways she might not have if she had remained at home.

When considering if college is a waste of time and/or money, you need to think about how the time and money would be spent otherwise. As to the time, parents and their daughters should consider if there are better things you would like for her to do in this point of her life. This young, single time period can be a good time for doing things that would be difficult later such as working overseas in an orphanage or helping teach a missionary family’s children. What are your and her goals for this time in life? Money is a very serious issue too. Debt can be even more of a millstone for young women than for men. Tim and I have seen too many sad situations where the wife in a young marriage feels forced to work and long postpone having children because she is saddled with enormous college debt. We hope for all of our children to go through any post-high school education with a minimum of debt, preferably none, but for our daughters we feel even more strongly about this.

There is no one-sized solution for all young ladies. For some daughters college will be a good step after high school, and one that can aid in preparing them for a future role of being a godly wife and mother. For others, the Lord will lead differently. Perhaps post-high school years will include a time of missions work or some other type of service. Regardless of the path a girl and her parents choose, post-high school years are not simply a holding pattern while she waits for marriage when her adult life will begin.

I Cor. 7: 32-34 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world--how she may please her husband.

In the next (and final!) post on this issue I will return to my missionary friend’s question: Does college make women career-minded and not content to be wives and mothers?

Speaking of College - Part I

Last fall Tim and I had a visit from an old missionary friend and we had a good time catching up on one another’s lives. J. knew that our oldest son, Andrew, was studying engineering at Purdue, but when he heard that our oldest daughter was now also a student there he expressed some surprise. With a bit of discomfort J., whose own daughter is still in high school, asked, “But do you really think it is a good idea for our daughters to go to college? Do you think that maybe attending college makes women less fit (content) to be wives and mothers?” Sadly, J. was speaking from his personal experience, as his wife struggles with these roles the Lord has given her.

Another question I’ve heard is, “Why bother with college when they are ‘just’ going to get married? Why waste the time and money?” Kara has encountered this thought even from a few Christian girlfriends. Yet this question also merits consideration. If a young woman hopes to be a wife and mother, is going to college a frivolous use of resources?

Maybe you haven’t thought about the questions surrounding daughters and college, and the subject might strike you as odd. “Of course young women should attend college!” might be your instant reaction. These days women attend college at far greater rates than men. It is not uncommon for the male:female ratio to be around 40:60 and colleges are working hard to find out what attracts and holds male students. But I think it is an issue that Christian parents of daughters ought to wrestle with. If you think you should send your daughters to college, why? And should there be any differences between what our daughters and our sons do there?

In some ways, things are more straight-forward for young men. They need to prepare themselves to be providers in order to care for a family, should the Lord grant them that privilege. Whether this means attending university, a technical or trade school, or serving an apprenticeship will depend on the individual.

When she was in high school, Kara served as senior editor of the e-zine of The Potter’s School, an on-line provider of courses for homeschool students. In order to see each issue brought to publication Kara worked closely with a young man from northern Canada who was head of the graphics team. Lendl is one of those multi-talented homeschool kids. He’s a competitive cross-country skier and cyclist, equally at home with techie stuff (he ran his own webpage business in high school) and Shakespeare, and most importantly, is devoted to the Lord. One day Kara asked Lendl, who is a gifted and very humorous writer, why he was going to study engineering when he clearly also loved the humanities so much. Lendl’s response was that it was against his worldview. “What?” Kara returned. Lendl explained that he wants to eventually be a husband and father, and he wants to be able to support his family. A liberal arts degree will not be as useful in that as an engineering degree. If I believed in arranged marriage, and if such things were up to me, I could have signed him up right then.

But this still doesn’t answer the question about what should a young woman do? Suppose she does hope to be graced with a husband and children, what should she do until that time? And what if the Lord has plans for her to remain single? In the next two blogs I will try to address some of the questions I have raised, and share conclusions that Tim and I have come to over time.


Note: I wrote this piece a few months ago, but then I let it sit in my ever-growing “Unfinished Posts” file. Even since I first wrote it, Kristen continues to mature. Today she expertly handled the rest of the crew, taking them through science, spelling, and a family read-aloud while I had to make an unexpected trip to the dentist with Jonathan who had cracked a molar on a frozen chocolate chip cookie. What a blessing it is to have older children!

When people ask me if I think it is harder to raise girls or boys I invariably answer, “Girls. Except for potty training.” The chief reason I think this is true is because girls are much more emotional beings than boys right from the get-go. Now of course, this is not universal; there are emotional boys and steady girls. Still, at almost all ages girls tend to have a wider range of emotions and express them more freely than do boys.

In my vast experience (ha ha – ask me what I think again in 20 years when we have finished raising everyone to maturity!) the most difficult years for a girl growing up are the early adolescent ones. Maybe because of hormonal changes, emotions flip-flop all over the place. Sometimes it is impossible to even guess what has set one off. But fourteen is better than thirteen, which is better than twelve. As we keep walking with them, gently guiding, instructing, reproving, and loving our daughters through the rough periods, by God’s grace they will grow up to be beautiful women of God.

Our third child, Kristen, who incidentally is 14, did not look forward to being the oldest at home this year with her two older siblings away at college. I’m sure part of this reticence came from watching Kara last year as she carried an exceedingly heavy load at home during the crisis time around Ben’s birth and early months. But now Kristen knew it was going to be her turn to step up and assume extra responsibilities. In hindsight, we’ve realized that she felt more pressure than we’ve intended, and we do try to not overextend her. But this year has been good for her.

Watching Kristen mature in so many ways this year has been heartening. While a bad day in math or Latin can still make her dissolve into tears, she is learning to control herself more and more. And often, now when her emotions get the better of her, she is able to see herself what is going on, get over it much faster, and even laugh at herself. Now rather than chafe about being the oldest, she sometimes just offers to babysit out of the blue so Tim and I can go on a date. And she has such a wonderful relationship with Ben, whom she often swaddles (yes, still!) and puts to sleep for his naps. He loves to climb down the stairs to her basement room to just hang with her. Kristen was the first one Ben would lavish with kisses, and is his favorite target to attack with tickles.

Until recently, Kristen had two blogs. One was her public blog in which she posts sort of silly things; the other blog was for her more private thoughts, and she only shared this blog address with a select few. (She’s found a new way around this issue. J ) Here’s a post she put on the second blog after spending a full day caring for the children (Tim stayed home to help too) while I was at the state homeschool convention. I found it so encouraging. If you have young daughters, take heart. Maturity comes, one step at a time. (Oh, and Kristen has given me permission to talk about her here, and to post her blog piece.)

Wow what a day yesterday was. My mom went to the state home-school convention about an hour and a half away. That left Daddy and me in charge of everything for the day. Well, actually it wasn’t that bad. I skipped school since TPS is on break and I was ahead of my other stuff. I did most of school with the kids and then Daddy read and read to them while I made lunch. After the littlest kids were in bed and the others playing quietly, I went downstairs to clean the basement with my baby brother. I live in the basement and when I finished, I went into my room. I had my back turned, looking for something on the bookcase, but turned when my little brother started chattering more than was normal. When I did turn, I saw that he had my lip gloss and had eaten the rest of it. He also drew on my walls with a purple marker. You know, he may be cute, but he sure is troublesome. I turned him over to Daddy while I made bread for dinner. It would have been fine if I had chosen a good recipe, but I didn’t and there was way too much flour in it. But it wasn’t a total disaster, so that was good.

Mummy got home in the evening with lots of awesome books. And for all of you who haven’t read it yet, you should read the book “Prisoners of Hope” by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer with Stacy Mattingly. It’s about the two women who were kidnapped in Afghanistan right before 9-11-01. It has some awesome, but horrible pictures in it of some Afghan children and scenery and medical conditions. It just makes your heart go out to these people who have been suffering from the Taliban’s rule for so many years and now have a chance at freedom. Women no longer have to be so tied up in cloth that they can’t see properly to do their normal, everyday chores. It makes our problems seem petty when you read about these people and you really want to go and help them. So next time when you have thinking about how terrible it is that your computer isn’t working, say, think about women in Afghanistan who purposely burn themselves to escape an abusive husband, or a life of poverty or rejection. And pray for them. It’ll make you feel so much better if you don’t focus on yourself but on others.