What A Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

120px-Shadow_me There’s been a lot of talk about beauty around here lately. One friend has even labeled the ongoing conversation TBD—The Beauty Discussion. We’ve dragged Augustine, Reformers, Puritans, philosophers, and the Mahaneys into the discussion to help us and our daughters think about women and beauty as Christians. Here are five points:

Physical beauty is as real as spiritual beauty. Our culture tells women that physical beauty is all that matters. Some Christians react to this by saying that spiritual beauty is the only real beauty. But that’s not true; God created real, physical beauty, and in this world we see lots of it, including in other people. Something purely physical can be beautiful (a flower, sunset, and Taylor Swift’s hair), and we can be thankful for it. There is a tension between physical and spiritual beauty as we strive to maintain body and cultivate soul, but one is not less real than the other, though one is less valuable than the other. Continue reading

My Mother Doesn’t Live In Town

Segantini_Le_due_Madri Like millions of other women, I don’t live in the same town as my mother. Some women have bad relationships with their mothers, and so living in another town is a relief. But for most, living in the same town as your mother means you have local encouragement and help from someone who has known you for life and loves you anyway.

Part of me wants to address the issue by saying to myself, “Boo-hoo, stop it with the princess-martyr complex: ‘My mother’s not in town so I can’t go shopping by myself, nap, or get my nails done every Friday’.” Continue reading

Mommy Guilt and The Cross

wall Is there a mother out there that doesn’t feel guilty about her mothering? Maybe most of it, maybe some of it—all of us are committing or omitting things that make us feel guilty. When you know that a dependent person whom you love is counting on you for pretty much everything (from food to medical care to memorable holidays), it brings the weight of responsibility and the burden of imperfect performance.

But I’m not sure that sin is the cause of most mommy guilt. Continue reading

What Are We Teaching Our Daughters?

200px-Knitted_pinksquareMaybe I’m not reading broadly enough, but there seems to be a heavy emphasis in the reformed community on passing domestic skills on to our daughters. Many authors and bloggers stress that, along with the quiet and gentle spirit, we need to be enabling our daughters to be fabulous homemakers. Now, that’s great. This generation of young men just might have wives who are Martha Stewarts from day one. That’s a blessing for those husbands.

But for mothers, the pressure to teach our daughters how to budget like Dave Ramsey, clean like a Dutch housewife, and cook like Julia Child seems to be mounting as the church recovers a high view of homemaking and motherhood. Homemaking internships with older women, books on money, and classes on crocheting are strongly encouraged; mothers whose daughters are “behind” in these areas carry an extra burden of mommy guilt. Perhaps this is especially true amongst home schoolers. Continue reading

Infant Graves

lily of the valley 2“[N]ever better, than at the grave of those little ones do you understand that quiet disappearing, the snatching away of the fieldflower in the grass… just lifting up its colourful little head above that grass. And the wind came from the desert, carrying the breath of death. And under that touch it succumbed. The little head bent itself; the colours paled; the forms melted. And so it disappeared, to leave behind nothing but a hovering image, and round about it memories at play…

It was a coming to go; an appearing to disappear. And so they die away by the hundreds and thousands, those little darlings, known of God, but passed unnoticed by men… The dying of these little ones is therefore so rich in significance; you miss so much, when you pass lightly over their mysterious disappearing. Continue reading

Helpful Doesn’t Equal Biblical

600px-Traffic_Sign_GR_-_KOK_2009_-_R-45.svgBook clubs can be dangerous things, and this one blindsided me. I was new to the area, the youngest person there with the least life experience and education. Everyone was a professing Christian. The first book up was a novel I had never read: it was saturated with pornography. So I stopped reading around page 5.

During the discussion about the book, nobody brought up the point that it was garbage, so I ventured a comment: “Yeah, it was really well-written, but I guess the thing that bothered me was all the pornography, which is why I stopped reading it.” Everyone’s defenses went up. Continue reading

At Home And Loving It

IMG_5674As full-time stay-at-home mothers, we don’t have the most glamorous careers. It’s behind the scenes, mundane, and sometimes hard to enjoy. A book I was reading had an example of how hard it was to be a stay-at-home mother: “It’s so boring!” the woman said. Boring? Tiring, I get. Frustrating, challenging, occasionally menial and repetitive, but boring? If you’re a stay-at-home mother and find yourself bored, invite your pastor’s family over for a 5 course dinner on Saturday. It will make Thursday and Friday interesting. If chronic boredom is a struggle, start a business, buy a puppy, or begin homeschooling.

But boredom isn’t what most stay-at-home moms struggle with. Continue reading

The Fog of Normalcy

Chicago-Illinois-USA-skyline-fogOne of the amazing abilities that human beings have is the ability to adjust to circumstances to the point that, after a while, they feel normal. That’s why people can live in the arctic: after generations, the bitter cold and dark/light cycle feels normal. It’s why babies eventually eat solids: after weeks of gagging on pureed rice or veggies, they realize that this is normal, and they adjust. This ability is how people do amazing things every day (like parent and wake up to an alarm clock and live in New York city) that we otherwise would not be able to do.

Continue reading