One of the most recent books I received from The Ooze Viral Bloggers is an independently published book called Laughing with Sarah, written by Gene Jennings. The cover looks pretty contemporary and it seemed like a good idea to write a book about stories from the Bible, applying them devotionally to one's life. I thought maybe I could use it as a devotional...you know, a little food for thought everyday along with reading the Scripture from which it is drawn.
Sadly, it just wasn't for me. Each chapter was a sermon that he had delivered. And while I'm SURE the sermons were great, they didn't translate to book form well. I felt ... preached at. The author seems like a great guy and all, but this just wasn't my cup of tea. However, if anyone wants this book, let me know and I'll get it to you!
Asante: do you want to call anyone, mommy? (handing me my phone) Me: Um... I don't think so. Asante: oh. Me: Well, who would I call? Asante: Uncle Brycey and Adriene Me: Oh, well, what should I tell them? Asante: I would like to tell them a bible story. Me: Which one? Asante: the fiery furnace one. it's a bad one though. Me: Why would you want to tell them a bad one? Asante: I think they'd like it.
a few minutes later...
Me (to Jake): I feel like tweeting that I feel like I'm on Little House on the Prairie since we're all sitting around the table eating an afternoon snack of fresh blackberries and blueberries. Asante (overhearing this): Can you write down mulberries too? Can you write it right now?
Aly has been really growing in her ability to communicate with us (and hence has become a much more pleasant little lady to be around). This morning, she brought me some fruit mix that she enjoys and put it on my lap. Obviously she wanted some, so I opened it up, took out some pieces, and then over time, ate the rest of it. She toddled back after a few minutes, look at the bag, looked at me with a shocked look on her face and said, "uh oh, uh oh!" and held up the bag. Haha, it was way cute. I can't believe how fast she's growing up!
A bonus fun story about Asante:
The other day when I was yard saling, I found a cute stuffed giraffe and stuffed gorilla that I got for the kids- mainly Aly because she LOVES stuffed animals right now. Asante enjoys the gorilla though, so he brought it to the doctors office with us this morning. He was talking to it as we waited, and Jake suggested that maybe he should tell a little story to the gorilla while Aly held it. Asante said, "okay, once upon a time..." and continued to tell the gorilla the story of the three little pigs, complete with different voices and sound effects. It was priceless!
While not a life changing book, Eve's Revenge ended on a very encouraging and inspiring note. Over the last 10 years or so, the Lord has lovingly guided me through a lot of what the author, Lillian Calles Barger, walked us through. By facing my eating disorder, I had to deal with a lot of issues of body, spirituality, beauty, cultural and societal expectations, etc. And, as I've come through on the other side of this, I have found a lot of healing and have worked through many of these issues that Barger brings up. I thank God for her ability to communicate well and her commitment to The Way.
HOWEVER, the last chapter took me kind of by surprise, and in a really good way. I hadn't really thought about how community is intimately related to spirituality and the body. But, you know, it has been the times when I have felt like a valued member of a community that I have been able to best be myself and be okay with who I am. I think the healing of my eating disorder and the victory over my obsession with clothes and outward appearances has really been aided by a strong community. It's been the times when I haven't felt a part of an authentic community when I begin to struggle with some of issues of identity.
Barger gives some great suggestions on how to move more towards this wholeness as a person and living in true community through the help of the Holy Spirit. One that Jake and I have been really longing for lately has been the idea of settling into a community. We've moved countless times, and each time we move it gets harder and harder. We are re-examining our dreams and aspirations in light of the value of building deep friendships that are lasting. We are dreaming up ways to live a life that values people and where we have families that are as close to us as our biological family members.
Barger also raises the value of physical touch for her- hugs, etc. really bring people together. In college, my community of friends were eager to give hugs, wrestle, tickle one another, etc. in really fun, brother/sister like ways. I think this is a key aspect to deep relationships that many in our society overlook.
You'll just have to read it. Even if you don't read the whole book, I think the last chapter will be a great way to move forward in Barger's ideas of bringing together the whole person by living lives of sacred community.
For the past week or so, I've been discussing some issues related to the identity of a woman in current American society. Are we really oppressed? Do we have choices? What are those choices when it comes to wanting children and/or working? What are some discussions that couples-to-be need to be having in order to insure fulfillment of both partners?
Today I want to bring men into the picture. Do they deal with these issues of identity too?
Last night Jake and I were discussing this very thing. He was sharing with me his idea that maybe a portion of woman's struggle with her identity is a generational issue. Some women have a hard time making a choice that is different from what her mother, or aunt, or grandmother would think is proper for a woman. Being the first woman to work outside of the home in one's family could be a hard choice. Even if that's what a woman wants, it can feel like she's "oppressed" because she's making a choice that is different than what she saw as "womanly" or "motherly" growing up. It's a crisis of identity that takes significant time, soul-searching and prayer to work through.
Jake said there can be a similar male issue as well. Many men of the older generations have a lot of skills. Many are tradesmen or craftsmen- they know how to weld, they have electrical training, they can build things, they're really handy. When men growing up in that environment decide to do something different- maybe they pursue more academic subjects or decide to be a stay-at-home dad- then they feel a sort of crisis of identity as well. They feel like because they've chosen a different route in life, they don't feel like they have as much to offer. When their dryer breaks, they don't know how to fix it. Instead, they have to call someone else to come fix it. If they want to build a new cabinet space, they have to hire someone else to do it because they just don't know how or don't have the skills to make something that looks nice. They are not "providing for their families" because they stay at home with the kids while the wife is working. It's hard because they're not fulfilling what was considered "manly" growing up.
Things change over time. Roles, responsibilities, expectations. Maybe we as a society need to allow more room for people who want to do things differently or choose paths that look a little odd to the status quo. And as we're beginning to raise the next generation, we may want to constantly be thinking about our expectations for them and how we can allow them freedom in their choices- allowing them to explore who they are and what they like instead of putting (amoral) boundaries around them relating to our likes and dislikes and wants and desires. Of course, much easier said than done. :)
I hear a lot about how women don't have the opportunity to have both a career and a family.
But, I would say that women DO have choices in this area, and it is going to be up to them to decide what they want, and then be big girls and deal with the consequences.
Here's what I mean.
Choice #1: Be a stay-at-home mom. Some women LOVE making a home for their family and raising their kids FULL-TIME. They love creating environments for learning and comfort and refuge. They love to create dishes that are fun, nutritious, and pleasing to the eye! They love to homeschool their kids, or they love to send their kids to school and do stuff in the community that requires a volunteer position. Or, maybe they don't really love these things, but they see the value in it and see that it is the best for their family if they don't spend money on daycare or if the kids have a parent there teaching them instead of sending the kids to daycare.
Choice #2: Be a career-focused mom. Some women don't want kids. They'd rather pursue other worthy and important aspects of the social realm. They want to work themselves up the corporate chain, whether for money and security, or for self-satisfaction, or to prove themselves to others, or for some some worthy cause that advances the Kingdom of God. Maybe these women work 40 hours a week, maybe 60, maybe 80. Many of these women are going to be the breadwinner of the family, or an equal contributer. Some of their husbands are going to be stay-at-home dads.
Choice #3: Be an involved mother and a career woman. This woman tries to balance being there for her family, raising kids...and being successful in a career. This choice is hard. Some of these women don't have supportive husbands who will give up their career for her desire to have a career. Some of these women need to work, along with their husbands, to put food on the table and a roof over the family's head. Others really are torn between the deep desire for motherhood and for a career. Many of these women have probably not had serious conversations with their husbands BEFORE getting married and BEFORE having kids about what they want. Many of these women feel the desire to work, but the desire to have kids, and feel like their work is being sabotaged because they won't/can't put in the long hours required to keep promotions and "keep up with all those men who are getting raises". Many women feel resentful about this...many because they want the best of both worlds.
Here's what I've been mulling around in my head...many women have choices about their role in the home. The problem is, this conversation is not had before getting married, and many women are married to men who are not supporting them. But, these women have choose to marry these men. It's so sad that there are some jerks out there who think that women have to be in the home no matter what the woman wants. But, maybe we just choose not to marry them?
Again, I have had the privilege of having a great husband who is supportive. He understands my desire and need to work outside the home. But we both understand the need and desire for our kids to have us at home with them for the first couple years of their lives. Jake is very ambitious too, and has desires to pursue a doctorate degree so he can research and further the field of education. And we have chosen the hard road ... both of us are moving MUCH slower through the career-path...both of us make sacrifices to not work or work part-time in order to meet the needs of the kids or each other. We understand that we're not going to be top achievers in our fields at ripe young ages. We get that us going in and out of the workforce is going to limit our opportunities for advancement. I feel blessed that Jake has entered into this ebb and flow of sacrifice and career-seeking in order to help us both feel fulfilled and our kids blessed.
OF COURSE, not everyone wants our lifestyle (lol, and sometimes we don't either), nor should everyone adopt this. But, maybe if families would be more willing to re-imagine what fulfillment and sacrifice would look like for BOTH spouses and for the kids, then women would feel like they have less choices.
By choosing one thing, we're sacrificing another. That's the choice we're making. So, let us choose wisely, communicate well with one another, and understand the consequences of the choices we're making.
CAVEAT: I KNOW this is an "idealic" post, and not everyone is in a place where they can choose. I do get this. However, I think this post could apply to many women in their circumstances.
What do you think? How has your family decided to work out this balance? What are some things that I'm not taking into consideration?
...and I have a hard time really understanding it. Maybe some would blame it on my inability to see outside of my oppressed state. Or maybe it is because not every women or every community sees women as "lesser" than men?
I grew up in a home with a working mom and dad. My dad works out of a local, so he gets called for a job, does it and then sometimes has a week or two or five off before the next job comes along. Because of this, I spent half my year in day care and the other half at home with my dad. Although my mom did a lot of the housework (which she passed on to me when I was old enough), my dad was always busy doing stuff around the house. They did what they were good at, and they did the jobs they wanted to do. My mom and dad both cooked, and both did dishes. My mom controlled the money; my dad controlled the permission. I saw them as different, but neither one as the "ruler of the house." They worked as a team to raise my siblings and I.
Outside of my home, I spent the rest of my time in school and school activities. I was an excellent student and received many awards in math and science in high school. My school had 5 valedictorians, 3 which were female and 2 male. Our gifted classes growing up were made up of girls and boys. Never once did I feel like the boys were given opportunities that I wasn't. I really did feel like I could do whatever I wanted with my life, career wise. I got several scholarships for college, and even got admittance into Mizzou's Law School as a freshmen in college (basically they reserved a spot for me upon graduation). Up until this point in my life, I have made choices and have reaped the consequence for those choices.
...but apparently not every girl/woman has had that opportunity? I'm really sorry about that, and feel bad, but I can't help but think that maybe every woman has not had the disadvantage that many scholars and authors like to highlight. Sure, I had issues with my body and my image growing up. But, so did many of my guy friends. Everyone felt awkward in junior high school and maybe even into high school. Guys didn't starve themselves, but they spent way too much time in the weight room. I think sometimes we forget that guys and girls may have the same issues that manifest themselves in different ways.
Some women have grown up in dysfunctional households where women were seen as the slaves as men. But I wonder how much the norm that is? I honestly don't know either way. I'm just curious. And thankful that I haven't had to deal with this issue very intimately. Most of my pressure in my life has come from other girls who were jerks and put me down because of my looks or whatever. Hardly ever have I felt disdain or condescending attitudes from men. I KNOW IT HAPPENS. Again, I'm just wondering if we highlight the times it DOES happen because we want to prove a point.
So, I'd be interested to know if any other women out there have had the same experience as me? If so, tell us about it! And if you haven't had the same experience, tell us too!
I am Hutterite is a fantastic book about a young woman who has to transition from being a member of a tight Hutterite community to a part of wider society. It's a fast read- I was able to finish it in a day and a half, even with being at home with the kiddos! Not only was this book an interesting look at what goes on in close-knit Amish-like communities (although, to be clear, Hutterites are not Amish), but it also helped me better understand the perspective of an outsider. Hopefully this book will not only provide interesting information for the curious, but also will create compassion in those who have never had the experience of adjusting and fitting into a new culture.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”