Polar Plunge Fun

Despite the misleading name, the Polar Plunge had nothing to do with swimming! Let’s just get that out of the way!

This past summer, the boys attended a VBS at the church of some friends. Since then, we’ve been invited to several special events hosted by the church. We haven’t been able to make any of them, but I’m happy to say this one worked for us. It was a blast!

 

Read to go.

The church rented out the tubing section for the night so there wasn’t a huge crowd. This meant that the kiddos didn’t have to wait in long lines. They were able to make 10 runs or so. I think I did about 5 before I was tired of walking up the hill!

Ready to get going

Heading up

Wheee!

Done and all in one piece!

Afterward we grabbed dinner together and the boys were in heaven.

I’m glad we had this opportunity because it’s just not something we’d do otherwise. It was great exercise and a ton of fun!

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Girl’s Night In

I’m so glad to have a best friend who enjoys the same things I do!

The bestie decided to try and get a small group of ladies together once a month to do a craft. As a crafty introvert I wholeheartedly support this plan!

We each chipped in a few dollars and she provided several ideas and goodies for us to create with.

I chose this:

I’m determined to find his some little twig arms. I think it’ll complete him nicely.

It was kind of fun to have some direction but still a lot of leeway for personalization. I really enjoyed seeing what everyone came up with and am really looking forward to next time!

 

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Bouncy Balls

Gabe has been begging to make slime for months and months now. I kept putting him off because I didn’t have the clear glue it called for and because I’ve heard that borax is something that really shouldn’t be handled (even though slime recipes call for it.)

I finally caved and gave him a bottle of glue in his Christmas stocking. I’ve never seen a child so excited about glue before!

We’ve been learning about chemistry and how matter changes so it seemed fitting to try this recipe. I also printed off a bunch of these sheets so that they can fill one out for each experiment we do.

They were thrilled.

Finished product!

Of course, they each had to make a batch in their favorite color. We realized that it’s the type of recipe where you really do have to add ingredients in the right order! Otherwise they just don’t gel.

The boys played with them for about half an hour and then threw them away and washed their hands. We’ll probably make another batch someday because we really want to try the kind with glitter!

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I Tried It and I Liked It: Sandwich Rolls

I’ve been trying recipes from Against All Grain’s website and so far I’ve really enjoyed everything. Despite the success of so many of her recipes, I was still hesitant to make these sandwich rolls. For one thing, 3 cups of cashews makes for an expensive recipe. Which means that if they fail it’s an expensive failure. I finally decided to give it a go because I’m having pretty serious food fatigue lately and needed to try something new.

The recipe calls for an English muffin pan. I don’t have one of those and the last thing I need is yet another kitchen gadget. I simply poured the batter into my well-greased cupcake pan and made sliders.

Slider

These were a total hit and I have a feeling I’ll be making them often. They are easy to make, taste good, and actually hold up well!

We don’t miss bread, for the most part, but during summer I always miss sandwich bread because we have so many lunch dates and picnics with friends. You can’t beat sandwiches for quick, portable lunches. I’m thrilled that we now have a healthy alternative!

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Random Reads: God’s Design for Building Your Marriage and Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian

This past fall I participated in a Bible study with a couple of other women. The book we went through was God’s Design for Building your Marriage by Kay Daigle. I’ve never done a marriage bible study before so I was excited to jump in.

But first, a look back. I grew up in a church that emphasized a husband’s authority and wifely submission. All of the churches we’ve attended have done the same and have offered limited roles for women in ministry. Over the years this hasn’t set well with me, but it was just never something I felt compelled to dig into.

This past year, as I started digging more into peer counseling and trauma work I became increasingly uncomfortable with the position that is so tightly held by many in the church. Add to that a few situations I saw play out where an abusive husband was let off the hook and the wife was treated with derision and I was really beginning to chafe at all of this.

Daigle’s study came at just the right time. As we worked our way through the book I really took my time to search every scripture and read as much commentary as I could. I really dug in.

Now, I’m not arrogant enough to say that I’ve figured all of this out. After all, these things have been debated by people much more intelligent that I for many, many years. But I did learn enough to see that there are some very big problems with the ultra-conservative complementarian view.

I cannot tell you how many times Daigle would make a statement, toss out a scripture to support that statement, and then I would find, quite easily mind you, that that scripture was taken out of context or otherwise misused. After this happened a couple times I was really uncomfortable with her stance and the fact that she’s peddling this nonsense to unsuspecting women.

For instance, she says that we should suffer at the hands of other people because Jesus himself suffered at the hands of other people. She then quickly adds in that, of course, this doesn’t mean physical abuse. Of course this is confusing because the scripture she based all of this off of specifically talks about Jesus being mocked, beaten, and killed on the cross. So, just using logic here, if this scripture *is* telling us it’s okay to be verbally abused, how can she then turn around and say that we should not allow physical abuse? Complete and utter nonsense!

(This also shows a fundamental, wide-spread, misunderstanding of the severity of verbal abuse. People won’t tolerate physical abuse of the wife, physical or sexual abuse of children but verbal abuse is okay??? This position breaks my heart because, make no mistake, verbal abuse *is* abuse and is extremely damaging. )

The other issue I have is that she, like so many Christians, have a very warped perspective on suffering. Yes, Jesus suffered. But he suffered only when it would bring about his Father’s purpose and plan. And that is the salvation of all mankind. There are many times in scripture when Jesus escaped persecution or imprisonment. When there is no other way out, then we should bear up under persecution. But to allow or pursue persecution or abuse just for suffering’s sake is ridiculous.

And last but not least, telling women to pray harder and submit more when their husbands sin is putting the responsibility of the husband’s sin on the wife. That’s not scriptural. For instance, God hates pride. If a husband, who is called to love his wife as Christ loves the church, is making decisions purely based on pride, why would a wife not confront him? Why would any partner or “help meet” just smile and nod and go along with it? Pride is sin. And it’s not a little sin. At least God doesn’t think so!

I could go on an on, but this is just a sample of the thinking that is rife in this study.

So why does it matter? Well, for women who are in a healthy marriage I’m going to venture to say that it doesn’t matter much. I’m mean, not practically day-to-day. But what about when things get difficult? What about the “gray” areas?

For instance, I have a friend who’s husband was caught using pornography. It happened multiple times. The counselor told my friend that it was her fault because men are visual. Come to find out, years later, pornography was an ongoing issue in this man’s life leading back to his teen years – well before he met my friend.

Another example: A women we knew had a husband that was a jerk. He was verbally abusive, financially abusive, and was addicted to pornography. His wife went to the local church several times and the pastor himself, after meeting with the husband, said that there was nothing he could do because the husband was not willing to change. But then, years later, when the wife (after more than 20 years of living like this) finally filed for divorce, she received an avalanche of – not love, caring, and compassion – but criticism for having the audacity to leave this man. The pastor washed his hands of this man because he couldn’t make him change, but has no trouble insisting that the wife can somehow make him change. No, more than that, the wife is responsible for influencing him toward change.

There is a hyper-focus, in a vast majority of the Christian community, that believes this kind of thing! They believe that the spouse that files for divorce is the bad guy while ignoring the actions and words of the person who caused the rift in the first place. To these people, a person can do and say pretty much whatever they want, but as long as they don’t physically file for divorce then they aren’t at fault for divorce. The victim is at fault. The victim, who has been worn down, ground down, over and over and over and usually in a myriad of ways, is also the person we put the responsibility on. We don’t care for them. We don’t love them. We don’t ease their burden. We add to it. We tell them to pray longer and harder. We admonish them to “submit more.” And when they crack and break we abandon them in the dust, but only after we’ve hurled insults and insinuations at them.

So, to sum it up, this topic matters

I’ve found my way to multiple blogs and resources that have helped me shift through some of this. I’ll include some links at the bottom, but for now I want to focus on this book, Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate.

 

Of course, again, one book is not going to settle this debate once-and-for-all, but, I do like the approach that’s taken here and feel it’s a good way to understand this topic a bit more without leaning heavily to one side or another.

She starts out talking about how our ideas on womanhood and ministry roles have changed over the years. I think that we Christians like to believe that we cling to scripture and that the outside world has no influence, but you start to see that that really isn’t true. The values and ideas that shape the world at large do end up infiltrating the church (and vise versa, thankfully), at least to some degree. Now the examples she provides here, to me, show that there really is a lot of leeway in women’s roles at home and in the public sphere. Even under patriarchal rule! Very insightful and interesting.

She then goes on to look at what the Bible says both in the creation account and in the New Testament. Since her goal isn’t to offer pat answers, she doesn’t really give a concrete conclusion. She’s not trying to sway readers to one position or another, but she offers more information to help us round out our view.

Personally, I found some of the information very detailed and well-thought-out while other information wasn’t, so that threw me for a loop. For instance, she does say that Adam being created first seems to indicate that he was given authority. But she doesn’t substantiate that position very well. She offers a weak example of how first-born children were given preference and authority throughout the Old Testament. Oookay, but that was *after* the fall. Also, she devotes so much time throughout her book reminding us of “kingdom reversals” (the first will become last,etc) that using the argument of “First!” as a symbol of authority doesn’t make sense to me, personally.

At any rate, this book was informative and intriguing and a good read for anyone who is interested in this topic.

As for what I believe on this topic all I can say is:

I believe that hyper-focusing on male authority/female submission or individual rights are both going to lead to trouble. Especially when we are narrowly focused on templates and black-and-white checklists that we can apply universally to all people/couples/ministries.

When I read the Bible I see so much about how we Christians are supposed to love one another. I read about how we don’t cling to our individual rights. I read about love, but I read about speaking the truth. Iron sharpening iron. Confrontation.

I read that Christians are supposed to love sacrificially, but that abuse and mistreatment isn’t to be tolerated. I read about how those of us that dare call ourselves followers of Christ are held to a higher standard not given a license to hurt others. I read about how we are all responsible for our choices. I read about how Christ is the only one who can save us and the Holy Spirit is the one who changes hearts. I read about how Jesus wasn’t fooled or impressed by the way things look on the outside, but by our hearts.

I feel like Jesus cared about the church, but that he cared more about the individuals that made up the church than the church as an institution that must be protected at all cost. He calls us to repentance. He calls us to take responsibility. He calls us to humble ourselves before him.

I believe that in situations where there is mistreatment we have to stop looking at the surface and stop trying to determine who has what rights and drill down to the heart of the matter.

In the examples I provided above, no actual help was offered. No restoration was achieved. That’s because, in part, there was too much focus on who was responsible for what went wrong – the husband or the wife. Instead, I think we’d do better to hold people responsible for their sins. And to go further than that and help those people understand why they were drawn into sin in the first place – what need were they trying to fill in their own strength apart from God – and get them back on track by whatever means necessary.

We need to stop look at actions as separate and distinct from the heart. The Bible tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If our actions or words are wrong then our heart is wrong. That has to be address or no real change will occur.

We need to change our perspective on how “helping” differs from “enabling.”

We need to realize that allowing a person to continue in sin or abuse isn’t only detrimental to the people around them but also to the sinner themselves! Our sin separates us from God. Period. For a church to allow someone to float along, in unchecked sin, is unconscionable. We must call errant Believers to repentance. And we must protect and care for the people they are harming until restoration has occurred.

So how did a review of a couple of books on women’s roles turn into a post about abuse? Well, quite easily unfortunately.

Here’s where a wrong view of women’s roles takes us:

 

Here’s another one by Patrick Doyle. The letter he reads at the beginning is heartbreaking and is, unfortunately, a prime example of the fact that when churches have a wrong view of women’s roles they end up floundering when abuse and neglect is present.

 

And this is why I’ve been spending a lot of time on trying to learn more about these issues and see if I can get some kind of a grasp on them. If I want to be able to offer help to women who have suffered or are suffering, I need to be able to have a clear-ish view on some of these things. I don’t know that I will ever get it all figured out or if anyone will, but I do believe that this is a wake-up call to the church and am committed to doing my part to make that change happen.

If this topic interests you I’d encourage you to browse the links below. My personal favorites are Patrick Doyle’s videos on Youtube and the blog A Cry for Justice.

My Only Comfort

Emotional Abuse Survivor

New Life

The Lasting Effects of Sexual Betrayal

Brad Hambrick

Patrick Doyle

A Cry for Justice

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Tinker Crate Fun

Ben scoured an amazing deal on Tinker Crate which we gifted to the boys for Christmas. It was just two boxes, but it ended up totaling $8 and we were given a bonus Doodle Crate.

This past week was busy, but the icy weather caused all that activity to come grinding to a halt. Thus the Tinker crate.

This particular crate was all about automatons. The booklet includes a brief history of automatons as well as some extras so that the kids can make little automatons out of the box itself.

Here’s the main project:

How cool is that? I really like how it looks, too. It’s not all bright and plastic-y. It’s as much decoration as it is toy.

Ben said the directions were really well done and everything was sturdy and well-made. It wasn’t hard to put together.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next crate holds!

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Ready to Rock

Luke started taking music lessons at School of Rock about 8 months ago. He started off taking weekly lessons and they quickly encouraged us to enroll him in one of the performance classes. Kids in performance classes not only have private lessons every week, but they also get to work with a group of kids on a set. They have a preview show after a couple of months and after about 4 months they play a full set in a real venue.

When a 90s Grunge performance group started Luke jumped right in. He’s been practicing for hours and hours over the course of months and he did an amazing job at his concert.

Sunday we gathered with my mom, Karen, Don, Tim, Josh, and some other friends, to watch Luke and the other grunge kids along with various other kids playing their sets. We were treated to Metallica, Punk, Grunge, and 70s Jams during the 4ish hours we were there.

The kids performed on stage at The Rock House. I’d never been there before but it was a great venue! I really enjoyed the fact that it was very family friendly. Lots of younger kids were running around and just generally cheering on their siblings. Drinks were available but everyone behaved themselves.

It was loud, stuffy, crowded, and of course, they were running behind, BUT we still got such a kick out of seeing him perform on a real stage. He did an amazing job. They all did.

Solo

First Song

It was hilarious to see all these kids in their grunge clothes! What a trip down memory lane. I was kicking myself for not splurging on a flannel shirt for me!

Gabe tolerated the evening well, but he was dragging by the end. The loud music took some getting used to.

I feel terrible that I forgot my camera. Luckily Tim had his camera and Ben’s phone takes excellent photos, but still. Frustrating.

We’d been on the fence for a while, but after his show we decided to go ahead and let him sign up for another performance class. It’s a commitment, but I’ve definitely seen his skills improve because he has that extra push to practice – he doesn’t want to let down his crew and he wants to do well on stage.

So, we’ll be right back there in about 4ish months. I can’t wait!

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Another Winter Ice Storm

This winter is certainly keeping us on our toes. We had several very warm days – 70 degrees –  and now this! Needless to say, everything everywhere was cancelled. The last ice storm caught us all by surprise. Cars slid off the road into ditches. Children were trapped for hours on buses or at school. Routes that normal only took 20 minutes took people hours upon hours to travel. A friend said that her 30-minute commute took her 8 hours and her unlucky husband 12. And he had three small children with him.

So, this time, everyone erred  on the side of caution. It’s just not worth the risk.

The upside is that there’s always beauty to be found for those who are looking for it. I thought it was amazing to walk outside and see every branch, rock, and blade of grass encased in ice. Stunning!

Barberry

Charred Log

Queen Anne’s Lace

Mushrooms on log

Rosebush

Thistle

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First Snow Day of 2017

Today we woke up to snow blanketing the trees and ground. It was only a few inches, but it was perfect.

Winter from our back door

Winter from our back door

winter-icicles

Explorers

Explorers

winter-fuzzy-foliage winter-ice-on-rock-cliff winter-foliage

winter-icicles-and-cave winter-lantern winter-more-foliage winter-sky winter-stream

The creek that cuts across the back of our property isn’t much, but it does look neat in winter. We get just enough water for it to be creek-like and the icicles can’t be beat!

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Captain Fantastic

I’ve been wanting to watch Captain Fantastic since I first viewed the trailer.

It features a homeschooling family that lives out in the wilderness. Instead of video games and tv, the kids spend their days gardening, hunting, rock climbing, playing music, and reading literature. When they do travel it’s done in style: a converted school bus named Steve.

There were things to like about this movie. For instance, I love how the dad tells his kids the truth about things. He’s frank and honest with them even when it makes the viewers squirm.

I like how the kids hunt and know how to field dress a deer and yet they are non-violent. Meanwhile, their cousins are the typical suburban-raised kids who would be appalled at the blood and gore of hunting, dressing, and preparing their own food, but spend hours playing violent video games.  It’s the juxtaposition of those types of things that really stood out to me in the movie and I loved it.

The downside: the hippie kids are very liberal. At one point, in a letter from the mom, she praises how they are raising their little “philosopher kings” and their “republic.” Both of these things refer to Plato’s Republic and if you’ve never read it it’s DISGUSTING. (Every dictator the world has ever seen can trace their thought process back to the Republic. It reads like every dystopian book you’ve ever read.) I’m no friend of government, but it kills me when people bash the government we have in favor of socialist regimes. (I mean, have you ever read a history book. Those types of governments never end well and are pure hell for all but the reigning elite who are running things.) But I digress.

Homeschooling. The oldest son applies and gets into every top university in the country. And yet throughout the entire movie everyone tells the dad that obviously the kids NEED to be in “real” school. Even though the kids are more well-read than most college-educated adults. Even though the 8-year-old schools her older cousins on the Bill of Rights. So at the end of the movie, you see the dad packing lunches and reminding the kids that the bus will be arriving in 15 minutes. Sigh.

(This, to me, points out the fact that so many people dislike homeschooling simply because it’s “weird.” They will try to cover those feelings with concerns about socializing and education, but in the end I honestly believe most people think kids should be in school because it’s normal and anything outside of normal makes them squirm.)

Mental health. Argh. This ticked me off. So, the background is that the mom was bi-polar. She ended up going back home at some point so she could get medical treatment. While there, she slit her wrists and killed herself. And yet, throughout the movie, everyone blames the dad (and he ends up blaming himself) for her mental illness persisting. He comes to the conclusion that it was their hippie lifestyle and lack of “real” medical treatment that lead the mom to kill herself. He, and everyone else, believe that she would have survived and thrived if she’d only received medical treatment sooner.

Ooookay. I call bull. This sounded like a last-ditch-effort of Big Pharma shills to push an untrue narrative. Research is showing that mental illness is not some mystery illness. It is directly connected to our gut. That means that our diet and lifestyle directly effect our mental health. When the gut is damaged, the body isn’t able to produce serotonin or maintain healthy levels. We know that drugs aren’t a good fix for most people with “chemical imbalances” and themselves often lead people to commit suicide. Plus, it was in the care of “real doctors” that she finally succeeded in killing herself…sooo.

Plus, really, really, who in their right minds would argue that being back in “the real world” is somehow less stressful that a peaceful farm in the middle of nowhere?! What in the heck. Our modern society is one of the most stressed societies anywhere ever. What a ridiculous notion.

In the end, this film felt like it was written by someone who had no insight to anything remotely alternative. It was the perspective of so many flat-thinking people and what they imagine a homeschooling, living-off-the-grid type of family to be.

The disappointment is my own, though. I shouldn’t have expected so much of a hollywood film. I should have watched it for it’s own sake and not gone into it with my own expectations. While I’m glad to have finally seen it, I probably won’t ever see it again and I’m not sure I’d really recommend it.

I do, however, now want a schoolbus named Steve.

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