Babies are funny

It has been over 4 years since our second youngest child was a baby, and we had forgotten how funny babies can be. Tonight while our nearly-six-month-old Charis was sitting beside me in the living room, she just started opening and closing her mouth, and noticed the smacking noise she could make with her lips. Now, after a bit of practice, this seems like a fun way to entertain herself. She also used it to get my attention, and the smile on her face betrayed her self-satsfaction over acheiving her goal. It is just fun to watch her and appreciate all the little things she learns in a day that will eventually serve her in some useful way (or maybe not so useful, but you know what I mean).

Laurel’s Interview

I asked Laurel to include me in the interviewing that has been going around in blogdom. I didn’t realize the questions were up on her blog for about 2 weeks, then it took me that long to answer. So here, at long last, are the answers. I wish I could be as clever as some of the others I have read, but alas, I think I have come up short. However, I enjoyed participating. I guess that’s all that really matters.

1. You grew up in a really large family. How has your growing up experience influenced how you parent your own children?

I was the youngest of nine children, so by the time I was being raised, there were really only 3 – 5 other siblings around at a time. During some of those years, those siblings were adults who returned home for one reason or another. So I am not sure I have really made much of a connection to the “largeness” of my family affecting my own parenting. That being said, I definitely see ways my own upbringing has influenced the way I parent my children. The home I was raised in had little structure. My mom worked full-time, and my dad, who was much older, was not at home a lot of the time. I think I really craved structure in my life. So as a parent, I try to provide more of that for my children. Now, compared to many, our structure is lax. However, I am talking about basics like having most of our meals together around the kitchen table; getting up and going to bed at basically the same time everyday; having family devotions daily. Another thing I always wanted as a child was to be involved in activities at school and in the community. So since for a variety of reasons I didn’t have many of those kinds of experiences, Mark and I try to provide those for our children, within reason–refer back to all those blogs last spring about little league.

2. How, after attending an Anabaptist college, did you end up Presbyterian?

First, I grew up in a Baptist denomination that had some Calvinist beliefs–specifically, I was taught predestination from a young age. So I think I was “primed” to become presbyterian in time. I chose the college I attended, not because of its Anabaptist roots, but because it seemed to take Christianity seriously, which was more than I could say for the two very respectable “reformed” colleges I considered attending. Actually, by attending the college I did, I was even more prepared for my eventual transition to presbyterianism through a CRC friend that took me to an OP church 30 minutes away from campus for one year of my college days and through the work of the Coalition for Christian Outreach, a Dutch-influenced college ministry. But even with both those influences, I still considered myself a baptist at the end of college. However, about 6 months after graduation, I moved to Florida to live with my sister and her husband. Though they were also baptists, they took me to church at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. After one week in the young adult Sunday school class, I knew I was going to join the church because the teaching in that class was so good. After a couple of weeks, I began working for the church’s television ministry, where I was exposed to reformed theology on a daily basis. I did join Coral Ridge about 3 months after my first visit, although I still had the typical baptist reservation about baptizing infants. It took several discussions/arguments with Mark (who, incidentally, became a co-worker at Coral Ridge after I had been there for 2 years) to bring me over on that issue.

3. What do you like most and least about being a pastor’s wife?

I like being a pastor’s wife most because I have access to a lot of the answers to spiritual and theological questions in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had married, say, a plumber (of course, that would have its benefits, too.)

What I dislike most about being a pastor’s wife is sitting in worship without the assistance of my husband in training our children how to be in worship. God has been gracious to me in this regard, in that, the older children have learned quite well despite my inadequacies and struggles with attending to them during worship.

4. Who are your favorite literary heroines? With what fictional character have you felt the greatest kinship?
My favorite literary heroines are all the protagonists in Jane Austen’s books. They all seem to be the same person, just slightly altered from book to book. They are intelligent, poised, attractive, and socially adept–all the things I like to imagine myself being.

I think I have a real kinship with Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She reminds me of myself as a child in the way she rambles on endlessly and will talk to anyone who will listen.

5. You just won a contest sponsored by Miramax. They offered to make any book of your choosing into a film. What book do you choose? What casting suggestions do you give?

I think I would choose The Moonstone by Wilckie Collins. It is the quintessential British mystery, and the characters are so well developed, it would be intriguing to see them brought to life on the screen. For Detective Cuff, I would cast Tony Shaloub, currently the star of the USA network series, Monk. House steward, Gabriel Betteridge, would be played by Michael Keaton. The challenge would be doing justice to the characters and plot without losing too much in editing, since the book is quite long. (BTW, If there is a movie version of this book out there, please tell me about it.)

When you post your answers on your blog, please include the following:
::If you would like to participate too, here are your instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.::

Eye on America

This is just a quick entry to tell you about the “Eye on America” report that is to air on the CBS evening news tonight and tomorrow. In it, a family who homeschooled at one point in their history, is accused of child abuse and eventually, a teenager in the home kills himself, his brother, and his sister. Apparently, according to the report I was e-mailed by my homeschool support group, the report links the tragedy to the fact that the family homeschooled. Hmmm… I wonder if the shootings that have taken place in public schools across the country in recent years happened because the parents decided to send their kids to public school?

I’ll Be Back

It is hard to believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the new governor of California. I don’t have much of an opinion about it, other than it is amazing that an Austrian immigrant turned Hollywood action hero can become the governor of his state with no political experience. Who knows? It might be just what California needs to get out of the hole it is in.

Peace and Positive Thinking

Philippians 4:7 – 9
And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your minds DWELL on THESE things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, PRACTICE these things; and the God of PEACE shall be with you.

It is so easy for us to allow our minds to spiral out of control and to dwell on negative things–how you’ve been treated by someone, trying to discern his/her motives; life circumstances like income or amount of worldly success. It doen’t take long for this kind of thinking to lead to discouragement close to depression. Now, I am not a fan of “positive thinking” to the point of not acknowledging sin or evil in the world. But I do think the Bible speaks to us about not dwelling on the negative things in this world. It is for our own spiritual and mental well-being that God tells us to think about those things that are right, pure, lovely, etc. He tells us that redirecting our thinking to the more “positive” aspects of the world, of Him and His character, will bring His peace to our lives. I think the passage from Phillipians that I have quoted above also indicates that we need to “practice” thinking this way. In other words, it doesn’t come naturally.

In recent months, this has been the way God has been helping me to deal with my own tendencies toward dwelling on the negative, and thus, my own lack of peace.

So tonight, I thought I would blog about what is probably the biggest blessing in my life lately–our 4th baby, Charis. She is a sweet and easygoing infant, who smiles often, and her smile dispells any kind of discouragement in an instant. God gave Charis to us at just the right time, when it seemed easy for me to see only the negative things in my life. At a time when we thought maybe our family was large enough, God obviously knew better. Tonight she is sitting beside me in her exersaucer while I type this with her big sister kneeling beside her singing and talking to her. Generally, Charis’s presence in our family has brought us all much happiness. Having Charis and her sister and brothers are certainly among the loveliest things I can dwell on to remind me that the God of peace is with me.

Bits and Pieces

I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought an update was in order.

First, we went to see Secondhand Lions tonight. Great fun family flick! If you have kids, and you choose to take them, there is some swearing of the “damn” and “hell” nature, but no other obsenities. There is also no sexual inuendo. The violence is of the “swashbuckling” nature, and it almost like a cartoon since it the story being told within the movie is so unbelievable (but you want to believe it very badly). This is a movie with a lot of heart. Robert Duvall and Michael Cain and the kid from The Sixth Sense (Haley Joel Osmand–something like that) were all excellent. We haven’t been inside a movie theater in some time, so it was especially fun for us.

Homeschooling: It is going pretty well. I am enjoying the curriculum probably more than Calvin. He is really interested in the history aspects of the curriculum and the literature has also drawn him in. One part of our curriculum is singing geography songs. That has been a lot of fun for me as I still know the states in alphabetical order from a song I learned in 5th grade. I have also appreciated the fact that my 7-year-old is getting exposure to the parts of the world at a young age. I don’t think I even saw geography in public school until 4th grade (although I may be just forgetful). Sitting down in the mornings to do math and English isn’t so fun, but we get through it. Also, Charis has been an angel so far, allowing us to accomplish a good bit. This is an answer to prayer.

I went on a women’s retreat with our presbytery last weekend. It was great to be in a beautiful location and to catch up with some friends without children pulling on my shirt or pantlegs. The speaker was good, and the time was well spent. Thanks Mark for giving me the time to do it.