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Entries in Marriage/Family (44)


Christian women must be thinking women

In 2001, my husband and I decided to take a big leap and homeschool our children. There were some issues at our kids' school. Our decision was initially temporary, until we made a decision about what to do in the long term. It turned out to be an eight year adventure (which I would do again; in a heartbeat).

One of the other homeschooling families in our church offered to discuss the matter with us. They had been doing it longer, and we valued their input. To our surprise, the counsel focused on taking the "Growing Kids God's Way" parenting program. The sentiment had merit: you can't homeschool children without boundaries and expectations. We really felt like we needed support in this new endeavour, so we signed up.

At the time, in our church, the Ezzo regime held great influence. In fact, sadly, it became a bit of a clique. There were "Growing Kids" families and those who were not. I had one friend who would not let her children play with kids who weren't "Growing Kids" kids. I should not have been so dense as to fail to realize that her willingness to let our kids play together increased when my husband and I began taking the class.

The long and short of it is that after a couple of years, we began to have concerns. It was more than just the punitive nature of the program, but as we began to talk to other parents who used the Babywise material, we started to look more closely at other aspects of the program. It seemed to be more motivated by a desire to have compliant children, not necessarily godly children. While the program did encourage making the conduct a heart issue, there was more emphasis on achieving control. It was more about micromanaging kids' behaviour. Its notion that a child of eight could be "morally mature" just because he knew how to parrot "Yes, mommy," without fail seems ridiculous to me now. 

Growing Kids thrived in an environment where parents desperately wanted to know they were being godly parents; and desperate people will not always think things through. A dangerous notion is that our parenting assures our godliness. Good kids = godly parents. Well, that simply isn't true. There are a lot of good, ungodly parents out there. Godliness is about our relationship with Christ, not whether or not we have compliant children. For me, personally, I felt pressured by the influence of the program in my church. I was still quite spiritually immature at the time, and I bought into it, hook, line, and sinker.

I've come a long way since those days, and I have learned a lot. Much of it could only come from time and reflection on mistakes made. Our disillusionment with the Ezzo program was gradually a concern both my husband and I both had, but I was the one who started doing research. Homeschooling introduced me to women who rejected the program. I began to listen to their voices. I began to think more. I started sharing these thoughts with my husband. This was information that helped us, as a couple, make a decision to distance ourselves from that material. I am thankful for the online information that shared the experiences of people who used the program. It gave me something to consider as I began to have my own doubts. When we have doubts, we need to investigate; even if we think it may take us somewhere difficult.

This goes for all we as Christian women confront daily. We must be thinking women. If we are married, then, yes, by all means consult our husbands. But our decisions are made together as couples, and that means I must be just as informed as he is. To expect a man to do all the thinking, all the deciding, and all the leading, is an onerous expectation. As helpers to our husbands, the expectation goes beyond the practical. We must be helpers in thinking through things.

And that means learning to think ourselves.


The weirdest nerd I know

It's my husband's birthday today. I feel kind of bad for him, though, because he is very busy at work, and when that happens, he ends up feeling tired and stressed out. Who wants that on his birthday? 

When my husband was in high school, had I met him, I would have not taken the slightest notice. He was a skinny nerd with braces and glasses. I am not using disparaging language here. I am only repeating what he would tell you himself. I, on the other hand, was a shallow, silly girl, and probably would have not given him the time of day. Thankfully, when I met him at the age of 20, I was over that. Now, I'm a firm lover of nerds. Girls, when you're looking out for a great guy, look for the nerds. They may have been bullied by the jocks, but chances are they didn't peak in high school.

I don't claim to understand how my husband thinks. And that's okay, because I'm certain he doesn't understand me. But I know him very well. Case in point: he is a hoarder. Our garage is full of things that he refuses to throw away because "we may need it some day." My greatest fear of the unwelcome possibility of his premature death (aside from the whole grief thing) is that I will be stuck with cleaning out that garage.

Recently, I had an accident (borne of my own stupidity) with a cooking dish. Apparently, the cast iron skillet can go in the oven, but the glass lid could not. While our tasty meal was cooking, I heard a strange popping sound. I kind of knew what had happened. Yes, the lid shattered in the oven. It remained intact, but it was cracked in a million places. Of course the lid was ruined, but the cast iron handle was still good. My husband cleaned the glass from the sink where we'd placed the hot lid, and he had it all bagged up and ready to take to the garage when I said; "Don't keep that handle. We will never use it." He just grinned at me and pointed to the counter where he had cleaned off the glass from the handle. "Give it to me; I'll put it in the garage." Yes, I know him well. We have been married for thirty years; we'd better know each other well.

I'm thankful for my weird nerdy husband. And I have no regrets in letting him hang a huge Dr. Who picture in our family room. Weird is good. And along with his weirdness comes consistency, integrity, wit, and loyalty. I love the dynamic which exists between us, what he calls "mutual mockery." It isn't for everyone, and maybe people think we're not romantic or mushy enough. Maybe that's true. But on March 5, 1964, God brought into the world the man who was perfect for me.


Thirty years gone by, just like that

Thirty years ago today, I awoke to face the excitement of my wedding day. And it was exciting. And it was a beautiful, sunny day in April. We had wedding photos at the Royal Botanical Gardens, among red and yellow tulips and white birch trees. I was a young woman, with no idea of how marriage actually worked. It is a steep learning curve for every couple. I have found that the only thing more difficult than marriage is parenting. But there are moments -- many moments -- of blessing.  

Instead of waking up to the excitement of a wedding today, I woke up with plans to study all day and work on my term paper. I never imagined I would be here, a seminary student. I actually thought I would have grandchildren at this point, but that has not happened yet. And I'm actually kind of glad about that. Grandchildren will be welcomed, loved, and cherished when they come, but right now, I'm enjoying this season of student-hood. I love school. I love being able to talk about my school in a way that means a lot to me. And I'm learning so much about who God is. I am thankful for my husband's support of what I am doing.

Tonight, we will enjoy a dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, an old school house re-done. Then, hopefully, we will enjoy watching the Montreal Canadiens win again over the New York Rangers. We are not complicated people, and celebrating in this way is just perfect. My husband has the day off, so he is on puppy duty today so that I can work in peace.

Thirty years is a long time to be married. I always figure that I must have acquired some kind of profound knowledge at this point, but honestly, it has gone by so fast, there are times when I don't know exactly what I have learned. There are times when I think that all of the marriage books, conferences, and advice that floats around the internet is not always good for marriage. My husband and I joke with people that we don't attend marriage conferences (we have never attended one) because we don't want to be told what marriage problems we have or be given new ones. My husband is a wise man, and there are times when he has pointed out to me that the solution to conflict and dissent is simply loving each other as we want to be loved and being less selfish. Sometimes, all the talking in the world won't make that happen. It's a matter of our will and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Often, the times when my attitude is the worst is when I am most removed from God's Word.

There are couples in my church who are celebrating 60+ years of marriage. Will there be 30 more years for my husband and me? I don't know. But I am thankful for the past 30, and it is hard to believe I have been married to someone for that long when inside myself, I still feel like a foolish 15 year old girl. Maybe that's a good feeling to have.


Who'd of thunk?

On a day very much like today, twenty-nine years ago, I was a bride. The tulips were in bloom, the sun was warm, and I gave very little thought to the future. It was a day to be a bride.

Many of my friends are watching their children prepare to be married, or are welcoming their first grandchildren. I kind of thought that by this age we'd be getting closer to that stage. Recently, when I heard about one of my son's friends expecting a baby, I grumbled a little to my husband that at this rate, we'll be in our wheelchairs by the time we come grandparents, and we'll have to be careful our oxygen tanks don't get in the way of holding the baby. 

With all serioiusness, however, I'm a little glad there are no babies just yet. The one thing I never anticipated was that on my twenty-ninth anniversary, I would be spending the bulk of the day preparing a seminary assignment (plans for a meal with the kids is later tonight). I was about forty when I began to have inklings that I'd like to do this, but even two years ago, I wouldn't have thought it would be happening now. 

If there were grandbabies, I would be torn between time with them and time with school. And just like I didn't really want a job competing for the attentions to my husband and kids (yes, I'm setting back the progress of women's rights by centuries; sorry), I am glad there is nothing distracting me at the moment. My kids are young, and have time. They are doing things now they wouldn't be able to do if they had spouses. I have no problem with young marriages, but their situations are much different than mine was at their age. Besides, their future plans are not about me.

I could not do all of this without my husband. I am so grateful to God for a husband who supports what I am doing. He is not threatened by a woman who studies. He's not afraid that if I study he will somehow become less in my eyes. He's not afraid that I'll become more loyal to my seminary profs than to him. Last year, when I struggled with anxiety, I saw the depths of my husband's faith and support for me. I know you don't need a seminary education to have that, and having a seminary education doesn't guarantee that.

I'm grateful to be where I am. When we got married there was no promise of this particular outcome. I could have been widowed; he could have been widowed. One, or both of us, could have been ill or disabled. The fact that we are where we are is all of God's grace and goodness. And if instead of celebrating today with my husband I was ill or widowed, God would still be good.

And I don't need seminary to understand that.


An old new marriage

My husband and I are going to a wedding in August. It's yet another former Sunday school student. People we taught as teenagers are marrying and having children left and right.

Of late, I've been spending a little more time with one former student in particular. She has been married less than ten years, and I twenty-eight years. Despite this discrepancy in time, there are things we both understand about married life, and things to which we both nod in understanding. Speaking with her lately has caused me to reflect a lot on my own marriage.

After twenty-eight years, I still continue to learn about my husband, and I expect I will continue to do so. The stuff of married life changes us; suffering and trial change us. The man who courted me, and whom I foolishly thought I knew really well in 1987, continues to reveal new, rich facets of his character to me. How could it be otherwise? 

Many years ago, my husband had a serious bout of cellulitis which began in his knee and was slowly making his way up to his pelvic area. He was in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics for a number of days. I had three small children eight years old and under. I remember driving to the hospital fearing what would happen if this infection did not clear up. Praise God, it did, but the massive amounts of antibiotics he took rendered his immune system rather weak, and over the following winter, he was almost every week. He would come home from a long work week and just crash all weekend, fighting a flu, a cold, or occasionally, a migraine. That exprience taught me a lot about his character in the face of health issues, and those were pretty minor compared to what some people face on a daily basis. Those lessons are not the ones you anticipate as you bask in the glow of being newly married.

I've had some health issues over the past six monhts, and there have been some hard trials along with them. I have long known my husband was a man of godly character, but having him care for me over these past number of months has shown me in even more glowing terms how God has blessed me by giving me this man. I said to him recently, "I never thought this would happen to me." Neither did he, but he did know that there would be trials. At times, I felt discouragement and I felt like a burden, but my husband said often, "In sickness and in health." He didn't know the specifics, but he knew there would be trials. I guess I knew it, too, but it's not something I dwelled on as a young bride.

Being newlyweds was fun. Planning our wedding, setting up housekeeping, and becoming a family were wonderful days, but these recent days, when I have seen the faithfulness of my husband, and seen him live out his commitment to me, have been days when I feel even more blessed than I could imagine. I have truly watched him live out the command to love his wife as he loves himself. And it really is true that when our husbands love us in this way, submission doesn't feel like a burden. I recently asked my husband's opinion about something I wanted to blog about. It was his view that I should think about it more. I didn't even hesitate to agree with him. Where did that come from? That kind of attitude was not so easy to do early in our marriage, but by God's grace, it's not as difficult today.

There are people in my local church who have been married 60+ years. By their standards, we're still young pups. If God blesses us with 28 more years, I look forward to what I'm going to learn. Marriage is still something with newness to it, and that's something I didn't anticipate when I was a bride.