Archives for December 2008

Book Review: First Comes Marriage

As a homeschooling mom I’ve known families who have taken an active role in helping their children find suitable spouses. Though I am eager for all my kids to find the right spouses when the time is right, I’ve never been especially keen on the idea of an arranged marriage. Seems like too big a decision to hand off to others.

And yet a few weeks ago when I randomly clicked on an AOL story that featured First Comes Marriage, I was fascinated by the author’s twist. Not ‘is arranged marriage a good idea for everyone?’ but rather, ‘what things work about this idea?’

Turns out, there’s plenty that works. Enough that after I roared through the book in three days flat, I handed it off to my 18 and 20 year old daughters and told them to read it, poor girls! (This was before Amanda got proposed to, by the way.)

I believe that anyone would do well to take such a considered approach to finding a spouse. Women featured in the book talked about the peace that comes from knowing that you have similar beliefs on a foundational level. Not on the froufrou you learn when dating such as ‘do we like the same movies?’ but the deep questions that can bind together or tear apart a marriage such as ‘how will we raise our children?’ and ‘do we agree that this marriage is forever?’

Turns out when loving families are given input in the selection, they often have a firm grasp on two things: #1– Things that the young people themselves would wish for and need in a mate. And #2– Issues that are truly important in ensuring a lasting relationship.

I still believe that young people should be able to choose a mate on their own. But there is a lot to be said for getting feedback from loved ones who know you very well. I believe that if more people knew how to look at core values instead of surface stuff right from the start in a relationship, they’d greatly improve the odds of a happy match, the kind that actually makes it to ‘as long as we both shall live.’

This thoughtful book is one I am very glad to have read.

Maybe a shoehorn?

The other evening we were talking about Ben joining our family, and how the kids were going to have a new big brother. Our 13 year old daughter was sighing over Ben’s habit of teasing her — typical big brother, eh?  — though her smile gave away the fact that she doesn’t mind the teasing all that much.

Our 6 year old was listening intently to all of this, and then finally she said, “So where are we gonna stuff him?”

At that point we realized we had a little more explaining to do.   But I’m still laughing at the idea of trying to ‘stuff’ Ben someplace in our house.

Just because

Amanda and Ben this weekend

Amanda and Ben this weekend

I’m finding it much more fun to scan facebook for new pictures from my traveling, newly-engaged daughter than it is to write my book. Speaking of Amanda, her engagement ring is being custom made this week! She and Ben visited half a dozen stores, got ideas, and put in their order. Oh, the excitement. The instant-messaging at odd hours. The poring over blurry closeups on Facebook. Bless the girl for making me feel like part of it, half a world away though I am.

And just when I decide to get my head together, lovely blog readers send me links to amazing sites like THIS ONE. (Seriously stunning work Melissa does. Captivating. As in, 30 minutes gone justlikethat.)

But SO not what I need to be doing right now. My book deadline is ONE month away. Yikes. I’ve gotta work. More. Longer. Harder. If I’m not too chatty around here for awhile, that’d be why.

Yeah. So. I think that about says it.

Iron Man: Raising Sons, Raising Heroes

As a mom of four boys, I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the years telling my sons to settle down, look where you’re going, be careful, take it easy, and watch out. Certainly there are girls who also require such cautions. But in my experience with four of one kind and half a dozen of the other, it is the boys who most often fill me with warnings. They’re always gravitating towards challenges. Ninja moves. Stick fighting. Climbing the tall tree instead of the safe one.

I’ve been wondering lately,though, about the wisdom of always counseling my guys to avoid risks. Truth is, there are plenty of times in life that you need a guy around who is bold enough to take a risk. To do something.

Allow me to talk for a moment in stereotypes. Think about the heroes in action movies: Iron Man. Sahara. National Treasure. Any of the Bourne movies. The guys in these movies are doers. Problem solvers. They think on their feet and they know how to get things done.

Why are action movies filled with these guys? Guys want to be like them.

Now think about the heroes in a lot of romance novels. They’re bold, strong, take-charge types. Doers. Pursuers.

Why are romance novels populated by these guys? Women are drawn to them.

Granted, after we marry them, we women are sometimes appalled to learn that they drive too fast on mountain roads and tell vomit stories at the dinner table and stomp through the house in muddy boots. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) But there is something in the soul of a man that wants to be a hero. And there is something in a woman’s soul that wants to be wooed by a hero.

(If you’re arguing with me right now, see above warning about stereotypes– I know I’m not describing everyone here.)

But I want my sons to be heroes.

I want them to be bold enough to ask out that amazing girl, even though there’s a chance she might say no. Strong enough to voice an opinion even if it is not a popular one. Bold enough to pull over and help an accident victim out of a car. Strong enough to get up every morning and go to work, even when it’s not fun. Bold enough to stretch limits and meet needs and exceed expectations, sometimes even at the expense of their own desires.

The question is, how do we do that? I don’t have it all figured out, but my gut says it has more to do with tree-climbing than video games. With creative tenacious problem-solving, not buck-passing. With plowing through big tasks instead of avoiding them. With making sure boys get a judicious mixture of good hard work and exciting and active play.

Don’t get me wrong. I still wish my boys would stop vaulting my couches. I hope they’ll drive safely when they’re old enough. And to be honest, I hope none of them ever get it in their heads to try and scale Everest.

But I do hope that someday they grow up to become men who take risks. Who do hard things.

What do you think?

How do we raise our boys to be heroes?

Sunday: Borrowed words

There are no mystic jewels
Embedded in my prose
No moonlit haloed cherubs
Perched on my piano
No lyrics laced with pixie dust
No angels sings along
I am just a beggar who gives alms

Gold and silver have I none
But such I have give thee
Borrowed words from the one
Who gave the gift to me
The pearl that I could never buy
This life, this dream, this song
And I am just a begger who gives alms

I am not the creator
But a scribe with a pen
I’m recreating visions
Through a cracked and broken lens
Only one has ever seen
The home for which we long
And I am just a beggar who gives alms

–From Downhere- A Beggar Who Gives Alms

Beware of monkeys

I’ve been enjoying Laura’s blog even more since Amanda arrived in Taiwan.

An engagement story which I will attempt to tell in 6 lines, because Eldest does not want gushing.

Amanda and Ben have know each other for years – our families are friends.  After years of barely saying ‘hi’, this summer something clicked and they began to fall in love.  All fall they chatted.  Skyped. Burned thru tracfone minutes.  He surprised her in September by inviting her to Taiwan for Christmas. He asked John at Thanksgiving for permission to propose.

On Christmas Eve on a riverbank in Taipei Ben asked Amanda to marry him.  She said yes.

I have been praying for this young man since Amanda was born.  He was a toddler then, and I of course had no idea who he was at the time.  Now I know.  He is a joy, and they are beautiful together.  Praise God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Including this one given at Christmas time.

Click on the pictures for larger versions and captions.

(OK, you two, this was longer than I wanted it to be, but this much joy could not be contained in 6 lines! May God bless and keep you both.)

Christmas in pictures

Here’s a bit of our Christmas. You can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger. We had a wonderful two days. This is one Christmas we’ll never forget!

A few of my favorite (Christmas) things

–Scurrying around with John after the kids are in bed the night before Christmas Eve, getting ready for our Christmas Eve morning celebration

–Hearing the kids starting to chatter in the morning.

–Reading the Christmas story with everyone gathered around. (Yes, even when I know darned well the kids are staring at the gifts!)

–Sitting, sipping my coffee and watching kids open gifts and exclaim over them. And snapping pictures while they exclaim.

–Smelling our yummy breakfast casserole cooking in the oven.

–Finally, finally getting around to opening my gifts, and making sure to exclaim over each treasure given to me by my children.

–Sitting at the table at my mom’s house in the evening on Christmas Eve, surrounded by my 7 siblings and their spouses and my folks and all my nieces and nephews.

–Visiting with my husband’s family on Christmas day, chatting with loved ones and watching our children happily playing with all their cousins.

–Sitting at home on Christmas evening, happily tired after two busy days of celebration, watching children digging happily into new games and new books and new toys.

Merry Christmas to all of you! Have a lovely Birthday celebration! See you on the other side!

Links that made me think

President Bush’s Secret Mission (HT: Tim Challies)

Just because it’s Christmas (HT: Carrien)