Friday, January 26, 2018

The Restoration of Femininity

"...we women could instead use our position as homemakers to create homes that are utterly compelling. Where the love and the delight and the joy and the gratitude for all of God's blessings are translated into how a table is set, how the walls are painted, how the rooms invite you to come in and enjoy them. Where everything about it preaches a sermon on the goodness of God and the joy He takes in the smallest details." 
~ Rebekah Merkle, Eve in Exile p.164

My sister gave me the book Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle for this past Christmas. I hadn't heard of this book before and was anxious to read it! Merkle is the daughter of Doug & Nancy Wilson. She's also a wife and mama of five! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it easy to read!

First, I want to share a couple problems I had with the book....just small things though that shouldn't stop you from reading this book! It is definitely worth the read. At the same time...I want to be totally honest!

One thing I found a bit confusing when reading her little biography on the back of the book was that after promoting the home and homemaking ~ while rightly demolishing liberal feminism all through her book ~ it goes on to seemingly proudly declare her dabblings in different occupations (and how they have been featured in this magazine or that) ~ which seemingly goes against everything she wrote in the book. It sounds like a bit of pride in the workforce with, tagged onto the end " far her proudest accomplishment is her crew of five.....teenage children, and her favorite role is that of wife to her.....husband Ben Merkle." I guess I feel like it sounds a bit hypocritical to tout our roles at home and then seem to brag about her "outside the home" accomplishments....? I don't know...maybe I am just being too sensitive on that front...? (If you happen to have read ~ or do read ~ this book...I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!!)

The only other issue I had with this book was her section called "Pretendyville" which focuses on how many women like to keep femininity alive by basically just picking an era of the past that we like and trying to live how we *think* it was then (a glorified version of the real thing she says). Here is a quote from her book about it:

"This particular approach can take many forms. It could show itself in organizing balls where the girls wear gloves and handmade dresses inspired by Pride and Prejudice. It could take the form of grocery shopping while wearing seamed stockings and hair in victory rolls. It might involve moving out into the country and learning to milk cows. It could become an obsession with colonial penmanship or an attempt to bring "thee" and "thou" back into vogue..." 

She also talks about teenage girls who only wore ankle length skirts and grew their hair to their she has actually seen it! (well of course she has! And to me...there is nothing wrong with it!) Although I see what she is trying to explain here is the escapist mentality of it all....I also don't begrudge women (as long as their husbands are ok with it) striving to be more feminine by wearing dresses and skirts...whether they be from Regency England era, the "plucky pioneer look" or like Scarlet O'Hara (although I have never actually watched that movie! haha!). Those are some of the ways Merkle says women can have an escapist way of dressing...and she *is* right that the ways women choose to do this is about the surrounding aesthetics and not based on biblical principals in culture. However, truly, there is nothing wrong with dressing in a way you see as lovely and feminine and long as it doesn't cause you to look down on others nor for you to think legalistically that it has anything whatsoever to do with your salvation. A Christian woman who dresses in ankle length skirts is not "more saved" than one who wears jeans and a sweater. 

So basically....I don't see anything wrong with "pretendyville" today. I think if women want to pretend it is (in their version) the 1800's or the 1950's and they are caring for their home and husband and children biblically...then by golly...stick with it! Even though Merkle says, "I think they know its escapist. It's just more comfortable to create a pretend world, cozily tucked away from the scariness of the real world - the one that contains an awful lot of sin and ugliness...." I don't see anything wrong with striving to live simply, cozily, separated from the world. No, we shouldn't run away from the world but we definitely shouldn't act like it. Granted, those who wear long skirts and long hair can have a greater sin-filled heart than one who wears pants and shoulder length hair. Dressing (and acting) from a different era doesn't make us any more holy....but it also isn't necessarily *bad* either. 

So those were the two "problems" I had when reading this book. The seeming bragging of her accomplishments as a teacher, clothing designer etc....and then the way (I felt) she cut at people who strive to express their femininity from their interpretation of the past. I'm sorry I spent so much time explaining....I just wanted to get my point across (and wasn't sure how to do it). I was talking with my sister on the phone the other day...telling her how I wanted to review this book on my blog but didn't quite know how to accurately put into words the few problems I had with it. She encouraged me to try my I did! :o) 

The true *meat* of this book is fantastic though! is quite the encouragement to us women! (All quotes below are from Merkle's book I linked to at the beginning of this post!)

"Those who try to save their lives will lose it. Those who grab at "fulfillment" will never realize it. But those who are willing to lay that down, to put other ahead of themselves, to sacrifice themselves - those are the women who will truly find fulfillment." (p.33)

Merkle explains the roots of liberal feminism and exposes what it all really it has adversely affected women and the terrible abortion industry that followed. I just want to share some different quotes from her book that you may find admonishing and encouraging! 

"Christ was equal with God, but willingly humbled Himself. He offered Himself up in submission to God the Father, but not because He was inferior....Women need to stop being so offended about being asked to submit to an equal. Christ did not consider it robbery to humble himself and submit to an equal, and neither should we, because when we picture that submission we are picturing the most potent form of glory there is...When a woman submits, when she lays herself down, when she, like Christ, offers herself up to the death of humility, in submission to someone who is an equal, that is the field in which glory grows." (p. 120 & 121 & 123)

"...if we have a family, the work we do for that household is the most important work we could possibly be doing - and everything else needs to take a back seat."(p. 137)

Aren't those quotes so good!? They are so full of biblical truth that I could hear myself agreeing with her words as I read them! She encourages women to *truly* fulfill their role....which is *not* a demeaning one! We were put on this earth for a reason...ultimately to glorify the Lord! And to do that...we must live out the role He made for us! He made us as helpers for our husbands! He made us to care for our bear and train up children. We glorify Him as we live out our roles as homemaker, wife and mother to the BEST of our ability. Don't just slide through life getting things done just because they must be. Do them to the glory of God! Work hard! It's good to be tired at the end of the day....and at the end of the week! That is why the Lord blessed us with the Sabbath! A day of rest from all our toil! Work done well to the glory of God is good work indeed! :o) 

"No Christian should ever really be asking, 'How can I fulfill myself?' - the question should always be pointed outward. Who can I bless? How can I use my gifts to build up those around me? How can I embrace my femininity in such a way that I shine the light of the gospel into a lost and sinful world? How can I be truly excellent in the opportunities that God has placed in front of me?" (p. 144-145)

My answers to the quote above are that I need to build up my husband and children. I need to live out my role as a wife, mother and homemaker in a way of excellency where I shine the light of Christ to others....fulfilling my role to the best of my ability and letting the world see my joy in that (not that I am "superwife" or "supermom" but that I am a simple woman who honors the Lord by doing my absolute best to care for my husband, children and home in a way that truly glorifies Him)! 

Finally...this quote to end this post and review. Despite the couple things I mentioned at the beginning of this post...I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it! :) 

"As soon as women start demanding "equality" at the top of their lungs they kill the glory, because the essence of glory is dependent on difference...We have to be willing to embrace the fact that women are different from men. We are called to different things than the men, we've been created to do different tasks than the men, we've been gifted differently than the men - and if we embrace that truth we will find ourselves able to sing in harmony, able to glorify." (p. 192-193)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Peek in my Room!

 My old dresser was *old*. It was an antique but not in great shape. The drawers were very large and hard to pull out and push in. The bottoms of the drawers sagged. I liked the *look* of the dresser (as I love old things!) but it was just such a pain to use that I dreaded putting clothes in it and taking them out. My parents had bought that old dresser at an auction when I was young. I have had that same dresser since then (and I am now in my 30's!). I decided I wanted to look for something else. That day I looked online and found a lovely dresser at IKEA at a very inexpensive price (it was almost half off!). The unfortunate thing was that our nearest IKEA is almost two hours away....and the sale was ending the next day! So...very (and I mean *very*) out of character for me...I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to the city (that very day) to get this dresser (with Chris's blessing of course!). My mom agreed to go with me since she had been there before and knew the way. Madelyn and Jaxson went too...and X was working with his dad.

I dreaded the drive and wanted to back out...but didn't. We went....I got the dresser for a bargain and we even ate at Chick-fil-a! It was my first time! I love that they have the calories of their foods up so you can determine what you want to eat! I got the grilled chicken bites and the grilled chicken wrap! They were delicious and I stayed in my calorie limit! Can't beat that!! :o)

Chris was wonderful and built the dresser for me the next evening! It came in three heavy boxes and even with directions, I don't think I could have put it together as quickly (or as well) as he did! So here it is....perfectly organized inside and the drawers are so easy to pull and close! It is *fantastic*!

You may notice our floors are still not done. We have a couple rugs in our bedroom but never officially got the flooring done. It's a project we need to get to...but we always have more important things to finish first!

A little more in my bedroom...

Where I keep my exercise *stuff* (I workout at the Y most of the time...but I like to have options to do at home too when I want!)...

I love baskets...

...and books...

Winnie all curled up and sleeping on my bed! She and Stella-the-Cat take turns in this spot and the dog bed laying on the floor of Chris's side of the room. The cats really took it over...and so it has become the cat bed instead! ;)

I thought it would be fun to just share some of these pictures! :o) It isn't really anything overly exciting...but I love to see nooks and crannies, cozy spots and treasures in other peoples' homes so I like to include some of my own too!

Today will consist of homeschooling (for the children) while I continue to work on chores around our home. This afternoon we have a homeschool "Gym and Swim" at the Y (which is good....while the kids play I can get in a workout!) and then I must get groceries at some point!

We have lots of snow here in Western PA. I'm not a huge fan of snow....but I must admit it looks quite beautiful outside! Freshly fallen snow is my favorite ~ I just don't like it when it sticks around forever and gets muddy and icky! Looking out my windows right now though I see a beautiful scene! Snow laying on every branch of the trees...untouched and lovely! Snow is falling softly all around as well. It is an idyllic sight...truly!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope your week is really lovely!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Decreasing of Self

 "No grace shines more brightly in a Christian than humility. Wherever self comes in, it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work quietly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself, to make people know that you did this beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives, and see them blessed and made more beautiful, and then withdraw and let Christ have the honor. Work for God's approval, and even then do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing, and never think of self-advancement. Do not worry about credit for your work or about monuments to yourself; be content to do good in Christ's name."

~ J.R. Miller, Discovering the Hidden Essence of...Beautiful Living (emphasis mine)

Oh my...has it been a long and busy time since my last post. So much has happened along with the normal functions of a family and household! On New Year's Eve we attended a gathering at my Aunt and Uncle's house. This was a time with my dad's side of the family (my mom was sick unfortunately and couldn't make it....neither could my sister and her family). A few days later they had a house fire!! My aunt and uncle were both at home. Thankfully, they and their two cats were able to escape the house in time. You can see a little picture/video HERE.

My uncle built that house a long time has many levels. The bedrooms and bathroom were in the basement. The next level had a game room, walk in closet and sitting room. The next level was the living room and then at the top was the kitchen. Apparently their fire started from an outdoor wood burner near the house. I am not 100% sure on the details but it was so sad to get the call. I had been out and about running errands and getting groceries. I could hardly believe it! We had just been there a few days ago and's burned.

Many fire departments responded to the fire. It was bitterly cold and they had a tough time getting the fire out due to the ceiling having a metal roof and being well insulated. It took hours!!! Many supermarkets and such in the area were so kind to donate coffee, hot dogs, and warm chicken for the firefighters! I didn't go out (as I didn't want to be in the way) but my mom and other aunts did to help them save things from the garage (and just be there for love and moral support).

It's just a house....but oh how sad it is to know that pictures and family mementos were burned or water damaged. It's heartbreaking. They have been working at salvaging some stuff though so that is a blessing. I know they have been talking with their insurance company and are already planning to build again. We praise God that they are safe and well. That is truly the most important thing to us all!

The other day a beloved friend (and sister in Christ) of ours (who is only in her late forties I think) had a stroke! It was such a surprise! Her children and husband were able to get her to the hospital. At first everyone thought it was her heart...but turns out it was actually a stroke. So, so scary!! But God is faithful and she is doing well! She's still at a hospital in Pittsburgh but I think she'll be back home soon to recover (which they expect fully)! It is quite a shock, though, to know a young, healthy woman can have something happen so suddenly like that! We praise God that He always knows though. There is such comfort in knowing that *nothing* takes Him by surprise!

Along with the busyness of life (and the goodness or suffering it brings) I have been praying to the Lord to make much of Himself in me and LESS of me. I feel like I must pray for this often as the Self Monster tends to want to take over a lot. I am in His Word daily and my mom was so right....last night we were talking and she said how she doesn't understand how anyone can truly live a faithful, obedient life to the Lord if they are not reading His Word! You can't just listen to your pastor or have to be in His Word for yourself! What a gift He has given us in the Bible!

If you happen to be someone who reads "Jesus Calling"....I ask you (in love) to please stop and realize it is a *dangerous* read. If you want to know what Jesus says to HIS book. To read some reasons why "Jesus Calling" has some serious problems you can go HERE or HERE.

If you would like some biblically correct and lovely books (sort of a short daily read in each...not chapter books) to go along with your Bible reading I recommend the following...

The quote at the top of this post is from the book by J.R. Miller. He is also the author of one of my favorite books called "Homemaking" (also known as "The Family"). I posted the links for the books above if you are interested in them. They are not affiliate links or anything. Just wanted to make it easier for you if you would like to get them. They are inexpensive and totally worth it! The devotions by Susannah Spurgeon (who was the wife of pastor Charles Spurgeon) also has a biography of her life in it! :) 

Neither of these authors speaks "for" Christ. They don't claim that they are writing the words of Christ (which is only done in the Bible)....Susannah Spurgeon writes lovely prayers to the Lord in her book. Miller writes little one-page snippets of wisdom....pointing us to Christ! 

In other news...

Madelyn loves to bake (I used to love to bake as well....but the temptation to eat what I bake is too now I keep my baking to a minimum!) and she made cinnamon rolls for our guys! :) And no, I didn't eat even one! I am excited to be able to share that since the new year began I am down four pounds! I have been careful with my food intake and exercising daily (I have exercised almost daily anyway for the past 5.5 years but now I am making sure to really get the exercise in every day...except Sunday. That's my rest day!). 

I don't really eat out much....and definitely not fast food....*however* last evening I got a chance to eat for the *first* time ever at Chick-Fil-A! Everyone raves about it and I had never been near one to ever give it a try! Well...last night my mom, Madelyn, Jaxson and I were near one and stopped for supper! A part of me wanted to get the yummy looking waffle fries (it's like a battle in my mind!)....but I opted instead for grilled chicken bites and a grilled chicken wrap. They were both in my calorie range and were delicious!!! I was full after eating and truly enjoyed my first (and maybe only..haha) chance at eating at Chick-Fil-A! I also got to go to my first ever Home Goods. It was neat and I enjoyed looking around! I didn't get much but I was happy to have gotten to actually go to one (as I have heard others who have found some fun things there!).

Today I have kept busy with housework, filling orders for my etsy shop, getting groceries and soon I'll be heading in to the YMCA to exercise. When I get home it will be time for supper and the children and I will go over some of their schoolwork!

I am so thankful the temperatures are in the 20's and 30's now...oh my, the bitter below-zero temps we had for the past weeks were just terrible! Even though it is still technically *cold* and there's lots of snow on the feels *warm* compared to the other weeks! How is your weather?

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm sorry for the long, rambling post! I hope your new year is going well. I pray the Lord is glorified in all you do and that you are enjoying your matter your circumstances! I hope you will visit again soon!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Hello friends! Happy New Year! :) Already caught myself almost writing 2017 when balancing the checkbook this morning! I can hardly believe it is 2018! I admit, I love the freshness and *new*ness of a new year!

We have had a busy week...although we took off from doing our homeschool work ~ we had plenty other things to keep us going! This weekend included more family get-togethers and *food*! Too much *food*! I am so thankful to be back to eating healthy and well today! The fleeting pleasure of a tasty, sugary food is truly not worth it. I never feel great afterwards plus it doesn't help the waistline!

I went for a run after getting up this morning (yes, it is freezing outside...but I wore gloves and a hat) and worked up a good sweat! (I tried to sleep in....but just couldn't!) The morning has been full with tidying up after the weekend, balancing the checkbook, filling orders from my etsy shop, dishes, laundry and the like!

Pa stopped earlier. Xavier and Jaxson changed out of their pajamas and went with him to get some coffee at Sheetz (it's free on New Year's Day!). From there they were going to the meat market to help prepare the annual New Year's food! Chris and Madelyn have been here and are getting ready to go as well. They will eat sauerkraut at the shop and then help hook up the horses for sleigh rides! Madelyn has some friends coming too!

I don't eat sauerkraut ~ so I am baking some chicken and steaming some broccoli for my lunch. I will do some more chores around here and then I plan to go out and visit my mom for a bit! She got sick last week and just hasn't felt too great since. I'm hoping all the germies have died by now so I can visit (maybe I'll do a little cleaning anyway...just to make sure the germs are *dead*!).

On New Year's Eve we spent the morning at church. Once home we had a quick lunch and were able to take a little nap before I had to be up again to make mashed potatoes and baked corn to take to my aunt and uncle's house later in the afternoon. We spent our later afternoon/early evening there visiting and eating! We had a nice time! I got to snuggle my cousin's baby for a well as my one aunt's puppy (his name is Otis!)!

We came home around 7. We decided to make some popcorn and watch a movie (as we were trying to stay up as late as possible on this eve of a new year!). After the movie was over Jaxson and Chris worked on a puzzle (I think Madelyn helped at one point too)...

While they were working on this puzzle (which may take a while...I have a feeling this table will be up for the unforseeable future!)...Madelyn, Xavier and I played the "headbandz" game...but we didn't get out the actual game. We just used sticky notes and put them on our foreheads!

 I made it until about 11:30 and just couldn't stand my eyes being open any longer....although everyone protested I had to head up to bed! They all waited until 12 and soon followed! Such a blessing to bring in the New Year with my loved ones!

I need to finish my lunch (and my stomach and ready to eat!) and carry on with my day! I just wanted to take a quick moment to stop in and say *hello*! I hope you had a lovely New Year's Eve and that you are already enjoying the new year!! May 2018 be a year of God-glorifying, joy-filled moments for each one of you!