Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stay-at-Home Mom versus Working Woman

Twenty-eight years as a stay-at-home mom. Granted, there was some babysitting, some maid work, some typing stints, and other mini-jobs. But still, I was a stay-at-home mom.

Big change this past winter -- starting a half-time job. Several of the customers and co-workers seemed leery of my abilities. After all, I hadn't worked for a long time. A stay-at-home mom? What did I know?

Yes, it took a while to learn the job and become adept. But the tasks became routine, and my speed increased, and I got to know the customers. Granted, there's a lot yet to learn: they haven't even tried to teach me how to service the ATM machine or run all the paperwork to balance our branch's paper-trails.

I have this to say:

A lot harder.

A job is lightweight. Lives do not depend on it. Formation of brains do not depend on it (even if your job is being a teacher). The life-long foundations of physical health do not depend on a person's job. Other people's soul and psyche are not being shaped by what we do in our paid jobs. Unless you're a pastor, what you do in your job probably does not have profound impact on people's eternal life or death.

But all these important things are part of a mommy's work. A mom is never done. A mom never knows exactly what the right thing to do is; it's not a black-and-white job. A mom's job is always in a state of flux. A mommy's job is not merely full-time, but 24/7. Moms do not have the satisfaction of seeing results of their work at the end of the day ... they have to wait 15-20 years to get an idea of the results of their work ... and even then the "success" of their efforts won't be seen clearly for another couple of decades.

Going to work has the reward of a paycheck. It rewards you with social acceptability. It rewards you with adult conversation. In so many ways, a job is easy-breezy compared to mommyhood.

But there is nothing as precious, as dear, as rewarding, as being with those dear children who are your delight! It may be way harder to be a mom, but it's the best job ever.

Naomi, DoRena, Heidi, Katie, Liz, Rebecca, and all you others -- don't let anybody (including yourself) convince you that your job isn't that big a deal. It's hard work. It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do. The wonder of love is that you WANT to do it and you ENJOY it ... at least most of the time. :-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dawn Treader

Maggie was coughing when the movie came out -- coughing too much to take her to a theatre and interrupt others' viewing. So we waited for her to get better. But she was sick for SO long this winter that we never made it to the theatre for this winter's Narnia movie.

Last night we watched the dvd.

Now I'm glad we didn't pay for movie tickets.

If you think Narnia is about fantasy and adventure, then this wasn't too bad a movie. Sure, sure, they totally messed up the book. But some people don't mind producers freely adjusting the book for the video version. And some people don't know the book anyway. The effects were great. I loved the water pouring out of the picture frame. I loved the dragon. I loved the star. And Eustace's acting was superb; he started out as the most despicable little creature. Oh, and there were funny parts!

But ...

the reason I love Dawn Treader is the theology. I love how the book brings in Christian vocation. I love how they face trials and fears, and Aslan rescues them. I love Reepicheep's fervant hope for Aslan's country. But mostly I love baptism, and how Eustace is brought to recognize his sin, and Aslan tears away his Old Adam and makes him a New Man.

The video is stripped of its theology. If that was all that was wrong with the movie, even that would be okay. But the message that replaced the Christian theology was a works-righteous theology, where we earn what we get by trying hard to be good and brave and upstanding. The Aslan in this movie is not the Aslan I love, the one on whom my hope rests. This movie is just a story. And if that's all you want from a movie, it's okay. But if you expect Narnia ... and a story of Jesus and His love for you ... then Dawn Treader is a huge disappointment.

Today's Laugh

Andrew and I were listening to our history tapes. We're studying World War I right now, from a series that is full of primary sources. This quote is taken from a letter home, written by a US private about life on the front in France; he and his fellow-soldiers were living in a cave where they slept by day and came out to fight by night.

We have a little church in our cave. On Sundays the chaplain holds service and passes out cigarettes to us.

When I heard "and passes out ..." I expected the next words to be something about "the Lord's Supper" or maybe "little psalters" or "copies of the New Testament." The last thing I anticipated was "cigarettes." Am I totally warped that I busted out laughing at this??

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Concept of Summer Vacation

The mere existence of a "school calendar" has changed society's outlook on work and leisure and rest. During Gary's first couple of years out of seminary and in the parish, we had some friends who wanted to get together during Christmas break. We told them we weren't available to make a 10-hour roundtrip to see them the week before Christmas. Gary was a pastor. Pastors work on Christmas. There is the children's Christmas program. There's Advent services, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the next week is New Year's Eve and the Circumcision of Our Lord. Not exactly the time to run off for a fun-filled playtime with friends.

They didn't understand. They were both teachers. They'd spent decades governed by the school calendar, either as students, college students, or teachers. They didn't understand that most people have to keep going to work during Easter break, Christmas break, and the summer recess.

We have begun to notice the same thing at factories and other work places now too. More and more businesses are closing the week after Christmas. So many of the workers think they are entitled to a Christmas break, and so many will be no-shows at work, that the company admits defeat, shuts down, and uses the time for cleaning or inventory or some other tasks that require a minimal number of employees.

I am tired. I see no way of keeping up with my duties. Several of my friends are equally weary. They are teachers and students. I keep hearing them talk about "only two more weeks until the school year is done" or "fourteen more days of getting up early, and then we're done until August." I am jealous: I see no rest in sight, no break from routine approaching for at least 13 months.

With our entire society being raised with the mental acceptance of a School Calendar, we adjust our lives accordingly. Not only do we feel entitled to breaks, but we also overdo. During the school year, we pack too much work, too much study, too many extra-curriculars, too many clubs, too many lessons, into those nine months. Then we crash and need the occasional breaks.

Doesn't it seem like it would be easier and more reasonable to live a moderate life consistently, rather than the hustle-bustle and then the collapse to recuperate? (Now, how I convince myself to do it?)

Parenting and Homeschooling

A very helpful perspective on raising kids (including homeschooling) and on what the experts have to say to you...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

He Rebuked Their Unbelief

In Mark's version of the Easter story, Jesus appears to Magdalena in the morning and to the Emmaus disciples in the afternoon. Then he appeared to the Eleven in the upper room and "rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart."

As Pastor pointed out during chapel, we tend to hear the word rebuke and think of a scolding. "Shame on you! You didn't believe when Mary told you that I rose from the dead! For shame!"

But what does John tell us? Jesus appeared in the upper room and said, "Peace be to you."

Wait a minute. Where's the scolding? Where's the rebuke?

Isn't this more like the exorcism in baptism? ("Depart you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit.") When Jesus speaks His word of mercy and love and forgiveness, that chases away the unbelief. The demons and the unfaith are rebuked so that the sinner is rescued from his hardness of heart.

That's some kind of "rebuke" -- a rebuke which draws in the rebuked-one for a hug and words of comfort and assurance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Concerning Judas

In our Bible story today (Acts 1) Peter is saying that the disciples ought to figure out who might replace Judas, and they end up with Matthias.

Did you ever think about how hard it must have been for them to have lost Judas? Sure, sure, they had much bigger things going on: their master arrested and tortured and killed, their denying Him, the resurrection and their initial disbelief of it, and the whole thing of "What now?" and waiting.

But think about what it would be like if it were you; y'know, they lived with Judas for three years. They traipsed around the countryside with him. They'd been through a lot together. And then he turned away. That's a scary thought. When we see faithful Christians turn away, we wonder why. We question whether God screwed up. We wonder if we will be the next to reject God's love. Maybe the disciples needed some comfort in these matters. Peter points out that Judas's betrayal was foretold in the scriptures, and it happened just as surely as did Jesus' death and resurrection (which were likewise foretold).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cleaning for Company

Do most people clean when they're expecting company? I know my mom and dad did a lot of cleaning and spiffing before my wedding. I've heard friends advise that a good way to keep up on your housecleaning is to invite company every two or three weeks. Some friends at church spent anywhere from 3-10 days cleaning house before the Scandinavians came to visit last week.

I must be a schlock. I didn't clean for our international company.

Many years ago, when I was still struggling with how to run a household and keep up with the chores, I read Don Aslett. When I finished the first book, I determined that I would no longer clean for company. I would clean for us. I would keep the house as clean as I wanted it ... well, I'd try to. But it would be for our sakes, not for the sake of company.

Sometimes the kids will think they caught me cleaning for company. If I'm two weeks overdue on vacuuming the living room, and I know that I won't be vacuuming for the next four days because of spending time with company, I may just run the vacuum before the guests come. But it's because I'm already stressed that the floor is dirty, and because I'm going to be a whole lot more stressed if the rug is gathering up three weeks' worth of grime. Sometimes those jobs don't get done before company, though, so they're done after the company leaves.

So here we were, with a stranger coming to visit, someone from another country who might very well be getting his first impressions of an American home. And I didn't clean. That's probably rotten of me. But I didn't want to be stressed over the approaching visit.

You know what?
You know WHAT???

When we came home from vespers with Dag, we couldn't get into the garage. Then we noticed that none of the neighbors had any lights on. Hmmmm. Sure enough -- no electricity because of the storms earlier. It was the longest power outage that our family had experienced in probably 10 years or more. So here we are, hunting up candles and matches, putting fresh batteries into flashlights, having Dag use his flashlight to point out the spot on the map where he lives. There's no water because we're on a well that uses a pump that runs on electricity. (I sure am glad I used the potty at church before heading home!) We used matches to light the gas stove and sauteed some asparagus from the garden. We sat around the kitchen and got to know each other in a room filled with candlelight. And it was wonderful in spite of the silly inconvenience!

The next morning, the thought crossed my mind:
If I had cleaned for company, Dag wouldn't even have been able to see my hard work to be impressed by my feigned immaculateness!

I feel vindicated.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Wieting men.
Some of you will know Pastor Ken Wieting from his writing.

Mom, you'll probably want names; you haven't seen these guys for a long long time. Luke is on the left. Then Ken, then Ben, then Mark on the right.

The song is done barbershop-quartet style. And yowza -- those voices all in the same family sound nice together! The song pokes fun at homeschooling stereotypes and is a lot of fun!

Garden Report

Gary has brought in several more batches of asparagus.
The strawberry bed has been raked and stripped of the visible dandelions.
The other berries and canes have also been de-dandelioned.

Don't know yet what Wednesday's storms did to the newly-planted seeds in the raised bed. I'm sure the seeds are still there. But rows? Not so likely.

There is CILANTRO coming up which must have seeded itself last fall. Woo hoo!