A Day With Dad



I was fixing my makeup when she came bounding into the bathroom.

"Mama, Daddy's going to take me to a princess movie!"

The grin filled her entire face, and she bounced around the room like Tigger.  

"I'm so 'cited!"

A couple weeks ago, Derek told me about this princess event at his alma mater, including princess-themed activities, dinner, and a movie.  "Should I take Gwen?" he asked me, and I said he definitely should.  He bought the tickets, and today was the day.

Gwen picked out which princess dress she wanted to wear (which just happened to be the princess dress from my own childhood), and they left early so they could go out to lunch first and buy Gwen a tiara.  I don't have any cute stories from the day aside from a picture of her making a funny face with Snow White, and an interview video Derek sent me.  But when she came home that night, after everyone else was in bed, I asked her how it was.

"It was the best day ever!"

She had Snow White mac-and-cheese for dinner, and they colored, and did "science experiments", and watched the original Snow White.

"The bad queen was chasing White Snow, and she eated a poisonous apple, and everyone thought she died but she was really just asleep.  And then her prince came and kissed her and waked her up."

I'm told the theater was silent when the queen fell over the cliff and the boulder fell after her...until my little princess yelled "Yes!"

She ran upstairs to get changed, and her daddy tucked her in bed, and I just chuckled to myself.  I always knew Derek would be a good dad, but I didn't know just how good of a dad he would be to his girls.  I'm glad I married a guy who is happy to delve into the world of princesses with his daughter.  This was her first true Disney princess exposure, and though I am looking forward to watching more of the movies with her as she grows, I am loving the fact that she got to experience her first princess movie with her dad. 




From The Archives: Derek And Callie (The First Year)

( A picture from our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Is it weird that I still have that shirt?)

I might be typing this while watching a Hallmark movie and eating coffee ice cream at 9 o'clock at night.

The last couple days turned out to be all-day errand-running days, and I had no time at all to sit down and write my photo organizing post that I had scheduled for today!  I'm hoping to get caught up on it tomorrow, but for now, I thought I'd switch in Saturday's "From The Archives" post and take you all back to nine years ago on this little old blog - our first year of marriage, before babies were in the picture.  

What did I even write about then, anyway?  Mostly about newly married nothings, but I have to say, it's fun to have those posts now.  I think it will be fun for my kids too to look back on what our days were like before they were around.

So, if you want to see how much we've changed in nine years, here are a few old (really old) posts to explore!

-I started this blog up after our first major stressful marriage situation - namely the fact that Derek and I were both unemployed at the same time a mere two months after our wedding!

-A brain dump post, including pictures of Derek and I setting up our first Christmas tree.

-A 2008 recap of all major events the year we got married (I seriously didn't even remember that I did a recap post that year!).


-Proof that I have always written about books here, and also some confessions of our early marriage arguments - the "honeymoon phase" didn't last long for us, but hey, we figured out how to fight well sooner that way!

-First Easter as a married couple.


-When I discovered the wonders of Sam's Club, thanks to Derek.

-A post I wrote about what I learned in the first year of marriage - still true, but kind of cute to read now since we've been through so many harder things than unemployment since then!

-Our first anniversary gifts, and oh my goodness, there is a picture of me in my wedding dress in this post since I tried it on at my one-year wedding anniversary to make sure it still fit.  Look how skinny I was!  But did that stop me from feeling the need to explain why I had gained two pounds over the first year of marriage?  No!  Oh Callie, you were so silly back then.


A few things to note about these posts that I wrote the first year of our marriage:

1.  There are some posts with no pictures at all.  I am reminded how freeing it was to just write something without having to find a picture to go with it!

2.  I think my writing has gotten better since then.  I think.

3.  I wrote about really mundane things.  But that's what we were all doing back then!  It was glorious.

4.  Shortly after our first anniversary we went off the birth control pill, and shortly after that realized that we might have trouble getting pregnant - enter baby fever!  So it's interesting to look back on the days before we had kids on our minds.  It was a special time with just the two of us, but goodness, how much richer our lives are now!  Having our children has just made me love Derek even more.  

So...how long have you been blogging, friends?  Do you have early married posts still, or am I the only crazy one who keeps these slightly embarrassing early posts up for all the world to see?

Snow And A Shower



Since it's an off-week for my bi-weekly pregnancy updates, I thought this would be a good opportunity to get back to a round of old-fashioned blogging.  Even though this whole memory-keeping series is kind of a throwback to the old-school style of blogging, today is a brain dump sort of day, so here we go.

Snow Day

This week we had our first snow day of the season.  Just last week I was looking at my Facebook memories (Facebook finally gave me my memories after blackballing me from that feature for years), and I saw that we got our first snow at the beginning of October last year…and what do you know, a week later we got our first snow in October again!  Somehow it came to me as a bit of a shock this year, I guess because all the seasonal changes were so sudden this fall.  We went from 80-degree, weather to a cool 40/50-degree weather last week, and then boom, the next week it snows.






It was a decent amount of snow too!  The kids were making snow angels.

My kids (except Clarice) are finally old enough to send outside into the snow by themselves, so that was an exciting realization this year.  I bundled them all up and they traipsed outside by themselves while I started a fire and a batch of pumpkin bread.  It made me really look forward to more snow days this winter, because this will be the first year that a snow day doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll all be stuck inside all day.

A Baby Shower

This week I also had a baby shower with my mom and sister!  I had been toying with the idea of throwing a little pre-baby party with my family and friends, because I think every baby should be celebrated in some way (even a fifth baby) - but I just could not seem to get my act together enough to get it planned.  The month of October started and I just figured it was too late and I was a bit too stressed to try to get something on the calendar at this point.  

Then my sister asked if I was planning anything (because I had mentioned this idea to her before), and I was disappointed when I had to tell her no.  I felt like I was letting this baby girl down somehow, since we had some sort of pre-baby celebration for each of my other kids.

Well, my sister is a thoughtful sort of person, and she conspired with my mom to have a little baby shower for this baby too!  So my mom took the three of us out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, and they showered me with presents.  

And when I say showered, I mean showered.  There must have been ten gifts between the two of them!  It was so sweet, and they got me all the remaining things I needed - including swaddles, bottles, and baby bath towels, which I was trying to figure out how to budget in to buy for myself.  That was such a blessing - I don’t think I ever realized it before, but just because someone has multiple other kids doesn’t necessarily mean they have everything for a new baby.  Especially when it’s their third of one gender, because a lot of stuff just wears out after 2+ babies.



(You can't see very well in these pictures, but they even decorated the table with little party favors and everything!)

I am really blessed to have such a great mom and sister, and they really blessed me with the effort they put into my shower!

Mini Golf

Before the snow, we snuck in some fall fun!  The dental office we are going to now does this "fall festival" every year, and this year it was at a mini golf place.  I signed us up because it was free fall fun, and who doesn't like free?  

It ended up being a great family outing!  We had a free barbecue dinner, and then we got a free round of mini golf with the kids.  Mini golf is probably not a family activity we would pay for at this point since the kids are a little young yet, but did I mention free?!  So we introduced the kids to mini golf.  The big three had a bunch of fun hitting their balls toward the holes, and it was kind of a put-ing free-for-all.  




But Clarice, on the other hand, took her golf turns very seriously.  She put the ball on the ground so carefully, and Derek helped her hit the ball, and she would get so upset if the ball went off the green.  By upset, I mean she would burst into tears!  Maybe we have a future golfer on our hands.  It was so cute to see her little careful and competitive personality come out on a put-put golf course - at two years old, no less!

Last Month of Pregnancy Busyness

The next couple weeks are surprisingly busy - I’ve learned after so many pregnancies that a few weeks before you are supposed to have your baby, the schedule tends to fill up, because people want to see you one more time before you are cocooned up with a newborn for a while.  I went out of the house almost every day last week, and this week is shaping up to be the same.  

Then the last two weeks or so of pregnancy, the schedule really frees up because people think you won’t want to schedule too much so close to baby (and they’d be right) - but then you just sit home bored, waiting for something to happen.  So, when I get overwhelmed by my schedule right now, I just remind myself that if I give it another two weeks I’ll probably have nothing to do at all.  I hope my friends and family are up for some last-minute things, because if this baby ends up being late like Clarice was, I'll need to get out of the house!

What has your October looked like so far?  Have you had a chance to do any fall-ish fun yet?





What Made Me A Reader



I listen to a lot of homeschool and book-related podcasts, and a recurring theme seems to be the question "How do you turn your kids into readers?"  A lot has been said on the subject, most of it quite a bit more scholarly than what I am sharing here.  But whenever I hear this question come up, I start to think about my own childhood.  What made me love books?  What turned me into a reader?

I'm sure much of it has to do with some of those "right" things parents are supposed to do.  My mom always had an abundance of books around, and I used to love digging through the boxes of books she had hidden away in our basement.  I saw my parents reading frequently - usually when I came upstairs in the morning, my mom would be sitting at the table with a cup of tea, her Bible and devotional book stacked neatly next to her on the table (I could tell she had read God's Word first), and her nose in a book.  My dad would bring books when he knew we would have lots of leisure time (like on vacation), and it was fun to see him get involved in a good story.  

But one of my best book memories from my childhood is when my mom told me one evening that tonight was going to be a "reading night".



I didn't know what a reading night was, but I laid awake in bed as slowly all the lights in the house went out.  My brother and sister were in bed, even my dad was in bed, when my mom snuck stealthily into my room and told me to come with her.

We went up to the kitchen, and she pulled out two mugs and made us some tea.  She pulled out a Hershey's chocolate bar and gave me half.  We went to the living room and settled onto the couches with our books.  I drank my peppermint tea and savored my chocolate as we each read a chapter of our books.

Once I was finished with my chapter, I put my book down and looked up to my mom grinning at me. "What happened in your chapter?" she asked.  And I told her all about what I had read (I don't remember the book, but I am willing to bet it was a Nancy Drew mystery).  We discussed my favorite parts of the book so far, and what I thought was going to happen.  Then she told me about her book, and what was happening in her story.

We continued our occasional reading nights all through my middle school and high school years.  I was the oldest, so I got to start reading night first, but I know my mom did reading nights with my siblings too.

Whenever the question comes up of how to make your kids into readers, my mom's reading nights always pop back into my brain. I can't pin down exactly what made me a reader, but I can pin down those reading nights as one of the things that made reading fun. 

It's a tradition I fully intend to pass down.  I'm counting the days until my kids are big enough to be reading chapter books, and I can mysteriously tell them that tonight is going to be a reading night.

A Brief History Of My Hair


I never said these memory posts were all going to be serious, did I?

Back When I Was A Blonde: Birth-Two Years Old

Yes, my friends, despite being solidly in the brunette camp now, when I was a toddler I was blonde.   A picture in case you don't believe me:



When people wonder where my kids got their blonde baby hair, I can say for certain that it was from me.  I don't remember what it was like being a blonde.  Did I have more fun back then?

The Brunette Phase: Three Years Old-10 Years Old

My hair changed rather suddenly to a light brunette when I was three years old.  It still changed to blonde in the summer when the sun would bleach it during all those hours outside, until I was in first or second grade - then I was solidly a brunette, and it's only gotten darker since then.

The Frizzy Phase: 11 Years Old-14 Years Old

Ah, puberty.  That was a rough hair time for me.  Something about the hormones made my hair want to try to turn curly, but it wasn't quite succeeding - I ended up with a semi-wavy frizzy mass.  I am quite thankful for my mom during this period, who tried to help my hair situations with different anti-frizz products she would buy for me.  But my hair just refused to decide if it was going to be semi-wavy, or sort of straight, or full-on curly, so it was a confusing time.



The Curly Phase: 14 Years Old-16 Years Old

My hair finally curled up enough for it to actually look like it was on purpose, and we found some decent products.  Still, I had a hard time accepting my wavy/curly hair.  The preferred hair style in the culture at that time was definitely sleek and straight, and my hair was just...not.  I always felt like it was a little out-of-control, and it was hard to get my curls to look right because they were still half in the "wavy" category.  (I'm still not sure how to deal with my curly hair au natural, to be honest).

The Straightening Phase: 16 Years-20 Years Old

I finally got a hair straightener and started using it more regularly.  I found at this time that I liked my day three hair the best.  The first day I washed and straightened it, it would still be on the frizzy side (I'd try to wash it on days we weren't going anywhere).  The second day, the frizz had calmed down some.  By the third day it actually looked pretty smooth!  But by then it was time to wash it again.  I wrestled with my hair in this manner until my 20's.

The I've-Got-It-Figured-Out Phase: 20 Years Old-Present

I got married and started working at a real job (and hence earning my own grown-up paycheck) at 20 - which gave me a lot more wiggle room to try out different products.  And what do you know, I finally found THE product that would make my hair cooperate! Sexy Straight Hair (that's what the product was called).  I even had the courage to try growing my hair long once I found this lifesaver.



It didn't last long, I think I'm more of a bob kind of girl.

I eventually switched to a Chi straightener (game-changer) with the Chi Shine Infusion Spray (which is pretty similar to the product above, just easier to find), and that's what I use today.

I do have one regret about the different stages of my hair up to now, and that is the fact that I have never figured out how to wear my hair curly and like it.  I am not sure if it is because of the semi-traumatic experience of having my hair go rogue at a stage when everything else was changing too (oh, puberty), or if I internalized too much of the straight-hair-is-better message of that time when my hair was changing, or if I have just never found the product that would make my curly hair manageable enough to suit me.  

But I do wish I could have figured out how to make it work and love it, because I would love to be an example to my daughters in that way - I'd love to teach them to embrace the unique beauty of their individual hair types, like my mom tried to do for me.

Maybe that will be the next stage of my "hair evolution" - The I-Finally-Get-My-Curls Phase.

Do any of you have wavy/curly hair?  What products do you use?  Did you ever figure out how to tame the curls, or do I just need to learn to go with the curly-hair flow?


When Encouragement Comes From A Stranger

(Written last Thursday.)

As I am typing this, my kids are sitting on the couch across the room, watching Rio.  I don't typically let them watch a full-length movie in the middle of the week, but this was been a particularly long week, and a particularly long day near the end of a particularly long week.  I decided I'm allowed.

Though the day was busy and a bit exhausting, it was good too.  We went to our mom group this morning, and as I picked up the kids from their classes they handed me their crafts.  "This is for you, Mom", they always say, and I grin and say I love it, even if it's just a paper with stickers on it.  It's sweet that they want to give me presents (even if I sometimes suspect it's just to get me to hold said crafts and papers for them).

We had a few errands to run, and I felt like we were a bit of a mess, as I usually do.  When I take all the kids into a store - especially a store with no carts - I feel like it's a constant stream of "Come here {insert child's name}", "Don't touch that {insert child's name}", and "Don't lay on the floor {insert child's name}".  People ask me how I do it with four (soon five) kids, and the truth is that when we are out in public I try my best to keep my kids close by me and not breaking anything, and I feel like we are a mini circus.  A happy, adorably cute circus, but a circus nonetheless.

Sometimes I even feel a little sheepish, like we are a bad advertisement for a big family.  But today the cashiers smiled at me and told me how adorable my kids were, even when I was too busy wrangling them to properly respond.  I kick myself for that now.  I've gotten used to not-quite-positive-not-quite-negative comments from strangers, to which I usually give a closed-lipped, nondescript smile, but the comments today were sweet and encouraging and deserved a big grin.

I was getting the kids packed back into the car when a lady came up to me.  

"I just wanted to say, you are amazing.  I have trouble with two kids, and you have four!" she said with a smile.  I laughed and said "Well, thank you! I feel like we're always a bit of a mess."  And she said, "No, you are doing an amazing job.  Your kids were so well behaved."

I thanked her again, and I guess I am thanking her a third time here.  I doubt she even realizes that her words will be remembered, but they were what I needed today.  Sometimes an encouragement from a stranger can make you see yourself in a better light, and sometimes in the middle of the minutia of motherhood you need that.  I looked at my kids and realized they really were quite well-behaved, despite my constant stream of directions that felt so chaotic to me.  They listened well, overall.  They walked in a row, like little ducklings, to the door.  They climbed in the car and got so excited over the clementines I gave them for a snack, patiently waiting while I peeled them.  

They really are very cute, and very good kids.

During a week when I am feeling overwhelmed and when I feel like I'm failing at this whole motherhood thing, I needed that reminder to step outside myself for a minute and appreciate my kids for the little people they are, the people they are becoming, and to comprehend the role I am playing in that. To look at the day, and my whole mothering journey, with fresh eyes.

I am thankful that God let that lady cross my path today, and I hope immortalizing that brief little encounter here will help me remember to refresh my eyes on rough days in the future.

I also want to remember it here, because maybe it will remind me to offer encouragement to a stranger myself sometime.  If I notice someone doing something well, or even just trying their best, why not offer a word of encouragement?  The gift of fresh eyes can so often be given this way, and it is worth a lot.

Has a stranger ever encouraged you when you needed it?



Update On My 31 Day Challenge



Time for a quick check-in on my 31 Day Writing Challenge!

This is the first year I have done this, and since I decided to join in literally the night before it started, I didn't have much of a plan.  After winging it all week, I decided to try to set something of a writing routine for myself for the remaining three weeks.  Here is what I'm thinking:

Sundays will be a little open.  I may post a schedule of posts for the upcoming week, or I may share something different (all depends on how much time I have the rest of the week).

Mondays will be for a "daily snapshot" of our lives right now.  (Full disclosure: this snapshot may or may not be actually written on Mondays).

Tuesdays will be for a personal childhood memory (I'm going to be using writing prompts from a few books I have for these).

Wednesdays will be for book-related memories (because I obviously like to talk about books, and I think a lot of you do too!).

Thursdays will be for pregnancy updates, and other family-related memory keeping.

Fridays will be for the practical side of how I attempt to keep our memories.

Saturdays will be a look into the archives of this blog (I've got a lot of interesting posts hidden way back in those archives).

This is what the schedule looks like for the upcoming week:

Monday: When Encouragement Comes From A Stranger
Tuesday: A Brief History Of my Hair
Wednesday: What Made Me A Reader
Thursday: {To be determined}
Friday: How I Organize My Photos
Saturday: Derek And Callie - The Early Years

Now would also be a great time to ask my any getting-to-know-you questions you have, because I'll incorporate the answers into some of the memory-keeping posts this month!  
So if you want to know something, ask away (I could also really use the material).



Birth Story Memories

(This photo is from way back, from my maternity photos with Gwen.)

I'm getting to that stage of pregnancy where my mind is going to labor quite often.  First I found myself getting a little nervous when I think ahead to labor...mainly because I plan to go without the epidural again, and I remember the pain well enough to make me a bit nervous.  But as I've been thinking about how everything went with my other kids' births, I'm remembering that I just took it like it came with my other labors, and I can do it again.  I'm about as prepared as I can be for this, and  I'm just praying for peace and fortitude for this baby's labor too, when it comes.

Since I seem to have labor and delivery on the brain these days, I thought I'd take this Saturday morning to reminisce a bit about my previous birth stories by re-sharing them here.  Who doesn't love a good birth story, after all?  And some of you may not have been around since I started having babies, so this is a good chance to catch you all up.  Enjoy!

Wyatt's Birth - Born at 37 weeks, because of pre-eclampsia.  My pre-eclampsia induction story.

Gwendolyn's Birth - Born at 39 weeks, with a fast-moving labor.  My didn't-make-it-to-the-hospital story.

Clyde's Birth (And Part Two) - Born at 39 weeks, after a night of violent vomiting.  My slightly traumatic, back-labor, partial placental abruption labor story.

Clarice's Birth - Born at 40 weeks 3 days, when I was so ready to meet her!  My pretty-dreamy-labor story.




Three Everyday Photo Ideas For Memory-Keeping


My sister has this crazy ability to remember events exactly as they happened.  Sometimes we'll be talking and she will casually mention something we did when we were kids, and I realize that I literally haven't even thought about that event for years.  It makes me sad sometimes that I have all these memories locked away in my brain that I won't remember until someone else brings it up.

As an adult I have realized pretty quickly that if I am going to remember something, I'm going to have to have some record of it.  Maybe that's part of the reason blogging has stuck, but to be realistic, I can't sit down every evening and write out every detail of the day.

This is where photos come in.

The say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that saying has lasted so long because it's true!  When I have a picture of something we did together, it's so much easier for me to remember all the details of that time in our lives.  Photos are a quicker, easier record to take than writing out my thoughts, and I've relied on them even more as a mom.  How else am I supposed to remember the face my babies make when I tell them to say "cheese"?  How else am I supposed to remember the way their hair curled before the first haircut, or how their faces have changed year to year?

So photos have become a really important part of my memory-keeping, but I do have a tendency to only take photos when we are doing something unique - like when we are on trip, or celebrating someone's birthday.  I'm grateful for those occasions because without them I might go too long between taking photos with my "good" camera.  But I make it my aim to take pictures between those special occasions too.  These are a few examples.

Unique Details

Each kid has some thing that they do, some physical feature, or some interest that makes them unique.  Does my child have a special blanket or toy?  Are they really into Hot Wheels cars or legos?  Do they scrunch their nose when they smile? Does their hair curl just right, or am I always getting comments on their impossibly long eyelashes?  I try to take pictures of those things!

Doing Ordinary Things

It's easy to pull out the camera when we are doing something Facebook-worthy, but I love the images of us doing everyday things even more, because they help me see the beauty of these ordinary days.  I've ben told too many times how it goes by so fast and how I'll miss this stage someday.  So I want photos that help me remember what our day-to-day was like.  I might take pictures of the kids eating cereal (or watermelon, which was a hit last summer), Wyatt working on his schoolwork, or the kids digging a hole in the yard, for example.  

Places We Visit All The Time

It's fun to sometimes think a little outside the box and take pictures in places we often frequent.  Examples would be the place you stop for coffee, the grocery store, or the library.  Is it a little awkward to pull out your camera in a public place?  Yes, but those photos are some of my favorites to look at!  (I really like Alex's documentation of a visit to Aldi, for example).

On my list of things to improve...capturing more of these kinds of photos, not just of my kids, but of my husband too!

Do you take pictures to keep memories?  Or are you more like my sister who can remember everything without photos?





The Belly Has Dropped - 34 Weeks (Baby #5)



We've entered into the phase of pregnancy where I am an emotional mess.

The last couple weeks I have been sensitive and irritable and overwhelmed and crying about stupid things.  I can't decide if it's related to being tired, or hormones, but it's probably some combination of both.  I feel bad for my poor family, and I'm trying really hard to lower my expectations so that I don't get so easily overwhelmed - this would be a good thing now, while my hormones are a mess, and after baby, when my hormones will still be a mess!

I have crossed a couple more things off my baby to-do list, which is satisfying.  I've also added a couple things (like beating out our living room rug before winter).  I was hoping to get my hospital bag packed before my appointment this week, just in case, and I'm about halfway there...I have a bunch of stuff in a pile waiting to be packed.  That counts for something, right?



As far as baby goes, she is still moving like crazy, and she lets me rub her little feet through my skin now without trying to kick my fingers away.  She hiccups all the time, which makes me happy because it means her lungs are maturing.

Also, in major news - BABY GIRL HAS DROPPED!  This is always exciting to me, because it means my ribs hurt a little less, and it means baby is less likely to flip.  You probably can't tell very well in these pictures, but trust me, the belly is definitely lower.



My body seems to be getting ready for labor a little more - I have definitely had more Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last couple of days, and there were a few days last week where my hips hurt so badly from loosening up to get ready for delivery.  Thankfully the hip pain has subsided a bit, and I am generally feeling pretty comfortable.



Tomorrow is my 34 week appointment, and probably the last appointment I will bring my kids since they'll start checking my cervix at the next appointment (37 weeks).  I want to enjoy their little reactions for this last time they'll get to hear the baby's heartbeat.  They always are so interested to hear what she's up to in there, and every one of them seems happy and excited about the baby.  It's making me more excited to have her here, and to have our whole family together on the outside!

(I've been trying to get a picture with each of the kids during these little bi-weekly photo shoots.  This week was Clyde's turn!)




The Four Tendencies Review

(Affiliate link below.)

You get a bonus book review today!  As you all know, I've been on a personality kick lately, and one of the personality books I picked up was The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.  I haven't read anything else by her, but I've listened to a couple episodes of her podcast, and I heard her talking about this concept.  It seemed interesting, so I was excited to read the book!

In The Four Tendencies, Rubin presents a theory of how different people respond to expectations, both internal and external.  We have the Upholders (who respond well to internal and external expectations), Questioners (who resist external expectations only), Obligers (who resist internal expectations only), and Rebels (resist both external and internal expectations).  She argues that a person's "tendency" affects how they respond to everyday situations and interact with other people.  If you know other people's tendencies, you can present things in a way that will make sense to them and let them respond positively.  If you know your own tendency, you can implement strategies that will make it easier for you to form good habits.

I am a little skeptical about some of Rubin's claims (like tendencies being part of our personalities from birth - I don't know that there is a way to prove that), but the more I read of this book, the more her overall points made sense.  She covers each tendency in detail and gives examples of difficulties and strengths related to each tendency, how to relate to different tendencies, and how to improve your own life by working with your tendency instead of against it.

I learned that I'm an Obliger, and I'm pretty sure Derek is a Questioner - so we keep each other on the straight and narrow!  I kind of hate being an Obliger, as the tendency that has trouble saying no and can tend to run ragged and get resentful of all the external obligations that "must" be kept.  I had started to recognize this about myself even before I read this book, and it confirmed to me that for my tendency, it's a really good thing to be setting boundaries around my time and energy (as I've been trying to do this year), so I don't go into "obliger rebellion" as Rubin calls it.

Anyway, if you struggle with setting good habits, have conflicts with those in your life about what "should" be done, or just want to understand yourself and others a little better, this book was interesting!  This is a secular book, so not everything in it is something I'd condone or agree with, but overall I thought Rubin had some interesting things to say.  I'd recommend it for personality junkies for sure.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

A Book You Should Read (And Brief Thoughts On Gender Roles In Church)




How's that for a blog post title?

A few years ago, I discovered a podcast produced by Moody Radio called Up For Debate.  It's a podcast where Christians on different sides of certain issues come together and have a "debate".  It's about as friendly as a debate show can get, and though I usually pretty strongly agree with one guest over the other, it has been helpful to me to understand different arguments on "gray areas" within Christian circles.  The host, Julie Roys, always wraps up the debates by giving her opinion, and I've come to really appreciate hearing what she has to say.

So, I found out Roys had written a book, and I decided to pick it up recently.  This is one of those reviews that is going to be hard to write, because I am just not sure I have the words.  There is just so much in this book (in a good way).

(Affiliate link below.)

In Redeeming The Feminine Soul  God's Surprising Vision For Womanhood, Roys shares her own story in discovering more about biblical femininity, and more personally, how it applies to her own life.  Her story starts out with her struggle in not really understanding or accepting her feminine nature in some ways, and how that lead her into discouragement related to her spiritual gifts and dangerous relationships.  However, God lead her to read more about the unique ways that masculinity and femininity reflect the character of God, and her perspective began to change.  She eventually got to the place where she could see the true value in the feminine that she was missing before.

On the way she tackles so many issues, like gender roles in the church, misogyny (not what you think), gender identity, feminism...like I said, there is a lot in this book.  I have a bit of commentary on gender roles in the church below, but first let me say that I thought this book was very well-done.  Roys keeps a good balance as she discusses these issues, while also not wavering on biblical truth, which is a brave thing to do in this culture.  Overall, I thought her arguments were very well thought out and presented, and she supported so much of what she said biblically and also with research.

This book was not a light skim-over of these issues, she took a surprisingly deep dive in a short amount of pages, and I left with so much to think about. For example...

My (Very) Brief Thoughts On Gender Roles In Church 

At one point in this book, Roys shares her struggles in coming to terms with biblical gender roles within the church.  She shares her story of feeling called to preaching, but not being allowed to, and the internal conflict that caused her.  Eventually she comes to a complimentarian understanding of gender roles in Scripture (meaning God created men and women to fill different roles that complement each other), and how these roles (especially in marriage) are a symbol or reflection of the relationship between God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity - particularly how the Son (Jesus) submits to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to the Son and the Father.  Our relationships as men and women, our very genders and their accompanying biblical roles, are meant to be a reflection of those relationships in the Trinity, and that is how we should be framing the whole “submission” issue. 

I am pretty familiar with all that already, but the part I found interesting and that made me think was when she also applied this understanding of being a reflection of the Trinity to gender roles within the church.  She presents the concept that men's and women’s roles within marriage and the family are meant to reflect God’s character and relationship in the Trinity, and that the church also reflects that as well by reflecting the family (this is biblically backed up by the way Paul refers to himself as a spiritual "father" of different congregations, etc.).  

Here she argues that though the main leadership biblically should be reserved for men in order to maintain that very important symbolism, women can be allowed to preach and teach as spiritual “mothers” in the church as well, while submitting to the leadership of the spiritual “fathers”, so not having ultimate authority over men in the church. This is to be done from a position of mutual love and respect between the men and women in the church, while also acknowledging and honoring their respective biblical roles.  

I never really thought about it that way before.  I’m still mulling it over, though I will say that in general I think it is fine for women to speak in church occasionally, even to the men - I grew up in a (conservative) church which occasionally heard presentations from our female missionaries when they were visiting on a Sunday morning, and women in the congregation were welcome to contribute to the church service during prayer, testimony time, etc.  There was a pretty beautiful respect of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ there, and the older I get, the more blessed I think I am to have experienced church as I did growing up.  I am supposing that this kind of thing may not be allowed in some conservative churches, but since I grew up in that kind of environment, Roys's understanding of this makes sense to me.  I agree that these occasions don’t constitute women having “authority” over the men, so they don’t contradict 2 Timothy 2.  

The one thing I don’t agree with Roys on though is when she implies that she thinks it’s fine for women to be given the title of “pastor” under a head pastor - I think the very word “pastor” conveys authority, and would seem to put men in the church under the woman’s authority, muddying the gender roles again.  This was the one sticky area in the book where I wasn't always sure where Roys was going, but like the rest of the book I thought she did a pretty good job of staying balanced and seeking truth from God's word, even if I don't 100% agree with her application.

Back To The Book

So that probably gives you an idea of what I mean when I say that each chapter was a deep-dive into these issues...I really don't know how this book is not much longer.  

She does discuss "healing ministry" in this book as well, and I felt that might need a note because I think the term is confusing - from what I gather, when she refers to healing ministry, she's not talking about something hokey but about biblical counseling ministries to help people overcome wounds from their past, whether they be emotional, sexual, etc.  I get a little leery of putting too much emphasis on psychology, but the way she described the healing ministry from which she received counseling put me more at ease, which included Bible study/prayer, and personal application and discussion/counseling within groups.  I did feel the term could get confusing though, which is why I put this little explanation of my take here.

I really appreciated the chapters on our culture's misogyny (hatred of the feminine that is often perpetuated by women today), and the chapter on motherhood was so personally encouraging to me - I know I will be going back to read that one again.  I'm not saying this book won't step on your toes in some way, because it probably will, but if you are ready to think more deeply about these issues and God's original design for us as women, this book just gave me so much to think about.  And she explains everything so much better than I am doing here, so if something I said seems confusing, I'd just say check out the book yourself and tell me what you think! I definitely recommend it.

(Also, I can count this review as part of my memory-keeping 31 Day Challenge, right?  I shared a memory from my childhood church, after all!)

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.






"Mom Day"



When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally take us kids out individually.  We usually were just doing a little shopping, running some errands - occasionally we went somewhere fun together too.  We'd get ice cream, my mom would maybe buy us a little toy.

I didn't grow up in a big family - there were only three of us kids, but I really loved those "mom days", as we called them.  Even in a family of three kids, it was rare to get time with mom all by myself.  I loved having her full attention, without any competition.


And Just Like That, She's Two



My Dear Clarice,

What a year it has been, Darling!  Your first birthday party seems so long ago, but at the same time your second birthday snuck up on me.  You have grown so much in a year!  And now you are two.  As I type that I picture how you draw out the word "two" when we ask how old you are, how your lips form this cute little "o", and you cross your eyes a little as you look at your hand to hold up three or four fingers.  

You walked shortly after your first birthday last year, but you were content for months to just say your ten favorite words, including "daddy", "mama", and "bebe" - your name for that pink bear that GG got you for your first birthday.  I should probably note here that Bebe comes everywhere with us, and you really do consider it your baby.  You tuck it under blankets for naps, you've tried to feed it a bottle, and you cradle it in your arms and rock it.  I have to wash it every other week at least, and it will probably be falling apart soon.  I have no doubt my future includes many patches of Bebe.



You also went through this funny stage where you kissed everyone with Bebe, but my favorite right now is when I am about to leave to run errands by myself, and you run up with your arms in the air, and say "hug!" and "kess!", your little lips puckering.  I bend down to kiss you, you say "mwah!" with your little arms wrapped tightly around my neck and you lift your feet off the ground.  You're so light that it doesn't even hurt having you swing from my neck for a few seconds.

You've really started talking just in the last couple months, and now that you've started you try to say everything.  You are constantly copying what everyone says, and sometimes you'll jabber sentences and crack me up.  Even though you just started talking, you can really hold your own in a conversation.  You say the cutest things sometimes, and I need to remember to write them down more in your memory book.



The other day you were not feeling particularly well.  It was cold outside, but you were determined to follow your big siblings outside to get me some wood for the fireplace.  A minute or two later you were on the porch, the last three inches of your pants soaking wet, and you were crying.

I got you dried out, but you wouldn't really stop the crying; after getting your big siblings settled back inside and cleaning up the kitchen, I checked on you, scooped you up, and climbed onto Gwen's bed to sit with you and calm you down.  Less than five minutes later the crying was reduced to a few shuddering breaths, and you were fast asleep.  You had your little arm wrapped around me, and your head resting on my shoulder.

I wasn't about to move, Baby Girl, because you were an almost-two-year-old.  I know from experience that almost-two-year-olds don't fall asleep on their mama's shoulder very often anymore.  I held you and snuggled you for a good hour and a half while your siblings played in the next room.  Taking in you little eyelashes, and your perfect pink lips, and your wild curls, and your even breathing.  And I guess I'm writing that here, because I know it might have been the last time you will fall asleep on me like that.  We have so many exciting firsts ahead, and so many lasts too that will probably slip by unnoticed.  But I'm holding on to this one, this sweet memory in my heart of my baby, snuggled up next to me and breathing against my skin.  



Now on to the glorious two's, Darling!  I can't wait to see what your third year holds.  I love you more than I could ever say.

-Mama



The Value Of Memory-Keeping





There are a lot of things about being a mom that I didn't really anticipate before going into it.  That's not to say that I didn't have a proper appreciation for the role of mother, because I think I certainly did, but I don't think I understood just how many different jobs are encompassed within mothering.  I'm not just mom, I'm teacher, dinner-maker, hairstylist, tradition-keeper, snuggle-buddy, story narrator, Christmas-cookie-baker.

And one role, which I didn't consider the complete magnitude of, is that of memory-keeper.

Now that I'm a mom, I look back and remember the different ways my own mom helped to keep our memories.  I remember looking through baby photo albums of myself and my siblings.  I remember boxes of photos that she helped us organize into our own personal scrapbooks.  I remember sitting on the couch on a snowy day and watching a VHS tape full of family movies, and laughing hysterically with my siblings at all the same parts each time.  

In ways that a lot of people may not fully understand, this blog has been a major asset in my own family memory-keeping.  Would I have really written down my thoughts through all forty weeks of all five pregnancies without this space? Would I have recorded my babies' first years in such detail?  Would I remember what Derek and I got each other for our first Christmas as newlyweds?

I've written before about the ways blogging has changed over the years, and how I wish to have back those early days of carefree ramblings...and I think part of the reason I wish blogging hasn't changed so much is because those ramblings were actually memories.  The rambling was memory-keeping.  And there is a lot of value in that, even if it's not always pinnable.

I have never participated in 31 Days Of Writing, even though the challenge has gone around the blog world for years, but for some reason this year I had a real itch to join in.  Not the most likely year for me to feel that compulsion, is it?  For all I know, I may have a baby in October.  But last night, after wondering one last time if I should try this thing out, it came to me.  This October, I am going to attempt to write every day about memory-keeping.

I can't guarantee that every day of writing will make it onto this blog, because some of it may be done in a journal (and let's be honest, I probably won't be blogging on the weekend).  I can't guarantee that the pictures that go along with these posts will always make sense. Some posts may be practically useful, but many of them will just be small, some memory that stood out, something that my kids might enjoy reading someday, record-keeping (as in the case of my pregnancy and family updates, which will continue).  All things that are important to me, that I want to remember.

Because I'm a mom, and that makes me a memory-keeper (at least in my family, because none of the men in my family seem as concerned with memory-keeping as the women - just saying it like it is).  And I have to believe there is value in it, this memory-keeping, if only to the people in my life who matter to me the most.

Keeping our memories and telling our stories matters, because not only does it leave something of ourselves, as we are right now, behind for those we love; but it matters because it's not just our own stories we're telling.  When we have something to look back on, it's easier to see how our lives, and all the little details that comprise our lives, are really part of a grander story, one that God is weaving through our individual lives.  When I look back at old posts now, I'm reminded of His goodness, of how He worked through situations that I often wished would just go away, how He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  How He is working all things out for good in my life too, even when I can't see it.

So I hope you enjoy my month-long foray into old-fashioned memory-keeping blogging, or even better, that you might indulge in a little memory-keeping yourself.  It probably means more than you think.







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