Friday, August 31, 2007

Unappreciated homemaker

A couple of days ago, I received the following note by email, which I'm going (with permission) to share with you today, together with my reply:

"Hi Anna. After reading your last post about encouraging homemakers, I thought I'd email you. I have been married for about a year now, and while we haven't been blessed with children yet, I never run out of things to do at home. I enjoy my calling as wife and helpmeet, and find true satisfaction in creating a warm and cozy home. The problem: my husband doesn't appreciate my work. Normally I try to complete all the daily chores before he comes home and welcome him when I'm refreshed and relaxed. It seems as though he resents me 'not being properly tired'! Before we got married, he said many times how much he would love me to be a stay at home mom, but it seems he doesn't see a point in me being 'just' a stay at home wife. Recently he started pressuring me to find a job. I'm afraid of neglecting my home and our relationship, and also of getting used to having a second income and not being able to quit once we do have children. This is creating a lot of tension between us. What am I to do? Any suggestions will be appreciated.
- Carolyn"

Hi Carolyn! I'm not married yet, so it might be that I can't have a really thorough understanding of your situation (and that's why, if you don't mind, I will share this on my blog; hopefully we'll get some feedback from married ladies!). However, I understand very well your feeling of being under-appreciated. As you probably already know I'm a grown-up daughter who spends most of her time at home, and more than once, I had to face the question, 'so, what do you do?'

Usually I try not to get into lengthy discussions about the way I view my role as a woman; sometimes I answer tongue-in-cheek: 'What, you mean apart from organizing, cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, budgeting, scheduling, learning new skills, my crafts, and oh, I almost forgot, tending to the needs of my elderly grandmother?'

I also understand your point about being resented for not being 'properly tired'. In our crazy world, many people are overwhelmed and exhausted on the border of collapse, so much that it actually begins to seem normal. Isn't it ironic how it seems almost indecent to seem cheerful and peaceful at the end of the day? And even as someone who devotes herself to her family and home, there is the temptation of justifying our presence by being as hectic-paced as a woman who tries to balance career, marriage and home; otherwise, doesn't it mean we're not using our time well? Doesn't it mean we are lazy?

Well, no. And while I found out that, just like you said, I never run out of things to do at home, and could do them from morning till night, running around with my to-do list and crossing things off it, I think this would ruin much of the value and pleasure of good home life. After all, one of our major goals is creating a peaceful dwelling, right? So I think it's good and right that you try not to pile too much on yourself every single day, so that you can truly be there for your husband when he comes home. You have the energy to talk to him, hear about his day, cheer him up. This important part of your relationship would be in danger if you came from work, exhausted, and still with a zillion chores to do, instead of spending quality time together.

You could point this out to your husband, along with other reasons why you feel it's the best decision for you to remain at home. You could, together, go over the reasons why your husband wants you to be a stay-at-home mother, and see if any of them are still applicable while you don't have children yet. You want to take into consideration work-related expenses, too, which might eat away a larger part of your income than you imagine. And like you already said, you don't want to get used to a second income for funding additional, unnecessary expenses, which will make it much more difficult to come back home if and when you become a mother.

But ultimately, I think you should put your trust in God and follow your husband's authority in this area; if after you discuss it, he is still adamant about you finding a job outside the home, so be it. Maybe your work at home, which is not appreciated when it's quietly done while your husband is away, will be missed when you don't have as much time to invest in your home. More importantly, maybe your husband will miss the special time you had in the evenings, when he came from work to a pretty, clean home, a delicious home-made dinner, a cheerful, welcoming smile, and relaxed conversation.

… Married homemakers: your input will be very much appreciated, especially those of you who don't have children yet. Mothers: did you work outside the home before you had children? If you didn't, what was your reasoning? If you did, did you feel it takes a toll on your family life?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The clutter basket

You know what it's like, when you see clutter or things out of their place, but are in too much of a hurry to pick them up? It happens to me often, for example when I'm in the middle of another chore, and don't want to get distracted. But not long ago, I found and put to use this cute little basket, which now has become known as 'the clutter basket'. I take with me to the room I'm cleaning or organizing at the moment, and when I see a few stray objects scattered around, I simply toss them into the basket and later put them where they belong. It's a small one, so there's no possibility of keeping a huge pile of clutter in it; it needs to be emptied often!

Waiting to read about your methods of emergency clutter solutions!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What you do is important

This is a message of encouragement to all the ladies out there who chose to dedicate their lives to serving their dear families at home. This is for you, joyful wives, blessed mothers, devoted daughters.

In the course of your life as a keeper at home, maybe – no, probably – you will come across people, who will sneer at what you are doing, claiming it is insignificant. That you aren't creating anything worthwhile. That you could be doing something more important with your life. The really sly ones will even speak to the inner voice of your faith, claiming you could serve God better than being 'just' a helpmeet and homemaker. You will be told a better way of showing your love for God would be to go out and reach out to as many people as possible.

But what you are doing is important. In our world of super speed and super size, we become so wrapped up in the 'grand', glorious things, forgetting that life is not made of grandeur and glory, but of simple moments, of humble joys and sweet memories of the home and family, of relationships we treasure above anything on this earth, relationships that are a reflection of Godly love. This is real life. And it cannot happen without you. Married or not, mother to many or childless, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin or friend – by living a sweet and peaceful home life, contentedly, with a smile on your face, you are creating a legacy that will last much, much longer beyond your lifetime.

Some will say – and unfortunately, I received notes of such content on my blog - leave the work of homemaking and serving a family to the less talented, less capable women. And let the smarter ones go and do something 'important'. How insulting, and above all, how foolish it is not to ask ourselves the following question: who will take care of the family and home of those 'more capable' ones while they are out and about, doing something 'really worthwhile'? If we love and honor God, how can we neglect a family He blessed and entrusted us with? No one can love and care like a wife for her husband, a mother for her children, a daughter for her parents. Looking after the ones closest to us should be our first and foremost priority, not to be neglected to pursue any other activity, even if in itself it seems rooted in goodness and kindness. If it would tear you away from the ones who need you the most, it can't be right.

There are many talented doctors, attorneys and scientists. But there is only one you. And you only have one family and one life. By putting your heart, mind and soul into creating a sweet, beautiful, peaceful home for the ones you love the most, you are doing something valuable beyond measure. Some will tell you that what you are doing is not a worthy or even valid choice. Some will compare the destructive chaos in their own crazy lives and your sweet, safe little haven, and out of jealousy will try to rob you of your peace. Don't listen to them. Just go on and keep doing what you have always been doing, creating memories and building a joyful, blessed, incredibly rich life at home.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Busy hands

I'm finally able to share with you a project I just finished crocheting; as you probably already noticed, I'm a fan of wearing layers, as I think it adds both to cuteness and modesty. I've been working on it on and off for a while, so it took me a longer time than initially planned. It's still somewhat ruffled and needs a good steaming, but I just couldn't wait to share it with you!

For those who are interested, I used this simple pattern I found online:

As you probably noticed, I changed my blog name to 'Domestic Felicity'. I was doubtful about that at first, but it just kept haunting me. There's a sort of magic in those words, don't you think? I kept my old title as a description of what this blog is about.

This is my first day back to my usual routine, so as you can understand I've got my hands full. Things do tend to pile up during a vacation; I'm sure you all know what I mean! However, I'm busy in a happy, peaceful way; how wonderful it is to have an opportunity to be at home, and work quietly, steadily, without stress, rush and anxiety. I hope your day is as lovely as mine, flowing in a comfortable pace, with many sweet joys of everyday life.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The grey zone of indifference

As we grow, learn, discuss, and interact with other women, I think we must be cautious about two things. One is legalism and applying cookie-cutter standards and norms that have nothing to do with God, faith, morality and anything that matters on a global scale. An example of this is rejecting someone because he or she doesn't dress in exactly the same way you do. Here's a ridiculous but true illustration: I know women who feel they should always wear stockings, even during the summer, and won't let their daughters associate with girls who don't wear stockings (even if they are otherwise modest and good girls overall).

I'm convinced, however, that we should also beware of the other end of the scale: hyper-tolerance, up to the point when we are afraid to form and voice our opinions, in case they might hurt someone. When we seek God in something we need to decide, we must make sure our conviction is rooted in what He commands, and once we do, we can boldly stand up for it.

There are many areas in which ambivalence is acceptable ("I feel more comfortable while wearing stockings during the summer, but this is only my personal decision"). Some things, however, are not up to discussion. How can we say, "I would never have an abortion because I know it's wrong, but I feel I can't impose my morals on anyone"? If I believe abortion is murder, it's very plain and simple, and there's no room for any 'but', 'if' or 'maybe'. If I believe the best thing for a baby is to be raised by his mother at home, and not to be shipped off to daycare, how can you expect me to say something different the next moment? Because it might ruffle someone's feathers?

Please understand that I'm not saying this because I think we should be judgmental towards those who think differently. Even if we know for sure that someone is doing something wrong, it doesn't mean we should point an accusing finger and make them feel bad about themselves. My bottom line is that we shouldn't be afraid to have strong convictions. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a dangerous grey zone, where everything is allowed, nothing is right, nothing is wrong, and everyone are living their own 'genuine truth'.

I'm not saying there can't be different variations and solutions, for each unique family. We are all different, and as long as we fulfill our basic requirements and duties and God-given roles, there's an entire world for being creative and finding whatever fits us and our families better. The danger comes when we do the opposite: make a plan, and then try to tailor our faith accordingly, discarding anything that doesn't play along, and justifying it by saying that 'this is our own truth'.

The grey zone of indifference is dangerous in its subtle sneakiness. I know I don't want to go there.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Freedom to choose?

[Not for very young readers]

I'm subscribed to the Elliot Institute newsletter (to which you can subscribe on the website, and in the latest issue, I got something truly disturbing:

Special Report Exposes America's Forced Abortion Epidemic

'Springfield, IL -- The 2006 cases of a Maine couple charged with abducting their pregnant daughter in an attempt to force her to have an abortion and a Georgia woman accused of forcing her pregnant daughter to drink turpentine are just part of an epidemic of coerced and forced abortions in the U.S., a leading researcher says.

Elliot Institute Director Dr. David Reardon co-authored a Medical Science Monitor study of American and Russian women that found that 64 percent of American women who had abortions reported that they felt pressured to abort by others.'

'In many of the cases documented for our 'Forced Abortion in America' report, police and witnesses reported that acts of violence and murder took place after the woman refused to abort or because the attacker didn't want the pregnancy," he said. "Even if a woman isn't physically threatened, she often faces intense pressure, abandonment, lack of support, or emotional blackmail if she doesn't abort. While abortion is often described as a 'choice,' women who've been there tell a very different story.'

While I can't really be sure, I think extreme cases like abduction and forcing to drink turpentine are rare enough – and criminal. However, usually no one acknowledges or sets measures against much more common situations when a woman is coerced into having an abortion in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Irresponsible, commitment-fearing boyfriends who claim, 'I'm just not ready' and 'you simply can't force this on me'; parents and/or teachers saying, 'you must get rid of it for the sake of your future; doctors who detected abnormalities in the unborn child and offer only one way of treatment: elimination, without discussing other possible options; all of this is much more common than people think.

And when a woman gives in to pressure, she feels so guilty and so ashamed of herself that it's difficult to stand up and tell her story. The pro-abortion crowd will claim she doesn't have any right to whine and should just sit and be quiet and say thank-you for the 'liberation', 'freedom' and 'control over her body'; many in the pro-life movement, sadly, will demonize her, not allowing her to express her pain; and rationalists from both groups will say she only has her weakness of character to blame: she didn't have to give in to pressure, did she? Who cares if she was vulnerable, and weak, and her judgment was temporary impaired by shock and fear!

I would give a lot to see how saying, 'You will never see me again if you don't get rid of it', or 'We will kick you out of the house if you don't do what's best for everyone', becomes punishable like forcing someone to drink turpentine.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frugality as a way of life

When I talk about my plans for the future (I rarely do, but sometimes people will insist) and say my goal is to become a homemaker and make it my full-time career, the 'you can't make it on one income' argument inevitably springs up. To this, I usually reply with the numerous ways we have thought about that will help us save money: wise budgeting and planning. Carefully evaluating the things in our life and seeing what is necessity and what can be discarded.

Usually, people give up. 'OK, OK, I agree with you. It is possible to live on one income. But why would you want such a miserable life? And why do you want to deprive your kids of everything their friends have?'

Don't get me wrong. I don't see anything bad or immoral about liking nice things, wanting to be dressed in pretty and fashionable clothes or to go on vacation. The problem starts when we become enslaved to these things. When we become so wrapped up in them that we forget what's truly important.

I am proud to be a homemaker in training and I already think of countless ways I can invest in my home and make it a pretty and welcoming place; in my dreams, I see myself during busy mornings, cheerfully folding a load of laundry, making a menu plan or gardening; quiet afternoons, spent peacefully, mending clothes or doing crafts and reading a book to the little ones; evenings, when my husband comes from work to a sweet and welcoming haven, evenings that don't have to be spent in a frenzy, that can be dedicated to taking care of my husband and helping him unwind after a long day at work. This is my dream. This is my vision. If I have to make financial sacrifices to make it come true, I'm up to it!

What about children? Won't they feel deprived because their friends have more brand-name clothes and go on vacations more often? Since I'm not a mother yet, I can't know for sure. But here is my experience. As you know I was raised by a single mother who worked very hard to support our family. We only had her small income and had to make it somehow. At 22, what do you think I remember? That I didn't get expensive presents when I was 8 years old, or that Mom couldn't take a day off from work even on my birthday? That my room was small, or that I only saw my mother on weekends? Occasionally, I wished I could have more new toys or clothes. But this is not what made me miserable as a child, and indeed, it isn't what matters in the long run! No one asked my mother if this is what she wants. We made it, not without pain and frustration. But this is not what I'd choose for my children.

Frugality isn't about being miserable. It's about creativity and challenge. It's drawing the line between what you need, and what you can do without. It's homemade presents and costumes which made from altered old clothes. It's not signing up to a dozen afternoon activities, and instead having a blissful opportunity to explore freely and with curiosity. Playing outside. Climbing trees. Spending time at the local library. Drawing and writing, making stories, playing games… I loved doing all that as a kid, and I was never bored! Who said a child needs a big house and a heap of expensive electronic gadgets to be stimulated? Look at us. We have lots of things. Does it make us happy?

For more frugal inspiration, visit Crystal at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

8 random things meme

Ashley tagged me to write 8 random things about me, so here goes (some of you may already know them!):

1. I learned to read when I was 4 years old, and taught myself to write soon after that.

2. My favorite tasks to do around the house are laundry and ironing; the least favorite is washing dishes.

3. I'm a great cat lover and a proud cat owner.

4. I've been a vegetarian since I was 10.

5. My last real haircut was around that age too; since then, I've been only trimming my hair.

6. When I was 13, I started writing poetry.

7. If I have daughters, I plan to name one of them Magda, after my grandmother.

8. Once, I used to work as a cashier in a supermarket, and it taught me quite a lot about people's consuming habits.

I'm not going to tag anyone; instead, I just invite everyone to play. If you do, drop me a note so I can stop by your blog and check it out. I look forward to finding out more about you, dear blogging friends!

As you must have noticed, I added a poll to my sidebar, asking you ladies if there is any subject you would like to see discussed more often here on 'Anna's Musings'. Those of you who click the option 'other', are welcome to leave me a comment here and expand about it.
And one last blogging announcement: this week, I came across two new lovely blogs, written by such wonderful young ladies:

Bonnie's Bee Thoughts - by a 17-year-old homeschooled daughter, full of sweet and encouraging thoughts.

By His Grace and For His Glory - by Rebekah, 15 years old, a young lady who wishes to bring glory to God by whatever she does. Rebekah also recently joined our team on Mayden Fair, and I'm looking forward to her contributions!

More coherent thoughts are brewing in my head at this moment, and will be shared with you, hopefully, tomorrow. Thank you for all your wonderful, encouraging, touching, challenging and thought-provoking comments and emails. I love hearing from you, and wish you all a wonderful, beautiful day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Pill: why so little information?

A lot is said about possible dangers of the Pill, which makes perfect sense: it's hard to believe such a powerful hormonal manipulation, used for years and years by some women, has no long-term effects on their bodies.

But why is there so little serious research about the Pill, published in journals that really count for something in the medical world? Why aren't researchers taking up this issue, which touches the lives of so many women in the Western world? And what we do know – why is it dismissed? Why does it seem it's all hushed up? Of all the secular women I know, maybe 25% (my own rough estimate) have never been on the Pill. And how much do they know about the health risks? Very little. It's just so easy and convenient that they lightly take the word of their doctors, who say off-handedly, 'oh, it's nothing'.

Research is based on how funding is available, which makes sense – if we want research, somebody has to fund it, right? But who will do this? Medical companies? Surely not – as such a research might make them lose their profits and doesn't serve their interests. Public institutions won't do it either, because this topic isn't politically correct. Funding won't be given from grant givers. The research team would be labeled as chauvinists, and can only lose from taking such a topic.

As a matter of fact, I think powerful medical companies that care only about their profits and would do everything to stop a decent researcher from showing us all the facts. Bribe. Threats. Call me a paranoid, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out researchers are being paid for getting off this inconvenient topic.

I think it could be possible to do sufficient research to prove the Pill is dangerous and make it well-known, if there was enough public pressure. If people really wanted to know – but do they? Are people ready to stop sticking their heads in the sand, leave their comfort zone of easy birth control and find out about possible dangers? I seriously doubt it. It would mean changing the entire lifestyle of our generation, and possibly the attitude towards children and sacredness of human life. And this, I'm afraid, won't happen so easily.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Settling in: some pictures

We're finally settling in our new home; the worst mess is gone, and now we can really enjoy our new place. As promised, here are some pictures. Keep in mind that not everything is perfectly neat and tidy just yet. The walls are bare because we haven't gotten around hanging our decorations just yet. I will post some more pictures once we hang curtains and paintings - hopefully soon.

My room, with one cat sleeping on a Jane Austen novel:

And my crafts corner, occupying a good part of my desk:

Dining room:

Living room:

Well, it's small and modest, but still much bigger than our old apartment. And with some work, it can be turned into a very cozy place! It has lots of light and a pleasant breeze. I feel we are going to have many happy moments here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

God didn't keep His end of the bargain

When we pray with all our heart for something, and it just doesn't happen, what do we feel? An unmarried woman praying for a husband; a woman struggling with infertility and crying out to God; a family praying for the healing of a dear sweet child; what are they supposed to do, when they feel their prayers have been left unanswered?

I know several people in such situations; they turn to God, and from the sacred deeps of their hearts, they beg: 'Please, dear God. Just let it happen. My life is worthless if you won't make it happen'. And sometimes the childless are left childless, the unmarried walk the path of life alone despite all their efforts, and our loved ones leave us. I know people who have distanced themselves from God because they feel He hasn't been listening to them. 'I was faithful, I was a true believer, I prayed… but He didn't keep His end of the bargain!'

I believe that this attitude comes from perceiving God as someone who is inclined to punish us, someone harsh and merciless, rather than the kind, loving Father He is to all of us. Our souls are laid out in front of him like an open book. He didn't bring us into this world for a life of misery. He wants us to be happy, contented, industrious and productive.

Does it mean we will always get what we want? No.

There have been several times in my life when I wanted something badly, up to the point when I thought I can't live without it. Then my wish came true and… it made me miserable! Yes, that very thing I pursued with every beat of my heart. The thing I claimed I can't live without. How can it be? Obviously, not everything we want is right for us. I remember when I was little, I told my mother that 'when I grow up I will have lots of money and will spend it all on sweets'… well, now that more than a few years have passed, I've realized I'm probably never going to have a lot of money – which doesn't bother me the least bit – and I will certainly not waste it all on sweets!

Suppose I will become a mother someday, God willing. Imagine me, some years from now, walking down the street with my adorable daughter. In the window of a large shop, she notices a Bratz doll, and begs: 'oh, please, Mommy, can I have this doll? Pretty please!'; I take a good long look and see that the doll does not bring out the qualities I want to instill in my daughter for the years to come: modesty and a sweet, quiet, nurturing spirit of a future wife and mother. But how can I properly explain this to a 5-year-old? She begs and pleads and eventually throws a tantrum, and in the end turns her little tear-stricken face towards me, and screams: 'I hate you!'

How this breaks a mother's heart. And how God must feel when He knows our bitterness and resentment towards Him. We choose what's best for our children. Sometimes we can explain our actions. Sometimes we know they will not understand until they've grown up. This is when we ask them to trust our judgment. Trust. This is the key word.

Sometimes it's difficult beyond measure; sometimes we just can't accept it. How can this be good, we ask? How can this be right? But we must learn to trust Him. This is probably the most important thing we will ever do.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Little furball is growing

Wow, this little one is growing so fast! I can hardly believe now she was blind and completely helpless when I found her. She grew about twice bigger, and it seems she's moving all the time, which is why it's so difficult to take a good picture of her.

We don't have a name for her yet, though. Suggestions, anyone?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bring back the good home life

Do you know what sort of behavioral advice people get when they want to lose weight and develop healthier eating habits? Nothing extraordinary really: have regular meal times; eat calmly, without rush, sitting at a pretty table; enjoy your food and eat slowly, allowing your brain to register you have eaten.

All of these are things that come naturally when we have a good, ordered home life, when there is enough time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals, and the family sits down to eat together. And these are precisely the things that are missing in our over-rushed, ever-hurrying, impossibly stressful culture.

I remember how in our last semester we had to plan a menu for a woman who works 12 hours a day, doesn't cook, has a lunch break that only lasts ten minutes, doesn't eat breakfast, and most of her food is consumed late at night. So while we tried to find possible solutions (yogurt drinks, fiber-rich snacks, etc), the following thought struck me: how come no one asks why we live this type of life anyway, and what on earth is so important that we don't even allow ourselves the time to eat?

Obviously, there are no miracles. No sort of healthy eating pattern can be incorporated in a day when you don't have the time to sit down and eat, let alone prepare food.

We don't need starvation diets and magical pills to be healthy. All we need is a good home life, and good, regular, healthy meals which come with it; we need unhurried family time and a healthy amount of exercise; and we'll be just fine! In my grandmother's time, obesity and metabolic syndrome were much less prevalent, while people ate butter and cream and fried eggs without a second thought. Yet they were healthy. Because they ate in moderation, and because they didn't have to overstuff themselves with unhealthy take-out meals or frozen foods loaded with salt, sugars and MSG.

Now, not all homemade foods are necessarily healthful. But isn't it obvious that our general health and well-being – including our eating behavior – is suffering since family life has been damaged? Exhausted beyond measure in the end of our packed day, we slouch in front of the TV with some quick convenience food and eat, and eat, with our eyes glued to the screen. No wonder our brain doesn't register what we're consuming. Sometimes, frustrated beyond words, feeling we have no control over our life, we compensate ourselves with food.

We deserve better than this. Our families deserve better than this. Bring back good home life and healthy homemade meals, and give us a decent share of hard physical work, and I assure you, we will be so, so much better off.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Silly little women?

An unpublished comment (edited by me into a more civilized form):

"Aren't you afraid your husbands, at some point, will get tired of your dependence and lack of personal responsibility?"

Since it might not sound specific enough to understand, I'll add that this was received in reply to a post I published some time ago. It was called 'Yes, I want to be a housewife'.

Having said this, we can translate the question I started with. Obviously, 'dependence and lack of personal responsibility' means 'leaning on your husbands and trusting them to provide for the family needs'. The original question was worded in such an ugly way that I thought I should just delete it and forget about it, but after looking beyond rudeness, I realized this is something important enough to address.

So let's take a thorough look at the following: dependence and personal responsibility, which is intertwined with the forlorn and forgotten value of duty.

Let's begin with dependence. In our culture, this word has a negative meaning and is treated like some sort of disorder. Everyone is urged to get 'independence' from anyone and anything. Yet this is an illusion. If you think you're strong, free and independent, you're fooling yourself. We are all small and weak in front of our Creator. We all depend on Him, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or deny it. And truer, higher freedom can only come from opening your heart to Him and leaning on Him. In a similar way, a wife's relying on her husband, or a daughter's on her father, is not something restrictive and humiliating, but a source to true freedom and peace of heart.

And then we continue to the second point of this question. A godly man knows it is his God-given duty to provide for his family. Rather than feel this is an annoying load he wants to get off his back, a real man is built up by responsibility. When he knows his wife trusts him to lead, protect and provide for their family, it fills him with joy and pride. It makes him feel like a real man. And just so you don't think I'm living in some sort of fairy tale, allow me to add: yes, there are trials. Yes, there are hard days. Yes, sometimes we feel worn out and tired, and our men might feel tired too. This is precisely when we are measured for what we are. Do we take the easy way out, or do we continue doing what we should be doing?

Similarly, the wife has her own duties. Seeking her husband's counsel and allowing him to lead her does not make her in any way less responsible, mature and intelligent – just like it doesn't make us weaker when we pour our hearts out in prayer before God. She, too, has burdens on her shoulders. She must be a helpmeet and build up her man, in seasons of challenges as well as in easy periods of their life together; she must be available for her husband when he needs her, and take deep and sincere interest in his affairs at work; she must take care of the home and turn it into a sweet, welcoming place for her husband; if she has children, it is her duty to watch over their spiritual lives and their education. It all sounds like a beautiful vision, but this, too, can become tiresome after the tenth load of laundry and the hundredth dirty diaper of the week. And during rough moments, what keeps us going is not the pleasantness of what we must do right now, but knowing this is what we must do, and knowing why it is our duty.

Proverbs 31, a beautiful model for a virtuous woman to follow, doesn't describe some sort of whining weakling either. That woman is strong and valiant – but not what you'd call 'independent'.

We can't become independent, as much as we like to think that. We only choose what we want to depend on: God's ways, our husbands, and everything that will be meaningful for eternity; or superficial, worldly things: our paychecks, our boss, our material possessions, and self-gratification at any cost. Sadly, it seems our culture is leaning towards the second option. I, however, am opting for the first.

Earning money doesn't equal being responsible. If you have personal responsibility, you will not abandon your duties in favor of a glamorous and superficial lifestyle. Your husband's needs will not go unattended, your home will not be neglected and your children will know they have a mother who cares for them and is available for them during many sweet, long hours during the day, for studying and playing, learning and growing.

Again, since this is the real world, not all men are responsible, and some men, especially those 'educated' by the feminist movement, feel that leading, providing and taking care of their families is 'too much' for them. Therefore, we must be very careful about whom we choose to marry, and we must discuss our vision with our future husbands. But many men would be happy and delighted to finally have the opportunity to feel like real, strong men, empowered by their wives' confidence and trust.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blog awards

Recently, I have been granted two wonderful awards which I appreciate very much, and which left me humbled.

First, Jess at 'Making Home' nominated me for the 'Rockin' girl blogger' award, saying the following:

'... I particularly appreciate her forthrightness and her pursuit of being a woman of honor, desiring obedience towards God, even if that puts her in complete rebellion to cultural 'norms' or expectations!'

Jess, thank you so much for the Rockin' girl award, but even more for your sweet, kind words about my humble blog.

Then, I received the 'Nice Matters' award from Ashley at 'Ashley - Daughter of the King'.

'This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration.'

Thank you, Ashley! I will do my best to keep my blog deserving of the lovely award you gave me.

I guess I'm supposed to nominate other fellow bloggers for the awards, but those who know me a bit are probably guessing the usual conflict I have with that: too many lovely, truly wonderful blogs! I simply can't choose only five or seven people... I could write for hours and hours about all of your beautiful blogs, sweet ladies. You have been such a blessing to me!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Courtship for the fatherless generation: how to get on the right track?

Kelly, over at 'Families against Feminism', wrote a series of posts about courtship. Kelly's posts are always so interesting, and this subject touches my heart so deeply in particular, that I feel I simply must expand a bit about my experience.

What comes in your mind when you hear the word 'courtship'? Personally, I immediately think of a sweet, pure young woman, blushing in excitement as her loving and protective father is having a man-to-man conversation with her courtier, behind closed doors. Then the young ones spend some time together, under the supervision and guidance of their parents, and prayerfully decide to get married. They have the incredibly beautiful gift of timid, innocent romance, of their first kiss – on their wedding day. The bliss! The many blessings God showered on this young couple!

This is, in my opinion, how things should be. This is what I want for my sons and daughters, if I'm blessed with children. But I know very well – painfully well – that in this generation, not every young woman will have this gift. And to you, dear friends, I'm writing this right now.

You have suffered the consequences of our culture. Maybe, like me, you grew up without even knowing your father, without a proper example of a good, godly marriage, and without being taught anything about God's plan for relationships between men and women. Most likely you already had painful dating experience; maybe you suffered abuse and neglect, or had to face the Peter Pan syndrome of men who 'aren't ready for commitment' at 40. Maybe you even come from an abusive marriage, unsure you will ever be able to rebuild your life.

Fear not, and trust in Him. I don't know you, but I know your heart can be renewed, because nothing is impossible to our loving God. No matter how old you are and what you had in your past, it is always possible to make a renewed commitment to purity and start doing things like God intended them to be. Maybe you are overcome with shame and guilt, or doubt you deserve to be treated with respect. But like every woman, like every child of God, you are loveable and valuable, and so very precious.

I, too, am part of this generation: I grew up fatherless and unprotected, and experienced all the pain and heartbreak the 'normal' secular dating usually yields. My soul was trampled, I was abused physically, emotionally and sexually, and I felt disgusting, filthy, worthless, and broken beyond repair. I had the strength to break this cycle of violence, but back then I felt as though the best I could ever hope for was a life of singleness. I was so hurt I doubted I would ever be able to trust a man.

Then, as my wounds continued to heal, I found myself longing and yearning for a husband, for marriage; I wanted to build a godly family. But how would I do that, I asked myself? How can I expect men to treat me with respect now, after everything I have done? The message I got was that there was 'no point' to act like I'm chaste if I wasn't chaste from the beginning, and that protecting my purity is stupid, because ever since my first fall, there's essentially nothing to guard. And that, I tell you, is nonsense. Do not let anyone make you feel as though your repentance doesn't make a difference. It makes all the difference in the world.

I knew I'm facing a double challenge: the good guys, who are scarce anyway, might feel reluctant to tie their lives with someone who was impure in the past. But I decided I'm not going to hide anything; I'm simply going to set new standards of chaste behavior for myself, as I am now, and the men I meet will simply have to respect that – or walk away. I started dressing modestly and made it clear that 'the physical side' is out of bounds for me until marriage. Many rejected me because of my past. Others didn't. I was introduced to several men – good men, really – and it turned out we aren't right for each other. It was a little disappointing, but at the same time I felt a wonderful sense of protection: no one attempted to make indecent suggestions. Those who crossed boundaries immediately stepped back and apologized. I would never let anyone take advantage of me again. So wonderfully freeing!

It is never too late to commit wholeheartedly to keeping your body, mind, heart and soul pure. Even if you fell before, more than once, many times. If I did it, you can do it too! I'm not an especially determined or strong person; whatever strength I might have is sustained by Him alone, our amazing, kind, loving God.

And like a good father, He wants to talk to the man who is courting you. Just like you would say, 'now it's time for you to meet my Dad', and watch the results of such a conversation, bring your potential husband before God. Watch his relationship with God. He is your most loving, protective Father, and He wants the very best for His precious daughter. Lean onto Him and allow yourself to be led by Him, and the rewards and blessings will be more than you can ever imagine. No matter what happened in your past, your spirit can be again young and pure and spotless on your wedding day, when you give your sweet innocence to the holy union of marriage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A day here at home

After some thought, I decided it might be fun to share with you a simple, quiet day of my life at home. Sure, I could just write down my routine list from my home-management binder, but giving you a real-life peek seemed more interesting. So here are some pictures from yesterday's everyday activities.

* Morning: wake up, get dressed, make beds, quick breakfast and prayer. Then, time for morning chores:

- Dishes to be washed

- Laundry to be taken off the line and sorted neatly into drawers

- Polishing the furniture in our living room

Lunch: there are plenty of leftovers from yesterday, so I had time to make this wonderful fresh apple cake. Once it's in the oven – ironing. And I even had time to squeeze in some reading for my – hopefully – last exam between ironing and lunch.

After lunch and some cake, and cleaning up the kitchen mess, I figured there can be no better time for shining the bathroom sink, taps and mirrors. Then some minor chores called me: watering plants, fresh food and water for the cat, writing out a shopping list and some sweep-and-dust-as-I-go.

A couple more hours for reading about pathogens in foods, toxins and food preservation, and it's already evening. Time for a sweet, quiet hour – just me, my crafts, and some soothing classical music. I made progress on my knitting, crocheting and cross-stitch projects.

I also wanted to catch up on my Spanish studies, but it was already late, and I figured it's better to have some computer time now, and off to bed. Prayers before bedtime, and then sweet, early sleep.

… That was my day yesterday. Not strictly following a routine, not everything perfectly neat, and not everything accomplished on my to-do list, but a nice, peaceful, blessed day at home. If any of you want to share about your day, I'd be happy to read.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What is courtship?

A question from a reader:
'Anna, I don't really understand the difference between courtship and dating. Is it that courting couples are more committed to purity than dating couples? Or that courting couples seek the approval of their parents? Can you explain?'

I think this was an excellent question, and even though I already answered it briefly by email, I thought it would be good to give a detailed response here. Also check out this great post by Kelly.

The most important difference between widespread secular dating and what I perceive as courtship (I understand definitions might be different), is the following: courtship is marriage-oriented. Dating isn't. How do dating relationships usually begin? 'Oh, there's a cute guy/girl. I feel there's chemistry between us. Why don't we start hanging out together and then see how it goes?'

I think this attitude is defined by its awful lack of seriousness. Why do people invest time in choosing the right university, the right career, the right place to live in – but not in thinking when they want to get married and how they envision their future family life? Marriage is something that will make a much more serious impact on our lives. I rarely hear someone saying, 'this house looks nice, so I'll just buy it and then we see what happens!'

Courtship means remaining marriage-focused; in the process of courtship, we look at the man or woman we are seeing, and try to find out if this person could be the right one for us as a potential spouse. There can be attraction and affection, but we always keep in mind this is a serious decision, not to be based on impulses. You are choosing a mate not for a month or a year, but for a lifetime; and the children you will have together will influence the future of humankind. Whatever you decide now, it will matter for eternity.

The other things typically associated with courtship stem from this crucial difference between courtship and secular dating. If you are serious about marriage and view the person you are seeing as a future spouse, you will not want to compromise their purity, physical or emotional. If you decide it won't work for you, well, then this person is someone else's soul mate, and merits respect and honor anyway. Personally I feel that the physical side in courtship should be minimized as much as possible, to prevent light-headedness and reliance on chemistry rather than good judgment. I know it might sound awfully pragmatic, but just look at Hollywood-style romance based marriages. Do they work? Do they last?

Involvement of parents works similarly. If we're marriage-minded and we take our relationship seriously, it's wise to seek the counsel of our parents, who have much more life experience and can sometimes notice things that we don't see in moments of excitement and elation. If parents can't be helpful, a good option would be to have a mentor – an older, more experienced person who knows you well. And if this isn't possible either, just turn to God and pour your heart to Him (which you should do anyway!)

I wish you wise guidance and I hope you will find the right person, in God's perfect timing!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Middle name meme

Laura tagged me to do this fun little meme. The rules are simple: you must list one fact or trait that matters in your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had. So, here goes:

Celebrating beautiful femininity
Enjoying the small wonders of life
Loving all the precious ones around me
Esteeming family values
Naturally curious learner
Adventurous in a quiet way

I was also supposed to tag a person for each letter, but I'd rather just invite everyone who wants to participate! Let me know if you do this meme, so I can drop by your blog and check it out.

And to those of you who are wondering, no, Celena isn't my real middle name, but it's a name I love, so I thought, why not go for it?

... In between the busyness of getting things organized in our new home (it looks as though it will never end!), last exams and vacation plans, I still found the time to work on my knitting and crocheting projects. I hope that very soon, I can show you how it is progressing. And there are so many things on my mind lately, that I want to share with you. Hopefully tomorrow. Life is a whirl these days!

Wishing you all a lovely, wonderful day, dear ladies.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

12 years in public schools: part II

Here's something else Kelly mentioned in her series: being accused of 'sheltering her children too much'. So, let's ask ourselves: is throwing a child into a sinful, rebellious and ungodly environment in any way beneficial for the child's development, education and good sense of judgment? Again, allow me to share my personal experience.

In our school, having a close relationship with your parents and/or siblings was something to be ashamed of, and nobody wanted to admit that. By the time we were in the end of junior high, you'd be embarrassed to admit you've never had a boyfriend. By the end of highschool… yes, that's right! Only 2 girls in my class were virgins, and they were considered 'weirdos'. Some had abortions when they were 13. Some even more than once. The more I think about it, the more heartbreaking this is.

And wait, I didn't even get to the fun part: getting drunk and partying! I remember how once when I was in 7-th grade, a boy and a girl from my class were caught, drunk more than you can imagine, behind the classroom building. They… shared a whole bottle of vodka between the two of them! That's right. 13-year-old children. During school hours. When they were supposed to be in class. This is just incredible, isn't it? By the time I was in highschool, half of the students in my class tried drugs at least once. And even the 'good kids' frequented 'innocent' parties, which consisted of girls in flashy, immodest outfits, wearing too much makeup, mingling with boys, unsupervised, with lots of alcohol; music which today I would consider dangerous; and dancing the type of dances during which boys tried to touch every part of the girls' bodies they could reach. The 'dating' couples hid in shadowy corners for more intimacy, and the ones that 'went steady' locked themselves in the bathroom for hours and… I'll spare us the details!

Some argue and say that this is 'the real world', and therefore children must face it. Yes, sadly, in our culture this is often the prevalent situation. And our children should probably know it is. But here's what I disagree with: I don't think our children should 'face' it in the way of being thrown into an immoral and ungodly environment while their minds and souls are immature. I remember myself at 13. I was an intelligent young person, and even quite sensible for my age. But I don't see how a 13-year-old can be expected to have the judgment of his or her parents, a judgment that can only be developed after growing up, learning and maturing. Should we let children get their minds soaked with sinful and rebellious attitude? Should we let them make every possible mistake, thinking it will help them mature more quickly? I don't think so! If no one protects the hearts, souls and minds of children, if no one safely guides them until they can deal with the world without being immersed in sin, then hey, what are parents for?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Take out those knitting needles!

I was always fascinated by knitting, and Mom taught me how to knit a few years ago; but the problem is, so much time passes between projects that whenever I start something new, I feel as though I have to learn the basics all over again. I guess that's how it is with practical skills: use it or lose it!

Now I'm doing, again, a simple project which allows me to refresh my knitting skills. I started it a couple of days ago. I think it will be a scarf.

Nothing, in my opinion, can compare to the wonderfully cozy feeling of curling up in an armchair with a knitting, crocheting or cross-stitch project, and working on it peacefully while talking, laughing, or listening to good, relaxing music. I often listen to classical music while I work, or inspiring audio lessons. I try to have such a quiet hour, if possible, every day.

Your turn, ladies! Take out those knitting needles, and share your beautiful projects!

The second post about my public school experience isn't forgotten and will most likely appear tomorrow. Now I'm off to do some cleaning and laundry. Wishing you all the most lovely, wonderful day!

PS: Yesterday, I unpacked the last of our boxes. No more boxes, yay!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

12 years in public schools: part I

Kelly, over at 'Families against Feminism', wrote a series of great posts, in which she discussed the benefits of homeschooling, explained why she and her husband decided to homeschool their children, and gave answers to common objections made against the decision of parents to give home education to their children.

While I'm not a parent yet, I thought I would share my insight, as someone who spent 12 years in different public schools. Better do this now, when the memories are still more or less fresh!

I was always a top student, but you know what? The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it was all thanks to natural curiosity, love of learning, being a bookworm and kind encouragement from my mother. Almost all I know about history, geography, languages, literature and everything you can classify as 'general education', I learned on my own, from books, or with a private tutor who gave me a boost which propelled me towards being autodidactic. Sure, we were taught grammar and spelling in school. Do you think I remember any of the rules? Of course not! I learned it only thanks to Mother, who cultivated my passion for reading and writing. The only thing I didn't learn on my own was math. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I realize I was actually more homeschooled than public schooled!

When 25, 30 or more children are gathered in one classroom, confined to a strict schedule and supposed to do the same assignment at exactly the same time, do you know what inevitably happens? The weaker children are left behind, and the brighter ones are bored. Children become distracted and lose their concentration. This is not a wise use of time and energy.

Children flourish when they get lots of individual attention, especially the insecure ones, who carry the burden of feeling like a failure on their little shoulders – a feeling that is completely unjustified. I know it, because I've been tutoring children and teenagers for about 5 years now. I enjoy it tremendously and see the children make great progress. And I'll tell you something; this is not because I'm such a great teacher. I have no qualifications. But I focus on their needs, listen to their difficulties patiently, and show them they have my full attention. I praise them and do my best to make each one of them feel like a success. This is very hard to achieve even in a very good private school. Private schools can often solve our other concerns, for example regarding the moral content of what our children are exposed to, during classes and breaks. But nothing beats the loving and knowing attention of Mommy.

Teaching is a noble profession, but busy and irritated teachers can sometimes be so inattentive! I remember how once, as a little child, I completed a reading assignment in the first ten minutes of the class (we were supposed to be doing it during 30 minutes) and started drawing. I was so absorbed in my work I didn't hear the teacher snap at me. She complained to my mother and suggested that maybe I'm not qualified enough; and perhaps something was wrong with my mental development! I was taken to a psychologist who said I'm an 'extraordinary' child and very intelligent for my age, so no wonder I'm bored during classes.

I'm not sure how things will turn out if I'm blessed with children, like I hope, but here's what I think: even if our children aren't exclusively homeschooled, we can't leave their education in the hands of schools alone. And don't think you can't teach your children because you're less qualified than a professional teacher! As their mother (grandmother, aunt, big sister, family friend…), you know them much better, and have such a wonderful opportunity to appeal to their individual strengths, encourage them and praise them!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Changes in me - the gift of growing

A blog reader, Stacy, emailed me and asked me about how I became a believer and embraced Biblical womanhood. I pondered, thinking about my story, and said that maybe I will take the time to write about it. What prompted me to do that was that on the very same day, I read a similar question in a letter from my dear cousin and friend, Maggie. Both Stacy and Maggie also asked about the reaction of my family. That must be it, I thought! Time to sit down and put those memories and impressions into writing.

What you will read now is definitely not the whole story, but hopefully, it will give you some insight into what my life used to be, what it is now, and what I hope and pray it will become. Some of it was already shared in a post I wrote a couple of months ago, 'Reclaiming the Gift of Chastity' (not for very young readers!).

I should begin by saying I was raised in a secular family (Maggie, if you are reading this, you can skip this part because you already know it, of course!). My mother - unmarried and struggling with raising a child on her own - wanted the best for me, and had no idea how broken my soul would be after being educated according to the norms of this fallen world. As a teenager, no one told me anything against immodesty, flirting, dating, partying and other things that are regarded as normal in our culture. It was not until my late teens, after several dating 'relationships' and in the middle of the worst of them, abused, neglected, mistreated, and taken advantage of, I realized how wounded I am, and how my life can't go on like this anymore, and I also started realizing, bit by bit, what was the core of my problems: being away from God. Not giving my heart to Him. Not following His plan.

I didn't know how to make the change, how to find the strength and the right path, and sometimes I felt it was impossible, as my sins weighed like such a heavy burden on my shoulders. Therefore, realizing it's wrong, I continued my destructive behavior for a while, in great pain and confuse, at the same time crying out to God. I got rid of my abusive relationship, but was still miles and miles away from being on the right track.

I would like to take you back now to one evening during that painful period. It was a friend's birthday party, and after my fourth beer, I dropped down, nearly unconscious, in a bar's bathroom. Humiliated, helpless, scared, I sat on the cold floor and cried. I wanted to get out. I wanted to go home. I'm telling you about this horrendous experience so that you understand how low I fell, and how difficult it was to get back up.

I don't remember how I got home that night. But when I got up next morning, my head buzzing with hangover, blurry images of the previous night flashing through my brain, I crawled out of bed and washed my face and told myself it was the last time I allow something like this to happen. Never again. I want to do what God wants me to do, I want to follow His plan, as a young woman in the beginning of her journey of adult life, and I want to be a lady. I sat down in front of my computer, and absent-mindedly, still immersed in thought, my fingers typed in Google the following words: 'how do I become a lady?'

Can you guess which site I came across? That's right! Ladies against Feminism. With a mixture of fascination and disbelief, I started reading, first the new articles, then the archives, and couldn't stop for a long time.

Needless to say, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt this is the model of femininity I have been looking for in my heart, during all those long and painful months. It felt like home. Heavily influenced by feminism, I never dared to articulate the thoughts LAF authors worded so boldly, but they sounded familiar, reflecting my heart's deepest desires. On the other hand, there were things I read with an expression of incredulity on my face: 'I'd love to do this, but how can it work? Can I ever really become a keeper at home? And what's all this talk on the father's authority? I don't have a father, so how do I fit into this picture?'

However, once it became obvious to me I know what I want, and more importantly, what God expects me to do, I realized most of my objections were rooted in many years of being spoon-fed feminism, Marxism, socialism and atheism in the system of public education. I had my vision clear, not only about modesty and being ladylike – even thought this is something I'm passionate about – but about my entire view on womanhood, how I see my life, today as a daughter and hopefully, as a future wife and mother.

Since that day, I never set foot in a pub or bar again, and never drank alcohol to the point of losing control or even lightheadedness. I'm very careful about my relationships with the opposite sex, the only acceptable venue of which, in my opinion, is courtship with the purpose of marriage. I'm engaged to a man who respects and treasures my renewed commitment to purity, chastity and modesty, and preparing, in God's time, to become a virtuous wife. And most importantly, I surrendered myself to Him, in everything I do, and find my happiness in Him alone.

As time passes by, I'm more and more filled with gratitude, for everything, and even for the suffering, as I know it was what brought me closer to Him, when nothing else would. It also helped me become a more compassionate, understanding, forgiving person. Had I not felt such intense and deep pain and remorse, I might have been awfully judgmental.

Seeing the change in me, and realizing how much happier I am, my mother still thinks I'm off my rocker. I don't have 'the same social life' anymore (praise God!), I rejected dating, I gave up on grand career plans, I wear only long skirts and dresses and I'm not ashamed to admit my biggest dream is to become a wife, helpmeet, homemaker and mother to many children. Many think I've lost my marbles, so to speak, but I don't care, because I know I put my fate in God's hands and let Him guide me through the wishes, desires, doubts, fears, sorrows and joys that overflow my heart – today and every day, until my last breath.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Joyful Home

'Come in, my friend, come in and meet
My joyful home, forever sweet;

I sweep the floors and make the beds,
And would do nothing else instead;

I hang the wash outside to dry,
Drink in the beauty of the sky,

And while the wash is on the line,
Behold, my friend, it's time to dine;

I set the table; what a treat!
A cake is baking while we eat,

And when at last our tea time ends,
It's time for watering the plants.

... I'm told I could do so much more
If I just walked outside this door,

But nothing in the whole wide world
Could give what home forever holds.

The sunset's gold and purple, look!
The chores are done and supper cooked,

This dough is for tomorrow's bread,
The children soon will be in bed -

Time for today's last kiss from Mom;
Tomorrow's very soon to come:

To laugh and learn, to work and play,
To spend another peaceful day,

To make this home a treasured nest,
A place to love, a place to rest.'

Monday, August 6, 2007

Grieving with them: thoughts about mothers who lost their children to abortion

[Not for very young readers]

When we hear about a woman who had an abortion, it's very tempting to jump up, point an accusing finger and say: 'What a monster! How could she kill her own baby?!'

Not so fast, though. According to the book I am reading now, 'Making Abortion Rare', 70% of the women who have abortions think abortion is morally wrong. Am I saying it justifies them? No. But it can give us a hint about how a woman that 'decides' to have an abortion really feels: trapped. Scared. Guilty. This is how my mother probably felt when she was pregnant with me. Had she been younger, had it been easier for 'well-wishers' to influence her, I wouldn't be writing this right now.

Here are some thoughts that are possibly running through these women's heads, as they are waiting for their turn at the abortion clinic:
'I wish I could have this baby. Oh, how I wish I could have this baby. But I have no choice. Jack says he's not ready for this responsibility yet, he's threatening to leave me if I don't do this, and there's no way I can raise this baby on my own.'
'OK… this is my final year in college… I can't risk getting kicked out right now! I'm doing what's best for everyone… and I can always have another baby later, right? But then why do I feel so awful? Why am I so scared?'
'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. My parents are going to kick me out of the house if I refuse. Goodbye, my precious one. Please forgive me.'

By accusing these women when they talk about what they had been through and guilting them into silence ("You're in pain now? Serves you right! It was your own fault"), instead of grieving with them and acknowledging their loss – yes, they were responsible for it, but it doesn't make their dead child any less of a loss - we are basically making them stop talking about their feelings, deny them, and harden their hearts. We make them justify what they did. And then what are we causing? We are putting these women in an even higher risk group for abortion.

Did you know that a woman who had an abortion is much more likely to have another one? This is one of the reasons. If their pain isn't legitimate, they can't go through the process of mourning and step up to a higher level of understanding their emotions. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of death, sorrow, anger, guilt and fear. They are hurting. They are in desperate need of God's forgiveness, and they need our help, support, prayers, and fellowship, to get to the point when they can accept it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

More updates on our new home

I'm happy to tell you we're settling in our new home, and have almost all our stuff unpacked now. There are still a couple of minor fixes to do and it's still messy (that's why I didn't take any pictures yet), but I can already see in my mind how lovely it will be once we've put that finishing, homely, cosy touch on everything!

For those of you who have been wondering, my cat is adjusting well, too. On our first morning there, I woke up and saw the windows open - and no cat! After reading your advice about how we shouldn't let her out until she gets used to the new place, can you imagine how I felt? I thought she was gone! Fortunately, I found her later (after many tears and desperate searching), hiding between the boxes, and coaxed her out of there with her favorite food. Now she is curiously exploring every corner of our new home, and in between she naps in her usual place on the couch.

My computer is having a problem: for some reason, Windows gives me a message it doesn't recognize my usual profile, and logs me in (after a terribly long time) with a temporary profile. Does anyone know what this might be? I appreciate any advice! So if I'm a bit late in uploading new posts or publishing your comments, you'll know why.

I hope you are all having a wonderful, peaceful, blessed day. I can't wait to share more thoughts, musings, ideas and impressions with you!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Stressful living - part 2

After finishing my previous post about college, I realized I want to expand a bit on what I briefly mentioned in the last paragraph of my post. I repeat: I am not against education. You'll never hear me say something like that. I'm against what usually comes in one package with college education: young people in an immoral, ungodly, unsafe, extremely stressful environment, accumulating debt; young women, away from the protection of their parents, under a million of dangerous influences, brainwashed with feminism, careerism, Marxism and atheism.

When we try to examine a certain method of education, be it college, professional courses, or any other thing, we should ask ourselves the following question: how well does it prepare us for the role we want to dedicate our lives too (this goes, of course, for men as well as women). If we dream, as young women, about marriage and family, about starting a good life with a good man as our husband and having lots of children, how fitting would it be for us to spend long years in a pushy, overstressed, career-centered course of studies, being told in every way that our dream is inferior, impractical, unworthy, and should be put off for as long as possible?

And even if a girl isn't told this directly, is she being subtly swayed? Is she preparing to become a wife, and how seriously? Do her studies leave time and space to practice homemaking skills and domestic responsibilities, or is it all about 'fun' and escaping her parents' authority? I lived at home during my college years, which I think was great, but I still had very little time left for anything but my studies. Of course, my degree included cooking classes, menu planning, food safety, and of course lots of medicine and nutrition, which are important for a future homemaker.

Some may argue that a girl never really knows for sure she will be a wife and mother until she actually becomes one. Neither do we know how soon it will happen. This is true. We have dreams, but God might have other plans for us as He weaves the beautiful tapestry of our lives. Maybe I dream of getting married young and becoming a mother to many lovely children, but God's plan is that I will struggle with long years of infertility and then become an adoptive parent. Some will never get married. We can't say which is 'better', because we are all unique. But on a large scale, most women will become wives and mothers. Should we go through our years as unmarried daughters unprepared for this important work? That would be impractical and unwise, if I may say so.

And if a woman never marries, are those homemaking skills lost? No, of course not! A single woman can use those abilities in countless ways, to take care of her own family, to extend her fellowship to others, and live a life of truly beautiful femininity.

While reforming the system is a long, hard process which might take many years to start, we can seek creative solutions even today. There are options for getting a degree online (though I must say I would welcome more variety here); or we can just think out of the box and do creative learning. Many of us are autodidactic anyway and learn better on our own.
As I'm unpacking my things now, and putting in place my Spanish notebooks, Finnish grammar books, history books, craft journals and fine classic Russian literature, I realized I owe my good education not to public school (more on this in future posts) and not to college (which gave me some practical skills but no general education), but only to my mother, who cultivated my love for learning and encouraged me to read any good book I could lay my hands on.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Some more about college: stressful living

One of the most difficult experiences of my college years was the enormous load of stress and pressure I felt almost all the time. Mrs. Lydia Sherman, from 'Homeliving Helper', referred to this in one of her recent posts:

"…they are told it is inferior to marry and be at home, and are instead convinced they must be shut away into college dorms that make cattle and sheep pens look roomy, and forced to study in a distracting and stressful atmosphere. The piles of assignments heaped on them make it impossible for them to love life and enjoy beauty. Such a load can only be borne a certain period of time before they finally break down, either mentally or physically."

Mrs. Sherman merits a huge 'thank-you' from me and from all young women who were made to think they are weak, whining creatures that can't 'handle pressure'. I didn't dare to complain when I often had to spend from 12 to 16 hours away from home, daily. I felt like a failure when I didn't feel the inclination, ability or desire to enter the cycle of overwhelming competitiveness, rush, ambitions and career plans my fellow students were immersed in.

What we didn't stop to ask at that time, and what I would like to ask now, is why are we supposed to handle so much pressure? What good does it do? Our study course took 3 years, while the load escalated each year, up to a point when right now, I await the results of my exams with trepidation. It would have been busy enough even if we did 4 years and not 3, and there was such an option, but we were discouraged to do that. We needed to complete our degree, fast. Enter the workforce, fast. Or start a higher degree right away. The important thing was not to allow breaks in our career! It couldn't wait! Even stopping to think about it was an incredible challenge for me, and I must tell you I'm glad I did.

"College and career can wait: marriage and homemaking cannot", says Mrs. Sherman. I agree, and would like to add: marriage and homemaking are our careers. As for college… well, if you've read some of my previous posts about my college years, you know I don't think it was all bad. I did learn valuable things, but I think it was more despite, than thanks to the teaching methods. I'm sorry, but cramming my short-term memory with facts, spitting it all out during an exam, then forgetting all about it isn't exactly what I consider effective learning. Maybe it works for some. It didn't work for me and for many others. Yes, I handled it. Yes, my grades were generally good. But what about knowledge? All the time, I had a feeling I'm stuck inside a huge industry that cares only about one thing: stuffing my head with theories, hauling me towards an exam, then allowing me to forget everything I learned. This doesn't happen when I learn at home, on my own. This is an important lesson I learned: I'm mostly autodidactic, and I learn much better without stress applied. This is not something to be ashamed of.

I remember long weeks and months, passed in a whirl, without having the opportunity to 'love life and enjoy beauty', like Mrs. Sherman said. This is what our culture proclaims these days. Do more. Faster. Now. Otherwise, you are ineffective and worthless. How foolish! How on earth is this supposed to make us happy, enhance our spiritual lives and contribute to our preparation as future – God willing! - wives and mothers?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against education, and I'm not against the very idea of going to college. What troubles me is how it is done, and the consequences it bears for young women. Like Mrs. Sherman, 'I am just saying that the system of education either needs reform, or we need to seek alternatives.'

Following a request from Mrs. Sherman, here is also the link to my first post about my years in college.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wikipedia Meme

PandaBean tagged me to do this fun little meme. Normally I don't do memes because it usually means answering a lot of questions and I'm just too lazy for that *smile*. But this one was easy: I only had to enter my birth date (July 17) into Wikipedia, and got a list of interesting facts that happened on that date.

3 events:

1453 - Hundred Years' War: Battle of Castillon - The French under Jean Bureau utterly defeat the English under the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is killed in the battle in Gascony

1762 - Catherine II becomes tzar of Russia upon the accidental murder of Peter III of Russia.

1897 - Klondike gold rush begins when first successful prospectors arrive in Seattle, Washington.

2 births:

1939 - Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran

1947 - Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

1 holiday:

Kyoto, Japan - Gion Matsuri.

This was fun. I have never even heard about the Gion Matsuri holiday. I tag anyone who wants to play! Just make a search in Wikipedia about your birth date (day and month), and share with us 3 events, 2 births and one holiday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Finding balance during years of singleness

Every unmarried woman is probably familiar with the following sayings:
'Find contentedness right where you are';
'Bloom where you are planted';
'Everything in His timing, according to His plan';
'Make good use of your years as a single';

I agree with all of the above! We should find happiness and be content in our single years; some will get married at 18 and be happy; some will get married at 35 and be happy. A few of us will never get married at all. Whatever plan is reserved for you – and you can never really know for sure before you're married - your life doesn't start at the moment you become a Mrs. Our time is too precious to be spent pining away for a husband and feeling inferior because we're still single at 25 (or 30, or 35…).

Our years as single women should be a productive time, a season during which we perfect our homemaking skills and prepare for our future role as wives and mothers (the majority of us will have families, someday). It is also a time when we can be more active in our community and participate in projects we might be too busy for when we finally embark on the journey of married life.

Now I'm about to say something that might sound a bit controversial: I think we shouldn't become too busy as singles, either. We might have our hands so full with the many activities we committed to, and have our next few years planned out so carefully, that we actually can't make room for the right man if he comes along unexpectedly! Notice that I'm not saying 'the first man who comes along'. But if you meet a decent man and say, 'I'd marry him after college' or 'after I'm done with this and that…' - well, I think it's quite risky: what if the opportunities you have later won't be as numerous as you thought? Here's what I think: if you're serious about marriage, keep focus and make room for marriage in your life!

Another thing we should be cautious about, I think, is being too perfectly happy as singles. How does that work with finding contentedness in each season of our lives? I think the message we should be sending isn't 'I'm quite happy as I am right now, thank you very much, and I don't need anything else', but rather, 'I'm happy, but I feel ready to move on to the next stage, and I'm eagerly anticipating it.'

What I've noticed from conversations with friends is that young women today are actually embarrassed to admit they want to get married! Some have the feministic ideas too deeply ingrained, and some are afraid to sound desperate and discontented if they tell that more than anything, they want to find a decent man and settle down. So they make it seem as though they aren't even interested in meeting men right now – which might just draw their Prince Charming away.

I don't think there's anything wrong in being a bit more active, either. I know many women who met their husbands through networking of friends and relatives: they let others know they are interested in meeting a man with the purpose of courtship and marriage, and were introduced to suitable bachelors. In a gentle, respectful and feminine way, they prayerfully sent off the following message: 'I'm ready to become a wife now; I'm looking for a good man to start a family with.'