family life, just for fun, Uncategorized

More mom stuff.

Yesterday, a sweet friend of mine who is a mother of all boys shared this video with me:

We laughed, and she “envied” me, although I assured her that a house running over with estrogen is not without challenges. My man? He loves having all daughters. They go over, above and beyond to show their love and appreciation for him in ways that he and his brothers were never really inclined once they grew into manhood. His mother wanted a daughter, but never got one. We get what we get.

It’s all relative, so I’ve learned to count the blessings.

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el's rabbit trails, family life, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

The Tough Get Going

We are approaching the two year anniversary of the day my dad went home to be with the Lord.  I dreamed of him last night and woke up reminded of these thoughts I wrote not long after we lost him.

From April 2016:

I am struck with how tough my father was, and he raised his kids to be the same. Daddy was all about working the problem rather than rehashing it and you could hardly work a problem if you were overly emotional about it.

About 12 years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now, older black men and prostate cancer is such a common occurrence that if you have any kind of knowledge about it, you know early detection equals a survival rate of over 90%. My father knew this, and the last thing he wanted was to create a panic. So he kept mum about it to everyone except his wife…and me (which includes my husband by default), until it was nearly over.

When he called me he said that he figured at least one of his kids needed to know what was up. I was the only one who could both handle it without panicking, and manage to obey him by not telling any of my other siblings until we were near the tail end of the thing. Daddy didn’t like being fussed over and he certainly didn’t want to be constantly surrounded by others’ fears or harangued for updates.

He also loathed the idea of being watched in a vigil-like manner. He was a strong man and he could handle whatever life threw at him, thankyouverymuch. His wife said it was male pride. He considered it an inherent requirement of real manhood. So we went quietly through what turned out to be a short lived ordeal from which he recovered fully before returning to his active and busy life.

My father spent one very uneventful week, medically speaking, in the hospital before he passed. It was in retrospect, also a very eventful week, one in which we experienced the full range of who he was and what he was all about, in concentrated form. As we looked back on individual conversations we had with him, it was as if he had some clue about what was ahead.

Anyway, one of those evenings a lot of us were in his hospital room. That was often the case that week, but on this day it wasn’t just family. His pastor, two deacons from his church, and a young family from his church (husband, wife and 2 kids) had joined us to keep him company. When the pastor broke up the conversations and suggested we all pray, Daddy spoke up:

“I always welcome prayer but.. I’m looking around here and I hope this ain’t some kind of vigil. I don’t like vigils, and I don’t need one. I feel fine, just need some rest and some things checked out.”

One of the men made it clear, “Nah, Deac. This ain’t no vigil. It’s a party“, to much laughter.

My dad never saw the point of crying over spilled milk or tough times (“it rains on the just and the unjust”), and he kept his emotional cards close to the vest except on very rare occasions. Those occasions were usually a very big deal. However, he understood that human beings feel, and that’s a part of life too. He knew how to offer comfort when it was needed.

The first time I vividly recall my father telling me he loved me, I was a teenager. My maternal grandfather had just died and he knew how hard we were taking it. Grandpa was the funniest, most generous, straight talking man you’d ever meet. Always, but especially on the weekends after he had a couple. His grandchildren thought the world of him, and it was a difficult loss.

It was one of those times when my father knew instinctively that his girls especially would benefit from the comfort of his arms and his words as well as his actions. It was a stretch because my father wholeheartedly believed that a person tells you how they feel about you by the way they treat you, and he took good care of his kids. We knew, all 9 of us, that he loved us.

That day though, he needed to do more so he did. In the aftermath it was business and usual; stiff upper lip and all that. It’s the way he bred us to be. I have had quite a journey on the road to being more vulnerable, with my husband’s help. It’s been a good lesson, one that has helped me be a better wife.

Nevertheless, one of the things I am ever so grateful to my father for is an understanding of how truly small most things are in the grand scheme. How rare we encounter things which are truly worth losing sleep over.

I hope that the tears I still shed for him after two years qualify as a very, very big thing.

 

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Reading through a biased lens.

My vastly different view (from an accomplished and much better educated person whom I admire) on the marriage between the fictional characters of M. and Madame Loisel caused me to examine the biases I bring to the literature I read. It didn’t change my mind at all about this story, but I hope I remember to read future such stories with a more open mind.

El's Reading Room...

It occurs to me, although I certainly intuitively knew it before today, that when we approach any piece of literature, our experience and interpretation of that literary work is highly influenced by our pasts, politics, and personal psychology.

However, when someone else’s experience of a piece of literature is so far removed from mine that I am incredulous that we even read the same piece, it gets my attention. This happened to me quite recently and although my initial conclusions about the story in question didn’t change, I appreciated the opportunity to hear another point of view.

Fortunately, the story I am referring to can be read in as little as 20 minutes, so if any one reading here is interested in the context for what follows should click over and read Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace.

As I read this story, what happens in my mind is what often…

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The Selfishness of Others

Since this book spent a lot of ink on relations between the sexes (and the manosphere in particular), I figured this book review is worth reblogging here.

El's Reading Room...

fear of narcisissmThe Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism, by Kristin Dombek. Published in 2016. 160 pages.

I found this bizarre little book at the library and read it in an evening. I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, and am still slightly unsure what the overarching message of this “Essay on the Fear of Narcissism” was supposed to be. There were a lot of interesting insights, and the author’s concern that the Internet has turned far too many people into armchair psychiatrists diagnosing everyone who ever hurt them with a personality disorder rings very true.

Dombek convincingly makes the case that far too often, it is all too easy for people to transform their pain, a universal human condition, into blame with the right keywords and a few choice clicks. Suddenly their all too normal friends, lovers and parents are possessed with Narcissistic…

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from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

You might be a Patriarch if…

This is from 2013. I got collaborative points from other ladies before I posted it, so it wasn’t just my thoughts.

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You might be a patriarch if:

  • You cultivate the True faith and pass it on to your progeny
  • You have a sense of honor and are prepared to protect the honor of your family.
  • People are glad to see you… if they’re doing what they ought to be doing.
  • And they dread seeing you… if they’re not doing what they ought to be doing.
  • You’re having sex with a beautiful woman, but without the regret that comes with playing PUA.
  • The aforementioned beautiful woman -your wife- makes you your favorite foods, on a regular basis.
  • She also isn’t engaged in a battle for authority with you but submits, and enjoys it more often than not
  • She actually cares what you think and wants to please you.
  • Your wife and children seek to improve themselves out of respect and appreciation for you
  • Your headship cultivates a character of obedience (holiness), not merely performance (fear)
  • You lead with resolve and refuse to give way to fear and capitulation rather than doing what’s right
  • Other men look to you for advice on everything from career dilemmas to marriage troubles
  • People outside of your family look to you for leadership and guidance
  • You find yourself leading whether you chose to or not
  • Your wife frets if she isn’t going to have dinner on the table at the right time
  • You don’t have to beg your wife to sleep with you
  • You have a reputation for being sensible, dignified, and sound in speech
  • You do what’s right because it’s right

When we call for a return to patriarchal marriage and culture, we often fail to paint a picture of what that looks like, leaving the door open for wild and ridiculous interpretations.

I based most of this list on my husband and father, two men who have enjoyed long marriages with women who are still enamored with them and children who, while not perfect, respect and honor them. I don’t know if that qualifies me as any kind authority, but I suppose it qualifies me as something.

This is just my interpretation of what a godly patriarch looks like.

It’s 2017, and you know what they say about opinions and noses, but I stand by this one. It’s one of the few I can’t think of any reason why I should mention my evolution, nuances or caveats. Is this offensive, LOL?

from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

What Love Is…and What It Isn’t.

From 2012. I’m just about done with these little blasts from the past. I hope they were appreciated.

This is another installment in the periodic series, “Let Her Ask Her Husband…”

I thought it might be interesting to get my husband’s official, on the record take of what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Indeed it was interesting, so much so that we had two interviews instead of the one I initially planned to use to present in this space. Because I feel so strongly the burden to present my husband’s position clearly, I will simply offer his words without translation from me.

Our conversation began during a rare moment of privacy we shared without the distraction of children, music, or phones ringing.  As we rode in the car I told him I needed his help with a post I wanted to write and asked, “What do you think is required for a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church?”

It is rare after nearly 2 decades for one spouse not to have a fairly accurate read on what the other thinks when major issues are discussed. At least, it is rare when they developed the intimacy required to be happily married after such a long stretch. As a result, I knew going in what the answer to the question would be. Nevertheless, the conversation that ensued was a great blessing to us both. He began:

“The most important thing a husband needs to remember about the passage is that Christ loved us by giving us what we needed: redemption from sin. We would have been perfectly happy to keep on enjoying the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of the world. But He knew we were doomed if He didn’t help us. So He took no thought for our feelings, and did what we needed.”

Right out of the starting blocks, he zeroed in on doing what needs to be done for the recipient of the love rather than focusing on their feelings.  And yes, I saw this coming. Leaders lead rather than pander, and my husband is a leader. For the purpose at hand, I continued with yet another question I knew the answer to. “So”, I asked, “Are you saying you never have to take my feelings into consideration”?

“Is that a trick question? When it comes to loving you in the truest sense of the word, no. Your feelings don’t get to run the show. Being the head of this family is an honor, but also a huge responsibility. It could even be considered a burden. I have to do what’s best for all of us at the expense not only of your feelings, but my feelings, too. Sometimes love hurts.”

Because my man is awesome in ways I cannot begin to describe here, and honest as well, he acknowledged that it would be wrong to pretend as if my feelings mean nothing because after all, he is a human being with feelings as well.  So, where do feelings enter the equation?

“I don’t want to see you miserable or unhappy. It makes me feel good to know that you care about what I think and make every effort to be the wife I need you to be. So yeah, when it doesn’t conflict with the overall vision, I do things to make you feel good. You’re much better at doing what I tell you to do when you like me, so I won’t ignore your feelings. I have feelings. But that’s not love. That’s emotion. It has its place in marriage and I feel for those couples without that connection, but it’s not what real love is all about. Love is action and loving you means holding you to account. And if you love me you’ll keep my commandments.”

My takeaway from all of this is that I am very blessed to have a husband who is strong enough to lead me well and smart enough to appreciate what I need as a woman. Now that’s love.

cultural absurdity, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

The “Christian” heritage of first wave feminism.

Posted in 2011, brought back to memory by a dialog with Robyn over at The Reading Room.

I thought we might shed a bit of light on the so-called first wave of feminists, whom Christian feminists (is that an oxymoron?) often hold up as God-fearing, Bible believing women who simply wanted to end female oppression. Whether or not these women had legitimate arguments on one or two points is not something I want to debate, though I will if the reader insists.

Aside from being anti-abortion, however, the philosophy of most of these women was very similar to that of the more “radical” feminists of the 1960′s, whom most all Christians agree have done a great deal of damage to family life, and by extension to society at large. Allow me to introduce to those who may not know, a few members of the first wave.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), who refused to allow the word “obey’ to be a part of her marriage vows:

“The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.”

“The Bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition of bondage, maternity a period of suffering and anguish, and in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man’s bounty for all her material wants, and for all the information she might desire…. Here is the Bible position of woman briefly summed up.”-

Introduction to The Women’s Bible, which Stanton authored.

Those are just two of the quotes I found from Mrs. Stanton, never mind that the second is total misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches. She is recorded as having felt like a caged bird bound to the domestic drudgery of her home.

Lucy Stone (1818-1893), first American woman recorded to have kept her own name after marrying. In fact, she was very much in step with today’s thinking, as she was 37  and well educated before she tied the knot. She was arrested for refusing to pay property taxes when she wasn’t allowed to vote. I actually agree with her in principle on that one. My problem is that we are often told that  no women were allowed to own property before these women fought the good fight on our behalf.

Susan  B. Anthony(1820-1906). I have a bit more regard for her since she was at least never married and therefore never had a family to treat as a stumbling block to all she might be without them. Still, the view of  the white woman  as being oppressed on the level of the African slave is something that I will never be able to agree to. A couple of quotes from Ms. Anthony, as I’m sure she would be called today:

“I beg you to speak of Woman as you do of the Negro, speak of her as a human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a half of the people in whose hands lies the destiny of this Nation.”

“I do not consider divorce an evil by any means. It is just as much a refuge for women married to brutal men as Canada was to the slaves of brutal masters.”

(I do not believe women should be subject to a husband’s brutality either, but how many divorces can honestly be blamed on that?)

“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”-

I, too, wonder what Ms. Anthony would think if she could see today’s empowered woman.

Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927), the first woman to run for president in 1872. Married 3 times, and a fierce proponent of the idea of “free love”, she is quoted as saying:

“To woman, by nature, belongs the right of sexual determination. When the instinct is aroused in her, then and then only should commerce follow. When woman rises from sexual slavery to sexual freedom, into the ownership and control of her sexual organs, and man is obliged to respect this freedom, then will this instinct become pure and holy; then will woman be raised from the iniquity and morbidness in which she now wallows for existence, and the intensity and glory of her creative functions be increased a hundred-fold …”

So much for the oh-so-holy first wave of feminists.

Common sense, cultural absurdity, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

Treasures Hidden Away from This Generation

This post was originally posted in 2012. It’s still one of my favorites.

multigenerational

In this corner of the ‘net people lament that the baby boomer generation sped up the rate of cultural decline in America. Bloggers and commenters alike express skepticism when I extol the wisdom of those who have gone before. The objections initially left me incredulous as I was raised to respect the experience and knowledge of those who have gone where I have yet to tread. The more I observe however, I see why young people are growing wary of advice from today’s emerging elders.

I recently had the occasion to speak at length with a woman whom I’ve only exchanged pleasantries with in passing. She’s in her 60s. For reasons I still cannot fathom, she proceeded to share with me that she thought her life might have been better if she’d left her late husband, who’d died within the past year.  She said that when she was a young woman, divorce was less accepted, so she did what was expected and stayed. He drank, he cursed, he worked all the time, and he wasn’t as nice to her as she deserved.

We lived across the street from this couple for 8 years before the man died. He seemed pleasant enough. We never heard shouting or saw her look unhappy or abused in any way. No cop cars frequenting the residence to break up fights. I think he even won “yard of the month” once. Still, she felt like she’d deserved more from marriage. She also thought her son-in-law was less than her daughter deserved, even though she admitted that he treats her daughter well.

I tried to be an encouragement while being respectful as I don’t feel it’s appropriate to offer unsolicited advice to an elderly woman. I told her that her daughter was fortunate to have a husband who treats her well. However, I came away with a profound sense of sadness on behalf of the generation of men and women coming after me. There really is a dearth of godly, elderly wisdom because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk from an older woman.

One of the things you encounter online quite regularly are blogs authored by young people (male and female alike), that purport to offer profound knowledge to readers based on their years of accumulated wisdom. This is not limited to the Internet.  I have been lambasted and accused of being prideful when I have expressed reservations in the face of wisdom offered by those who have far less experience in life, marriage, or parenthood than I have. If I suggest that women a little younger might be wise to consider that women a bit older and more experienced may have something to offer, the response is tepid at best.

I’m beginning to understand their reluctance even as I cling to the belief that there is much to be gained from those who are nearer to the ends of their lives than to the beginning. There is still a remnant of godly older women who can teach the younger. Thankfully there are also some young wives and mothers making the effort to live out godly principles in their lives and families. This gives me hope.

I also recognize that there are young people who have experienced trial and pain far beyond what their youth would indicate. I was one of those people when I was younger, but I can also attest that the years have offered a sense of perspective that I simply did not possess 20 years ago. There is a reason the Bible reminds us:

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:32

“Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.” Job 12:12

While the modern lack of regard for the wisdom and experiences of those who have gone before wasn’t cultivated in a vacuum and is not without merit,  it hasn’t always been this way.  I was blessed to glean wisdom and direction that has helped me in my years as a wife, mother, and Christian from godly older people who went before me and shared their wisdom with me. However, every single one of them is over the age of 80. My aunt, 81. My uncle, 90. My father, 80. The most instrumental of all is my grandmother-in-law, 87.

What did these godly, grace-filled older people instill into me? The principles of duty, selflessness, modesty, and delayed gratification. They taught me that no one owes me anything, but that I owe every person I meet the courtesy of respect and treating them the way I want to be treated. My grandmother-in-law, who mentored me like Titus 2 admonishes in every way, taught me to be a woman and a wife indeed; not because I feel the warm fuzzies for my husband every day, but because it’s what I vowed to do.

She shared many practical homemaking things with me but mostly exemplified contented, dignified womanhood. She never hid the struggles that came with her 50+ years of marriage. She also never hinted even once, that she ever considered throwing in the towel. Despite the suggestions of many, she has never cut her waist length hair. Her husband loved her hair and that increased her attachment to it despite his being gone over two decades.

After the chat  with my neighbor it occurred to me how often I have heard other women around her age, baby boomers, with a very different philosophy of life and marriage than the one I received from my aunt, grandmother-in-law, father, and uncle. How often I’ve heard these women encourage us to be ball-busting, take no prisoner types. To essentially be like a man in a skirt, because putting your faith in a man is a bad idea. Refuse to settle for anything less than your bliss. Discard anything and anyone that gives you more than a limited amount of discomfort. Don’t set yourself up for a life filled with regrets for what you could have done and didn’t.

Now I know why young people who are looking for something deeper than fun times and material comfort keep coming up empty. I also see why young people who have no more wisdom than can fit into a thimble think they have life figured out. It’s because more and more of our elders are failing us by teaching us that the way we feel should take precedence over everything. The ones among us who have something of worth to impart have been locked away in the nearest assisted living institution, age-segregated where there are no young people to guide and instruct in common sense and timeless godly wisdom.

I feel profoundly blessed to have been born in time to benefit from the lives of those born before and during the Depression. And that they were still around to guide me. I feel for the younger people who are stuck with the “wisdom” of the ME generation, masquerading as profundity. I can’t stress enough how much you can gain from seeking out older, godly people to get some sense of what life is really all about.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing how much we don’t know is probably a close second.

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Gender Inequality at the Local Bookstore.

A Reading Room post worthy of cross-posting.

El's Reading Room...

I was recently in Barnes and Noble to pick up a paperback copy of the book our 11-year-old needs for her literature class this upcoming semester. As I was looking for the title another book, on the subject of black women in American history, caught my attention. I was less than impressed with the some on list of names presented as worthy of emulation and consideration, but as I put it back on the shelf, the sign above the books caught my attention:

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As I turned around to leave, I ran across another table of books. Included on those shelves was this title:

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And a second volume:

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Above another shelf of books was this sign:

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By this point I was thorougly ntrigued and totally distracted from the purpose of my original foray into the young people’s book section. I spent the next 15 minutes carefully combing the children’s and young…

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