Keeper of the Springs by Dr. Peter Marshall

The late Dr. Peter Marshall was the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1946-1948 when he suddenly passed away. This was originally a story he told. It’s sobering to realize how far away we have moved from these values in America. The consequences are all around us.

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springsOnce upon a time, a certain town grew up at the foot of a mountain range. It was sheltered in the lee of the protecting heights, so that the wind that shuddered at the doors and flung handfuls of sleet against the window panes was a wind whose fury was spent. High up in the hills, a strange and quiet forest dweller took it upon himself to be the Keeper of the Springs. He patrolled the hills and wherever he found a spring, he cleaned its brown pool of silt and fallen leaves, of mud and mold and took away from the spring all foreign matter, so that the water which bubbled up through the sand ran down clean and cold and pure. It leaped sparkling over rocks and dropped joyously in crystal cascades until, swollen by other streams, it became a river of life to the busy town. Millwheels were whirled by its rush. Gardens were refreshed by its waters. Fountains threw it like diamonds into the air. Swans sailed on its limpid surface, and children laughed as they played on its banks in the sunshine.

But the City Council was a group of hard-headed, hard-boiled businessmen. They scanned the civic budget and found in it the salary of a Keeper of the Springs. Said the Keeper of the Purse: “Why should we pay this romance ranger? We never see him; he is not necessary to our town’s work life. If we build a reservoir just above the town, we can dispense with his services and save his salary.” Therefore, the City Council voted to dispense with the unnecessary cost of a Keeper of the Springs, and to build a cement reservoir.

So the Keeper of the Springs no longer visited the brown pools but watched from the heights while they built the reservoir. When it was finished, it soon filled up with water, to be sure, but the water did not seem to be the same. It did not seem to be as clean, and a green scum soon befouled its stagnant surface. There were constant troubles with the delicate machinery of the mills, for it was often clogged with slime, and the swans found another home above the town. At last, an epidemic raged, and the clammy, yellow fingers of sickness reached into every home in every street and lane.

The City Council met again. Sorrowfully, it faced the city’s plight, and frankly it acknowledged the mistake of the dismissal of the Keeper of the Springs. They sought him out of his hermit hut high in the hills, and begged him to return to his former joyous labor. Gladly he agreed, and began once more to make his rounds. It was not long until pure water came lilting down under tunnels of ferns and mosses and to sparkle in the cleansed reservoir. Millwheels turned again as of old. Stenches disappeared. Sickness waned and convalescent children playing in the sun laughed again because the swans had come back.

Do not think me fanciful, too imaginiative or too extravagant in my language when I say that I think of women, and particularly of our mothers, as Keepers of the Springs. The phrase, while poetic, is true and descriptive. We feel its warmth…its softening influence…and however forgetful we have been…however much we have taken for granted life’s precious gifts, we are conscious of wistful memories that surge out of the past–the sweet, tender, poignant fragrances of love. Nothing that has been said, nothing that could be said, or that ever will be said, would be eloquent enough, expressive enough, or adequate to make articulate that peculiar emotion we feel to our mothers. So I shall make my tribute a plea for Keepers of the Springs, who will be faithful to their tasks.

There never has been a time when there was a greater need for Keepers of the Springs, or when there were more polluted springs to be cleansed. If the home fails, the country is doomed. The breakdown of homelife and influence will mark the breakdown of the nation. If the Keepers of the Springs desert their posts or are unfaithful to their responsibilities, the future outlook of this country is black, indeed. This generation needs Keepers of the Springs who will be courageous enough to cleanse the springs that have been polluted. It is not an easy task–nor is it a popular one, but it must be done for the sake of the children, and the young women of today must do it.

The emancipation of womanhood began with Christianity, and it ends with Christianity. It had its beginning one night nineteen hundred years ago when there came to a woman named Mary a vision and a message from heaven. She saw the rifted clouds of glory and the hidden battlements of heaven. She heard an angelic annunciation of the almost incredible news that she, of all the women on earth…of all the Marys in history…was to be the only one who should ever wear entwined the red rose of maternity and the white rose of virginity. It was told her–and all Keepers of the Springs know how such messages come–that she should be the mother of the Savior of the world.

It was nineteen hundred years ago “when Jesus Himself a baby deigned to be and bathed in baby tears His deity”…and on that night, when that tiny Child lay in the straw of Bethlehem, began the emancipation of womanhood.

When He grew up and began to teach the way of life, He ushered woman into a new place in human relations. He accorded her a new dignity and crowned her with a new glory, so that wherever the Christian evangel has gone for nineteen centuries, the daughters of Mary have been respected, revered, remembered, and loved, f or men have recognized that womanhood is a sacred and a noble thing, that women are of finer clay…are more in touch with the angels of God and have the noblest function that life affords. Wherever Christianity has spread, for nineteen hundred years men have bowed and adored.

It remained for the twentieth century, in the name of progress, in the name of tolerance, in the name of broadmindedness, in the name of freedom, to pull her down from her throne and try to make her like a man.

She wanted equality. For nineteen hundred years she had not been equal–she had been superior. But now, they said, she wanted equality, and in order to obtain it, she had to step down. And so it is, that in the name of broadminded tolerance, a man’s vices have now become a woman’s.

Twentieth-century tolerance has won for woman the right to become intoxicated, the right to have an alcoholic breath, the right to smoke, to work like a man to act like a man–for is she not man’s equal? Today they call it “progress”…but tomorrow,oh, you Keepers of the Springs, they must be made to see that it is not progress.

No nation has ever made any progress in a downward direction. No people ever became great by lowering their standards. No people ever became good by adopting a looser morality. It is not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was. It is not progress when purity is not as sweet. It is not progress when womanhood has lost its fragrance. Whatever else it is, it is not progress!

We need Keepers of the Springs who will realize that what is socially correct may not be morally right. Our country needs today women who will lead us back to an old-fashioned morality, to an old fashioned decency, to an old fashioned purity and sweetness for the sake of the next generation, if for no other reason.

This generation has seen an entirely new type of womanhood emerge from the bewildering confusion of ourtime. We have in the United States today a higher standard of living than in any other country, or at any other time in the world’s history. We have more automobiles, more picture shows, more telephones, more money, more swing bands, more radios, more television sets, more nightclubs, more crime, and more divorce than any other nation in the world. Modern mothers want their children to enjoy the advantages of this new day. They want them, if possible, to have a college diploma to hang on their bedroom wall, and what many of them regard as equally important–a bid to a fraternity or a sorority. They are desperately anxious that their daughters will be popular, although the price of this popularity may not be considered until it is too late. In short, they want their children to succeed, but the usual definition of success, in keeping with the trend of our day, is largely materialistic.

The result of all this is that the modern child is brought up in a decent, cultured, comfortable, but thoroughly irreligious home. All around us, living in the very shadow of our large churches and beautiful cathedrals, children are growing up without a particle of religious training or influence. The parents of such children have usually completely given up the search for religious moorings. At first, they probably had some sort of vague idealism as to what their children should be taught. They recall something of the religious instruction received when they were children, and they feel that something like that ought to be passed on to the children today, but they can’t do it, because the simple truth is that they have nothing to give. Our modern broadmindedness has taken religious education out of the day schools. Our modern way of living and our modern irreligion have taken it out of the homes.

There remains only one place where it may be obtained, and that is in the Sunday School, but it is no longer fashionable to attend Sunday School. The result is that there is very little religious education, and parents who lack it themselves are not able to give it to their children–so it is a case of “the blind leading the blind,” and both children and parents will almost invariably end up in the ditch of uncertainty and irreligion.

As you think of your own mother, remembering her with love and gratitude–in wishful yearning, or lonely longing, I am quite sure that the memories that warm and soften your heart are not at all like the memories the children of today will have… For you are, no doubt, remembering the smell of fresh starch in your mother’s apron or the smell of a newly ironed blouse, the smell of newly baked bread, the fragrance of the violets she had pinned on her breast. It would be such a pity if all that one could remember would be the aroma of toasted tobacco or nicotine and the odor of beer on the breath!

The challenge of the twentieth-century motherhood is as old as motherhood itself. Although the average American mother has advantages that pioneer women never knew–material advantages: education, culture, advances made by science and medicine; although the modern mother knows a great deal more about sterilization, diets, health, calories, germs, drugs, medicines and vitamins, than her mother did, there is one subject about which she does not know as much–and that is God.

The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challenge–that of being a godly woman. The very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other kind of women–beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career woman, talented women, divorced women, but so seldom do we hear of a godly woman–or of a godly man either, for that matter.

I believe women come nearer fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realm of morals to be old-fashioned than to be ultramodern. The world has enough women who know how to hold their cocktails, who have lost all their illusions and their faith. The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need woman, and men, too, who would rather be morally right that socially correct.

Let us not fool ourselves–without Christianity, without Christian education, without the principles of Christ inculcated into young life, we are simply rearing pagans. Physically, they will be perfect. Intellectually, they will be brilliant. But spiritually, they will be pagan. Let us not fool ourselves. The school is making no attempt to teach the principles of Christ. The Church alone cannot do it. They can never be taught to a child unless the mother herself knows them and practices them every day.

If you have no prayer life yourself, it is rather a useless gesture to make your child say his prayers every night. If you never enter a church it is rather futile to send your child to Sunday school. If you make a practice of telling social lies, it will be difficult to teach your child to be truthful. If you say cutting things about your neighbors and about fellow members in the church, it will be hard for your child to learn the meaning of kindness.

The twentieth-century challenge to motherhood–when it is all boiled down–is that mothers will have an experience of God…a reality which they can pass on to their children. For the newest of the sciences is beginning to realize, after a study of the teachings of Christ from the standpoint of psychology, that only as human beings discover and follow these inexorable spiritual laws will they find the happiness and contentment which we all seek.

A minister tells of going to a hospital to visit a mother whose first child had been born. She was a distinctly modern girl. Her home was about average for young married people. “When I came into the room she was propped up in bed writing. ‘Come in,’ she said, smiling. ‘I’m in the midst of housecleaning, and I want your help.’ I had never heard of a woman housecleaning while in a hospital bed. Her smile was contagious–she seemed to have found a new and jolly idea. “‘I’ve had a wonderful chance to think here,’ she began, ‘and it may help me to get things straightened out in my mind if I can talk to you.’ She put down her pencil and pad, and folded her hands. Then she took a long breath and started: ‘Ever since I was a little girl, I hated any sort of restraint. I always wanted to be free. When I finished high school, I took a business course and got a job–not because I needed the money–but because I wanted to be on my own. Before Joe and I were married, we used to say that we would not be slaves to each other. And after we married, our apartment became headquarters for a crowd just like us. We weren’t really bad–but we did just what we pleased.’ She stopped for a minute and smiled ruefully. ‘God didn’t mean much to us–we ignored Him. None of us wanted children–or we thought we didn’t. And when I knew I was going to have a baby, I was afraid.’ She stopped again and looked puzzled. ‘Isn’t it funny, the things you used to think? She had almost forgotten I was there–she was speaking to the old girl she had been before her great adventure. Then remembering me suddenly–she went on: ‘Where was I? Oh, yes, well, things are different now. I’m not free any more and I don’t want to be. And the first thing I must do is to clean house.’ Here she picked up the sheet of paper lying on the counterpane. ‘That’s my housecleaning list. You see, when I take Betty home from the hospital with me–our apartment will be her home–not just mine and Joe’s. And it isn’t fit for her now. Certain things will have to go–for Betty’s sake. And I’ve got to houseclean my heart and mind. I’m not just myself–I’m Betty’s mother. And that means I need God. I can’t do my job without Him. Won’t you pray for Betty and me and Joe, and for our new home?’ And I saw in her all the mothers of today–mothers in tiny apartments and on lonely farms…Mothers in great houses and in suburban cottages, who are meeting the age-old challenge–‘ that of bringing up their children to the love and knowledge of God.’ And I seemed to see our Savior–with His arms full of children of far-away Judea–saying to that mother and to all mothers–the old invitation so much needed in these times: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.'”

I believe that this generation of young people has courage enough to face the challenging future. I believe that their idealism is not dead. I believe that they have the same bravery and the same devotion to the things worthwhile that their grandmothers had. I have every confidence that they are anxious to preserve the best of our heritage, and God knows if we lose it here in this country, it is forever gone. I believe that the women of today will not be unmindful of their responsibilities; that is why I have dared to speak so honestly. Keepers of the Springs, we salute you!

Our Father, remove from us the sophistication of our age and the skepticism that has come, like frost, to blight our faith and to make it weak. We pray for a return of that simple faith, that old fashioned trust in God, that made strong and great the homes of our ancestors who built this good land and who in building left us our heritage. In the strong name of Jesus, our Lord, we make this prayer, Amen.

Peter Marshall was the U.S. Senate Chaplain from 1946-48 during the presidency of Harry Truman, and died in 1949. He was born in Scotland and was known for his passionate preaching and deep conviction, as well as his picturesque speech

For Mother’s Day

cassattEvery mom knows that feeling of exhaustion in caring for your children, but somehow,  love propels you upward. When you have a child, suddenly the world is no longer about how you feel or what you want. The well-being of a child/children becomes the motivating force in your life. For me, it was the best thing that ever happened.

The bond between mother and child is formed not only in those joyful moments of play and affection, but in hospital rooms and sick rooms, in moments of sadness and sorrow and fear. Nobody’s touch can equal that of a loving mother. Just her presence is a world of comfort.

It is a mysterious thing how a mother and child are intertwined by love. Even the slightest change of expression on a mother’s face or a child’s face is read very quickly in a close relationship, because you know your child’s face, and your child knows your face better than anyone in the world.

To be in charge of another life and soul is a sobering responsibility. You literally create the child’s world. They will know what you teach them, and they will see the world as you interpret it to them, both verbally and non-verbally. Their emotional and spiritual and physical foundations are in your hands to build.

But the truth is, our best intentions go awry. It’s an impossible task to do perfectly, because we are imperfect human beings. Our children are not perfect either. That’s why I can’t imagine doing the job without God’s help. As parents we need to be forgiven much and we often have to forgive much ourselves in our children. Because some won’t receive our love. Some want their own way, at least for a time. But if God has forgiven us, on what legitimate basis can we fail to forgive our own children?

I am thankful I have been able to be a mother, having learned a great deal from my own loving mother,  and I salute all the dedicated mothers out there who love their children. It’s a noble calling, and a crucial calling when we look around us and look into the future which we directly influence by either our success or failure in our job.

Happy Mother’s Day, 2014. God bless all of you.

 

A Conversation with Emmy

“I have a little shadow…” begins a well-known children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Mothers of young children will very much get this post.

Emmy is my shadow, day and night. Without siblings to talk with during the school day, outside of preschool friends twice a week, I am the only conversational option. If you’ve never been shadowed by a preschooler you have missed quite a conversational experience. It goes something like this…

I’m trying to dash off a work email, and Emily at my elbow solemnly presents me with two plastic tea cups, taped together, one upside down on top of the other.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a Wi-Fly.” (She makes it sound like Wi-Fi.)

“What is a Wi-Fly?” I ask.

“It is a satellite that circles the earth. There’s a mouse inside.” mouse

“Really?”

“Yes, his name is Sophie. Do you like that name?” she asks, suddenly doubtful if Sophie is the right name for a male mouse.

“Well, Sophie is a girl’s name.”

“What do mice eat?” she asks with that startling change of direction at which preschoolers excel.

“It depends if they are indoor or outdoor mice,” I say, trying to remember the diet of mice. Nuts? No, that’s squirrels. I start typing gibberish on my email and give up.

“Emmy, I am a little busy right now, let’s talk in a few minutes, OK?”

“Watcha busy about?” (That’s the way she always phrases it.)

“Emailing someone.”

“Please send my photos to my email then,” she says in a very grown-up voice.

“Emmy, you don’t have an email, and what photos?”

She picks up several snapshots off my desk. “Here they are.”

I take them from her, and she sits on the floor next to me. As I attempt to finish the business email, she begins making various bird sounds, trilling and chirping and clucking and cooing. Great for concentration.

“Mama, I’d like a really big fish tank for my birthday. I could put it by my bed maybe? I could keep baby dolphins and whales in there.”

“That’s not going to work, Em. Fish tanks are a lot of work, and I have no idea where baby dolphins and whales can be bought. I imagine they’re pretty expensive.”

“What do dolphins eat?”

“Uh, plankton?”

“What is plankton?”

“Small creatures in the sea,” I hazard.

“Like chickens?”

“No, definitely not like chickens.” I’m picturing a chicken of the sea with a life-jacket on, flailing away.

And so it goes, from the time her feet hit the floor until her (early) bedtime, a constant flow of questions and ideas, some of which are downright astonishing. This phase of childhood is fun, but it is frankly, exhausting.

She informed me this morning that she is running a drive-through pet store. I sat out on the deck in the sun today, and she ended up selling me a rabbit, a mouse, a large dog and a Panda out the window of her playhouse. If you’re in the market for an exotic pet, I hear Emmy’s got some Llamas on sale cheap this week! Stop by before they’re all gone.

Response to a Feminist Author

There’s yet another book out for women with the provocative title, Why Have Kids: The Truth About Parenting and Happiness. The feminist author’s title pretty much says it all. I quote from the Daily Mail article yesterday:

In an interview with UK newspaper The Times, Valenti says woman are bombarded with so much conflicting advice about child-rearing, much of which involves kids being the ‘centre of your universe,’ that the result is a state of near constant anxiety. (This is) the understandable outcome of expecting smart, driven women to find satisfaction in spit-up,’ she says.

It gets worse.

Co-founder of the Feminising.com blog, she also lists the on-paper drain kids place on their parents’ lives, including the long-term economic cost of having children and the inevitable effect a baby has on even happy marriages.

And then this:

Valenti says that she loves her daughter, Layla, very much but adds ‘I don’t see raising her as my life’s mission. I don’t believe that it should involve some kind of suffering or self-sacrifice.’

It’s difficult to know where to begin addressing this viewpoint. I don’t disagree for a moment that parenting, the way the secular world sees it, is problematic. Many mothers are motivated by the culture’s values and half kill themselves in giving their child everything that kids are supposed to get now, whether it’s umpteen extracurricular activities, the latest technology, the best clothes, etc. In addition, mothers are supposed to be successful in outside careers, keep a beautiful home, and on top of that, look “hot” at whatever age they are. No exceptions allowed. It’s a recipe for insanity. I agree.

But the real problem here is not devotion to your children! The problem is not the little ones! The problem in this scenario is the worldview of the mothers. Feminism is a joke. If the feminist philosophy was about liberation and freedom, how do you explain millions of  mothers who chronically feel trapped and that they are failing everyone because they are trying to have it all? The answer to the problem is not embracing selfishness and refusing to sacrifice for your children. The answer lies in giving some things up, because those children are most important to you. But authors like Jessica Valenti don’t believe they should be. In her view, children are the problem.

I have been a mother for 25 years. I am 46, and have learned some things along the way—a few insights I have gleaned. The most important lesson is this: You find yourself as a mother by losing yourself. This creed will elicit gasps of horror from authors like the one above, but it is the truth.

Years ago, my son Samuel had a terrible time with out-of-control asthma. He was a highly allergic baby who tested as sensitive to nearly everything in the environment, which meant that when he had a cold, it immediately triggered asthma, because his bronchial tubes were already inflamed from other allergies.

In the first 5 years of his life, he was hospitalized over 30 times, once in the ICU. Every cold, not some, every cold, meant he ended up in the hospital. We watched the seasons change at Children’s Hospital on 7th floor back then. We knew all the nurses. We’d spend hours in the ER, and then they would admit him eventually anyway.

I used to wonder why this endless cycle had befallen my son, and frankly, me. Watching Sam scream through endless IV’s on a papoose board, endure countless pricks for blood tests, and go through endless breathing treatments, knowing full well we’d be back at the hospital in another month with the next cold, was extremely hard on both of us. I was 21 when Sam was first admitted at 6 months old. I slept at the hospital holding him on my chest many, many times.

But in those years I learned an important truth.  I knew, even at that young age, that there was no more important job than what I was doing. I knew I was Sammy’s entire world of security and comfort. I would not and could not have been anywhere else but there. The world went roaring by on the roads outside the hospital, but we were locked in with each other in a little hospital room. Nothing else mattered to me but Sammy’s well-being and happiness.  In the haze of exhaustion and worry of those years, I found out who I really was: Mother. Nurturer. Comforter. Weaver of the fabric of lives.

When my children stand at my grave, I will have done my job if they know, without a doubt, that they were deeply, wholly loved. That however imperfect I was, that I did not hold back to save myself. That I gave all I could. That I spent the love I had lavishly on them.

There are no guarantees that our children will be grateful for our sacrifices, take full advantage of the opportunities we give them or “turn out right.” But as a Christian mother,  I have an ally in the fight. I have the help of a mighty God who hears my prayers and who may use my  humble mother efforts years down the road in the souls and lives of my children.

The meaning in life is found in pouring out our lives on behalf of others, just like our Savior did. We won’t gain applause from the world with its tragically warped value system, but we will have had a life well spent in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. And our children someday will bless our memory.

Her children rise up and bless her.  ~ Proverbs 31:28

 

 

Women for Sale – Cheap

Explaining modesty, as the report says, as being ‘no longer a virtue in contemporary society’ the annual Romance Report by publisher Harlequin showed a clear focus on technology’s involvement in romance today in both the survey’s themed questions and results. From the article, New Study Reveals Increasing Number of Women ‘Sexting’

What`s love got to do, got to do with it
What`s love but a sweet old fashioned notion
What`s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken…

~Tina Turner, pop song from the 80’s

The continuing collapse of Western culture is nowhere more evident than in the shambolic state of women today. There is a UK newspaper that reports continually on the new breed of female teacher/predators who target young boys for sexual thrills, leaving damaged and ruined lives in their wake. There are so many stories like this that it feels surreal to scan headlines anymore. It’s like a tidal wave of debauchery has swept over our country, with women at the leading edge.

Women are now, according to a new study, sending naked photos of themselves, over their cell phones at a startling rate. We’re not talking about 15-year-olds here, we’re talking about grown women. (Perhaps that’s where the teen girls got the idea?) Whether you are 60 or 6, the mantra of the New Millennium Woman is “work it, baby!”

As a member of Generation X, I stare around in bewilderment sometimes. The Baby Boomer females were the women who were declaring their total liberation from male “oppression”, getting abortions when they conceived children in their newly liberated state, burning their female undergarments and claiming the ultimate triumph of women over men. They were women, they said, and everyone was supposed to hear them roar.They were no longer just going to be toys for boys, no more staying at home to rear children, it was all going to be a new world with she-warriors über alles.

I once babysit for a very strange household of liberal academics. There were 3 adults in the house, and only later did my innocent teen mind slowly realize that the dynamics were not normal, to put it kindly. One night I was browsing the bookshelves of the house for reading material when I pulled out a black  book of feminist poetry.

“Eve stands for evil,
God stands for good,
So much for male, patriarchal authority…”

The poetry went downhill from there. The hippies I was babysitting for were the archetypal feminists, shunning make-up, with long stringy hair, the radical UK magazine Prime Rib on the burlap covered coffee table. There wouldn’t have been any sexting in that household.

My generation of females seemed to have lost that feminist vision somewhere in the 80’s. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was on the radio, pink hair and florescent gel wrist bands were in. Madonna showed up on the scene, and flaunted sexuality became the norm in teen music and film. The Prime Rib crowd seemed a long ways away.

Fast forward to today’s young girls who are sending naked photos of themselves in middle school, while their 40 and 50-something mothers are getting injected with toxins and having surgery to maintain their “hot” looks, Their mothers have, after all, their own provocative photos to send to their latest “boyfriends.”

The term “cougar” was coined to describe older women going after young men in movies. The idea has now been applied at a very local level like the Christian school rocked by the pervert female charged with sex abuse of her young male student. Cougars. Real progress, women.

It isn’t hard to diagnose the problem. Erase God and His laws from the homes of America, deny His image stamped on humanity, take His gift of sexuality and tear it away from the marriage covenant, descend to the level of beasts of the field in living by your glands, and you will achieve the smoking ruins around us.

I don’t care if I offend any feminist reading this post. What has happened to womanhood is a tragedy and an outrage. I admire men and the masculine traits that set them apart. But I love being female, because I believe that we bring something unique and equally special to the world. By nature, God made us more nurturing, more gentle, and those emotions females are often criticized for are what make the world a habitable place. We have the “feel” of a situation that men often lack. That’s because God gave that intuitive gift to women. The world would be a bleak, utilitarian place without it.

The protective instincts, the tenderness and love of a woman is something that make a home what God intended. Whether or not you have children or a husband, a woman brings beauty and love and care to others that men simply cannot duplicate. Because they are men.

To see a nation of girls and grown women turn themselves into sleazy p-rno pin-ups, aborting the children of their wombs for convenience, surgically altering their bodies to suit some fake celebrity ideal, spending hours texting and tweeting sexy pics and behaving like empty-headed bimbos is sickening. It’s a perversion of God’s design, and our society is paying an enormous and unaffordable price for it–because our daughters are watching and emulating what we do. And one glance at the headlines will show how well they are doing with this brave new world.

Girls are led to believe being loved, the word so cheaply thrown around by teens today, is provoking a lustful response in males. They are being lied to by every aspect of our culture, and often in their own homes by parents who fail to truly love each other. Girls are used up and discarded like trash, many arriving at Tina Turner’s jaded conclusion by the time they are in high school. (“What’s love got to do with it?) Being a sexual provocateur is considered arriving at your female destiny, and God help the girl who isn’t considered “hot” enough to be “loved.”

I tremble to be raising daughters in this climate. We mothers and also fathers need to do whatever we can to protect our girls from the mindset of the age. One of the best ways to do that is to model for our children true love in our marriages that allows us to find the full and healthy expression of our gender according to God’s perfect plan.

I intend to write more on this in the near future.

Toddlers, Tiaras and Terrible Mothers

I don’t mind at all if this post gets me labeled judgmental. Some things are worth earning a label, and when I read the latest this morning at a news site about the TV show, Toddlers and Tiaras, frankly, it made me sick. Reportedly, the mothers of these little girls are spiking bottles of juice with high amounts of caffeine to up their small daughters’ energy prior to these pageants.

That “beauty” pageants exist for tiny girls is in itself a commentary on the values in this country. That a “reality” TV show can be made out of the exploitation of these little children and not be shut down by child welfare authorities beggars belief.

One mother boasted recently that she regularly bleaches her little daughter’s teeth to make sure she is pageant ready at all times. The TV show frequently shows the slobby looking mothers calling out to their toddlers to “work it” up on stage in front of adults who will judge their sexy gyrations and score them. The tarty costumes these little girls wear is enough to make the angels weep.

It’s all a form of child p-rn. (I hyphenate the word because I don’t want filters to deny access to this post.) The Toddlers and Tiaras program must be pedophile heaven. The ghost of the raped and murdered Jon-Benet Ramsey hovers over these debauched pageants where little girls are sexed up for the viewing pleasure of adults.

Innocence and childhood is a very brief time in a girl’s life. It can be stolen so easily and so quickly. Our cultural Sodom in America takes this innocence ever earlier. As the mother of daughters, it enrages and terrifies me when I see the monstrous assault on all that is precious and good in girlhood. Toddlers and Tiaras is the crystallization of all that is wrong morally in our culture.

As a mother, my job is to love and protect my daughter by giving her what is good and wholesome and raising her to resist and abhor what is wrong and twisted. I am supposed to keep her away from filthy people who would use her for their own foul entertainment and pleasure. Mothers who participate in the pimping out of their daughters for fame and fortune are child abusers, simply put.

The entire culture is one of sexual abuse of our daughters. I stood at the checkout last week and witnessed the headline, “50 S-x Moves” on the cover of one of the rags for sale. My daughter will know how to read likely by age 5. What kind of people in a culture tolerate this rampant disregard for innocence? What keeps grown men, fathers, from marching en masse to the managers who run these stores and demanding that this kind of filth be removed from the eyesight of their children? (Believe me, I’ve tried enough times.)

What kind of Christian pastors have made peace with this culture of filth and stand in their pulpits in their lavish vestments, simpering out their latest devotionalette to their congregations while little girls are treated like meat?  Do you have anything to say, pastors? Anything at all about the source of all of this evil?  Their emasculated, impotent “gospel” is worthless. As Christ put it, the salt of our society has become worthless, fit for the dunghill. We’re certainly living in one.

Little girls drugged up with caffeine to have the maximum ability to titillate their adult audiences for a sleazy TV show. That’s our “reality” in America. We should be trembling.

*NOTE: I saw this article today on the petition to require Cosmo be put in a wrapper due to content. Apparently there are a lot of others who are fed up. If they must sell it, wrap it up in paper like p-rn used to be when you had to take the drive of shame out to the ugly store on the highway to buy such  magazines. Here’s the link to the page if you’re interested in signing.

The Family that Eats Together…

The picture at left hangs on our kitchen wall. It is an inexpensive print we found at a discount store, but it’s a cheery country scene, and I like it. It provides things to talk about with Emmy, and when she gets older, I’ll make up stories about the little characters therein.

While we’ve made our share of mistakes as parents over the years, one thing I think we’ve done right can be summed up in two words: family dinner.

Several studies have revealed the importance of this simple family ritual in the lives of young people. I read about one study in 2005 and more recently, one released this summer that underscored how important family meals are, not only for the physical heath of young people, but emotional health as well.

For some families, work schedules don’t always make this possible every night. But it is worth it when you can. It is a rare evening when we don’t all sit down, even if it’s just fish sticks and tater tots on the table. It isn’t the food involved as much as it is the conversation, the emotional connection and the sharing of our lives for that window of time. (Although good food certainly helps.)

Family meals are also a training ground for good manners (we’re still working on that one with a certain teenager.) No, don’t make a boarding house reach for the ketchup, no, don’t talk with your mouth full, use your napkin, etc. Dinner time together is the primary place to teach gratefulness for our daily bread. Emmy is learning her first prayers. She folds her hands and says, “Thank you, God for EVERYTHING. Amen.” The older children learned this prayer:

The eyes of all look to You, 0 Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts which we receive from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen

Best of all is the conversation. William has a challenging physics class this year, and he filled up the conversation last night holding forth on some physics concepts that went right over my head, something about why rocket engines work in a vacuum, and something to do with “point of reference.” I didn’t catch it all in between helping Emily with her pasta, but it was very interesting and went down well with our chicken parmesan and garlic bread.

Some of the biggest laughs have taken place at the table. Some of it, admittedly, has gone overboard. I’ll never forget one memorable dinner when all five children were arrayed around the table. One of the toddlers took a sudden, violent dislike to the bean and ham soup, some chaos ensued, and good-natured Tom had to restore order amid lots of humor. The scene was hardly out of Miss Manners, but a rollicking good time was had by all. I hope my children remember some of these times, I sure will!

More than anything, family meals are about nurture and relationships. Even if it’s only a frozen pizza (I’m letting all my culinary shortcomings be known here, sigh) the familiar faces around the table, together again after a day, either a good one or a bad one, are a great comfort in this ever changing world. Here’s a recipe everyone should have. You can serve this one up anytime at a family meal!

A pound of patience, you must find
Mixed well with loving words, so kind
Drop in 2 pounds of helpful deeds
And thoughts of other people’s needs.

A pack of smiles, to make the crust,
Then stir and bake it well you must.
And now, I ask that you may try,
The recipe of Sunshine Pie.

~Unknown

God bless my little kitchen
I love its every nook
And bless me as I do my work
Wash pots and pans and cook.
And may the meals that I prepare
Be seasoned from above
With Thy great blessing and Thy grace
But most of all Thy love.
As we partake our earthly food
The table before us spread
We’ll not forget to thank Thee, Lord
Who gives us daily bread.
So bless my little kitchen, Lord
And those who enter in
May they find naught but joy and peace
And happiness therein.

Raising Girls in the Midst of Cultural Collapse

d955.jpg (2)For obvious reasons, I have been thinking a lot about raising little girls these days. I am very much concerned about how to protect young girls from the spirit of the age that exalts the flesh, carnality and sensuality at every turn. I am not just concerned about protecting from the dangers of our culture, but also in the development of a heart and mind that loves the Lord Jesus and desires to seek after godliness in all things. This is not just about external adherence to specific standards in dress and conduct. It must go much deeper than that, right to the issues of the heart that motivate a girl. That, of course, cannot come from parents. It must be a work of the Holy Spirit. 

But parents are powerful influencers of children. What is wisdom today in the area of raising young girls? I have written before on this subject, but believe these issues are terribly important. I have watched other Christian families raise some wonderful daughters, and I very much would like to make wise decisions in the areas that matter the most. Here are a few random thoughts I have on the subject. They are not very organized, but I would love to hear from other mothers (or fathers) of daughters on this. What do you think, based on your experience, are the most important areas parents can influence a daughter to love the Lord and live in godliness? Pardon the somewhat scattered nature of my thoughts here, as I am really just brainstorming on the subject based on my experience and also my beliefs on the matter.

1. Fathers are a huge part of the equation in raising daughters. I never had enough of my Dad because he was involved in broadcast ministry and was gone a large portion of my girlhood. That’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation. His absence left a hole in my life and created a need for male affirmation that affected me deeply as I grew older. I can’t say enough for the power of a father in a girl’s life. I remember once I was on a flight from Cleveland with Dad next to me. I was 16 and looking at a fashion magazine with ads for make-up products. Dad leaned over and told me that my skin was every bit as nice as the model in the photo. I was stunned and pleased more than he will ever know. I had a very low image of myself and his off-hand comment was savored for a long time. That’s why I still remember his comment to this day. Having a father who speaks encouragement not just in areas of physical attraction but in areas of character, most importantly, seems to be a real antidote to girls listening to the culture when it comes to their worth.

2. Mothers are absolutely crucial in setting an example for girls. I have always adored my mother. Mom can’t possibly know how much she meant/means to me. More than anything, Mom is a person who will roll up her sleeves and help others, often to her own cost. All three of her children can’t honor her enough for example of selflessness and love. Mom’s influence is seen in my life every time I am with my own children. While our personalities are very different, what is not different is our love for our families. Mom also showed me that life as a woman was not about fashion and image, but about serving the Lord and using our hands to do useful things. 

3. Girls are not being taught to be useful today. Even Christian girls get lost in the peer jungle of social media, pop culture and boy/girl drama. The world sets the standards and evangelical kids follow them to their own detriment. Hapless parents enroll their children in high schools which often serve as little more than a training ground for worldiness. It is a rare girl who can withstand the seduction of peer influence and not be swept away by it. Few girls today know much about homemaking at all. How many high school girls are prepared to competently help a mother in a situation like mine (bed rest) where meals are needed, basic cleaning needs to be done, shopping and so forth? As for care of babies and little ones, young girls rarely have that chance due to our smaller families today. Babysitting can go a long ways in this area, but hands on care of little ones day in and day out is a rarity in families.

4. Girls appreciate things more when they have less. I admittedly went overboard when our older daughter Mary arrived in our family. After having all boys, I overindulged at times with things like pretty dresses and shoes and so forth. While an objective observer may not have thought so, compared to my childhood, she was blessed indeed at  a young age. I don’t think these things mean as much when they come easily. I had two memorable dolls in my girlhood. Not ten, two. One doll took me up to age 8, the other was my pride and joy until I outgrew dolls altogether. Mom sewed clothes for the dolls, I didn’t get ready made ones from the toy department. Today girls get too much stuff, and I don’t think it is helpful to their characters. 

5. Related to the doll comment, most girls by age 8 are now considered what the advertisers now call “tweens.” This means they are aspiring teenagers. This is a sickening trend that destroys innocence in young girls and thrusts them into a place of early sexual awareness. A simple check of the clothing department for young girls in this age range will demonstrate how innocent girlhood has been replaced with the hard-bitten sexual awareness of our age. Disney has seen to it that little girls as young as three and four are being dragged to “tween” rock star concerts where they’re taught to writhe around sensually to the latest hit number. It’s a desecration of girlhood and a tragedy. 

6. Finding service opportunities for daughters is important in their development. A girl who is never taught how to help and serve others is a sad thing to observe. The youth culture says it’s all about you. The Scriptures tell us that it’s all about others. By requiring girls to help and serve, whether at church, in a nursing home ministry, in a grandparent’s home and so forth is not placing a burden on a girl, it’s giving her an opportunity to develop compassion and a heart for others. Empathy and a view to ease the loads of others is a hallmark of a maturing mindset in a young woman. I want our new daughter to learn to help from an early age. I have seen that little ones of a very young age can help. Mary used to fold laundry for me when she was 4. She got the biggest charge out of folding towels and washcloths for me with her little hands. She liked doing that more than playing. Seizing these moments to teach the joys of doing a job well around the home is important. I told her that every time we fold a pair of socks or something from the family’s laundry, we can think about how much we love that person. Girls need to connect the mundane work of the home with an act of love. I have a tape of Mary when she was about 6 or 7, talking about what she liked to do most. “Mama lets me iron pillow cases,” she said. That’s the kind of mindset I think we ought to strive for. 

How old-fashioned, how primitive, sneer the feminists. Sorry, women. You can burn your bras and run around the business world while outsourcing your motherhood, but true joy is found in serving others, beginning with our own families. Those are the values that make for happy homes, busy and useful girls, and the development of young women whose eyes are on the Lord and not on their bodies. 

I’m interested in your thoughts, mothers, fathers. What do you think is important in raising girls to a God-honoring womanhood? What can we do as mothers to set an example? I know I have left many things out today. I am sitting in my recliner and reflecting on all of this. I pray the Lord will help me do what I can with my girls. Ultimately, heart issues can only be addressed by the girl herself with the Lord’s help. But as parents, we want to make sure we are doing all we can to show Christ in our lives to our young girls with unconditional love and service to our families.