Thursday, November 22, 2012

thanks giving

(September 2012)

A staff member at our university used to quote one of his professors and tell us that when Christ returns, the only things He will take with Him are God's Word and God's people - so we should invest our lives into those things.  In that spirit, as I have been ruminating on this holiday, I am reminded of the things for which I am most grateful.

In addition to my many spiritual blessings (which really are the most important), the main things I am thanking Jesus for are these two.  I am humbled and awed by the blessings that they've been in my life thus far.  I am undeserving of such grace.

(also thankful for my parents and siblings today and missing all of you very much! go rock that turkey trot!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

currently reading: Fearless Daughters of the Bible

J. Lee Grady has long been a champion of women within the Church and his newest book Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead further explores women leaders by looking at the examples found in Scripture.  Included in this text are both "famous" biblical women (e.g. Mary, the mother of Jesus) as well as lesser known women such as Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram.  Along with the biblical examples, Grady shares stories of historical and modern-day women who are following God fearlessly.

The 22 women profiled in this book are:
 Sarah, the Mother of Our Faith (The Courage to Be a Pioneer)
 The Five Daughters of Zelophehad (The Courage to Challenge Tradition)
 Ruth, the Moabite (The Courage to Forsake the Past)
 Achsah, Daughter of Caleb (The Courage to Claim God's Blessing)
 Hannah, Mother of Samuel (The Courage to Believe God)
 Esther, Queen of Persia (The Courage to Challenge Injustice)
 Miriam, Sister of Moses (The Courage to Lead in a Man's World)
 Deborah, Judge of Israel (The Courage to Fight)
 Jehosheba, Daughter of King Joram (The Courage to Protect)
 Mary, Mother of Jesus (The Courage to Surrender)
 Mary of Bethany (The Courage to Worship)
 The Samaritan Woman (The Courage to Forgive)
 Mary Magdalene, Witness of Christ's Resurrection (The Courage to Go First)
 Priscilla, Spiritual Daughter of the Apostle Paul (The Courage to Mentor Others)
 The Four Daughters of Philip the Evangelist (The Courage to Speak for God)

There is an introduction chapter as well as an appendix.  Each chapter concludes with discussion questions and a "Message From Your Heavenly Father".  To be perfectly honest, I find other people writing messages from God a bit cheesy.

The book is clearly for lay people; it is not a theological textbook and it is not meant to be.  There is very little exegesis, which may draw some readers and deter others.  Because of the lack of exegesis, I would not recommend this book to someone who was just beginning to study women's roles in the Church.  This book gives a good overview of the exegesis, but it could not hold up to a theological debate on this issue.  The lack of exegesis is also seen in Grady's biographies of the women - there is a fair amount of speculation through the book.  One instance of this is seen on page 72 while discussing Achsah.  Grady writes: "...Deep inside, she had the same desire to inherit the Land of Promise and establish God's righteous rule in the midst of Canaan.  Meanwhile, Caleb adored his little girl and wanted only the best for her."  Other examples are seen on page 100 where Queen Esther is described as "a shy girl" and one who "mobilized prayer".  A final example of the speculation is on page 167 discusses Mary of Bethany after her brother's death.  Grady wrote, "Mary was overwhelmed with grief and disappointment.  Her faith was as cold as Lazarus's corpse."  In each of these cases, Grady's assumptions could have been true.  However, there is no biblical proof of any of those states so they are speculation.  This is when I wished there was more careful exegesis and wished that Grady was more careful to identify when he was making guesses based on human nature and when his words were clearly based on the text.

Grady draws in stories of historical and modern-day women in addition to the biblical examples.  This shows how women around the world are being used by God.  I appreciated that he mentioned women in a wide range of professions including a pastor, a stay-at-home-mother, a missionary, a rancher, a Holocaust surviver, a church planter and a philanthropist.  Grady repeatedly challenges traditional assumptions of women's roles and speaks to women in all different circumstances.  This book was encouraging to me as I often see women marginalized within the American church.  I am grateful that Grady is a champion of women and hope that more people (both men and women) will strive to see both genders working together instead of limiting women to a narrow range of activities and ministries.

Overall, I would recommend this book to others who would like to see examples of women leading in the bible and in churches.  While it is not strictly exegetical, I can appreciate that Grady makes a case that is easy to follow and comprehensive.  Were someone looking for more exegetical books on this subject, I would recommend Slaves, Women and Homosexuals by William Webb, Good News for Women by Rebecca Groothuis and Women in Ministry by Dan Doriani (Complementarian perspective).

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher (Chosen Books) in exchange for an honest review

Friday, November 9, 2012

these are a few of my favorite {baby} things

While I was pregnant, I kept seeing Pinterest links to lists of "must have" items for baby.  It was always interesting to see what one mom consider an absolute essential and another mom said she never used.  Clearly all moms are different and all babies are different so there can't be one definitive list.  : )  However I still decided to share some of our favorite things that we use all the time and that have made the first three months easier.  

We waited a couple months to begin cloth diapering to allow ourselves time to adjust to having a baby. Now we use them fulltime unless we are traveling or have company here.  Before Hadden came I did tons and tons of research into all the diaper brands and kinds and we ended up picking BumGenius Freetime All in One Diapers.  They work great for us!  It was definitely an investment to buy these diapers (and we are grateful that a few people gave them to us as baby gifts), but we'll be able to use them with other children and in the long run, we will be saving money and helping the environment.  It took us a little while to get the hang of it and to get on a washing schedule, but it works great for us now.  Plus how cute is Hadden in that diaper?!

It took me until this week to buy this, but I should have invested in these SwaddleMe wraps a long time ago.  They are wonderful!!  Hadden sleeps swaddled up and we tried so many different blankets, but he could kick his way out of all of them and then wake up crying.  And I was always a terrible swaddler - Caleb had to do it each night because mine would come undone in about five seconds.  These wraps are super easy to use.  Now he is snuggled up happily and he is sleeping for longer periods, which means we are too (a-mazing!).  They come in three different sizes so you can get one that fits your baby snugly.

Evidently some people suggest waiting a few weeks before giving a baby a pacifier to ensure that they learn to latch correctly.  Some people feel very strongly about this, which is understandable if your baby had problems eating and the pacifier was making it worse.  However, Hadden (from the moment he was born) wanted something in his mouth.  We actually started using these in the hospital (at the suggestion of a nurse) and have used them ever since.  They keep us all happy. : )  We tried switching him to the "normal" pacifiers and he doesn't like them, so, for now, we're sticking with the Philips Soothie Pacifiers.  If you took in the other pictures on this post, you'll see that it makes an appearance in a lot of them as well.  That's because we ALWAYS have one with us!

Ahh.  I love our sling.  It was probably the thing that I was most excited about getting from our baby registry (thanks grandma mays!).  And it has proven to be just as wonderful as I thought it would be.  Again, I did lots of research into the safety, durability and wearability of different slings and decided that the Sakura Bloom would be the best fit for us.  It's lovely.  And comfortable.  We get lots of compliments when we use it and people often ask where they can buy one.  Hadden loves to be in it and I love to wear it.  Sometimes Caleb uses it too.  : )  I cannot recommend this highly enough.  

The cute little newborn hats are sometime hard to get on and off quickly and I'm pretty picky about having his head covered.  So we were looking for a winter hat that would be easy to put on in a hurry and was still cute and we found the perfect on a The Children's Place (I can't find this hat on the website, but there are other cute ones like the giraffe one!).  You can tell from the picture that he's still growing into it, but it should fit him all winter and it definitely keeps him warm.

We debated a long, long time on getting a baby bath.  I did a ton of research into different kinds.  Some people thought it was a waste of money because you only use them for a few months.  Plus then you have to store this bulky thing somewhere.  Other people swear by them.  We didn't own one for the first month or so, but I did NOT like bathing him without one.  He was too little and slippery for me and it made me nervous.  And he cried the whole time, which didn't help.  We ended up just going to Target to look at different kinds and buying the Munchkin Bath Cradle.  It was less than $10 which why we picked it.  I'm going to be honest.  It's not perfect. It's a sponge, so after bath time is done it has to dry somewhere.  But it has been SO great!  Now Hadden loves to take baths!  It doesn't take up very much room either.  He's three months old and we'll probably still be using it for another month or so.  We have already gotten our moneys worth (many times over) and we'd recommend this to anyone who was looking for a cheap solution for baby baths.

And there you have it!  Six things that we recommend to make life with a newborn a little easier.  : )

**Want more reviews?  See a follow up post here

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

happy election day!

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy;
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against;
And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side."

John Wesley
October 6th, 1774

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