Wednesday, June 26, 2013

while i'm away!

We're about to go on an extended trip.  If I was a really awesome blogger, I would have written a bunch of posts and scheduled them to post during that time.  Or I would have lined up a bunch of guest bloggers.  But I didn't.  :)  Blogging is just a hobby, so I don't stress about times like this.

(side note: there is a RIDICULOUSLY loud jet overhead and if it wakes up my sleeping babe, I will not be a happy mama.  oh, air force life!) 

While I'm gone, here are some links to explore!

My Favorite Posts:

my post-graduation job (on finding beauty in the midst of ugliness)
one of our wedding pictures (insert one big smile here)
bathtub of emotions (how to explain when you're crying about something that seems trivial)
link to an adorable NPR interview (one little girl gives her sister a haircut unbeknownst to their parents - hah)
women and church (so, so important.  i could write a whole blog on this issue alone)
welcome, little one! (first pictures of my son:)
our move to Offutt AFB (oh, so many memories there!)

Some Of My Favorite Blogs/Bloggers:

Kristen Howerton @ Rage Against the Minivan (perfect blend of serious and hilarious. love, love, love.)
Jessica @ Jessica Lynn Writes (AF wife living in *ITALY*)
Naomi @ LoveTaza (if you feel like living vicariously in NYC with two little ones in tow)
Shawni @ 71 Toes (love her intentional parenting!)
Her.menutics (part of Christianity Today)
Rachel Held Evans (while i'm recommending things and pretending like someone actually cares, go pick up one of her books - here's my favorite!)
22 Words (careful!  it's addicting! :)

p.s. ever get annoyed with airport security??  check out this hilarious TEDx talk!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

currently reading: Francis: Man of Prayer

When I was given the chance to review Francis: Man of Prayer by Mario Escobar, I jumped at the chance!  I was anxious to know more about this man as I had been following the news reports after he replaced Pope Benedict XVI and heard that he may bring significant changes in Catholicism.  I was interested in learning about his background as he is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas (Argentina).

This book is divided into three parts.  The first focuses on his early life (birth through seminary and teaching positions).  The second part talks about his time as a Cardinal and the 2013 Conclave.  The third looks to the future at the challenges he must overcome and factors that make him unique.  Quotes from Pope Francis were scattered throughout, which I liked.  In addition to learning about his background, I learned more about the hierarchy of the Catholic church and especially the Vatican.  I am looking forward to seeing how Pope Francis leads the Catholic church in the coming years.

While my respect for Pope Francis grew after reading this book, I cannot recommend this book as a biography.  I assume that it was written in haste (in order to be published as soon as possible after Pope Francis was chosen).  There are several parts that seem like filler information, including a long portion about the dictatorship in Argentina and the background of the Jesuits.  Yes, these do have something to do with Pope Francis' life, but it really veered off the track of a biography in my mind.  At times it felt like reading a very long news article.  I do hope that people read more about Pope Francis, however, I think that they should find a better, clearer biography.

**I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 10, 2013

So you're PCSing to Offutt AFB...

For awhile now I've wanted to collect the names of businesses, attractions and restaurants in the area where we are stationed.  That way when new families moved to the area, they could quickly find things to do and learn about the area.  Originally I was going to put it on this blog, but I decided to use Pinterest instead.

Oh, Pinterest.  You really are best.

(I avoided Pinterest for a long time and when I finally caved, I fell in love).

If you have orders to Offutt, check it out and see what there is to do here!  Or if you're currently stationed at Offutt and have suggestions of what I should add to the board, let me know!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

on pastors and women and books and wanting more for the Church

**this post has been a long time in the making.  it wasn't something i just quickly threw together.  hope that you can take an equal amount of time to think about it.  :)  **

About a month ago I was looking at church websites and came across a few with reading recommendations.  Awesome.  I love to read.  Especially about theology.  But as I browsed, I noticed a trend:  the books were written by men.

"Surely they weren't ALL written by men?"  You ask.  And you would be correct.  Each list contained exactly one woman author who wrote on women/family issues.  These weren't short lists - one had nine categories with well over a hundred books in all.  But only one woman author.

If this was an isolated situation, perhaps it wouldn't have bothered me so much.  But unfortunately I have seen many cases where women are brushed aside for any sort of leadership position in the religious realm (including colleges and universities) simply because of their sex.

These are the questions I ask:

1.  What kind of message is this sending?

It's sending the message that, as a woman, my experience with God will never be enough.  That I will always be inferior to men simply because of my sex.  I've been in conservative circles for many years so I KNOW all of the arguments.  I know that complementarians say over and over again how much they value women and how the roles are simply different.  And for a long time, I held these views myself.  It has been through careful, long study that I have changed my views.

While I personally disagree, I accept that some churches don't believe that women should be pastors.  Like many issues in the Bible, I believe that we can think differently without despising or demonizing the other side.  But this is where I draw the line.

To the little girl sitting in a pew at Church, she sees that she can never be a pastor because she's a woman.  She can never have a leadership role in Church because she's a woman.  She can never pray from the pulpit because she's a woman.  She can't even pass the offering plate because she's a woman.  And now...she can't even write a book that will be accepted by pastors because she's a woman??  (Although Her.menutics recently posted a thoughtful piece on what happens when churches only allow women to teach indirectly...I really liked their take on it, but I'm just asking for pastors and laity to take the first step and start reading books by women if they aren't already!) 

When my husband was home for lunch today, we were discussing it and I explained it to him like this:  "If you write a book on theology, it is accepted for that and only scrutinized on the basis of whether or not it is theologically correct.  If I write a book on theology, every page is analyzed through the lens of having a woman writer."  My husband would tell you that I have taken more theology classes (and gotten better grades ;) than he has and I do far more reading and studying on these issues.  Yet he will always be more readily accepted in theological circles.

2.  Why aren't our pastors reading books by women?

As I considered these church websites and the lack of women writers, I noticed something else troubling.  One of the pastors wrote book reviews and I noticed that the book written by a women was reviewed.  I went to check it out.  Turns out, he hadn't read the book.  Instead he gave it to his wife to read.  I understand that the book was for women so I don't necessarily have a problem with him asking a woman to review it.  However, he never listed her qualifications to review this book.  It was as if the sole reason she was "worthy" of reviewing the book was based on her sex.  Would he give a theology book to just any man and trust the opinion given?  I doubt it.  Perhaps his wife does have a theological background  - that would be great!  But since that wasn't listed in the introduction to the review, it gave the impression that she was qualified to report on this book because she was a woman.

This pastor was well-read.  It was clear that he cared deeply about theology and was very selective with the books he listed and I appreciated many of his reviews.  But by not reviewing (and not recommending) books by women, it seems as though he thinks he can learn nothing from them.  There are many women writers from all different background (e.g. if he wanted to find a woman to support his view that women shouldn't be pastors, there are still several women authors he could read!).  There are many gifted writers from a variety of backgrounds including Sister Joan Chittister, Amy Carmichael, Mother Theresa, Edith Schaeffer, Rachel Held Evans, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lauren Winner, Elisabeth Elliot, Carolyn Custis James, Beth Moore or Madeleine L'Engle (those are just the ones who quickly came to mind).

I want to give this pastor the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps he did this unconsciously.  But why hasn't someone called him out?  Why is it that it is perfectly acceptable for pastors to only read books written by men?  Shouldn't they be called out on that?

Before I end, I want to clarify a few things.  While I was referring to a specific Church and pastor here, this is a trend I see in many, many Church and Christian organizations.  I truly am not trying to pull out one rare example and get hung up on it.  Also, it isn't that I don't like this type of church.  On the contrary, many other things about this specific church appealed to me.  That's why the covert sexism bothered me so much.  It wasn't like these churches were Westboro Baptists, on an extreme fringe of religion!  

I suppose that I want more for (and from) the Church.  I want it to be a place where women are appreciated and encouraged to use their gifts (even if those gifts are teaching and leadership).  Many people grew up in churches where women were restricted.  I'm not saying that you have to immediately make the leap to having a women as the main teaching pastor.  But could you please just pick up a book written by a women??  :)  You'll learn something.  I promise!

parental overshare in the information age

So yesterday I was browsing Pinterest and came across a blog post about elimination communication (EC).  If you're not familiar with EC, it's basically potty training from a very young age (i.e. 3 months old).  The mother discussed how she used this method with her children and how much success she had.  She also shared pictures.  In fact, the "pinned" image was a picture of her naked baby daughter held over a bucket with poo in it.  I'm sure that the mother meant no ill harm to her daughter.  But I can't help but cringe when I see that kind of over-sharing.

I've written before about why my husband and I decided to make a private blog to document our son's life.  And perhaps people are sick of reading about those reasons.  But I am convinced that this is an important topic that parents need to take more seriously.

Recently I read two other articles on this topic.  The first was from The Atlantic entitled "The Ethical Implications of Parents Writing About Their Children".  Here's an excerpt:

"While serious revelations pose a greater threat to a child's reputation, humiliating stories may be more likely to destroy a parent-child relationship. A child might sympathize with writing about his illness, but not about that time when he was three and wet the bed. And a story of everyday parenting challenges could still reflect poorly on a child down the line. Between two equivalent candidates, who would hire the one who once begged for $600 jeans?"

And the second (which is mentioned in the first article) is "Thanks, Mom, for Not Telling the World I Pulled a Knife on You" from the NYT parenting blog "Motherlode".

"In this Internet age, children deserve to struggle into adulthood with some degree of privacy. If my mother had publicized that moment when I cut my arm, it could have devastated my future in incalculable ways. My college applications or job prospects might have been affected. New friends, classmates or colleagues could have judged me based on momentary mistakes that happened years earlier."

As always, this is an issue of balance.  And perhaps it can look different for different families.  We know people who make sure that there are NO pictures of their children on the internet.  Our approach is a little more liberal.  We post most pictures privately (preferably with watermarks) and try to limit the pictures that other people post of him.  When I write, I try to keep stories about Hadden to a minimum, respecting the fact that he is more than simply my son - he is an individual, deserving of my respect and honor.  It's not easy and sometimes it feels like we're being overly cautious about nothing.  Articles like these encourage me that I am doing the right thing.  And I hope that some day my son will appreciate and recognize the respect we have tried to give him.
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