Friday, April 29, 2011

DVD Review: Unplanned & A GIVEAWAY

I was excited to get the documentary Unplanned after reading this terrific book detailing the other side of the abortion industry: how well-intentioned women end up deceived by the corporation and doing the very thing they vowed they'd never support. (I reviewed the book here.)
The book is definitely more detailed. For instance, I was disappointed in how the documentary glazed over medical abortions, not sharing the horror stories of the women who've experienced them. That part of the book was very eye-opening to me. Never before had I considered the horrible physical pain it causes to the woman taking the drug, or the shame of admitting that it didn't go as smoothly as they were told it would.
Aside from that, I was impressed with this documentary. It will enlighten you not only to the deception of the abortion industry (it's not just built on murder, but also on lies), but it will show you clearly the difference in ministry that draws abortion-seeking women to your message and those that repel these women. Women who feel judged will become angry, not repentant.
I found this documentary very helpful and insightful.

Want to see it for yourself? I'm giving one away!

Please leave a comment telling me why you want this DVD and you'll be entered to win!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bikini-Clad Christian Movie?

Have you been wondering about this new movie? There's a great review on Stacy McDonald's blog here.

What Modesty Isn't

There is a movement cropping up in many evangelical churches, that says women can only dress modestly in skirts or dresses. I'm concerned.

women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
-1 Timothy 2:9-10

This is the verse most quoted by women who wear skirts/dresses only. Notice that it says we should adorn ourselves with good works. If a woman only wears long skirts, but lies, gossips, and disrespects her husband, would you think she adorns herself with good works?
Notice modesty and self-control are paired here. It's easy to dress modestly. Anybody can throw on a long skirt and button up a blouse, and still have the heart of a seductress underneath.
It's not easy to have self-control though. When your husband says something wrong or does something stupid, do you have self-control and show respect for him anyway? Or do you correct him publicly and humiliate him? Which shows good works?

I love wearing skirts and dresses. In fact, I wear a skirt almost every day. Skirts make me feel feminine and femininity is an expression of who God made me to be. I love the way I feel when I'm in a skirt. And compared to the tight jeans I used to wear, I definitely feel more modest in a skirt. Please note: I did not say all jeans are immodest.

Let's look at another verse:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

-1 Peter 3: 3-4
This is important: Adorning ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit is very precious to God. It doesn't say that long skirts or dresses are precious in God's sight. It says gentleness and quietness are very precious in His sight.

As the Body of Christ, we need to open our eyes to see the truth. God's Word nowhere says we should only adorn ourselves in skirts or dresses. It says we should adorn ourselves with good works and with a gentle & quiet spirit.

And the Lord said, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of wickedness."
-Luke 11:39

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reflections on a Young Mom

I was reading this blog I just discovered (which I just love) about this young mom of two boys. She's 25 years old and has two kids. I thought: I wish I would have had two kids when I was just 25! And then I thought aloud: Kyle, why did we wait to have kids? I mean. . . I know why (worldly thinking). . . but I wish we wouldn't have.
And then I realized: We bear the fruit of having started our family right away. Maya was born one year after we married!

Live in such a way that you won't have regrets. I have worked with lots of elderly people and without exception, no one ever regretted having the kids they had, but I met many who wished they would have had more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What You Can Learn About People through Food

A good friend had a baby recently and their family was blown away by the generosity of our church in bringing them lots of food. (Our church is only about 100 strong. Really small church.) Not only were they given tons of big meals, but the church members only stayed for a 10 minute visit-- this after most of them drove at least 45 minutes to get to them. My friend's husband confided to us: Our church family was so much more generous than our actual family. Our families showed up with little bitty servings that wouldn't even feed our family, expected us to feed them as well, and then stayed until my wife was completely worn out.

I've never experienced this myself (people bringing food and then staying to eat it with you), but I can't imagine it would have been easy to be gracious about it in her postpartum state.

When Julia was born, we received dinners for almost 3 weeks from church family. And almost everybody brought brownies with dinner. I was on the "brownie a day" diet and ended up heavier 2 months after Julia was born than I weighed 2 hours after she was born. The good news is: I didn't have any brownie cravings for quite some time after that. The bad news is: It took me a good long while to remember that dinner doesn't have to be followed by dessert.

The fun thing about having a big family is that people tend to bring way too much food (except in the case of my friend's parents, I guess!) Being the frugal nut that I am, I love leftovers.
When a friend of mine,who has one child, came over for dinner the first time, she brought 4 half gallons of ice cream!! We finished one of them.

Another friend brought a full sheet cake for dessert when we invited them over. I try not to laugh out loud. Smaller families just have no idea how much it takes to feed us & lucky for us, they always err on the side of too much. "Better to have too much than not enough," Kyle tells me while he prepares 10 gallons of potato salad for the church picnic.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Family Q&A

Every once in awhile at dinner time, Kyle or I will call out: "Ok guys, it's Q&A time! If you have a question, we have an answer." I said it last night when we were all finishing up our Shepherd Pie (yum!) and then I just looked around expectantly at the kids.
Isaac said: Why don't you ask us a question.
Okey dokey. So I started with Chloe: What is your absolute favorite thing to do?
(That was insightful and I told her so. (Then I explained what insightful means.) She's always singing, but frankly I never realized the depth of her passion for it.)

Elena's answer didn't surprise me. In fact, it was so unsurprising, I don't remember it. No clue what I asked her. (how embarrassing)

Isaac: What is your favorite part of having your cousins here all week?
-playing basketball with Max
(I've been reading a book about raising boys and it taught me not to expect a boy younger than 13 to speak or think in anything less than concrete terms, so I wasn't disappointed in his brief answer. Last week, I would've been.)

Kyle asked Daniel and Lydia what their favorite movie was. They both answered something they'd seen within the last 48 hours. Go figure.

Maya: If you could have anything you wanted, no matter how much it costs, what would you want?
She thought about it briefly and then said: I'd go see Jesus. Even if it meant I'd have to die, that's what I want.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Russian Nephew

I'm beside myself with excitement. I think I've watched the videos a half dozen times already.

Wilson's Aunt,

If Moses Had the Internet

Don't take your eyes off the screen. Trust me. A lot of detail went into this. It's genius!!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Too Much Change Too Fast

I've been thinking about my big boy lately. He's a mystery to me. I love him and I know he loves me, but raising boys is radically different than raising girls.
I love how helpful Isaac is. He's such a fabulous big brother. And his strength and hardworking nature make me very proud. And he's very quiet. He's very much like his daddy. Hard to believe we didn't birth him, he's so much like Kyle.
I was looking at pictures from last year and noticed that Isaac has had a huge growth spurt this last year. Here he is last year sporting the love of his life-- his muscles:

And here he is last month, on his new favorite toy:

(I would say our garage always looks that bad, but the truth is: it's way cleaner than it normally is. I call it the dungeon.)

I get a little panicked emotionally when I see how quickly my kids are growing. It's scary! How much more time am I going to have with them? It doesn't seem like enough. I confided in Elena the other day: "Don't tell Isaac this, but in a couple years, girls are going to be flocked around him. Wait and see. "
With those triceps and that smile, girls are going to go weak in the knees.
That's when it's really going to get scary!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Encouraging Moms Who Don't Enjoy Their Kids

A good friend emailed this question to me recently and I thought it was a great question, so wanted to share it with you all.

How do you respond when people say things to you about not wanting to spend time with their kids? It seems so often when people I meet find out I homeschool my daughter, they start telling me about how they “could never spend all day” with their kids. I can handle the “I don’t have patience” or so many other comments, but I just don’t know the words to say back to this one.
I wanted to say “I’m so sorry! Maybe if you trained your kids, you’d enjoy being around them more.” – but that’s tacky J

You're right, that would be really tacky. LOL! But what you want to say is so key. They don't train their kids, because frankly they don't have time, and therefore they don't enjoy their children.

Imagine for a minute if your daughter were in public school all day, picking up bad attitudes and disrespect for the other kids, while not being disciplined biblically (if at all) by her teachers when she sports these nasty attitudes. Then in the few hours you have with her at night, you're making dinner and preparing for the next day while she does her homework, rushing to give her a bath before bedtime. (This is assuming she's not in any extra-curriculars, in which case you'd have even less time with her.) When could you disciple her? I mean, really. When would there be time? You might be able to faithfully fit in family worship time, but that wouldn't be enough to undo all she learned at school all day.

The reason you enjoy being with your daughter all day is because you've spent so much time with her that you know and understand her very well. When she throws a fit, you know why. You are sympathetic towards her and that draws her heart to yours. And you are training her biblically, which produces an enjoyable child. I haven't always been a full time mom, so I know very well how you really don't enjoy them near as much when you're not with them very much. The longer I've been at home full-time, the more I enjoy my children.

That's what I would say. "It seems backwards, but the truth is: The more time I spend with my daughter, the more I enjoy her." Any more than that, and you'd offend them.

Really, all you can do is be gracious and be a good example of a joyful mother of children. They may begin to ask you questions, in my experience. Then you can encourage them with the truth of God's Word.

Just be compassionate. It's sad that they don't enjoy their children and they really have no idea why you do. And that's sad too. They don't get it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Countdown Begins!

My sister and brother-in-law are leaving for Russia in 3 days!! Just 3! They're going to be able to see and touch and play with this precious boy

I can hardly wait!!! We're going to be keeping their four other kids while they're gone and my kids can hardly wait for that! It's going to be one big party at the Clark house.
Stay tuned and keep praying!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Overflow of the Heart

Tuesday is our library day, so yesterday we trotted off to our local church library and hung out awhile. I just love our church library. It's actually not our own church, but a Bible church a couple blocks away. But I'm getting sidetracked.
While the kids were picking out their three books apiece (had to make a limit; it was getting out of hand), I picked up an Anita Renfroe DVD. Anita is a Christian comedian; famous for her Mommy rendition of the William Tell Overture. (I blogged it once, but now I can't find it. Sorry.)
As I was watching this comedy act, which was all about motherhood, I started noticing that she never had anything positive to say about children. She joked about the pains and discomforts of pregnancy and birth and the unfairness that it's women who have to give birth rather than men. I was thinking: Unfair? It's a privilege!
But I kept watching.
Then I started noticing that she never had anything positive to say about husbands. But she did occasionally mention that having children is a beautiful thing and children are a blessing. But everything else she said completely contradicted those truths.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. ~Luke 6:45

In the end, what you say you believe doesn't matter at all. It's what you say that matters. There are many people who profess to be Christians, but the bitterness that comes so easily out of their mouth testifies otherwise. There are many women who profess to love their children, but the way they speak to their children testifies otherwise.
Fill your heart with truth by spending time in God's Word every day. Then the abundance of your heart will be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22).
The less time you spend in God's Word, the more self-centered your thoughts and thus words, will become.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: Attack at the Arena (Imagination Station)

We are big fans of Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas, so I was excited to get this book for the kiddos. We all loved it. It has all the drama and intrigue we love in Adventures in Odyssey and the Christian integrity we trust. Attack at the Arena is the second book in the Imagination Station series, this historical ficton takes place in Rome. This is an a chapter book for 2nd-4th graders, but would also make fun family read-aloud.

Big Big House

Yesterday, I took the kids to the nursery to pick up some plants for our flowerbeds. Now, when we're out and about, we occasionally get comments on the size of our family. It surprises me that after 4 years, there are still comments that catch me off guard. Like the man who said, "It must be like Thanksgiving dinner every night!" I loved that one. Or the librarian we see every week who one day said, "I love seeing you each week with all these children. It reminds me of myself when I was younger. I used to always take the neighborhood kids with me." That one shocked me. After 3 years of seeing the same librarian every week, you think you know someone. lol
Yesterday, at the nursery, the lady who was helping load the plants in the van, said, "I hope you have a big house!"

This one really got my wheels a' turnin'. I wanted to smile really big and say, "Yes, we do. We have 2,000 square feet all to ourselves!" Of course, most people think that's nowhere near enough for a family our size. I mean, the kids share rooms after all. Gasp!! Can you imagine?!

I thought about just asking, "Why??"

Then I thought of saying, "Do you mean by American standards or world standards? Half my children lived in a 8' x 8' hut with their mom and aunt before we adopted them."

But honestly, what do we Americans know about what constitutes a "big" house? We know plenty of families of four living in 6,000 square foot homes. Our next door neighbors, the Joneses (not their real name), moved after they had their first baby, because their house only had 3 bedrooms. Kyle and I got a lot of entertainment from that.
Americans have no concept of wealth or poverty.

Back when we had a house that was only 200 square feet smaller than this one, with 5 less children living it, we had our children share a bedroom. We see value in growing up learning to share. After all, their whole married life will be spent sharing a bedroom. Why do we think they need to have their "own space" now? What is that preparing them for?

When the lady said, "I hope you have a big house!", I simply said, "Big enough." :)

By the world's standards, we are incredibly wealthy. We own our own home. We have two vehicles. We have multiple computers. We have indoor plumbing and electricity. Our roof has never leaked. And we always have food in the fridge. Always.

We are wealthy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bonus Child

Kyle & Maya at the Vision Forum Father Daughter Retreat last month

Maya is our bonus child. We set out to adopt one little boy, but then God opened our hearts to two boys. As it turned out, those two boys had an older sister. She's our bonus blessing. Truly God's gift to us.

Maya is the most patient person I know. When Julia was first born, we were given a pile of new clothes for her. I asked Maya to take the tags and stickers off them all and put them away. She sat down next to me while I nursed, and very slowly and patiently cut off every tag and every bit of plastic that held two-pieces together. I would have been ripping at it all to get it done quickly, so this amazed me.

Maya adores Julia. She wants to hold her anytime I'm not. But sometimes Julia throws a big fit. When she does, most of the kids rush to put a toy in her hands to quiet her down in a hurry. Not Maya. She talks soothingly and quietly to Julia, calming her down, not just trying to pacify her. This skill really impresses me.

A couple months ago, we were making granola bars to take the park. When I pulled them out of the oven, they didn't look firm enough to cut. I asked Maya, "Are you sure you set the timer for 25 minutes, not 20?" She said yes and we quickly grabbed and different snack and headed out the door.
That afternoon, she came up to me very upset. She admitted, through tears, that she lied to me. She had only set the time for 20 minutes. I was flabbergasted that she could be so broken over such a small lie (not small to Christ; only to me. She clearly understood this). Her heart is so genuine.

I have been praising the Lord for the fruit of repentance that we see in her, but this communion Sunday, she chose not to participate because she isn't sure she's a Christian yet. Her humility is precious to us.

SHE is precious to us.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Begin a Home Education

This year, Daniel and Lydia are starting school. It's hard for me to believe they're old enough already, but I'm so excited to begin this new phase with them.
What better way to start an education than with Beatrix Potter!
My daddy, who loves me very much and grants me favors when I bat my eyelashes just right, made an audio book of The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit for my children because I asked him to. We absolutely love it!
So, to begin Daniel and Lydia's first year of school, we're listening and reading along to Miss Potter's classics. A couple days ago we read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which is my favorite. And today, before I had the chance to say: Let's read about Benjamin Bunny today!, Lydia came up to me and with pleading eyes said: Can we please listen to the Peter Rabbit book again?
She may as well have batted her eyelashes. I was smitten.
What could make a homeschooling mommy happier than to hear her children beg for books?
Not much, I tell you.

And may I just give my unsolicited 2 cents: No education is complete without a liberal dose of Beatrix Potter.

Especially if it's read by your doting grandfather.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can't Get Enough Clarks? This is For You

I'm so in love with this man! I could stare at him all day long.

The Lord has been so good to us. He has blessed us more than we could have imagined or hoped!

To God be all the glory!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Proof that We Can't Keep Silent

Today is National Athiest Day. So give your local neighborhood athiest the gift that keeps on giving-- the gospel.

"The fool has said in his heart, there is no God."
Psalm 14:1