To the Dads

Esther has grown up quite a bit since this picture–she’s two now. But she still loves being with her Papa.

Now she is talking and talking and talking. There’s a funny thing she does, though. When Papa gets home, and she’s with him, she keeps repeating a little phrase. Over and over, she says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

She rarely says it to anyone else. I am amazed at how her little girl need to talk to her papa is showing up in that little phrase. Sure, she doesn’t really have anything “important” to say yet–she just rattles on about dogs or horses or whatever. But he listens, and she talks, and all’s right with her little world. If for some reason he gets distracted, she once again says, “Papa! Talk to you!”

I want to talk to you dads, and those who will be dads someday. I don’t think you get it, quite. I don’t think you understand HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE. How much what you do or don’t do affects your daughters.

I’m not talking about big things right now. I’m not talking about things like, “don’t beat them” or “don’t abandon them” or “don’t abuse them” or “supply all their physical needs”. Those are important, of course, and there are tragic amounts (even one would be tragic.) of dads that don’t even do those. But for those who do those–that isn’t all we need.

It’s the little things. Only a few things, really.

I have talked to girls who are crying, inside or outside.

Do you know why they are crying? Not because of boys, not really. Yeah, they have boy hurts. Lots of them. But that’s not the real, underlying hurt.

The real hurt is the Daddy hurt. The, “Carissa, my dad has NEVER told me I’m beautiful” hurt. Sure, many other guys have told her that. But not her dad. And it is just NOT the same. And that wound runs deep.

I know. It doesn’t make sense. Why should a few words make such a difference? Isn’t she being overly dramatic?

I don’t know why it makes such a difference, but it does. Unless you really want your girl to go searching for some random young fellow to tell her that she’s beautiful (and then abuse that beauty), you probably should think about this.

If you’ve never told your daughter that she is beautiful and pretty, please do. And please really mean it. Don’t compare her to some fake super model. See her beauty for what it is, “flaws” and all, and appreciate it. I’m talking about her face. Her eyes. And her inner beauty.

Maybe you do tell your daughter she’s beautiful, and maybe she doesn’t seem to care. Let me tell you right now: SHE DOES. She does care. So much more than you know. Don’t stop.

Dads, please tell your girls they are beautiful.

And then there’s hugs. Our culture is so messed up that sometimes dads are afraid to hug their girls once their bodies are womanly. Please, don’t be. I know it can be awkward, especially if you were raised in a family that wasn’t “huggy”. But we need dad hugs. We just do. If you don’t want to do full hugs, at least side hugs. At least put your arm around her shoulders. SOMETHING. Even non-huggy girls need some kind of appropriate fatherly physical affection. Even if they don’t seem to care. They do. They really, really do.

Please hug your girls.

Protection. Girls need kind, caring protection. We want it. I know, I know. We’ve been saying for a long time that we don’t need it, don’t want it, can handle ourselves.

But it isn’t true. They may seem to hate you for it, and they may even say they do. But they don’t. Even when I have been most upset about my father’s protection, underneath I have been so grateful. There is something so special about knowing that your dad will stand up for you, will do what he can to make sure you are safe. There’s something about knowing that he won’t let guys mess with you. It helps. We need it. We need to be protected and fought for and wanted. You have no idea…

Please protect your girls.

And, finally, please be safe to talk to. Your girls still want to talk to you, even if they aren’t as bold as 2 year old Esther with her, “Papa! Talk to you!”. 😉

But sometimes you scare us. Sometimes we think our hearts aren’t safe with you. Sometimes we think that you won’t care. Sometimes we think you’ll think we’re silly. Sometimes we think you won’t try to understand, that you’ll just start in with a “cure” or with condemnation. Sometimes we are wrong. But sometimes we think those things because of our past experiences. I don’t know your circumstances, but I want to encourage you to do whatever you can to open the lines of communication. Let your girls know that you love them and want to hear what is going on in their lives. Listen even if it doesn’t seem important. The important stuff, the things we really want to say, will come with time. After you listen to the random stuff.

Please listen to and talk to your girls.

And… that’s really it. (Besides praying for them and leading them in God’s ways.)

It’s not really complicated. Just hard, sometimes. But SO worth it. Those things that I just said may make all the difference for your daughter. And they might make all the difference for you.

Part One: Introduction

Well, I got excited and finished the first part of my new series… hopefully the rest will be soon to follow!

Usually, I’ve managed to keep my ranting about various controversial issues to private conversations, and kept primarily to the most important Controversy on my blogs. (Namely, God.)

However… I’ve been reading many, many articles, comments, and so forth on both sides of the Abortion issue, and… I think it’s time for me to say something. Not that I can solve the problem by posting about it, or that I think I have all the answers. I can only do what one person CAN do–provide people with something to think about, and ask and trust God for the heart-change. That, I can and will do.

I’m not an expert.

I’m just a thinker, big sister, discipler of girls, concerned citizen, and follower of Christ.

Oh, and a writer.

And, naturally, with that combination–I started writing. It was intended to be one blog post–but over 2,000 words in with much more to say, I decided to split it up into several posts.

The next morning, I wrote a fancy outline of the issues I wanted to address (You must know how serious this is. I don’t write outlines any more. That was for writing papers for school. Not for blog posts.) It grew and grew until I realized that this was going to be quite the series. I think I’m even going to call them articles…

While we’ve already established that I’m not an expert, I do bring some unique things to this topic. For instance, my brain. 😛 Everyone thinks differently from everyone else—I just think really differently. I am skilled at making connections (everything is eventually connected in my mind.) and at taking large amounts of information and condensing them. I’m also fairly decent at thinking logically, something that is tragically lacking in this world. (haha, but it’s true!!)

I do not, however, bring compassion. I really am not caring by nature, especially to the masses… if it was just me talking, I’d just say something along the lines of: “Abortion is factually, logically and statistically stupid. Don’t do it. Also just don’t get in that situation.” 😛 The compassion that (hopefully) comes across in these articles you must directly attribute to Christ in me.

I am hoping that I will be able to take all of the things I have read, watched and learned and connect them all together in a caring, concise and helpful way in these articles.

I’m going to cover (some of) the reasons we have this problem in our country and some possible solutions, common objections to pro-lifers/the pro-life movement and responses to them, the dark side of abortion and contraception—and, finally (and maybe most importantly) problems with the pro-life movement and what we can do.

This issue is at once terribly complex and startlingly simple.

It is horribly complex, because there are so many factors–so many things that got us to this place; so many things that are making the problem worse; so many tragic situations.

It’s startlingly simple, because a baby in the womb is an innocent human life and to end it is wrong.

First, before we get to my articles…a story. The story of my little brother, the one who died at the same age many babies are aborted. I still remember how he looked. There wasn’t and isn’t the slightest doubt that he was a baby. That is one of the many experiences in my life that have led me to have such a strong stance on this topic.

I haven’t been as involved as I could have been… but I have done some things.

There was the 40 day dessert fast, when I focused on praying for the unborn. It was, I think, the first time I ever realized how HARD it is for some of these moms. This was back when I didn’t cry—but I actually did cry, praying for them. Before that time, in my logical, not very emotional way, I thought they should just–not do it. Now, I have grown to recognize even more the challenges some of these mothers face, and I truly have compassion for them, both the ones I know and the ones I don’t.

I also participated in raising money for a local crisis pregnancy center (Pregnancy Solutions.) by walking in their annual walk-for-life. I was sick, but I went and walked a few miles anyways.

I’ve started knitting baby hats to donate to Pregnancy Solution’s boutique… I’ll be going to our church tomorrow to knit with others who are also knitting things for the babies.

I’ve been reading, reading, reading… pro-life and pro-choice articles. I’ll be honest, I read more pro-life. The pro-choice ones get me ranting even more than the pro-life ones do. 😛

I have been saving up to give what little extra money I have (practically all) to Pregnancy Solutions.

I’ve been praying, praying lots. For the crisis pregnancy centers, for the mothers, for the babies, for the hearts of those who have suffered an abortion, for the lawmakers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to a volunteer info session for the Pregnancy Solutions branch that’s opening in North Port. Not sure what God is going to do there.

I guess the point is that I really care about this issue. I don’t just have a bunch of facts. This is about people. Real people, people I know. People who have been brave enough to not get an abortion in cases where others might have. People who have had an abortion.

And it’s not just something I talk about and write about. I’m doing things to help. Not enough. But I’m doing something. And I’m going to keep doing more.

Please join me.

The next post will be about the things I see that are causing this problem… stay tuned!


Parenting/Big Siblinging Tips

[Sorry to anyone who got the email with only part of this post… I accidentally hit “publish” before I was done. 😛 Here’s the rest!]


Now, I know I’m only 22 and I don’t have any children… Perhaps I really don’t have much to say on this.

On the other hand, though, I do have seven younger siblings, have read several parenting books, sat in on parenting talks, observed many different styles of parenting, have spent many a sleepless night and dealt with countless arguments and I have just generally thought about it a lot. [As I am writing this my baby sister is telling me,” ‘ch’is ” which is her word for “Watch this” and now she’s saying “get off!” so I’ll be back.] And I have a few little tips I thought I’d share… they are very simple, but they are things that I’ve been integrating into my interactions with my siblings with success…. so here they are.

{Note: some of the pictures go with the points, and some are just cute. Don’t hurt yourself trying to figure it out… :D}


1. Use chores to build character in children–don’t use children to do chores. To be honest, we could do many chores better than they can. So why let them help? Sometimes we simply have to because there is too much to do–but often, I think it is very wise to let them “help” even when it isn’t much help. Why? Well, for one thing, you get to spend more time with them. For another, they will learn–not only the chore, but diligence and having a good attitude. Provided, of course, that your attitude is good. The character of children is way more important than a perfectly cleaned room.


2. Relax. Seriously. I promise, they will live if the house isn’t up to USDA sanitation standards. Dirt is fine. What isn’t fine is a mother/father/big sister/brother who is really stressed out and is more focused on keeping a clean house than on loving the children. Perhaps the clean part isn’t an issue for you–but just whatever it is, from homeschooling to laundry, calm down. Think about it in the perspective of eternity. Sometimes, sitting around reading good books to children (who won’t be children long) is more important than folding laundry. True, we do have to do things around the home–see point one for that. 😀


3. HAVE FUN!!! Slow down and enjoy the simple things like they do. When we take walks, it takes WAY longer with Esther. Not because she walks slow, but because she is so fascinated by everything. She bends down and pokes anthills (While telling us “ants. bite you.”). She picks up seed pods and calls them babies and hangs on to them the whole time. She stops and stares in amazement when she sees a leaf apparently floating in mid-air–we know it is hanging on a spider’s web, but she doesn’t. She picks flowers we overlook as weeds and sniffs at them hopefully. The temptation to hurry her is strong (and sometimes we have to.), but if we instead look through her eyes, the whole experience changes. The world really is a wonderful place. Do those random things the children ask you to do with them–like yesterday, when myself and my two littlest brothers and littlest sister went outside and made a tiny fire in a grill and roasted hotdogs and wrapped them up with kale from our garden (because we were playing “orphan” and didn’t have plates.).


4. Pray. Pray all day long. You can’t get along without it, and neither can they.


5. Praise them far more for character than for accomplishments. I heard this at a homeschool convention, and I thought it brilliant. Don’t just praise them for getting something done–praise them for the character qualities it took to do it. Be honest, of course. Don’t make stuff up. But if they did it cheerfully, praise them for serving with a joyful heart! If they scored high on a test, rejoice, yes, but praise them more for persevering and trying hard. Especially love. Always notice loving attitudes and actions.


6. Think/pray before you discipline. I used to just go straight to spanking (once I was old enough that is.) [my 10 year old brother just came bursting in telling me about three really long black snakes!], but I’ve since realized that there are many other ways to deal with a problem, and some are more effective at different times and for different children. Sometimes I’ve simply corrected them with my words and then hugged them and spent time with them–the problem may be more one of needing more positive attention. Sometimes I’ve ordered them to go outside and breathe a little. Sometimes I’ve made them stay in their room. Sometimes I’ve had them go and pray, especially the older ones. Sometimes I’ve prayed with them. Sometimes I’ve taken them to the Bible. Most of the time I point out the rule they’ve broken, and ask them to make it right. Sometimes I’ve taken a privilege–for instance, if they hurt with words, they can’t talk for 5-10 minutes. There are many ways to do it.

P.S. Also: do actually discipline them. I see so many parents in stores and so forth that probably have a no-spanking rule–until the child get so out of hand that the parent gets so angry that they start slapping them and screaming. Awful, awful stuff. That, my friends, is child abuse. Not a calm, loving spank.


7. Rejoice in opportunities to sacrifice. The Christian life is all about sacrifice–and those who care for children have plenty of chances for it. Be grateful, and seek to truly surrender your wants, your selfish desires. Don’t just give them up grudgingly because you have no other choice–be glad for the help in letting go of your flesh.

8. LISTEN. Oh, I can’t possibly emphasize this enough. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers–this is far more important than you realize. I know that listening to them rattle on and on about some book or computer game or recent adventure doesn’t seem important, but it IS. Do you love and value these children or not? If you do, you will value what they value enough to at least try to listen. And listening to those seemingly pointless things will provide the trust for them to share real, deep things with you. Really, it works. I’m still not fantastic at listening by any means, but I make effort–and I have had talks with younger siblings about everything ranging from the occult to pornography to crushes to evolution vs. Creation to God. Just about everything. They trusted me to listen–because I listened to the other “random” stuff. If you ignore everything else on this list, at least do this. If you don’t listen when they are 22 months old and when they are 3 and when they are 9 and when they are 11, don’t complain when they don’t talk to you at 15 or 21 or 33. For the sake of not only your children, but the whole nation–listen. Better listening equals better relationships which equals better families which equals a stronger nation. (There, now you know how to solve our nation’s problems: listen to childish prattle about bugs and baby dolls. *grin*)


9. Focus far more on the inside than the outside. You can spank and threaten children into “being good” on the outside, but let me tell you: It. Won’t. Last. As soon as they can, they will get out from under that oppression and go be the opposite. You’ve got to pray with them and for them and set a good example and have good literature/movies/music and keep them around good people and let them admit when they are struggling. You’ve got to be real. I would rather have an outwardly rebellious child than an inwardly rebellious one. Much rather. If it’s outside, you can deal with it. You can work through the issues, because you know what they are. With an inwardly rebellious child, you’ll think all is fine and pat them on the head for being “good”–until one day you wake up and they’re gone. Perhaps not literally, but definitely inside. Trust me, I was that inwardly rebellious child. You don’t want it. It’s only by God’s grace, really, that I didn’t leave. Not that my parents are awful by any means–they’re awesome. It’s just this very common problem in Christian circles of making everything look right on the outside and stopping there. I learned very young that what people meant when they said, “well behaved” was relatively quiet and relatively still. That’s easy. What isn’t easy is having a quiet and still heart before God.


10. Don’t Idolize your Children!!!! Sorry, I normally don’t believe in doing multiple exclamation marks (especially not four) but this one is so desperately important. Not only will it kill your relationship with God, but it will also kill your relationship with your children. Children are NOT to make you happy. Children are NOT to make you feel fulfilled. Children are NOT to make you look good. Children are NOT to be another you. Children are NOT puppets. Don’t let your worth become tied up with them. I see this so often–parents get embarrassed about their children’s behavior in public–not because they love them and want them to grow up right, but because, How dare you make me look like a bad parent/person?!! Don’t try to make them in your own image. Don’t try to get your fulfillment out of them. Go to God for that. Idolizing puts WAY too much pressure on them, and to be blunt–they will fail miserably at being God. Just sayin’. Simply love them. Desire their best–the kind of best that God desires for you. Don’t know what that is? Go read the Bible! 😀


11. Recognize the difference between Childish Incompetence and Deliberate Disobedience. There is a super major difference between a child making a bed sloppily and a child refusing utterly to try to make a bed. And if you don’t recognize it and act accordingly–loving instruction on the first, and loving discipline on the second–you will hurt your relationship and make them not want to try at all, since they never can please even when they try hard. When they try hard to clean the bathroom to please you, don’t–oh, please don’t–immediately point out the streaks on the mirror and the splashes of water on the floor. Be thrilled and pleased and love them for it. And, later, maybe give them some pointers. But not now. For now, enjoy them in their eager attempts to help. Soon, sooner than you’d like, they’ll be able to clean a mirror perfectly. But right now–right now, enjoy your little one and your streaky mirror.


(Yes he really is playing two Age of Empires games at the same time.)

12. Let them find new ways to do things. Your way is not the only way. If they get the job done, even if it was not how you would have done it, thank them! Praise their ingenuity. If it was wasteful or something like that, you may kindly suggest ways to improve on it–but mainly just focus on the end result.

13. Hold Them. My mom is great at this–she always gets so upset when people talk about spoiling babies by holding them. She thinks it’s ridiculous. And I agree. That’s not spoiling them! Spoiling them is when you give them everything they want regardless of whether or not they should have it. They should have holding. It provides comfort and security and it’s very God-like. It’s not a waste of your time. They’ll only be babies once, and for such a short, short time. Enjoy those moments. I remember when Esther was a baby baby (we still call her a baby… but really she’s not anymore. So baby baby means really a baby.) and I would be putting her to sleep… she’d be on me, and I’d think, I need to go do something else… and then I’d think, yeah, but this is Something. I won’t get to do this much longer. And you know what? I’m so, so glad I did. Because she’s too big now, already.


(In case you can’t tell, that’s an ice cube Esther is holding on her bread. :D)

14. Tell them Why or Why not. Now, you veteran parents and older siblings know when it’s a genuine “why?” inquiry and when it’s a buying time why inquiry. I mean the first kind. For children like me and my brother Matthew, it’s ever so much easier to willingly obey if you understand why it is important to do thus and so. Some children don’t care–others really care. Plus, when you tell them why, you’re helping them to think things through and to do things because it’s right.


15. Stay Calm. The calm person is the person in control. Always remember that. If you lose your calm, you lose control–of not only yourself, but of the whole situation. Speak gently. If you are really angry, LEAVE. Wait until you can be a sane person again. Deal with the anger (pray, journal, punch a punching bag, walk really fast, chop up veggies with a vengeance–whatever it takes.), don’t just stuff it. Eventually it’ll blow– way worse.


16. Don’t start battles you don’t have time/energy for. Heard this one at a woman’s conference thingy from a really wise Mennonite lady. Super smart. Basically, if they are doing something naughty (that won’t kill them), and you are way too busy to deal with the problem properly, don’t even say, “stop doing that.” Sure, we don’t want them to get away with stuff, but it’s better in some cases than being inconsistent and teaching them that you don’t always mean what you say. Pick your battles wisely. Somethings just aren’t worth it.


17. Rarely threaten. And if you do, only say something you WILL DO. Don’t threaten them with knocking their teeth out or grounding them till they are 30–keep it realistic and, um… well, humane? o.0

18. Let them be their own person. Don’t worry, I don’t mean to let them separate themselves completely from you or to do all kinds of odd piercings or something–just simply recognize that they won’t believe identically to you–in some ways their standards might even be higher. I know it is like that in our family some. There will be a lot of similarities, to be sure. But trying to force them all to be exactly the same, and not letting them have any individual preferences and such will likely cause even more striking differences–the whole perverseness of human nature problem. 😛 When they become adults, let them be adults. It’s okay if they make bad decisions sometimes. Counsel them, definitely–but remember that now they are directly responsible to God for their choices.


19. Let them struggle. I know it sounds a little heartless–but then again, if the Mother Hen tried to help her chicks instead of letting them struggle, they would die. I know it’s hard to just let a little one struggle–but they will be the stronger for it. Encourage them to keep trying, be there to keep them from hurting themselves TOO badly, but let them try. Let them get a little hurt. If they are genuinely stuck, of course, help them. But they’ve got to struggle some.


(how’s that for real?)

20. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try to be like other parents/older siblings. Don’t pretend to be perfect. Just realize that you will have strengths and you will have weaknesses. Operate in your strengths–for instance, if you are wonderful at writing but not so great at music, don’t try to learn every instrument and teach them yourself. Just teach them writing and let someone else teach them music. It’s okay. You don’t have to be everything and know everything and do everything. Be yourself–God put you in that family for a reason. Not because He needed someone else there, but because He needed–well, you. (And also because He knew that you needed the character development that that family provides.) Trust Him to fill in your weak areas, and remember that is why there is such a thing as the church body. And please, let other parents/older siblings see that you struggle too. It’s horribly discouraging if we all pretend to be perfect–how can we ever get help? How can we ever give help? How can we ever get beyond surface friendships? We can’t. We’ve got to be real.