Monday, January 15, 2018

January Q & A: #3 A Healthy View Of Dating

*ETA - Clarification: As this question was submitted by a Mennonite and I am one as well, this whole post is from a completely Mennonite perspective.

Question #3:

"I am sure you're aware of how dating has changed in our short life span. Any more, it seems like perfection of character is extremely important. To date someone is almost like deciding if you're going to marry them. And while it is indeed an important matter, it seems like it's gone farther than discerning God's will for my life and learning to know someone better. I hope this all makes sense. So my question is, what can I as a parent do to help my children have a proper and healthy view of dating?"


Short answer? You and your husband must have a healthy view of dating. ☺

Long answer? Well..... This is the first "hard" question I've tackled this month (there's more coming!) and it is awfully hard for me to just put my ideas out here and not feel like a big know it all. Then again, maybe someone who voluntarily offers to answer people's questions is automatically a know it all, I don't know? I don't pretend to have all the answers to this question but I will share some of my thoughts with you.

I live with a man who firmly believes that any godly, Christian man and woman could date, marry and live happily together. That's a pretty far cry from the common/popular view of dating. His view might appear to be a little over simplified on the opposite spectrum but I think it is actually true and a much healthier view of dating and marriage.

Does that sound crazy?

I don't believe that there was one 'Mr. Right' out there for me. I think there were other men I could have married and enjoyed a happy marriage with. That's a mouthful, I know. A mouthful that probably needs some clarification.

I'm not talking about promoting carelessness and flippancy in dating and marriage. I'm not saying that I think I could have married any old boy that came along and expected a wonderful marriage. What I am saying is this: I believe there were lots of godly young men with solid, Christian values who I could have dated, married and lived happily with. Each one would have come with a unique set of struggles to work through and issues to deal with -- my marriage and the Bethany that I know would look different than they do today -- but that's what you do in a marriage no matter who your partner is.

Now I'm guessing if I had just completely gone for looks or reputation or - I don't know - wealth, with no regard for same values, the struggles and issues may have been a lot larger and harder. It does matter who you marry; you are entering a life time commitment. But I think there is a lot more room within the perimeters of God's Will for a life partner than most people's view of dating allows.

A little personal story here... I remember in our early years of marriage struggling majorly with the idea that I had married the wrong man. Here I was now, stuck, and nothing could be done about it. Suddenly it was as if the Lord said to me, "No. He is a good man; a godly man. You are married to him. Therefore, he is the right man."

Do you feel like I am straying from answering the question? Here's my point. I think we've turned dating into this huge, paralyzing decision that has to be gotten just right or it's all wrong. I think the 'Mr/Miss Right' idea plays into that heavily.

How do we teach our children?

Well, I think the answer to that has a lot to do with my short answer to this question. It is impossible to teach something if you don't believe in it yourself and a lot of us parents act like we don't believe it.

I understand why, don't get me wrong. I am not there yet, but I can only imagine how hard it will be to meet the person my son or daughter wants to date. I can guess how easy it will be to analyze and critique and question whether they are good enough. While I will always be happy to give my children advice and encouragement about dating, I would hope that I never pressure them to wait for Mr/Miss Perfect.

There is much more that could be said on the subject, I'm sure. I've shared some of my thoughts, what are yours?

Friday, January 12, 2018

January Q & A: Question #2 - How Mennonites Address People

Question #2:

"I have noticed among Mennonites when referring to a family, they refer to them by the husband's first name. Like for example , 'Tims are coming to visit' ....or when referring to Grandpa and Grandma were at church, they would say, 'Grandpas were at church'."

I guess I am a true dyed in the wool Mennonite. I must confess, this question had me scratching my head at first. How else would you say it? Do non Mennonites actually say it a different way? Hmm...

And then, one day I was telling my daughter about this whole Q & A thing and describing some of the questions and, wa-la! Light bulb. I then checked back with the person asking, just to make sure I wasn't way out in left field.

So, here's my guess. Generally people would refer to a family as "The Brown family" or "The Jones family". Among Mennonites, this gets complicated very quickly. In our church, for example, there are eight Miller families and five Weaver families. If I say, "We had the Miller family over last Sunday evening", I'm going to answer a lot of questions before everyone understands that it was actually the Daniel Miller family who was at our place.

Now, I'm not sure why we don't refer to a family by their first and last name. Maybe because we're lazy? But I'm guessing the fact that there are often multiple families with the same last name among Mennonites circles is likely the reason we refer to families by the husband's first name.

I haven't come up with an answer for saying, "Grandpa's were in church today" instead of "My grandparents were in church today", although some of that just depends on the context. I think it is also a Mennonite thing for a husband and wife to address each other as "mom" and "dad".... Maybe I'm wrong; I'm painting broadly here and I'm sure it's not true for everyone.

I do think that Mennonites generally do not place an emphasis on addressing people respectfully. Teaching our children to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" is not common. As a teen-ager, I babysat for some neighbor children and they were strictly taught to address me and my family as "Miss Bethany", "Miss Lavina", "Mr Elmer"; no Mennonite child that I know ever did that! It's kind of shameful and sad, really. I wonder why that is a part of our culture? Any insight?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Q & A: #1 Caps and Veils

Question #1:

"Are there any conflicts among Anabaptist groups over cap style head coverings vs. hanging veils?"

I don't like to speak for Anabaptists at large because I have been pretty removed from mainstream Anabaptists most of my life time, so I will just tell you my personal experience and leave it at that.

I grew up in a church that wore the cap style head covering. Back in the era of my childhood, cap style coverings (with strings) immediately identified you as "Beachy Amish Mennonite". Any other type of head covering instantly signaled some other Anabaptist affiliation.

I remember as a youth when this began to change. You could no longer visit Calvary Bible School and point out all the people from Lott, TX because they weren't the only ones wearing veils anymore.

As a young married, the question of allowing veils came up at our church. It was vetoed after careful consideration. There was a pretty strong push for uniformity and not everyone was ok with changing to wearing a veil. It was during this time that I had my first eye opener on the subject. There was a young couple coming to our church at that time and the wife came from a church where the women didn't all wear the same type of head covering.

One day, this lady spent a day sewing at my house and we got on the head covering subject. I, in all my young wisdom, trotted out the popular argument, "Isn't it confusing to the community if everyone wears something different?"

I don't remember exactly how she answered but something of the idea that, no, it wouldn't be confusing because it is the principle of covering that is important, not so much how each person chooses to apply it. Mostly I remember that it was a new idea to me that uniformity isn't necessarily the only way.

Years later our church changed to allowing the cap style covering and the hanging veil.

I would say there has been a huge shift in recent years across Anabaptist churches to embracing different types of head coverings. I'm guessing though, you would still find some conflicts about the issue depending where you would go.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January Q & A

Sometimes I regret the fact that I get creative ideas. Like Winnie The Pooh, my ideas usually seem more "thing-ish" before I put them out there for all the world to see. One solution would be to stop putting them out there; another would be to just plow on and hope for the best. I reckon we're gonna plow on with this one.

Just because I feel like
 using random pictures...

When I had this bright idea to do questions and answers, it was some vague notion of a fun 'get-to-know-each-other" type of deal. When the questions started showing up, I held my head in my hands because it started looking a lot more like an "I-have-all-the-answers" type of a deal than anything else and that is the last way in the world that I would want to come across.

But here we are, and it's January. I said I would answer questions and I will. Not because I think I'm wise and have great answers but because it is interesting to hear from you and I value that interaction enough to give my thoughts on your questions.

I'm hoping to learn things from you, too, and I'm going to give you lots of chances to join in the conversations this month. Your first chance is to give me some input on two questions that were asked:

#1. "I have come to expect January to contain many illnesses, and partly blame it on Christmas gatherings and such at the end of December. But it still gets old! What are some things you do to promote wellness and boost immunities? Or any tips to help nurse the sick, whether colds or fevers or stomach bugs? What about coping tips for mom?" 
(In light of the past three weeks or so, I certainly don't feel qualified to answer this one. We're STILL not all back to 100% around here!)

#2. "I spend a lot of time here at home alone with the children. Because of the calling in my husband's life as deacon in the church and his gifted ways of helping people he ends up being gone a lot evenings, etc. I would love ideas for activities for my children to do that occupies their time. My 4 daughters are 14, 13, 11, & 9. Son is almost 6.  My daughters are the ones that I struggle the most with in keeping them busy and happy. Would love ideas of craft projects, games, etc for them to do. Love it when they can somewhat do it on their own as least in part.
(I have a few ideas for this one but I would love to be able to share a nice long list with some of your ideas too!)

If you have any input or ideas to share on either of these questions, please send me an email at Towards the end of the month I will compile any ideas with my own and post those answers. In the mean time, you can expect to see a couple of 'Q & A' posts per week this month.

Thank you for your help and your questions. I do really think this will be fun!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen

It started out bright and serene,
A day that was fit for a queen --
   The smallest of plans,
   No schedule demands;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

But in a fate twist unforseen,
Straight downward the day did careen.
   "I don't feel the best,"
   My pale son confessed;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

He soon turned from pale to light green,
A bucket completed the scene.
   But that was just one,
   We'd only begun;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

As fast as the dominoes lean,
Then topple in piles as you've seen.
   Another turned pale,
   "I'm sick!" Came the wail;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

The night was a sleepless routine,
Of visits made to the latrine.
   Both upstairs and down,
   The flushing did sound;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

The episodes numbered 'umpteen',
And mother became a machine.
   To steady the bowl,
   And comfort the soul;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

The smells and the sounds were                                                           obscene,
The whole business screamed out                                                       "unclean!"
   Would night never end?
   The sun not ascend?
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

The mother, she vowed to houseclean,
Till all would be fresh and pristine.
   At last they all slept,
   As light upward crept;
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen.

The sun rose on folks pale and lean,
With no thought for fancy cuisine.
   And I will not lie,
   We sure did not cry,
   As we said Good-Bye,
First Day Of Two Thousand Eighteen!

Monday, January 1, 2018

To The New Year!

 Happy New Year!

We've spent the last two weeks taking turns being sick. We managed to be healthy enough for the children's school Christmas program and the choir's final program and we limped through the last week of school with a couple of people missing days. Then we drug a couple of recovering people to Arkansas for Christmas with my family and enjoyed a good time there. A couple of us caught the ailments for the return trip and the rest of the week at home was spent catching up on laundry, holding people, and taking it easy.

We still have a few coughs and I'm not holding my breath but I think we are all on the mend again.

Last night seemed like a good time to pull ourselves together and do something fun. We had a special snack/supper and then everyone wrote down a game to play and a story to read

And then we read them...

And played them....


I feel like I should write more but I need to run along and get on with the day. Just a couple things...
I'm still open for questions for the month of January. I've gotten a few, and I'm fine with a few. But if you think of more, you're welcome to ask.

 Also, your emails!

So, my husband had this great idea to make everyone a winner in my birthday giveaway and I was, quite honestly, feeling a bit lazy to go to all the trouble. But then your emails started coming in -- all the surprise and the thank yous and some of you sharing family pictures and telling me about yourselves...

I loved it!!!!
Thank you. Thank you so much!
I can't wait to get your books
 sent your way.

 now I
 must run along. I do not know
 what 2018 will bring but I know
 it in
I am