Friday, January 29, 2010

school holidays

This was written on a melancholy morning a week ago, but it felt more suitable for a few days before school starts - so I kept it for today.

The school holidays are running past too fast, like cotton from a quickly spinning reel.

I scramble to get last minute jobs done. I write chores charts and budgets; organise late play-dates; finish holiday tasks (I planned to declutter the house, and I'm about half done); buy school shoes; take kids to appointments with the dentist, doctor and hairdresser; label books, pencils and school clothes.

I'm sunk deep in the vagueness of holidays, befuddled by weeks of Christmas and beachside vacation and near-constant outings. The imminent responsibilities of the year creep across my thoughts like the dark moon of an eclipse.

Term time threatens the loss of my children's company, but it also beckons with the promise of some kind of restored routine, quietness, and neatness that doesn't disappear in the blink of an eye under the towering piles of mess created by 4 busily playing children.

The first day of school looms like a little bereavement, a small farewell, a practice for bigger goodbyes. I'll kiss my children and watch them walk through the gates. I'll return to our neat and empty home, where my 3 year old son and I will rattle around like 2 small peas in an overlarge pod, until we grow used to the silence.

Until the next school holidays.

image is from ohdearbarb at flickr

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I'm standing in the kitchen looking for my cookbook so I can make some lasagne.

Jean - I need a recipe for ... (my mind goes blank and I search desperately for that missing noun...)

Lizzy - Disaster!

Well, I think I already have one of those, but it's good to see my 11 year old daughter developing a quick wit!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

cool change

Here's a story about one day during our school holidays a couple of weeks ago. A story of summer.

It's sweltering. The electricity has been off for 15 hours. Every time we ring the power company, the estimated time for blackout's end changes: 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm. It's over 35 degrees Celsius* outside the house and about the same inside.

We didn't get much sleep last night. The radio smugly informs us that it was the hottest night in Melbourne for 108 years. We're sweaty, grumpy and exhausted. Our frozen food is slowly defrosting and the fridge gave up the battle to keep the milk cool hours ago. Steve goes out to pick up a couple of bags of ice, and we throw them hopefully into the chest freezer.

I ring the local pool and ask if they've managed to stay open without power. "Of course!", says a cheerful receptionist. "We're having a little trouble with cooling, but we are open!"

We pull on our bathers, gather a pile of towels and goggles, drive to the pool in the blissfully airconditioned car, and slip into the kiddies' pool. It's a little like a giant, lukewarm, overpopulated bath.

My tension ebbs away into the rippling light. Water slaps gently on the sides of the pool. Voices echo off the cavernous ceiling. Women surreptitiously eye one another's swimwear choices.

Our six year old son shows off his new swimming skills and begs for one more game of "I'll chase you, you chase me". Our three year old giggles and kicks me painfully as he explores this exciting liquid element. The older kids chase each other down the lime green waterslides.

We dodge balls and children in the shallow kiddies' pool. We gasp as we plunge into the over-heated churning spa. We slip into the welcome coolness of the adults' pool. When we walk between pools, the chlorine-scented air feels heavy and sultry on our damp skin.

It's 4:00 when the overhead lights flick on: the blackout is over, right on time. Almost simultaneously, the cool change comes. We shiver pleasurably as cold air floods through the open doors. The glaring blue sky melts into soft cloud. Rain pelts down.

We're wet already, so we step outside, onto damp grass under dripping trees. We lift glad faces to the emptying clouds. A flock of cockatoos wheels and screeches high in the grey. I raise my arms and surrender my skin to the hard, pummeling rain.

Cool change in Melbourne.

* That's 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The day before, it reached 43.6 degrees Celsius (over 110 degrees Fahrenheit), so I guess I should be glad the blackout held off for a day!

images are from tybcat_64 and bitzcelt at flickr

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

aaargh! I haven't finished my school holiday tasks!

Hi everyone! It's been a busy, bustling school holidays (isn't it always?!) and we've got one week to go here in Victoria. I almost feel ready to start blogging again!

I've got lots to tell you about - plenty of reflections on life, what I've been feeling, and what I've been thinking about - but my thoughts haven't quite come together yet. So you'll have to be a little patient.

If you're nearing the end of school holidays, I guess you're feeling like me. You're probably refreshed by all those weeks with no school, but at the same time exhausted by having kids at home all day! Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the tasks you want to finish before the school year begins: the menu planners, the chores charts, the haircuts, the pencil labelling.

My friend shared something wonderful the other day: it doesn't matter if all these tasks aren't done by the start of term. Once term time comes, the house will be a lot emptier and there will be time to write budgets and menu planners. Who says they have to be done by the first day of school? Not God! So I guess I can give myself a little breathing space.

My sister-in-law also said something helpful: a mother's holidays start the day the kids go back to school. I usually expect to feel rested by the end of school hols, but I'm realising that's probably unrealistic. So I haven't scheduled any extras during first term. I plan to use that time (God willing!) to rest, reflect, get the year running smoothly - and enjoy having 3 year old Andy all to myself! I'll also read a Christian book just for me, to help me grow. (It's Paul Tripp's Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God, which is a little embarrassing!!)

I'd better go now. I've got 4 children to look after and a very messy school holiday house to tidy. I'll post a couple of fun things this week. Maybe by next week I'll feel ready to write something more serious - you never know! In the meantime, if you're on school holidays too, don't worry if you haven't got everything done by the start of term, and take some time to enjoy your kids. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

our Melbourne Adventure

Every summer, after spending 10 days at the beach with my parents, our family has a Melbourne Adventure. Each of our 4 children - and sometimes the adults! - gets to choose a place to visit in or around Melbourne, and we pack sandwiches and go out for the day. Here's some holiday pics from this year.

Andy (3) decided he'd like to go on the "twain", so we went on Puffing Billy, an old-style steam train in the hills outside Melbourne.

Ben, as always, chose Scienceworks, where we went to the Planetarium and the Lightning Show, and explored the exhibits.

Thomas (6) wanted to visit the animals at the Melbourne Zoo. Here's Andrew getting up close and personal with a lizard in the reptile house.

Happy-go-lucky Lizzy - as always! - chose something that was pure entertainment: this year, it was Luna Park.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun!

from the archives wrap up

Well, that's the end of my series on biblical womanhood from Titus 2:3-5! I hope you've enjoyed it. It's back into normal blogging soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

from the archives: submission in practice

It took me many, many years of marriage to understand what submission might look like in practice. Every time I asked for advice, I was told "I believe in headship and submission, but I can't explain what it looks like." Coming originally from a feminist position, and with little guidance and few examples, I could have done with some more specific suggestions!

So what I'm doing today is sharing some examples of what the practice of submission might look like. The details will be different in every marriage, but one thing is certain: submission is an attitude which affects everything - thoughts, feelings, words, actions - every moment of every day.

Submission affects our thoughts and feelings. It means that when I think of my husband, I'll reject critical, bitter, resentful, unforgiving thoughts. Instead, I'll choose to think of him with respect and love. I don't mean I'll refuse to see his bad points! Often, because I've married a sinner, what will be demanded of me is not blind approval, but patience and forgiveness. But I'll also choose to rejoice in the times he exercises his leadership wisely, and when he fails, I'll trust in the God who has chosen this man to be my husband, remember my own sin, respect his role even when I'm struggling to respect him, and respond with forbearance and grace.

Submission affects our actions in small things. This was the first expression of submission which made sense to me. It means I (try to!) honour my husband's preferences: keeping the kitchen bench clean, filling the kettle (I kid you not!), or wearing my hair long. For you, it will mean other things: de-cluttering the loungeroom, welcoming your husband with a kiss, or keeping track of what you spend.

Submission affects our words. It changes the way we talk to our husbands, and to others (children, friends, our mothers) about our husbands. I don't mean we'll speak with humble deference: there's lots of teasing, laughter and robust discussion in my marriage, which won't surprise anyone who knows us! But I've learned not to nag or boss my husband into doing things, not to complain about him to others, and not to always offer my opinion when we're leading a group together - and I'm learning to be careful of how I speak to him in front of others.

Submission affects our response when our husbands ask something of us. Elizabeth George taught me (and I in no way live up to this!) to respond first with a "yes", and only then with a "but have you thought of ...?, when my husband asks something of me. "Yes", I'll gladly come and help you with that. "Yes", why don't we do that together on the weekend. "Yes", let's consider those ministry plans. Without noticing it, I'm often automatically set to "no", or at least to "sigh".

Submission affects decisions about our own lives. It affects how we spend our money, use our time, and make our plans. Recently, God has convicted me about two areas which I think are key for many women: spending and scheduling. Steve's an easy-going guy who doesn't throw his weight around, and it's been easy for me to take advantage of that as I manage our finances and plan my calendar. This year, I'm seeking his guidance on our budget and my plans for next year.

Submission affects how we respond to our husband's leadership. It's hard to graciously acknowledge and receive someone's authority. It's far easier to openly rebel, or to resist in more subtle ways: patronising our husbands, doing things behind their backs, or surreptitiously trying to exert control. Instead, we'll build up rather than tear down, obey when it doesn't mean disobeying Christ, and support, encourage and pray for our husbands as they lead our family.

Submission affects how we influence our husbands. There's definitely a place for wise counsel, good advice, and honest discussion (Prov 31:26). But there will also be times when words are ineffective or unwelcome. The primary way we influence our husbands, especially when words fail, is through our prayers, the godliness and reverence of our lives, and the way we honour and seek their leadership (1 Pet 3:1-7). Definitely not through sulking, nagging, manipulating, seeking revenge, or complaining!

Submission affects how we accept our husband's care. I've often observed in my own and others' marriages a tendency to be unwilling to receive compliments graciously, to welcome embraces, to hear encouragement, to enjoy sentimental expressions of affection, to accept protection, or even to allow a husband to open a door for us. We're independent modern women - we don't like to be looked after! This might be something we need to learn.

Submission affects how we use our time and energy. Instead of lavishing our time and energy on ourself and our dreams, we'll give ourselves first to helping our husbands, caring for their needs, and supporting their work and ministry. I don't think we should put our husbands on a pedestal, or that our lives should revolve around them - this wouldn't be good for either of us! Christ is our first husband, God's glory our first goal, and the gospel our first priority. But our husband will come next on the list, we'll be careful about how our ministry and relaxation affect him, and we'll work as a team, when possible, to reach out to God's world.

But what if my husband doesn't want to lead? This is a question which often comes up when I talk to married women. Since Genesis 3:16, many wives love to take over, and many husbands lazily abdicate responsibility. We may need to repent of our tendency to want to run things, ask for our husbands' advice and input when it's not offered, and gently encourage them to take greater responsiblity in leadership. I think this is one piece of encouragement most husbands would welcome! If this continues to be a major problem in your marriage, it could be helpful to talk together to a godly pastor.

But what if I'm in a difficult marriage? If God expects wives of unbelieving husbands to honour and obey their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-7) then he expects no less from those of us in difficult Christian marriages. There are no "if ... then ... " clauses when it comes to love and submission (I'm not talking about situations where it's appropriate for a wife to leave her husband, in cases like abuse and adultery). I know this is hard to say, and harder still to practise, and requires far more than a brief paragraph! Our comfort is that God knows our situation, that he watches over us and loves us more deeply than any husband ever could, that we honour him by our faithfulness in a difficult situation, that he promises never to test us beyond what we can bear, and that he gives us grace and strength when we have none of our own.

I know the things I say are not easy for many of us to hear, and for any of us to practise. But don't we love God's word, and trust him to want only what is best for us? I pray that he will help you and me to come to the Bible ready to have our minds changed, to listen to his voice even when we find it hard to hear, and to ask him for the will and grace to obey.

I've found, over the years, that submission has changed from something I reluctantly practice through gritted teeth and with resentment, to something I've grown into, as its true beauty and freedom have become apparent to me, and as God's grace has worked in the hearts of my husband and me. I hope and pray you find the same.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

from the archives: submission in attitude and action

What do headship and submission in marriage look like in practice? How do you define such a thing? For every marriage is different: submission has "as many expressions as the relationships it finds itself in".* It's even harder to describe what submission looks like when we see it so infrequently.

What I can tell you, after 20 years of learning how to be married, is that headship and submission can be beautiful, like a dance where the dancers know their places.

I can't imagine a relationship more lovely than that of Christ and the church. What could be more beautiful than a lover who finds a woman lying in her filth, washes her, adorns her, and lays down his life to win her (Ezek 16:1-14)? Or a woman who, having been loved with such devotion, gives herself freely and willingly to the one who died to win her? The parallel is not exact, but if human marriage is anything, it is a faint and pale copy of this everlasting marriage.

From before eternity, God planned men and women to mirror forth this divine love affair. And so he made man to work, to plant, to build and to tend, and woman to help, to bear children, to nurture and to care (Gen 1-3). He made husbands to love their wives with a self-sacrificial devotion which honours, cherishes and protects, and women to support their husbands with a love which honours, helps, reverences and yes, submits, gladly and willingly, every day and in everything (Eph 5:1-7).

You might hear people saying "The husband's job is harder". Yes, it is hard - it is desperately hard! - to sacrifice your own preferences and goals and desires for your wife. But it's equally hard to submit, for it goes against not only our culture, but also our sinful desire to run life our own way, and our familiarity with our husband's sins and failings. Submission has been hard since the day the first man and woman fell into sin, and swapped peace for a relationship where each would seek to dominate the other (Gen 3:16).

So what do headship and submission look like in practice? I'm not going to say a lot about headship, except that it demands that husbands care for their wives' needs before their own, treat them with respect and consideration, and enable them to become all they were meant to be. God never tells men, as you might expect, to rule, to command, or to demand submission from their wives. In a culture where this would have been normal, he instead turns to wives, as free and equal partners, and tells them to willingly and graciously submit.

It's easier to say what submission doesn't look like than what it does look like. It doesn't mean "mutual submission", as if sacrifice and submission are two sides of the one coin, for God demands quite different things from husbands and wives. Nor does it mean you'll pack up your brain and put it away, obey your husband when he asks you to cheat or act immorally, or never advise or influence him. Or how could women married to unbelievers freely put their trust in Christ, serve God with reverence and purity, or win their husbands for Christ (1 Pet 3:22-33)?

When you ask people what submission looks like, they'll often say "It means that if you have to make a big decision, and your husband and you disagree, he gets to make the decision." Whatever submission means, it means more than that. Submission affects everything, every moment of every day (Eph 5:24). "Submission is an attitude, but it's an attitude which has to be expressed."*

Submission affects the way we think, feel, speak and behave. It's an inner quality of the heart - a state of trust, reverence, honour, gentleness, quietness, purity, and respect - which is beautiful to God (1 Pet 3:1-6). But it doesn't stop with the heart. Like all true attitudes, submission is an attitude which leads to action.

Whatever else submission is, it's not easy. Our husbands are imperfect, and so are we. Even in a loving marriage, submission will go against every fibre of independence in our being. Submission is only possible because God's Spirit works in us moment by moment, making us more like Christ, filling us with his humility, gentleness, quietness, and trust.

I'm sorry to leave you hanging, just when I'm about to get to the nitty-gritty of the practice of submission, but this post is too long already. In the meantime, perhaps you'd like to share with us what you think submission looks like in practice.

* These quotes are from Claire Smith's talks Won without a word and The divine marriage, from her series Different by Design. I owe much of what I say, but none of my clumsiness of expression, to her.

images are from stock.xchng

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

from the archives: submission strong and beautiful

Submission is beautiful. Submission is strong. Submission is not a dirty word.

Submission is beautiful. It makes us like Jesus, who gladly submits to the will of his Father (Jn 8:29). It makes us like Christ's glorious bride, the church, who joyfully submits herself to the Husband who laid down his life to win her (Eph 5:22-33). Its beauty is seen in every Christian who obeys God willingly, in every child who honours their parents, in every safe and ordered society. It springs from the unchanging, inner beauty of a "gentle and quiet spirit", one of God's most precious treasures (1 Pet 3:4).

Submission is strong. Only those who are confident in themselves, or (better!) in God, don't need to throw their weight around. Sarah left her home and follow her husband Abraham on the journey of faith to an unknown country, because she trusted in God and didn't give way to fear (1 Pet 3:5-6). Only women with a big picture of God - a God whose eternal purpose in making men and women was to display the love between Christ and the church, and who works every circumstance for our good and his glory (Rom 8:28=29) - are able to submit with trust and joy.

Submission is not a dirty word. We honour submission in Jesus, in Christians, in children. But when it comes to marriage, we have a mental block. When the "s" word comes up in a talk or a Bible reading, it makes us squirm with embarrassment.

The word "submission" may bring to mind mental pictures of a (perfectly dressed) housewife taking (perfectly baked) biscuits out of her (perfectly polished) stove, or the "little wife" who brings a "masterly man" his slippers and pipe, or the human doormat who has denied her own intelligence and personhood to say "yes" to everything her husband asks, however demeaning or stupid.

My own journey to seeing the beauty of submission was a long one. I don't remember thinking much about submission in marriage as a child. As a teenager at a girl's school, the idea would probably have seemed repellent. During my Arts course, I became a thorough-going feminist. Steve, who is now my husband, was also a feminist in those days.

I only accepted submission as God's will for marriage after much study, conversation and heart-searching. I debated every side of the issue with wise Bible teachers, read books representing different points of view (the most memorable and influential being Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), and spent many hours studying the Bible passages on men and women (Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:26-40, Gal 3:28, Eph 5:22-33, Col 3:18-19, Tit 2:3-5, 1 Tim 5:14, 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15, 1 Pet 3:1-7).

Despite all the debates, in the end it seemed to me (and to Steve!) that the Bible is actually very clear: "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything" (Eph 5:24). You have to jump backwards through many exegetical hoops to get it to say anything else.* So we made the good old promises of love and submission at our wedding.

Even then, with not many models of submission in marriage to imitate, and few older, godly women who practise submission to teach me the practicalities, it's taken many years for me to understand what headship and submission look like in a healthy marriage.

These days, I find young Christian women much more willing to accept the idea of submission. But they are still confused about the practice. One of the questions I'm asked most often by young women is "What exactly does submission in marriage look like?" In a day or two, I'd like to write about the practicalities of submission in marriage.

* I know I've left acres of questions unanswered. This isn't the place for a huge theological debate. If you'd like to follow the issues up for yourself, can I suggest you start by listening to Claire Smith Different by Design. She is fair, thorough, compassionate, and well thought out. She answers the various objections to submission logically and well. And if you'd like to talk more about what I discovered about the Bible's teaching on submission, feel free to contact me, or write in the comments.

Monday, January 18, 2010

from the archives: being kind and doing good

An ongoing issue for me - both when I wrote these posts, and now, over a year later - is how to maintain a healthy balance between ministry inside and outside the home. You'll find an extended discussion about this issue in balancing homemaking and ministry. The following post is where it all started.

Our houses ... should be pleasant havens for our husbands and children, sanctuaries where we offer care and hospitality to other Christians, and gateways from which we extend the gospel to family, friends, and neighbours ... We should be renowned for good works at home, in our churches, and extending into our communities. (Carolyn Mahaney Feminine Appeal pp.114, 128)

How should we balance ministry inside and outside the home? ... I thought I'd start by telling you how the word kind in Titus 2:3-5 opened this particular can of worms for me.

It seems to me that teaching on homemaking can sometimes put home and family on a pedestal, to the neglect of the wider church and world. I felt this occasionally with Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal (I liked Nicole's comments here) although I love how she interweaves good works inside and outside the home in the quote above.

This concentrated focus on home and family concerns me particularly as we come to the word kind.

You see, the word kind in Titus 2:3-5 is from the Greek word agathos. In 89 out of the 102 times it appears in the New Testament, it's translated good. In 2 of these examples, it's describing the good deeds women do, for people outside as well as inside the home (Ac. 11:24; 1 Tim. 5:10). Over and over again, including in Titus, Christians are encouraged to abound in good deeds (Tit 1:16; 2:12-14 and e.g. 2 Cor. 9:8; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:10; 2 Thess 2:17; 2 Tim 2:21; 2 Tim 3:17; 3 Jn 1:11).

It would surprise me, given all this, if the word kind or good in Titus 2:5 doesn't have a wider focus than the home.

But maybe this wider focus is only for older women. Young women are told to "to marry, to have children," and "to manage their homes" (1 Tim. 5:14). A woman over 60, on the other hand, should be "well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good (agathos) deeds" (1 Tim. 5:10), like Dorcas, who's "always doing good (agathos) and helping the poor" (9:36).

Are young women to be devoted solely to home duties, then as their children become independent, to devote themselves to good works outside the home?

The Proverbs 31 woman, however, famously does it all: she helps her husband, cares for her children, dispenses wise counsel, manages an extended household, makes clothes and linens, oversees servants, runs a thriving home business, speculates in land, plants vineyards, and cares for the poor. But this is an idealised picture, and I assume a woman won't do all of these at once during every season of life (or ever!).

And what about Jesus' statement that "anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me", and "anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"? Of course, this doesn't negate our responsibility to care for home and family (1 Tim. 5:8), which is the main way we serve Christ if we're wives and mothers. But the radical demands of the gospel will still have an impact on us and our families.

So I'm left with some questions. It's clear that the first priority of a godly wife and mother is to love her husband and children, and manage her home. But it seems that a godly woman will also be known for her good deeds outside the home. I assume that the balance between ministry inside and outside the home will differ according to the season of life a woman finds herself in, but that "kindness" or "good deeds" will always reach out as well as in.

images are from stock.xchng

Friday, January 15, 2010

from the archives: homemaking

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the obstacles to homemaking: valuing paid work above working at home; being at home but not "busy" at home; and doing other ministries at the expense of home and family. ...

Here's a few preliminary thoughts on what homemaking is all about. Very hazy and unformed! But I hope you find them useful. I'd welcome anyone's comments or suggestions.

  • Homemaking, along with helping our husbands and bringing up our children, is our primary responsibility if we are married with children (Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 5:14; Tit. 2:3-5). We'll be involved in other ministries as time and the seasons of life permit (and often our home and family will form the basis of these ministries) but home and family should be the focus of our time and energy (more about this next week).
  • Homemaking is not home worship. It's possible to prioritise family and home to such an extent that it's not good for us, our husbands, children, church or community (we've all known self-absorbed couples and families, and women obsessed with making their homes beautiful). Jesus is the one we worship, and marriage, family and home are temporary, not eternal (Matt. 10-37-39; 22:30).
  • Homemaking is hard work. We're called to be "home workers" not "yummy mummies" (Titus 2:3-5). The Proverbs 31 woman is never idle: she gets up before the sun, goes to bed after the sun, and "sets about her work vigorously" in between (Prov. 31:13-18).
  • Homemaking is about managing a home - literally, being a "home ruler" (1 Tim. 5:14). It's a position of authority and responsibility, requiring skill, intelligence, self-discipline, organisation, training, and energy. It means overseeing and managing all the matters relating to the home. You don't need to ask your husband for advice about every tiny thing! It's your job to make decisions and oversee operations.
  • Homemaking is a multi-skilled profession. The Proverbs 31 woman cares for her husband and children, provides food, clothes and bed linens from scratch, contributes to the family income, and manages an extended household. For you, homemaking might involve managing finances, fixing things around the house, shopping, planning, cooking, cleaning, mending, organising the calendar: the possibilities are endless!
  • Homemaking doesn't exclude or elevate paid work. The Proverbs 31 woman contributes to the family income through making clothes and selling them, trading, buying fields, and planting vineyards. But her home and family come first: she works for their sake, not her own self-fulfilment, and she doesn't work at the expense of her home and family.
  • Homemaking is about people. The place serves the people, not the other way around. Your husband's preferences, your children's happiness, the mood of a home, whether it's welcoming to visitors, whether people feel comfortable there: these are all more important than a shining floor or a well-ordered drawer (unless these are important to the happiness and smooth functioning of the family).
  • Homemaking will look different for everyone. We all bring our own distinctive personality, preferences, skills and gifts to the job. Some delight in baked goodies, others in choosing paint colours; some prefer neatness, others comfortable clutter; some excel in financial management, others in quilting; some are married to men who like to cook, others to men who don't know one end of a broom from the other: as long as we love and serve the people who live in and visit our home, let's rejoice in our differences.
  • Full-time homemaking isn't always possible, even when we would prefer it. I'm not sure a couple doing two full-time jobs to afford a more affluent lifestyle is a good reason for not giving more time to homemaking! But a husband who is sick or unemployed, a wife who is unable to do physically demanding tasks, relational breakdown or single parenting, may mean a woman needs to work full-time, or a husband to fulfil many homemaking responsibilities. Let's not judge others, especially when we don't understand their situation.
How does this apply to single women without dependent children? I'm not sure. You'll hear some people say that single women should focus on preparing for marriage and home, or on nurturing other people's children and creating a home. I'm not convinced, although I'd like to think about this more! The advantage of staying single is to have more time to serve Jesus, although this will be done in a distinctively feminine way. Older widows (over 60) were to teach younger women (spiritual motherhood), and to devote themselves to good deeds, such as hospitality (from a home!), service in the church (while supporting male leadership), and caring for the poor (at the time, this often meant using feminine skills involved in making clothes) - 1 Cor. 7:34; Tit. 2:3-5; 1 Tim. 5:9-10; Ac. 9:36-41.

What do you think?

image is from stock.xchng

Thursday, January 14, 2010

from the archives: busy at home

I was walking the kids in to school when I bumped into the mother of my son Ben's best friend. We don't know each other well, so we talked about our lives and what we do. Inevitably, the question came up: "Do you work?"

This from a mother who works nightshift as a hospital nurse 3 nights a week and dayshift 2 days a week, as well as running one of those homes where, the instant you visit, you're welcomed into a clean house and plied with home-made delicacies.

I responded the way I always do: "No ... I don't work ... I'm at home full-time with children ... we have 4 children, so it keeps me busy (insert sheepish giggle from me)". Awkward silence. End of conversation.

It's a scenario every one of us who cares for our home and family full-time can identify with, isn't it? So why do we feel so embarrassed?I'm leading a women's book club on Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal. There are discussion questions in the back of the book, and at the end of the first study, the group is given some homework: go home and ask your husband which of the Titus 2:3-5 qualities he thinks you most need to grow in.

Two husbands gave the same answer: "To be busy at home". But when I followed up what they meant, they were said with a quite different emphasis: "To be busy at home." "To be busy at home."

One mum finds it hard to be at home on her own. She's an extrovert, so she gets a bit down when she's alone. She likes to be out at the park or the shops, small children in tow. I remember reading an anecdote from Elizabeth George A Woman after God's own Heart about how she asked her husband for advice on time-management, and he suggested she go out one day a week rather than every day. He didn't say so, but she was grounded!

The other mum is like me: she feels more comfortable being at home. But it's what she does while she's there that's the issue. We all know how easy it is to be at home, but not to be busy. Homemaking is demanding, unlike those 1950's images of happy housewives: you have to be organised, hard-working, motivated and self-disciplined. Yesterday morning, I was downloading some talks to help prepare this series on biblical womanhood, dashing downstairs to my husband's office computer and upstairs to get the kids ready for school, throwing instructions at the kids - "Is your bag packed? Have you put your breakfast bowl away?" - and questions and encouragement to my husband - "Would you like me to make you lunch? I'll pray for your meeting today!" - as I ran past.

At 10 to 9, latest possible leaving time, I was still loading a talk onto my iPod and doing some last-minute unecessary sorting of my iTunes index, when my daughter yelled, "Mum! It's time to go! We'll be late for school!"

I remember another occasion, not all that long ago, when I was working on a blog late in the afternoon, and Lizzy called out, "Mummy! I think you'd better go and get dinner now!"

There's nothing like my 10 year old daughter reminding me of my responsibilities to fill me with shame about the times I neglect my family for "ministry", and the bad example I sometimes set my daughter of how to be a homemaker.
Paid work, a trip to the shops, ministry: good things in themselves, they can all distract us from our responsibility to be "home workers".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

from the archives: purity - loving your husband sexually

Are you in love with your husband? Not, Do you love him? I know you do. He has been around a long time, and you're used to him. He is the father of your children. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your heart really squeezed when you looked at him? ... Why is it you have forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first? ...

Your husband needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to LOOK at him. Don't you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart lift? Well, LOOk at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him you love him.

Will you ask the Lord to give you a sentimental, romantic, physical, in-love kind of love for your husband? He will do this. (Shirley Rice, quoted in Ed Wheat, Love Life for Every Married Couple, quoted in Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal pp.41-42)

I honestly can't remember an evening I've laughed more. We were at a conference, and I was part of a small group of women gathered around a table, having the kind of coversation which only a group of women can have. People who walked past looked at us oddly, wondering what all the laughter was about, but we didn't enlighten them.

The centre of hilarity was a woman who told us (and I have no idea how the topic came up!) that she and her husband have sex every night. EVERY NIGHT! We could hardly believe what we were hearing. Most of us thought that married couples have sex, I don't know, maybe once or twice a week. What was going on here?

Amidst the astonished laughter, there were lots of questions: "Why? How did that happen? Tell us more! Your husband must be very happy!"

She explained, "That's what I thought you were supposed to do. I thought that all married couples have sex every night. So that's what we've always done."

That was the night it dawned on me - and the other women at the table - that what the world tells us - that unless both partners really want it, passionately, right now, sex is an imposition or something close to rape - is nonsense.

That was the night I stopped believing the world's lie that sex isn't loving unless both partners are in the mood. The lie that if you have sex because your husband wants to, when you don't, you're suppressing your feelings, and he is oppressing you, using you to satisfy mere bodily needs. The lie that making love from a sense of duty is unloving.

That was the night I realised that sex is one of the main ways a woman loves her husband. That instead of feeling reluctant and resentful when one of you is in the mood and the other isn't, this is an opportunity for unselfish, loving, joyful, enthusiastic self-giving. That sex is one of the ways a woman cares for her husband, protects his purity, builds his confidence, increases his happiness, and encourages intimacy in their relationship.

That was also the night that I realised the importance of Carolyn Mahaney's A's (not that I'd heard of them yet!) - being Available, Anticipatory, Attentive, Attractive, Aggressive (i.e. eager), Adventurous and (I added this one) Affectionate. Dressing the way your husband likes, sitting close to him on the couch when you watch TV in the evening, drinking a little wine if it helps you relax, planning for the evening, organising dates and nights away: these are all ways you can love your husband physically.

There was one other thing I learnt that night: that women can encourage one another to love their husbands physically. Not by sharing private stories, or gossiping about intimate details, but by keeping each other accountable. If you're good friends with a Christian woman, or mentoring a younger woman, take the time to ask if she is loving her husband sexually. Pray for one another, encourage one another, and be accountable to one another. This is one of the ways you protect and honour your friends' marriages.

One last thing: there were a lot of happy husbands, and a lot of blessed marriages, after that conference!

Carolyn Mahaney's A's are from chapter 5 in Feminine Appeal and from her talk Being Pure. There's a great discussion of this chapter and these issues in Nicole's EQUIP book club post, and 55(!) really excellent posts on the subject - including times when the wife wants it and the husband doesn't, or vice-versa - by Jess at Making Home.

images are from stock.xchng

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

from the archives: purity and lust

A few years ago, I was in a remote part of the world, alone with the owner of an idyllic island. As the days went by, he became more attentive and more attractive. It was an extremely pleasant sensation. I was enjoying myself greatly. My work required me to be there and my head insisted that I was above temptation. But I'm not. The Bible tells me so.

Consequently I knew I must leave urgently. I did. By the grace of God, I didn't commit adultery. Not then and not yet. But, it's there in my heart biding its time. Jesus said that makes me as bad as the worst offender. Happily, because I have always been taught that I am capable of adultery, I've always been on my guard against it. After all, it doesn't start when you jump into bed with your lover, but months, years earlier, when you tell yourself that your friend understands you better than your spouse. (story retold in Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal, p.87)

When I was 6, I fell in love for the first time, with a lion, Aslan. When I was 8, I fell in love with a horse, the Silver Brumby. When I was 10, I fell in love with a human, Aragorn. In each case, there was a worshipful inner homage to their nobility, courage and gentleness, which I recall with great clarity. When I was 13, with the first stirrings of puberty, I fell in love with Tom Burlinson in The Man From Snowy River: a less spiritual, more visceral attraction.

And there, in miniature, were the seeds of female lust: 90% personality and 10% physicality (no doubt the proportion is reversed for many men). Which of us hasn't read a book, followed a TV series, or watched a movie, and felt our heart beat faster at the sight of a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Knightly? (I know, I'm going a bit Jane Austen here, but we all understand the pull of the costume drama.) It requires no great level of physical attractiveness: give us a man with strength, sensitivity and good dress sense (ok, now I'm being silly - aren't I??) and we are lost.

We may not think of this as "lust", because it doesn't fit the male stereotype. But to allow our emotions to be drawn to a strong, sensitive character in a TV show, and our minds to play with the idea of a man who would understand and care for us, is no less lustful than a man desiring a woman's body. And, of course, the unstated implication is always there (for those of us who are married) - surely this man would listen to me, sympathise with me, and love me better than my husband.

Women's thoughts also often fit more recognisably into the category of "lust". Women, not just men, watch pornography, fantasise about sex scenes, and admire the bodies of those they're not married to. In these days of equality, advertising images play lingeringly over the male as well as the female form: women are being trained in the school of lust.

I think it's time women stopped talking as if impure thoughts are a "male" problem. The result of this is that women become too embarrassed to talk about their struggles openly, because they expect others to be shocked and horrified, so they never seek help and counsel from other women. They feel completely alone, struggling with a problem that no other woman - surely! - has ever struggled with, instead of a temptation which is "common to [wo]man" (1 Cor. 10:13). Unadvised and uncounselled, women fall ripe from the tree into the open hands of lust.

Let's borrow a few weapons from the male armoury. I asked my husband how he counsels guys who are struggling with these issues, and here's some of his suggestions:

  • Be accountable to someone you trust (guys often use Covenant Eyes). A godly older woman is likely to be completely unshocked when you tell her about your problem.

  • Pray for the person you're attracted to. This will help you think of them as a real person in need of God's grace, not an object of desire.

  • Replace impure thoughts with God's word (nothing like a Bible passage repeated in the head to drive unhelpful thoughts far away!).

  • Fight tough and smart. Flee temptation. Avoid situations, books and shows which you find tempting (Matt. 5:27-30).

  • If you're married, learn to be satisfied with your partner (Prov. 5:19). Work on those tender thoughts we talked about recently.

  • Be wise. Being alone in a room with a man who's not your husband, even if it's for something "spiritual" like prayer or counsel, is likely to damage your reputation, and lead you both into danger.

  • Don't think you're above temptation. The women whose story heads this post is an absolute inspiration: she admitted adultery was possible for any of us, and ran away as fast as she could.

  • Be ruthless. Don't entertain those intruding thoughts for a second, however pleasurable they might be. Be holy, as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16).

  • Realise that emotional closeness, especially for women, is the first step to physical closeness. Don't commit emotional adultery. Avoid intimate conversation with a man you think is a "good listener". Reserve your closest friendship for your husband.

  • Don't flirt. It's easy to do this in subtle ways: through immodest dress, intimate conversation, and inviting smiles. Be aware of the impact of your behaviour on yourself and others.

  • Help your husband with his own temptations. Pray for his purity. Dress attractively, organise nights away, be physically affectionate: these things help him to see you as a sexual person, not just a "wife" or "mum", and help his thoughts not to stray to others. Forgive him when he fails, remembering that you are also guilty of sexual sin.

  • If you're married, keep each other satisfied sexually (more about that later this week).

I'd love to hear from anyone who has some other good ideas about how to battle lust, both for single and married people.

some images are from stock.xchng

Monday, January 11, 2010

from the archives: self-control and your thoughts and emotions

It might not look like this post is about biblical womanhood, but self-control is one of the qualities older women are to teach young women about in Titus 2:3-5. I've talked so much about self-control of the bodily kind on this blog, I decided to focus on controlling your thoughts and emotions for this post.

I have been reminded recently, once again, of the importance of preaching the gospel to myself every day, as I bring my thoughts and emotions under the blessed control of God's truth.

At the start of this term, my shoulder muscles were stiff with stress, I was wading breathless through a bewildering sea of responsibilities, and when I stopped to think about it, I could feel a tightening band of anxiety around my chest.

I was struggling with feelings of discouragement, worry and guilt. Discouragement over my lack of organisation last term (funny how a couple of forgotten committee meetings and un-run errands can plunge me into despair!). Worry about all the tasks I've committed to this term (Sunday School, Equip books, Sola Panel, a certain series on Biblical womanhood). Guilt about the burden these things place on our family (mostly false guilt, since I was fulfilling my responsibilities to my family, according to my husband, who ought to know).

For several memorable mornings, right at the start of the term, I woke at 6.00 and prayed in the lovely early-morning silence which rests on a house at that hour of the day. I spent a good 20 minutes or so praying through the unhelpful thoughts I was listening to: the guilt, the worry, the discouragement. I battled my unbelieving, doubting, anxious thoughts one-by-one, wrestling them into submission, taking each one captive to God's truth.

I can't begin to tell you the difference it's made! As I meditated on God's character - my Father's loving sovereignty, and how he is in control of all my responsibilities; my Saviour's sacrifice, and how I have been forgiven for all my sinful failings; the Spirit's empowering, and how I do everything in his strength - and as I praised God for his grace, and prayed about my anxieties - a burden was lifted, and my days were permeated with a sense of peace.

I'm swallowed up in busy-ness at the moment, and anxiety is threatening to creep up on me, but I'm finding that the inner assurance of God's sovereign love, which I fought so hard for at the start of this term, still remains with me, holding it at bay.

God won't ask me to do anything he doesn't give the time, energy, strength, and grace to do. He will be patient with me as I struggle with all the sins I'm so painfully aware of, and he will give me the grace to overcome them, slowly but surely. I can take each day as it comes, with its own particular responsibilities, and give myself to them fully and joyfully, rather than allowing the weight of the next 30 days to rest on my shoulders.

I am reminded of Jesus' "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29).

In his service is perfect freedom.

For more on self-control as it relates to our thoughts and emotions, see chapter 4 of Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal, and Nicole's helpful discussion of the issues raised at EQUIP book club.

image is from stock.xchng

Friday, January 8, 2010


Written two days ago.

It's 1.51 pm when our car turns into the driveway after our seaside holiday.

Somehow, the house looks shabbier than when we left. I see it half with the eyes of an owner, and half with the eyes of a stranger, as if I'm wearing 3D goggles.

The grass is shaggy and overlong. A faded brown Christmas tree lies at the foot of the driveway. I'm relieved to see that the two pot-plants near the front steps are still green and healthy. Two unopened parcels are propped next to the front door (the postman, at least, knows we've been away).

We open the door, and we're greeted by the detritus we didn't have time to tidy away before we left. The house smells comfortingly familiar, but also like it belongs to someone else. The Venus fly trap we gave our son for Christmas is holding onto life by its dry root tips.

I stand at the sink, and for a flickering moment I see a view of rolling green seaside hills through the blank tiled wall. I look out the back window, and the view of gum trees looks dry and yellow through the lingering perspective of breaking waves in a deep blue sea. I feel unbalanced, as if my feet are reaching for sand through the smooth floorboards.

The holiday recedes like a wave tugging on my legs, and the year's responsibilities threaten like dark clouds on the horizon. Three and a half more weeks' bobbing on the lazy waves of school holidays; twenty-five days (but who's counting?) until we're dragged into the rip current of term time.

The year feels frail and uncertain, as if I don't want to rest my full weight on it quite yet. Last year was hard, and I'm a little nervous about this one. I've cut down on my responsibilities to avoid last year's burnout, but I've also lost some of my confidence and enthusiasm. I'm not yet sure of the me I'm stepping into this year with.

Earlier this afternoon, on the boring road from Geelong to Melbourne, I opened The Time Traveler's Wife and read its first pages. I feel like a time traveller myself, lost between times, floating through space. I know God holds the other end of this string. I know I'm tethered. I know it, but I don't feel it, not yet.

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16
It's true even when I don't feel it.

image is from amangupta at flickr

Thursday, January 7, 2010

from the archives: loving your children - the day of the apple

"Mum, can you cut up my apple?"
"Eat it whole, sweetie. With 4 children, I don't have time to cut up apples!"

"Mum, I want an apple. Can you cut it up?"
"No, honey, I'm too busy to cut up apples. I've got 4 children."

"Mu-um, I'm hungry. Can you cut up an apple, please?"
"No! I've got 4 children! I don't have time to cut up apples!!!"

And so it went on. Until one day, my sister-in-law made a very helpful observation: "You say that a lot." "I do? I guess you're right, I do say it quite a lot." "Yes, you say it all the time." "Oh."

That was the day I started cutting up apples.

That was the day I decided, since having 4 children was my (and my husband's) idea, not my children's - and since one of my jobs is to cheerfully serve them, and I don't want them to think they're a burden, not a blessing - and since I want them to eat healthy food like apples, and they're more likely to eat apples if I cut them up - well, for all kinds of reasons, now I come to think about it - I'd better start cutting up apples.

I couldn't count the number of apples I've cut up since then. Red apples. Green apples. Bruised apples. Clean apples. (I'm getting a little Dr. Seuss here.) Apples, apples, apples. Apples with their sides cut off (bit of wastage there). Apples in their 4 neat quarters (perfecting my technique). Apples with their seeds scooped out (and into the compost bin). Tried one of those apple slicers (didn't really work). At least 2 a day, often 4; at least 3, often more. Oranges, bananas, kiwi fruit, whole platters full of fruit, and an awful lot of carrots and capsicums. But mostly apples.

Apples aren't really the issue here. You may or may not cut up apples. Kids don't need their apples cut up: that's just a symbol. Far more importantly, the day I started cutting up apples was the day I tried to stop saying, in answer to all kinds of reasonable requests, "I can't. I'm too busy. I've got 4 children." Not quite, "I'm too busy running around after you lot!" (I'd never say a thing like that, would I. Would I??). But nearly.

Which is a long-winded way of explaining why, when I read chapter 3 of Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal, on loving your children, I realised that in some ways I don't fit her experience of mothers. I find "tender love", "loving affection", and "enjoying your children", the easy part of bringing up kids. "That's wonderful, sweetie!", "Come and have a cuddle!", "Let's read a story", come easily to me.

Like so many of our most deeply-held attitudes, I learnt this from my parents. When my mother talks about what it was like having young children, she always says, "It was a lot of fun." And that's how I remember it. She really, really enjoyed having children, and she let us see it. She was warm in her affection, tender in her love, and enthusiastic in her play, and my father was, too. I am incredibly grateful about that, because not all my friends learned that attitude from their parents, and they have to battle for it every day.

(Actually, now I come to think of it, I don't think my children would ever have thought of cut-up-apples if it wasn't for the fact that Grandma always cut them up, so I have that to thank her for, too. Thanks, Mum.)

But sacrificial service? I'm not so good at that (and no, that's not my mother's fault, she was good at service, hence the cut-up apples). I've learnt, slowly, the satisfaction that can be found at the end of hours chopping veges and stirring pots. I've learnt, with practice, about the blessings which come through nappy-drudgery, and mopping-drudgery, and taxi-service-drudgery. I've learnt, finally, when my children ask for something, to put down what I'm doing, and to help them cheerfully and patiently (there's often a little *sigh* I'm still working on).

I've learnt that motherhood demands two kinds of love: self-denying, sacrificial service, and joyful, tender affection. Sometimes, you need both salt and sugar in the apple pie to make it taste good.

images are from stock.xchng

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

from the archives: loving your children - how to really hate your child

Sometimes, I hate my children.

And no, this is not what you think. This is not a no-holds-barred, bare-my-soul, spill-my-guts post on how my children irritate me, or how I don't always like them very much, or how sometimes I want to run screaming from the house. This is about those times I feel like I'm being, well, loving.

This is about Proverbs, and what it's taught me about hating my children. You see, I'd swear that I don't hate my children. I love them with every fibre of my being. If danger threatened, I would lay my life down for them in an instant. But Proverbs has a different perspective.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (Prov. 13:24)
"Come here!"
"Come here now!"
"I told you to move away from your brother. Do it now!"
"I'll punish you if you don't move."
Inches away slightly. Silence.

He's one of those children with an ability to wind his parents around his finger. He excels in enthusiastic, loving affection. "I love you, Mummy!" "Cuddle, Mummy!" "Can I stroke your hair, Mummy?" But, like many all-or-nothing children, he also excels in rebellion. He's our sunshiny child, our mugwump, our stubborn-as-a-mule boy.

Only yesterday, he disobeyed me, and I didn't discipline him (and no, I'm not talking rod, I'm talking a far milder punishment). Only yesterday, I gave in, because it was just too hard to enforce what I'd asked him to do. Only yesterday, Proverbs says that I hated my son.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Prov. 22:6)
"It's not fair! I'm hungry! Why shouldn't I have lollies? We always have lollies on Monday afternoons! Why didn't you bring something for me to eat? It's not fair! You don't care how I feel! You just don't care!"

She knows how to press every one of my buttons. Like many girls, she excels less in outright disobedience, and more in emotional manipulation. Tears stream down her face. She's my darling, my only daughter, my tender girl. She turns the screws like an expert. With every word, I can feel my chest tightening.

Is it true? Am I being unfair? Is my child starving? She's been sick recently. I should have remembered to bring some biscuits. We have to wait for half an hour. I know a little self-denial is good for her. But I can tell she's actually hungry. I don't have any really good reason not to go to the milk-bar this afternoon. I hold out for 20 of the 30 minutes.

We go to the milk-bar.

The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him. (Prov. 20:7)
Here we are, standing in the toy section of the supermarket aisle, and there's the toy I've been wanting to buy my son for weeks. He's not asking for it, he's not a greedy child, but I know how much he'd enjoy it. I also know that if I get it at all, I should come back and get it tomorrow and put it in his Christmas stocking. I know I shouldn't impulsively buy it today.

But the lure of the bright, shiny toy is too much. "You can choose one toy each, children. You have $5.00 to spend. I wouldn't normally do this, mind! But just for today, you can have one toy each." My words are empty, and I know it.

I give in to my own desire for something new, trivial, and shiny, and train my children in the art of impulsive spending.

Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. (Prov. 4:1-2)
We're at Sunday School, doing a study on Proverbs, and we're talking about how our parents teach us God's truth. "My parents tell me how to live." "My parents sometimes punish me when I do the wrong thing." "My parents pray for me."

And suddenly, there it is: one of my children says, in a complaining tone of voice, "My parents make me read the Bible 4 times a day! They make me read it 5 times on Sunday!"

This is a complete exaggeration. Five minutes Bible over breakfast, 15 minutes with Daddy some nights after dinner, and Bible notes at bedtime, hardly constitute parental Bible-bashing. We make every effort to keep Bible reading fun and full of interest. There is much more than Bible in our family life: laughter, and chatting, and play, and affection, and books, and wild games, and tickling, and love.

But the questions turn over in my brain: "Am I no fun? Will my children hate me when they grow up? Will they hate the Bible because it's been rammed down their throats? Will they rebel? Is our family all work and no play?"

This time, I don't give in. Because sometimes, I know what's good for my children. Sometimes, I'm courageous enough to stand up to them. Sometimes, I refuse to give in to the fear of losing their approval. Sometimes, I love them more than my pleasure at seeing their pleasure. Sometimes, I'm brave enough to discipline them. Sometimes, I put up with the burden of their whining, or the pressure of their arguing, or the guilt of their tears.

Sometimes, I love my children, even when love takes guts.

This post was inspired by CJ Mahaney's definition of the fear of children: "an excessive sinful concern about what our children think of us, an inordinate desire for our children's approval, or an intense fear of being rejected by our children." (Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal p.55)

images are from stock.xchng