Friday, September 25, 2009

10 Reasons to Read Betsy-Tacy

The Betsy-Tacy books were written by Maud Hart Lovelace and were based upon her childhood and young adulthood in the early 20th century. There are four books about covering her years from 5 to 12 and these are suitable for all ages. The next six books cover her high school years, travel, and marriage and are suitable for 14+. (The reason? Well, Betsy can be a little silly about boys…but really, you’ll just appreciate them more if you’re in high school yourself or have been in it.) There are also 3 Deep Valley books about other people that Betsy knows. They are delightful books and worth reading again and again…and here are 10 reasons why.

1. The characters are hopelessly flawed but always learn from their mistakes and become better people. Which is so nice, yes? :-)

2. Betsy and Tib are a little boy-crazy but Tacy isn’t.

3. The characters have loving relationships with their families (and their fathers!) but it’s not sickly sweet or obsessive.

4. College and education are viewed as good and beneficial things. Most of the girls go to college and then get married.

5. Betsy learns to keep house after she’s married and makes it a priority. But, she doesn’t give up her writing to do so. They’re some of the few books I’ve read with a healthy balance between homemaking and having dreams and pursuits as a married woman.

6. Betsy’s life doesn’t end with her marriage: the wedding is in the beginning of the last book.

7. The books make a statement against sororities and fraternities which shows some greatness of mind on Mrs. Lovelace’s part, I think.

8. The characters eat so well! Warning: These books will make you hungry!

9. Betsy doesn’t like Elsie Dinsmore (and neither do I)!

10. They show that heartache (even over, (horrors!) boys) is normal and can be a beneficial thing to growing up and maturing.

And the 11th reason to read Betsy-Tacy is….

After a long sojourn in the world of “out of print”… the high school books are being re-released on September 29th! And Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley will be out next year!







So now instead of having to track them down on Abebooks and paying $25 for one paperback you can find them on BN.com for 11.99 (for 2 books actually). Dreeaming.... :-)

And if you want to know more about Betsy-Tacy follow these links:

http://www.maudhartlovelacesociety.com/

http://www.betsy-tacysociety.org/

Ingrid

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mere Decorativanity



In homeschooling circles these days, there seems to be an inordinate amount of costume making going on. One glance at a few young ladies blogs (who shall remain nameless, you can make your own lists) and you will read of making a new costume either for fun or for an event. Now, don't get me wrong, I like costumes and sewing; one of the few websites I visit regularly is The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes. I have made two or three reproductions—all of them to be used daily or for a special event. So, I know how fun costuming can be. However, all things can cross the line. Many times as I read these young ladies' blogs, that's all there is: costume making. (Oh, and a strange obsession with food too…but I digress.) And make-up…that's another puzzler. It just seems weird to me that people that laud the Victorian age would wear make-up…something that was taboo back then. Take the Botkin girls, for example. I've often wondered how long they spend every day on those hairstyles and their perfect make-up. Maybe you've never noticed, but I can tell you that their hairstyles look easy but are not simple at all. It can take hours to make your hair look so perfectly lovely with every strand in place or a little tousled in a perfect way—they must spend lots of time on it. Also, they obviously wear layers of make-up. They look like the sort of girls you could tease by saying, "We're out of foundation and eye shadow" and could really freak out about it. :-) I have not been able to find a picture of the Botkin girls in a non-made up state. Do you think they ever get really dirty or exerted? I mean, like have they ever gone kayaking, hiking, trail riding, and swimming all in one day? (I have, in that order; it was exhausting, messy, and totally fun. :-)) There’s nothing wrong with make-up (I wear it myself sometimes :-)) or styled hair but I really don’t think it should be so important to us. Also, I am growing tired of hearing about dressing feminine because ladies should be feminine. They should be yes, but I am sooo sick of hearing about it! There's nothing wrong with being a girly girl and there's nothing wrong with being a tomboy—I'm an even mix—but, there is something wrong with focusing so much on outward appearances. It doesn't seem that many young ladies are actually focusing on running a household, it seems to me that they are simply studying the art of looking perfect all the time. It makes you wonder…are they being trained to be just delicate ornaments hanging on their husband's arm? (Many people would say yes, and I agree but I like to ask rhetorical questions.) Why is being decorative so important to these young ladies? Why are some of them so wimpy? (You read things like: "I am terrified of bugs" "I hate math" "I don’t like the outdoors"… it would be funny if it was only occasional but it's to the point of being unnatural now.) It always reminds me of this quote, "If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that's all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind. Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage; these are the things I cherish so in you." ― Marmee, Little Women, 1994. They, meaning the Botkin girls and other patriarchy influenced girls, quote the verse, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30. But they don't mean it. There's nothing wrong with being beautiful and trying to look your best but if that's all you talk about and present to others; it really is all that you care about and all that anyone will take away from knowing of you.

Ingrid

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guys




Young men are widely misunderstood—especially by young women...and especially, in the courtship movement. Most of the time, girls are completely clueless about guys and their feelings and, really, mystifyingly so. Take several friends of mine, for example, they seem totally and completely clueless about young men…yet most of them have brothers and/or are close to their fathers. It is as if they cannot believe that other men do indeed have similar feelings to that of their associates. There's a lot of talk about treating young men as brothers in Christ…but I don't think very many young ladies even understand or think about how to do that. These same friends are crazy about Vision Forum and Courtship and everything that goes with it―they can recite all the steps in their courtship plans (though they deny having one…have you ever noticed how courtship people deny having a plan yet still have one??) but really cares nothing about understanding guys. It’s so unfair. I have a father, brothers, guy cousins, and a few close guy friends—I’ve talked to them and I’ve studied them… and have come to the conclusion that my friends and all the girls like them are very mistaken about guys. Below is a list of mistaken beliefs and behaviors that I noted that many of them hold on to and my comments (if I have them) on the items noted.

—Girls with a strong courtship mindset often:


1. Seem afraid of guys; as if they think every young man they meet is going to want to marry them or at least try to ask them out.


I’ve known a lot of guys…as friends. Some are nice and some are kind of Charlie Sloanish (read the Anne of Green Gables books to see what I’m referring to) but not one of them has ever done anything that was truly startling. :-) It might have been annoying or even aggravating but nothing to be scared of or worried about. I just keep other people around when I’m talking to a guy...it’s not a big deal at all.


2. Don’t give guys a chance or the benefit of the doubt.


3. Have over-blown expectations about guys between the ages of 14-18 especially.

Do you really think he’s going to brave all and hasten to your rescue when he’s 16? Is he really going to be perfectly polished or romantic? This is your chance to be encouraging towards guys; they need your support. Just don’t expect perfection from them. You wouldn’t want them expecting you to be perfect all the time, would you?

At a homeschool convention that happened recently, there were a lot of young men who were trying to be “cool.” You know the type, acting like surfer dudes on the wrong beach. Maybe the reason they were acting like that, trying to be tough, was because they are terribly insecure. Adolescence is a tough enough time for young men even without heaping expectations upon them that they cannot measure up to. There is no way a normal guy can be everything Vision Forum wants them to be…I know there are guys who appear to be everything and more. But inside, they must feel hollow.

I've also noticed that at many conventions there are far more young women than young men attending and as I pondered this, I wondered....

Could all this “vision casting” be having a negative effect upon young men?

That’s a whole other post and I’m not sure that I have enough information to write it.

4. Don’t understand real love; it’s either sappy romance or having to make a formal decision...both things can be part of love but neither is all of it.

5. Don’t apply their knowledge gained from father/brothers/cousins to guys they are not related to.

6. Seem shy, cold, or rude towards young men in their effort to keep their distance.

7. Obsess over marriage but don’t understand what marriage is.

A lot of girls are in love with love or they want to have children. They don’t truly want to get married. I know they say they do…but they really don’t. My friends say (quite often) that they want to marry young and have lots of kids…but what they really talk about are the kids. The guy rarely comes into the discussion―they say nothing him and what they hope he’ll be like. When I think of marriage, words like; “being able to read his mind”, companionship, humor, and love come to mind—thoughts of children follow afterwards. I really like children but they’re not my motivation for wanting to get married.

If all you think about in marriage is children or mushy romance...then you’re not ready to marry.

Marriage is, to alter a Jack Sparrow quote, “It's not just a man and a woman and a house and some kids, that's what a marriage needs but what a marriage is... what a good marriage really is... is a miracle.”

8. Think that love can be turned off and on like a light switch.

Well-meaning family and friends have sadly been guilty of telling me that I should just pray “that God will take your feelings for so and so away .” And my response is, “What if He doesn’t want to take them away?” That always floors them :-)

9. Treat God like a vending machine… saying things like, “Well God gave me a desire for marriage so I’m sure I’ll get married really soon.”

Honey, you’ve got a lot to learn. God gives you desires and dreams to test you and is watching to see how you handle them. They are wonderful things but have to be handled properly to be of any use. Saying things like, “But what if God doesn’t want you to marry soon?” is always amusing. Especially, because the young lady normally cannot think of any reply to this but repeating the avowal in #9.

It’s also like saying, “God has given me the desire to have a handsome guy for my husband...so I’m sure my guy will be gorgeous!” Sheesh. And I always wonder, “What about the homely man with a beautiful heart?” (Elizabeth Elliot relates a conversation similar to this in Passion and Purity...I think.)

10. Are unwilling to even think about having to be bold with a guy at any time.

There are times when you’re going to need to make a move and go after your guy…they’re rare but they exist. Think Ruth. :-)

11. Think that there are very few nice guys out there.

The world is full of nice guys…stop being so pessimistic!

12. Thinks that guys are “heart-stealers”.

I've heard a speaker about courtship say, (I'll paraphrase) "If a young man comes to you after he's already stolen your daughter's heart then he can't court her." Many people seem to agree with this but my mind always yells: "STOLEN!!! What the heck?? The poor guy!! Who would want to marry your daughter… you, you reprobate!!" Ahem, anyway.... :-D

First off, there's that word. Steal. That means to take something without the owner's permission. God should be the owner of a person's heart and when a Christian young lady gives her heart to someone, it should be because it's God's will. There's no stealing involved. No one can force you to love someone anymore than anyone can force you to stop loving someone.

"It is mine to give to whom I choose…like my heart," – Arwen Evenstar, in the movie of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Understand this: your heart is a gift and you give it to whoever you choose. It cannot be stolen without your permission. So stop acting as if the exchanging of hearts is a robbery!

Then, there’s the obvious question: Do you honestly think that a normal young man actually tries to steal a girl's heart?

Do you think that a guy wakes up in the morning and thinks “I’ll make so and so fall in love with me today!”

Get real!

13. Think that all guys are Casanova heartbreakers that lead girls on.

A girl I knew once told me, "Any guy who leads a girl on and can't make a commitment is a jerk." I didn't agree with her then and I still don't now.

Because, I mean really, does a guy actually, purposely lead a girl on?

Think about it…if he knew what he was doing…would he actually do it?

I doubt it. In reality, I think most nice young men…the kind that are worth noticing…are just as nervous about girls as we are about guys. Maybe even more so…because after all, the guy is the one who has to lay his whole heart out on the line. Whenever he asks a girl out or talks to her Dad or asks her to marry him…he's giving her the chance to completely and totally wound him.

14. Use the excuse “he led me on!”

You can’t be lead anywhere unless you move your feet. Basically, unless he's asking you out, NEVER assume he likes you!



—And girls of any mindset seem to think:

15. That guys have no emotions.

I don’t know what idiot started that idea but womankind has been believing that’s it’s true for generations. For one thing, I can tell you that guys are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable―but they don’t talk about it all the time…if ever. Guys feel...deeply. I know they do. Have you ever seen a teenage boy after his team lost a ballgame and he thought it was his fault? Or when they’ve gotten really injured (but are trying to pretend they’re not really injured)? It’s worse for them...because they tend to stuff it and therefore, can suffer much more and for a longer time than girls. Stop seeing young men as shyster Casanova heart-stealers who are out to get you and start seeing them as human beings. They’re people too after all and have the same essential needs that girls have. Moreover, you may want to marry one someday and likely will end up being a mother... I think making an effort to understand guys is worth your time. So, give the guys a chance...before it's too late.


Ingrid



P.S. I don’t recommend books very often but if you need help understanding guys...this is a fairly good (clean) book: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-About-Guys-Shouldnt-Secret/dp/0784715440/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196786739&sr=8-1

There are a few things I've discovered to be untrue or exaggerated in it but it's a good book to get you started being more empathetic towards young men. As with any self-help book though, it’s best to read it once and then refrain from referring to it unless you really need to. :-)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

While the Fellowship is Faithful


"You would not ask me to break faith with him?” “No,” said Faramir. “But my heart would. For it seems less evil to council another man to break his troth than to do so oneself, especially if one sees a friend bound unwittingly to his own harm.”1

I’ve made decisions in my life. Not unusual. But one of them is to be loyal, in all things that matter but in point, to be faithful to a certain person. From this decision, I have discovered something. Other people have a problem with loyalty. Not their own―however, I suspect it is actually a reflection of their own―but with the loyalty of someone else. Now that I’ve clearly made this decision and am sharing it as a testimony—almost anyone that I tell of it will try as hard as they can to convince me to change my decision. Why do people act like this? If God has called me to loyalty and I’m fine with it and its effects…if it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother anyone else? I guess they care about me…but I’m happy and if it’s God’s will then it’s not going to kill me. I might get bruised a little but I’d rather God let me be bruised for His purposes than to be safe and boring…and disloyal―therefore, disobeying what I know God has called me to do. People fret and fume over me messing up my life...it actually gets rather funny at times. But really, they’re worrying over themselves; it’s a fear reaction of sorts, they are worried that their life might end up like mine. Stupid―since they’re not me―but true. When I’m trying to explain my position and how God is working in my life the thing I hate more than anything is the irrational, foolish advice I’m given when I don’t ask for it nor do I need it. Apparently, they’ve never heard this Lord of the Rings quote, which I’ve used on my blog before because it’s one of my favourites. "Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?"2 I use Lord of the Rings as an example because it contains so many cases of people who have a chance to be unfaithful but decide to do the right thing. Nearly every character is given an opportunity to go their own way but chooses to go on with their mission; Frodo with the ring, Sam with his duty to Frodo, the Fellowship’s responsibilities to one another, Arwen’s devotion to Aragorn…and the list goes on. That’s what makes the Lord of the Rings such a perfect case in point. Moving on, I don’t often give advice but I will say this to all of you. When someone else is doing something that they are confident in (granted that’s it’s not a sin) but that you personally think is crazy, remember this: Don’t give them advice―for they do not need it and if they do they will ask. Pray for them instead––but not selfishly, meaning you shouldn’t pray that they’ll magically see things as you do but rather pray for God’s will––and don’t pity them. As a Lord of the Rings analyst–of sorts–writes, “Faithfulness is a mighty virtue, requiring stern character, but to see others struggling under the weight of it moves us as often to pity as to respect. When we have the opportunity to give council to such a one, we may do well to remember Gandalf’s admonition that “even the very wise cannot see all ends.” 3

Ingrid

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:3.


Works Cited -
1. Frodo and Faramir, J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 6.
2. Gildor Inglorian, J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter III, Page 83.
3. Mark Eddy Smith, Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues, Chapter 18 – Trustworthiness, Page 89.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Of Daughters of Destiny and Watered Down History






I was eleven or twelve when I first read several stories in Daughters of Destiny, written by Noelle Wheeler Goforth. Her father, Little Bear Wheeler, had been in our area at a home school convention and we purchased the book from him. Now, I like Little Bear; he’s a very entertaining storyteller and a neat guy. But, of course, Daughters of Destiny was also sold by Vision Forum, which is enough “to give sober men pause.” (Actually, I believe DOD is out of print now, as I cannot locate it on the Vision Forum or Mantle Ministries websites.) I liked Daughters of Destiny when I was younger...but there was always something missing. Now, I know what it is.... I do a lot of histrical research and some of my pet projects/interests have been Queens of England; such as Elizabeth I and Victoria. In Daughters of Destiny, there is a story about Victoria in the “Daughters of Royalty” section and it is full of conflicts with the actual historical record. While DOD paints Victoria’s Mother, the Duchess of Kent, as a kind, intelligent woman who wished to shield her daughter from the court—she was in actuality, quite a silly, unkind woman; being manipulative and domineering towards her only daughter. Daughters of Destiny avows that the reason that the Duchess of Kent kept Victoria near her at all times, even having Victoria sleep in her room up until the girl became Queen, was that "she believed that no nurse or governess, however skilled she might be, could take the place of a Mother."1 The truth is that Victoria did have a governess named Louise Lehzen who was far closer to her than the Duchess of Kent. And the real reason the Duchess was so involved in Victoria's life was because she was a control freak and was also hoping to become regent. Of course, Victoria turned eighteen before becoming Queen and one of the first things she did was ask that her bed be moved from her Mother's room. Unfortunately, Daughters of Destiny bypasses such conflicts entirely. Many other stories in Daughters of Destiny suffer from this saccharine portrayal and end up making the “heroines” look quite wimpy—when in fact, most of them were strong, courageous women. They are “wimpy” because they actually have nothing to triumph over—even if problems are mentioned there is no real conflict, only melodrama. As in the Queen Victoria story, their future is obviously happy from the first sentence. By smoothing out their stories and eliminating the villains and bumps in their roads, the historical women are reduced to being merely docile, boring creatures who just expect everything to have a happy ending. As James Loewen says of textbooks, “The stories that history textbooks tell are predictable; every problem has already been solved or is about to be solved. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything which might reflect badly upon our national character. When they try for drama, they achieve only melodrama, because readers know that everything will turn out fine in the end.” 2 “The optimistic approach prevents any understanding of failure other than blaming the victim.... After a thousand pages, bland optimism gets pretty offending for everyone.” 3 These excerpts weirdly fit for a book written by a homeschooler for homeschoolers and that's rather discouraging. I thought we homeschooled people were supposed to pursue the truth not regurgitate the same old legends.


Now, this may not be all Noelle Goforth’s fault. I remember Little Bear saying something like, “I encouraged Noelle to use all of the girl books in our library to compile a book to encourage young ladies.” She must have used their personal library because in the bibliography, there are 16 sources listed (with only titles and dates—no author or publisher names, unfortunately, which would make tracking them easier), and of those sources I could only locate 4-5 in my tri-county library system. Why? Well, they were all written before 1935; nine were written before 1900, three between 1900-1910, one between 1910-1920, and three between 1930-1940. Fitting in with this, I also recall Little Bear recommending the buying of old books, written in the 1800's especially, because "they will have a biblical worldview." Now, there's nothing wrong with old books but you have to be careful with their take on history and life in general. Why? Because they moralize everything. As with Victoria's mother being held in honour, even though the historical record shows that she was far from saintly, the history books (especially the ones for children) tend to twist away from facts in an effort to moralize or make them melodramatic or just stick to legends that have been proven false. I don't know why they did that back then but I can tell you that books written after 1930-40ish have a greater chance of being accurate. The reason for this, I think, is that the authors decided to go back to the historical record of first-hand accounts, letters, and diaries while researching them. When I'm researching something, if I can't find copies of original documents and such, I always pick out books written sometime after 1930 to the present and I check their bibliographies for strong sources. For a good example of what you can find in older books, I have a book from 1922, about Queen Elizabeth I. In this volume, it asserts the Victorian idea that "women do not experience the slightest desire before marriage."4 That idea is laughable at best, infuriating at worst—all of such research has been proven wrong and was an entirely male assumption anyway. (Don't get me started on what I call, "The Victorian Repression Doctrine: tell women nothing about anything and leave them in ignorance and fear for the greater part of their lives. You know, they might think about things and that would just be wrong." No wonder women were so afraid of childbirth if no one told them what to expect! *rolling eyes*)


Older books are also terribly racist—not just to African Americans in regards to slavery but also to American Indians. In Daughters of Destiny, Pocahontas and Sacagawea are portrayed as good, which they were; but in other parts of the book, words such as "savages" and "red men" are also used in reference to Indians. I'm a European American but I don't like the white supremacist or Eurocentric viewpoints one bit—in anything—and especially not in "Christian" publications.


Martha Finley is given a glowing story in Daughters of Destiny and it is even said, "Because of the strong Christian content that surfaces throughout Elsie's life, Miss Finley was blackballed. She was ignored by contemporary critics and by such popular children's magazines of her day as St. Nicholas and Youths Companion." 5 First off, I doubt that she was blackballed because of the Christian content of the novels—as I've already said; almost all books for children in the ninetieth century were written with extremely moralistic views. So, I don't know why she was blackballed or if she even was…I can hope it had to do with the melodrama or racism in the Elsie books. Yes, there's racism in the Elsie Dinsmore series…does that really surprise you? Here’s an Elsie review if you're not familiar with these books or if you are and you don't believe me about the racism. http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/category/ElsieDinsmoreAnEnigma (I don't know anything about this site but I thought the review is quite interesting.)



Older books may be written from a biblical worldview but how can that help anything if they are incorrect in their facts or racist. Use them at your own risk and be very careful with any historical books recommended by Vision Forum. The Henty series, Beautiful Girlhood series, and many other old or historically-inspired books sold by Vision Forum have incorrect historical material and white supremacist overtones. They are also inclined towards "heroification" of historical figures. As a matter of fact, most of Vision Forum's and even Mantle Ministries' "historical" teachings are full of errors, legends, and Eurocentric assumptions. (Even though we're Americans most of us are technically European Americans and therefore, can still be Eurocentric.) Remember, a book (or even a lecture) can only be as good as its sources and Daughters of Destiny has very poor ones. The only reason I still have it is because I like some of the poetry selections—at least they can be taken at face value.

Definitions -

White supremacy: racial view; the view that white people are supposedly genetically and culturally superior to all other people or races and should therefore rule over them.

Eurocentric: Focusing on Europe; focusing on Europe or its people, institutions, and cultures, often in a way that is arrogantly dismissive of others.

1: Daughters of Destiny, Noelle Wheeler Goforth, page 130.
2: Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong, James
W. Loewen, Introduction, Page 5.
3: Ibid; Introduction, Page 6.
4. The Private Character of Queen Elizabeth, Chamberlin, Frederick.
5 Daughters of Destiny, Noelle Wheeler Goforth, page 208.
“That's the sort of thought that gives sober men pause” – Linus Van Pelt

Two books I recommend:

- Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. I absolutely loved this book and it was a very fast read. Do keep in mind though, that you may not agree with everything Mr. Loewen says, mostly in the last few chapters. The sections on Columbus, Vietnam, the Reconstruction, and American Indians were very informative and intriguing.

- The Good Old Days: They were Terrible! by Otto Bettmann. If you're as tired of I am of people talking about "the good old days" especially homeschooled girls (mostly sighing about the clothes people used to wear) and patriarchy type people, then you'll love this book. Once you read it, you'll know what Solomon meant when he said, "Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions." Ecclesiastes 7:10.




Ingrid

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sheep in Need of Shepherd: Apply Within – Part Two

This builds upon my last post...so, if you're new I'd suggest reading Part One first.


"As the letters poured in, I realized that while God had graciously used my book to help some people, it had also raised a lot of questions…." "The main point of I Kissed Dating Goodbye was: "If you're not ready for marriage, wait on romance." But now my fellow singles were asking, "How can you know when you are ready for marriage? And once you're ready, what should you do?" To be honest, I hadn't figured that out yet. I never meant to become an expert on relationships…."–
Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl. 1
Okay, I do appreciate Josh Harris. I like his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye; it helped bring people back to common sense. It's a big duh to me that if you're not ready to get married, (basically between the ages of 14 and 18, most people would agree that you're not going to marry at 15!) it's smart just to abstain from romantic relationships. Just wait until you're more mature and can handle the pressures. Smart. Great Idea. Bravo Josh for having some sense. Now, back to the subject at hand, Josh had some major sheep writing to him. No, I'm not being mean, I'm stating a fact. Why would anyone be so needy as to feel the have to contact the author of the book for advice on their romantic relationships? Why did Josh even write Boy Meets Girl? All I would have said is: "Sorry, guys, you're going to have to make it up as you go. Read your Bible and talk to God. Be an adult and use your head." No one can lead you by the hand as you grow up. That's something I've learned more and more as I become an adult. One thing I've learned is to rarely ask for advice, to rarely accept advice, and to only give advice when pressed. It's not to be cocky or because I think that I'm above other's advice…it's that experience tells me to listen to God and my own instincts. As I was reading Lord of the Rings, I was reminded of this by a certain quote. "Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?" 2 Advice is a dangerous gift. Use it wisely.
Back to Josh Harris, why did he write Boy Meets Girl? I can think of a few reasons…the chief one being…uh, money. The first book sold well…people seem to need guidance…a new book will likely do very well…it's tempting to write more. Do you really blame him? Well, I guess I do. Personally, I wish he'd stopped while he was ahead. Courtship and Dating are so complicated that writing a book about how to do it will always be controversial and subject to lots of criticism. Well, it should be; because, there is no correct way, there is no easy way, and there is no method for success. Love is not a thing that you can diagram like a weather pattern. You don't wake up in the morning and think, "I'll fall in love today and it'll all work out beautifully." If you read a love story somewhere, you may as well say, "Well, it won't happen to me like that,"—because it won't. No two stories are ever exactly alike. You could live for a hundred years, travel the earth, hear many stories, and still not have scratched the surface of possibilities. The Gospel doesn't give us a list of do's and don'ts—it gives us principles for life and everything attached to it and that's called flexibility. God knew that rules don't work for everything and part of his plan is to make every person's story different. Love is a strange thing. "There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand. The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden."3 If the Proverb writer could not understand it…you're not going to be able to either. But when the time comes, God will give you understanding and then you'll know what it's all about. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."4

Ingrid

1: Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship, Moltnomah Publishers, 2000. Quotation from Chapter 1, page 19.
2: Gildor Inglorian, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter III, Page 83.
3: Proverbs 30: 18-19.
4: Matthew 6:34.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sheep in Need of Shepherd: Apply Within – Part One

Many people in this world are like sheep, needing a shepherd. They have to be led. They have to follow what someone else says. They settle for second best. History shows this in every era. "What is has already been, and what will be has been before."1 Only a few people are brash enough to seize the leading position and only a few people are brave enough to stand up against them. The rest follow like sheep to slaughter. People like Doug Phillips show up every few years, proclaiming that they hold the answer and encouraging the populace to "think for themselves." In actuality, they are taught to think, talk, and reason like their leader. They have no minds of their own and are constantly looking for guidance. All their young men and women can recite is the gospel according to Doug Phillips and his minions. They are taught to believe that every word he says is true. That what he believes is the right and true thing. "Just because you are taught somethin's right, and everybody believes that it's right, it don't make it right."2 What a tremendous weight to put upon a sinful human being. I pity Doug Phillips and Scott Brown and Jonathon Lindvall and Little Bear and Mr. Botkin and his daughters and the Harris Twins and their brother Josh and everyone else in a "position of honour." Someday, these mere mortals will pass away and will go back to dust as all things do in their time. What happens to the sheep then? Their shepherd is gone… where will they go? Why must people be lead from one place to another? And Christians too! People that claim to be followers of Christ! Just who are you following? Jesus or someone else? Are you living according to His words or by a mere mortal's words? They're going to die eventually and so are you. Will what they say even matter in 50 years time? Yeah, patriarchy people are trying to extend themselves beyond their years…but I don't think it'll work. They're not God. They're not even close and neither is anyone else. "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?"3 People do need guidance. It's a fact. But the only guidance that you or I need comes from the Good Shepherd. It's amazing how, if every day, you spend quality time reading your Bible and praying and trusting in God—you don't need any other books. It's as if your need for guidance just drains away and if you do need direction, you look to your Bible and prayer before anything or anyone else. Don't ever put anyone in Jesus' place as your Shepherd.

The Shepherd and His Flock – John 10:1-18
"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

Ingrid

- Works Cited -
1: Ecclesiastes 3:15.
2: Jim, The Adventures of Huck Finn, Walt Disney Pictures, 1993.

3: Ecclesiastes 3:18-22.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln






A Few Quotes...



"In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book."



"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."



"Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."



"I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America!"



"Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today."



Ingrid



1:The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, "Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible" (September 7, 1864), p. 542.



2:Lincoln Observed: The Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks edited by Michael Burlingame (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 210.



3: Lincoln and the Civil War In the Diaries and Letters of John Hay selected by Tyler Dennett (New York, Da Capo Press, 1988), p. 143.



4:The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, "Remarks at Closing of Sanitary Fair, Washington D.C." (March 18, 1864), p. 254.



5:The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Notes for a Law Lecture" (July 1, 1850?), p. 81.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

Recently, I happened to find Vision Forum's mission statement:
(Sorry, Blogger wouldn't let me make the picture any larger...so you'll have to click on it to read)

The Mission of Vision Forum Ministries



Posted by Doug Phillips on December 22, 2008




Nice ideas. Really, they are. They've got some nice thoughts going on there.



But, uh, see anything missing?



Let me rephrase that… see anyone missing?



That's right.



There’s no mention of Jesus Christ.



Try clicking around on their website… Have you found Him?



He's there…but…only in some passing references.




You could argue that a company relationship to Christ is implied…but why trust only in an implication?




On the webpage of any organization that calls themselves a ministry—Jesus should be easy to find.




But He’s not even in Doug Phillips’ welcome note.




To me, that's a warning sign and a big problem.




The teachings of Vision Forum have become a religion for some families. Religion, as the dictionary tells us, can mean several things. Two of which are: beliefs and worship or a system, an order of doing things. In Vision Forum's case, it is a system. Some systems of religion are nice, if they further the effect of the gospel. But if they do not…they will hinder the gospel. Sometimes to us, that is, the people placed upon this earth, I think that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can seem too simple to us. "There has to be something else, something more complicated," we say, "Give us a set of rules to live by…something that we can work on and for in our Christian lives." But, you see, that's where the simplicity comes in. To be a Christian, all you have to do is believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and confess that God did indeed raise Him from the dead…and you are saved and have become a child of God. We're always trying to inject "works" into the mix. Because, here on earth, if you want something…you work for it; it's never free and love must be earned…not given unconditionally. However, with God, things are different. He is a just God and expects you to try to meet His standards but His love is unconditional and free. I think the people of Jesus' day had trouble with what He said because it was so obvious and simple…and that's not what the religious leaders were teaching or had been teaching for many years. The Law is complicated and it is impossible to not break the rules. That's why Jesus came…to free us from our sin and also from the Law. Back to Vision Forum…that's a nice order of doing things…a nice religion. But unless a ministry is founded and based and immersed in the simplicity of the Gospel…I am not interested in their form of Christianity. I will not buy anything from a company that claims to be a ministry and yet, does not mention Jesus Christ in its welcome. Spreading and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be at the top of their mission statement. No matter what else they stand for, if Jesus is not at the head of their table, at the heart and root of their plans, then not one of their ten "missions" is worthy of consideration.



- Matthew 7:15-29 - New Living Translation -
- A Tree and its Fruit -
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
24“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.


Ingrid

A quick definition...
Bombastic, n. - pompous language; language that is full of long or pretentious words, used to impress others.