Archive | May 2013

Safe Guarding Our Kids Against Sexual Abuse and Impurity

In our increasingly sexualized, undisciplined and morally negligent society I think it is more important than ever to safe guard our kids against sexual impurity and abuse. Because my husband and I have both seen the devastating effects childhood sexual abuse can have in people’s lives, we have prayerfully and purposefully set out to be pro active in this area of our parenting.

The reason I feel bold enough to share this with you is because of a situation we recently have had to deal with. About a year ago I was talking with my oldest son who was eight at the time. Just casually revisiting some of the things we’ve taught him, keeping his private parts private, removing himself from situations where kids are talking foolishly etc. and he told me, “Mom, if you hadn’t told me that sometimes kids do stuff like that I would have never known because no one has ever said or done anything like that around me.”

I was like, oh no! Maybe I’m being a freak and preparing my kids for something that will never even come up. I was really second guessing myself but guess what? In the last year three different situations HAVE come up and I thank the Lord with all of my heart that each time my kids have done the right thing. They did what we told them to do, they got away and when an opportune time came they told us about it. Now these were three different situations involving different kids from different families and even different circles of people. The incidents only involved talk.

Just the other night Blue eyes and I were already in bed and somehow all four of our older kids ended up sitting on our bed talking and talking. It brings tears of gratitude to my eyes just thinking about it because they were so open! We prayed together for friends. I tried to explain to them on an appropriate level why things like this happen.

Blue eyes told them that we are like their cheer leaders, sitting on the side lines, hollering, “Come on! You can do it! Finish strong!” We told them that everything we ask of them is because we want them to be whole and safe and happy. We told them that kids don’t understand how these things will harm and effect them in the long term but we do.

We’ve told them that God uses the private parts of our bodies to create children and that is why it is so important to protect them. We’ve talked about how after you are married you would need to tell your spouse about these shameful, embarrassing things if you were to partake of them. Blue eyes has told the boys especially about taking their thoughts captive, he has told them that sin always starts in our hearts and our minds before it manifests itself physically.

We have told them that sharing your body with your spouse is beautiful and precious and that you wouldn’t want to give any of that away to anyone else. Ever. These are all things that we have been teaching them throughout the years.

After everyone was thoroughly hugged, kissed, prayed over and sent to bed Blue eyes told me,”Wow, Honey! I’m so proud of you. All that reading and listening to Dr Dobson and seminars you’ve gone to have come to fruition. What you were trying to do worked!” He knows it’s not me, it’s a collaboration of wisdom I have gleaned from a lot of different sources. The only thing that I can claim is a heart willing to learn.

I know that my family is still young. Our oldest is 13, we have seven kids and our baby is almost a year. I know that pride comes before a fall, and I am not sharing this out of pride but only because I want every Christian family to be able to preserve purity in their children.

I know that there is a certain amount of childhood curiosity that obviously isn’t going to scar your kids for life but throw one child into the mix who is being or has been sexually abused or exposed to pornography and some really messed up stuff can happen right in the next room.

Unless you as the parent have introduced the subject it’s unlikely that your kids will even know how to articulate their thoughts if something does come up. They need to know that we are always there for them, that they can tell us anything even if it’s really bad or embarrassing. I tell my kids all the time that that’s why kids have parents, so they are taken care of, have someone to talk to and to help them figure things out.

When I’ve talked to my kids about the birds and the bees or their changing bodies I always tell them that they can ask me anything, they don’t have to be embarrassed at all. I tell them not to ask their friends because their friends probably don’t know anything more then they do and I will be willing to talk to them about anything.

We have a rule that our kids are not allowed to spend the night at other people’s houses until they are at least ten. Even then it is only at family’s homes that we know well. I don’t think it is wise to leave your small children with other people too much, even older siblings. They need the careful care and love that only a parent can provide. Except on a rare occasion our babies who are not potty trained are not left with anyone. This is not because I’m weird and think everyone is a pervert but because I think it sets the stage for healthy boundaries and personal respect. Even my older girls do not , except in rare cases, change diapers. I just don’t think it shows respect to the little one or an older child to have them change a nasty, stinky diaper. That’s a parents job.

We also have a rule that our kids don’t play together in their bedrooms with the door shut. If a child wants time to his or her self they can go in their room with the door shut but they let me know.

If you have read many of my previous posts you will know that my boys spend a lot of time roaming the woods unsupervised but if they are with kids from other families I do keep an eye and ear open. Also, because when they were very young we established good communication they tell me stuff. We often rehash conversations they have had with their friends.

If you are very, very careful with your kids in the early formative years and set good, solid boundaries and foundations of thought, by the time they are six or seven they are able to navigate a lot of social situations with a lot less risk. It is so worth investing that time and energy!

One more thing to think about that is of utmost importance. If you or your spouse has any unresolved sexual issues, including childhood sexual abuse or exposure, pornography, or any other hidden things of this nature it will make it much harder and perhaps impossible to properly teach and direct your children in purity. This is because without even realizing it you will process everything through the filter of your own experiences. Instead of calmly and  rationally dealing with your kid’s stuff, your own feelings of anger, fear, sadness, and shame will be added to the mix making things much more emotionally draining and intense than need be. That will only make you and your kids avoid talking about this stuff even more!

I know that this is an uncomfortable subject but God wants all the hidden dark things in our lives to be brought to the light so they can be healed. Find a safe person to talk to, read some good Christian books on healing (Focus on the Family has many wonderful resources) and think of it as a way to become a better parent.

May God bless all of us as we do our best each day to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“Flee fornication. Every sin a man doeth is outside the body, but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know  ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

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A Bit of Scandinavia, the Little Grandma Who Lives in the Woods and Community

A couple weeks ago I sat Indian style on my grandparents bedroom floor. They both ended their pilgrim journeys this winter. Reaching the gates of “the city who’s builder and maker is God” a mere 60 days or so apart. I miss them so much.

My aunts have put all the linens in their bedroom so there I sit going through them. All of the kids are outside or down stairs, it’s just Blue eyes and me. Suddenly I want to let my heart miss them, there in the dusty quiet. I think how I will never again see them on this earth. I think of how this house has always been a place of belonging for me so far away from my own parents. I remember how through lots of happy times and some very hard times it was here that I could find solace. Whenever we left from a visit with my Grandparents we always felt ministered to and encouraged. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of living close by them through out my married life. I have seen the fruition of lifelong love and faithfulness. What a wonderful thing for Blue eyes and me to strive for!

My Grandma had so many pretty things to make her house a home. Such a homemaker. Has homemaking become a lost art? I feel inspired to embrace that womanly desire to live in beauty. Table clothes and runners, rugs, bed skirts and doilies, ruffly aprons. Handmade finishing touches.

My little daughter calls this Grandma “the little grandma who lives in the woods” and now she adds, “she went to live in heaven now” . My Grandparents were both second generation Americans. Their parents immigrated here from Finland. My Grandma was very fluent in the Finnish language. They visited Scandinavia and had many friends there.

Just the week prior at our Keepers of the Faith Homeschool Group meeting we decided to take a few months and teach some geography and world culture through ethnic cooking. Each of the five families would choose a region or country and organize and host a cultural dinner.

Of course we had to choose Scandinavia! I was so excited to come away from my Grandparents house with several Scandinavian table linens, some with labels pinned on them saying which friend in Sweden had made them, a Finnish cookbook, and a few pieces of Scandinavian glassware.

That’s one of the things I love about educating our kids at home, I can check out a dozen books about Scandinavia and get really engrossed in them, read them aloud with the kids and in my bed at night and not feel too nerdy! Because, you know, it’s for school!

It was really cool though because I didn’t even realize how deep those roots are woven into my life! So many things I read I thought,”Wow! That’s where that came from!” Blue eyes and I want to travel somewhere after our kids are grown up, no big hurry, we’ve got all the time there is. We’ve thought of South America, then Italy but now……..the Scandinavian countries are calling my name. (I think Blue eyes is just along for the ride, so he doesn’t mind. Well, within reason. Preferably no half naked natives running around.)

So on a Tuesday afternoon all the families come over, about 25 kids plus babies and mamas. I show them that the Scandinavian countries are at the same  latitude as Alaska. Put a finger on Alaska and exactly opposite on the globe lies Scandinavia. I show them that Norway is shaped like a spoon. We talk about the fjords and the hungry, fierce Norse men who sailed down the European coast in open boats. We talk about Eric the Red and his son Leif the Lucky who bravely followed the stepping stones to North America long before Christopher Columbus’s time.

We talk about the Jews being smuggled across the Baltic Sea to Sweden under piles of fish during the second world war. We can almost feel the jubilation of staying up all night long in the land of the midnight sun after the long dark night of winter is passed. Image going to visit your friend at midnight and going for a swim at 3 am with the sun shining brightly? We learn about the funny sheep on the Danish islands who shed their own coats and eat seaweed. We talk about the saunas I took at the neighbors when I was a girl. I tell them about my Grandparents sauna in the woods.

Then we break into groups and start preparing for our Smorgasbord meal. (Just ask one of the kids where that word came from;) We’ve got a brave mom helping the boys make over 100 Swedish meatballs, Kottbullar. The little ones five and under are busy in another area making no bake choclad bullar, chocolate balls. (We make these a lot because they are easy, yummy and gluten free.) I think those guys ate half the dough. Meredith lost her shirt somewhere along the way so in all the pictures she is bare back and chocolaty!  Another group makes frukt suppe (fruit soup). Yummy! It smells delicious with the cinnamon sticks and all. Some of the older girls are writing a menu and making other decorations in the front yard.

All day Friday we are busy. My girls want to set the house up like a Kafe Hus, and so we do. We get creative with seating and tables and make enough seating for everyone to sit together. Except the boys, who want to sit on the deck.

Some of the older girls are dropped off early to help. We make potato salad, cucumber salad, smorbord, rice pudding, and nisu. The kids are excited and pretty much do all the work. My girls want to wear the head scarves and aprons they took home from “little Grandma’s” house.

Finally our smorgasbord is ready and we go out front to wait for our guests to arrive. Since our new character trait is servant-hood, the older kids want to serve their parents. Lucky for us my oldest sister is visiting from North Carolina so she joins us with her little grandson.  We also get two sweet baby goats for the evening.

After everyone is here Blue eyes reads The Word and leads us in prayer, and we enjoy our feast! Everything is very “gud”. We eat it all. The fellowship is wonderful, our house is full of laughter and children and food. What more could we ask for? Surely the Lord is good, good, good!

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Finding Beauty in Motherhood

“Surely mercy and goodness will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever….”

Yesterday was one of those days…..because I was trying to throw one too many things into the mix. I thought,”I’ll just keep the kids busy with their school work with one half of my brain and with the other I’ll list some stuff on Ebay.”

Right! My dear children could not seem to focus unless I was focused on them. Every time I turned my attention to them they were not busily working on their math. Plus I was trying to keep the little girls from eating us out of house and home, plus making a birthday cake and keeping the house somewhat orderly for an art class that we’ve been hosting on Wednesday afternoons. Finally I gave up in frustration. Then I scorched and ruined a whole four quart pot of chili, I was really looking forward to eating it too! Then Blue-eyes didn’t get home until 7:30. Right at the time my three year old daughter pooped in her underwear.

My flesh was rearing it’s ugly head. I felt seriously like railing accusations at my husband (who knows why, except that at that moment it felt like all my woes were caused by him coming home late) instead I calmly, through clenched teethe told him I didn’t know of any other husband who worked so much and a couple other things. I went to bed feeling like a looser mom and an ungrateful wife.

Joy comes in the morning though. Before Blue-eyes went to work this morning he gave me lots of kisses and promised to be praying for me today. Good ole’ blue-eyes! What would I do without him?

Usually when I start to feel like this I know I need to gather my chicks under my wings and go outside, somewhere beautiful, just them and me and God. Somewhere where I can breathe deep, have the sky above me. My old stand by is the forest. Any other day it can be called the woods but on these days it is the forest.

The smell of pine trees, moss, the earth, calms my nerves and gives me peace. Today I needed this and I wanted to share with you the beauty that I found. I found beauty in motherhood like I always do when I take the time to look.

I’m sure there will be lilacs in heaven. After spending the day surrounded by such beauty our spirits are tempered with grace. Add some Tintin books and art supplies from a garage sale along the way home and we have a quiet, peaceful afternoon and I can work on my blog!

The Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland Washington

 

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