Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dear Childrens' Ministry Worker: yet another Christian response to the SCOTUS marriage decisions

I'm sure  don't have to tell you that yesterday, the US Supreme Court ruled that both the national Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 are unconstitutional. Of course, the internet instantly exploded with responses, both positive and negative, from the religious community. (I hope you've taken the time to read the positive ones as well as the negative ones).

I wanted to take a day to craft my response, in part because I didn't want to simply parrot what other liberal Christians are saying. I want to offer you my perspective as someone who works with both nursery age children and as a youth adviser in ministries in our church.

Those opposed to gay marriage rights often use  speak of their concern for children; their children, and the children in their faith communities. I believe they are 100% sincere in expressing concern for those children- and so am I. So far as  know, all three of my kids are straight. Of course, I did not always know that, and no parent does. Moreover, I know that not all the kids I serve are straight. IN part I know this because I've been told. IN part I know because with some kids it's, and I pray that the parents of those kids respond with love when their kids inevitably come out. In part I know this due to simple mathematics: Although statistics vary, it's accepted that at least 4% of the population identifies at LGBTQ. If you work, as I do, in children's ministry, that means that if you have a Sunday school class of 20 students, one of those kids is almost surely a sexual minority. Sunday school class, youth group, little babies you watch in the nursery....any group.
Now, look at your( perhaps hypothetical) class and ask yourself: "Which one of these dear children of God do I want to see denied the right to marry his or her dearly beloved? Which one of these children do  want to experience employment discrimination? Be denied the chance to adopt a child? Face discrimination when buying a house? Really, truly, which one of these dear children do I want to see rejected by their parents or bullied mercilessly, perhaps to the extent that they feel their only way to escape is to take their own life?"

I know... none of them. I want all the young people I've had the privilege to care for and work with to be treated with equal dignity. I want them to enjoy the same rights I do. That's not the only reason I support full rights for my LGBTQ sistren and brethren, but it's the unique perspective I'd like to offer to you today.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer goals

My goals for the summer:
Find and purchase one really nice, comfortable par of black flats and one really comfortable, badass pair of black pull on boots. Then get rid of all the heels those shoes will replace!
Purchase tickets to GeekGirlCon.
Dedicate enough time to knitting-for-money- to do the above.
Blog more !
Go to the lake every Friday.
Read more.
Go on that 20th Anniversary vacation with my husband, somehow, despite the bathroom remodel(not for cosmetic reasons), the orthodontia(also not for cosmetic reasons) and buying mission trip supplies.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A prayer for fathers raising strong daughters

Raising strong kids is hard. Raising strong daughters is hard in our society. I think it may be even harder for fathers: we mothers want to raise girls who can take care of themselves, but fathers want to take care of their princesses.

Right now, my husband is on a walk with our self rescuing princess, getting Father's Day bread. At 14, she is a strong young woman who has already decided she will never *need* a man to take care of her, who can navigate around the south county on a bus alone, and works hard at any task she can to earn money for her chosen pursuits. She's even confident to spend an entire day traversing Comic Con without mom as a chaperone.

It hasn't always been easy, and in fact there were times in her younger years when I could see why some parents *wanted* to break their kids spirits and make them buckle down and obey. She has always climbed fearlessly... to the top of the fridge to get a banana as a toddler, to the top of our old metal aluminium swing set (which she would then walk across the top of like a tightrope) and any tree, without fear. She has always had her own sense of style, from the fairy wings and tiaras of her preschool years to the 80's metal band shirts of now.

At one point in the frustrating early years with my strong girl, one of the great wise women of our church said to me, "You are so blessed. You have a daughter who'll always made her own decisions and never let anyone convince her to do something she doesn't want to." Many, many times over the years, I clung to that. Today, I shared it with a father whose wonderful strong girls I had just watched, and I pray it was taken as encouragement!

So this is my prayer for all the fathers of strong girls:

May you have the patience to let your girl be strong even though it makes your life harder.May you have the strength to look anyone who calls your daughter "strong willed" in the eye and say, "Yes she is! Thank you!" May you have the wisdom to know that when she tells you she doesn't need a college degree because she's going to be a rock star, the proper response is not to step on her dreams, but to remind her that both Mick Jagger and Ray Manzarek studied economics.
 May you have the hope that in the end, that raising a self rescuing princess is worth all the work.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Homeschooling Reflections

My friend Dena posted this article yesterday, and I found it a nice focus for some of the reflection I've been doing over the past couple weeks.

I have been formally homeschooling for 11 years now. Next Friday, when our school day ends, I will have educated three children through elementary school, two through middle school, and seen one successfully enrolled in community college.

Over the years, very few people expressed doubt that I could educate my kids. What I heard about a LOT, which the article touches on, is "all the things my kids would miss out on". I could respond, like many homeschoolers, with a sarcastic "Like bullying and peer pressure?" . I prefer a more positive and realistic view...whatever decision we make for our kids, they'll miss out on something. (How would people react f homeschoolers were in the habit of turning that question around?)  The only question is, for your particular family in your particular circumstance at this point in time, will the things your kids miss out on be more valuable that what they gain for that choice? I like to think we all make the one that's the best, or at least try, and know that no decision comes without compromise.

My kids have grown to be intelligent, compassionate, socially apt, and in at least two cases hardworking individuals. I feel confident that the decision I made for my family was the right one. I also feel that while I wish I had known a few things sooner than I did and while I really wish I had conducted all these years with more patience and grace, I'd not change the basic philosophies I've followed.

Now, my eldest is set to start college at 16, to complete his last two years of high school and get an associate's degree at the same time. For the first time in a few years I am hearing (though only from  a handful of people), about the things one of my kids will miss out on. Of course he will: both the potential positives and negatives of the campus experience, and of course those two years of debt he'll miss out on. Of course college is an investment, but we come from a family that saves up and buys cars cash, instead of taking out payments, and have never had credit cards, so you can see where we're coming from. I can't even say what decision my younger  kids will make in 10th; they are different people and this might not be right for them, although I have tailored my kids' education toward being ready for college two years early (both for financial reasons and because I don't agree with the infantilization of adolescents in our culture). But it's like all the earlier decisions: any choice you make will have pros, cons, and things you'll miss out on, and you just try to make sure the balance is right for you.

One thing I want to comment on from the article: 
Similarly, the common myth that homeschoolers “miss out” on so-called “socialization opportunities,” often thought to be a vital aspect of traditional academic settings, has proven to be without merit. According to the National Home Education Research Institute survey, homeschoolers tend to be more socially engaged than their peers and demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.” 

The public ( and presumably private) school students are obviously not rated by parental improvement. Homeschooling is hard work, and except for "that one family we all know", very few people would take it on unless they planned to be fully involved. One thing years of  being friends with and working with other parents in my (a)vocation has shown me is that it doesn't matter what type of educational situation you pick for your child, involvement is the key to success. May we empower all parents to be involved.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

How not to hold a yard sale

Start by smoking all over your merchandise. Which includes children's items. Which leads one to presume you smoke all over your poor children. Eww.

Put up signs claiming "Everything must go!" then charge $5 for a Spiderman umbrella or $20 for a pair of boots (ugly boots, even!) Not buying it.

Then, as your crowning achievement, sell DVDs that STILL HAVE THE LIBRARY STICKER ON!. Nice.