Just Some Things

I can’t believe it’s already mid-October.

Dylan and I celebrated our eighth anniversary on the eighth. <–That sounds surreal.

Nellie is going to be a tiger for Halloween, we found a cheap second-hand costume from Old Navy that is super cute and will be so warm and snuggly–both points that fit the bill for this North Dakotan mama. Dylan and I are still working on Ada to agree to be a tiger trainer/circus trainer. We may have ideolized (I just made that up) so well that she’s unsure she wants to be someone who’s “so mean to animals” and that “animals are meant to live in the wild and not do tricks.”

We’ve picked up our “Eat the World” Challenge again and are trying to at least get through the “Bs” before the end of 2013. Right now we’re planning our Brazilian meal and combining it with another new dinner theme (apparently, I really like theme-y things, well actually, I always knew that)–movie nights. Movie nights we watch a movie together as a family and eat dinner at the same time and have cutesy foods to match the characters/setting of the story line. The girls love it because it’s so against the grain of eating together at the dinner table. Anyhow, Brazil will be combined with movie night because we checked out “Rio” at the library this weekend and thought it would be a fun tie-in. The girls will be boggled. Minds will be blown.

Work is going great–it’s been busy up to my eyeballs but I continue to love it just as much as when I started. I’d consider myself one lucky ducky in that realm.

Dylan is half-way through his student teaching at one of the highschools in town. It’s been hard to juggle the schedules but  I guess it’s boot camp for when he graduates and becomes a teacher of his own domain. Word on the street is that he’s doing pretty awesome, but that’s no surprise here. (I can hear him rolling his eyes now. Literally, hear the movement.)

Ada has started kindergarten and she’s a rockstar. Learning her letters and phonics, she’s so excited to read. She’s been coming home with little “I Can Read”-type books and showing off her new sight-word skills. I continue to be amazed at the collective knowledge she’s gained in such a short period of time, what happened to my baby?

AND speaking of babies (no, not that), my Nellie’s one month or so away from turning 3! THREE?! In honor of the occasion she has chosen to have a “Kung-Fu Princess” themed birthday party. Thankgoodnesstobetsy for Pinterest.

Ufta.

And then there’s this whole shutdown business…

Maybe that’s a good place to stop for now.

Fear not, I will be back.

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Re: To women, young ladies, and girls

I should start off by saying that this blog is for me, my family, my friends, but mostly for me. It’s a running record of thoughts, of growth, and of copious amounts of adorable pictures of my girls. It’s a place where I can unleash the thoughts burbling around in my head, help me stay on track, give an illusion of organization amidst the chaos of our life. This blog is not meant to attract a group or person or persons or anyone for that matter. It’s meant for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like readers…it gives me an imaginary pat-on-the-back, ego-boost feeling that there are other people like me out there. It’s nice to build a small blogging community of people that you can share ideas with, learn from and teach, and all that stuff. It’s nice. But at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter.

And I guess I’m telling you all this because I got a WordPress notification the other day that someone had commented on one of my posts. Not a regular reader, just somebody who stumbled across a post from earlier this year, I’ve posted it as follows:

jack on February 11, 2013 at 12:39 am said:

Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose.

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

If you’re lost, he was commenting on a post that I entitled “To Women, Young Ladies, and Girls.” You can read it here. I suggest you do, it is good stuff. But to sum it up if you don’t want to take the time, it’s basically a gathering of pieces that question why a woman’s worth and even more importantly, her faith is measured so heavily, if not solely, on her virginity. So much emphasis and focus put on a woman’s abstinence from sexual activity, consensual or not (the “or not” part being another discussion in itself entirely and certainly not any less of one that needs to be explored) and not on the fact that she has been cleansed in Christ’s redeeming power and love. I posted it because I have two daughters, I am a woman, a wife, an ex-girlfriend, I have female friends, colleagues, nieces, cousins, aunts, sisters-in-law, sisters-in-Christ, and even more succinctly, because I am simply a member of humanity. This issue needs to be discussed. Needs to be challenged and brought into the twenty-first century.

And normally, I wouldn’t respond to a comment like that. Normally I would just delete “Jack’s” comment and be on with my day. But for whatever reason, I think it needs an answer. A rebuttal, if not to simply keep the conversation at the forefront so it doesn’t remain shoved in the back behind gay rights or abortion.

I’m not looking for a fight. I never am when I post such material. I’m looking for thoughts, well thought out, well versed and supported in a manner that would fly in a high school debate setting. I’m looking to grow. Myself. Personally. I want to grow and become a better player in humanity, in our world, to beautify all the ugly that we so often just shrug at with a “what can I do?” attitude. I’m tired of that. I’m no activist. Not really a leader, more of a jaded idealist who fully believes that if we all tried to make just one thing a little better real change could come about in a monumental fashion. Me? I’ll start by responding to this one comment.

Jack, 

 I don’t know how you stumbled across my little piece of the blogosphere. I can’t imagine what tags or categories you were browsing to wind up here. Were you looking for a cookie recipe? I have a lot.

I found your comment interesting in which you exemplified the reason behind my posting such an article. Not only did you only focus on you, as a man (I presume), but as a man who sees and values a woman’s worth as if they’re “marriageable.” No comment on a woman’s faith or spirituality, no comment on whether or not God has forgiven her and made her anew in His likeness, but a rather simple statement, a simple judgment that speaks volumes. A woman who has had a sexual experience (of any kind I’m assuming) would never be worthy of a man such as yourself.

Maybe that’s too sweeping. Maybe that statement is unfair. Let’s go back to your comment and break it down.

 Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

I don’t think that any of the authors argued that women shouldn’t care about how men in their life feel about their sexual experiences but rather that women are judged by society in all avenues—beauty, weight, wealth, etc., and that we, as people, men and women with or without sexual experiences, should focus on how God sees us. That we should trust and believe that our worth is deeply and firmly rooted in his unending love for us and that through accepting his grace we are cleansed of the old, a life paid so many years ago to give sinners (men AND women) the ability “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, NIV). Without that ultimate sacrifice of death on a cross, murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves, the lazy, the greedy, Pharisees, men and women old and young, would not be able to join in relationship with God. We all would be without grace. Without life.

Granted, it’s quite obvious I’m coming from a Christian background which is why those articles ring so true in relevance for me. If you are not, you’ll simply have to bear with me. Hopefully some of what I say will make sense even if you do not prescribe to the same faith system as me.

Simply put, men and women shouldn’t give a shit about what other people think. Rather they should focus their energy, their worth, and their soul on God’s truths. That “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

No one ever said that sexual sin is not serious. Sexual sin is indeed a sin. The Apostle Paul summed it up for us when he said, “When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 21-24). After accepting Christ’s grace and love, we choose a new life, we choose to try and strive for a godly life and godly virtues. But remember we “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and not one of us will achieve a life of sinlessness. That’s not even a word it’s so unreal. (Read: unachievable, unattainable, impossible)

No one is encouraging young women and men to go and have sexual relationships as they please, but women are reacting to the double standard that is so firmly cemented across cultures that a woman’s value and worth is based solely on her virginity. A virginity that is trumped as the ultimate way for a woman to prove her faith. A virginity that doesn’t take into account the atrocities that are committed in the name of God, Satan, and man everyday. A woman’s virginity is what makes them godly, proves they love God. That kind of thinking, theology, practice within the church and amongst believers is deeply flawed, rooted in sexist, repressive beliefs that limit the amazing wonder and power of a God of everything. Put simply again, That.IS.wrong. Messed up. Dare I say, unbiblical?

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose. 

Your comment suggests that all women who would identify with what these bloggers write have chosen to be sexually promiscuous. What about the women and girls who have been made to feel they are worthless and abused from trusted family members or friends? What about women and girls that have been violated by others they’ve never met? What about women who aren’t sexually promiscuous but stand in solidarity that this sweeping belief in the Christian circle focuses not on a woman’s worth as a person but as a commodity, a symbol, and forgets the soul of that person—forgets the sanctity of their life?

Too many risks, nothing to do with forgiveness, you’re just not interested…why are you making so many excuses for yourself? It’s your life, your choice how you live it. It’s how you live your life that tells the story of who you are. Are you willing to put yourself out there and take chances, accept grace and the possible condemnation of a world full of imperfect people, in order to reach a few more with the incredible, healing power of a no-strings-attached, forever-loving relationship with Christ? (It seems as though you are more content to judge them back into their closet of shame and unwilling to let him realize themselves fully as the women that God created them to be. Thank God for all of us sinners that you are not St. Peter’s boss. Because I think women who are brave enough to share these paths, the journeys that have brought them from wherever they started to the life that they currently live in Christ should be lauded. Not for their former sins, the sins that were cleansed and forgotten in grace by God, sins that apparently you are not man enough to overcome, but for their bravery to show their weaknesses. To ask for accountability and to edify the church community by strengthening it through wisdom and maturation, who grows by being stagnant and unchallenged?

Besides, no one is asking you to marry them.

They wouldn’t want to marry, nor should they, someone who didn’t believe that marriage is a union in which forgiveness and grace needs to reign in order to bloom. I don’t know everything about marriage but I’m fairly certain that without those two components there would be no love. So instead of staring down women’s perceived sexual impurity, perhaps you should take a peek at the haughtiness in your own heart lest you find yourself judged (Matthew 7:4, Luke 6:42, Psalm 101:5, Proverbs 18:12, Proverbs 21:4).

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

I don’t want to imagine my husband with a dozen previous lovers either. I’m sure no woman or man would. There’s a reason that sexual relationships were created to exist within the safe confines of marriage, I’m not refuting that and neither are the women who wrote the aggrieved article. What they are refuting is that the church is telling women and girls that their worth, their spirituality is based on “their ability to remain pure,” which inadvertently discounts sexual violence and other such instances that occur within our broken, sinful world.

Sex is awesome. Sex is beautiful. If sex wasn’t so good, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but since it is, I think it’s important that men and women are able to have respectful dialogue concerning it and how our culture of sexualization has overtaken the mainstream and also how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters within the church concerning it as we perpetuate it (purposeful or not).

Do yourself a favor (and women) and listen to Apostle Paul since you seem to be above the fray when it comes to all of us sex crazed women, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).

Sincerely,

Katie

Freaking proud wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, feminist, Christian, jaded ideologist, teacher, mentor, baker, artist, reader, sinner redeemed in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-being grace of God, and unashamed sexual being 

To women, young ladies, and girls

I have been reading Rachel Held Evans’ blog on and off for a year or so now and just recently began following her more closely after she posted this blog about doubt within the Christian’s life. It resonated for many, many reasons, and I have yet to be disappointed in her thought-provoking questions posed throughout her writing.

A few days ago I opened her blog to read the following article. Whatever presumptions you may have after reading the title, please push past them and read through the entire piece. I am not saying that I necessarily agree with everything that she says in this article or in her blog, but I am saying that she’s asking questions that need to be asked. That need to be addressed if the body of Christ wants to continue to share a meaningful and sincere relationship with humanity as a whole. But that last statement, is for another time and another post.

NOTE: I also would encourage you to click on the links included in her blog post as they are also thought-provoking and sincere pieces wrote from fellow female Christians. Ms. Evans certainly is not the only, the first or the last to raise these questions concerning the emphasis placed on virginity in the modern church. 

Do Christians idolize virginity?

Several recent posts from some of favorite bloggers raise this question in powerful ways. I thought today would be a good day to share them, as we continue our series on Sexuality & The Church.

The first is from Elizabeth Esther, who writes:

“It took me a long time to realize I idolized virginity. I kept saying I was just promoting virtue and chastity and purity! Nothing wrong with pushing purity, right? Nothing wrong with Being Good!

Like other Christians, I talked about the “sacrifice” of abstinence. There were princess-themed books about saving our first kiss. Some of us wore purity rings and made pledges to our Daddies not to have sex until we’re married. Ultimately, we implied that a woman’s inherent worth and dignity could be measured by whether or not a man has touched her.

I understand why we do this. Christians are alarmed by what we see as a sexually permissive society. America no longer seems to share our values. This scares us. The less sacred sex seems to the broader culture, the more sacred we insist on making it among fellow Christians.

The intention might be good but over-emphasizing the specialness of virginity has unintended, harmful consequences.

We start by making ridiculous promises to our daughters. We tell them that “sexual purity” is a guarantor of a more intimate married sex life. We tell them that if they “lose” their purity, they will never really get it back. Oh, yes. They can be forgiven. But. You know. They’re damaged goods.

Christians say that the world objectifies women through immodest dress and a permissive sexual ethic. However, by idolizing sexual purity and preoccupying ourselves with female modesty and an emphasis on hyper-purity, Christians actually engage in reverse objectivization. 

Yes, we Christians say, we believe in the inherent dignity of all human life. But we especially believe in it if that human life is virginal, wears a purity ring and bleeds on her wedding night.

This is harmful and, dare I say, idolatrous.Read the full post.The second comes from the always-brilliant Sarah Bessey, who wrote a post for A Deeper Story entitled “I Am Damaged Goods”:

Over the years the messages melded together into the common refrain: “Sarah, your virginity was a gift and you gave it away. You threw away your virtue for a moment of pleasure. You have twisted God’s ideal of sex and love and marriage. You will never be free of your former partners, the boys of your past will haunt your marriage like soul-ties. Your virginity belonged to your future husband. You stole from him. If – if! – you ever get married, you’ll have tremendous baggage to overcome in your marriage, you’ve ruined everything. No one honourable or godly wants to marry you. You are damaged goods, Sarah.”

If true love waits, I heard, then I have been disqualified from true love.

In the face of our sexually-dysfunctional culture, the Church longs to stand as an outpost of God’s ways of love and marriage, purity and wholeness.

And yet we twist that until we treat someone like me – and, according to this research, 80% of you are like me –  as if our value and worth was tied up in our virginity.

We, the majority non-virgins in the myopic purity conversations,  feel like the dirty little secret, the not-as-goods, the easily judged example.  In this clouded swirl of shame, our sexual choices are the barometer of our righteousness and worth. We can’t let any one know, so we keep it quiet, lest any one discover we were not virgins on some mythic wedding night. We don’t want to be the object of disgust or pity or gossip or judgment. And in the silence, our shame – and the lies of the enemy – grow.She concludes:

No matter what that preacher said that day, no matter how many purity balls are thrown with sparkling upper-middle-class extravagance, no matter the purity rings and the purity pledges, no matter the judgemental Gospel-negating rhetoric used with the best of intentions, no matter the “how close is too close?” serious conversations of boundary-marking young Christians, no matter the circumstances of your story, you are not disqualified from life or from joy or from marriage or from your calling or from a healthy and wonderful lifetime of sex because you had – and, heaven forbid, enjoyed – sex before you were married.

Darling, young one burning with shame and hiding in the silence, listen now: Don’t believe that lie. You never were, you never will be, damaged goods.A-freakin’-men is all I have to say to that. You really must read the entire post.

Similarly, Carolyn Custis James recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled “Why Virginity is Not the Gospel,” to which Dianna Anderson added a helpful critique.

I wrote about my experience with “True Love Waits” in A Year of Biblical Womanhood. As you will notice, this is the context in which the infamous v-word appears!

I signed my first abstinence pledge when I was just fifteen. I’d been invited by some friends to a fall youth rally at the First Baptist Church, and in the fellowship hall one night, the youth leader passed around neon blue and pink postcards that included a form letter to God promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. We had only a few minutes to add our signatures, and all my friends were signing theirs, so I used the back of my metal chair to scribble my name across the dotted line before marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and my vagina onto a giant corkboard for all to see. The youth leader said he planned to hang the corkboard in the hallway outside the sanctuary so that parents could marvel at the seventy-five abstinence pledges he’d collected that night. It was a pretty cheap way to treat both our bodies and God, come to think of it. Studies suggest that only about 12 percent of us kept our promise.I have a feeling this is going to be a hot topic in the months and years to come, and we will be discussing it at length as part of series, though later in the year.

What do you think? Does the Christian culture idolize virginity? How should our narratives surrounding sex, virginity, and purity change, particularly as they concern women?

Christmas was, Christmas is

Christmas was…

Lovely and well-fed.

Filled with warmth.

Blessed in all ways.

Peaceful and joyous.

Christmas is a reminder of…

The sacrifices given.

The beauty born from healed scars.

The preciousness of life.

The amazing husband that loves me.

The perfection hiding in our imperfection.

I didn’t take many pictures of our week-long whirlwind of Christmassy happenings. Instead, I chose to try to stay in the moment, savoring this holiday and this time together as a family. The regular updates on Sandy Hook splashed across the televisions and on the radio were a morbid, albeit succinct reminder to enjoy the moments given to me with the littles. So I hugged them a little tighter and repressed my disgruntled-too-many-presents-I’m-drowning-in-wrapping-paper attitude a bit longer.

It certainly wasn’t without its bumps and frustrations (and I am infinitely glad that Dylan is as patient as he is). I’ve struggled with whether or not to write about it, it doesn’t seem very Christmassy or seasonally joyful but I think that, just in case there’s one other person like me out there, that I will. Because as much as I love Christmas and as much as I loved spending it with my family, this Christmas was probably the hardest one I’ve weathered through. Because this was the first holiday that I have celebrated post miscarriage.

I hate that word.

Every gift that I opened, every token of love and goodwill from family and friends, was a brief reminder in itself. No onesies, no blue or pink, no congratulations, no baby toys or books or invasive questions or belly touching. Just piles and piles of dolls, play foods, and coloring books. All of which I am very thankful for, and yet, my heart can’t help but twinge a bit at the lack of joy over the coming of a new life. We would’ve been telling people now about the pregnancy. Maybe even Pinteresting a clever manner in which to reveal the news. Facebook posts, blog posts, Instagram and Twitter…

All silent. Save for a Happy Christmas here and there.

I’m struggling to find words to explain my general dourness this Christmas season, which hopefully had enough Santa facade for my girls not to notice, so that I can continue on this journey of healing and growth. But it’s hard. Way.Hard. Hard enough that I’ve been mulling over this post for quite some time and still, after hours of deliberation, are at a loss for words. Which is a strange realization since I felt that I had dealt with the majority of my grief earlier this fall upon hearing the news. Apparently not. Apparently it takes time and continues to hit you in waves days, months, years? afterwards. So much grief for a life never fully realized.

And though I know this matters naught to you, know Mommy and Daddy love and miss you in the fullest sense. Happy Christmas little one.

I’m thankful for…

Day 19: I’m thankful for this man:

I’m thankful for…

Day 4: I am thankful for in-laws. I know that might not be a typical or first-thought for thanksgiving but truly, I am. I have been blessed with a second set of parents that are warm, loving, and compassionate. People who have welcomed me into their family and their lives and love not only me but my daughters (if not more so) as well. I’m lucky to have a father-in-law who will rescue me at church after my car battery dies and my husband is working. I’m lucky to have a mother-in-law who will go errands shopping with me and make it entertaining the entire time. I’m lucky to have brothers- and sisters-in-law who are consistently helpful, encouraging, challenging, and good-humored. I consider myself a well blessed person all-around when it comes to family and I’m sure that will never change.

Day Twelve: Your Dream Vacation

I know it’s hard to see from this map…but…my dream vacation would be a year of backpack traveling across the world with Dylan and the girls with unlimited funds (hey, you said dream didn’t you?).

We would start by visiting a few lovely Canadians in Alberta and then we’d migrate north to a few states (such as California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New York) before heading into South America. We’d stay there for a couple of months before moving onto Europe and then Africa–although through certain parts of Africa, I think we’d probably send the girls to stay with their grandparents. Then we’d swing up through the Middle East and into Eastern Europe and into Asia where eventually we’d land in Australia and hop over to New Zealand.

And then we’d come back from all of our travels to continue living our lives.

Okay, so maybe that’s not very realistic.

Realistically?
I guess I would like to take a couple weeks anywhere with my husband on an extremely over-due honeymoon. Where? I’ve got no clue…New Zealand would be fun but so would South America or Southeastern Asia…wait, I think I’ve wandered into the unrealistic again…