Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pregnancy Ponderings

I've been meaning to blog for over a week. My only excuse is that between looking after the boys, constant nausea and feeling exhausted all the time, I've struggled to find the time.

Right now my home is being neglected terribly. Our stairs desperately need vacumed, but it is too heavy right now for me to risk, so I am waiting for my darling husband to do that for me. He has already had to take on the greater share of cooking too. The smell of anything cooking is making my nausea much worse. I have to go upstairs away from the smells while Rob cooks. The boys are now responsible for their own breakfasts, and since I stopped cooking breakfast every day they hardly ever eat before school. I still fix their packed (sack) lunches, as everything is cold and so doesn't have strong smells. I'm already almost nine weeks, so hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen in another three or four weeks.

I know that feeling this nauseous is a good thing. It is a sign that the baby is strong and healthy and producing lots of hormones for me to react to. I have however had to make the move into maternity clothes already. I think that is mostly because I only had a month or so between pregnancies, so my body picked up where it left off, rather than going back to the beginning again. I am barely eating, but I continue to gain a little under a pound a week, and my waist has disappeared, so that none of my skirts fit me anymore.

Rob and I have talked about the possibility of twins, due to the speed at which I've outgrown my clothes. It is a possibility, but one we will deal with if it happens. For now we have decided to wait. I have an appointment with my midwife today so I'll be asking her advice. Yesterday we talked about waiting even to listen to the heart beat. We decided we don't even want to use the Doppler unless the midwife thinks it is necessary. Instead we are going to try and wait until she can hear it manually, at about 20 weeks. Unless there are signs of a problem we have decided to not poke or prod this baby. The Lord is knitting this baby together in a secret place on purpose, and it isn't our place to sneak a peak before the baby is ready to be seen.

Our child is in God's hands, and that is the safest place to be.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baby News

We are expecting a baby again.

We are seven weeks today. We had planned on keeping the news under wraps until Thanksgiving. But someone at Church guessed and announced it rather loudly in front of other people, so we had a mad dash to tell our parents and our boys before it got too widespread.

In hindsight it is probably a good thing that the news leaked out, as lots of people are praying this baby makes it through the whole nine months. I can feel the prayers, as the more people pray the sicker I get. I'm having really bad morning, noon and night sickness. I may feel terrible, but we are praising the Lord, as we know it is a good sign that the baby is strong and healthy. Please keep us in your prayers, that the baby will arrive safely in May and that I will be able to cope with the sickness and exhaustion of this stage of pregnancy.

I have my first appointment with our midwife on Wednesday. She was so excited for us when I called to make the appointment. She actually screamed with excitement when she got the phone call. It is so wonderful to feel like she is more of a close friend, who is as excited as us about the baby.

At the moment we have agreed not to have ultrasounds unless medically necessary, but I'm beginning to think that having one about week 12 to check the baby is developing as it might put my mind more at ease. Rob wants to wait until we can check the heart beat with the Doppler, but that may take until week 14 or after. I have a great peace about this pregnancy and more of a calmness than the last time. I know I can probably wait without the ultrasound, but I've still a few weeks before I need to decide for sure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gathering at the well: how women support each other.

Below is my devotional lesson from our Ladies Fellowship Meeting nearly two weeks ago. I meant to post it the same day, but with everything that's been happening here at home I never got around to it until now. I was speaking as much to myself as to anyone else, as I need to learn to balance out my life now that I have two teenagers to look after too.

In our busy fast paced lives it is often difficult to stop and catch our breaths, or to spend time just being. Today we are going to look at an alternative to “running around like headless chickens.” I have been told by a friend who grew up on a farm that chickens can continue to run around for several minutes after losing their heads. It is a frantic purposeless run that makes a mess (with blood) everywhere the chicken goes.

I have recently been introduced to that frantic run a round when Rob and I started looking after Jerome and Keean, two of the Bahamian students at our school. They are both 15, and both keen athletes playing baseball and basketball. This will keep us busy with sports through the entire school year. Now that I finally have a driver’s license and a car I have been plunged into the world of school runs, and endless errands for supplies for the boys at no notice. It seems to be a common trait amongst teenagers that they find it impossible to give more than a few minutes notice for anything, no matter what the impact may be. Despite this though I don’t want to become purposeless, making a mess where ever I go, like those headless chickens.

Back in Scotland, where I originally come from, we haven’t quite gotten to frantic yet. Life still has a manageable pace, where there is time for neighbours to just drop in on each other and share a cup of tea and some fellowship. Scotland is a semi-rural country. With a population of just under five million, and the largest city containing about half a million, it is a country in which most people live in towns or villages. I grew up on the edge of town, and my family still live there. My parent’s house is never locked while anyone is in and awake. Neighbours and friends will still just chap the door and walk in. The kettle will always be “just going on” to make tea, and a warm welcome will always be found. There is time for the women in these communities to just be.

Back in the Bible times most people lived a rural existence on farms or in villages, and a few towns. We are going to look at a few passages that show us how these women managed to spend time together, to fellowship, and even to just be.
In Genesis chapter 24:11-16 we encounter Rebekah.

Verse 11 “And he [Abraham’s servant] made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even at the time that the women go out to draw water.”

Verse 13 “Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:”

Verse 15 “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.”

Abraham’s servant had been sent to find a wife for Isaac, and he knew that the best way to meet women was to hang around the local well until it was time for the women to come there to gather water for their household. Even though the well had water 24 hours a day there were set times when all the women would come to gather together, as they gathered water.

We find the same thing happening in Genesis 29 when Jacob meets Rachel, and again in Exodus 2 when Moses meets the daughters of Jethro.

Gathering at the well was a daily activity for the women. It was a part of their daily lives. And knowing what social creatures us women are, I am sure it was also a part of the day these women looked forward to. It would take a while to fill everyone’s urn, so there was time to chat, catch up on news/gossip, ask advice and all those other things we women like to talk about. It was a time to be outside the family home and mix with women from other families. It is one of those activities that helped to give a sense of community that they belonged to a group larger than just their own family.

In the reverse to be excluded from the group and forced to gather water alone was probably one of the most painful of social punishments. To be shunned by the group stabs at the very heart of who a woman is. That is why as little girls in the playground we would gang together and deliberately exclude the one girl who would play by our rules. Boys will beat each other up and be friends again in a few hours. Girls will not only hold a grudge, but we recruit our friends to join us in this grudge and subsequent exclusion of the one child. Sometimes we didn’t even agree, but we dare not voice our disagreement, as we didn’t want to be the next one excluded from the group.

We can see this in the Bible in John 4 with the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is immediately apparent something is wrong with her life because she comes to gather water on her own. This is a woman who is being shunned, excluded, by her own community.

Verse 7 “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink.”

The tired and weary Jesus had deliberately sent the disciples to town for food so he could meet with this lonely excluded woman. While the particulars of her situation could only be known by Jesus because he was God, the fact that she was a lonely and hopeless soul was clear from her solitary visit to this well. She was seen in her community as a social pariah. There was no pleasure in her daily trips to the well. Instead every day she was reminded that she was a social outcast with no friends. She got no fellowship, no chat, no help with the task in hand.

The sad thing for me in this lesson is that we often choose to live as that Samaritan woman. We live solitary lives, doing by ourselves and for ourselves. We make ourselves too busy and too isolated to have the time for living as part of a community. The Samaritan woman would have jumped straight back into the community if she were given the opportunity. We just build bigger and thicker walls of isolation. We stay within our own family unit and convince ourselves that we don’t need more than that. Yet how untrue that is. We were made to be in community. We are made to rely on each other for support, for help, for fellowship.

As women we are made to exist in more than just our family unit. This was true in biblical times, and is still true today. Throughout history it has been the women who have defined and held together communities. No greater example of this can be seen than during the Israelites forty years of wandering in the desert.
In Leviticus 15 we read of how a woman is unclean for seven days after she begins her issue of blood. Everything she touches is also unclean. Still today Orthodox Jews stick to this. I follow the online blog of an Orthodox Jewish lady who lives in Israel. I have found her to be very open and informative about her faith and its practices. Every month that she has an issue of blood she is unclean for seven days. She is separated from her husband at all times during that seven days. She has to slow down and live a less demanding life, as she can touch nothing her husband will come into contact with.

Back in the desert the unclean women would dwell together in separate tents to everyone else. Their food would be brought to them, as they could not cook or they would contaminate the cooking utensils. For seven days the women got to relax, rest, fellowship with other women in the tents of exclusion and have a break from their very demanding life. The tents were not allocated by family unit. Rather it was a time when the women were able to step outside of their family unit. By building up strong attachments to each other across families these women cemented Israel into a nation, rather than just a group of slaves.

One of my personal favourite provisions from God is found in Leviticus 12
Verses 2-5

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.”

This means that when a woman gives birth to a son she shall be seen as unclean for forty days. That is forty days free from housework, free from social responsibilities, free from all things. The new mother has only two tasks during her forty days, that is to recover physically and to bond with her baby. What a wonderful gift for the new mother. But if it is a girl everything is doubled. She gets seventy seven days with just her baby girl. That is eleven weeks to just bond and rest and recover. All her normal work and responsibilities will be taken care of by other women. Today, here in America, working women get a total of only six weeks, forty two days, maternity leave when they have a baby. Then it is back to work, leaving someone else to care for their child. That is not how God wanted us to behave. He gave us, in His Word, guidance for our care and wellness.

We are supposed to have a day of rest in every seven. Then we get seven days of rest during that time of issue of blood. Then we get forty days rest at the birth of a son, and eleven weeks rest at the birth of a daughter. I love how a mother gets twice as long to bond with each daughter she has compared to her sons. I remember hearing this old saying as I was growing up:

“A son is a son ‘til he takes a wife. A daughter’s a daughter all of her life.”

We get twice as long to bond with daughters because the LORD knew the relationship between a mother a daughter was a special one, just as all woman to woman relationships are special in a way that requires us to slow down, and take the time for us to just be.

In finishing I would like to leave you with a few Scriptures that speak about being a friend to others.

Be Friendly
Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Be a good example
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Be helpful
Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Busy and Exhausted

I can't believe we're in October already. I also can hardly believe it's been over two weeks since I posted. Life has been pretty busy here, with school runs, homework, sports and all of us trying to adjust to this new lifestyle.

It's Monday morning and I'm already exhausted. One of the boys decided he wasn't tired enough to go to bed last night (after sleep ALL afternoon) and I ended up having to chase him to bed after 11pm last night. Then I get to be up at 5:30am this morning, while he didn't drag himself out of bed until 7:15am, when we leave the house at 7:40am. I have all day to think of a suitable means of enforcing discipline for this. It's the third Sunday on a row this has happened. My dearest husband and I had already agreed that this week we wouldn't let them sleep at all Sunday afternoon, then my beloved decided it wasn't a big deal and let them sleep. It's not a big deal to him, as he's not the one who gets to stay up to make sure they go to bed, and he's not the one that has to get them up, make their packed lunch, make breakfast and then drive them to school. I won't take another Sunday night/Monday morning like this again. I need at least eight full hours of sleep at night, and I haven't got that since the boys moved in.

We've also been working ourselves to death to help them with their homework. Well last week I spoke to the English teacher of the same boy mentioned above. She said she would be happy to tutor him on Monday's after school, so he was told to ask her to start today. He "forgot." So this morning I reminded him again to ask his teacher to start the extra tuition. If he doesn't do it today I'm not going to be reminding him again. I am also not going to be helping him with the homework either until he starts putting in more effort.

We've certainly stepped into parenting by the most difficult route possible. One thing we have learned though is that we are most definitely going to be homeschooling our own children.

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.