Raising Maidens of Virtue – My Take Away

One of my many summer reading books was Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald. I said from the beginning I had some cautions as I have mixed feelings about Vision Forum ministries and their strong patriarchal leanings. But this book was loaned to me and I was intrigued by it, so I read through it this summer.

As a mother of daughters, I can’t help but like the title. Who doesn’t want to raise virtuous maidens in this day and age? And if someone can give me a step-by-step guide? Sign me up! As I read through it the first time, much of what it said did not surprise me – very conservative with a strong emphasis on daughters entrusting their hearts to their fathers and being available and prepared to serve throughout life. Good stuff, really. However, one chapter at the end got my feathers more than a little ruffled. It would, appropriately enough, be the chapter in which women who wear bikini swim suits are compared to “colorful flamingos” flaunting their feathers.

Pardon me while I climb on my soap box:

I wear a bikini. We allow our daughters to wear bikinis if they wish. We don’t do “tween-sexy” or string-type bikinis for the girls, because that’s the line we’ve drawn. If one goes to a pool today, one is hard-pressed to find a woman not wearing a bikini. It is no longer a matter of flaunting one’s body per se. It can just be a matter of what a woman is most comfortable in or, shocking as this may sound, a woman dressing to please her husband.

Stepping back down now.

So, needless to say, I was a little annoyed by this chapter. I finished the book and still agreed with points of it. I decided I was going to read through the book with the girls this fall as it has many principles that I would like them to take to heart, planning to either skim over or at least discuss the sections I didn’t agree with. However, as I began to read it aloud to them, I felt incredibly uncomfortable with the emphasis I was noticing throughout the book on outward appearance. I want our girls to make wise choices with how they clothe their bodies and how they present themselves to the world. I do want them to be able to look at an outfit and discern whether or not it is appropriate. I do not want them to look at the person wearing said outfit and pass judgement on her spiritual walk with the Lord. There is so much more to a woman than what she wears. I want to raise daughters that are wise and who give their hearts to their earthly father and their Heavenly one because they know that is where their hearts belong not because they have been filled with fear that they are not physically safe if they do not. I want to raise daughters who know how to dress in such a way that they both look and feel beautiful without being a distraction to others – male or female. I want to raise daughters who love the Lord in such a way that, regardless of what they wear, Christ is the one others see.

I am weary of the notion that in order for a woman to be godly she cannot be outwardly beautiful and that she must hide as much skin as is seasonally safe for fear of causing her brother to stumble. I want to encourage my Christian brothers in their walk as much as anybody, but the men of our faith must bear some responsibility as well for their thoughts and actions. As my husband (from a very conservative background) said one morning as I fretted over whether or not to wear a particular article of clothing to a church function for this very reason, “Honey, it is possible to lust after a woman in a baggy white blouse and a full-length navy skirt. Those jeans are fine.” His point was that, while we as women do not want to purposely draw attention to ourselves in a lustful manner, there comes a point where the woman can only do so much and the man has to take control of his thought life.

I have diverged a bit from my original topic, but this is obviously something I have some feelings about. 🙂

All in all, the book was okay. Like I said, there are some principals in it I really would like my girls to take hold of. But if it requires them to become judgmental and self-conscious in the process, I’ll pass.



This is the day that I have made!  As you rejoice in this day of life, it will yield up to you precious gifts and beneficial training.  Walk with Me along the high road of thanksgiving, and you will find all the delights I have made ready for you.

To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely.  A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians.  They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts.  Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.  How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times.  They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them.  Rejoice in this day that I have made, for I am your steadfast Companion.

~ Jesus Calling, November 26

1450.  shares that humble

1451.  friends that discover the head lice before they come over

1452.  the gift of the opportunity to encourage others

1453.  early morning fog

1454.  two hundred pairs of shoes donated

1455.  eighty-plus health profiles

1456.  a day of baking to celebrate thanks

1457.  easy lunch buffets and an afternoon when it’s okay to graze

1458.  a Thanksgiving day bike ride

1459.  another six year old

1460.  encounters that help me learn grace, practice thanks in all things

May your coming week be filled with blessings.  May you not be able to count all the gifts He gives.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Week in Review

What a week of blessings this has been.  The past few days have seemed a far cry from some of the struggles that prompted Monday and Tuesday’s posts.  Oh, those things remain, but what a wonder a change of pace and the excitement of seeing family will bring!

A week of school and baking, a birthday celebration and the giving of thanks, some Black Friday shopping and card playing with friends, a bike ride and some home maintenance.  It’s been a great week.  My mind is rolling around with ideas for December.  I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

Have a great rest of your weekend, friends!

~ Sara

A Six Year Old Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!  On this day of focused thanks, I am particularly thankful for this little girl –

Born six years ago, on Thanksgiving day, Miss Ellie has provided an abundance of snuggles and memorable moments.  She keeps us in stitches with her innate ability to craft words.  She knows only two states of mind: On Top of the World and The World is Ending.  She has been the “baby of the family” longer than anyone else but cannot wait to have her younger sister come home.  She is frustrating, delightful, emotional, funny, a quick thinker, ridiculously silly, and incredibly bright.  She loves others and loves Jesus.  And we love her.

Happy 6th Birthday, Ellie!  We can’t wait to see what the next year brings!




A Quick Post of Thankfulness

I am so incredibly thankful for this day. Beautiful weather. A run with a friend after the sun came up.  A full day of baking (which I’m realizing is much more enjoyable when I’m not trying to teach school at the same time). Thirty minutes at the park because it’s sunny and 60 on November 23. I am blessed. Now off to my in-laws to celebrate God’s abundant blessings.  Praying that you have a joyous “Thanksgiving Eve” and that tonight your heart is overflowing with thankfulness for His incredible grace.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Book Reviews: On Parenting and Home Education

So a few weeks ago I had some time to do some power reading and burned through a couple of re-reads.  Here’s what I walked away from them with:

First, Parenting with Love and Logic.

I read this book several years ago and liked some aspects of it, but honestly felt like it gave too many choices.  I don’t really feel like my 3 year old (or 5 year old for that matter) needs to have a say in every aspect of her life.  Sometimes, it really is just because Mom said so.  But, we’ve reached a new stage with our older girls and they clearly need to be handled differently than I have been handling them.  I need to back off from authoritarianism (definitely not my goal parenting style, but if I’m honest, it’s probably my default) and start working more toward a coaching-style of parenting.  We’ve always been pretty “hands-off”, in that we let our kids own their problems.  But I have been failing at following up with them on why things are working out a certain way for them or why a certain behavior is unacceptable.  I already knew I needed to be doing those things, but sometimes reading something again helps to make it top-of-mind.  I still don’t agree with everything in Love and Logic, but I came away with some new ideas and a renewed vision that their problems are not necessarily my problems and I need to resist the urge to handle them simply because it would be faster but what I do need to do is talk more to them about the “why’s” of life and make sure to use those teachable moments without beating the proverbial dead horse.

Second, When You Rise Up.

Another re-read from a few years back, I grabbed this one off the shelf to remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.  Academically, this has been a pretty good school year but psychologically it has been brutal.  Every day feels like an emotional war zone and I have never so seriously questioned whether or not home education was the best choice for our children or for me.

Sproul articulates well our general philosophy on home education.  Yes, the academics are important.  Yes, I want my children to be bright and to excel.  Yes, I want them to be well-rounded and be exposed to a variety of opportunities and challenges.  But more than anything,  I want them to be Christ-like.  I want to influence their character and mold their hearts.  And not to say that those who go to school can’t be impacted that way, but for us this is the best method.

I agree with Sproul in theory that the Bible is the only textbook needed to adequately educate a child.  However, that may fail in application for most of us.  I know of a few families who could pull that off and their children would still learn science and math and modern history.  I am not one of them.  I need textbooks and structure or my kids will be rich in Bible knowledge (a good thing!) but academic dunces in every other way (a bad thing).  But if I am honest, I would rather have a child who fails every standardized test and yet loves the Lord with her whole heart, mind, and strength than to have my child accepted into the best schools on full-ride scholarships and not love Jesus.

The hard part about this book (and this school year) is that relationship and character are our goals and it has felt like we are failing miserably.  But I have to remember that this is not like learning short vowels sounds or simple addition, character takes years – sometimes a lifetime – to develop.  And while I can be encouraged by their academic growth and know that all is not entirely in vain, the other keeps me on my knees and in the Word, trusting God to take this broken vessel and use it to make these children into something beautiful.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Giving Thanks

It’s Monday morning and the beginning of a week of Thanksgiving but we count the gifts always here, trying to make a life of thanks-living.  Pastor teaches yesterday on the value of a grateful heart and that God’s grace is at the center of all giving thanks.  And he teaches how an ungrateful heart has forgotten the gospel and that the place in our heart created for thanksgiving will be filled with something dark, sinister, if it is not overflowing with praise to the One who gave all.  And I think of my Savior, how He took the bread, broke it, and gave thanks, knowing it was His body that would be broken, His blood that would be poured out.  And even still, He gave thanks.  How can I not give thanks in the midst of my light and momentary struggles?  How can I not praise Him in the midst of our daily storms?

Some days it is hard.  The flesh cries foul at the seeming injustice of it all and the heart weighs heavy, weary that things will never change.  What if they never do?  Can I continue on in praise to Him?  Can I continue to seek His will, to be molded into the image of the Son, even if my circumstances never change?  The only other option is bitterness.  I can praise or I can resent.  I can give thanks or I can complain.  My heart can continue to be made softer still or my heart can grow hard within me.

I do not want to be what the world tells me I deserve to be.  I want to love the unlovable.  I want to return kindness in the face of hatred.  I want to bow my head in prayer when the flesh cries out to scream.

The practice of listing the gifts, intentional thanks, opens my eyes to what He gives.  If everything is from His hand, I can trust Him that it is worth giving thanks for.  And so I look, I watch for those God-gifts.  Little things.  Big things.  All things.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

1444.  Christmas shopping

1445.  seventy degrees in mid-November

1446.  decorations up

1447.  tired ears that mean a fun day with my girls

1448.  timely messages on Sunday morning

1449.  a week of focused thanks

Week in Review

It’s the end of the day at the end of the week.  I’ve been quiet here again this week.  Practicing the proverb “where words are many, folly abounds”.  Actually, practicing not being that, hopefully.   My ears and emotions are tired, but I want to set my heart on the good.  I want to remember what I read on Ann’s page this week, “That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem.”  I believe He will redeem this season.  He will make beauty from ashes, good from hard times.  Trusting that is the only thing that gets me through some of the days lately.

Today the girls and I spent the afternoon making the house look like this:

I love my house at Christmas; it almost seems to have been built for the season.  (Well, except for how drafty it is.)  And while this blessedly long fall means it doesn’t really feel like the Christmas season yet, at least we’re ready!  😉

Tomorrow Matt and I will go do some Christmas shopping.  Alone.  Together.  #bliss

I have to say that I am feeling totally ahead of the game, even though I’m really not.  But some gifts are purchased and about half of the Christmas cards have been ordered and it’s not even Thanksgiving.  It’s been several years since I’ve been this prepared.  In fact, I’m guessing it’s been six years, since that’s how long ago I had a baby due during the holidays.

Anyway, that’s it for me.  Life is good even when it’s hard and I want to be thankful for it all.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Thankfulness on a Wednesday

Practicing the deliberate giving of thanks today.  I need to remember the gifts, His faithfulness, His mercies.

1432.  cool, rainy days

1433.  candles

1434.  quiet Christmas music

1435.  coffee

1436.  days that keep your eyes on God

1437.  succesful family pictures

1438.  dead batteries and tangled balloons

1439.  enjoyable sleepovers

1440. a one mile run

1441.  a drama-free Sunday

1442.  daughters who help sisters

1443.  a husband who’s got my back

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

More From the Ellie (and Emma) Chronicles

As is often the case, a couple of these stories are old hat to our Facebook friends, but they must be recorded for posterity.

While trick-or-treating through the neighborhood on Halloween, Matt and the girls approach the home of one of our neighbors.  They are a couple about my parents’ age and they are hosting two exchange students this year.  As one of the foreign girls opens the door, Ellie declares, “Oh look!  It’s the maid!”

Another time recently, Ellie and her sisters had destroyed their room.  Their consequence was to get up early before Friday classes to clean it up so that they could go skating after classes that afternoon.  At 4 a.m., as Matt and I were getting up, we hear a door open down the hall and little feet shuffling toward us.  Ellie comes in all squinty-eyed with her blanket up by her face and groans, “I can’t clean.  It’s too dark!”

Lastly, we were out to dinner recently as a family.  We were trying to broaden the girls’ horizons a bit, so we opted for a Chinese restaurant for dinner instead of our standard Mexican fare.  Emma had gone to use the restroom and was gone a ridiculously long time.  The bathroom was just a few feet from our table and it was a “one holer”, so to speak, so I was confident nothing questionable was going on.  Another woman was waiting outside the door for her chance to use the bathroom so I send another child to tell Emma to hurry up.  She finally joins us back at the table going on and on about this (very normal) bathroom.  After her lengthy description of all its details she looks at her hands and exclaims, “Wait!  Why did I wash my hands?  I didn’t even go!” and then excuses herself to go do what she forgot to do the first time.  🙂

Life is never boring!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara