Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: mothers

Precious memories

My cousin Dennis was born September 9, 1937, the first of six children born to Art and Katherine Goodnough. His wife called last week to tell us that his children were planning a surprise birthday party for him for his 80th birthday, last Saturday. Could we come?

I thought about it briefly, maybe half a second, and said “Of course, we’ll be there.” I had been thinking of this momentous occasion coming up, had bought a card and was wondering how or when to deliver it. Saturday we made the two and a half hour drive to Moose Jaw and joined 50 others, family and friends, to celebrate Dennis’s 80 years.

All of Dennis’s brothers came, from Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC. His sister lives in Portugal and didn’t make it. Four of his five children were there, two live in Moose Jaw, one in Alberta, one in BC and the one missing was out of the country on a business trip.

Uncle Art was my father’s brother, Aunt Katherine my mother’s sister. Our two families have always been close. Everything his brothers said about Dennis was completely familiar. None of us has ever seen him get angry, nor have we ever seen him violate a traffic law. Richard told how Dennis would always use his signal lights before making a turn, even if he was out in the middle of a 100 acre field or a thousand acre pasture.

He was always interested in others. Whenever you talked to him, his first questions were about your family. He never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. Stan, 15 years younger, told of encountering a kangaroo on his big brother’s farm when he was just a little lad. He told Dennis about the kangaroo and Dennis said, “Well, it might have been something else that looked a lot like a kangaroo.” Some time later Stan figured out that it had been a jackrabbit.

His patience was his great strength, but at times it looked like a weakness. Jason, his youngest son, told of how his Dad taught them the importance of cleanliness and also modelled it for them. One time the family was ready to get in the car to go somewhere, they were already 20 minutes late, but Dad decided he had to have a shower first.

Jason also told of how his Dad had been a good teacher. He didn’t get angry when they didn’t do as they had been taught, but relations could get rather cool for a while. Ted, the brother next after Dennis in the family, picked up on that and said that had come from their mother. When he did something wrong his mother wouldn’t speak to him for days. Finally he would get so desperate that he would do anything, wash dishes, scrub floors, to get her to talk to him. Thinking of that later, it seems that Ted would be the one in the family who would have most often incurred this treatment from his mother. He was also the one for whom it was most apt to produce a favourable result.

Joel, Dennis’s oldest grandson and a Pentecostal preacher, was MC for the afternoon. Jeff, Dennis’s oldest son and also a Pentecostal preacher (but of a different denomination), had the prayer for the supper. The Goodnough family is a mixture of Christians of differing persuasions and others who are not Christians. We don’t get together as often as we did when we were younger and lived closer to each other, but there is still something that binds us together. I believe the tie that binds us together, at least for those of us of the older generation, is the influence of our mothers. I am not alone in thinking that, the thought was expressed a number of times on Saturday.

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Prejudice + Poverty ≠ Hopelessness

Some years ago I read an article in Ebony magazine written by a man who had grown up in one of the worst black tenement ghettos in Chicago.Drug dealing, crime and violence were the everyday reality and the police felt the area was too dangerous to send in individual officers to patrol.

Like almost all the other children in this ghetto, this man and his two siblings grew up in a single parent home without much money. Their mother wanted her children to escape the ghetto and the first step was not to give in to hopelessness. She introduced them to the library and to museums and did everything that she could think of that was educational and free. When they went to the store to buy something she let the children pay and then count the change to see that it was right.

All three of those children finished school, went on to university and established professional careers. And they moved their mother out of the ghetto.

The man who wrote the article was now a lawyer. He wrote about going back to visit his old neighbourhood and trying to look up the boys he had grown up with. Some were dead, others were in jail, all the rest had criminal records. None had escaped the hopelessness of the ghetto.

There are a multitude of government programs to help children escape the effects of prejudice and poverty. Billions of dollars are being spent. What are the results? A lot of well paid government jobs to administer the programs. Besides that – not much.

One mother with hope and determination made a difference. No government program can create a mother like that.

“This Child Will Break Your Heart” – 5 Parenting Lessons From the Mother of Jesus — Striving Nigerian Mom …Parenting With Purpose

“This Child will break your heart!” How about that for an opening line? As I was just pondering on the season of Easter, for some reason, my mind went away from Jesus for a bit, and I thought about Mary, His mom. And for some reason, my heart was heavy, just thinking about her. For […]

via “This Child Will Break Your Heart” – 5 Parenting Lessons From the Mother of Jesus — Striving Nigerian Mom …Parenting With Purpose

Anorexia of the soul

I once knew a Christian lady whose husband was self-centred, domineering and prone to uncontrolled fits of rage.  She, on the other hand, was unselfish, capable and self-controlled.

At some point she developed an interest in fasting.  After a time it became apparent to brothers and sisters in the faith that she had become extremely thin, even emaciated.  We admonished her that this was not a healthy way to live, she needed to keep up her strength to care for her children.  Her response was that she felt so much closer to God when she fasted.  She felt that she was really much more spiritual than the rest of us; we were all much too ready to satisfy our carnal appetites.

After much counselling from a group of brothers and sisters, she began to let go of her attachment to fasting.  I felt at the time that the reason it was so hard for her to let go was because her out of control husband was making life miserable and this was one thing that she could do to feel she was in control.  And we were trying to take that away from her.

In Girls on the Edge*, Dr. Leonard Sax writes about anorexia among teenaged girl;s and young women.  The cases he describes sound very much like the situation I just described.  Girls say that when they don’t eat for a while their mind becomes really clear; they feel calm, relaxed and at peace.

Dr. Sax also writes about girls who cut themselves.  When a friend of my wife’s first talked about this, it seemed so outlandish that I could hardly fathom that such a thing could be happening.  Yet is has become an epidemic among teenage girls, with estimates that upwards of 30% might be doing it.

Dr. Sax says that many girls report feeling a sense of dissociation from their bodies, not really feeling the pain, but rather feeling a sense of euphoria.  Apparently the cutting releases opiate-like chemicals in the brain that give this sensation.

The mother of one of Dr. Sax’s patients described what was happening to her daughter as “anorexia of the soul.”  I have borrowed that phrase for the title of this post.

Anorexia and cutting are not social activities.  The girls that do these things are feeling anxieties and pressures and don’t know how to cope with them in any other way.  They don’t want others to know what they are doing.

Girls growing up today are pressured by the zeitgeist in many contradictory ways.  From a very young age they are pressured to dress and act in a sexually provocative manner, yet the nurturing side of femininity is disdained.  They are taught that their sense of worth needs to come from achievements at work, thus they are expected to be high achievers in school and at work.  Women who choose to dedicate themselves to home and family are almost viewed as being contemptible.   Is it any wonder that girls are confused and stressed beyond their capability to endure?

For those who are able to cast off the blinkers of the zeitgeist, it should be obvious that a Christian stay at home mother makes a greater contribution to the well being of our society than a career woman.  Mothers who are there when their children need them are rewarded with honest, conscientious young men and women who will not be a drain on the budgets and resources of the police services and social service agencies.   As Christian men we should be letting the women in our lives know how much we value their contributions.

* Girls on the Edge, © 2010 by Leonard Sax.  Published by Basic Books, New York

 

Her children arise up, and call her blessed

“I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: and I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.  Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found” (Ecclesiastes 7:25-28).

What is Solomon talking about here?  Why does he appear to have so much hatred for women?

Ah, but remember that Solomon really had a thousand wives.  This sounds more like a confession than a diatribe against all womankind.  Counting his wives one by one up to a thousand, he realizes that he cannot fully trust even one of them.  They have led him astray.

Solomon sounds an altogether different note when he gives advice to other men: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).  “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18).  It seems that now in his old age, Solomon looks back and regrets the day he took a second wife.  He had been happy with the wife of his youth, whatever possessed him to think that he would be happier with a second wife?  And a third, a fourth, all the way up to a thousand?

In another place, Solomon pronounces a blessing upon marriage: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).  These are not the words of a man who believed that women are inherently evil.  Solomon discovered, and demonstrated for our benefit if we will receive it, that multiple marriages do not multiply the blessing.  Having more than one wife had filled his family life with jealousy, intrigues and disappointment.

There is some mystery about the author of Proverbs 31.  The chapter begins: “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.  What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?  Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

Who was king Lemuel?  Archeologists and historians have found no trace of a king by this name.  Lemuel means “devoted to God.”  The preponderant opinion of rabbinical commentators, and of Christian commentators, is that this points to Solomon himself.  The first nine verses of this chapter then are the instructions that Bathsheba gave to her son and that he remembered all his days and wrote down for our instruction.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).  It is not altogether clear if verses 10 to 31 are a continuation of Bathsheba’s teaching, or an addition by Solomon himself.  In any case, it was Solomon who compiled the Book of Proverbs and decided to close the book with a paean to godly women.

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:28-31).

Mother’s Day is a day set apart for children and husbands to arise and bless and praise the mothers in our families.  I trust this is not the only day that we do this.

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