Just Things…

Things I’m chewing on:

  • Teaching my daughters a sense of self-worth. To me, that goes beyond an ego or good self-esteem. Having a vision for our homeschool. Not just homeschooling in general, but our specific homeschool. Why and how we do this. Both ideas will be chewed on for awhile longer and may be in an upcoming issue of Family Magazine.  Still a little odd to see my words in print, to be honest. Does it ever get normal? I’m not sure it does.
  • YouTube. I’m not so thrilled with YouTube lately.  There are scores of young women that portray this insanely perfect image of themselves, complete with lots of makeup and trendy gear. The problem I’m finding is that as soon as I outlaw one, two more pop up in her place. Like all things, it requires moderation and supervision, parental awareness and a bit of grace. Our children need to learn how to manage the World Wide Web, and I’m sure that isn’t going to change any time soon. It will move on from YouTube and be something else in a couple of years. The venue may change but the lessons will be the same. Moderation, supervision, awareness and grace. {Help me, Lord.}
  • It’s Christmas time. Things that sparkle are everywhere. I’m struggling to drag the focus back to the point of the season. Those sparkly things are much more interesting to little eyes, you know. So we are trying to think of others a bit more this Christmas season. How can we help people right in our community? How can we remind our children of how fortunate they are without making a spectacle of those less fortunate? We are still working through this one and it’s challenging for me.

Things I’m enjoying:

  • Really good coffee. Is this a surprise? No it’s not. But I seriously enjoy coffee so much, I’m pretty sure at this point that God created it just for me.
  • Our wood stove and Christmas tree. The combination of the two is just perfect to me and I am freshly reminded each day how much I love our home.
  • Blue Bloods, Blind Spot, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. My two older girls and I watch these three shows together most nights. I can’t say the content of each episode is perfect but we enjoy it. I’m so over reality television and am reminded of how much I enjoy a tv show with a decent story line.

 

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Things I’m looking forward to:

  • My parents will be arriving at our house on December 21 and staying until after Christmas. It’s been years since I’ve been with my mom in the days before Christmas, to do cooking and baking and wrapping and such. And they’ve never been at our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We are all so very excited.
  • The Christmas Eve choir at church. I miss singing with a group very much and look forward to the choir each December. Rehearsals start next week. 🙂
  • Giving gifts. I really enjoy finding wonderful and fun things to give my family. I just love it!

What are you chewing on, enjoying, or looking forward to?

{review} Project Inspired

I write a lot about my daughters here. It’s pretty easy to figure out that modesty and teaching my girls how to be godly young women is important to me. When I heard about Project Inspired, I knew I had to check it out.

Project Inspired is based on the Project Inspired website created by model and actress Nicole Weider. Integrating her behind-the-scenes experiences with guides on modest fashion, beauty, and advice, teens will discover positive ways they can uphold their values in today’s world while staying fierce … and faithful.

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We’ve read a couple of other books for teen girls by inspirational women. What really set this apart for me and for my 14 year old was the amount of practical information in this book! Not only does Nicole share her personal story as she went from a high profile modeling contract to depression to finally giving her life to Jesus, but she shares so many great ideas about how young women can learn from the mistakes she made.

There are 12 chapters in Project Inspired. The topics range from everything to Overcoming Depression to Dating to Friendship to Etiquette. There’s also great information about True Beauty and Wardrobe, Defining Your Look, Guarding Your Mind and Body plus Sharing the Gospel. Each chapter contains practical tips while also keeping a focus on Biblical wisdom. The chapter on Beauty, for example, contains the story of Queen Esther and how she carefully considered what she wore before the King. In the same way, Nicole encourages young women to consider what they’re wearing and how dressing well can help a young woman (or any woman, let’s be honest!) to feel that little boost in her self-confidence.

Honestly, I was a little scared to read the chapter on dating. Thankfully, Nicole shares excellent wisdom on why it’s wise to wait to date. She recommends waiting until you’re 18 before starting to delve into that realm of life. Thank you, Nicole! It’s so easy for young girls to get swept away into the hormones and emotions of being a teen. That is one area that a bit of control and wisdom is really needed. I was so, so thankful to read that Nicole was sharing this same thing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for young women ages 13 and up. It’s one that they can grab for reference or encouragement as these tricky topics come up. I’ve already heard “In that book you got me? They recommend jeans from ___” or ideas about a new face wash that Nicole recommends. It’s handy and practical while being spiritually encouraging all at once.
{I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and no guarantees were made.}

Daughters, Clothes and My Grey Hair

I have four daughters. Some days, that fact alone is enough to make my head spin and my eyes cross. Add in the fact that my two oldest girls look much older than they actually are because they’re both tall and gorgeous. {I know I’m partial and all but seriously. They’re gorgeous.} The younger two are pretty much their clones so I know that I’ve got years to go with this whole gorgeous daughter thing. It’s stressful. Getting them ready to leave the house in proper clothes? It just might be the sole reason my hair is turning grey.

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Over the years we’ve come up with a few short steps that help to smooth out the process of choosing outfits a bit. It might not work for everyone but I hope it helps you:

1 – Be prepared. We almost always choose the girls’ outfits the evening before we are going somewhere. If it’s a planned outing, we prepare in advance. Doctors visits, field trips, play dates, church – anything. Our general rule is the girls have three chances to choose an outfit. If they can’t find something we can agree on after that, I choose and they have to wear what ever I choose. I’m sure some of you are sensing how well that goes. So the older they get, the more thought they put into their three choices. Something that’s also helping a bit with their preparations is that I’ve limited their clothing a bit, into a capsule-type wardrobe. I’ll share more about that and how it’s working for us soon!

2- Ground Rules. In order for the girls to choose outfits, they have to know the ground rules. Can we just pause for a moment here? Moms you can set rules. You are not stifling the Holy Spirit or eliminating the grace of God in your home. You are creating guardrails. Kids need guardrails. I’m not going to go into what our rules are because they will be different for each family. According to my daughters, I am the most strict mother ever with archaic rules for how to dress. It’s how I roll. But no matter what kind of discussion or reasoning certain girls may try to share – the rules are the rules. The whole skinny jeans issue? We have a rule for it. This can make shopping very, very difficult because of the selection in the stores but we have our guardrails and we keep them. Crop tops. Bikinis. The length of their shorts and skirts. We have guardrails.

3 – Style + Rules = Peace. Once the rules are set and the daughters have gotten the swing of choosing their own outfits, we let them experiment a little. Sometimes I shake my head at the things they choose. It definitely isn’t my style. But if they’re within our house rules, we try to let them express their own fashion style when choosing outfits. This is challenging for me, as I like things the way I like them. But I also remember being a young teen and wearing some pretty crazy things. The one thing that will put a stop to their ‘creative’ outfits:

4 – Dad gets unquestioned veto power. If Dad thinks a daughter’s outfit is immodest or just strikes him as inappropriate – it goes. No questions. Dad’s word is the final word and Moms? We have to stand with them. We might help to find a compromise but don’t try to undermine Dad’s final word. He has the unique perspective of actually being a male and was once a teenage male. We don’t understand teenage males. He does. So if he sees something in what your girl is wearing that strikes him as wrong – stick by him.

With all these nice little steps in place, you’ll never argue about clothes with your daughter again!

Okay, stop laughing.

There will still be disagreements. Teens will still push their limits. It’s kind of their thing. For me, it’s a lot easier to keep my cool in the midst of a challenging moment if I know there are guardrails in place that I can refer to. It also helps me when I think about the life lessons my daughters are learning. Modesty is something all Christian women need to learn about and teaching them about it from a young age will serve them well as they grow up.

What systems do you have in place at your house to help getting your daughters dressed and ready a little easier?

“…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10

On bathing suits and learning as we go

The bathing suit search is on. It’s spring in the Northeast and we’ve learned that although it may be months before we can actually swim – things sell out fast. Modesty is a strong conviction for me – it’s come up around here before. I firmly believe that just because the culture around us is spiraling downward, my convictions do not have to spiral down with them.

Some might say that I’m over thinking things. That they’re just kids and they’re swimming! Loosen up! But I firmly believe that it’s our job to protect their purity and modesty – even before they realize it needs to be protected. This is not about fear or stranger danger, it’s about guarding our daughters and sculpting them in palace style. Treating them like they are precious and worthy of protection rather than like a cheap bauble that needs to be flaunted. After spending days at the local beach over the last few years and seeing too many peekaboos from little girls (completely clueless, innocent girls!) playing in the sand, we have set some fairly high bathing suit standards for our daughters.

 

I might have a small issue with control. I like things my way and on my time. But as my children are growing up, I realize that they want to express their own style. This does not mean they are allowed to dress however they want. Pants have to look like pants, not a second skin. Shirts can’t be low cut. And bathing suits cannot resemble underwear. Once we have a standard established, we work together on finding an acceptable solution in a style that we both like. (Yes, this can sometimes be a long process.)

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In years past, I lightened up on my standards when I got frustrated. I would purchase something out of sheer exhaustion with the battle and live to regret it all summer long. It’s made me realize two things: 1) I need to be willing to return or put aside items that I’ve purchased, even if it means I lose money. 2) I need to be upfront with my daughters when we purchase something online. Just because it looks modest on the model does not mean it will meet our standards when she tries it on.

This also goes for the little girls in my house. We realized  years ago that it was unfair to let the girls dress a certain way and then switch up the rules once they got older. As much as we can, the standards stay the same for all ages. This does not make my life easier, trust me! It’s just as hard to find a pair of jeans that are not designed to look painted on for a 4 year old as it is for a nearly 14 year old. But the standard stays the same, as much as we’re able, and expectations are clear to avoid confusion or hurt feelings.

So we’re learning as we go here and working hard to communicate the how’s and why’s to our daughters, at their level of understanding. It’s a process, you know, this mothering thing. We don’t just instantly get it all figured out when we birth a child. Learning what to stand firm on and when to let go are just part of that process.

How do you handle the bathing suit battle with your daughters? Maybe it’s not a battle with them, but a battle with the fashion industry. Have you found a great source for affordable, modest swimwear? Share it!

{Summer Lessons} Modesty Standards

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 I’m continuing to revisit a topic that I blogged on long ago

Today I want to talk about modesty standards. Is it legalistic to have a set of rules for our wardrobe or our daughters’ wardrobes? Or are we using wisdom and saving ourselves from confusion? 

First what does the Word say about modesty –

‘I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.1 Timothy 2:9-10

How are we to know on a daily basis, while being bombarded with society’s standards (or lack thereof) what is decent and proper? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that having a general outline of what we think is decent and proper would help to weed out some items while shopping?  Here’s some of my original post from 2008 …

So what’s in the middle? Are the guidelines that have been taught to young women over and over again still relevant? If they are relevant for young women why not older women? I must admit that I float more toward the dowdy, old-lady look that any thing fashionable. I’ve even considered wearing only skirts several times. But is it just religion? Who defines too tight, short, big, frumpy, old, low cut, dowdy? The standard will change for each family. What are your guidelines? Any one mind sharing? I’m really re-visiting this issue with a vengeance. Because I don’t want to be religious about it, dressing dowdy because I think it’s right. When in reality, I just look like an old lady and ridiculous any way.

It’s much too easy to fall into the habit of just wearing frumpy clothes while trying to dress modestly. In my mind, that makes perfect sense. Cover it all up ladies. Preferably in fabric that doesn’t cling like a second skin. That is how it goes in my head. But if we are going to try to stay relevant to society, we need to have a standard that keeps us pure before God and man while also keeping us from making a spectacle of ourselves. We need to be in this world, right? So how do we look as though we are in this world, while keeping our hearts and minds as well as the hearts and minds of our brothers in Christ on things above?

So what are those standards of modest dress that will keep us relevant, stylish but also modest?