In The Family

6/7/11 A Summer of Proverbs
As summer approaches, I usually try to think of ways help the kiddos and myself to adapt to the huge change in routine, while keeping our sanity and having fun.  I like to continue the large doses of Biblical instruction that they receive in school during the year, and look forward to adding my perspective and hearing their thoughts.  This summer, we are tackling the book of Proverbs.  Taking 31 chapters and dividing them up over weekdays (excluding days away at church camp and band camp), we will be able to finish the book well before school begins.  I love Proverbs, not just because it describes an incredible role model for women, but because I am motivated and challenged by the pursuit of wisdom.  I have this really weird notion that every single thing we can learn finds its origin in God, and to leave Him out of the process of learning is not only counterproductive, but completely foolish.  He is the Foundation of all knowledge.
Our study isn't anything super glamorous.  I don't have a kit, a dvd series, or workbooks, but each of the kids has an NIV study Bible, and we take turns reading (very slowly so momma can provide 'explanatory material').  It is a blessing that the children's Literature and Creative Writing series in school uses the book of Proverbs, and they are already familiar with many of the Scriptures, as well as the literary devices that are used in the passages.  Our study takes place at the first meal of the day (whether it be breakfast or lunch), and the kids are loving it.  Even little 3-year-old Allison is participating in discussion and learning parts of the chosen key verse for the day.
What a blessing to be able to mold these young lives for God's purposes!

Modest: To Be or Not To Be? 
Summer is on it's way, and although that is a happy thought, there are some frustrations that come with warmer weather.  One of the biggest for me is the fact that the bulk of the population begins to shed its clothes.  I'm not talking coats, tights, long johns, and turtlenecks, either.  Unless you live in a cave, you realize that as soon as it hits 40 degrees and the sun is shining, out come the short shorts, spaghetti strap shirts, and virtually as little clothing as possible without one being fined for indecency (is there actually such a thing these days?). 
As a teenager and young adult, the immodesty of others didn't bother me as much.  Being a girl, my eyes weren't naturally drawn to other female bodies, and it was just something to which I didn't pay much attention.  After I married, I thought about it a little more.  My husband would share his thoughts and he clued me in a little more to how guys minds were wired (I knew this stuff, but it was brought a little closer to home).  Then I had boys.  Two of them.  When they were little, I prayed that God would protect their minds and keep them pure.  As they have grown and are now on the brink of puberty, I know them well.  I know their curiosities and their temptations.  They talk to me about what frustrates their eyes, and what embarrasses and insults their minds.  And I give them advice, I pray for them, and I encourage them to turn the other way.  I also remind them that they aren't "bad" because they notice.  They are wired to notice.  The thoughts and actions that follow are what they must guard. 
People who choose to dress immodestly will use any excuse in the book for justifying their decisions, and in all honesty, people who do not know Christ as personal Saviour or who are new Christians and do not yet have light on modesty shouldn't be expected to know or do any better. 
What is interesting is the increasing amount of people who have grown up in homes where modesty was demanded who seemingly have no idea that there might be principles behind the rules.  That can be a warning for us as young parents: demands without basis are futile and even detrimental.  A list of rules can never be a substitute for proper training in modesty! 
Now I have girls.  And I'm really glad I had boys first.  Why?  Having boys gave me the opportunity to understand the way their minds really work, not just in theory, but in reality.  This will help me, as a mother, nurture my girls in modesty.  Our oldest daughter isn't to the age of female development yet, but it will be here soon, and we want to prepare her to, with our guidance, make wise decisions. 
If you are a mom who is concerned about modesty, don't automatically expect that your daughters will make your values their own.  "Inspect what you expect," is a saying that holds a lot of value in parenting.  And remember that cramming a list of rules down their throats won't endear them to your values or to your God.  Teach modesty as a lifestyle.  Model it before them.  If we as moms require certain things of our daughters, then we probably should take inventory in our own closets.  If a shirt reveals our love handles, belly rolls, or post-baby, saggy bosoms, and we still wear it, then our girls aren't going to like our inconsistency...rightfully so. 

The book Created To Be His Helpmeet opened my eyes to the temptations and frustrations that men and boys face...even in our churches.  What about the boy whose "family pew" is right behind a girl who is swathed in the tightest, shortest, sexiest clothing she can get her parents to allow her to wear?  What about the man that is struggling to focus on worship, but whose eyes are so prone to notice the women whose tops so noticeably reveal the curves?  Covered, yes, but still immodest. 
So, women, let's not fool ourselves.  Men are attracted to the body of a woman...many times regardless of her age, marital status, or physique.  We need to be attentive and careful.  And we need to do everything we can to help our young boys train their eyes and protect their hearts.