this glorious maze

because life is full of twists and turns

Month: November 2014 (page 1 of 3)

The Best of the Month: November 2014

pumpkin chocolate chips cookies

My Favorite Instagram: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies for our squadron Thanksgiving feast

November brought snow to Nebraska.  Usually I dread the first snow, but Hadden’s reaction to the snow was enchanting.  Every few minutes he would run to the window, pointing and laughing until I came over to look.  It was impossible for me to be upset about the snow!

I’ve spent all month collecting my favorite reads from around the web so today, the last of the month, I’m sharing them.

This month I decided to also share my Kindle reads.  The books I read on Kindle are fluffy and fun, but I’ve enjoy getting blissfully lost in the good stories since the weather turned cold.  You can find those titles at the end of the post.

So cozy up with a cup of tea or a mug of hot chocolate (or COFFEE if you’re one of those people) and check out these links below!

Science

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Creation vs. Evolution Debate || Mike Lehmann

6. If they’re read as straightforward history, the six-day creation story and the Adam and Eve story contradict each other.

Military

In His Son’s Steps || Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Bush approached each family individually and asked if there was anything he could do to help them. Several made small requests for assistance in dealing with death-benefits paperwork. An aide dutifully jotted notes.

Then Bush walked over to the Krissoffs and posed the same question.

“Yes, sir. There is one thing,” Bill said. “I want to join the Navy medical corps and serve, but they told me I was too old. No disrespect, but I’m younger than you are.”

Journalism

World Magazine column demonstrates evangelicals’ double standard || Jonathan Merritt

After attending a BioLogos gathering at the Harvard Club in New York City, WORLD writer Warren Cole Smith lamented that the event only featured speakers presenting arguments in favor of evolution—a theory almost universally accepted among scientists—and how it is compatible with the Bible. In a column titled, “Unscientific Method,” he mourned that anti-evolution perspectives were “strikingly absent” at the gathering.

“Doesn’t the scientific method include presenting theories to skeptics so the theories can be confirmed, refuted, or made better?” Smith asked.

But Smith’s question raises an even better one: “Why do evangelicals hold such blatant double-standards when it comes to public debate?”

Ferguson

Why the lack of indictment for Mike Brown’s shooting is a devastating blow || Kristen Howerton

 

I shouldn’t have to share our stories to be believed, because there is a plethora of empirical research that illustrates the phenomena so many of us observe. The APA reports that Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime,
The bias inherent in law enforcement has been well documented as well. In repeated psychological tests conducted by the psychology department at the University of Colorado, researchers illustrated the implicit suspicions people hold against people of color: Participants shoot an armed target more quickly and more often when that target is Black, rather than White. However, participants decide not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly and more often when the target is White, rather than Black.

Manners

A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties || Cadence Turpin

What if instead of introducing your friend as Jennifer the nurse, you started introducing her as Jennifer, one of most thoughtful people you know, or Jennifer the friend who helped you move in when you didn’t know a soul in this city.

Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.

Marriage

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits || Emily Esfahani Smith

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.

In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.

Series

A Courageous One (A Series on Sex Trafficking) || Bronwyn Lea

Trying to fight was maddening because I lost every time.  So, I learned not to fight with my body.  I learned to fight in my mind.  I learned to blankly smile and nod and participate but to keep my heart far from it all.  I learned how to not cringe on the outside.  I learned how to be numb.  Maybe worst of all, I learned how to lie to myself.  All of the anger that should have been directed to those that hurt me, to those that designed the plans, to those that should have done something, I turned on myself.

I was still a child desperately trying to make sense of my world.

I believed the only people that cared about me were those that paid money to be with me.

Grammar

How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season || Kate Brannen

“Did no one teach these people how to make their last names plural!?” I scream as I chuck the cards into the fire heretofore crackling peacefully beneath the mantel.

My Own Writing

Beyond Pink and Blue: Why A Christian Mom Strives To Give Her Son A Gender-Neutral Childhood 

It is worrisome to me that we pigeon-hole our children’s gender so early in their lives.  What will our children become?  We are raising girls who will be obsessed with their looks and boys who are obsessed with their dating/sex life.  Dangerous.

Even if we remove the blatantly sexist clothing options available for children, the remaining clothes are still heavily stereotyped.  Girls shirts feature unicorns, sparkles, and butterflies.  Boys are given shirts with dinosaurs, vehicles, sports, and superheroes.

My Kindle Reads for November:

Me Before You (Five Stars)

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story (Two Stars)

GI Brides:The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love (Five Stars)

The Fault in Our Stars (Three Stars)

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Not finished at the time of writing)

 

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this glorious maze: housekeeping edition

this glorious maze-

 

Happy Wednesday!  We are traveling today, but I wanted to share a few housekeeping items in lieu of a normal blog post.

Social Media

I’d love to connect with you on social media!  I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.  I also have a public Facebook page for the blog and I would appreciate your “like”!

Also my writing group started a Pinterest board to share our articles and blog post.  I am continually amazed at how thoughtful and engaging these writers are and I wholly recommend that you follow the board to stay up on the writing.  (You can also follow the Redbud Writers Guild on Facebook and Twitter if you prefer)

Guest Posts

Starting in the new year, I’m hoping to have some guest posters.  My blog has a broad focus so I’d consider guest posts about a variety of things – Christianity, military life, parenting, or books.  Pitch me your idea and we can talk about it!

To contact me, please send an email to thisgloriousmaze{AT}gmail{DOT}com with “guest post” in the subject line.  Also include a link to your blog (or a sample of your writing) and tell me your idea for a guest post.  I hope I hear from you!

 

Finally I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you are surrounded by those you love.

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Beyond Pink and Blue: Why A Christian Mom Strives To Give Her Son A Gender-Neutral Childhood

Beyond Pink and Blue

 

“Traditional gender roles are under attack!  We must protect them at all costs!”

This is the message being spread through mainstream Christianity and it has been effective.  High profile pastors keep decrying the “feminization of the Church.”  Books have been written, conferences held and whole organizations formed all based on defending traditional gender roles.  Masculinity and femininity have become all-important dichotomies.

And in the midst of this, we’re trying to give our son a gender-neutral childhood.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, this might not surprise you.  I have said openly that I am a Christian, a feminist and an egalitarian.  But I haven’t written about how this affects my parenting until now.

A Clarification on Terms

Giving my son a gender-neutral childhood does not mean that I am denying that he was born a male or denying that gender exists.  When I use the term gender-neutral, I am saying that I don’t want my son to be restricted or limited based on the societal norms for his gender.  Rather I want my son’s interests and personality to guide his life.

Depending on your own views, you may think that our views are too extreme or that they are far too passive.  Raising a child gender-neutrally looks different to different people.  But my husband and I hope that we have chosen a middle-ground that works within our family and our faith.

Gender Norms are Societal 

Christians aren’t the only ones pushing gender roles.  Walk through any toy section or children’s clothing store and you’ll see the great divide of pink versus blue.  Never the twain shall meet.

These types of gender roles weren’t mandated in the Bible and they aren’t even all that traditional.  Just 100 years ago, pink was a color for boy and blue for girls.

Gender Roles are Limiting

From the moment they are born, children are stereotyped because of their gender.  Boys are dressed in sports-themed clothing and called “champ.”  Girls are called “princess” and wearing all pink.  Furthermore many clothing options for children (and even babies) are appallingly sexist.  Newborn boys wear onesies that joke about them being future “players”.  Girls are dressed in clothes that focus on their appearance.

It is worrisome to me that we pigeon-hole our children’s gender so early in their lives.  What will our children become?  We are raising girls who will be obsessed with their looks and boys who are obsessed with their dating/sex life.  Dangerous.

Even if we remove the blatantly sexist clothing options available for children, the remaining clothes are still heavily stereotyped.  Girls shirts feature unicorns, sparkles, and butterflies.  Boys are given shirts with dinosaurs, vehicles, sports, and superheroes.  (Thankfully there is beginning to be a pushback against such heavily gendered clothing)

What is ludicrous is that we are putting these clothes on babies who cannot talk and have given us no indication as to their preferences.  Our sons might like unicorns and our daughters might like planes.

By giving my son gender-neutral options, I am fighting against gender stereotypes and giving him the freedom to pursue his interests and express his personality.

Gender Stereotypes Stick With Us 

Much has been made over the gender divide in STEM careers.  Research shows that this gulf begins at a young age.  The difference isn’t in the math and science ability of boys over girls, but in their “perceived competence”:

There is also a widely held stereotype that boys possess more innate STEM ability than girls, which has been found to impact children’s performance. Girls as young as seven have been shown to underperform on math tasks when their gender has been made salient. Furthermore, several studies have found that children are socialized differently regarding mathematics based on gender. Boys tend to receive more encouragement in math from parents and teachers, and mothers overestimate boys’ abilities compared to girls’. When discussing an interactive exhibit at a science museum, parents have been found to explain scientific concepts three times more often to boys than girls. And even at very young ages, children tend to receive gender-specific toys that may promote STEM skills such as building or spatial reasoning more to boys. (emphasis mine)

By making a conscious effort to raise my son gender-neutrally, I hope that he will be a balanced, multifaceted adult.

Following Christ Looks The Same Regardless of Gender

Regardless of what mainstream Christianity is teaching, I believe this sincerely:  The crux of Christianity, Christ and the cross, is the exact same truth for women and for men.  

Both men and women are called to the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), to humility, gentleness, and unity (Ephesians 4:1-3), to submit (Ephesian 5:21), to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1), to teach and admonish (Colossians 3:16), to pray unceasingly (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Even if you are a complementarian, believing that verses addresses women directly hold true today, you must acknowledge that there are far more verses that address Christians as a whole than there are gender-specific verses.  Virtues that traditional Christians consider to be feminine, like submission, are commanded throughout Scripture for both women AND men (Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:5-7, Hebrews 13:17, Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1, I Peter 2:13-14, I Peter 5:5).

We believe that there is room in the Church for men who are thoughtful and sensitive and women who are leaders and teachers.

So…What Does A Gender-Neutral Childhood Look Like In Our Family?

To start, here’s what it doesn’t look like:

  • It doesn’t look like denying that our child was born male
  • It doesn’t meant that we are angry or disappointed if our child conforms to gender normative behavior
  • It doesn’t mean that we attire our son in dresses

Here are the practical steps we’ve taken to give our child a gender-neutral childhood:

1.  Expectations

We would be happy if our son grew up to be a fighter pilot or an engineer, but equally happy if he grew up to be a stay-at-home dad or to be a ballet dancer.

2.  Language 

We are careful with the words we use around our son.  Often people see how active he is and say, “He’s such a boy!”  But he isn’t busy because he’s a boy – he’s busy because he’s a toddler.  Both boys and girls can be busy and both boys and girls can taught to sit still.

It might be true that in general boys are more physically active than girls are, but we don’t want his gender to be an excuse for misbehavior and we don’t want him (or anyone else) to feel shameful for not fitting into gender normative behavior.

3.  Exposure 

We want our son to see men and women working in a variety of roles.  We want him to know male nurses and female pastors.  We also want him to be exposed to both “boy” and “girl” things.  When we go to the library, I get him several books about trucks and dogs because I know he likes those, but I’ll also grab one about ballet.  If he’s not interested in the ballet book, that’s fine with me.  But I want it to be an option for him.

4.  Clothing

Most of our son’s clothes come from the “blue section” as I call it, but we stay away from anything highly gendered.  Part of this is from a practical standpoint – we plan on having more children and would like to reuse as much clothing as we can.  But part of it is to keep him away from negative gender stereotypes.

5.  Toys

Our home has plenty of traditionally “boy” toys – airplanes, trains, and balls.  But our son also has several dolls, a baby stroller, and butterfly toys (he happens to be obsessed with butterflies right now).

 

It takes extremely decisive choices to raise a child gender-neutrally in this society.  Some people may not think it is worth the trouble and others may think that I am misaligning Scripture.  But our goal is that our child grows up to honor God with his actions, his talents, and his personality and that his sex be an empowerment instead of a limitation.

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