Category Archives: Biblical Womanhood

Book Review: The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women

Biblical Counseling Guide for WomenIn the forward to The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women, Martha Peace says, “John and Janie Street have made it abundantly clear that there is great hope no matter the kinds of problems women struggle with. They have laid out clear, biblical plans of action for issues women face today.” (pg. 9)

I honestly could not say it any better. This is exactly what they have done!

The authors describe the purpose of the book in this way:

“This book is written to assist Christian women who possess a high view of the sufficiency of God’s Word and its ability to adequately address the most serious personal struggles women will face. Women who trust His Word will benefit greatly from its narrative.” (pg. 11, emphasis mine)

A high view of the sufficiency of Scripture, and a desire to understand what God’s Word says about our sin, our struggles, and our suffering is essential to fully appreciate, understand, and benefit from the wisdom this book has to offer.

In this book, John and Janie Street address issues that most women have probably struggled with, to some degree, at one time or another: anger, anxiety, appearance, depression, grief. But, it also deals with much harder, perhaps more “hot button” topics that, by the grace of God, many of us may not have experienced: abuse, chemical dependency, eating disorders, panic attacks, PTSD, and transgenderism.

Each topic is introduced with a fictional account of a woman who is struggling with a particular issue…whether as a result of her own sinful choices, or those of someone close to her. Although the scenarios presented are fictional, that can be difficult to remember at times, because they come from years of counseling and pastoral experience, and are written in such a way that they could easily be factual. In my limited counseling experiences, I have rarely seen women, even professing believers, recognize their sin so quickly, or so completely, and respond so humbly to biblical counsel and correction. But, in each case, is assumed that each of these (fictional) women have a high view of God’s Word.

“The truth of God’s Word slices and dices your behavior and peers into the most shameful recesses of your heart (see Hebrews 4:12-13). Our hearts are resistant to this type of spiritual heart surgery. Thus we must pray that God will help us to humbly repent of this sin (Psalm 51:10).” (pg. 30)

This is what makes their quick, humble, repentant responses not only realistic, but a helpful example to follow when we find ourselves in similar situations. Because, without that perspective, many of these issues could easily be, and often are addressed indefinitely, without any sort of real hope or resolution.

“Too often we use the term hope carelessly because it is used to express uncertainty….However, when your concept of hope is anchored in biblical promises, all ambiguity and doubt is removed. Biblical hope is backed up by the very character of God. Unlike ‘I hope so’ hope, it is absolute and full confident assurance.” (pg. 161)

I have taken several biblical counseling classes (in college, at the graduate level, and for “personal enrichment”), I have read numerous books on biblical counseling, and I am currently, albeit slowly, pursuing certification in Biblical Counseling. So, I consider myself to be fairly well-acquainted with the philosophy and procedures behind biblical counseling. And, as a pastor’s wife, I am also familiar with the great need for this type of counseling in the church. And, because of my background, I assumed this would be an “easy read.”

This book is not, nor is it intended to be, a cold, comprehensive, clinical textbook. It is interesting and engaging. And, it accomplishes its stated purpose of pointing the reader to the insightful, practical, and authoritative answers in God’s Word in a compassionate, personal, thought-provoking way.

I am not a naturally empathetic person. But, as the authors unpacked each chapter, I was able to put myself in the place of both the counselor and the counselee. Whether the situation was one that I had personally experienced, or not, there were many characteristics, struggles, and habits that made it surprisingly easy to identify with, and genuinely empathize with both sides of each story.

But, this book goes far beyond these relevant and relatable introductions to each topic.

“When a true Christian goes through such a traumatic event and asks the hard questions….her search for answers should drive her toward greater faithfulness to study God’s Word. It is in the pages of the Bible that she will learn God’s character: that He is good and without sin (Psalm 119:68), that He never tempts His children to sin (James 1:13), and that He is the protector and refuge of all who call upon His name in saving faith (Psalm 125:4-5).” (pgs. 255-256)

After each topic is introduced, the authors then go on to identify the problematic thoughts, patterns, behaviors, and lifestyles, pointing the reader back to the truths of Scripture in a practical, realistic way. I have not personally experienced the pain of a pornography-tainted marriage, or the betrayal of adultery. But, I have experienced the pain of being sinned against in other ways by people I love and care about. I have not struggled through post-traumatic stress, panic attacks, or battled an eating disorder. But, I have reacted to my circumstances in sinful anger, anxiety, pride, and self-sufficiency.

At the very beginning, the authors suggest having a Bible close at hand as you read, to consult the many Scripture references found throughout its pages. So, I found myself taking much longer than I had originally intended to read this book. I took time to reflect on, and answer, the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. And, I tried to implement the authors’ suggestions to write down lists of my own fears, worries, and sinful behaviors or attitudes that needed to be “put off.” At the same time, I created corresponding lists of things to “put on” in place of sinful thoughts and attitudes.

The very first chapter, on Anger, immediately caught my attention. I do not like to think of myself as an angry person. (Who does?) But, as I read, I could see myself in many of the sinful attitudes and (re)actions described. Specifically in this:

“Listening is hard to do when you’re angry, because true listening involves submission…. To listen carefully, you must not continue to speak. This is difficult for angry people to do, as they are continually engaged in spewing out their opinions and attacks. Oftentimes angry people say they are listening, but at the same time, they persist in defending their viewpoint, often pointing out how another person also perceives the situation as unfair, jaded, or misconstrued – and it is clear that they are not really listening.” (pgs. 31-32)

That was a not-so-pleasant, but much needed, moment of conviction for me. And, it was what caused me to choose to slow down, and read this less as a “textbook” for my dealings with “other people,” and to treat it as more of a personal improvement project.

Elisabeth Elliot often said, “The difference is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” And, this book can help to turn our eyes off of the temporary circumstances and solutions of this world, and back to the lasting hope that can be found only in obedience to God’s Word.

“The goal is not simply a short-sighted attempt to get a woman out of her problems, even though, when a person follows Christ’s admonitions, her problems will often eventually be resolved. However, some problems will not go away, even after you have faithfully obeyed Christ. Some of life’s difficulties may even get worse….How can you, as a godly woman, learn to please God in the midst of your problems? This must be the pursuit of a woman who is a committed Christian.” (pg. 15)

The genuine compassion, biblical wisdom, and practical suggestions presented in this book make it an invaluable resource for the church today. This book is for women who want to live a life of obedience and faith, as they learn to please God in the midst of their struggles and problems. It is for women who wish to grow in their ability to disciple and counsel other women in their church, in the model of Titus 2. It is for mothers who are teaching and training their children to love and serve the Lord in spite of their own sin and failures. And, men, do not be dissuaded by the title! As a pastor’s wife, I can confidently say that this book should be in every pastor’s library as well.

I will add that I have had the privilege of knowing John and Janie Street for close to 18 years. So, I may not be seen as the most unbiased reviewer. But, I do not believe that should be considered a negative. My husband and I have personally benefited from their teaching, their biblical counsel, their godly example, and their faithful ministry in so many ways. And, because of that, I could not be more thrilled that this resource, and the wisdom and experience of its authors, is now available to so many!

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Filed under Biblical Womanhood, Book Reviews, Pastor's Wife, Thinking Biblically

Back to {Home}School

Once upon a time, I said I would never homeschool my children.

IMG_7011awmAnd, yet…here we are, embarking on our 8th year of homeschooling!

This year, I have 4 students…ranging from pre-school to junior high! That should keep me busy and out of trouble…or, not.

Rachel is in Pre-School this year:

IMG_6983wmShe is only 2, but loves being at the school table with her big siblings. I’m not entirely convinced that “pre-school” is an academic necessity. We tend to cover the content of most pre-school curriculum naturally, as we live life. So, while I am hesitant to push my littlest one into too much of an academic experience before she is really ready (something that, I’ve found, is very easy to do in the homeschooling world!), we decided to, cautiously, go ahead with a more formal pre-school time for our youngest this year. We are using Preschool Pathways by BJU Press. (We used this with Rebekah last year.) It can be set up for school time every day, or just a few days a week. It is colorful, fun, and laid back with a big emphasis on learning through play. But, at the same time, it will also give a little bit of structure and direction to her days, and hopefully help to keep her purposefully busy and engaged while I am “doing school” with her older siblings. I love that it gives us some special one-on-one time during our busy school days. And, even though their lessons are different, there are enough similarities that I will be able to combine some of her pre-school time with Rebekah’s!

Rebekah is in Pre-K this year:
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I know. I just said that it is very easy for homeschoolers to push our kids academically, or to assume that they are more advanced than they are. But… (There’s always a but.) One of the things I love about homeschooling is the ability to know my children, and to know their needs and abilities, and somewhat customize their education to match. Some of my kids have shown true interest and academic readiness “early.” But, we have generally tried to keep to a more traditionally accepted schedule. But, Rebekah will be 4 in October, which means that, if she were in the public schools here, she wouldn’t be eligible for Pre-K (or “Transitional Kindergarten”) until next year…and not eligible for real Kindergarten until just before she turns 6! This girl spent all of last year begging for more work. (So much so that I almost considered just putting her in Kindergarten alongside Titus!) So, waiting 2 more years would be tough on her. And, probably a little tough on her mommy too. We are going to be using Footsteps for Fours, by BJU Press. We do lots of playing, and coloring, and reading together. And, my goal is to keep things low key for her, and not push her into something she is not really ready for…but, at the same time, I don’t want to hinder a genuine desire to learn right now. So, this is a great fit. It will give us some focused learning time each day, but in a developmentally and age-appropriate way. Yes, she is almost 4…but she is still only 3. So, we are taking a similar approach with her, as we did with Titus, and we will just take it at her pace. Right now, she is all about school! And, I could definitely see her going through this much faster than the year-long plan that I have laid out. Or, her enthusiasm may wane a bit, and we may slow down as things get harder. And, you know, that would be okay too! For now, she says that she is looking forward to school (all of it!) this year!

Titus is in 1st Grade this year:

IMG_6992wm Again, according to our local school district’s calendar, he “should” be only starting Kindergarten this year. I had to put off teaching him to read a little longer than either he or I wanted (due to the demands of a job change for my husband, a new baby, a move, and my own health issues). He deemed this cruel and unusual punishment! So, my original plan to possibly stretch Kindergarten over 2 school years flew out the window before our last school year even started. He was more than up to every challenge I threw at him! Especially reading! Over the past year, he has become the family bookworm. He devours books, and reads above his grade level with incredible inflection and comprehension. Some of this may just be his natural bent…he is serious, analytical, and just loves to learn. But, I also credit a lot of this to how reading and phonics skills were approached in his Kindergarten curriculum.  So, we will be continuing with BJU Press for 1st grade. I pray that this will only continue to increase his knowledge, and strengthen and improve his skills and love of learning.  He said he is looking forward to all of first grade, but thinks that math is going to be his favorite subject this year.

Hannah is in 7th Grade this year:

IMG_7003wmI have a junior higher!! Speaking strictly as her teacher, I’ve dreaded this moment. But, as I looked over her curriculum, and planned out her lessons, I was surprised to find myself looking forward to it all! I am excited about what she will be covering in her different classes this year. Of all of my kids, I think she is facing the biggest changes, academically. After some serious consideration, prayer, and discussion, we decided to take a step back from the somewhat classically-eclectic approach (mixing classical, textbooks, and unit studies) that we’ve used in past years. We decided to go back to a more cohesive, unified curriculum, with a traditional, textbook approach. It just seems to be what works best for our family dynamics and schedule, and for the variety of personalities, learning styles, and abilities represented in my children. So, like her siblings, she will be using BJU Press for 7th grade. On one hand, her classes are still the most intimidating to me, because I have never taught them before. (Poor thing. As the first child, she is our homeschool guinea pig.) But, the school that I attended from 7th-12th grade used a lot of BJU Press materials. So, although they have been updated quite a bit in the past several years, I am actually very familiar with her curriculum from my own experience as a student! So, this year will definitely be a challenge, for both of us, but, I think it will be a very good one! After looking over her new textbooks, she says that she is most excited about her Literature book, and thinks that will be her favorite subject this year.

 Ready…Set…Go!

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Filed under Biblical Womanhood, Hannah Elisabeth, Homeschooling, Mommyhood, Rachel Susannah, Rebekah Ann, Titus Ryle

Solar Eclipse 2017

We weren’t in the path of totality, but I still thought it would be fun (and yes, even though we haven’t started school yet) educational, for the kids to watch a solar eclipse.

A friend gave us 2 pairs of Eclipse Glasses. But, I was still hesitant to encourage my kids to look at the sun. Even through safety glasses.

So, we made some simple viewers

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The kids had fun trying them out, figuring out the best way to see the semi-circle of the moon passing in front of the sun, and tracking the progress of the eclipse throughout the day.

I read that the gravitational pull is different during an eclipse.
Supposedly, this means that a broom can stand up by itself, and an egg can stand on its end.
So, just for fun, we decided to try it out…IMG_4133Here is the broom…standing up all by itself!

And, here is the egg…082It stood up all by itself too!

(I have no idea if either of these are actually due to a difference in gravity during a solar eclipse. Several websites claimed that both are possible at various times throughout the year. We may have to do a follow-up experiment and see if either one happens again!)

I did end up giving in, and allowing the kids to take turns using the glasses.
After some very stern lectures on how we never, ever, ever look directly at the sun!
We also invited our friend, Mrs. Vicky, to come over and watch with us during the peak of the eclipse.

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(We are having a little bit of remodeling done in our entryway, so there was a large piece of sheetrock waiting to be cut in the front yard. It was perfectly placed under the tree, which allowed the crescent shape to show through all of the leaves! So, the kids took turns using the glasses, and watching the shadows!

IMG_4209“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

~Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

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Filed under Homeschooling, Just for Fun, Life, Mommyhood

An Easy Homemade Eclipse Viewer

Solar Eclipse 2017. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Well, maybe if you’re in the path of totality, which, we aren’t. Here in Houston, we’re looking at maybe 60-70% of the sun being blocked. But, once in a lifetime or not, hi, I’m a homeschool mom. I still think it is a great learning opportunity! So, assuming the clouds move out of the way in time, we will be watching.

We were given 2 pairs of Eclipse Glasses. But, I’m still hesitant to encourage my children to look directly at the sun.

Protecting my little ones’ vision is very high on my list of priorities today. Protecting your vision should be too. But, I keep reading comments on Facebook from adults wondering how much harm it would really do to “just take a little peek.”

DON’T DO IT. Just don’t. Okay? Permanently damaging your vision, or your child’s vision is so not worth it. (Check out this article.)

There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to make a projection viewer. And, I’m going to give you another one… It’s quick, it’s super simple, easy to make at the very last minute, and unlike the ones made with Pringles cans, paper towel rolls, cereal boxes and aluminum foil, you probably have enough of everything on hand to make one for every member of your family.

Here’s what you need:2017-08-21_10-10-54_548

Index cards, and a hole punch. That’s it.

2017-08-21_10-11-29_894You will need 2 index cards for each viewer.

2017-08-21_10-12-28_551Punch a hole in one.

2017-08-21_10-13-19_961That’s it. Done.

Then, when you observe the eclipse, hold the card with the hole above, and slightly off to the side, of the other card, so the sun can shine through the hole. We’ve found it works best if you lay the card without the hole on the ground. The eclipse will be projected on the bottom card. And you, and your children, can safely observe this solar eclipse!

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Bon Anniversaire, Hannah!

043Hannah loves all things French. She is constantly checking out whatever books she can find in the library on France: the country, culture, food, and language.

So, a (somewhat) “French” or “Parisian” themed birthday party was her obvious choice. We decorated in her favorite colors…pastel turquoise, pink, and purple…with gold accents.

We decided to stick with family birthdays this year, so we FaceTimed with Grandma and Grandpa in California, in the afternoon so that she could open their gifts “with” them. Then Grammy and Grampy joined us later in the evening for dinner, dessert, and more gifts.

Our sort-of-French menu was entirely chosen by the birthday girl: Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwiches), decidedly not-French pasta salad, and Passion Iced Tea-Lemonade. Instead of a traditional cake, she opted for an assortment of treats: Macarons (her new favorite treat!), cream puffs, Madeleines, and Mini-Palmiers.

It was a quiet day, but we had fun celebrating our sweet 12-year-old!

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Filed under Birthdays, Hannah Elisabeth, Life, Mommyhood, Traditions & Celebrations