Book Review: Pups of the Spirit

Pups of the Spirit teaches kids about the fruit of the Spirit by personifying the characteristics as playful puppies! This sounds cute, and the book itself has charming rhymes and engaging illustrations, but I found the spiritual content of the book very disappointing. First of all, the fruit of the Spirit is a thing, not a list of things – the Spirit doesn’t produce nine types of fruit in different people.

In addition to promoting this basic misunderstanding of what the fruit of the Spirit means, the characterization of each pup is oversimplified in my opinion. Kay, the “kind” puppy, likes to knit gifts for her friends and give them away, although they don’t always fit; “peaceful” Pete doesn’t worry or fight, just snoozes in his hammock! These are cute images, and they do give children an example of each quality, but overall I feel that the book is misleading.

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“These pups show us how God wants us to be – each with a special trait he likes to see.”

The fruit of the Spirit is not a laundry list of how Christians should act to earn God’s favour – the fruit of the Spirit is the product of God’s work in our lives. Kids are so eager to please, and I think that sometimes adults take advantage of that, telling kids they should behave nicely so that God will be happy and love them more. Unfortunately, that lays the groundwork for kids to feel insecure in their relationship with God when they realize they can’t be perfect all the time. I would be really sad for a child to feel impatient and then wonder whether God is displeased with them because they aren’t showing the fruits of the spirit. Ugh.

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Lent 2014

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zOIqW9QNSQ8/T0VoEzTw_xI/AAAAAAAACDY/NHfvUMwbUoQ/s1600/Ash+Wednesday+Symbol.jpgLent almost snuck up on me this year, until I saw a notice for the United church’s pancake dinner the week before. I have only begun keeping Lent in the last few years, but I have always found it to be an excellent practice, good for me in many ways, so I am very happy that it didn’t slip by! In the past I have marked Lent by fasting from meat on Fridays and one year I read through the entire Bible over the course of Lent. This year I am taking a break from facebook (including Candy Crush, which is the real sacrifice), and less than a week in I have already seen some ripple effects.

The most immediate change is that I have spent less time overall on the computer. I didn’t see this coming, since facebook is far from my favourite way to spend time online. I thought that by avoiding facebook I’d be up to date on the blogs I follow, up to date on the blog posts I want to write, and all over the emails that I keep meaning to get to. Instead, I have been keeping busy with the real life busyness of marriage, work, parenting and ministry. I have written some emails, but I have also visited with family and friends in person, and that is great.

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Being the Oldest, Raising an Oldest

I was thinking the other day whether Torre is at an advantage or disadvantage in being my first child. As a plus, he gets much more undivided attention than kids with siblings, everything he does is new and exciting and amazing because we’ve never seen a baby learn to walk or climb before. I have pretty high self-esteem and I’m sure much of that comes from the support and positive reinforcement I have enjoyed throughout my life from family and friends. Hopefully the same is true for Torre growing up – I want him to absorb all the amazement that we feel towards him and internalize it to always know that he is precious.

However, as the oldest, Torre is exposed to my least polished-by-motherhood self: my most selfish, most anxious, most inexperienced version of parenting. Obviously I’m doing my best, but I feel like I will improve and grow with time and experience, and any future children we have will benefit from that. Maybe I’m over-optimistic about the trajectory my personal growth is on, but I do think he’s at a disadvantage in this sense. I thank God he’s so resilient and cheerful and forgiving even after moments when I don’t have the emotional stamina to put his wants before mine (he wants to be in my arms to see what’s happening up on the counter, while I want supper to get made so I’m not hangry). For what it’s worth, I think I do pretty well at putting his needs before my needs, but I feel like this can only digress into insecure ramblings. I’m a good mom, but I could be better, let’s move on.

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