Ladybug turned eight last Friday. She is growing up so fast. It scares me sometimes. I (only half-jokingly) tell my husband that anyone she (preferably) courts will not only have to have our approval, but have an FBI background check, credit report examination, and also an extended family interview process.
The truth is, I doubt *wink* we will actually go to those measures once she is old enough to think about marriage, but as a parent, you sometimes (oh, just admit it...all the time) want to. In reality, though we'd like to be able to protect our children completely, and sometimes even would like to be able make the most important decisions for them, we can't...God didn't design it to work that way. He gives us time with them when they are little to "train them up" so that when they are grown they will know how to make the best, most God-honoring decisions on their own...marriage included.
There are things we can do, however, to prepare her for the important decisions ahead. We can help her to know what a good marriage looks like by striving to build our own marriage so that she sees a good example of what marriage ought to be. We can introduce her to other families who have marriages that have successfully made it for the long-haul. We can develop solid Christian friendships with other families who have similar goals, and as she grows, we can encourage her to focus on being the person God wants her to be in all of her relationships. I can pray for her daily, and teach her to pray for her future spouse, wherever he may be. And, as the scriptures tell us, we can talk with her, and speak of the things that God wants for us while we are sitting (at the dinner table), lying down (at bedtime, before prayers), waking (over breakfast or devotions), and walking (day by day, doing chores, running errands, doing school, etc.).
One way to do this is to develop a vision of what you believe God wants for your family and "talk it into existence," relying on God's promises in His Word to make it come true. I truly believe that if you have prayed fervently, and searched the scriptures, that God will show to you what he desires for your life and the lives of your children. Then it is up to you to write it down and speak those words of truth to your family day after day, demonstrating them by your actions, until that truth is as much a part of them as their own name, praying continuously as you do this. I believe that this book shares the vision of what the husband and wife author and illustrator team, Gary and Jan Bower, discovered from their journey as the parents of twelve children during their 32 years of marriage. They turned the wisdom they gained from their experiences and many prayers into an enchanting book called The Person I Marry.
The Person I Marry has been awarded the 2010 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year.
This book shares in a very understandable way the important truth that some adults discover too late: the important thing isn't having a pretty exterior...it is what is inside a person, and how they express their character to others, that counts.
Happy birthday, Sweetheart!
As I said, Ladybug turned eight a few days ago, and for her birthday we have planned a very special tea party. On her actual birthday, we had a family tea party that was special, too, but next week, my mom, my sister-in-law, and I are taking Ladybug and her little sister, Firefly, to the fancy Tea Room in our favorite Antique Mall for lunch, tea, and dessert. I have bought her one of those child-sized Pandora bracelets (a very good deal at my local antique mall) and a book about how she is a Princess, since she is a daughter of the King of Kings. We will read the book while we wait for our meal, then when the meal is over and we are waiting for dessert (rich and delicious chocolate ganache cake served with black raspberry ice cream), I will give her the bracelet with a crown charm on it to remind her that she is true royalty, and should remember to not only act like a princess, but to be expected to be treated like one. Now, please do not think that I am saying that in conceit...I am saying that because our girls need to know that they are special and that they deserve a special man, a Prince, whom God has prepared for them.
This will be just the first of several special times I have planned with my daughters (I am still working on plans for my sons, but you can read about the Blessing Ceremony we had for my oldest son here). I have already thought of several more charms to add to the bracelet to help Ladybug remember that she is a special, much-loved daughter of the King. I am thinking about a heart to celebrate the day she gave her heart to Jesus, a cross for when she is baptized, a Bible to celebrate the time she first reads through the Bible on her own, a key (to her heart) to remind her about staying pure, and something (or two or three) to symbolize each of her special gifts as she comes to realize them.
This lovely book, The Person I Will Marry, is the perfect book to help teach my little girl what sort of special man she can expect to find someday (if that is God's plan for her). Remarkably, I believe it covered just about every trait I imagined I would find in my own Prince Charming when I was a young girl with dreams (except maybe that he would have to like to read as much as I do). The book talks about the need for kindness, honesty, respect, faithfulness, diligence, perseverance, optimism, joy, mercy, forgiveness, and modesty, to name just a fraction of the traits covered in its beautiful poetry (many of these characteristics are listed on the outer edges of the pages in pretty script, as well). All of these traits are so important for our children's future spouses (and our own children) to possess, or at the very least, to be working towards possessing. There is even a special page at the end for your child to write down the traits that are most important to him or her, so that they will remember them more clearly.
"But if I marry, this I'll know--
I set my standards long ago
when I was just a little kid.
I set them high; I'm glad I did.
The vows I'll say I mean to keep
So I'll look hard before I leap."
It is too easy these days for our culture to convince young ladies that courtesy is impossible to find, that hard work is to be avoided and self-indulgent pleasure is to be expected and sought at all cost. Too many of our girls grow up hearing the message that focusing on yourself or rapidly building a career should be number one instead of God, then spouse, then family, then work. Many of them also hear that it is expected that your future spouse will have "sown some oats," so they should just be forgiving and not expect more than that. I want better than that for my daughters and my sons.
Not enough children today hear the message that honesty and dependability are a necessity, that families and our elderly deserve respect, and that some issues just cannot be compromised.
Think about it: do most kids today hear in the world's music that hard work is a must, but can be tempered appropriately with good-natured fun, or do they hear that getting out of work is a talent, and fun means a walk on the wild side? Do they see on TV that sympathy and encouragement are necessary for maintaining good relationships, or are they shown that character assassination is humorous? And where are they taught about the truth that not every situation nor any person will ever be perfect, but when tempered with a positive outlook and forgiveness, thoughtfulness and understanding, much can be overcome when done...together...with God's help? Wouldn't it be nice to have more Godly, family-affirming influences to share with our kids and their friends?
Obviously, this sort of life-changing teaching needs to start at home, and if you are like me, you have already made many decisions to walk down the road towards helping your children make the best choices possible. Just in case you missed out on seeing this book on your own, though, I wanted to share it with you. It is a perfect teaching tool for all ages.
The Person I Will Marry is a touching book. Truly. Charming illustrations, clever rhymes, and timeless wisdom fill its pages. As soon as I can get my hands on a hardcover copy of the book, available from Bower Books for $11.99, I will plan another day with my little Ladybug to read it to her for the first time. Perhaps we will take a picnic lunch to a park and watch the happy couples walk by. Then I will pull out some chocolate cheesecake (we love dessert!) and vanilla sodas and we will share the story and talk about it. Then I will give her another charm to add to her bracelet...a ring, perhaps, to symbolize her future hope of marriage, or a carriage to symbolize that she should expect to find a Prince? I don't know, but I have a plan now, and I will know the right charm and the right time when I see it. After that, I will enjoy making reading this book a habit to all of the children at our house, so that by the time they are ready to marry, they will have no doubts as to what they are to look for.
Then, and maybe only then, will I be able to give up my plan to bring in the FBI Investigators to do a full background check on each applicant for each one of my children's hands in marriage..because I will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are prepared for marriage, both in what they are expected to give, and what they can expect to receive. We will all breathe a sigh of relief and then I can look forward to having great sons and daughters-in-law gathered around my Christmas table with their joyful spouses (my kids) and oodles of boisterous grandchildren running all around. Well, it could happen. *smile*
I really, truly think you will like this book. Trust me on this one. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift, graduation gift, or even a special keepsake wedding gift...for both girls and boys (though you might have to be a bit sneakier when introducing it to older boys...ask them to read it to their sisters and younger brothers while you cook them large quantities of delicious food).
The Person I Marry from Bower Books on Vimeo.
- Check out the short preview trailer above, for a glimpse of the delightful illustrations and to hear some of the poetic text.
- If you'd like to see other titles in the Bright Future Series by the Bowers, check out their website. I previewed several of their other books (The Jingle in my Pocket and There's a Party in Heaven) and they are worth adding to your library, too.
- You can also see more of the artist's inspiring artwork here.
- To purchase a hardcover copy of the 32 page book, contact the authors here.
- To see what others on the Crew thought of the book, check the TOS Review Crew Blog.
Disclaimer: I received an e-book version of this book to preview for the purposes of reviewing it here, on my blog. The sentiments I have shared here are my honest thoughts about this book. I really did think it was awesome!! If you have questions about anything I said here, please feel free to contact me or comment on this post.