Monday, January 30, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

This week, in my readings, I finished Alan F. Johnson’s collection, entitled How I Changed My Mind About Women In Leadership. This book offers the personal testimonies of various evangelical leaders, specifically in reference to their patterns of thinking regarding an affirmation of women’s leadership among Christian ministries. When I first saw this book promoted by the “Christians for Biblical Equality” organization, I was intrigued by its premise. Rather than necessarily advancing theological arguments surrounding the issue (though the book certainly presents many), How I Changed My Mind provides personal narratives, accounts of individuals’ life experiences which motivated more egalitarian understandings.

In my opinion, the most moving story is that of Gilbert Bilizikian, a Professor Emeritus of Wheaton College. Bilizikian describes his childhood as a displaced Armenian Christian, his experiences living in France during WWII and serving with the French military, albeit reluctantly, in the Algerian War, and his exposure to Middle Eastern turmoil and the viewpoints of Palestinian refugees while teaching in Lebanon. He acknowledges that these life experiences have coalesced to make him “cautious about the easy acceptance of entitlements, responsibilities, and privilege that claim for justification the incidences of destiny such as birth, gender, class, color, or race” rather than the biblical expectations of “appropriate qualifications and spiritually derived abilities” (p. 85).

Other testimonies, such as those by Bonnie Zurhbacher, John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Ronald J. Sider, Stanley N. Gundry, and Bill and Lynne Hybels, provide considerable food for thought. Moreover, I appreciated the conclusion of John Ortberg:

I think many of us who are convinced of an egalitarian ideology still have a
ways to go in our thinking and behaving so that we’re actually living up to what
we say we believe. How often do I allow the “male prerogative,” which still so
often operates in churches and in culture in general, to cover up what is simply
laziness or selfishness on my part? How often do I claim to believe in equality,
but what I’m really angling for is my own advantage?
As a Christian who has grown up in a branch of the evangelical church that has shown sensitivity to issues of women’s leadership (however imperfectly) and who has come to believe in equality as a Biblical ideal, I also still see areas of my life and thinking that do not quite line up with my ideological claims. This book was a helpful encouragement and clarification of these issues. While I am aware that this matter can be divisive among Christians, I think that the personal testimonies in this volume offer a unique perspective that can benefit all evangelicals.

Jadon’s Pick of the Week is A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. This delightful story, with its important lesson on friendship and unselfishness, is a true classic. A couple other favorites from the library this week were A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? by Brian P. Cleary and Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS by Deborah Ellis. Our older children have been especially intrigued by the latter, with its short and simple stories in the words of African children whose lives have been changed because of disease and poverty. I even noticed Andrew reading a bit for himself in between the action of the NHL All-Star Game this weekend.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Favorite Things

We have a few new things in the Tapper house that we really love…and I want to share about them.

1) Heart-shaped silicone muffin tins
Muffins are a favorite in our house. They are most often consumed as an after-school snack or a bedtime snack. Most requested flavors include banana, cocoa zucchini, strawberry, maple, and blueberry. I love the heart-shaped muffin forms that can be found at our local dollar store around Valentine’s Day. These are a bit of a smaller size than your typical muffin tin, which is great for making more muffins for little hands. Also, the silicone is so easy to care for and muffin removal is an absolute breeze!

2) Africa Sleeps head caps
We just purchased two sleep caps for the boys and are absolutely pleased with this product. With winter upon us, fleecy hats and tight-fitting hockey helmets could do a number on our African boys’ hair. These caps are great for slipping under a hat or helmet and they are also tremendous for reducing the frizz caused by the rubbing of the boys’ hair against their pillow or sheets.

3) Pocketboard tutorial
Since none of our children have bedside tables, I was looking for something to help them store all their “stuff” that was, inevitably, ending up scattered throughout their beds—mp3 players, books, pencils and notebooks, etc. I found this tutorial and got to work on individualized pockets for each of the kids. I am quite pleased with the results, and so are they!

4) Cooperative games
We now have a little collection of games from a company called Family Pastimes (actually located not far from here) that focuses on cooperative rather than competitive play. Players work together to solve problems or accomplish tasks, pooling resources and coming to consensus on the best strategies. Each game is unique and really fun to play. (We also like LEGO Creationary which can be played in a cooperative manner, where players set a time limit and take turns building as many of the indicated objects as possible for the rest of the players to guess.) I would highly recommend these games as gifts for any family!

5) Cozy Sacs
Each child in our family now has their own cozy chair. We use these foam-filled “bean bag” chairs especially for family devotion times, allowing each child to have his or her own space. (In other words, we find they help to reduce the distractions during bedtime Bible reading and prayers!) We had originally ordered the company’s 3-foot chairs, but, upon arrival, they turned out to be much too big for our space. Disappointed, we contacted the company about the situation. They were incredibly helpful. They offered to send new inserts and covers for their smallest-sized chairs and requested that we return the larger covers at our convenience. We were able to use the foam stuffing from the inside of the four gigantic chairs to stuff the new, smaller bags. These have become a favorite spot to settle down or even to curl up and have a nap—a great product from a company with great service!

These are some of our favorite things!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Count those candles! Our family celebrated Andrew's 9th birthday today!

It is hard for me to communicate how proud I am of this boy. Even in the last few weeks, as I have seen him grow in new ways, I am amazed to be a part of his story over these last two years and a few months. For example, Andrew has offered unprompted apologies twice in the last couple weeks. This may seem like a small thing...but sincere apologies from a boy who spent a good piece of his early years geared for survival much more than moral development is a big deal to me! For the most part, Andrew loves to do the right thing. When he gets "caught" for something inappropriate, however, he has been prone to lock into "shame mode," which involves raising up strong defenses for self. For him to break out of that in order to offer an apology shows substantial growth in emotional empathy, moral development, self-worth, and trust.

What else can I tell you about our biggest boy? Well, he absolutely loves his hockey! He has been playing steady defense for the Aylmer Vikings this season. He is a determined player and an eager learner. He has shown a strong character in both winning and losing, too. The backyard rink also provides hours of fun for Andrew.

Andrew loves to talk and laugh (and talk and joke and talk and ask questions and talk...), and his siblings love when he plays with them. He is certainly a well-looked-up-to big brother! As you can see in this picture, Abby especially adores him!

Andrew is a hard-working student in Grade 3 this year. This is his first year in the French Immersion program. Making this transition has not been easy for Andrew, but he continues to work very hard and is glad to be making progress. He got 100% on his last two dictées, and he is picking up multiplication very quickly!

We call Andrew our Champ because we see him as one who is willing to take on whatever challenges present themselves and to just keep on fighting through--whatever it takes. Just today, he got a tough hit in gym class volleyball and ended up with a tooth nearly through his upper lip -- note the lopsided smile below :) -- but he was mostly concerned, not with the pain, but with stopping the bleeding so that he could get back in the game. That's Andrew.

Happy Birthday, Champ! You are dearly loved!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Four-year-old Creativity?

What I found on the back door yesterday morning:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

While I have been reading a couple fascinating books, I am not ready to write about them yet. Instead, I thought I'd just share a few pics of the kids enjoying a certain genre--the look and find book. For Christmas, the children received several of these books. We also find them at our public library regularly. The favorite series there are Ou est Charlie? and La Famille Oukile.

Happy Reading (or finding!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Inspired by this family and directed by our church's current Sunday School compassion program, yesterday, we spent our last day of the holiday break (yes! the kids just went back to school today!) making pies in order to raise some money for families around the world with so much less than ours.

It was quite fun to pull aside one child as the others played together and let them decide on their own pie design, to work together--measuring, cutting, rolling. The oven worked all afternoon. And, after supper, we donned our coats and boots and presented our cause and baked goodies to the neighborhood, coming home with a bit of money in our pockets that will be gladly given in church this Sunday.

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33

Monday, January 9, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

I sincerely enjoyed reading the novel, Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, before Christmas. For me, there were several factors that enhanced its appeal. First, the story is largely set in Ethiopia, and many of the contextual details had a certain familiarity to me—if not from direct personal experience, then from research related to the birthland of two sons. Second, the novel’s handling of medical issues was absolutely fascinating. Finally, throughout the wildly entertaining plot, the characters and their circumstances never fail to maintain their believability, offering perspective on life that challenges the reader to examine his or herself as well.

The Indian in the Cupboard was recently completed as our family read-aloud. The children found this to be a fastastically amusing book, and I soon found myself listening to mono-syllabic “Little Bear” talk throughout the day. There is plenty of suspense in this childhood favorite, and I was often begged to keep reading at the close of a chapter! I am not sure that the book's ending was particularly satisfying to my young ones, but they won’t forget the idea of a magic cupboard and key and the possibility of real live miniatures any time soon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Photo Catch-Up

We are having a wonderful Christmas season! Christmas day was so much fun! We heard the pattering feet upstairs early in the morning and soon had four eager youngsters surrounding our bed. Mike had covered the living room door with wrapping paper and taped it shut tight, creating a mood for much anticipation. After unwrapping the door, the children rushed in and headed straight for....their stockings! It wasn't until the had unloaded their stockings that they noticed their unwrapped gifts behind the couch. Someone asked, "What's that big thing behind the couch?" When the discovered the musical instruments (electronic drums, bass guitar, hand drums, and half size acoustic guitar), they had a great time taking turns and making music. What a delight to provide our children with the opportunity to be creative. (It was very meaningful to hear Andrew later in the living room by himself, wailing away on the drums while spontaneously creating his own Christmas worship songs which were sung at the top of his lungs!!!)

Christmas day also included time in worship with our church community and shared time with nearby family. Then, the next day, we packed the van to head for some special time with my family in Pennsylvania. We had lots of time to play with cousin Adi (very, very cute!), Uncle Dave, Aunt Alaina, Pappy, and Gramma plus lots of extended family, too. We also got to visit a science center and the PeepsFest!

We traveled back to Canada on New Year's Day, and Monday provided a great day for rink-building. The Tapper Ice will soon be holding open skates--and all blog readers are free to bring your own skates and join us any time!!!! What a great way to enjoy the rest of our holiday! (School does not start until next Monday!) Check out today's progress (with the help of Grampsie, Nanny, and Auntie Jenn):

We certainly have a sense of peace and blessing as we come through this holiday season. We look forward to what this year will bring and, hopefully, to many opportunities to share our blessings with others in the coming days.