got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Thursday, August 18, 2005

striving for excellence (Karen)

My son, Ben, has been working on a research paper for college credit for the Summit Worldview Conference he attended last month. His topic is the Christian and the Arts and he and I have had some great discussions on the role that the arts has in the life of the Christian as well as the responsibilities that the Christian artist has within our culture. He has been reading Francis Schaeffer, of course, as well as some others who have expressed, quite well, the various aspects of this topic.

In the midst of this I heard of a church that is starting a fine arts guild for children and another church that plans to begin a school of music. One thing that has always distressed me, probably as far back as the very off-key choir in my church where I grew up, is the idea that “singing a joyful noise unto the Lord” somehow negates any striving for excellence. Christians of all people ought to seek to do things well, to minister “as unto the Lord” in whatever calling they find themselves.

It is my contention that churches would do well to recognize the value of college training for those who are involved in ministry, perhaps even showing their commitment to excellence by contributing to the educations of those who would serve their congregations after graduation. Perhaps there are churches where this is being done. I would like to see the local church show their support for excellence by investing part of their money in the training of young men and women for ministry. I could see a scholarship of, say, $5,000.00 per year being allotted in the form of a grant that would not need to be paid back unless the recipient didn’t come back to serve the local church. For each year they stayed, a portion of the money would be “forgiven.” This could work in the areas of music, counseling, education, or church administration.

I would like to see churches who do not hold to women as ordained elders or pastors, show their commitment to using the spiritual gifts that women have been given by encouraging their young women through these sorts of scholarships. In the end, everyone benefits, everyone can say “I’ve got me a college girl.”


  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Jessica said…

    I was directed over here through Crystal's site. I'm not religious at all but like to read about different types of people other than myself.

    I'm so glad there is a voice of reason, and that you are encouraging women to be educated.

  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger Ambassador said…

    Hi -

    I was also directed here from Crystal's site and have been browsing a bit. I was wondering what your opinion is on young ladies using the growing distance education option to get higher education and a valid college diploma. I see this as being more of a considerable option in this day especially for the conservative (possibly homeschooled) young lady who doesn't wish to be distracted by the social pressures of college life, yet desires to get higher education. What are your thoughts?

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    HI Jessica,

    Welcome to our blog!

    It's too bad that Crystal doesn't have time to read our blog since she has spent so much time reading and writing about women and their roles. I have found that it is helpful to me to read a variety of views, whether or not I hold to them myself, in order to either be enlightened or to confirm my own views.

    We hope you will enjoy your time here and please comment as often as you like!


  • At 8:44 AM, Blogger rosemerry said…

    I also found your blog through Crystal's blog. You are very informative. I have been trying to become more conservative but from what I've been reading. It doesn't help it just makes me depressed.

    I have a two year degree and I work outside the home. I am single and they just don't show what single women can do. I'm 25 years old not 18.

  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Welcome Lyra!

    A couple thoughts for now....

    I would guess that each woman on this blog would consider herself to be a conservative, depending on how that is defined! We are Bible-believing and trust in Christ alone for the atonement of our sins!

    That being said, I would encourage you to strive to be more like Jesus rather than to become whatever someone has defined for you as conservative.

    You have been blessed with the opportunity to earn a degree and now use it, for God's glory alone!

    These are simple answers to complex questions, I know, but it is a start. I hope you will keep reading and commenting here. We are happy to dialogue with you!

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hi Ambassador,

    I wanted to think a little bit about your comments before I responded.

    I do believe that distance learning is a valid option for some people and think the student must demonstrate some self-discipline in order to do it wisely. Our oldest son had just the personality type to study in this manner and is now an attorney. His wife also has para-legal training through distance learning and it worked for her as well.

    One of the benefits of distance learning is the cost and also the personal interaction you can have with a prof via e-mail that you might not have on a large campus. I am thankful that Christian colleges are getting on the band wagon and offering these courses, now, too.

    As far as "being distracted by the socail pressures of college life" I think that it isn't the social pressures that are the problem, it is the right social pressures that should be a concern.

    Remember this principle...if you take something away or do not allow something, you must have something else to stand in the void. To make an analogy, if you are on a diet and want to avoid high calorie foods, you will replace the fudge borwnie delight with a fruit salad. Offering no sweets will ony make you really desire sweets all the time!

    The social life of any young person this age ought to be full and rich and fun and involve other Christians who not only offer great friendships and fellowship, but give iopportunities for ministry together. It ought to be the environment where you would want a daughter to get to know lots of Christian young men.

    A while back, my husband was talking with a dad who was not going to allow his daughters to dater or court. He planned to arrange their marriages in a relationship called "betrothal". My husband had suggested that he and his family join us at a hymn sing, which is a family evening for all ages that involves singing, special music, and, most importantly, fellowship. The dad wouldn't hear of it because he didn't want his daughters to meet young men there. God figure.

    Anyway, if you don't provide healthy social situations for your kids, they will find their own and they may not find ones that will be good for them.

  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    I nmust apologize....way too many typos in that last posting. That is what happens when you try to eat a fudge bar and type at the same time!

    For one thing, it should haver ead "go figure" which changes everything!

    Sorry about that.

  • At 9:05 PM, Blogger Randall Gerard said…

    Hi Karen,

    I hope you don't mind a man's perspective. First, I want to say I'm all for excellence; I believe both sexes should be doing all they can to glorify King Jesus by developing their own unique gifts. That being said, I don't believe a college education, for either sex, necessarily equals excellence. A lot depends on the school, the student's motivation (is it just to make more $, and does that always constitute excellence?) and an honest appraisal of the student's real abilities. Some simply aren't suited for academic pursuits, and so heading down that path would be a waste of time and money. Christendom needs well-educated knowledgable young people; but there's more then one way to skin that cat.

    My wife and I have 4 homeschooled kids. Two are college material, and are in college, the other two can't stand book-learning due to mild learning disabilities, but they love to work with their hands and find joy in more concrete, practical pursuits. Who am I to argue with God's design? As for sending young women off to college, very often the young ladies end up with a Mrs. degree and that's it. Not that that's a bad thing necessarily, but from my vantage point, she could have met Mr. Right for a lot less money.

    There are also the immutable facts of biology to contend with. It is far easier physically for women to conceive and bear children in their 20's then it is to postpone child-bearing in order to pursue college and perhaps a career. God has designed young women so their bones don't fully calcify until they are 30, and this makes child bearing much easier and safer for a young woman who is 20 something. College will unavoidably cut into this ideal child-bearing window, and this should be carefully considered. It seems to me if a young woman's main desire is to be a wife and a mother, (THE very highest calling for women, IMHO) the best path may not be college. Besides, many of the finest minds in recorded history got that way by simply reading voraciously and widely, and not by going to college. Just my thoughts.

    By the way, my oldest daughter is studying music at a private, christian, liberal arts school - but everyone is different. We really need to extend grace to each other in this area.

  • At 6:22 AM, Blogger greenemama said…


    I think we need to reiterate here that while we do believe that *most* people would benefit from being formally educated, this blog is primarily promoting the giving of choices regarding formal education. Certainly there are those who may not thrive in an academic environment. I believe that they should still be given the choice as to whether or not to attend college. Who knows? Perhaps they need a little academic push? Perhaps they just don't *know* what they can accomplish?

    Also, I don't understand approaching a child's mental capacity in a negative way. Rather than saying, "You would not like college -- you don't like to study, you don't do well in school, you would fail," why not approach it positively, "I know you've never loved studying, but you may enjoy the change of pace in college. You may thrive with a little competition. You will discover new things and will grow as a person as you learn to work with and under others. The choice is yours to make and I will support you in your choice."

    Approaching the thing positively, offering choices, setting boundaries ("I will pay for X amount of schooling," etc.) and supporting our children in their choices strengthens healthy relationships (and gives parents more of a chance to play the role as confidant with their children . . . ) and does not set someone up for failure.

    It's really disconcerting when parents do not expect their children to do their best, and that they do not allow themselves to be surprised at what their children are capable of accomplishing. Everyone should be given the choice to further their education without being manipulated by their parents or anyone else --whether it's with comments like "you can't do it -- you're not book-smart" or "women belong at home and college will lure you into the ways of the world and turn you into something I will not allow you to become." Manipulation doesn't have any place in parenting.

    he could have met Mr. Right for a lot less money.

    Correct me if I'm reading you wrong, but is finding Mr. Right the foremost job of a girl these days?

    I'm going to assume, although it's unclear from your comments, that you believe women can do more than birth babies and wash dishes. As a women who married in her late twenties, according to your beliefs, I have missed my optimum child-bearing window. Providentially I didn't marry any of the guys I knew in my early twenties. Had I done so I suppose I could have six children by now. Is marrying early so that one can have as many babies as physically possible the ideal? Additionally, your comments leave little up to providence. "Risks" in childbearing do go up as women age, but being in your twenties does not guarantee safe pregnancies and births.

    The purpose of this blog involves extending Grace. If you've not already, do a little digging. There are far more graceless arguments against women (or anyone) choosing formal education than there are women (like us) promoting education.

  • At 7:34 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hello, balestacker, and welcome to our blog.

    I want to begin my response to you by quoting your parting words:
    "We need to extend grace to others in this area."

    As Mollie said, this blog is all about extending grace to others in the area of formal schooling, with those families who make choices other than what we have made and especially with our children as they make choices about their own lives.

    One of the things that I don't hear much about from the women-shouldn't-go-to college-crowd is how they are showing that same grace to their own children. I am horrified at the number of people who are planning out their children's lives rather than saying that they are working through the options for education WITH their children. Why is it so important for a parent to have such control?

    As far as your comments about women having babies, etc, I will say from my own experience that my easiest childbirth was when I was 37. Most of my pregnant years were spent during my 30's and I can also say that my confidence as a mother was better then as well.

    While my husband and I have considered ourselves to be "full quiver" ie being willing to have all the children God would bring to us, we never set out to have as many babies as possible. In my opinion, God is looking for willing handmaidens rather than baby machines.

    And I would also say that I am glad that Mollie didn't end up with any of those guys who were interested in her in her early 20's....Aaron was definately worth the wait and part of God's perfect, providential plan for working out His Kingdom, in part, through our family.

  • At 7:34 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hey, greenmama,

    Can't we tell the Oakley sunglasses story, please, please, please?

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger greenemama said…

    oh my GOSH. no way, mom. :)

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger Randall Gerard said…


    Thank you for the polite welcome. I don't think we have many substantial differences, perhaps just different modes of expression. I'll try to clarify some of my thoughts.

    I admit, I'm not a big proponent of personal 'choice'. The Bible says there is safety in a multitude of counselors; and parents often know their children better then children know themselves. Personally, I would have liked it had my parents pushed me in a specific direction, as long as they clearly articulated why they thought that direction was best. Instead, I was given luggage for my 18th birthday, and they told me they would be supportive 'whatever I decided to do'. Let me tell you, unlimited choices also mean unlimited responsibility, and that can be a scary thing for young people. They may have some idea of what they like and don't like; but they don't have a clue, very often, how to end up in the happily-ever-after they've always imagined. I'm not a hands-off parent. I give advice freely to my adolescent children and my adult children often ask for my counsel. But that's just me.

    I don't want to leave the impression that my parents didn't care about me. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They just considered me all grown up a little too soon, in my opinion. As a consequence, I floundered for years, trying this and that, failing multiple times, until in the providence of God I ended up a firefighter, something I never imagined being while I was growing up. I always thought I would be a farmer, but was never encouraged in that direction.

    You said: "It's really disconcerting when parents do not expect their children to do their best, and that they do not allow themselves to be surprised at what their children are capable of accomplishing."

    I agree. But you're assuming that succeeding in college, equals 'their best'. And why do you consider it being 'negative' when someone obviously isn't suited for college? You seem somewhat biased against honest blue-collar work, and vocational, military or apprenticeship training. There's nothing wrong with pulling weeds, milking cows and shoveling manure, if it's done to the glory of God. Not all of us can be lawyers and doctors; who would grow the food, landscape the parks and drive the trucks? Who would arrest criminals and put fires out? Who would haul the trash to the land-fill and mop the floors? And of course, who would diaper and train the little ones?

    No, finding Mr. Right isn't the end-all, be-all of a woman's existence. But, if a woman spends a life-time dedicated to one man and their children, it is a life-time well spent regardless of whether she ever goes to college. What would you rather have on your tombstone: 'Beloved wife and mother' or 'She earned her bachelors at Harvard'? That's not to say many can't accomplish both; but which one matters the most?

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…


    Thanks for some clarification.

    Perhaps I need to do likewise.

    I have never claimed that you have a hands-off approach to your children as they make choices. Just ask my daughter. On the contrary, we have always had much input.

    What I do not agree with is the planning out of a child's life, be it to go to college or not go to college. My beef is with those who have decided that a girl going to college is a waste of time and money.

    As I said in a previous blog entry, which you may or may not have read, that I do not think it needs to be "either or" as you assume with your tombstone scenario. All the women on this blog highly value motherhood and being wives. None of us have said that that is a second best option. We do, however, see our educations as enhancing our lives and wives and mothers and want to encourage other in that direction.

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger Randall Gerard said…

    Prairie Girl,

    Fair enough. I would say we're in essential agreement. My apology if I've offended or flogged this dead horse too long and hard.

    You have a very profitable blog here. Good work!

  • At 1:59 PM, Blogger prairie girl said…


    Thanks for your is welcome indeed.

    Now, as for you, I hope your own tombstone will read "Beloved husband and father" rather than "firefighter" though that could be included as well, though hopefully not for a long, long, time.

    I am obviously are in agreement with us about women in college since your daughter is there. Could you tell us how you came to the conclusion to send her to college?


  • At 9:10 PM, Blogger TulipGirl said…

    "I am horrified at the number of people who are planning out their children's lives rather than saying that they are working through the options for education WITH their children. Why is it so important for a parent to have such control?"

    I think it stems from really wanting the best for our children--and thinking we know it better than God does.

    It's done out of love--but is controlling and unhealty and does not rest in trusting that God has created our children as the individual people they are meant to be.

  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Hamburgerin said…

    i think this might be my first official comment on this blog, although i've been keeping up with a number of posts.

    you bring up an excellent idea, karen. training is so important!

    i'm a college girl and wouldn't trade my education for anything.

    i would love to be a wife and mother; frankly, i don't think i'm cut out to be a career woman at all.

    nevertheless, my education has benefitted me. i'm an efl teacher living in germany. my undergrad and master's degrees were in english. (my minor was german.)

    in my job, i communicate with people every day. more than that, i speak with germans, oftentimes very deep, critical thinkers. i'm so glad i had a university education so that i have a better grasp of knowing how to be an analytical thinker myself.

    the Lord has allowed me to use the talents He's given me and what I learned at college to be of service in ministry as well. because i have a job in the secular workplace (and i wouldn't have been qualified for this particular job without a college degree, i have also had a number of opportunities to share the gospel with my students and co-workers.

  • At 7:39 PM, Blogger Randall Gerard said…

    Prairie Girl,

    Well, actually, my beloved wife, oldest son and the daughter in question talked me into it. I wasn't really in favor of the idea at first. I'll try to explain briefly.

    As our children out-grew our ability to instruct them at home academically, we allowed them to take classes at the local community college. We felt this was a good way for them to finish up 'high school' while they were still living at home. Our children are two years apart, so I promised them an associate's degree with the understanding that any additional schooling, should they desire it, would be their financial responsibility. I can only afford to help one child at a time. Well, the first two did very well and wanted to go on and earn 4 year degrees. My oldest then got accepted at College of the Ozarks in Missouri. This school has a program that allows students to trade on-campus labor for tuition. My son is starting his senior year there now, and while he has had to borrow a modest amount for room and board, he will graduate with very little debt. My daughter did even better then my son did at the community college (she is a 4.00 student) and she wants to earn a bachelors in music, so C of O seemed like a logical choice for her as well. She's hoping to use her music degree as a complement to a future husband's ministry or possibly teaching career. And I think that is very realistic for her.

    I had reservations about sending her so far from our home (800 + miles), but my son will be there for her first year, and he's just as fiercely protective as I am. He's a chip off the ole block, except he wants to be in law enforcement. (where oh where did I go wrong? ;-)) Also, we are really hoping to move closer within the next year or so, I simply MUST be more accessible to her and any young men who may develop an interest in her. Old fashioned, I know, but that's what you get with me.

    I actually never dreamed that any of my children would ever go to college. I'm a blue collar guy, descended from a long line of dirt farmers and mechanics. But, I'm not going to stand in their way if they can do the work and get it paid for somehow. I have a great deal of respect for higher learning, but I'm also not blind to the faith destroying aspects of the college scene. So, I'm ambivalently optimistic, I guess. I've always taught my children that Godly character was THE #1 reason we homeschooled. We're glad they've done well academically, but we really don't care if they dig ditches for a living, as long as they love the Lord, marry in the Lord, and raise our grand-children to love the Lord. Anything over and above that, is sheer grace; but to whom much is given, much is required.

    The bottom line is, she's going on to college because she earned it and I won't hold her back just because I'm having issues letting her go. I'm trying hard to keep in mind that she's not really mine, but God's. I'm just really, really grateful that He loaned her out to us for awhile.

  • At 5:02 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hi Hambergerin,

    Glad to meet you. You have an awesome website, by the way.

    I so appreciated your story and, as I read it, felt such a sense of God's providence in His working out of your faith.

    One thing that has been missing in this debate is the concept that when the door of a college education is closed to young women, it also closes doors of opportunity, such as what you have experienced.

    Thanks so much for sharing and we look forward to any other thoughts/ideas you have!

  • At 5:25 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hi Balestacker,

    Thanks for telling us where you are coming from. It sounds like your family has a good plan. I believe that you will reap many benefits, as will a future son-in-law and grandbabies because you "got-you-a-college-girl."

    One other thought I had while reading your entry...our 18 year old son attended the Summit Worldview Conference put on by Summit Ministries last summer and this summer, this time for college credit. I would higly recommend it for every junior-senior who is heading to college, whether it is a Christian college, distance learning, or secular school.

    The purpose of the course is to prepare young people to discern and combat the worldviews that compete with a Christian worldview. Good stuff.

  • At 11:40 PM, Blogger Hamburgerin said…

    thanks for the compliment, prairie girl. i'm glad you stopped by! it's always nice to have visitors.

    joy and i became friends at bj, and mollie and i lived on the same hall one year. and i used to sit in the soprano section in the choir at heritage--near camille. see, if i hadn't gone to college, i wouldn't have met all these people!! :o)


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