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The limitations of war in the hands of men

Sunday, 05. July 2015 by Renee Ellison

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(Thoughts on the 4th of July of 2015)

How strange it is that since the dawn of man we have thought we could advance ideologies through technical means.  Superior aim, brute force, bulls-eyes, bayonets, chariots, dynamite, and atomic fusion have been our means to change thought—or so we imagined.  Our focus has been upon military brass.  We’ve ignored the fact that the earth has a soul.

If war is in the hands of good men, benevolent men, we see that war can be a means for stopping further war, at least for the moment.  But have we ultimately gained anything, in the long run, if we haven’t changed the heart?  Don’t the contrary ideologies live on in the ashes—smoldering away, gathering combustion for the next outbreak of force?

Furthermore, if war is in the hands of evil men, what then?  If they gain the technical advantage, wild with desire to advance barbaric ideologies, having the upper hand, do they really advance even their own ideologies?  Or do they, so equipped with artillery, tactics and intrigue, descend into irrationality—becoming so engorged with greed, that power itself becomes their ultimate ideology?  After their wars, they are apt to see their victories descend into rejected persuasions that implode as the masses break out against their insistences.  Just give it time.  Resting on their laurels, the evil warriors (some masquerading as refined elites) will be delivered from personal angst for a few hours, perhaps, but will afterwards become vaguely aware of increasing restlessness in the hearts of the conquered.  This is experienced, in spades, by any monarch, who the day he ascends his throne begins to note whispers from relatives who would love to usurp him.

Ultimately, all that war does is muzzle opposition and silence dissent for an hour or two. War, in the hands of mere men, does absolutely nothing to change the heart—or enlighten humanity.  The results generally won’t last; just wait a half hour.  (A few hundred years is but an hour or so, in the overall framework of history.)  The American War of Independence was followed by the War of 1812 and then the Civil War, where Americans killed themselves, more comprehensively than all the American men lost in wars with our outside enemies.  Our war to fix political problems (including states’ rights and slavery) meant we maimed and killed far more in the process: a staggering 620,000 (recent studies move it to 850,000).  The racial issue festers still, and the battle for states’ rights vs. federal rights emerged again, just days ago!  World War I (“the war to end all wars”) was followed by World War II.  Even when a war must be waged to stop immediate wild aggressions, amassing ammunition is no avenue to achieving lasting conflict resolution if we don’t afterwards tend to the hearts of men.  Our world today is peppered with wars in every direction—and massive conflagrations are flaring in the wings.

One has to ask, what did the Visigoths and the Huns, who overran Rome, grow in Rome’s ruins?  How was this an advance—even for themselves?  Is living among carnage and weeping stone better?  When ISIS has killed the last Jew, what then will they live for?

Napoleon had it right when he meekly observed that “Jesus Christ was the greatest military leader of all time, because He conquered men by love, not force.”

In scripture we find the head-turning verse for a yet future time: “Neither shall they learn war anymore.”  Why? Because war, in the hands of mere men, ultimately advances nothing.  Thus, in the kingdom, God will see to it that we will cease to learn it, or to teach it to our sons.

On the other hand, war in the hands of God will in the end advance everything.  We were born into a red hot war, begun long before laying the foundation of the earth, and we shall see its end.  The unequaled power of “almightiness” is the last trump card, when men won’t be persuaded by their own military exploits.  When man descends into a slug-fest, God takes on his irrationality and kills it by almighty means.  By eternal muscle.  By lightning and trumpets and plagues, and hail, and hurling meteorites and planets in the cosmos—slamming them even into the earth.  If man won’t be persuaded in the tender recesses of his heart, by the most divine of humble sacrifices, spilling righteous blood, every such man, bent on evil, will at last be conquered by a parade of Armageddons of another sort.

The hour is late.  Let us advance the cause of Christ by prayer, by persuasion, by increased ardor, by unabashed boldness.  Let us “kiss the Son” while He may yet be found, believing that war for the hearts of the sons of men is the greater and final battleground.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The main thing in home education

Wednesday, 01. July 2015 by Renee Ellison

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The key ingredient in all education is personal investment—i.e. one-on-one time—man-power—attentiveness.  A child can really be educated using any materials, even old encyclopedias, or just the Bible, if the attentiveness factor from another adult is maximized.

If your student is little, any book you buy, no matter how expensive or wonderful, will fall flat unless you (or some other adult) are personally sitting next to your child through the process.  Children learn internal discipline by many experiences of external discipline with someone.  If you can’t afford to hire additional help, then rotate through your children with undivided attention from you and/or your husband for each subject, for each session—and you will find that both you and your children will be far less frustrated and will accomplish more.  Give it all you’ve got.  Table other outside involvements for several years, until you have conquered the academic basics solidly.  Also, do any of your media/email/i-Phone stuff after you have superintended your children’s schooling for the day.  Otherwise, those other activities will eat up your day and you will observe, sadly, that you have given the prime time of your day to relationships that have far less depth for you.  Your children and your husband are it for depth smile.

Investing in your children is your most rewarding and glorious investment; all others pale in comparison.  One day you will hear the Lord will tell you: “Well done, good and faithful servant” when it is all done.

The reason I focus so much upon getting as much of it up and running with the A.C.E. curriculum is to eventually free the mother from having to carry, personally, so many academic details for each of her children for 12 long years.  The more she carries, the more potential for “mama-burnout.”  Feel free to use all of your current homeschooling materials, if you like, but as you may already realize, the sheer quantity and varying types of them will bog down your day.

The key idea is to eventually get schooling functioning without you—so that you can maintain the discipline, dinner, and desire for your hubby smile—and dive into a good book for yourself, now and then.  Eventually, when it is all running smoothly, you can still personally teach your offspring the academic topics that you are personally passionate about—but only when you want to—not have to.

Two academic principles

Tuesday, 23. June 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Two general academic principles:

One:
Always reduce emotional resistance by doing everything FOR the child, initially, and as long as he needs it—i.e. all he has to do it repeat orally or copy (writing).  Just going through the process IS education.  (In later years, that may even occasionally mean seeing the answer first, to provide the “aha” and then working backwards from it.)

The mere fact that the child is interfacing with materials produces education, at least on some level.  It always must begin with familiarity, as in,“I’ve done this before, step by step with an adult, and now I’m confident enough to do it myself.”  A child learns internal discipline by many experiences of external discipline provided by the tutor.

Two:
Always reduce the visual field—the amount that you are directly working with, by covering up the rest of the page.  This way, the child doesn’t subliminally carry the whole larger task, and is able to have many little mini-successes continually. Providing bite-sized-tasks is the name of the game throughout all of childhood, in every area.

Parental perspectives on the complexities of living with grown unmarried children

Monday, 18. May 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Living with grown children is not the same ball game as raising small children.  An entirely different set of “parenting” skills is needed to make this further chapter successful and happy for all involved.  Furthermore, it requires different parenting for different personalities.  You will live differently with the conscientious young adult than you do with the lazy one. 

Homeschooling families in this generation are doing something that the secular culture has largely abandoned for several generations now: godly grown children are voluntarily choosing to continue to live with their parents until marriage, and their parents are in agreement about this.  Many believing families are opting to do this for spiritual reasons, because they see this pattern in the Bible, with good results.  Abraham chose a mate for his grown son Isaac when Isaac was well advanced in years, deep into adulthood, still living at home.  The lives of Ruth and Esther are set in stark contrast to the loud wandering, worldly woman spoken of in Proverbs who is seldom at home.  When Dinah left home to see what the daughters of the land were doing in Shechem, she left the protection afforded by a godly home and got into terrible trouble. 

The advantages of this living arrangement with adult children are many, both relationally and financially.  This arrangement spares the single adult from the severe temptations of shack-up situations and possible mincing forays into homosexuality—or the appearance of evil through the set-up of supposedly “platonic” guy-girl roommate relationships, and from any number of additional devastatingly dysfunctional roommate situations whenever someone lives with anyone who is not part of one’s extended family. 

In addition, living with one’s parents until one is married provides an opportunity for the young adult to amass an economic nest egg that will make a huge financial difference for them.  Earning money while living under their parents’ roof with minimal expenses may even afford them the possibility of paying for a house or land with cash and never having to pay rent.  Having disciplined goals during these transition years affords the young adult the possibility of further unimaginable savings over a lifetime, and relieves a young marriage of many financial stresses.  (Many houses bought with mortgages end up costing three times as much over the lifetime of the mortgage.  This money is siphoned from the earnings of each person; it is given over to a bank instead of building his or her own estate.) 

However, as with any relational set-up, there are pitfalls and blind spots that must be avoided for this arrangement to work well.  For this living arrangement to be successful it must be done with mature relational savvy on the part of the parents, otherwise the experience can result in lifetime scarring, destroyed relationships, adult tensions galore, and lifelong regrets for all parties of those lifetime relationships.  [Note: because of the limitations of the English language, we will refer to the grown single child as “he”, but this applies just as much to a daughter as to a son, albeit in a slightly different manner, given the different biblical standards for men providing for themselves and their families.]

Motivational speakers for years now have identified what makes people continue to produce and live invigorated lives.  People tend to stay in marriages, businesses and living situations where they continue to grow.  An affirming positive loving atmosphere will keep a person in such a relationship.  If this climate is not present, the tendency (or at least the lure) is to jump ship.

The key shift in parents’ thinking with regard to sharing their home with grown children has to be the realization that they are launching their young adult’s life, doing everything possible to gladden and enrich that emerging life, rather than viewing him as an appendage and a support for their own lives.  In other words, the parents must learn to do life by themselves, while also finding ways to procure advantages for their son’s life.  This involves choosing to carry their own load, even though the adult son continues to live in their home.  Conversely, if parents are leaning upon their grown child, using him, micromanaging him, demanding of him, and/or shaming him into doing their bidding or adopting their perspectives on everything, they will find an unexpected kickback that they may regret as time passes.

Many adult children grow to be quite capable in a variety of areas and thus can potentially become a real boost to their parents’ lives.  This is fine, so long as it is volunteered by the emerging adult as he thinks of it, rather than his parents extracting it from him.  Otherwise, he may grow to feel “used.”  Many parents unknowingly take advantage of their grown children’s capabilities (without compensating them for them, i.e. liberally and gladly paying them or returning some trade in the rent agreement, etc.) for their own parental benefit, and this may become increasingly oppressive for the young adult.

If the parents are using their adult son for their own benefit, he may at first turn away from them inwardly, and as time progresses may turn away bitterly in actuality and finally may eventually bolt because the relationship has become irreparable.  Parents’ relational salvation with their grown children is to think long-term and big picture.  What do you want your grown child to think of you when you at last rest in your grave?  Does he perceive the relationship as enlarging and enriching for himself?  Does he flock to be with you?  If given a choice, is he drawn to you, or do you observe him avoiding you, living in tension because of you, skirting interfacing with you over any matter?  These are alarms and bells and whistles that will only intensify, if you do not reverse them.  You are fashioning your own reputation with him.  What is that reputation?  Are you, perhaps, winning the battle (his compliance for the moment) but losing the war of winning his lifetime permanent affection for you?  These are deep waters.

As with any adult living situation, clean lines must be drawn and understood by both sides.  Clean lines must be drawn regarding finances and regarding responsibilities.  Otherwise, the grown child will find himself buried in a jungle of implied expectations, both expressed and naggingly felt.  He may sink into depression and hopelessness, wanting to escape but not knowing how.  No adult can stand doing another adult’s bidding unendingly.  All such relationships end in destruction.  Expectations kill relationships, unless the expectations are clearly stated, are reciprocal, and are mutually advantageous.  Living in a continual win/win situation with your adult child will tie him in loving bonds with you for a lifetime.  Is home a place he loves to be?  Strive to see your life together through his eyes.

When living with a conscientious young adult instead of correcting him broadside, try some humor.  Also, strive to posit your opinions in questions instead of edicts, fashioning your sentences more like this:  “Might you find this way more advantageous to yourself?”  Tell them that you are available to pray with them, if they should want that at any time for direction, and to clarify certain ambiguities for them.  Brainstorm with them.  Get other mature adults to brainstorm with them.  Encourage them that in a multitude of counselors there is victory, as it says in Proverbs.  This has an entirely different feel than ordering them around as adults. 

All of this is advice for living with conscientious adult children.  If, conversely, you live with a lazy, irresponsible adult child, you must put the screws to them to enforce specific expectations, in order for him to have the privilege of continuing to benefit from the advantages of living at home.  Otherwise he must learn by having his cheek on the pavement of some street somewhere.  Draw the expectations firmly, and perhaps do so on paper, together, not signing anything as a formal contract, but providing “paper” objectivity upon what you both are coming to agree to together.  After that, the young adult, by then crossing those agreed upon ideas, willfully puts himself out of the home.  It was not you that did it, but he.  The aimless young adult must be made to draw up his own goals and ambitions.  He must be growing old skills and learning new skills by apprenticing with others further along in those fields or studying.  He must be drawing income from somewhere, or he can’t live at home.  This living situation is to advance him in life, not to coddle him by providing hours for more sports and video games and other entertainments.

For young unmarried gals it is best to define their life as a full complete single life now, and the probability of a full married life later.  They are to live equally well in both conditions, steadily making a difference in God’s kingdom.  Get them out of the “waiting game.”  Get them fulfilled now with both meaningful income-producing work and kingdom work.  No one does well with a sloppy, ill-defined, meaning to life.  Get them fulfilled working steadily year round with meaning; there should be no intermittent dragging months.  See to it that they wake up to a day with purpose, continually.

So, what do clean lines in living arrangements look like?
Separate your finances and financial obligations from his or hers.  Does your son/daughter pay rent?  Or, does he/she work for that rent for you by doing specifically X, Y, and Z, or by working for someone else to earn that rent?  This area alone will destroy a relationship if not clearly spelled out.  His/her obligation to you (as regards paying a fixed amount for rent) cannot be unending and open-ended; it has to be settled by fixed tasks or established payment amounts, where there is a measurable end to them and the young adult is freed from any further parental expectations.  Are the household’s meal preparation and cleanup responsibilities clearly delineated?  Who is responsible for what?  Do you give each other space, if so desired, by leaving the kitchen when he or she enters; or vice versa?  Are both of you working at what you would both have to do full-time if you were living in two separate households?  Meal planning and preparations are a given in every living situation, at least some of the time.

Does the emerging adult have some space all to himself?  Does he have the potential of privacy?  Does he clearly own his own things and have his own bank account?

Your grown child needs space that can be organized by his own design and kept neatly or in a mess, given his personality—just as married couples have with each other.  If all space is shared, the relationship will collapse.  Private property is one of the first gifts even God gives to His bride (children) by allotting land by tribe to the children of Israel.

Do you give your grown child his own time, and opportunity to do his own home-based business(es)  or to work for others without being clobbered by your own random, unexpected sudden requests, to get you out of a bind, that claim his time for your own ends?  Are you frequently invading his time?  Even if you see him doing nothing, that is his right if his bills are paid.  Further, have you determined to make it financially advantageous to him to live with you, or are you eager for his financial contribution only for your own sake?  A grown adult knows his parents’ motives.  He observes them when you are not on dress parade.

Often remind yourself that if he were married and out of your home, he would ipso facto be using his time as he sees fit and thinking his thoughts as he thinks them, just as you did when you reached adult autonomy.  Just as you do not have access to your married children 24/7, it is not your right to have such access to the unmarried, even though he is still in your own home.  Adulthood is adulthood, and that includes having a separate psyche—even a private diary and private letters, just as you have.  If you did not finish the job of raising him during his growing years when you were authorized by God to do it, (and who of us parents ever does finish it?) you have to make your peace with the fact that that your “formation” job assignment has ended.  Your grown son will never be perfect; he will never totally “arrive”—just as you and your spouse haven’t, even yet.  You have to shift gears, from constant correction to living with forgiveness and adapting to all the uncomfortable, unpolished behaviors of any adult human being.  Other factors (we learn from experiences, too) and influences from other people now will have their say, not the least of which is God’s input, Himself, directly into his adult soul. 

Make sure that your grown at-home son/daughter knows that you are building his kingdom and not your own, and you will find that his heart will be with you to the end.  If you do not do this kind of self-sacrifice and adaptation when he becomes an adult, he may flee at his earliest chance.  Home has to continually be the best place on earth or another will be found, at any cost, if even only in the section of the heart that privately “longs” for such a place, substituting someone else in his/her affections.  Build relational capital with your grown children for a lifetime, by never losing sight of the prospect of the last ten years of your own life.  What have you relationally earned from your son by being as supportive and loving as possible?  That may even involve joining the “zipped-lip” club that many seniors have found they had to join ahead of you.  You have a chance to create a heaven on earth for your offspring as long as you live. 

See our booklets/e-books Daughters in Waiting and Young Men Preparing for Marriage for further details.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The world is past fixing

Monday, 11. May 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Just like when the Egyptians pleaded with Pharaoh, “Do you not yet see that the land is ruined”—when he remained transfixed in his own illusions of continued world power (despite what he was experiencing), so, too, we, as a world have reached the point of no return.  This IS the last chapter.  Vain is the hope that the world systems are going anywhere but down, despite the best of human efforts from this day forward.

Even if we were to start today in earnest, able to clean up the world morally by having massive revivals, the best we could hope for would be scores of individual salvations.  For the systems/ economies/ ecologies/ anarchies of the world, however, this is D-day.  As in the days of Noah, this current world is beyond fixing; we are in a free-fall over the cliff.  We hurl headlong to the bottom for a number of individual reasons, each of which, in isolation, will be taking us down and is taking us down.  In combination, the synergistic effect of all those individual causes will bring us down, overwhelmingly and irrevocably.

Morally
In our defiance against God, at first we looked for idols made of stone but then we eventually found ourselves to be the better idol still.  We tinker with combining the DNAs of animals with plants, of humans with animals, and as a result our bio-ethics problems will be huge.  We sit on Mt. Zion, re-writing origins.  Sexual orientation and marriage have been re-defined by human oligarchs, whose assertions result in utter confusion for the “children” of those origins, who now ache past repair. And the blood of our millions of abortions now moan and howl over the years like a restless wind that cannot be hushed in the conscience of a nation.

The debt load
At a debt load currently sitting at 20 trillion, just for the USA, even if we stopped our borrowing habit today, stopped the Fed printing presses and began paying back debt in earnest—just our own USA debt exceeds the entire global GDP.  That means that if we were able to buy/ acquire/ conquer every country of the world and harness their combined manufacturing output, it would not touch the debt of just the USA.  This figure does not include our outrageous unfunded future liabilities: continued entitlements to the non-worker but also, other necessary things like promised social security checks to an army of now retiring baby boomers, swelling by the second, that came at our economic troughs like a swarm of locusts.  Nor does this debt include the vast worldwide derivatives bubble/ cauldron that is corroding every dollar with nothing but rust and mildew.  And because the economies of the world are hopelessly intertwined, as the USA goes (or Europe, or Japan—take your pick), so goes the world.  It is all beyond human fixing.

What the powers that be will attempt to do to fix it, soon, is to crash the old system and revamp the future world economy into a one-world banking system with a new cashless currency.  In the conversion they’ll ipso-facto wipe out individual wealth and private property—but the fix will be short.  It, too, will topple.  Its termination will be swift; its final window withdrawal will be met with by the “teller” at the top of the Mt. of Olives.

The nuke situation
Any number of rogue nations with messianic illusions of their own importance could finger the kill switch, on a godlike day.  North Korea sits next to that switch 24/7 now—and who knows how many minions in other nations sit with her.  We are in bondage to nuclear fissions and fusions.  Our toys have turned on us like an unforeseeable emergence of Frankenstein.  Most of the world’s continued existence is very iffy.

The EMP switch
Electronically, we are at the mercy of the use of wireless waves—oceans of them—coming from every direction.  We’re hopelessly dependent upon this new hidden, noiseless fuel for our every transaction.  Cut off our electronic fuel via a quiet neighborly EMP attack and that is the end of going anywhere.  The day a bum cannot get his EMT card to work in his ATM machine, will be the day that he comes to your house for dinner, and assuredly, he will eat before you will.

The Fukushima situation
In the book of Revelation it says that 1/3rd of the world’s oceans will be ruined.  When the Tsunami hit Japan, it broke open this prophecy.  Fukushima’s nuclear spills have not been able to be contained since then, and at this very hour that situation (never before seen or experienced), remains out of control, continuously belching additional copious quantities of alarmingly high levels of radiation.  Anything we could do would be a mere Band-Aid on this universal oozing gash.  Currently, the volume of dead sea animals washing up on the Western shores of the US because of interfacing with this radiation is unprecedented.  These animals maroon on our shores with gaping open wounds, burns, sunken eyeballs, endless repositories of radiation damage beyond belief strewn upon our shorelines.  The sea life was our first line of defense.  Those animals took it on the chin.  Our own thyroids are next, and our babies after that.

Conclusion
Let us get beyond looking for better days.  No day will ever again be better, on the corporate, worldly level. Let us saddle in for worse days, and darker nights, for this season of our lives.  But individually, if we proceed with humbly bowed head and contrite heart, under the blood of the only Savior the world has ever known, we can look forward to an individual spiritual bonanza, in the midst of it all.  Read most any chapter of the book of Isaiah to see the judgments and end time cataclysms juxtaposed against the Almighty’s secure protection of His loved ones.  We can look forward to gathering the spiritual spoils of a world in a catastrophic death-throw.  Our booty will be as large as our prayers and our union with the Almighty.  Let us not forget that there are TWO stories going on here.  One is going down; the other is going up.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Relating to a dysfunctional husband

Friday, 24. April 2015 by Renee Ellison

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When we express extreme anguish over a spouse’s disappointing or even bad behavior, the underling belief we have—which we don’t know that we have—is that our personal anguish will somehow touch the other person.  However, if the person lacks the ability to have empathy (a clinical condition; can’t conjure it up, can’t imagine it, lacks the ability to produce it) we have to look at that condition as if a piece of that other person’s DNA is missing, and change our own behaviors in relation to that immovable situation.  It is like dealing with any other handicap in any other person: the person can’t walk because they can’t.  They are in a wheelchair.  Likewise, we must view this emotional disorder as a mental wheelchair.

Our illusion is that if we could just explain it better, if he were to read the right material or get under the influence of the right person, this could be fixed.  Chances are that these hopes are ill-founded if it wasn’t fixed after reading the first book or having the first discussion.  Habit can clobber sane rationality/courage any day, if we one is dealing with a lifetime chronic situation.

Therefore, when we personally have anguish we need to come to see that we are wasting our own emotional capital, only ruining our own day.  It wears us out, but does nothing to the other person.  He may be having a fine day—oblivious to us.  When we figure out that this is in fact the dynamic we are living with, our wise, better course would be to conserve our own emotional energy via self-talk that goes something like this: “This isn’t fazing him a bit, so why should it faze me?” and get busy doing something very engaging that you love to do on you own.  Simply learn to unhook from the cause of the devastation.  Don’t GO there.  If HE is not feeling anything, why should YOU be?  If you remain a victim of chronic dashed expectations, you will forever be miserable.  If someone’s devious or underhanded behavior always takes our breath away, we will always be reeling.  If, on the other hand, we note the underhanded behavior and unhook, check-out, and expect it, then we can move past it and have a life of our own.

It might be quite life-giving to learn how to live in the moment better.  When things are going well, act like the big picture is good.  Pretend.  For your own sake, enjoy all of the gusto you can get out of the relationship while it is going well.  It would be similar to relating to someone who has periodic memory loss and doesn’t even know who you are.  You would simply learn to relate to him (or her) fully for those moments when his memory returns and he does know who you are.  Aim to obtain from the relationship your own momentary joys—and unhook from the rest.  Die to any and all expectations that it will ever be otherwise.  Live a life beside him for all of those moments when it is obvious that he is not in the relationship and doesn’t have a clue about how to get there.  Carve out of life your own quiet joys next to him.  This will revive your own emotional reserves and give you zest for living life wherever there is life—with other relationships and pursuits, for example.  And of course you always have a secret cathedraled life with God that you can retreat to for the most trustworthy, satisfying nurture a human being could ever want.  Go there and mental healing will ever flow.

Remember that the goal of this life is not personal happiness.  It is wanting to be conformed to the image of Christ, no matter what it takes.  It is submitting to whatever surgery is necessary to take on yet more of His nature.  We have this promise: “When we see Him, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).  Saddle up.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Water resourcefulness at home

Monday, 16. March 2015 by Todd Ellison

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Did you know, water was the one of the very first things the Almighty created?  Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  In the original Hebrew, heavens, literally, is “that which is water.”  Water represents life, and God is the author of life.  Water is the primary element astronomers are looking for as their craft probe for life on far-off planets and asteroids in outer space.  There is no life if there is no water.  (This is true spiritually, too.  If living water isn’t flowing into us on a regular basis, our spirits suffer, wither and eventually die.  The Savior cried out at one of the festival gatherings in Jerusalem, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”  The Apostle John on Patmos quoted him in Revelation as saying “To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  However, the focus of this post is on the practical aspect of being good stewards of H2O.)

If an adequate supply of good, clean water is a scarce and/or costly commodity where you live, there are a number of ways to reduce your consumption. Most of them go against the grain of the rich lifestyle of the typical American—in comparison with that of most of the people on Earth.  Nonetheless, you may want to try some of these tips, because (1) there may come a time when you must survive on a very small supply of water, (2) using these strategies can be an eye-opener into the state of your health, (3) you may save money that you can better use for other ends [our City just doubled the rates for its “customers”), (4) this will give you a bit of empathy for the billions in the world who do not have access to even the basics of potable water, and (5) doing this will increase your appreciation for the Heavenly Father’s gracious, ample and timely provision of our needs.

Use biodegradable laundry detergent, use less than you think you should, and send the used wash- and rinse-water onto your lawn, especially around your trees. If you have hard water, try using Rockin Green (Vitacost.com is a possible source; if you haven’t been a customer of theirs yet, please email us to recommend you to them, and we’ll each get a $10 credit toward a future order; this is a good way of thanking us for the advice we offer you on this website—try using Coupon Code Bamboo for an additional 10% off); they have a kind (Hard Rock Motley Clean) that works great with hard water—and you use less than a tablespoon of the powder in a full load of wash.  (Abesmarket.com is another source for Rockin Green.)  Then, when you know you’re not polluting your water supply or your plants, you can direct the wash- and -rinse water outdoors instead of adding it to the load of the sewer system.  Pull your washing machine out from the wall toward you enough for you to reach the black hose that makes a turn down into your sewer system, and attach a hose to it or simple aim it into some 3-gallon buckets when the cycle is dumping water.  You can use that water to wash and rinse your cars.  If you find your rinse water coming out with a lot of soapy bubbles, you may be using too much detergent.  The downside of that, in addition to the waste, is that you’re probably wearing soap next to your skin when you put on those clothes.  Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so that’s not a good idea.  (The best thing to wear next to your skin is unbleached, undyed natural organic linen, which has some of the highest healing frequencies of any fabric; you can order that, in yards of fabric or made up into items for you, from LifeGivingLinen.com.)  Also, in terms of laundry: not everything you wear needs to be washed after a single use.  It is not a crime to wear the same shirt and pants for several days if they’re not dirty or smelly!  You can probably wash your towels once a week; bed linens, even less often, unless someone’s been sick.

Likewise, after you’ve washed your dishes (using the plastic-tub method Renee recommends—one for soapy water and one for rinse water, if you have a double sink in your kitchen), pour out your gray water onto your lawn.  This, of course, is assuming you’re using biodegradable natural dish soap too.  A good thing about the tub method is, you know just how much water you’re consuming, and you’re not sending good hot water down the drain (that could have been used for further rinses and for other purposes after the rinsing, too).  Also, your sink will last longer and you will have less breakage if you are inserting a tub into your sink when it’s time to wash the dishes.

To further conserve water, plant trees—not just any kind of trees, but ones that are suited for your environment.  If you’re in a dry climate, avoid a tree that needs a lot of water.  Once you get the right trees situated around your house (on the southern and western sides of your house if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and away from underground pipes and septic systems (because the roots will seek water in them and will clog them) and not too close to your house (because they can damage it when branches break off or the tree falls).  Having the welcome shade of trees in the right place in the hot time of the year can actually increase the amount of moisture in the air around where you live.  With shade, you’ll need a lot less water to keep your grass green than if it’s baking at full exposure to the summer sun—especially if your grass is a drought-tolerant type such as Wildflower Farm’s Eco-Lawn Grass Seed.  And, when you do irrigation your lawn, do it in the dawn and dusk hours (not in the middle of the day when so much more will evaporate) and water less frequently but more deeply so the roots grown deep.

Also, surround your trees, plants and garden areas with a thick layer of organic mulch (we get wood chips free from the City after they prune trees around town).  This reduces evaporation of moisture, nourishes the soil, increases the capacity of the soil to retain moisture, and inhibits weed growth (or at least makes it easier to pull weeds, because their roots aren’t as deeply entrenched).  You’ll need to replenish the mulch annually or every two years, because it breaks down and makes rich loamy soil.

Catch your roof drain water in barrels for reuse in your yard.

Speaking of septic systems: guys can urinate into a jug.  (By the way this is Todd, Renee’s husband, writing the blog this time!)  Urine is sterile.  Choose a gallon jug that is see-through and that has a good tight-fitting lid, 2” in diameter.  If you empty out and rinse out the jug regularly, it won’t be smelly.  Set your personal jug in a discrete area of your bathroom.  Assuming that you’re living on property that has land, not an apartment in a concrete jungle, pour it out along the base of your trees—if you’re eating well, it probably contains good nutrients and minerals.  Plus, it may deter deer and other wildlife from encroaching on your yard and chewing your plants and trees.  Do the math, and you’ll realize how much water you’re saving.  Even the highest efficiency toilets use up to 1.28 gallons per flush; some of the older toilets use more than 3 GPF.  According to ConserveH2O.org, “More than 45% of water use in the average American home occurs in the bathroom, with nearly 27% being used by toilets.”  A dozen flushes a day adds up to thousands of gallons per year per person and is far more than is necessary (if you’re a male).  Plus, you will be able to observe the state of your health by seeing the color of your urine.  It should be amber colored.  If it is dark, you probably aren’t drinking enough water.  The rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day.

As for the remainder of your use of toilet water, reduce the water volume in the toilet tank by setting weighted plastic bottles or a float booster in your toilet tank.  Eartheasy.com explains (step 6 of their water conservation tips) how to do it and how to make sure you have enough water flowing to do an effective flush.

Another way to greatly reduce your use of water in the bathroom—and also to cut down on heating the water—is to attach a flexible hose spray head to your shower head.  You hold it in one hand and only turn it on when you’re actually needing water.  Eartheasy.com states that “a four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.”  If you stand in a flat bucket, or plug the drain so you can scoop out the used water, you can flush the toilet with the water.  And, take a shower rather than a bath, except for occasions when you want to soak in Epsom salts or something like that; why sit in dirty water rather than have it do your ablution and run off?

Likewise, turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, as soon as you’ve wet your brush.  Also, dentists recommend dry brushing every so often, because it gives the brush a better grip on your gums and your teeth.

Do you see a theme in these suggestions?  You’re reducing the volume of water that is leaving your property through the sewer pipe.  And, in many cases, you are getting double use out of your water.

Have you noticed in various areas of life, that the Heavenly Father provides just what you need, when you’re in His will and are acting responsibly?  Good stewardship of His wondrous gift of water—distilled from the oceans and dropped as rain and snow on the land for our use bit by bit—is a means for us as believers to express our gratefulness for His daily provision.

Got you interested?  WaterUseItWisely.com has about 200 tips for saving water.

Do you have water-saving water-reusing tips to share?  Send them to us as a Comment!

Filed Under: Home management tips

Bond with your children by reading the Bible to them every night

Monday, 09. March 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Remember to bond your young child with his real, true God and Maker and Savior, by reading to him from the Bible every night.  The Egermeier children’s version is all in one book, has glorious pictures, is simple to understand, and is easily conquered because it tells the Bible story in just one volume.  smile 

Once when I taught someone else’s six children for seven months, I made sure to read the Bible to them.  I used just one simple volume so that we were able to finish it by the time they moved out of state.  When they left they were familiar with every single story.  They loved it when I read to them from it.  It was our closest bonding time.  It is an investment in their joy, because God anoints the reading of it and you can feel it in the air whenever the Bible is read—a small supernatural experience every day!  There is no book like it.  (For more resources, see this earlier blog post.)

Many a great man has said, “What I learned of God, I learned at my mother’s knee.”  There are only a few years of influence that you will have over your young child, and then the door begins to close.  The years FLY BY.  It is far more important to read to him from the Bible than any library book, when your time is limited to reading from only one book on many a night.  By doing it nightly, you establish a habit in your child’s little spirit so that he wants to reach out for God every day, to check in with the lover of his soul.  When the mama does this, it establishes a life time habit for the child—something many parents never give their children.  It is so much easier to establish this love of the Bible, right from the get-go, in childhood.  Many an adult wants to read the Bible but is clobbered in inertia and lack of habit, and never gets to it.

Just look at how beautiful the Savior is to us: from Charles Spurgeon’s devotions way back in the 1800’s, we read:

“Never did anyone have a brother like him.  Never did a spouse have such a husband as Christ has been to my soul.  Never did a sinner have a better savior.  Never did a mourner have a better comforter than Christ has been to my spirit.  I want no one else.  In life he is my life.  In death he is the death of death.  In poverty Christ is my riches.  In sickness he makes my bed.  In darkness he is my star.  In brightness he is my sun!”

Such a lover has never been—apart from the Messiah.  Acquaint your child well with Him smile and he will thank you all his life.  There is no better gift that you could give him.

With ya,
Renee

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Response to the current “Tiny House” discussion

Thursday, 19. February 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Everyone, simply everyone, has to conquer the housing issue in their life.  The sooner we homeschooling parents can ground our high schoolers with this immutable reality, the better.  Housing is like gravity: the need for it doesn’t go away even if we attempt to wish it away, or try to avoid facing it indefinitely.  Having an early strong financial goal of conquering this fixed need in our lives will help clobber the temptation to spend money on trivia (a tendency that can go on for several decades), or to waste money on rent, and will help to marshal our stray hours into a compelling purpose to get this “over with”.  Unbeknownst to most of the public discussion on this topic, it can be gotten “over with”—if we play our early years wisely.

Just the other day there was an article in World Net Daily that said, “How an emerging adult spends the first ten LABOR years of their lives will determine the rest of their lives.”  Conquering the housing/land problem early in life gives a person freedoms down the road that are unimaginable to him when he is still youngWhere we conquer obtaining this housing/land package is always important, but it’s not the most important thing initially; one can always swap/rent/improve/sell/trade up that starter position.  It is when one doesn’t work at building the starter nest-egg—that is what can sink someone into mortgage debt for the rest of life.  The root of the word mortgage is morgue—i.e. death.  A mortgage is an agreement with death.  The vast majority of our culture makes this covenant with death, which many often enter cavalierly as they eagerly sign their first mortgage, not realizing the full extent of what they are doing.

Now some thoughts regarding the current public discussion about tiny houses:
The sheer number of books and YouTube videos touting the glories of a tiny house indicate that the trend is mushrooming.  The Tiny House movement may be an over-reaction to our culture’s run-away materialism, and is certainly nothing new. The elderly have been downsizing for decades.  Let’s examine more closely what it belies.  Is it not evidence perhaps that the capacity to live is shrinking?  One simply doesn’t need more spacious housing if one’s productivity is slowing down, if one’s engagements are falling off, if one’s social life is drying up (visitors come less often), and/or if “taking dominion” over life’s possibilities and family building is not the goal.  Young adults could go about it the other way—building a large metal shed and then tucking a warm livable space into a corner of it—so that there is no limit on one’s endeavors.  In a warehouse, expansion possibilities exist from the get-go; there is no ceiling upon who one can become and what one can do.  Entrepreneurialism is fast becoming a smarter option than lifetime-debtor-slavery to colleges.  The excitement in living is to actually DO something.  To actually do anything, and to be home-centric in doing it—loving your own environment instead of living like a vagabond all over town—one needs space.

A tiny house works great for a single person who largely conducts business somewhere else and only needs a YMCA or youth hostel-type cot for the night.  The minute you put two people in such an arrangement, however—let alone one’s first squalling baby—all bets are off for its long range workability.  Tight living quarters will eventually (if not on the first day) create more stress for two humans—though flocks of animals seem to be able to handle it okay.

Therefore, might we be starting off the discussion about housing on the weaker end of the stick?  Let’s face it: a person can live in anythingIs not the more significant consideration the land on which the home rests?  This is something it seems we’ve forgotten, but something the pioneers heading west totally grasped.  We might need to re-discover this in our modern lives.  “If I can just get me a plot of land” was the insatiable appetite of the young in the early days of the development of any country.

One could build the most fabulous tiny house imaginable, but if the land issue wasn’t settled beforehand, perplexities will assertively present themselves the day after it is finished as to where to set it.  Here is the problem: if a person lives on someone else’s land (ostensibly for “free”) they’ll trade financial woes for relational woes.  Sure-shootin’.  They’ll walk around under constant guilt/anxiety about the hour when the relationship may go south—the love tires, grows weary, impatient, the landlords suddenly change, or the landlord’s plans change (e.g. he just lost HIS job, has to move to take care of HIS parents), and any number of unforeseeable variables.  Anxieties without number can begin to mount about all of the surrounding housing/living details: parked cars, the condition of the grounds immediately around the tiny house, the volume of the music, the use of drugs and alcohol, and whose responsibility it is to shovel the snow or repair the broken fence.  The responsibility fog/load gets murky in a hurry.  When one’s living situation hinges on the benevolence of someone else (one’s garage “free-land-lord”, or “free” driveway benefactor) one’s anxieties don’t go away.  Such a person trades mortgage anxieties for interpersonal anxieties and finds that he still is not free.

To be truly free, one could restructure the discussion to look for the land first.  Secure the plot, first, even if it is on the backside of a remote village.  And while beginning the search, look for one thing in particular—a good supply of good clean water.  Is its source secure?  Is the well or the supply infrastructure already secure?  Don’t settle for the hope of having water, or the maybe of having a future water infrastructure “coming to the area”.  Is the water polluted?  How polluted?  Before you plop down your first nickel, be sure of your water situation (and, additionally, make sure that the land is not built over a mine-shaft, a uranium deposit or an area where an oil rig may show up and start drilling).  In other words, don’t mince questions over what is underneath the land.  Nothing, however, is as important as the water issue.  Under an EMP attack, surely nothing else matters as much.  So disregard the gorgeous housing magazines and keep your head on.  You can’t drink a view.

Then build your tiny house—erect your tent—buy your RV; you can upgrade through the years.  By the way, in most cases, the only difference between an RV and your tiny house is looks, mobility (a tiny house is not intended for frequent movement, whereas an RV could move to a different slot each night) and the depth of your passion to control the configuration of the layout.  Die to your perfectionisms and you can save yourself a chapter of having to become a construction manager—a career/field most people know nothing about, will spend inordinate hours brooding over, and still wind up with mistakes and oops common to newbies in any field—to say nothing of having to wear a hammer on your belt for double the time you had planned upon.

The truly winning strategy to be financially free for a lifetime, in terms of your housing?  Start with where—and then, downstream, think through your what.  For more on this topic, read our 10 Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Who Got Free of House Debt and Sure Financial Steps for Beginners.

Picture source (and for more information): Cozy Tiny House.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The socialization dilemma

Saturday, 14. February 2015 by Renee Ellison

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The question:

A customer wrote:

“At present I have an 8 year old boy who loves to go out and play around with some neighbor 11 year old boys who are not the worst but they go to school and love fighting and robber games, which we have as a rule not encouraged in our home. He is then acting up inside the home, and starting to display the beginnings of a sour attitude. He has always been a very gentle and sensitive child who responded well to discipline. I’m wondering how I can display the sort of words and smiles you mention here when really I’m worried about him - what have I done wrong? What can I do about him? It doesn’t help that we are labeled “exclusive” at our church because we homeschool, and we don’t come from Christian homes and have no support from either friends or family. The pressure is beginning to tell on us and our kids look as though they were wishing they could just do the stuff everyone else is doing. We have fun with our kids working together, reading and listening to missionary stories, going on walks and kayaks together. But it seems the world is pushing in on is so hard and we might lose the battle already. We also have two daughters aged 5 and 2. How can we display all the love we long to when we are having these pressures and worries?”

Some answers:
My friend Eileen, who has a large family with a spread of ages, nailed it with the “communication key”.  That is the top concept.  She wrote:

“We drive two hours to and from shabbat almost every week and we still come against bad influences.  The only thing that I find that helps is intense time before… giving instruction on what is expected behavior, and after… going through all that they experienced and discussing what was pleasing to Abba and what wasn’t.  We also have to immediately deal with things they have seen or heard when they are around others.  For example, families who don’t believe in discipline, is this right or wrong, what does Abba say?  The more evil we come against, the more time we must put in to counteract. More Bible memory and more cuddle time to increase a loving attitude toward mommy and daddy.”

I would add three things more, as well…

Continually point out to them cases of where bad influences and poor personal choices turned out poorly for the unwise person. Appeal to their own self-interest and their own future protection, sparing them grief, for their own future betterment.  Let them know that you want them “to ride on the heights of the earth” for their sakes, because you and the Lord view them as so valuable in His kingdom.  This has a different “feel” than “thou shalt nots.”  This is a “let’s run with champions” feel.

Also, at some strategic moments one can almost appear cavalier, as a parent, about telling them that it is for their sake and not yours.  You could make these sorts of statements: “I’ve already made my choices; this is your life, and only you will live with the results.”  Or, “We don’t want you to have the emotional pain so and so lives with, or the practical fallout and negative effects, or to suffer backtracking in this area.”  This heightens their anxiety, when they see you “checking out.”  Don’t over-use this tactic, but it is good sometimes.  It is just one more tool in your parental belt to wield when the moment is right.

Two:
Minimize the amount of worldly input into your children’s lives. Certainly there should be none at all in your home—and there should be shortened exposures outside of the home.  Have other children into your home, and almost never have your children in other people’s homes unless you are there, as well.

Three:
Go deeper with siblings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s birth family did this to the max, as did Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s.  We can encourage our children to dote on younger siblings more and to adore older siblings more; this will prepare them to one day be able to extend additional kindnesses to one’s spouse.  There are inexhaustible possibilities for expressions of love within the family that most secular families know little about.  This extends the child’s patience with relating, and takes him into an understanding of “empathy.”  It moves children deeper into realizing the differences of others’ brains and wiring, and brings them into relational surprises of the good sort, as well as shaping in them the grace of loving endurance.  Because eventually there are hard patches of loving any human—a spouse, a child or a disintegrating elderly person under our care for months or years far past our patience—and for teaching them how to cope with a host of differing and difficult personality types in every direction in one’s larger life.

It is only an American concept that we can choose our friends infinitely and only waltz with those who delight us—and to dump them, on a whim, when they don’t.  Having 600 Facebook friends is the antithesis of loving in the “daily round of duty” with a few.  The hard work of love is exactly that—hard work—but what it wonderfully yields, what we ultimately come to understand, is that love is never about the object of our love, but about growing our own capacity to live out His infinite love in our own spheres.  It was not the beauty of us, or any other alluring attributes from us, that coaxed the Almighty into loving us; it was sheer divine grit.  That was infinite “God-ness.”