Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Subscribe to our Blog feed in a reader

Search by keywords:

Advanced Search

Latest Products

Phonetic Letter Cartoons Packet Phonetic Letter Cartoons Packet:

After reading Teach Phonics Faster (available from us formatted for Kindle, print, or regular e-book), purchase… more >>

Teach Math Faster (Kindle book) Teach Math Faster (Kindle book):

Want to remove exasperating moments from the way your youngster learns basic math? Because math is so… more >>

Kindergarten Songs and Rhythms (audio CD) Kindergarten Songs and Rhythms (audio CD):

Enjoy this sweet,calming music for families with young children.  Music plays a beautiful role in a godly… more >>





Motherhood Tips 6

Thursday, 18. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

Care enough about another mom to send her this web page of encouragement.  Many moms are lonely, even if you don’t suspect it.  Their jobs are hard and the erosion of their emotional strength is constant.  Motherhood is a deep work and a long haul.  If she does it well, “her children will rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).

Parenting tip: Raise up a shield of expertise in your child
According to psychologist Larry Crabb, every human being has two basic emotional needs: one is to be loved; the other is to matter.  We’ll tackle the loved part at another time, in another parenting tip.  But, for now let’s tackle the “to matter” aspect.

Ever notice how a shy child forgets himself and blossoms behind a puppet?  Children need some skill or ability or talent out in front of themselves that helps define who they are until they can come out from behind the prop and “just be”.  When we reach adulthood, learning to be comfortable with our own frail humanity, even if we can do no activity at all, in old age, is the prize insight of maturity.  But children aren’t there yet; as they are emerging, they need concrete personal confidence-boosters to help them believe that they truly MATTER.

“Look mom, I can ride my bicycle without tipping over.”  “Look mom, I can slam dunk the basketball 9 times out of 10”…serves as a comforting shield behind which the child may comfortably hide as he grows at far deeper levels.  What the child really says is, “Look mom, I am validated by what I DO!  I matter!  I’m a good artist, or a good walker of the dog.  I’m a pianist.  I’m a speech giver.  I’m a gymnast.”  Give a child no shield to hide behind as he grows, and the social spotlight can burn badly, making him feel worthless.  A child who is constantly on the raw end of negative experiences such as jeering or ridicule for being a nobody can become suicidal later on, if that persecution continues long enough without internal fortification to the contrary.

Viewing your child only as an appendage to yourself is short-sighted.  He must be given the tools to grow an independent capable strength of his own, in as many areas as possible.  All through his childhood, you must be “for him”, not he “for you.”

As we mature, we all eventually discover that we are not just a football coach or a carpenter or the city clerk or a singer, or a good husband or mother.  We are something that we can’t quite comprehend, something beyond what are jobs are, somehow, someway made in the image of God.  To understand that we were made solely FOR GOD (Isaiah 43:7) takes us a lifetime.

At first, it helps us to be the bicycle rider, to survive emotionally and psychologically.  God Himself designed it this way.  In fact, if truth be told, He, our Heavenly Father, steadies the back of the bike seat just a tad bit longer as we’re getting underway.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Lovers relate face to face, friends…side by side.”  Wise parents cultivate this “side by side” business as their children are growing up, while God slowly and deftly brings them face to face with himself!  It begins to dawn on the emerging adult that there was another hand on his bicycle seat.

“To matter” is so important to a healthy childhood, we, as parents, need to look for ways to fan SOME flame in our child…many little flames, in fact, even if it begins with applause only over being the family’s best napkin-folder or the best one to make the baby laugh.  But, eventually we should aim to deliberately, systematically, and progressively develop accomplished, studied, and trained academics, domestic skills, talents, and financial/entrepreneurial skills in our growing child, in accordance with his own bent.

Watch him carefully for clues about what the hands-on skills and talents might be, because they begin to show themselves early on, even in toddlers, if you are alert to them.  Which END of a project does he run to—the technical, the procedural, the oversight, the advertising?  Is he engineer material?  a counselor-type?  musical?  athletic?  botanical?  artistic? inventor-type? writer-type, always picking the precise word rather than the general one? scientific? dramatic? cooker? sewer? carpenter? organizational?  Identify his tendencies and proclivities.  Take careful note of his speedy agilities with certain tasks.

When you find one, encourage it.  Loudly praise it.  Nurture it and provide for its development.  Then, if you see it manifested more and more, get him apprenticed in it!  Build up the shield and you’ll build up the person behind the shield, simultaneously.  This is as vital to your child as food, clothing and shelter.  It will, in fact, help him survive even without the other three!

Home Management Tips: Brave bold bulldozing
Principle: Spend a lot of time now conquering each and every department of your home to spend less time later.

Take dominion and refine each area.  Act like you are in college and the task of conquering your home is your final semester’s project that will determine your course grade.  Approach your home like a Ph.D. candidate.  Become a Pretty-Hefty-Duty mom who is tells those Piled-Higher-and-Deeper domains to conform or else!

Here are some of a home’s departments to rein in and reign over!
• Deep cleaning schedule set up that includes refrigerator, stove, attic, etc. as well as beginning a companion HABIT of working on one a day! Main living areas: visually appealing and homey; enough comfortable chairs for guests; pleasant decorations on the walls; an inviting front door (order our Home Staging book for much more on this topic).
• Kitchen cupboards and counters arranged, sorted to maximize efficiency.
• Backup supplies of food and paper products.
• Hospitality preparations well thought out ahead of time and easily accessible, for implementation at a moment’s notice).
• Linens, sorted, with adequate supplies.
• Everyone’s closets, conquered.
• Homeschooling materials shelved and labeled for each child; non-current materials in labeled boxes.
• Cars: clean and well maintained, including a car maintenance record for each vehicle and a tickler system for oil changes, etc.
• Accounting receipts etc. organized in file folders – a place for everything and everything in its place; up-to-date logbook of monthly finances.  (See our booklets on family papers, and financial topics for more on this one.)

Bottom line: get organized.  You simply don’t have time to go on being unorganized.  Being organized SAVES you time.  You can grab things quicker and reduce dislocation stress as everyone yells at each other, trying to find even the most basic of things (pencil, papers, shoes, scarves, mittens, keys).

Fix up, finalize and publicize the correct place for everything.  Begin with labeled cardboard records storage boxes, if you need to; they’re far cheaper than buying furniture!  The ones with removable, uniform lids are a dream to handle.

Use meal times as a short leash.  Right before everyone sits at the table, you can say, “Let’s look around the room: is everything back in its place?”  For everyone’s sake, train each child to put away each thing he finishes before he is allowed to pull out the next thing.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The organization of your home won’t be conquered in a day, either.  But we can hope it will be so after six months of steady focus.  Year after year of chaos begins to define a childhood.  Give your child the habit of order for his own future life, by the pleasant memory of it in his childhood home.

Kitchen tip: Spiff up your spices
Artists have a palette full of beautiful colors to work from.  For a cook, spices fulfill a similar purpose.  Spices make your bland rice into exotic Indian cuisine.  Indian and Chinese food tastes so good because they had to do SOMETHING to make rice appealing to eat, yet AGAIN.  Marco Polo went to China to gather rich spices; Columbus risked his life in search of them, too.  Just because we have an abundance of them, don’t forget what a gift from God they are.  Their sheer variety is mind-boggling.  So, gather and organize your spices extremely well, once and for all.

For starters: throw out that flimsy whirligig-thing-a-ma-jig that you currently keep your spices on.  Every time you give it a twirl, half your spices fall off.  2/3rds of your spices are hidden behind your front challengers and never even get used.  And who KNOWS where each spice IS, in the first place, because they aren’t alphabetized.  Round and round we go, irritatingly wasting time, until we hang it up and don’t use any spices, ‘cause we couldn’t find the right one, quick enough.

Go to Home Depot or any lumber yard and purchase several 1” x 1” wooden sticks; they come in 4’ lengths; redwood is nice.  Have the gentleman in the lumber department cut them in foot long sections, or wider if your kitchen shelves are wider.  Then come home and start stacking them in your shelves to make high risers like those used by choirs!  Stack them from back to front, facing you.  Stack five high in the back row, and three high in the next row forward, then use the shelf itself for your front row.  Then place your spices in alphabetical order upon these nice neat risers, perfectly sized to fit your spices.  Just opening your cupboard will be an inspiration.  You’ll be able to grab each and every spice quickly and you’ll LOOK like a good cook, even if you aren’t one yet!

Sewing Tip: Sew through your closet
Life isn’t just a sea of endless free time, so we have to function from priorities.  Before you add MORE sewing projects, of crafts and quilts, into your life, conquer what you HAVE first.  Sew through all of your closets.  Fix or pitch everything in them that needs help.  Over the course of the next consecutive days, wear the clothes from one end of your closet to the other.  Today, repair and fix the outfits you and your children will wear tomorrow.  Stay one day ahead.  Don’t quit until you are done.

Unless you want to become a crazy woman, it makes no sense to ADD ON additional sewing projects until everyone’s basic clothing needs are THOROUGHLY conquered.  Save the crafts for retirement, if ever.  Tend to your family first.  Make your children look VISUALLY like they are cared for, not like they just fell off the last dump truck that passed through town.  You never get a second chance to raise a family.  Focus.

More on sewing machine savvy:  If and when that hour arrives when you go through the portal of Craig’s List or E-Bay in search of a new used machine, be sure you come forth with four things: 1. a user’s manual (a machine without the manual is practically worthless; you may not be able to find an old manual to match your machine, afterwards); 2. a power cord, a pedal, and a zipper foot; (ask specifically about EACH of these) 3. proof that the machine was serviced recently; and 4. details in writing about how it will be shipped.  Insist that they thoroughly pack it, perhaps even with bubble plastic secured with packaging tape around all the little nooks and crannies of the machine itself, as well as its outside.  If it comes with the handle broken or the thread spindle broken, you’ll want your money back and can’t get that unless you have a written guarantee.

Marriage Tip: Quelling quarrels
G. K. Chesterton, a brilliant witty British journalist (born 1874) who was known for distilling keen universals about human nature, once wrote: “Marriage is one long lifetime conversation punctuated by quarrels!”

What is hilarious about marital quarrels is that they can erupt at ANY moment, over ANY issue.  There are no “danger ahead” signs, ever.  The battle is “joined” in a flash, and we are SURE our perceptions are right on (they probably ARE!...and so are your husband’s).  We fly into a frenzy to get our point understood and acted upon immediately.  It is important to assign blame at the earliest minute and trump our mate with the winning blow.  There THAT issue is settled, and the universe has been put right.  Never mind that we emerge war-torn and bedraggled and can’t function for the remainder of the day!

Here are six wifely coping strategies:

One:

  Let the other guy win!  Now there is a novel idea!  If you are sure you should go right and he wants to go left, let him.  Curl up and read a good book while he wanders all over the place!  Develop a private life despite the direction of all circumstances.  If there is no moral wrong in it, there is some way that you can go along with it and not only survive, but have a good time doing so!  If you express your point of view and it is clobbered by an opinion to the contrary, and not even listened to at the moment, demurely escape.  Go work on your favorite project and soon it won’t matter very much at all…when you get lost in intrigue over your own pursuits!  Bulldogs live short lives!

Two:

  Talk about it LATER.  There IS a later.  In the heat of an argument we think NOW is all there is.  Let emotions cool, get involved in something pleasant, and then re-talk it from the OTHER person’s point of view first.  If you’ll BEGIN there, it takes fuel out of the fire, because your spouse’s desperate need to be understood is satisfied FIRST.  Also, “later” will afford many examples of cause and effect in your own life and in other people’s lives that will serve to show the point more delicately, over the long haul.  This allows for deep growth and change in both of you without the embarrassment of losing an argument.  The goal is not to win, but for both of you to grow.

Three:

  You don’t have to take everything to the mat…even if you are right about something (which is nearly all the time! and so is he, from his perspective).  Let some things go…let lots of things go.  It simply won’t matter this time next year, or after your city burns down, or the world ends.  Practice getting up above your life: soar up there somewhere in the stratosphere in your thinking and look down upon your wee house, and your wee urgent passions and desires.  Become a BIG PICTURE person.  It is possible to hold a private quiet conviction about something that doesn’t match your husband’s at all, and never will, while you cooperate with him, doing the exact opposite of your personal inclination.  This may come as a surprise to you: happily married persons can go to the grave with some aspects of some issues still unresolved!

Four:

  Compare your life to the lives of six billion other people.  Not too bad.  C. S. Lewis observed, “If you think life was supposed to be a palace, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you think life is a second class hotel, it won’t be too bad.”  Billions of people out there have it far worse off than you do; most of them would GLADLY trade lives with you, problems and all.

Five:

  No one can control your mind or MAKE you be miserable.  You ALLOW yourself to be miserable.

Six:

  If you can find ANY humor in it—devise a witty sentence or two about it—you can be within each other’s arms within seconds!  “All I wanted was my own way!!!”

Devotions: Fleas on a hot griddle
When it comes to prayer, the majority of us are like fleas on a hot griddle.  We all know how to shoot up furtive prayers.  “Oh Lord help me with this; Oh Lord help me with that”.  But I challenge you to stop “American multi-tasking” and ONLY pray for just five minutes.  No, the plants don’t need to be watered at this very minute, even if they die.  You will be stunned at your inability.  Some people—maybe even some pastors—have never done this in their entire lives!

For once, in addition to praying WHILE you fix dinner and WHILE you do your jogging, instead, go to the attic or the basement, or pull over on a side road and turn off the ignition and sit there, for only ONE purpose, to pray.  You’ll find that your body is pumping, and thumping and surging to dart off to go DO something.  Hog-tie and sit on yourself.

Just adore.  Take a break from thinking about yourself.  Try thinking about just God, and MAKE yourself put together a few fledgling sentences to praise Him only for Himself, without hurrying to do it.  Wasted time?  I don’t think so.  Recently, the God you worship just finished escorting and assigning and overseeing the immigration of 200,000+ Haitian souls into some sort of spiritual eternity, while at the same time kept the duckbilled platypus’s right AND left kidneys functioning.  He took detailed notes of alarming things said in Iranian and Syrian military rooms as they devise current strategies to assault Israel, AND continued to stoke the fire of the sun.  He made sure a little kid’s brain in Mozambique appropriately went click when seeing the first letter of his alphabet, changing some visual symbol into actual understanding (how do you do that?)…sprouted several zillion seeds under the earth in the dark, AND made an army of white blood cells swim upstream to heal a deep gouge a man just cut in his finger while cutting a board.

And just an hour ago, He kissed a lonely old geriatric believer in her hard bed in Poland with His sweet compassion, and in Saudi Arabia deftly coaxed a Muslim out of Islam, forever, by a personal appearance in a dream, at just the right time.  Despite all this, for some strange reason YOUR stammering lips were to him, “to die for”.  He saves and stacks your feeble prayers up under his altar (Rev. 8:3-4) and puts your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).

Motherhood Tips 5

Thursday, 11. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

Please forward this page to other moms who watch over emerging persons, all the way from those darling little ankle biters, to those full blown six foot youth dudes, whose blood currently pumps voluminously into the stomach and hormones, but as of yet, very little of it is reaching the brain.

Parenting Tip: Stick figure eye-openers
Nathan the prophet artfully made King David acknowledge his sin by seeing it clearly on someone else first.  By the time David heard “thou art the man”, his face was on the floor in seconds…no more convincing or explaining needed.

So, too, we can help our children objectively see their own behavior on paper by drawing little stick figures to show them the issue at hand. This is one of the best discipline strategies you’ll ever hear.  It works wonders.

By using a spiral notebook dedicated to this cause or commandeering the backsides of 8 ½ X 11 USED sheets of paper, saved for this purpose, you can frequently shape your child’s behavior through sketches, via showing it to him so visually and concretely. Use an entire sheet, for each concept for clarity’s sake.  If three issues are involved simultaneously, use three sheets of paper.  Draw your figures large, loose and fast. Sketch the scenario, in the heat of battle, at a moment’s notice.

Four simple examples:

One:

When Ted races in declaring that Amy kicked him in the backyard, you quickly grab your paper and say, “well, let’s sit down and look at this awful thing together.”  You sit closely on the couch together, and begin to quickly draw.  Sketch two figures, one whose foot is raised, contacting the shin of the other figure.  Then you say, “Now what do you suppose caused that little guy’s foot to go up like that?  Do you suppose something came out of the MOUTH of the first guy, to cause the FOOT of the second guy to come up so rudely like that? Draw an arrow from the mouth of Ted to the head of Amy.  Then you swirl a big circle between both figures and show that one behavior CAUSES another behavior.  And your little guy will quietly say: “oh.”  End of issue.  Back outside.

Two:

Or sketch a large water barrel filled halfway with water.  (No issue yet, but you want to AVOID an issue with this one.)  Say: “This is mommy.  Normally, mommy has lots of things to do (briskly shade in the half filled water with the side of your pencil).  Normally, the half-filled barrel is empty for Susie to be able to enjoy.  But right now, we have company coming in 20 minutes and mommy’s barrel is totally full.  (Sketch little waves on top of the barrel and shade in the entire barrel.)  If you try to talk with mommy or need something from mommy, you’ll bump my barrel and I’ll slosh all over you.  Stay away from mommy for the next few minutes!!!”

Three:

“Helen has a ring of personal space around her.  Sketch a happy face, with a three inch circle around her.  If you grab Helen’s book, you’ve pierced her circle, her personal space.  You have to stay OUTSIDE her circle, her own private personal space and ask nicely.”  (Then erase a little hole in the circle through which Helen passes the book.)

Four:

Sketch stick figures of ten people at the dinner table, but only Freddie is constantly talking.  Sketch Fred’s big mouth wide open with stars coming out of his mouth, surrounding his entire body.  Then proceed to sketch frowns on all the other faces all around the table.

Conclusion:

I tell you, this cheap art will work wonders.  Save ‘em to use with your next child!!!

Home Management: Mayors of cities
If you view your home just as a place to crash, you’ll move from chaos to chaos, the more years you live and the more children you birth.  But if you’ll view your home as a very important place, a veritable city over which you are the mayor, you’ll move from order to order, and from strength to strength.  You never learn how to manage a home by just existing.  This is a kind of knowledge kept from you only until you buckle down and DO it.  This is knowledge gained ONLY by experience, and lots of it.

In the early 1800’s, pastors used to write letters to their daughters before they married, telling them how to get ready, while they were still adolescents.  They emphasized not depending upon their talents, or their good looks and high fashion, their drawing talent, their beautiful eyes, their agile waltzing, their lilting gorgeous singing voices, but to, instead, begin cultivating the ability to place a TASTY bowl of soup in front of guests, to begin to keep the laundry STEADILY tidy, as a well formed habit, to know which garden tools to use to what purpose, and to begin a little financial log of money personally earned and spent?

These pastors stressed to their daughters that a man of high influence will have many domestic demands placed upon his future home with many guests and much hospitality called for continuously, and he will be carefully looking for a woman who has MANAGEMENT skills, someone who could deftly take over that future home that he would entrust to her.

Seek to prepare your daughters to be fit to be First Ladies, to be able to run the domestic part of the White House, hosting dinners to receive world class dignitaries and you’ll begin to get the picture.  They will really be in charge of much more than that for another better kingdom…even in their own ho-hum humble homes.  You don’t just wake up capable; you practice!

The public schools have failed miserably in this domestic charge.  They taught young girls to dissect frogs for anatomy class (a skill they will never use again), but removed courses in home economics out of the schools, no longer teaching skills those girls will need every day of their lives.  I have known of young mothers, so overwhelmed, so shaken with their domestic duties day in and day out, who have locked themselves in their bedrooms, cars, closets and let their children hang from the chandeliers, they were so ill prepared.  In our day and age, some men come home to houses filled with electronics, with no chairs!  And some children dress themselves off the floor.

Mothers, look at your current daughters.  When they mop up a spill on the floor, do they look and act confidently or do they function listlessly?  When they approach dinner time, do they look as if they’ve never SEEN one before?  Where is the apron, the rolled up sleeves, the confident look in the eye?  Begin today to take hold of yourself and your daughters and reverse this mediocrity that is plummeting countless American homes into chaos.  Say no to outside activities and DVD’s inside the home until you possess your home.  REALLY possess it.

Kitchen Tips: Seven victory meals
Because every job has an infinite dimension to it, we gain mastery in this world only by narrowing our focus.  If you’ll pick out seven good “down-home-meals”, that are suitable for serving to guests and prepare them over and over again, you’ll end your cooking blues… AND your feeling of incompetence.  If you want to become super competent, try cooking these seven meals week after week, steadily, for three months.  Yup, the same things.  This gives you 12 shots at making the same meal!

During these repetitions, purposely IMPROVE.  Deliberately seek to shave your minutes and angle for ways to multitask. WRITE down each of your seven meals in a notebook, one per page, and then continue to write all over that thing EACH time you prepare it.  Function from your notebook.  Which thing did you do first?  What COULD you have done better?  While you are sautéing one thing, you are chopping another, or quickly washing the pan from the thing before.  Write your improvements down, either because you just DID them and they worked our great, or because you WANT to try a different method, or sequence, next time.

Your goal?  To be able to prepare this meal effortlessly, in record time, on the backstroke, mindlessly, WHILE TALKING TO DINNER GUESTS.

Make your 7 day plan around the meals you already do somewhat well, or if you feel bone dry, with no ideas at all, try arranging your meals largely around meats: chili, meat loaf, salmon, chicken, roast, spaghetti, and popcorn and apples, (for your final easy day).

If money is tight, do it with soups: pinto bean soup, wild rice salad meal, split pea soup, black beans, lentil soup, corn soup, vegetable soup.  Let the weekly grocery store loss-leader sales guide you.

(If you are striving to eat mostly raw, you still need to know HOW to prepare these types of meals for others who don’t eat raw…to have conquered them in detail.)

The reason we don’t gain confidence in the kitchen is because we endlessly change plans!  (Translation:  fly by the seat of our pants, night after night!)  Try this 7X12 strategy and you’ll be an expert in three months, the envy of the entire neighborhood, and all your relatives!!!  If you don’t try it, you’ll still be three months older either with the expertise or without it! I know some 80 year olds who STILL don’t know the exact number of minutes it takes to boil a soft boiled egg at their altitude and have it come out just right, or how to make basic old fashioned oatmeal.  It can happen to all of us.  Just keep changin’ plans!!!

Sewing: Set-up
Because you are going to begin with a simple goal of learning how to do basic maintenance sewing, easy alterations, mend holes, etc. sewing for only about five or ten minutes a day, as needed, it is best to have your sewing machine up and your little sewing center all organized and ready to go.  If it takes you an hour and a half to drag out all of your equipment each time, you simply won’t do it at all.  Your family will experience none of the blessings of having a capable seamstress around.

If you’ll go to the trouble NOW to set it all up, somewhere in a little out of the way corner, or down a hallway, then when Charlie tears a hole in his pants, you’ll be able to mend it in five minutes.  Or if your hem just came out, you’ll zoom right to the machine to conquer it before you have to run out the door.  If you look at Lucy and see that the thrift store dress you bought her looks more bedraggled than you had previously thought, at three sizes too big, you’ll be able to quickly get it from her, run a seam up the entire back and in minutes she can have it back on again, looking super tidy just like a King’s kid.

Again, remind yourself that you are the mayor, and this is a part of your city.  Build it up in a corner, and then manage it.  Just like a mayor would build a useful bridge at a busy intersection.

Right next to your machine, on the right, have a flat tray, like a surgeon’s or dentist’s tray with all your tools clearly visible.  Refrain from using a shoebox which you’d have to rummage through each time, costing you extra minutes to dive in there to find each small tool.  Put a thick terry cloth hand towel on the bottom of the tray so that things don’t roll around or clang noisily as you quickly pick them up and set them down.  Lay another dishcloth, super thin, lightweight, over the tray to keep the dust off.  Store the tray in a high place, on top of a bookcase perhaps, so that your child or dog won’t swallow your pins.

Further thoughts on sewing machine strategy from the previous blog (Motherhood Tip 4):
Sew on your current machine until it crashes.  Sew it right into the ground.  But, as a reminder from last week, when it DOES crash, refrain from taking it to a repair guy.  It will cost you $100 a crack, these days.  Instead, put that money toward a used Janome or a used Bernina.  Start saving now, so that the day it crashes, you can march right onto E-Bay and shift vehicles…schmooze right into the big league of Rolls Royce machines.  Prepare for it.

Marriage: The highly flammable headship/submission topic
There is a sharp cliff and huge black abyss off the edges and down both sides of all Biblical truths.  This is why Solomon hollered out for WISDOM…the ability to apply Biblical truth to all situations.  The treacherous thing about biting into that tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that it had some good in it…twisted good…some cactus hidden in the bite.

If we throw headship totally away, like the women’s libbers are hell-bent to do, claiming we don’t need men at all, we’ll all rush headlong like a bunch of lemmings off the cliff of homosexuality and stop procreating the entire human race.

From Isaiah 3:12 we can discern that it isn’t exactly a sparkling moment in history to fill our government offices and our homes with women in leadership over men.  It seems to indicate it is a black night.  Let us realize that we never enter the night by grand leaps.  We get there by believing in the dusk of half truths…one mincing step at a time.  Eve didn’t believe in headship either from God OR her husband, and look where that has gotten us.  Sometimes what is behind a biblical principle doesn’t fully appear until we’ve walked in it for awhile.  The treasures are often hidden, kept only for the penitent, opened sometimes, even by the door of suffering.

But there is a dark abyss off the other side as well.  For a man to have headship without the benefit of any intuitive objectivity from the wife, is a blind headship.  Her helps come from insights, intuitiveness, hunches, social antenna, too, not just the bedroom, or helping him lift the wheelbarrow.  For a woman to have to STUFF all input, year after year, swelling up like an old vinyl balloon, sure as shootin’ it’ll pop someday.  She’ll go from fixing the man dinner, to divorce in one half hour.  No discussion at the end, because there has been none allowed all along the way.

Soooooooooo the upshot?  Submission is about OUTCOMES, not INPUT.  Give your husband the benefit and gift of your wise, loving input, all the time.  Be honest with him.  Don’t stuff it.  Your husband hears you, even if he does not respond right away, or ever.  But do not demand outcomes.  Say it, say it with each new circumstance if you must, say it at an opportune time when things are calm, but then see to it that you habitually return to take up your post of loving him as you would ANY human being, with deference and kindness. Earnestly pray, and pray some more, and leave outcomes to God.  If your husband takes the exact opposite direction (and there is no MORAL wrong in it), entrust yourself to your creator.  1 Peter: 2:13 through the end of chapter 3 is your “centering text” for all that happens.  Read it ALL as if it applies to you only.  (By the way, if there IS moral wrong involved, go get help.)

But for the majority of irritating/maddening moments/cases that all marriages encounter at one time or another, if you pray, you can trust that God will do a far better job of rearranging your husband’s head (as well as yours) than you will ever do.  Remember that God holds over the man (and you) the final judgment.  To learn of God HOW to navigate the current rough patch, pray…cry out for wisdom.  He WILL give you insight AS YOU GO, if you will pray.  Prayer will turn your view of your husband from your (for the moment) vicious enemy, to a beggarly, needy brother.

We can profoundly influence and enlarge each other, but seeking to remake each other will be frustration with no end. There is a place where we stop and our mate begins, just as real as where the land stops and the sea begins.

Devotions: A different sort of people
C. S. Lewis wrote: “We might think that God wanted simple obedience to a set of rules whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.  In heaven “there will be every occasion for being the sort of people that we can become only as the result of doing such acts here.  The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character:  the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a heaven for them – that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, unshakeable kind of happiness God intends for us (source: Mere Christianity, pages 80-81).

Motherhood Tips 4

Thursday, 04. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

Please forward to other mothers who spend the majority of their social contact hours relating with persons yet in progress…somewhere between just walking and sky-diving.

Parenting Tip: Training vs. tyranny
Parenting is not really very much about punishment at all, it is about TRAINING.  Anticipating the problems and TRAINING the responses.  Your goal is to train so well ahead of time, and THOROUGHLY THROUGH and AFTER each encounter, that your child will eventually rarely need punishment at all.

Training involves talking about expectations ahead of time (tactical psychological warfare) for high-schoolers, but involves actual practice SESSIONS in the flesh for the youngins.  (Please note, the common examples I use below are in everyone ELSE’s home, not yours!  No, I did not look into your home just this morning to find these examples.  They are everywhere.  You’re among very friendly, understanding OTHER mothers just like yourself.)

Let’s look more closely at building the foundation, what those practice SESSIONS look like. Have as your goal, to take some time in small quiet moments, (you DO have SOME of these throughout your days), to raise the standard of acceptable behavior in your child’s MIND. When your child is peaceable, take that time to inspire, to describe, to practice what obedience FEELS like in the flesh…CALMLY.

A horse trainer puts his horses through the paces in PRIVATE, BEFORE they encounter the spotlights and the distractions.  And after the young horses have been in the spotlights and he notes the weak areas, he brings them back to the practice arena again and again, to diminish what can go wrong in the spotlights the next time…he actually OVER-TRAINS his beloved horses to ensure it WON’T go wrong.  This is precisely what a professional musician does.  Practices like crazy, and then performs.  Whatever passage falls apart under pressure gets hauled back to the practice room to give it “what for” once again!

Train your child to come to you at your FIRST REQUEST in your own living room.  Or your own backyard.  Practice it.  Practice it when he is happy.  Give him a big reward at first.  Praise him.  Practice WHISPERING the same command and getting the same obedient response.  Then ratchet it up a level.  Practice it when he starts getting absorbed in something else and doesn’t want to.  Practice it.  Repeat it.  Go over it again.  The goal?  First call, instant response, cheerful attitude every time.  Don’t quit until this is engraved into his autonomic nervous system, and he knows you mean business.

Now this is the anatomy of a training session.  This method can be used to obtain obedience in any area:  It can be done over what to eat, what to wear, how to do a chore, how to sit in a car-seat,  how to not talk when a guest IS talking, etc. over 1,000 points of a civilized life.

One:

  First of all you have a nice quiet talk about all the people who do this attribute splendidly, in your current life, among relatives.  If it’s applicable, you can also point out historical and biblical characters who were models of exemplary behavior.

Two:

  Then ask a few questions.  “When Daddy sits in the car and buckles his seat belt, does he thrash about or scream?  Have you EVER seen daddy scream putting his seat belt on?  Have you ever seen Julie’s daddy, down the street, do that?  Do YOU want to still be screaming when YOU ARE A DADDY over such a little thing as a car seat?  Have you ever seen your mom throw her food?  Have you ever seen Aunt Tizzy slam her book down?  Have you ever seen Uncle Harry hit and bite your grandmother!!!  Barking dogs do these things, not people!

“Now, because you CHOSE to scream, thinking you WERE a barking dog, or CHOSE to throw something in the house, thinking you were in a baseball field, you will now face the consequences, so that you can make BETTER choices next time.”

Three:

  Then you practice what obedience feels like in the flesh.

If the child protests over anything you ask him to do, you make sure and have him do a little bit MORE of the thing he just protested about…until he can do it peacefully without the protest.  You surprise him with this outcome LATER, not during the crisis.  Just get through the crisis.  Then later in the day have a quiet talk, “You know when I asked you to do such and such, earlier in the day, you threw a little fit.  I just want you to clearly understand that every little fit will always COST you something…even if you don’t see the results right away.  They WILL eventually happen to you…EVERY time, so now:

…because you threw a fit over the shoes or shirt I asked you to wear today, you will wear them AGAIN tomorrow…and if you throw an ADDITIONAL fit right now over THAT news, you will be wearing them again the next day.

…because you threw a fit when you got in your car seat before we went to town, I will now bring the car seat in the house and set up the sand timer next to it and you will sit in the car seat until the sand runs out (just a minute or two) QUIETLY, and if you have trouble with that little task, we will do it again, when you least expect it and when you are happily trying to do something else.

…because you threw a fit over the broccoli, you will now have ONLY the broccoli, BEFORE you get anything else to eat.”  Then just place one tiny lonely spoonful on an empty plate, placing the full plate of preferred food immediately next to it so that the child SEES his upcoming reward.  Make it a policy that with all food only serve a tiny portion of everything.  You can always dollop on seconds, and thirds later, after they have eaten the little bit of everything.  You will waste next to no food this way.  Families who don’t adopt this plan with all food, waste unspeakable amounts of food/money, feeding their trash cans.

Meet each protest with a protest of your own…a quiet dignified one.  Every time.  If your goal is to train up a magnanimous adult and not a rigid willful one, you’ve got to train IN the flexibility, adaptability, and suppleness, and train OUT the habit of the quickly formed smoldering storms.

Home Management Tip: Hands that work
Wear green gloves.  Or thick blue ones.  Yellow housecleaning gloves are worthless.  They tear on the way home.  Get good thick work gloves at a janitorial supply store or a hardware store and wear them frequently.  Get one size larger than your hand size, so that you can slip them on and off effortlessly many times a day, plunging your hands in and out of all kinds of water, grime, grease, and sludge.  Wearing these gloves dissolves all squeamishness over any unpleasant job.  So “armed” there is no job that will defy you, no matter how dirty.  Because you gain the upper “hand” physically, you gain it psychologically, too.  Put ‘em on, whistle Dixie, and go tackle your house.

Kitchen Tip: Triglyceride euphoria
Coconut oil is fabulous for your health.  It has completely replaced butter in our house.  Order a big bucket of it and dig in.  You can have 1 or 2 large TABLESPOONS of it a day to good effect.  It has medium chain triglycerides in it seldom found in most other foods, that your body’s cells simply go wild over.  We think organic virgin cold pressed (expeller pressed) is best…but any coconut oil will do, for awhile, if money is tight.  If you need a source from which to order it: a homeschooling family in California gets it straight “from the coconuts!”  order at 1-877-841-2861 or see their website at http://thehomegrownfamily.com/ and click on the open coconut in the upper right.

Sewing Tip: Machines, the good, the bad and the ugly
Let’s talk machines.  The verdict is out there.  Every big-city sewing machine repair guy knows the answer to which are the best machines, because they and their assistants fix 3 to 4,000 of them per year, including all the public school machines, if they’re good and their reputation gets out.  I’ve spent not a few hours hob-knobbing with repair guys over machines in several different cities.  I always beg to watch (thinking I’ll figure out how to fix them and save money for the future).  Never happens, but I DO find out lots of OTHER things by talking to them WHILE they work.  Bottom line: you want a machine that is seldom in the repair shops.

That would be a…?  …A Bernina.  “Nothing sews like a Bernina.  Nothing.”  (Those are the words of their own world-wide uncontested logo…and apparently most everyone agrees).  ‘tis the Rolls-Royce and BMW of sewing machines, all wrapped up in one.  It produces a perfect patented hook stitch every time.  Crafted in Switzerland in a white gloved manufacturing plant, dotted with precision scientists.  Impeccable manufacturing history.  Owned by one positively brilliant Swiss family for generations.  The last machine they rolled out involved 6M dollars to design, involved over 19 new patents…and took them two years to develop.  Cost?  $17,000.  Too bad your embroidery sewing machine can’t also be your house!  Solution?  Hunt for used basic Bernina machines on E-Bay, not too old, because it is hard to get older parts for these.

If you can’t find an affordable Bernina, purchase a good solid Janome.  Janome has done its homework and is an affordable utility machine made in Japan, not China.  (They even have just produced a brand new treadle sewing machine to replace the old clunkers if your grandma has a spare old treadle around, and you wanta be prepared if the power goes out.  The Amish are replacing their old machines with these.  A dealer in New Jersey has been offering a good deal on these.)  If you use inferior machines, it won’t be long before you are using no machines at all…too much hassle.

If you’ve already got a basic machine, save your pennies to purchase a serger next so that the inside of your garment seams can look just as good as the outside…like store bought “ready to wear.”  The Janome Professional 1100D is top of the line excellent and if you don’t want to have to thread one BabyLock Eclipse, Imagine or Evolve priced from lowest to highest threads itself.  Look on E-Bay.

Unless you plan on spending a great deal of time and money sewing, skip the embroidery machines.  Pay someone a little something to embroider a collar or two FOR YOU or purchase little pre-made appliqués and hand sew them on.  You’d need a whale of a lot of little two inch embroidery projects to compensate for a 5 to 10 G machine!  Of course if you’re obsessive compulsive about colored thread, go for it.  Used.

Marriage Tip: Absentee husbands
Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife had an absentee husband.  Every time she kissed him good-bye, it was a long time before he hugged her hello… meeting him often again and again only on stage or on national TV.  Suzanna Wesley had an absentee husband.  He lived on the road as a traveling galloping pastor, periodically galloping through the home just long enough to start the babies…all 17 of them.  Many women cope with absentee husbands.  Husbands who are even HOME and STILL absent!  Some women wistfully dream of their husbands getting a home-based business (99% of which fail, if they are the ONLY means of income) so that they can be home to HELP with HER job, too, not just in the evenings but for every single hour of the day.  Some husbands work too late at night.  So what do we do?  Tell him, remind him, sometimes heartfully implore him, and then promptly FORGET IT and GO ON, at least today.  Do the same thing tomorrow.  Adjust and adapt and GO ON.

Ruth Graham said to the children as soon as Billy Graham took off down the road…”OK, children, race you to the attic… let’s go clean ‘er up !!!  As soon as pastor Wesley was out of sight, Suzanna Wesley started in on grammar lessons… AGAIN… holding John and Charles (the profoundly scholarly and spiritually strong founders of the Methodist church) under her wise, exacting, all-seeing intellect.

Once I asked an old German lady how she coped with her husband being gone so much: “She looked at me puzzled, “Why I just get busy and do my projects, I get sooooooo much DONE, when he is not home!”  And she had a VERY happy marriage when he WAS home!  Some women have the reverse problem, a husband who is HOME too much!  But that is another day’s topic!  I tell ya, if it isn’t one problem, …it’s another….

Devotions Tip:
Prayer is your own private “Mount of Transfiguration.”  You simply come out of the closet different from when you went in.  Prayer has its holding power for hours afterwards.  And over a lifetime, where you spent your time, how many trips up that mountain you disciplined yourself to take, can actually be seen in your face.

Motherhood Tips 3

Thursday, 28. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

Forward this link on to other moms who would like a “spot” of hot tea?...hot-tips tea smile 

Parenting Tip: Inconvenient vigilance
The cost of achieving Olympic gold medals is vigilance.  That means exercising discipline ONLY over my EVERY hour for TEN-plus years, with no let-up, because if I slough off for even an hour or two, it will SHOW in the end!  Then I could sadly find that if I was sloppy or careless for too many days in that pursuit, I’m not going to get the gold.  So, too, the cost for turning my cantankerous child into a magnanimous adult means vigilance over responding to EVERY attempted defiance.

If you don’t like the behavior your child is PRESENTLY displaying today, you won’t like it BETTER tomorrow.  If this behavior won’t look good on a 16-year old, don’t allow it now.  Good parenting requires truckloads of inconvenient vigilance and maintaining grit in your resolve.  Simply outwit, out-maneuver, out-smart, out-“stubborn” your child EVERY TIME when it comes to defiant behavior of any kind.  If you coddle your child through a fit now, you may find yourself STILL coddling him when he is 35 years old.  We’ve all seen it happen.

You achieve this by making your child’s every excursion into defiance VERY, very costly, not to you, but to him/her.  You can do this because in the beginning, for a few short years, God has given you TOTAL control over every scrap of food, clothing and shelter your child needs, as well as how your child will spend every minute of every day.  The implication of this is that these are the tools to get the job done.  You hold all the cards.

When your child is having a fit, pull rank.  Live above it.  Calmly and strategically make life miserable for him, in some little way, as a direct result.  Show him it NEVER works to his advantage.  Go at this training relentlessly like a horse trainer, putting a stubborn animal through the paces yet AGAIN, of cause and effect, cause and effect.  Get this message, that “he’ll never win if he is defiant”, through his little brain, into his spirit, into his stomach, in every way that you can.

It is helpful to have your child repeat the phrase, “Obedience brings blessing…disobedience brings trouble!” in and around and through every head-knocker you have with him.  Have him repeat is over and over and over again, ad nauseum, day in and day out, stay at it, ensuring that your child can not only say the phrase, but live the phrase.  (Sometimes in quiet moments, you can even start the phrase and have your child finish it: “Obedience brings……… ?”)  And then proceed to SHOW him how true it is in his little life.  Help him get the concept, intellectually AND viscerally.

You only have to do this for years and years!  You will THINK they just don’t “get it.”  But then one day, with every child, way past when you think it SHOULD have happened… poof, you’ll notice that for days now you haven’t had one head-knocker over anything!  The defiance just silently goes away.  This is the formula: “begin with the LAW, and then you can relax into grace.”  Many, many parents begin with grace and have to lay down the law in high school when drugs and guns appear.

You must thoroughly understand that your very young child’s fit/tantrum/sullen foot-dragging is not the result of a long “experience-base” with life, or of a seasoned reason.  He has no idea what is good for him.  It springs from one driving compulsion…self-indulgence.  So in the middle of the scene/crisis, don’t think it is REALLY something else, “Oh, he doesn’t feel well this time, or had a hard sleepless night.  If I pacify him just this once by giving in, then it’ll all be better.”  Nada.  Remember from whence it comes and stand like a brick wall.  It is NO GIFT to your CHILD, to let your child win.  It may calm down the moment, smooth things over, and look better in public, but all you did was bury the problem.  Stay unflinchingly FIRM.  You can always be wonderfully soft and tender for all the other aspects of the day!  It takes both a wise judicious firmness EVERY time it is needed and an habitual loving softness to reflect the true nature of God whom your child will ultimately come to love to obey over a lifetime, through this strong, consistent childhood apprenticeship under you!!!

Home Management Tip: The sure road to relief
Since maintenance of a home in all its details won’t go away, SOMEBODY has to do it (your children will help, of course, but the buck stops with you), the only relief you’ll get is if you seek to IMPROVE the way you do it all!  Make is a private game with yourself and the tyranny of it will go away.  Instead of running FROM it, tackle it!  Engage yourself in a mind-game of an “improve-a-thon” and you’ll grow incredibly polished and capable in domestic skill.  Work at little ways to shave your minutes in all your domestic pursuits over jobs that you do over and over.  Look for ways to add luster, beauty and efficiency to each household routine.  Look for ways to conquer reoccurring domestic problems and functions.  And relentlessly look, just like Sherlock Holmes, for ways to do it EASIER.

Become a QUEEN of your total domain.  Enjoy your kingdom.  Enjoy MANAGING it, much like the president of a large corporation, making it exactly as you want it, lovingly stewarding it under God to the best of your ability.  It has been said that: “an institution is really the lengthened shadow of the man at the top.”  So, too, is a home.  The woman establishes the climate in far more ways than you now know.

If you really get INTO IT, you’ll join the ranks of keepers at home who realize that they have one of the loveliest, most varied and interesting jobs on the planet.  Think of the countless women in China who work in a warehouse attaching the same widget hour after hour everyday for years on end.  Come to see homemaking as the blessing God intended, and count yourself fortunate.

Kitchen Tip: Diving into oranges
Slice oranges and lemons by digging the tine of a fork into its skin and see-sawing it back and forth around its middle, like the equator of the earth, then do the same vertically, to the north and south poles.  This divides the skin into four sections.  These four pieces then peel off easily with your thumb.  Done.

Sewing Tip: Grow a progressive servant-hearted tailoring skill, slowly, incrementally, quietly, and deliberately
We have a next door neighbor who is so intelligent he could have gotten a law degree or a degree in medicine, but he CHOSE to work with his hands in carpentry instead, and he has never regretted it.  Slowly, methodically, as he has extra time, he works on one project after another on their house, slowly transforming it before the eyes of all the neighbors.  Outdoor French drains, a new window now and then, re-laid front and back porches, etc, etc.  He has all his tools neatly lined up in his garage…a work of art just to see the display of them.  He putzes with great joy, making endless beautiful improvements.  His love of his work is contagious.  His relatives and friends, including his wife, like to go to his garage just to WATCH him work!

Why not adopt the same attitude and grow the skill of sewing, slowly and deliberately?  (And/or encourage your daughters to grow the skill, too.  It’ll benefit the entire family either way.)  Become better and better at it, aim to become an expert at this and/or gourmet/healthy cooking.  Both of these skills enrich ANY home.  The home life is far better WITH them than without them.

Instead of watching a movie (which doesn’t really change your life in any significant way) or doing some other entertainment, try getting a sewing book or sewing DVD out of the library to study it.  Find a person in your city who could give you a lesson now and then.

Marriage Tip: Share emerging thinking
Men aren’t mind readers.  They don’t even pick up clues from you much of the time as other women might tend to do.  You simply must do the work necessary to communicate with your husband.  One of the best strategies is to bring your husband along in your TEMPORARY thinking, your EMERGING thinking on lots of topics that involve you both.  That way you can reach conclusions TOGETHER and save him the shock of your FINISHED thinking

Learn to function as one mind, by talking often, posture most of your talking as tentative…don’t boss.  And ask him questions to draw him out.  Listen attentively to him.  Even though his ideas are different, or perhaps even threatening to you at first, often you’ll discover that his thoughts may uncover a blind spot of your own on the topic, giving you both a much better, larger conclusion.

Devotions Tip: Sizzling dross
When you have devotions, Scripture runs over your MOTIVES like an intense laser light, burning off the dross.  There is a reason your mind darts off here and there: it is subconsciously applying the Word.  It is experiencing shame, or it is being inspired by a loftier attitude.  The Lord can’t do his work through Scripture, if you don’t read His words.  Don’t be talked out of spending SOME time for devotion, simply because today you can’t do lengthy devotions.  Even just five minutes of it, on a rushed day, gilds one’s character with the gold of an increased personal holiness.  The more light, the more gold.  Just think of it as getting one more beauty treatment at a celestial spa!

Motherhood Tips 2

Thursday, 21. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

If you like these tips, forward this “mommy blog” to other hardworking moms you know down in the trenches of raising children who want/need some inspiration.

Mom’s Tip: The authority of your word
Learn to take your own word of authority seriously.  When your children are young, spend lots of time following up your own word…giving it weight.  This will result in having it take almost no time later; your authority will have been established.

When you say something to your children, you must believe it yourself, first.  Ask yourself, “How important is it that my own word be obeyed?”  If you take it laxly, your children will take it laxly.  If you think of it merely as a suggestion and not as a command, your children will respond just that way…and will avoid even the suggestion!  If you can be talked out of it, or if you believe, after experiencing some resistance, “Oh, that request didn’t really matter anyway,” your children will adopt the same attitude.

If you take up your children’s counter suggestions instead of your own original command, they will become entrenched in OFFERING those ALTERNATIVE suggestions…and demanding them.  If you become preoccupied with something else after issuing your command, your children will do the same.  If you answer their question of “Why?” they will ask it every time.  If you condescend to discuss it, you’ll go to bed with discussions and wake up with discussions…as chains about the ankles of your every command.  They are little lawyers lookin’ for loopholes!  Don’t even start to answer their whys.  Don’t go there, or you’ll find they have quickly gotten you out of YOUR boxing ring into theirs, right where they willfully want you.  If they respond slowly, or not at all (with one eye cocked on your response), they’ll get the message that you are OK with that.

It is very inconvenient to have to follow your own word around the house to see that it is done…your EVERY word to them.  Nevertheless, in the beginning with every child you must hover over your own word until it is executed…each and every time.  You can do this without a further word, after your FIRST command.  Stare at them.  Go put a hand on their shoulder and point them in the right direction.  Go just stand next to them.  Tower over them and don’t move.  Command them even just with your firm eye, afterwards, merely looking in the direction you want them to go.

You must learn to become vigilant over your own word.  The project you’d rather be doing at the moment is not your highest priority, the soul of your child is.  God is training YOU in the diligence of authority.  You’ll have to get over your own sluggishness, your weakness in not wanting to have to battle AGAIN.  This is hard work.  At first it is exhausting.  Yet, all valuable pursuits and ambitions in life are hard-won, if they are worth anything.  This is no different.  Buckle up.  “There is a cost for doing something and a cost for doing nothing.”  The cost for NOT believing in your own authority is domestic chaos and being RULED by your children.  If your children are not OBEYING you, they are RULING you.  Not only are YOU not lord of your home, God is not Lord of your home, your children are.

Conversely, remember that you are not raising personal servants or slaves.  The result of THAT will be that when they are grown they will move far, far away from you.  Make sure that the motive of all your commands is to have a peaceful, loving home life that is running smoothly, and that your commands are ultimately for THEIR sake, for their own maturity, not for your own self-indulgence or your every whim.  At some deep level, your children will know the difference.  All dictators throughout history have had stormy ends.

Home Management Tip: One-a-day’s
Do one thing that you can’t stand to do, and do it first thing in the morning.  Immediately after devotions, conquer making DINNER.  This guarantees joy later in the day.

Kitchen Tip: Small canning jars for multi-purpose storage
We’ve all heard of the large Ball canning jars.  But have you discovered the inexpensive little 8 oz. ones?  If you do get a tray of them, be sure to buy the easy white plastic lids next to them, to go with them ...and use those lids instead of the metal ones with the rings when storing dried goods.  Then you can buy your major spices in bulk!  I use these little jars, arranged neatly in a row and labeled for parsley, cilantro, chili, curry, all purpose seasoning, and dried teas.  You can also use them to store extra juice or coconut milk in the fridge, and for little treats or liquids (use the tighter sealing metal rings for liquids) when running errands to town (they’ll fit neatly and snugly in your purse), as well as for your hubby’s lunch box.

Sewing Tip: Drapery for warmer rooms
Rich thick velvets and brocades were used as drapes around family beds on purpose in those castles all over Europe because it was COLD in there.  A thick blanket can be converted to a drape used to cover a drafty door or window very easily.  Install a rod long enough to have one foot extensions on both sides of door or window, so that in the daytime the blanket/drape can be pushed totally to one side off the door or window.  You could use a cheap dowel rod, or broomstick handle instead.  Sew a long piece of lace (4 inch, doubled over to be 2 inch wide) all along the back top edge of a cheap thrift store blanket/comforter.  (Cut lace from an old lace tablecloth or curtain).  Install bathroom shower hooks along the holes in the lace wherever you want them.  Hang.  Your house will be cozy warm, with no hike in your utility bill.

Marriage Tip: No perfect spouse
There is no perfect husband.  They are all out of balance.  (Just like us women…out of balance nearly every day smile.  If they are good at one thing, chances are they’ll be rotten at somethin’ else.  If your husband is Christopher Columbus, don’t expect him to be Charles Dickens.  Work at improving YOU (the only person you have total control over) and you’ll have very little energy left to start in “working” on him.

Devotions Tip: A solution
After nearly 60 years of looking for the perfect way to do devotions, this is IT for me (at least, nowadays!).  Read in four places in the Bible every day, one chapter each.  One OT chapter, one NT chapter, one chapter in Psalms, and one in Proverbs.  This means you’ll be repeating Psalms and Proverbs several times during a year but will also be moving progressively and sequentially through the rest of the Bible.  This will keep you wise in your relationships, healthy in your heart, knowledgeable in your vital Hebrew roots, and spiritually aggressive in the spirit of ACTS.  You’ll never come up dry.  Never!

Motherhood Tips 1

Thursday, 14. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

This is our first free “motherhood tips” blog. It includes six short quick tips: Parenting Tip, Home Management Tip, Kitchen Tip, Sewing Tip, Marriage Tip, and Devotions.  If you find it helpful, forward it to others you know who want to do their job better and better as faithful stewards over God’s little ones…and as queens of their own small kingdoms!

Titus 2:4: “Train the younger women to love their husbands and children…to be busy at home.”

Queen Victoria said as a little girl, when first discovering that she was to inherit the crown someday: “Oh, I will be good, I will be very, very good!”  May these tips help you to have a similar resolve for your kingdom.

Parenting Tip: Absolute surrender and lavish love

Keep your eye on the magnanimous grown adult you desire your child to become. Fashion him to that end. You simply must learn to love his soul better than his immediate wish, if it is not good for him. Cross his willfulness with your own strong resolve…so that he is supple in your hand over EVERY issue, having no will of his own, if it be contrary. Absolute Surrender, an 18th century book by Andrew Murray, says this is the goal of our own soul, as well. (Like Abraham with his Isaac…there is nothing we would withhold from our Heavenly Father, out of love for Him…eventually coming to obey anything He would ask of us). As this is the goal of the mature soul with its Maker, it must be the goal of our parenting for the emerging fledgling soul as well. Seeing such a yielded, unselfish soul in ANY person is a beautiful thing, indeed.

And then, see to it that you ALSO show acts of love to your child in special ways throughout the day—on YOUR terms. Serve him tea and crumpets, if you wish! He must perceive that you love him lavishly, so that he interprets all the aforementioned denial in the context of your ultimate good will and your desire to do what is BEST for him. Demanding only denial from your child will crush your relationship. Remember that your job is to teach him not ONLY self-mastery but also how to love, by his own experience of YOUR loving ways, surprises, warm smiles, cherishing his little stories, etc. Make it your goal to parent just like the Father does and you can’t help but be right on target!

Home Management Tip: One-a-day’s
Make yourself go do something to maintain/spiff up your home, that you’d rather not do, that you dread doing, even. Set the timer for 15 minutes…and then QUIT. Tomorrow do the same. Ready, set, go…

Kitchen Tip: Removing mold from grains
If you make your own bread or pie crusts, rinse your grain 3 times and dry it before using it. All grains are warehoused in silos containing molds. Many people think they are allergic to a food, when it is only a mold problem. Prepare your grains one day; grind them the next day. Don’t try to do both in one day.

Rinse your 3 or so cups of grain in a large strainer, let drip over a bowl, and pat the bottom of the strainer dry underneath with a towel, several times…waiting minutes in between. Then when it is through dripping, toss the grains into a glass pan and dry in your toaster oven or regular oven at 200 until the grains are dry…stirring every fifteen minutes…for perhaps an hour. The duration depends upon your altitude and humidity. NEXT day, use the grains. You’ll give your family super healthy nutrients this way…minus the mold!

Sewing Tip: Fabric re-runs
Altering used thrift store clothes is far cheaper and faster than making clothes from scratch. Hunt thrift stores for FABRIC, as well. Think nothing of cutting up a large skirt, robe, bedspread, or tablecloth just for the FABRIC to use for something else.

Marriage Tip: Your husband’s other-ness
Remember that your husband logged in an incredible number of hours being raised under some other roof than your own childhood home, with an entirely different set of personalities and environment. Cock your head to the side and enjoy his “otherness.”

Devotions: Non-negotiable time with Him
“Blessed is the man who watches DAILY at my door” (Proverbs 8:34). The more we linger in front of HIM, the more we become like HIM…it’s a promise…wanta be god-like, you’ve gotta sit with God ! The challenge for mommies is that their life is an interrupt-a-log with relentless demands. Go ahead and meet the crisis demands and get everyone humming with their morning work on the back burner, and then immediately return to Scripture as your highest priority until this devotion is met/completed every day…even if it takes you until bedtime. Do nothing on your own to-do list of extras until you’ve done this. If we lose our relationship with God, all the other things we do won’t matter. Devotions are simply the highest, most efficient way to live. This daily discipline keeps us from back-tracking, wrong headedness, trifles, time traps in things that don’t eternally matter…to say nothing of the daily relief of depositing our fears and burdens on the best shore possible.

Helping your adolescent successfully navigate emerging hormonal passions

Thursday, 14. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

Image

When teenagers begin undergoing hormonal changes they become increasingly aware of the opposite gender.  Most have had almost no prior training in how to handle themselves when these emotions start firing – and our culture is certainly not preparing them well for this transition.

They simply have no idea what is appropriate and what isn’t in relating to persons their age who are of the opposite gender.  Their peers and the media are not going to steer them in the right direction; it is up to you as the parents to prepare them properly.

Four points need to be trained into your young ones before this shift takes place.

1. Waiting is worth it.  If you pluck an apple too early, what happens?  If you use adhesive tape on too many pieces of paper before gluing the final job, will your glue have lost its stickiness?  If you give little pieces of your heart to too many people, will there be any left for your soulmate?  (Draw a paper heart and then start tearing the pieces off and throwing them away.)

2. What are appropriate MARRIED behaviors?  Do you ever see Dad taking the hand of another man’s wife to hold it for a half an hour, or calling her babe or cute?  No, because she is someone ELSE’s wife.  Well, just because you can’t see a young girl/boy’s mate NOW, they will have one someday and it probably won’t be YOU, so you are messing with someone ELSE’s wife or husband.  The Scriptures themselves clearly teach this, that you actually defraud a brother by engaging in flirting and inappropriate behaviors.  1 Thessalonians 4:6: “In this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.”  Have your adolescent MEMORIZE the entire passage on personal self-control: 1 Thess. 4:3-8.

3. Give them a thorough understanding of lifetime self-control over all passions.  You will have to control yourself AFTER you are married, too.  Not just every woman will be your wife or every man a girl’s husband.  We never enter a period of life where anything goes, anywhere, all the time.  One has to exercise self-control over one’s oaths, conversations, money, personal hygiene, one’s physical appetites, stomach appetites (nobody can just EAT continually), and how much one drinks.  All of life is governed by parameters.  The righteous have a high road prepared for them if they will exercise caution and godliness in all of their conduct; this will set them up to reap blessings forever and ever.

4. Teach them that to ultimately become a good husband or a good wife one must diligently use this present period of longing…for preparation.  This includes building one’s skills and establishing a financial foundation, so as to reduce stress when they DO get married.  Young men can work toward building their first home debt-free (our booklet Money In Your Pocket has a section addressing this issue), young ladies can improve their cooking and hospitality skills, growing in their ability to deliver a decent meal and gaining as much sewing skill as possible.  During this special period of longing and hormonal surge, work at BECOMING a marital prize rather than SEEKING one.  Teach them to pray for a mate, rather than try to flirt for one.  Teach them that establishing godly homes by beginning with the choice of a mate is a sacred honor, not a cheap passing thrill.

Let them not enter this vital period of their lives—which can have huge consequences for the REST of their lives—mentally unprepared.  Keep your children’s training in mind, through ALL of its phases, with all diligence.  Each stage has its own tests…and its own victories to be fought and won…by the parents and by their emerging adolescents alike.

For a lot more help on this topic, we recommend these booklets:

  • Item #38A Godly Daughter Checklist (a pre-marriage or graduation checklist for young women):
  • Item #38B: Godly Son Checklist (a crash course of Godly Man Boot Camp)
  • Item #70: Daughters in Waiting (what to do if Mr. Right doesn’t show up for years—or never at all)
  • Item #71: Young Men Preparing for Marriage (what to do if it’s a long time before you find Miss Right)
  •  

    Pitting adolescents against themselves

    Tuesday, 05. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

    Image

    I used this “bag of tricks” for developing maturity in my classrooms and with my daughter ...they were my HEAVIEST artillery when she reached adolescence.

    The bottom line of this strategy is that you remove yourself (or the child’s siblings) out of the formula and pit an adolescent against himself or herself, describing what happens to THEM as a result of their unproductive behavior.  It is THEIR life.  This removes any wall against which they might find it delicious to rebel.  It simply isn’t there to fight against.

    Point 1: Help adolescents switch from having role models which they have admired to BECOMING role models themselves.
    At some point you say to your adolescent, “You have had several people who were like Mary Poppins in your life [or Mother Teresa, Little Bear Wheeler, or anyone they know whom they regard as special or extraordinary], and now is the moment in YOUR life, that if you are ever going to BECOME like Mary Poppins to OTHERS, you must work at fashioning yourself so.  This doesn’t just happen; there is work involved, habits to be formed, gathering yourself into a personhood that you want to live with for the rest of YOUR life, one that you want to present to the public.

    “You had a caring mother and/or dad, a can-do positive teacher, a cheerful aunt/uncle; you have read about Clara Barton/Albert Schweitzer’s total life of nursing/doctoring sacrifice.  Now you must BECOME a person who could BE the best mom/dad in the entire neighborhood, a caring godmother [or male role model] to a neighbor’s child or a relative’s child, a delightful tutor or instructor, an upbeat entrepreneur who can motivate others, etc.  If you want to become the First Lady at the White House [for example], start preparing and overseeing elaborate dinners for international students NOW, while still in your parents’ home.  You will not someday simply morph into someone of greatness…you move there step by step.

    “Now is the time to PRACTICE being this sort of person…yes, right here in ho-hum, cantankerous life.  You don’t just WAKE up a different person some morning.  If you don’t deliberately practice becoming a person of greatness in the daily normal interchanges of life that present themselves to you now, you will slump back into a default position much like your present grouchy moment, and stay there through the rest of your life.”

    Point 2: Develop in them a heightened awareness of social consequences.
    Next, you constantly draw attention to acquaintances or store clerks who were WONDERFUL to be around…and you ask your adolescent afterwards, “Now, what MADE that person so wonderful…what were the character qualities?  Wouldn’t it be fun to become LIKE that to OTHERS?!!! “

    Ask your adolescent, “Whom, specifically, do YOU really admire?” and then ask WHY.  After you’ve been around a particularly obnoxious person, ask your son or daughter to observe what happened socially—how everyone slithered away and didn’t want to have a thing to do with that one.  Or talk about what happens to a highly talkative person who uses up all the oxygen in a conversation.  Once you’ve pointed out the character flaw, teach your child to return to loving that difficult person…because that person needs to experience love, too, and something in their background made them that way.  But be sure your child takes note of the social consequences of poor behavior.  It is always easier to see cause and effect in someone ELSE’s life.

    Point 3: Dwindling time to change.
    Take your adolescent to an old people’s home and observe behaviors.  You may see a crotchety old man and a so-sweet-and-seasoned elderly man, both at age 90.  Point out that these men didn’t just SUDDENLY turn this way.  The grumpy old man is simply the result of all his previous attitudes, social choices and personal habits.  His facial expressions, tone of voice and sulking began as a teenager.  Conversely, the sweet old man didn’t just suddenly wake up refined.  He had to aspire to it with all of his vital energy, each day making choices to PUT ON the better, more uplifting behavior.

    Discuss the fact that someday very soon the growing mounting evidence one way or the other begins to shape his own reputation, the net effect of which he cannot undo.  (Read Ezekiel 18:20; the whole chapter applies.)  Reputations become like concrete: they are very, very hard to change once they have built a little momentum.  Time runs out to make these first impressions, everywhere.  You gradually move into making second and third impressions.

    Now is the time to strongly establish some mental pictures of outstanding individuals in your adolescents’ frontal lobes.  These are the people they have aspired to emulate – role models they often think about.  The absolute BEST role model to refer them to, of course, is their infinitely patient and ultimately sacrificial, meek and lowly Savior!  Helping an adolescent establish a HABIT of daily devotions will do wonders for character development, especially daily reading of Proverbs (read the Proverbs chapter of the day; i.e., Proverbs chapter 12 on the 12th day of the month).  It is a fact that the more one lingers in front of the LORD, the more one becomes LIKE Him.

    Point 4: You hurt only your OWN reputation.
    Pit your adolescent against himself.  Forget the use of phrases like “You are driving ME crazy.”  Say instead, “You are spreading a large reputation one way or the other about YOURSELF, that will eventually only help or hurt YOU.  Even siblings tell outsiders, `Oh, yes, she’s my sister and she’s the absolute BEST.’”

    In many cases an adolescent (who is, typically, focused inwardly while trying to figure out and establish just who or she is) isn’t even aware of exactly WHAT image he or she is presenting to the big wide world.  Mention that it is not when we are on dress parade that people watch; it is, instead, the off-handed expressions that are marked.  People observe you, even from afar, or even just from HEARING about you from others.  A dorm mother, a visiting professor, the cafeteria clerk, a member of a civic group who observes your behavior from the side… all manner of people you CASUALLY interface with are forming impressions of you in your OFF moments, that could have HUGE consequences either negatively or positively for you in areas you cannot see now.

    Mention that “You never know when someone else is evaluating your present behavior, either to put in a good word for you about a highly competitive job offer or someone’s dynamite marriageable son/daughter!!!  It is important that you be aware of the growth of your OWN reputation for your OWN sake.  Your parents cannot do this for you.  It is YOUR life that you are shaping.  We already shaped our own.  Now it is YOUR story.”

    5.  Judiciously monitor their RECREATIONAL reading choices throughout ALL of their development.  This will help shape their adolescence greatly, when the time arrives.
    Rebellion issues diminish greatly if you stuff children’s heads CONTINUOUSLY with character-trait-developing reading materials for their recreational reading at ALL TIMES.  All the McGuffey readers from second grade on up can be read every day until all six volumes are completed.  This is what established such great character in Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, shaping an American culture of hard work, self denial, etc.  Perhaps you can borrow them free through interlibrary loan.  An older child could read them aloud to the younger children and get double whammies out of it.  Other good material includes the Uncle Arthur [Maxwell]’s Bible Story series and his character trait bedtime stories (sometimes we see these books at a thrift store) and all of YWAM"S missionary biographies.  If children’s heads are continually filled with only the best (with a solid foundation of daily time in the Word)...and no movies…the excursions into rebellion dry up.  The gains and glorious OUTCOMES of all these stories cement the fact that rebellion or acting up isn’t worth it and has no gains.

    Perhaps you already have used some strategies from this bag of tricks, but a timely RE-USE of them at a rare golden moment of a “heart to heart” talk with an adolescent could be life-changing.

    How to cut the hair of a boy or a man

    Friday, 06. November 2009 by Renee Ellison

    Frame it in first: go around all the edges, sideburns first, then over the ears then across the neck.  Then come back and pick the hair up between your two fingers (pointer and tall man) at a straight 90 degree angle from the head…perpendicular to the head and chop away.  Begin to cut from the BOTTOM up…use your bottom base line made from your prior framing in work.  Then work your way up to the crown of the head, on each row.

    Delegation or dumping?  A mother’s proper role

    Friday, 06. November 2009 by Renee Ellison

    Image

    Remember what the ideal structure of the day should be.  Don’t get confused on this point.  Keep first things first, Bible first, then academics in the morning, then home-based business pursuits in the afternoon.  A growing home-based family business can be vital to surviving in the coming hard economic times ahead of us.  But it must be kept in its proper place.  And Mom, remember that YOU are the head contractor that keeps it this way.

    You could start the day by reading aloud to your children from any good Bible written on their level (Arthur Miller’s Bible Stories is excellent).  This morning Bible ritual builds strong family memories around understandable, on-their-level Bible-warmth.  Emotional security for a child is built around mama’s or papa’s reassuring low, calm reading voice, and snuggling.  This is vital DAILY input and a wonderful time for bonding, even if you get nothing else done all day.  This is a non-negotiable.

    For both the academics and home based business parts of the day, remember that YOUR part is to only do the administration and give counsel and discipline, all while sitting on a mommy-throne in the middle of the room, or, more often, towering over them on the exact site.  Your judicious all-seeing eye, encompassing the larger picture, is what is needed.  Like Moses with his arms held in the air while the people conquered the enemy, you must stay on top of it.  Let the children do the actual work, but you are doing the detailed oversight, seeing that it is all done properly.  Stay on them like a contractor or foreman on a building job. And stay WITH them with encouraging words and minor course corrections and refinements.  You, just like the contractor, must BE THERE (emotionally, intellectually and physically) to provide oversight on the execution of the details.  It is just like the way a good contractor checks out the electrical wiring, AS IT PROCEEDS, and gives the approval after every vital step.  Delegation is not about hoping the job will get done by someone else.  This idea is what business people wrongly thought for decades when delegation was first taught as a concept, to their great loss of profits.  Delegation is best achieved by being your children’s OVERSIGHT COMPANION all the way.

    Delegation is not about the mama being free to go do something else, talk to the neighbors, take phone calls, etc., it is about job ROLES: you need to be free of ALL distractions during those morning hours.  Simply let no outsider or outside business take up that time.  You still have all afternoon and evening for all of that.  Make mornings non-negotiable, and BE THERE.

    Along with the academics, your children should be cleaning your house impeccably.  First one academic subject, then a little house cleaning, then the next subject, then another small housekeeping job, alternating first one and then the other.  If on top of this, you are also doing a bread-making business (or some other income producing business) your children can even bake all the bread.  Your job is to work out the kinks and keep streamlining the PROCESS for them.  It is good for children to work hard.  Hard work builds character, internal discipline, confident job-attack skills, vitality, and ENDURANCE.  This is far more valuable than play.  (Never fear, they’ll still get sufficient play in around the edges and in the evenings.)

    Keep pumping out the work, keep each kind of work in its proper place, academics in the morning, income producing activities in the afternoon, and keep your roles straight and you’ll make enormous progress/profit on all fronts.  I hope this helps you keep the big picture the big picture!