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The snare of preparation

Monday, 11. October 2010 by Renee Ellison

Image Jane Addams wanted to help immigrants who were settling in Chicago in droves during the late 1800's. So she settled them into a large mansion called Hull House, relieving them of having to live in the slums and red-light districts. Addams was head resident of Hull House until her death in 1935. Seeing the desperate needs of throngs of immigrants from Europe, she wanted to house and train them in one of the kindest settings possible, the home. By the time of her death there were 13 such homes/buildings and literally tens of thousands of individuals were relieved during their disorientation of being jobless, homeless, family-less, and English-speaking-less. I read her biography 40 plus years ago. One chapter still remains vividly in my mind...

It was titled The Snare of Preparation. Addams observed that it is possible to be so focused upon prolonged preparation that one can end up making very little real impact in the real world. She could have gone on, as a few of her friends did, to get a PhD, getting more and more formal institutionalized schooling. Observing others who had gone before her, she saw that prolonged preparation can become tempting to end up grooming oneself only for self-absorption. It was a stunning point. As a result of such thoughts, she took a fork in the road in her own life and set out to be effective NOW ... sooner than personal perfection would have allowed. The result? Thousands of lives ended up feeling this inner tilt of the heart.

In the case of a talent, it is good to grow it forever, both publicly and privately. But be aware of the tilt of the heart as you do so. One may discover, too late, that there is no opportunity for "important impact" upon others at the far end of our personal preparation in the short life that remains. So, a good way to reconcile this tension of preparation vs. service to mankind is to become predisposed to being used by the Heavenly Father AS YOU GO, to be continually looking heavenward, yielded for how to give of one's life and or gift NOW. Thus, while you prepare further, be mindful of asking the Father to use you NOW as He sees fit, blessing others en route.

What does this look like in practice? Today, this week, do not hide your light under a bushel as you prepare and wait for some major break or culminating achievement or the pursuit of just-out-of-reach excellence... waiting to get over just one more mountaintop. Be ever watchful to keep your heart to be used of Him, continually and ongoingly... in whatever measure He opens up. Just remind yourself that you are not your own; you were bought with a price and your gift is not your own. This transference of focus deep within the heart of what it is you are ACTUALLY doing and for WHOSE SAKE is consequential work for all of eternity. It is not WHAT we do in life, but WHY we do it that comes before the great and final bar of God. Seek Him and keep Him as the target and you'll have no regrets.

Your own pharmacy

Thursday, 16. September 2010 by Renee Ellison

Image WANTA SAY GOOD BYE to your pharmacy and doctor for most maladies?!!! Progressively acquire and use Young Living's essential oils...no others compare.

How to start?

If you want to get started on essential oils, the absolute BEST ones are made by Young Living. From soil, to seed, to seal, everything is better, better, better. In other words, all their farms are organic (Young Living won't import oils from other places where they have no idea what soil/pollution they were grown in), they distill them at the very PEAK of EACH oil's powers, and they distill them at optimal temperatures and without using solvents. When an independent agency tested over 200 kinds, Young Living's was the best by far. Under the microscope, some of the other companies' oils retained their "smell" of oil but the molecular activity was dead. Young Living's oil molecules jumped all over the microscope slide with LIFE-FORCE and therapeutic chemical power. Oils from other manufacturers seem to be basically colored water in some kind of alcohol.

In the long run, I've found Young Living oils to be very nearly the same price as the cheaper ones that are commonly sold in stores, because Young Living has a program where if you routinely purchase just $50 a month, you get reward points for FREE oils after every couple of months. When you average in these FREE oils, the price compares. Moreover, the healing power TOWERS over the other brands'. We have had personal experience using inferior brands, wasting our time and money and getting NO healing from them. When we switched to Young Living's we would knock out that SAME sickness RAPIDLY... sometimes within hours.

To start out with... your best course is to get the basic oils (formerly the Essential 7 starter kit). If I had not been talked into this kit by my chiropractor I may not, to this day, have ever really known what these oils could do, having only tried one, and would not have gotten into the oils as deeply as I did. I have them in a cupboard on little wooden stair-steps so that I can see them all. This is my alternative pharmacy. This is my OWN healing hospital... which delivers me time and time again from the medical establishment. And I feel prepared for an emergency. There is hardly a day that goes by that my family doesn't use oils—even just to FEEL good, or to freshen the air!

The easiest and cheapest way to start is to phone Young Living directly at 1-800-763-9963 and sign up under my member number 537850 for just $50 (which includes oil and info). This is a no-brainer because you qualify for wholesale prices from there on out. You'll never regret it! Oils HEAL. Or, get the whole shebang: the Aroma Complete kit of 125 bottles retails for $2,625 but you can buy it wholesale for much less, for the best health insurance you could have—to say nothing of smelling and playing with them all.
Filed Under: Nutrition tips

What about unschooling?

Tuesday, 14. September 2010 by Renee Ellison

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A reader sent us the article by Kate Hammer, education reporter for The Globe and Mail

, entitled The Deschooling and Unschooling Movement Is Growing.  Her article begins thus: “A small but growing movement known as deschooling, life learning, unschooling, and edu-punk is home-schooling returned to its postwar progressive roots, far from the Bible-thumping mould that has come to dominate the modern image of home-schoolers.”  Hammer continues, “Unschooling takes children out of schools, but, unlike a lot of home-school approaches, it doesn’t import the classroom into the home. It does away altogether with educational clutter such as curricula and grades.  Unschoolers maintain that a child’s learning should be curiosity-driven rather than dictated by teachers and textbooks, and that forcing kids to adhere to curricula quashes their natural inclination to explore and ask questions.”  The reader asked if we have an opinion on this trend.  As one who was student teaching in an “open classroom” in the early 1970s, I experienced this unschooling experiment firsthand.  Here’s what I wrote this reader:

Yes, I have an opinion about unschooling: proponents of this theory ought to be “shot”... for the damage they do to the next generation.  This theory has been around since the Garden of Eden.  Basically, it is academic lawlessness.  In the 1960’s-80’s I saw whole generations fall through the cracks, as products of their EDUCATED parents’ experimentation.  The children paid the price of aimless years, growing in nothing but indulged willfulness.  Whole school districts even adopted these theories WITHIN their classrooms and the results were chaos.  The “new math” was all experimentation.  The “no–phonics, only-sight-words” approach left the child DEPENDENT upon those limited sight words.  PE instructors allowed children to lie all over the gym floor TOGETHER to throw temper tantrums…’cause it worked their lungs….rather than acquire better aim throwing a ball.  If you throw out curriculum and choose not to acquire the basics of a general education, coursework becomes any hippie’s immediate whim.

Even within the current Biblically-based homeschooling movement, we have seen the RESULTS of children who have been raised under this theory, and they are very sorry adults…taking low-end jobs and playing video games.  Most anything they write or say is loaded with mistakes, and they don’t know how to THINK beyond going to the counter to purchase a candy bar.

The public school system WAS awful, but homeschooling solved all those problems.  Lots of parental attention, and no labeling/ comparisons, etc., produced OUTSTANDING results for the past several decades.  To take it further and throw out the CONTENT (line upon line acquisition of mental skill, sequentially gained) is a disease of modern thinking.

This mental lawlessness has invaded ALL of modern thought.  A woman’s body now is no indication of meaning (enroll her for hand to hand combat in the military; give her a pill to get rid of the bother of having children).  Language is no indication of meaning (“the author didn’t really mean this or that…it means what YOU want it to”).  Drinking and robbery are a disease…they have no meaning and the person who does them is not held accountable for his actions.  Currency doesn’t need to be backed by gold; instead, it is the INSTRUMENT of derivatives that no one will ever require you to pay…you just pass the leverage on down the line.  And on and on it goes.  Unschooling is basically anything goes, it is godlessness.

There is a REASON why European royalty acquired tutors for their children from infancy onward and pulled them out of any public education—to be unschooled?...hardly – to train those future kings and queens MORE rigorously…not to sit at home and stare at the walls and wait for their curiosities to shift.  Nearly all of our U.S. Presidents have done the same with their OWN children; watch what they DO…hiring expensive tutors and sending them to exclusive private schools.  There is a REASON Jews and internationals have come to America for decades to get the most DETAILED academic EDGE they can find on the planet.  (Of course the modern university is in an absolute meltdown and this is no longer true for the humanities departments, but the engineering, science, and math programs march on.)  There is a REASON why the forefathers of our country, many of them homeschooled, were able to frame a constitution that didn’t fall apart for 200 years.  Because they were so well educated, their thinking was seasoned and mature.  They understood how to limit the evils of history because they had STUDIED history… as well as the ordered grammar with which to write the document.  And there is a REASON why Asian parents start their children on instruments and science when they are three, building neuro-networks through disciplined, line upon line development.

If you are desiring a more comprehensive treatment of this topic visit our homeschoolhowtos.com website and order our hefty booklet, The Two Most Common Pitfalls of Homeschooling.  Order it as an e-book, if you are wanting it quickly.  In it I attack every core tenet of these sloppy and devastating “alternatives”.  Because a parent trains her children sequentially in the morning doesn’t mean she shuts down their curiosities for the remainder of the day.  The two are by no means EXCLUSIVE, as unschoolers claim.  Look at the BIBLICAL injunction in Deuteronomy 6:7: train them in the basics first when you walk and talk.  By the age of 12, boys thoroughly learned the Torah, and THEN later. “WHEN they ask you in time to come…”  The questions then stem from a DEVELOPED curiosity with a language to express itself in and some facts to fling around.  To fling around “hot air” gets nobody anywhere.  This truly emanates from the pit…and our culture is saturated with it.  It is one of the things our daughter is studying right now at Summit Semester.  In every area of life, if you let go of absolutes and disciplined cores, chaos is the guaranteed result, and there will be a debt to pay.

A cliff-hanger talk with your teens re: marriage

Tuesday, 31. August 2010 by Renee Ellison

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Have this talk with your teenagers NOW before it is too late: what marriage IS and what it is NOT

Current statistics reveal that you might want to discuss a few CLIFF-HANGER concepts about the marriage decision THOROUGHLY with your pre-married older adolescents NOW, BEFORE they enter the guy/girl whirlwind.  You may THINK they know these concepts about marriage already by your fine example and by the CD’s and sermons you’ve listened to as a family, and by what YOU have grown to understand about marriage but have only just slightly discussed/shared with your children, on the run.  Apparently, they don’t.

Alarming statistics for Christian high school and college-aged adolescents are currently coming in.  The Southern Baptist convention recently conducted one of those large studies.  According to this study as well as other confirming studies, 70% of evangelical students these ages lose their faith.  80% lose their virginity.  And a growing alarming number are marrying non-Christians.  Your older children “got it” UNTIL the first very dashing non-Christian guy stepped across their path or the cute little female number with skimpy clothes said “hi”.

Sit down today and cover these three vital points with your pre-marrieds…upon which all of Christendom and its next generation hang.  This is warfare.  You can lose all your homeschooling YEARS of effort at THIS threshold.

1.—Only marry a Christian.
2.—The simple and only way to stay sexually pure.
3.—What marriage actually is.

1. Only marry a Christian… or they board the Titanic.
Start with the three most explosive COMMANDS of Scriptures on this topic.  Have your older sons and daughters write them down and memorize them and say them to you tomorrow.  Do it again next week.  Have them say them while standing on their head the week after.  Haul the words around in their hip pockets if need be.  Glue them to their foreheads!!!

VERSE ONE:
—“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).

VERSE TWO:
—He/she is free to marry anyone they wish but that other person must belong to the LORD (1 Cor. 7:39).

VERSE THREE:
—“Can two walk together unless they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).  Remind them that marriage is a looooooooooooooong walk.

Now, given that they are only to marry a believer or all hell breaks loose (statistically, a person who disregards these clear teachings of Scripture WILL run aground and rip their insides to smithereens… the majority of married people in our culture get divorced), what sorts of things do they need to do now to ENSURE that this will be so?

ONE:
Limit un-believer time.

Do not WALK in the way of sinners, nor STAND in the counsel of the wicked, nor SIT in the seat of scoffers

(Psalm 1:1).

Say this verse at breakfast, lunch and dinner for awhile?  Assert it triumphantly and joyfully out of the blue throughout the day…while they are yet unenamored with anyone?  Say it and leave out words?  Start it and quit halfway through ....so THEIR brain will finish it?

Do not LINGER with unbelievers.  Do the bare minimum and GET OUT OF THERE.  Arthur Blessit used to say when he witnessed in bars, that after deliberate prayer he entered the bar, firmly sat down next to someone, blurted out the gospel and then GOT OUT OF THERE.  He did not LINGER…or toy with his own heart. 

“Love is what you’ve been through TOGETHER.”  So you have to minimize the togetherness.  Causal social gatherings/exciting activities/well-paying part-time jobs/classrooms/and endless sports with unbelievers can turn into nightmares…your son’s or your daughters OWN nightmare.  Instead, get them with BELIEVERS at every opportunity.

Your discussion is aimed at achieving DISCERNMENT in making their most pivotal life decision, after conversion—deciding how MUCH complication they want to add to their most intimate of relationships…their lifetime marriage.  This is about taking stock ahead of time to reduce the SOURCE of all potential needless stress in their life.  They have only one chance with both the privilege and responsibility of making a calculated/wise specific CHOICE, about the ONE person with whom they will spend the rest of their lives.  They need to keep their heads on about what they are signing on for…because it is a vow that they are never to get out of.  That person must be a believer.

Describe to them how marriage is the most defining social relationship an adult will ever enter.  Tell them directly:
 
Its all-encompassing new parameters will define you and what you can do and be for the rest of your life.  If you marry an alcoholic, your choices WITHIN marriage are limited.  If you marry an unbeliever, it defines how you will be perceived by OTHER unbelievers…as well as your SPOUSE.  Unbeknownst to you your spouse will calculate quietly:  Do you DO what you believe?  Does your faith make ANY difference?  By watching you, why should he/she ever convert?  And you will deal with many a dark hour behind closed doors.  You will end up having to hide your desire for Christian growth as it triggers anger in your spouse…and worse yet, you’ll fall under a curse by disobeying a direct black and white command.

The scope and extent of these parameters are as large and significant as your first set of birth parameters were… the family you were born into.  This is your new identity, involving both opportunity and limitation.  In some ways, its loving arms are loving fences.  WHO that person is and what he believes will be HUGE.  Keep your EMOTIONS in check, so you give yourself time to choose wisely with your MIND.

Once you enter marriage, you will now be coping with YOURSELF, in the context of another person.  You will be figuring out how to navigate through life with a peer, a person totally other than you…that shared none of your childhood.  This can either be an expanding blessing or an expanding curse…depending upon who you say “yes” to.  This is not a week-end fling, nor is it a vacation you get over, or a short dream from which you will awake.  This is for keeps, day in and day out, from the marriage day onward, for years and years and years.

Choosing this person with the wise godly counsel of older married people will help keep you from making a mistake.  Obtaining objective counsel from those who know you best helps ensure a life of no regrets.  Who you share your INTIMATE life with is not like any relating you’ll ever do with anyone else.  Those who have trouble in their INTIMATE life eventually lose their joy in their larger life.  Marrying a Christian is the fence that makes for your own happiness.  There is always a silver lining of “later” blessing behind all of God’s commands.  Believe it.  OBEY the commands found in Scripture in your choice of a mate.

TWO:
Teach them what a fool is because “The companion of fools comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:20).

Say this verse at breakfast, lunch and dinner, too!
Teach your pre-marrieds that fools are not hobos with floppy shoes and droopy hats.  They are fools in their THINKING.  They might even be good-looking.  “The fool has said in his heart there is no god” (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1).  Fools are unbelievers.

2. The simple and only way to stay sexually pure:  Teach them “not to touch” ...until they’ve said “I do.”

Handshakes can communicate worlds.  High-fives can feel too nice.  If a peer lies down in the grass next to them, teach your adolescent child to immediately sit up, get up, stand up.  Students today are fashioning a “proper” good-bye or hello involving huge bear hugs at every chance they get… they might as well be bare hugs.  Teach yours not to cooperate; teach them how to make “proper good byes” of their own.  Because anything goes, teach them to be prepared for anything, to duck if someone spontaneously decides to kiss them.  Students in high schools these days kiss each other like they are going to war and will never see each other again, merely between classes!!!  If your pre-marrieds will simply not touch…ever…they diminish their chances of going under not just by 1,000 percent, but totally.

3. Next, teach them what marriage IS and what it isn’t…deliver them from fairy tales in this area.

Marriage is THE key transformational social relationship that our Heavenly Father set up for two very immature people to be conformed to the image of His Son!  It has been said that if God didn’t use the lure of sexual attraction, no two people would ever get married if they really knew ahead of time how much work it was!

You marry to show the unconditional, self-sacrificial enduring love of Yeshua to another human over a lifetime.  To lovingly and ongoingly represent Yeshua to another soul is the goal.  If you marry to get your own needs met, you’re in for a rude crash.  Expectations kill relationships.  Marriage is an adventure in adjustment…you’ll adapt to what is and give to God what is not. Relationships thrive in the soil of gratefulness and appreciation.  There is only One who can satisfy us totally through thick and thin, and that is Yeshua.  If you cave in and give up in your marriage halfway through, thinking it is too hard to do this ongoing relating, you missed the ENDURING part.  You didn’t get a chance to EXPERIENCE in your own gizzard what endurance FEELS like.  Marriage isn’t about the other person failing to meet your needs.  It is all about what YOU are made of…about yielding to the Father in the fire of an imperfect relationship, in order to become like Him.

Marriage is unlike any other relationship.
It is 24/7.  This means you won’t be taking many days away from it.  It will be the air you breathe constantly…for either good or ill.  That means you’ll be trooping through colds, flu, messy bloody childbirths, squealingly tight finances, depression, anger, personal wilfulnesses and stubborn spots, irritated relatives, car breakdowns, dashed expectations, sudden circumstantial reversals, temptations and misunderstandings, TOGETHER.  There is NO stress that marriage doesn’t eventually undergo. 

No matter how talented, caring, handsome/pretty, wealthy or how “in love with you” (for the moment) that unbeliever is, he/she is no companion for your soul.  The biggest need of your soul is heart rest and that can only come with a spouse who is a true believer.  You have to think very carefully about dancing near the flame of an unbeliever…what would that be like day in and day out…over the long haul.  What you might not chafe under after a week, could become intolerable to you after two years.  And there will be a lot more years to go after that…a lot more.

Because of Adam, marriage is subjected to the cosmic effects of the Genesis Fall from the get-go.  The Fall was all about driving a wedge of alienation at the core of our soul, causing separation from both God and our spouse.  This is why we have trouble praying even after years of spiritual growth when it should have become easy.  The Fall produced a natural alienation that has to be hurdled each and every time we come before God…we don’t like to pray until we get started and push through that obstacle.  The same is true for marriage.  To hurdle this core alienation from each other, in even the best of relationships, often requires continual maturity, and on some days, weeping RESOLVE for women and determined patient resolve for men.  This is part of the course of love God designed for us.  It makes deep people out of all of us.  It makes us more like him.  But to knowingly add the further alienation of unbelief can be deadly.

Conclusion?
You must talk about these matters early on… BEFORE there is a very handsome/beautiful tempting unbelieving pursuer of your offspring…because there may be little hope of talking about it afterwards.  How MUCH and how many are the Christian relationships compared to the pagan influences in your pre-marrieds’ lives?  Convenience is the devil’s game: the convenience of unchristian environments, the inconvenience and effort it takes to obtain Christian ones.  Keep a zealous watch over the companions of your older offspring.  Who are they?  Go out of your way to associate with other deep believers. 

Second, teach them not to touch.  Child-rearing BEGINS with “DO NOT TOUCH”, and ENDS with the very same command.  Don’t allow them to light the match and there’ll be no fires to put out.  Your job is not over until you get them to the altar with a godly mate.  Then and only then, let go.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Are you SURE you have the right curriculum?

Wednesday, 25. August 2010 by Renee Ellison

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Burnout
The single biggest cause of homeschooling burnout is having chosen the wrong curriculum.  For most homeschoolers, veterans and beginners alike, the illusion is that you will always have perfect days in which to teach, but the reality is that you’ll seldom have even one perfect homeschooling day.  If your schooling centers on you as the teacher, it will simply slip through the cracks on days when other demands take over.  Because schooling is the one flexible/negotiable part of the day (no one is watching), it often gets put on the back burner (for far too many days, for months on end), because today we can’t do it right, using what you thought was the ideal curriculum.

Now that school is beginning again this fall, mothers are scrambling to make out their schedules, get last minute supplies, etc.  This feels exhilarating—at least, initially.  Aha—a fresh start.  But talk to those same moms one month from now and they are in tears, feeling guilty, and nothing is going according to plan.  Hubby is threatening to put the children back in public school because anything is better than the fiasco he sees going on day after day in his own home with his stressed-out wife and inconsolable children.  Because they’ve got the wrong curriculum.

Haven’t seen the big picture
Moms, by and large, because they have never been down this path before (they graduated from nursing school, or business school…), inadvertently choose and purchase curriculums that are heavily mother-dependent.  They purchase curriculum based on topics that they wish they had had in school, or books that look fabulous, or techniques that seem new and innovative and far superior to the way they were taught.  But the problem is not the content or style of the program, at all, but rather it is one of administration.  Is this curriculum going to be easy to get through each day, especially when I’m preoccupied with little Johnny who just threw up, or on an emergency phone call, or have unexpected company?  Then what happens?  What happens when I’m up all night with another child and have to sleep IN in the morning?  Let’s see—hmm—5 children times 2 “mom-isn’t-available-to-teach” hours per student equals ten wasted hours for the family that morning.

Because we have been in the movement for over 20 years as vendors, we have seen children who are now the grown products of this little daily nightmare, and it isn’t pretty.

Unit studies—the kick with a bite
In far too many cases, these idealistic theories about curriculum have been murdered by a few brutal facts—embarrassing facts.  The children didn’t get thoroughly educated—not even as much as we were educated in inferior secular schools.  Scores of excited moms who have never taught a child through all twelve grade levels tell me sentences like this: “This fall we are going to study George Washington—in fact, we’ll do a unit study on him!” The problem is that the mom doesn’t see the 12-year big picture that there are over 34,000 concepts to cover to even make your child aware of the most rudimentary components of the big wide world out there.  Giving three months to one concept just isn’t gonna cut it.  While mom is fixated on her one euphoric idea of what she will teach, time is wasting; sand literally pours through the hour glass of childhood.  What she is not aware of is that children can learn ten times faster than she can even dream up the topics, let alone provide a newly hunted down perfect book to teach it with.

Moms with extra time, huh?
Go ahead and buy all of the super-idealized curriculum you want.  But this year try teaching it in the evenings or on the weekends when you get that one “supercharged-mommy-moment” a week, but for all the remainder of the time, for all those “barely-making-it” hours, get a curriculum that your children can do without you hovering it.  Waltz onto their page on any day at any time that you want to teach them from your own academic passions—we always teach our passions best—but for all the other days, and the other hours, keep your children’s noses to the grindstone of an established curriculum that gets the job done without you.

Ask yourself a question: How much extra time did I have yesterday to write out lesson plans, or to thumb through a textbook to figure out what my child should be doing today?  Was it three minutes?  30 seconds?  Oops, just couldn’t get to it?  Then what makes you think you’ll have that time tomorrow?  If you must read a teacher’s edition to figure out what your child should do, you are already sunk before you start.

All the “not-so-hot” choices out there
Some love those big companies that sell you the huge textbook for every subject, so that your school curriculum can look just like the public school’s.  But quickly you’ll find that the sheer size of the books scares your kids off (they are a pain in the neck to haul around), and parents by the scores have already discovered that they are “drill and kill and over-kill” curriculums, despite the expensive packaging!  They cost too much, weigh too much, take too much preparation out of your hide, and bore your children to tears with excessive unnecessary mental labor.

Then there are the super dense spiritual curriculums.  The entire family reads this and that and does this project and that project on one character trait, together.  Fine.  Purchase those and teach one every Sabbath, or work through one for one evening a week to gather as a whole family to study.  But for two-to-six hours a day every day of the week, they require too much of mama—and too much of everyone else.  On most days, one can’t even find the whole family to study with, let alone do it.  If you use one of these programs, you’ll burn out, guaranteed.

Then there is the sensational one book for this and one book for that—the eclectic approach.  I hope you like shopping—because your children will read them and finish them on the way to the car.

Then there is the hands-on, build everything you read about (pyramids under the kitchen table) approach.  This approach absorbs far too much time spent on “pyramids”—single subjects—(which a child can readily understand just by looking at a few pictures), to the exclusion of time that could have been spent on other equally important concepts/subjects.  Life isn’t just endless time on your hands.  Time spent under the table is time lost practicing a new scale on an instrument.

Then there is the “read-every-book-in-sight” curriculum.  Just read.  Tons of homeschooling families pride themselves on what good readers their children have become.  They congratulate themselves on having exceptional readers…which they mistakenly think then makes them exempt from producing anything else.  The only problem is, they just don’t know that all homeschooling families produce good readers.  This is commonplace, with few exceptions.  They can’t see it, because they live in only their own house.  Moreover, reading is not the whole picture.  What if your car only had a motor, no steering wheel, no brakes, no seats.  Math is important, writing is important, physics is important, spelling is important, each of them requiring very little reading and a great deal of doing.  The first time your child hears about atoms and molecules and has only read history books, he is apt to say “Huh?” or worse yet, start feeling the “Huh?” going on inside himself everywhere he turns.  A general education requires gaining basic familiarity with thousands of diverse concepts.

Grading your children’s work—whatever for?
If you want to grade all your children’s work, go ahead, have at it.  But they won’t grow, if you do their evaluation.  Weeks worth of stacked papers that mom will someday get around to grading trains your child in absolutely nothing.  When your children get back all your delayed grading with your meticulous and conscientious red marks, they will mindlessly throw those same papers into the trash.  Sound familiar?  If they grade their own as soon as they finish a page, they will be invested in it themselves, to their own surprise.  It is that simple.  Correcting one’s work is where all the growth takes place.  Do you really have this much extra time?  Would you not rather read a good book, or take a walk with your child?

A long ride
Go ahead, buy whatever curriculum you want, or insist upon having, but also, this year, try buying the ACE curriculum to use as your daily work horse.  You can’t see the full extent of it all now, but you’ll ride to the schooling-pasture and back to the barn every day for two to six hours a day for 12 years with this schooling business—so you’ve gotta have a dependable horse to get you there and back, unless you want a circus at your house every day, if you didn’t spend two hours last night prepping for some other scenario.

Even if your child is only exposed to this sequential, consecutive, line upon line, precept upon precept material and skips half of the fill-in-the-blanks, or merely answers the questions aloud, or even just hears them read to him by an older sibling on sick days, or isn’t multi-sensing every concept, he will be light years ahead of the child who hasn’t.  He will have at least encountered all of these thousands of concepts.  Four pace booklets a day, four concepts per booklet, 5 days a week, 36 weeks a year, for twelve years, yields 34,560 concepts.  Ta-dah !!!!  Did you catch that?  This is all done for you.  You didn’t have to even get out of your easy chair.  This year, try teaching whatever else you want on top of that—but not in place of it.  Countless very burned out families have switched to A.C.E. after trying everything else they had in mind, and the smiles have returned.  There have been no regrets!

We recommend ACE for these 12 very tight and succinct reasons:
1. ACE is taught using thin booklets: easy to haul on errands.
2. ACE is comprehensive; nothing will fall through the cracks.
3. ACE is spiritual: you won’t produce an intelligent drunk.
4. ACE is engaging, uplifting and keeps their interest both academically and spiritually: children end up loving God through their subjects.
5. ACE is self-taught, not mommy dependent: it actually happens every day, regardless of the chaos mom is embroiled in at the moment.
6. ACE is self-corrected: the student has instant feedback.
7. ACE is the curriculum for tear reduction; momma doesn’t burn out—she actually likes her children, gets dinner on the table, and wants to continue homeschooling next year.
8. ACE is priced at the low end of curriculums: you don’t have to rob a bank or incur debt to buy it.  The entire year costs less than one month’s tuition at any private Christian school.  It is so inexpensive, the grandparents can purchase it for you.  You won’t grow bitter halfway through the year because you sank 2 grand into a curriculum and now you hate the stuff but can’t possibly switch because you mortgaged the house to get it.
9. ACE trains outstanding character, woven into the full page text of every subject—not tacked on as a token at the end of the entire day just to make it look spiritual.
10. Employers love to hire ACE graduates for any type of work, because they have found year after year that these students’ cheerful work ethic is second to none.
11. ACE has been used in 135 countries; it currently educates well over 3 million children.  It is tried and true.  Children using it actually graduate—they score high on standardized tests—they get scholarships at colleges.
12. ACE is guilt free; school happens.

Have your children read history and biography and how-to books voraciously in the evenings.  Train them in domestic skills.  Teach them how to earn and save a dollar.  And turn off the TV and videos and stop the endless “goes nowhere” recreational fantasy reading, and you’ll produce super children.

Motherhood Tips 13

Wednesday, 28. April 2010 by Renee Ellison

There just might be some mom out there at the other end of your forward button who needs some little push in an uplifting direction today.  Send along some sunshine!

(See http://www.homeschoolhowtos.com/blog/ for the first dozen Motherhood tips, and to view this current one as a blog, nicely formatted.)

Parenting Tip: Swift discipline, part II
Here’s a key verse to nail this topic that we discussed last week:  Ecclesiastes 8:11: “Because the sentence [the mete consequence; spanking, perhaps] against an evil deed [deviant, defiant behavior] is not executed speedily [i.e., was not done right away, SWIFTLY, with due vigilance, at the time the child defaulted… not hours later], therefore the hearts of the sons of men [the will of the child] are fully set [like concrete] in them to do evil [to remain deviant].” 

Home Management Tip: Emergency preparations
Remember the Boy Scout motto?  “Be prepared.”  Here are four keys to good preparation:

*

Build artificial heat

—pretend like disaster will strike tomorrow.  What MUST be done today to make you less miserable tomorrow?

*

Make to-do lists and prioritize

...what is the MOST vital detail to do FIRST, the second most vital… etc.  If you could never do another step before disaster hits, what would you want to make sure was completed?

*

Purchase objects AND THEIR NECESSARY ACCESSORIES

—be aware of the parts and pieces and batteries or fuel that could make your perfect provisions inoperable if you didn’t have them.

*

Practice

—shut off the electricity for one weekend.  How’d ya do?  What did you find out you NEEDED?

Kitchen Tip: Plussing carrot cake
Add cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and PINEAPPLE to your standard carrot cake recipe and you’ll have your family eating out of your hand.  Simply scrumptious.

Sewing Tip: Colors
See to it that you wear pretty colors (YOUR colors), even when you are only wearing old knockabout clothes.  It is a gift to your family who have to look at you all day.  If you just love the FEEL of that old drab sweater or shirt, just cover it up with a prettier OUTSIDE layer.

To achieve this, you could try sewing a vest, or cutting off the tails of another shirt that IS in your right color to use as an open lightweight jacket on top of the thing you’d really rather wear.  Try sewing on a collar of some sort in the right color to just get your better color up near your face.  Or perhaps sew two large swaths of color down both fronts of your top.  You could cut these long pieces from another blouse that was uncomfortable but had a wonderful

color

.  Sew these large rectangles of better color on TOP of your more comfortable clothes… edge it with trim at the front lapel and armholes, or add small pockets of your drab shirt on top, by cutting potential pocket fabric off the bottom of your shirt tail…. to artfully make it look deliberate, as if you had bought it that way.

Some women waste huge blocks of time looking for expensive clothes, well-fitting clothes, stylish clothes, flattering lined clothes, etc., when all that is needful is to conquer COLOR.  Making sure you’re adorned in the best colors for you GIVES your family energy when they look upon you.  This is a subtle additional layer of creating pleasant affection and bonding between you and your family.  People love to be around a visually uplifting living canvas!  You are a nurturer, so nurture those around you visually, too.

Children could care less how much you WEIGH; they just want to know if you LOOK happy.  The right colors take you from looking worn out and haggard, to looking cheerful and at peace, despite what lives on your insides at the moment.  Color can catapult you from drab and dowdy to dynamite.

Marriage Tip: Detach
Last week a friend told me that she has learned to have this thought when she starts heading into a marital conflict: “Oooooohhhh, this could get really ugly here quickly OR I could just grow up!”

Just like the old adage about sin, so goes every spat.  Every argument “takes you further than you wanted to go, makes you stay longer than you wanted to stay, and makes you pay more (in your OWN nervous system) than you wanted to pay.”  Do yourself a favor and detach.  You are not obligated to take everything to the mat.

Devotions:
Relate/pray/be devoted to the Lord so much NOW that when you die you’ll only change PLACES, not OCCUPATIONS!  NOW is the time to be consumed with Him.  Heaven starts now.

Motherhood Tips 12

Wednesday, 21. April 2010 by Renee Ellison

You don’t have to go to a convent to be a Holy Mother, or marry the President to be the First Lady; you can just DECIDE to be one to somebody!

Here are more tips on impacting the world at its most influenceable spot… the home.  (See http://www.homeschoolhowtos.com/blog/ for past FREE Motherhood tips: 1-11, and to view this current one as a blog, nicely formatted.)

Wanta forward this?  I can write these but I can’t send them to the people who you know want them.  I’m utterly helpless to do that part past myself.  Wanta be a team, and encourage some other moms by pressing your forward button?  These tips include:
1. Parenting tip
2. Home management tip
3. Kitchen tip
4. Sewing tip
5. Marriage tip
6. Devotions

Parenting tip:  Swift discipline
Deal with discipline matters swiftly, if even on the backstroke.  Overwhelm the negative with the positive.  Move past it.

Nothing worthwhile comes of disciplining your child by standing him in a corner for three hours, or holding a grudge with him all day.  Instead, announce some little undesirable fallout of his present bad behavior.  “You will not be having dessert with us for hitting your brother.”  Or tell an older child, “You will now go scrub the bathroom floor for refusing to come the FIRST time we called you” and then you MOVE ON… and become preoccupied with something else.

Then, as soon as he wants to go do his OWN next thing, you calmly and cheerfully remind him, “Oh yes, I’d love for you to do that, but first, remember, you’ll not do anything until you have scrubbed the bathroom floor, as I mentioned already.  Your behavior was unacceptable and there ALWAYS will be a consequence that makes your life just a little bit miserable every time you make that choice.”  And then hum a little song…as if it is a done deal.

Use reverse psychology sometimes.  “You may have SIX fits if you’d like, over this issue, if that is the way you would like to waste your energy, but I won’t be here to watch them.”  Simply refuse to match energy with your stubborn child.  Unhook.

Some children are easily disciplined.  You can direct them even with just a raised eyebrow, but there ARE children who are born fighting.  With that kind of child you have to swiftly match fire with fire.  If such a child refuses to empty the trash when you ask him to, and storms around, you might warn him that you will empty it onto his bedroom floor and make him pick it up (then, go ahead and do it if he stalls).  If he jumps up and down impatiently beside your grocery cart after you have insisted that he quiet himself, make him jump up and down when you get home until the two-minute timer goes off.

The principle here is to make life incrementally worse in that specific area, until the child’s defiant spirit is broken.

Try not to allow heaviness with ONE child to overwhelm the entire atmosphere with the OTHER children of your household.  Set your unruly one apart from your other children, deal with him firmly and sternly, and then put on a smiling face to greet the rest of your family.  One child does not have a right to use up all the oxygen in the home.

Home Management Tip:  Learn to say “No”
N-O.  This short word will give you long spaces of time to get caught up with absolutely everything.  Try it: tongue on the roof of mouth, followed by a little gust of wind… “Noooooooooo.”

Kitchen Tip:  Eat cake for breakfast!
Why stand over the stove flippin’ hotcakes?  If you look at the ingredients for pancakes or waffles, they are exactly those of CAKE.  So, for breakfast sometimes, for a little variety, mix up the batter, substituting only healthy ingredients, pop it into the toaster oven or your main oven, and get on with your day.

For a far healthier syrup, grind up some apples with some water and cinnamon to make 5-star REAL applesauce.  Then POUR this over the top of each child’s piece of cake on their plate as the syrup.  (Any fruit and water will do for syrup).  Pineapple is delicious, too.  Fruit is far more nutritious than syrup.

Grinding your own flour for the cake is more nutritious, too.  Find a basic cake recipe, replacing white flour with your own home ground, and the sugar with honey, and use organic eggs, instead.  Voila!... a top-quality fuel to start the day.

Sewing Tip:  Buttons that stay on
Teach your children how to sew.  This will save them money and time, because they will be able to quickly fix any garment through all their years.  Conquer hand sewing first, then basic machine sewing.

Start by teaching them to thread and knot a needle.  If threading the needle is difficult, then have them use a little needle threader pick (available at any sewing notions department).  After they thread the needle, then have them wet their pointer finger at the kitchen sink or on a sponge.  Wrap a large, loose X of thread around the base of that wet finger and then take their thumb from that same hand and roll that X all the way off the finger.  Then hold that threaded needle high in the air and pull that loose knot to the bottom.

Then teach them to sew on a button on any folded piece of scrap fabric.  Instead of sewing the button holes in consecutive order, teach them to sew through the holes in an X pattern.  Three stitches on the first stick of the X, followed by three stitches going the opposite way.  This secures the button far tighter than sewing the holes consecutively.  Have them do it both ways and see for themselves which way is stronger!

After they’ve conquered sewing on buttons, have them begin a new project of sewing two matching five-inch squares of cotton fabric together.  Leave a three inch hole open along one side to stuff the square.  Turn the square right side out, stuff it with anything, and sew the hole closed.  Continue to reinforce the skill by having them sew other geometric shapes together and stuff them, too.

Marriage Tip:  Through the woods
Relationships sometimes have to go THROUGH things to get to a better place.  Walking THROUGH the Red Sea was no picnic, yet (strangely) it was right in the center of God’s will!  Uneven, highly cataclysmic times are part of even good relationships.  Do not be fearful of true, honest, humble, God-fearing communicating… even when the going gets rough.

Keep the following parameters in view for those moments when you are on the high seas in your marriage:
* Reserve discussing deep issues for quiet times, even if it means you have to wait for awhile.
* Keep the “good of your marriage” center stage.  Make sure the MARRIAGE WINS.  You can pay too much for your whistle (hammering your point of view).  Winning is not the goal here, enhancement of communication is.
* Also, maintain a reverence for God in the room with you.  As it says in 1 Peter 2:19 “keep conscious of God.”  One is even encouraged in that passage, to maybe even choose to suffer out of deference for God.  Believers are not to become engaged in a free-for-all like the pagans.  The fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

Devotions:  Morning and evening sacrifices
With motherhood, a rigid schedule is almost an impossible thing.  If a mother is up at 4:30 a.m. tending to a baby with colic, she will not be up again at 5 to have devotions!  In order not to take a 20 year vacation from daily devotions, mothers have to navigate differently.  The solution?  Instead, do your devotions as your highest priority for your first discretionary moment.

Elisabeth Elliot’s mother, who raised a large family, fed them all breakfast first and THEN sat down after breakfast and had devotions.  The children could set their watches by their mother’s rigor to get with God at the earliest moment she was free.  She kept it up year in and year out, all 20 years of their childhood.  (With homeschooling families, children can have their devotions right alongside yours.)

George Mueller fed more orphans than the largest elementary school in your area, and supported scores of missionaries single-handedly by prayer alone.  In one of his prayer journals he wrote that there were many fine Christian books that used to vie for his time, but when he got serious about putting the BIBLE first, that is when he got down to doing real business with God.

If you read just three chapters of Scriptures a day, consecutively, it will take less than 10 minutes to read and it will change your life.  You’ll be praying in addition to reading, but the time for that will vary.  But for the Scripture reading part of your devotions, if you’ll read one chapter each from the Old and New Testaments, followed by a third chapter from Psalms, you’ll begin to feel a new sort of dawn in your life... and so will your husband and children.  (To keep track of where you are in each of the three sections, just note where you finish each day in each section under three columns on a small 3X5 card that is tucked into your Bible.)

When you finish the entire book of Psalms, it is easiest to then proceed through Proverbs, reading through these middle books of the Bible consecutively in a cycle, again and again.  If you do the once popular older system of reading a Proverb a day, it takes you through Proverbs too many times in PROPORTION to the rest of the Scriptures.  Conversely, by adding Proverbs at the conclusion of your reading through all of the Psalms, it will keep them far more in balance with the total Bible.

If you are ambitious and want to read through the entire Bible in one year, just read one MORE chapter of the O.T. in the evening, in bed; it will take you less than three minutes.  You could view this as an evening sacrifice (following what the priests did by offering both morning and evening sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple for centuries).  Developing such a habit will keep you on a high romp with God… and on a short leash while in the world.  Daniel met with God 3X a day!  You’ll note that this pattern takes you on extra trips through Psalms/Proverbs and part of the New Testament, as well.  But this makes up for all those adolescent years when perhaps you didn’t read there at all!!!)

Most Americans have never done this, even once, let alone as a lifetime habit.  You simply cannot lead a spiritual life with no fuel.  If we don’t take reading Scripture seriously it will, ipso facto, be progressively replaced by a creeping cancerous materialism, reducing life to functioning like the beasts, navigating only by what we can see and want—not only in the culture at large but also in our own hearts.

Mueller read the entire Bible through consecutively, cover to cover, over 30 times.  It gave him a thoroughly Biblical mind, and enabled him to function with Biblical power.  10,000 orphans with real stomachs (no mere theory here) were sure glad he did.

Just three chapters a day, day in and day out with no let-up, as your highest unflinching priority, at your first discretionary moment, will change your life.  Guaranteed.

Motherhood Tips 11

Monday, 12. April 2010 by Renee Ellison

In the absence of any high school or college course offered in “how to mother,” perhaps this motherhood tip can lend some help.  Forward this to moms who are desperate to know MORE about what they are doing everyday with their young ones.  (To see past tips visit www.homeschoolhowtos.com)

Six tips:

Parenting Tip
Home Management Tip
Kitchen Tip
Sewing Tip
MarriageTip
Devotions

Parenting Tip: What IS immaturity in a child?
Parents are often irate with their children whenever they manifest immaturity.  Child-rearing would go better if parents could but see, right from the get-go, that such a response to a child’s immaturity is like being angry with your child that his hand is only four inches big instead of six inches.

What a wise parent must learn to see is that no matter where the child is in his development, he is right on schedule, for who he is.  Immaturity is where maturity STARTS!  It is up to YOU to patiently and incrementally usher him into maturity from whatever point you find him, on any issue, every day.  If he is not yet mature in an area, then he simply needs more hand holding work done right there, right next to you who patiently walk him through it all over again.  Criticism never accomplishes anything.  All it does is FREEZE the child’s mind, causing him to move BACKWARDS in relation to that recurring issue.

Immaturity is simply the result of a lack of ENOUGH exposure, both to circumstances and to the personal discipline of managing oneself in relation to those circumstances.  The shortest route to maturity is for a child to have one hand in the hand of a mature adult, so that the child can see what maturity acts like.  Thus, he can live through the situation multiple times while riding on someone else’s back for awhile.

People sometimes get upset at caring parents for helping their children with a science project, for example.  But the point is, the child has never DONE a science project before.  He learns how to do one by first doing one with you.  In the beginning a child may have never done a workbook page before.  He may have never before practiced several measures on an instrument, or learned how to navigate a tough patch with a disgruntled neighbor.  Even if the child HAS done these things before, he may not have done ENOUGH of them. 

In all instances, the child will push YOU away when maturity is finally reached—once he has caught on.  Meanwhile, don’t be tempted to push him away or to delegate too soon, or to expect too much.  Do the exact opposite.  Stick in there like glue until he gains capability and internal equilibrium in each area.

A child simply cannot learn to do a workbook page by himself over in a corner.  Neither does he know how to do all the complexities of appropriately relating to relatives or neighbors, or how to treat property, or how to eat a variety of foods.  A child cannot develop the ability to INTERNALLY discipline himself without tons of experience doing the same thing with a source of EXTERNAL encouragement sitting right next to him, incrementally showing him how.  The more you are together in and through everything, the faster and more securely he will progress.  The principle is that in every area, if you will focus on spending a lot of time in the beginning stages of mastering anything, you’ll find that you have to spend almost no time later on.  If you don’t do this initial full-out investment in training in every area, you’ll be FOREVER training, even the minutiae… maybe even when your child is 30 years old.

So we see that immaturity is best conquered by the “with you principle”—the discipleship principle.  The LORD chose this technique as His highest and shortest route to training His timeless 12 disciples.  Capitalizing on this principle, in record time He turned His vagabond buddies into trophies of spiritual dynamos and human architectural giants of re-civilizing the entire world.  There was simply no other way for the LORD to train them so fast.  It is evident, upon reflection, that the Messiah had full command of the power of this hobnobbing principle!  He knew exactly where He was headed with His protégés and how to get them there.  His disciples soaked up His influence like sponges to water, simply by logging in gigantic numbers of hours of being with Him.

In a word, immaturity is simply a factor of not yet having had enough exposure to find the overcoming elements in any challenge.  So, how do you handle your child’s immaturity?  Try switching from wasting energy on being alarmed and/or critical and/or short with your child, to spending it masterminding how to brilliantly, craftily, effectively scootch him along!!!  Drop your expectations and simply begin again with what IS.  Do re-runs together, until the area is mastered.  Then try incrementally delegating the area.  If it falls apart, then return to the companionship-thing again.

In all child training there is the potential for a disparity in perception.  When a mom or dad says, “Go to your room and clean it up,” the parent sees an easy task ahead.  But the young child may not think it is easy at all.  He thinks, “There is a HUGE room in there with a HUGE amount of stuff and I’ll never be able to do this thing.”  You’ve got to learn to see like he sees.  Just try it, even on the physical level; crawl to his room on your knees and look at his room from two feet from the floor.  It just looks overwhelming.  Every new task or responsibility is overwhelming to a child, whether it is in the relational area, the physical area, or the conceptual area.

So what does the parent do to minimize this disparity?  Splinter the task and/or repeat the experience.  See to it that you repeat the morning’s defeating relational challenge with a sibling in a controlled rerun, later in the afternoon.  Have him clean up/arrange his shoes again later in the day…with a BETTER attitude.  Teach him how to clean up only a three foot square area of his room—line it with string if you have to—and do it WITH him a time or two MORE, then move to the next three foot square area, while you are still there, but only watch this time, etc.

Miniaturize every request when a child is yet immature in that area… and/or repeat the exposure to the problem relational area under your wise tutelage yet again.  Go for tiny developments.  “Only eat this one spoonful,” “Only practice this one measure,” “Only help your sister for five minutes,” “Only sweep the walk until the three minute timer rings,” “Only hoe this row,”” Practice staying quiet while your brother blows his top, just like you did this morning.”

Sing/whistle/hum while you work right next to your child.  Give him a happy environment in which to develop.  Then in the afternoon do it again, and stretch the time a wee bit more, or give him a similar encounter with a person where he repeats his more elegant greeting, looking the stranger in the eye this time.  In fact, if you occupy him with happy thoughts and warm companionship, the time factor and the perceived HUGENESS factor will completely disappear.

I’ve known parents who KNEW their child had an assignment due in four weeks, who exploded when the hour finally arrived and the child had done nothing.  In the preceding month the parents had been involved in their own preoccupations and had assumed that their immature child would tackle the job, though he had had no prior experience in planning and completing such a project.  This is NOT parenting; this is using your child as a venting station.  Where were the parents on that first night when they should have been hovering over the first tiny piece of the child’s assignment?

I heard of another parent who was irate that her child didn’t know the alphabet when first grade was over.  It was now May.  Where was the mother in September?  Why didn’t she hover over the introduction of the letter “A” during that first week?  Long vacations from vigilance over our children produce chaos and anger.  Negligence followed by explosions can result in severe chronic depression for a child.  Tons of teenagers are suicidal for this very reason.  Their parents were so preoccupied, they didn’t incrementally help them.  Such emotionally abandoned children see life as one huge REQUEST / DEMAND / BARK from their parents.  Instead they need to see mitigating softness, ennobling companionship and widely praised progress in their own young personal development.  Parents need to be conscious of progress for the child’s sake, not just to ease the parent’s agenda, or their own adult irritations.

Once upon a time there were two very different piano teachers.  The first teacher routinely asked his young boy student upon arrival, “How much did you practice this week?”  Every week, the young boy replied, “Never an hour, sir…’cause we were so busy.”  At this point each week, the piano tutor (whose rigidly high expectations were dashed once again), began to fume and steam and criticize the boy.  The routine was always the same.  As to be expected, the fear in the boy at the tutor’s tirade clouded his ability to think and advance, even during his lesson.  After three of four months of such sessions the young boy was so inoculated against musical training that he never willingly touched the subject again throughout the remainder of his life.

The second piano teacher always assumed the worst, and functioned with a perpetual twinkle in his eye.  He didn’t even ask the “How much did you practice” question.  Instead, he asked the boy about his dog.  He knew that soon enough, he would OBSERVE how much the boy had practiced…no matter how many verbal assertions his young student made to the contrary.  The seasoned teacher simply took the boy where he was, and made a happy experience of the CURRENT hour.  The boy advanced so much during each lesson that soon he was practicing without a single reminder from his parents.  He was happily hooked on the love of classical music and all its deeply satisfying and personally affirming warm associations.

So, match your child’s immaturity with a twinkle in your eye and a seasoned, deep maturity of your own, and see to it that you make the most of every hour, AS IT UNFOLDS.  Work patiently with what IS, and maturity WILL SET IT in as surely as the coming dawn.

Home Management Tip: Domestic biological warfare
Here’s a look at some germ management strategies.  For most of us, even after we’ve cleaned the house, we’ve missed the most important spots: the handles and the doorknobs!  Millions of germs live there, unnoticed.  Therefore, you may want to occasionally wash all your door handles with hydrogen peroxide, or use a mixture of vinegar and water.  Wash your bathroom doors up and down a foot or two from the handles, on the wood itself, where people fling doors open and shut them without even using the handles.  Wash the handles on your front and back doors.  All manner of guests (big and little) touch them, and who knows WHAT they’ve done with their hands shortly before entering your home.

Teach all your family members to wash their hands thoroughly with soap, each and every time they arrive home.  Shopping carts, public doors and public restrooms are filled with germs that then get carted home via the hands.  When we touch our hands to our faces, we spread germs into our bodies through all those holes… veritable open gates!  These days, you can never wash your hands too much.

Also, by the way, teach your children to cough into the crook of their elbows, NOT into their hands… which THEN go on doorknobs.

Kitchen Tip:  Lunch in a flash (healthy, filling and tasty)
Defrost a bag or two of frozen veggies (plain, no added preservatives and sauces) all morning on the counter.  Take them out as soon as you get up, or the night before.  At noon, toss thawed veggies in blender, add boiling water and/or rice milk, and add all-purpose seasoning.  Presto… you’ll now have instant healthy soup, without any GMO nonsense and other chemicals.  Serve the sandwich or crackers and cheese AFTER everyone has downed their healthy delicious soup.

Sewing Tip: Driver’s Ed
Teach your children how to DRIVE the sewing machine first, before attempting to start on any sewing projects.  Put their pedal to the metal.  Can they drive it SMOOTHLY?  No lurching!

Take an old scrap of fabric and use a marking pen to draw large five-inch geometric shapes on it: a square, a triangle, a circle, a rectangle, a star, a diamond, and perhaps animal shapes and happy faces.  Take all the thread out of the machine, both from the top spool and the bobbin case below, and have your students practice stitching around these shapes, using no thread.  Teach them to plant their needle, lift the presser foot and pivot accurately.  Teach them how to go in reverse and back-tack.  Teach your guys these simple basics, too, in case they need to mend something in an army barracks or a workshop someday.

By the way, at the same time, you can also teach your girls and your guys how to use a stud finder, how to hammer nails or mollies into studs, or to use a power tool to screw screws into studs to hang pictures.  They will use these skills over and over later in life.

Marriage Tip: Study your man
Ever see two children wrapped up in a sheet, tumbling all over the living room floor?  All you see is elbows and knees sticking out in different places as they tumble over and over again.  During the tumble, the two children know only each other’s hot breath, the strength of their arms as they wrestle, and their clipped strained sentences to each other.  The parent on the couch, however, sees everything calmly with 20/20 perception, and is wisely quiet.

Marriage is kind of like that tumble: it’s a continuous fray at times, a free-for-all of just trying to cope with each other amidst the daily stresses of life.  But if, in some way you could get a part of yourself up and out of the fray to ALSO, at the same time, sit on the couch (like the parent) and observe your own marriage-tumble from outside yourself, you might gain some valuable objectivity. 

Have you ever sought to just deliberately study your man for awhile, noting how he relates to others and what he does subconsciously; watching what he DOES, not necessarily what he says?  Why not try deliberately studying your man with the end in view of relating more easily with him?

What IS your husband like? What does he gravitate toward, and why?  What are his knee-jerk responses?  What makes him happy?  sad?  fulfilled?  frustrated?  Where is he weak?  strong?  different?  Is he a bit of a laggard?  a speedy sort?  deliberating?  impulsive?  overly scrupulous?  a wee bit reckless?  Is there any way for you to respond to these behaviors more sweetly?

Understanding your husband totally apart from personally interfacing with him is eye-opening.  It softens the marital wrestle… adds humor… wizens your coping strategies… and oils the hinges of relating.

What would your marriage be like if you enlarged your desire for just simple peace/ harmony/ just-getting-along casualness as your goal, relaxing your hold and grip on your husband a bit more?  What if you increased the number of times you tell yourself: “You know, a year from now this detail is not going to really matter one way or the other,” giving each irritating moment the “one-year-from-now-test!”

Marriage is an adventure in adjustment. Women have a particular knack for going with the flow (on a good day).  Feminine mystique is all about functioning on multiple cylinders at once.  Women, in particular, can have all the windows of their minds open at once (just like on a computer), responding optimally to all of it at once, whereas most men tend to open only one window at a time.  Women have the gift of accommodation, beveling, the gift of turn-it-on-charm, the gift of making lemonade out of lemons at any moment they desire to.  What would happen if we used those gifts MORE?  Maybe that is what they are FOR?!!!

Just look at the funny things that MAY be discovered by developing some deliberate objectivity about your husband.  Your husband may say: “I’m tired; I think I’ll take a nap,” but immediately he starts in on a large project!  Or he may do the reverse, saying, “I think I’ll conquer such and such,” and then he goes over and sits in an easy chair and drift off to sleep!  Your spouse may habitually respond to all your suggestions with a “No,” which you discover with a bit more objectivity, isn’t actually what he means…all he means is “I’m occupied right now and that’ll have to wait.”  Or he may say he doesn’t care how he looks, and yet he works at it meticulously.  Or he is against gaining weight but takes donuts to his workout room.  He loves gardening but he never actually gets down to planting the seedlings.  He may tell you he is uncomfortable relating to strangers, yet he relates to them endlessly, seizing every opportunity.  It can be funny to know your husband, but more seriously, in addition it gives you an edge in ANTICIPATING and providing for softer relating… based on what you KNOW, not just what he tells you!

Harmony in the home, even if largely carried out only by the woman, especially in extremely difficult cases, is an incredible gift to a child.  It colors a childhood, from conception to graduation.  Sing the “harmony-hymn” quietly in your heart and it’ll be heard in your home.

Devotions Tip: Hunt for hidden tremors
Read the Bible for what it doesn’t say.  Try hunting for implications, reasons, cause and effect…picture the details that are left out.  And frequently try to imagine doing any event in scripture YOURSELF, what would it take to get your heart into that state?  He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY seek Him.  So, work at understanding scripture way past the obvious.  Following are some head turners.  See how many perplexities you and your older children can find of your own!

Read Zechariah 14:21, again.  Why will we still be doing sacrifices in the coming millennium?  What’s going on there?  What kind of sacrifices?  What for?

In Exodus, how come Moses had to still pray for the plagues to come, even though God had said they would come?  What is the point of his prayer?

Consider this seemingly upside-down verse, Exodus 8:13: “And the LORD did what Moses asked.”  How far would/could THAT possibly extend—that the almighty God would respond to a mere man?  And how ‘bout just a human command?  Joshua commanded the sun to stand still; this wasn’t even in the form of a prayer; it was his own command!  Huh?

Revelation 22: 15: “Blessed are those who go through the gates into the city…outside are the dogs, the murderers.”  Huh?  We thought all these wicked people were done away with!  Are they right outside the heavenly City?  Can you see them still?

Revelation 22:2b: “The leaves of the tree [of life] were for the healing of the nations.”  If there is no disease in Heaven, why would we need healing?

On and on the mysteries go.  Saturate yourself with them.  Wallow in them.  Get your feet wet.  Learn to love the nearly constant pursuit, and the just-beyond-you-answers.  Many implications may come to you, bit by bit, eventually, like earthquakes right under your feet.

Motherhood Tips 10

Thursday, 11. March 2010 by Renee Ellison

The beautiful thing about children is that you can INFLUENCE them, instead of dealing with stuffy old adults who are already set in their ways.  Send these tips to as many moms as you can—mothers who want to massively

INCREASE their influence in the world!

Parenting Tip:  What do you DO with a child?
From the day that each child is born, you begin to progressively and incrementally grow him into an awesome adult!

God grows the child, but you trim and prune and water and tweak the child.  God is the seed giver, but you are the gardener.  And make no mistake: the gardener has an enormous influence on outcomes.  Take two gardeners: one is scattered, unfocused, preoccupied, lazy.  The other is focused, industrious, careful and attentive.  Both are responsible for rose bushes.  One garden is left to grow wild; the other is tamed into a world-famous rose garden.  Roses bloom in both gardens, but those in the untended garden are covered over with thorns and weeds.  God ALWAYS does His part (the rose/child WILL grow up)... but what about your part?  What SORT of garden/rosebush will this child become?  (Even though ALL the dynamics won’t be within your hands – you can’t control all of the effects of original DNA, convoluted circumstances, health issues, accidents and injuries, and counter-productive input from friends, neighbors and relatives—you can go for the dynamics that ARE within your reach.)

Begin with the end in view.  Where are you HEADED with your child?  Are you and the children flopping around the living room, taken up with every novel idea that comes around and OTHER people’s agendas for your day, or do you have some strong plans of your OWN to implement with your children?  Where are you headed?  Protect those plans from outsiders’ distractions and from your own lesser matters and endless errands.

This is how parenting works in every area of a child’s life: if you intend for your child to someday live in a clean, orderly home as an adult, not in a pigsty, you begin by teaching your two-year-old how to empty the trash, using a tiny trashcan that is just his size.  By the time he is ten years old he ought to know how to vacuum and fix a meal or two by himself.

If you intend for your child to become articulate, have a large vocabulary, and charm people in any conversation, you begin by talking to your baby as if he were an adult, reading Isaac Watt’s hymns aloud to him while you nurse.  By the time he is ten, you’re making sure he has read a good 500 wholesome books or so (and can talk about them to you)...books that are full of real history—missionary biographies—how-to books.  Skimp over much of the fantasy/twaddle.  Then increase it to a thousand more books.  (At our website, download Melanie Ellison’s Favorite Books for Godly Children – a free list of over 100 best-of-the-best books for children.)  Then borrow them for free through inter-library loan or buy them used and inexpensively from AbeBooks.com and other sources suggested on that list).

If you don’t want your child to be a sluggard as an adult, you progressively and incrementally put the bee on him to “work” when he is four.

If you want him to have a chance at becoming a good musician, have him listen to classical music everyday while he is still in diapers, take him to symphony orchestra rehearsals, and gently tap out rhythms on his back.  (Make sure he never gets near rock music; as sadly happens in countless families.  This music is now conclusively known to become progressively addictive and can completely dive-bomb all your best efforts at parenting.)

If you want him to be at ease eventually while eating international and gourmet dishes, you give him little amounts of a wide variety of foods and tastes when he is three years old.  Set a small portion of these on his plate at each dinner and require him to eat them before having more of his favorite foods.  Particularly introduce him to a wide variety of steamed vegetables, slathered with lemon and butter/coconut oil.  Incrementally develop his palette.  Grow a healthy child by insisting upon healthy habits/choices from the get-go.  Make junk food unavailable.

If you want him to reverence God, begin reading Scripture to your child when he is still in utero.  (There is only a thin wall of skin between you.)  When he’s born, replace airhead nursery rhymes and twaddle with substance, and start reading to him from easy versions.  Teach him to know all the books of the Bible in order so he can flip to them easily.  Conquer and review two or three book names a day.  Teach the key people and the key events.  Then progress to looking for the high voltage underneath specific verses, together.  Start today with your six-month-old.  Outline the cover with his little finger, while saying “This is God’s love letter to YOU!  Isn’t that exciting that He wrote to YOU!”

While you’re scrubbing the kitchen floor, set Egypt on one side and Canaan on the other, and scrub your way across the Wilderness!  Say a Scripture verse over your child every time you change his diapers; if you say the same verse all week, in a year he will know 52 verses by osmosis.  Likewise, sing a hymn a week, and by the end of the year he will know 52 hymns!  When you rise up and when you sit down, grow a spiritual child (Deut. 4-6).  If you only concentrate on academics or talents, or sports, you could raise a brilliant murderer! Life must have a WHY, not just a how.

If you want him to know how to manage money and make a living, help him start his home-based business when he is five years old.  Teach him how to wade into an income stream whenever it is flowing.  If the lady next door wants her chickens watched and she will pay him money, then drop everything and go do it, because tomorrow maybe no one wants their chickens watched.  And then teach him how to make a few income streams of his own.  Make something that is irresistible to others, such as brownies, or improved small gardening equipment.  Every entrepreneur starts with baby steps…producing brownies may eventually be replaced with producing computer micro-chips, or growing lettuce with sound waves.

Begin by paying him ten cents to collect ten rocks for your new garden rock walkway or to iron his sister’s shirts.  Teach him to be on the look-out to provide services to others in some better way.  Hard-working immigrants do this.  They raise their children in and around the work ethic, and thereby out-produce many who have lived in American ghettos for generations.  Jews did this when they established the nation of Israel from scratch, and vaulted to the top of European exports—out of barren rocky ground.  Begin to train your children in economics when they are one year old.  “This is a nickel; this is a dime.”  Then a few years later, add the thought: “If you do this EXTRA job, you hear this dime clink in your jar.”

If you want him to be meticulously honest as an adult, strongly land on his first lie, and spin his head at the consequences of having told it.

If you want to grow a winsome adult, teach the child a hearty handshake, a broad smile, and the habit of looking in people’s eyes while listening to them.

If you want to grow a very capable, confident adult, grow as many life skills as possible, incrementally and progressively, all through the years.  These could include barbering, elk hunting, sewing alterations, car mechanics, speed-typing 90 wpm, bread-making, carpentry, piano accompaniment, and electricians’ skills.  Grow these, and many more, developing ever-deeper levels of competence.  The more an individual knows how to do, the less dependent he is upon experts and the more helpful he becomes to others in nearly every situation or emergency, to say nothing of the money he’ll save.  To grow a broadly skilled child, deliberately take this ground inch by inch.

The gardener bends the tree and ties it to the fence, tilts the plant to get the most sun, protects it from tornadoes when young, sets it out IN the storms when it’s older, hardens off the top, and strengthens the root.  Parenting is a full-time job with no pay raises, but if you do it well, your future reward could well bowl you over with joy.  Parent with everything you’ve got, because it is a hundred yard dash across time and then it is over.  Parent NOW like there is no tomorrow.

Home Management: Corralling domestic spaces
Some of you are raising large families in very cramped quarters.  Others of you are living in huge areas, veritable barns, but they seem cold and uninviting.  Let’s talk about conquering spaces…not outer space, but inner space…creating homey spaces!

Too Little Space

If you only have a dinky kitchen to work in, think of French chefs.  They have historically worked in dinky spaces, too.  Think of the wonderful cuisine they were able to produce in such tight places.  That is where the idea of hanging all your kitchen equipment from the ceiling came from.  The advantage of small kitchens is that you can grab everything by pivoting only on one foot.  Learn to be grateful for that!  Attitude is everything.

In addition to that splendid idea of hanging pots and pans, if you need to achieve more counter space, place boards on open kitchen drawers.  Cut Plexiglas or 1/4 inch plywood into rectangles to lay on top of these drawers when needed and opened.  Store these thin boards standing up in the crack between your fridge and cupboard, to have them close by and ready to retrieve at a moment’s notice to give you more production space.  Cut the wood or Plexiglas exactly the size to fit the top of each drawer that you want to double-use in this manner.  To get the size exactly right, try cutting each one out of cardboard first, so that each final board sits on top and doesn’t fall down into its drawer.

If your kitchen EATING area is too small, turn your kitchen table into permanent additional COUNTER space—creating a larger work area—and move your actual eating into the dining room or double use your living room space for meals.

To achieve more space in the rest of your house, you have to think like an inch-engineer.  Consider affixing tiny narrow shelves on the walls behind all of your doors.  Raise all of your beds on plastic bed leg risers (available at Wal-Mart), using the space underneath for boxes or plastic containers.  Make all desks only 18 inches deep and use the wall in front of and above each desk for all the stuff that you normally stash on the back half of any desk.  Go UP.  If you think about it, people only actually work on the front half of their desks.  If you have to go really far up to gain enough space, hang a lightweight two-step ladder close by.

Too Much Space

Group your seating arrangements into cozy little areas around smaller area rugs.  Have various areas designated for specific different activities, with large hallways/ or passageways in between, even going right through the center of a room.  Cultivate CLOSENESS for your family.  When arranging chairs, try out a real conversation.  Does it feel close and stress free, or do you find yourselves yelling to communicate or stretching to share a book’s pictures?

When you have lots of space, use it all!  Set up a home-made massage table, a ping-pong table, chess sets, an indoor bowling area with beach balls, an easel and painting center, exercise equipment, charts on the walls, world maps, white boards, etc.

In large spaces, liberally place end tables near all chairs and couches to set books and lamps upon, even if you can only afford to toss a pretty piece of fabric over several stacked cardboard boxes.  Remember, your home will be hallmarked with books.  Take a child who has read 500 profound books and stand him next to a child who has seen 500 trite movies and the difference between those two children is staggering…like two different creatures from two different planets.

Whether your living space is provokingly small or bizarrely large, as an innovative flexible mother you can say along with the Apostle Paul, “I’ve learned in whatsoever state I’m in, therewith to make my family content!” (paraphrased very loosely).

Kitchen Tip: How to hand-wash dishes better
Some women have washed dishes for nearly sixty, seventy, eighty years and still are “winging it” in their old age!  How could we, as women, do something three times a day and know so little about it?  Let’s think it through thoroughly once and for all and get the best system down pat.

First, what’s the attitude?  Do you dread doing dishes?  What can you THINK to make the whole relentlessly repetitive affair more tolerable?  To begin with, to overcome inertia, think about the hot sudsy water, not the dirty dishes.  Then lead with your hands: just begin doing it.  Think about whether you want to do it or not AFTERWARDS ...after it is all done!  And then think about getting through the chore in record speed.  You don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen doing dishes.  You want to do them FAST and get out of there!

Let’s conquer doing the dishes by hand for those of you who don’t have a dishwasher, and to mentally equip the rest of you for when you attend potlucks, or your dishwasher breaks, or you are at someone else’s home who doesn’t have one.  You’ve got to know how to do dishes quickly and efficiently.

Ideally, you need two large plastic dishpans that fill your sink space…one for washing and one for rinsing.  You want to use these plastic tubs, simply because you can go faster!  You don’t have to worry about chipping your sink or your dishes if they are surrounded with plastic.  When your washing tub gets dirty, empty it, then pour your rinse water from the other tub into your dish tub, add a little more dishwashing soap, and start all over.  Refresh your water frequently.  To save space under your sink for more important things, when you’ve finished, shake the excess water off of both your plastic tubs and fling them on top of your refrigerator to store them there to air dry.  Set the top one in perpendicular to the bottom one so they don’t get stuck together.

You’ll need four tools: a 12” bottle brush, an 8” scrubber brush with a tilted handle, a mild blue scrubber square (not a heavy-duty rough green one; those are rarely if ever needed), and a separate sponge.  Because you want to be able to use BOTH sides of your sponge to endlessly mop up counter top water in and around the sink, don’t get the kind that has the scrubbie on the back side.  Keep them separate.

Primarily use the tilted handled brush to clean most every dish and pan, aided by your blue scrubbie square for harder spots, reserving your sponge for primarily wiping counter tops and cleaning silverware.  This keeps your sponge less gummed up and bacteria-laden from food particles.  The brush is far easier to clean, and absorbs less long range crud.

Do not use dish rags.  Only a small portion of a dish rag is used on a job, leaving a huge tail to drag around on your countertops and plates.  It is the most inefficient of kitchen wannabees/inventions.  Keep them in the linen closet and bathtub.

First, dry-clean all your dishes by scraping them with a spatula into the trash.  Toss all your dirty silverware into a flat-bottomed plastic shoebox-sized container.  (GET one of these; you’ll use it EVERY DAY.)  If you toss your silverware into a bowl, the bowl invariably tips over spilling the heavy silverware all over the counter.  If you toss the silverware onto a plate, it nearly always overruns the plate, falling off on all sides.

Wipe all grease with a facial tissue (far cheaper than a paper towel, and far less messy than coating all your other dishes in greasy water, as we discussed before).

You need three detergents: 1)  NON-TOXIC liquid dish soap, 2)  WHITE vinegar. (Never use white vinegar as food, but it makes a great cleaning agent to squirt in dirty pans.  Use apple cider vinegar to eat, but use white vinegar to soak stains and stubborn stuck-on food, to wipe mirrors and windows and to clean your iron), and 3)  Borax (a non toxic abrasive) for when needed (keep it available close by in a small dish or in a large-holed shaker).

If you are doing scores of pots and pans after a big Thanksgiving dinner, for example, spread a bath towel on your counter, take out your lower dishwasher drainer, and set it on the towel next to your little everyday dish drainer.  This will provide ample extra room for a lot of things to air dry at once, allowing you to finish the overall job in half the time.

Take time to wash your blender/Vita-Mix™ and all pots and pans as soon as you empty the food out of them.  If you have some food left over in the pan/blender, immediately empty it, too, into a jar or bowl so that you can plunge those big pieces into water right away.  This produces far less work than scouring off all the stuck-on food later.  Use the long tall brush to wash the blender, and use your little blue pad to scour the pans—and do it before you sit down to eat (wearing your rubber gloves).

Soak stubborn spots on the counter and stove top with soapy water dribbled over the spot with your sponge.  Then go wash a few dishes…then return to those soaked spots and quickly wipe them up…this eliminates all necessity for elbow grease.  Since water is a solvent, let it do your work for you.  Soak each little grouping of dishes, too, while you are rinsing the prior group which you have let stack up in the second sink.  Soak, clean, rinse.  Multitask.  If company is coming at any minute, wash the biggest things first.  If time is on your side, wash the cleanest things first.  Done.

When your children do dishes, teach them to hustle, not dilly-dally.  Set the timer; shave their time; give rewards.  A listless child at work is a drain on the entire atmosphere.  Let them relax later, but not while doing a chore.

Sewing Tip:  Alteration:  Lengthening with a flair
If you have a shirt or dress to lengthen, don’t add the new piece to the very bottom.  Instead, cut off the original bottom (about six inches of it), and put your added new piece there, replacing the other piece.  Then attach the original skirt or dress piece that you JUST cut off, to the very bottom.  If you’ll do the same to the sleeves you’ll make it all look deliberate, as if you didn’t need to lengthen a thing.

Marriage Tip:  A charge to keep
Imagine that you were created to be a guardian angel—that you’ve been milling around Heaven, waiting for your call.  Imagine that when the next child is born, God will assign you to that one child and give you detailed instructions to keep that child out of electrical sockets, mitigate his sufferings of all kinds, encourage his spirit, help him over all manner of mud puddles and influence him in righteousness for years and years with no let up.  Now just apply that to your marriage and you’ll about have the perspective right on!

Think back to your wedding day and redo it.  Instead of driving off into the sunset full of happy dreams about how all of your OWN needs will now be met, think instead that you were ASSIGNED to escort this one struggling man through life, to stay in the boat with him through ALL the rapids.  When you think of it, no one ELSE will ever bother to pray for your husband as much as you will.  No one else will ever strive as much to love him, understand him, sensitively confront him, adapt to him, or mega-influence him like you will.  It is a tall job to escort an imperfect man through a long life.  (And HE to escort an imperfect YOU!)

There are many aspects to loving with REAL love.  An important one is simply LONGEVITY.  The Father loves us with EVERLASTING love.  If we are to be like Him, then it stands to reason that we would want to know something about this kind of steadfastness.  This is your one chance in life to show to one human being the steady, undiminishing love of the Father, thoroughly, year in and year out.  Set your unwavering commitment upon your spouse and you’ll find, in the end, to your great surprise, that it made a great woman of you at the same time.  Marriage is all about discovering what YOU are made of, not your spouse.

Devotions:
We think: I can’t possibly get serious about having devotions because God will keep me praying/reading forever.  We think, I’ll never get anything PRACTICAL done.  But it was said of Daniel, who DID take devotions seriously, doing it not once but three times a day, “and after praying, Daniel rose up to go about the king’s business” (Daniel 8:27).  God knows that you have business with the world.  Do business with Him first.  You’ll never regret it, in this life or in the next.

To browse the descriptions of scores of quick, inexpensive, practical boosts like these, click on the subject category tabs on the top of this page to see our homeschool resources.

Motherhood Tips 9

Sunday, 07. March 2010 by Renee Ellison

Some days mothers don’t even get a chance to talk with themselves, finish their own sentences, let alone get encouragement from another older mother!  Send this to as many mothers as you can—moms who might be running on empty.

Six tips:

Parenting Tip
Home Management Tip
Kitchen Tip
Sewing Tip
MarriageTip
Devotions

Parenting Tip:  Managing the mental diet of your child
Your child’s brain is sacred ground.  What gets written on his brain is largely your responsibility for about 12 years running, and cannot EVER be erased once it is in there.  In the beginning, he is like a new sponge right out of the wrapper.  He will sponge up grimy water or pristine mountain spring water…depending upon where you set him.  Sponging up endless media can sadly damage a child in some hidden ways not experienced by children born in other centuries.

Sitting in front of hours and hours of entertainment has become a substitute for real life in many homes today, including Christian ones.  Internet surfing and watching DVDs and TV rob a childhood of developmental hours spent in skill acquisition, self-initiative, relational interchanges, and high productivity.  Entertainment has even replaced the wholesome work ethic—even any appetite for it, as the body is repeatedly and ongoingly lulled into passivity.

If you entertain a child too often, you rob him of the ability to think UP an activity by himself and for himself.  Staring at the baseboards has value, because eventually a child casts around to DO something OTHER than stare at the baseboards…but you have to withdraw the entertainment LONG ENOUGH to birth the initiation.  Growing the ability to have a consecutive reflective thought gets nixed while sitting in front of dizzying frenetic advertisements day after day.

As a child, Edison would have been robbed of his tinkering time, the Wright Brothers of their daydreams while they were lying on their backs, staring at the sky.  To constantly watch someone ELSE live life robs you of YOURS.  And to be stirred up about someone else’s football game/score, or someone else’s emotional trauma/dilemma in a TV story (something your child can do NOTHING about) diverts the developing child from his own high intrigue, or from developing his own home-based business that grows an unbelievable personal confidence, or cultivation of his own talent that brings untold beauty/pleasure to others, if done well…i.e. mega hours of practice.  And there is certainly no time to tend to or alleviate someone’s real suffering down the street.  There’s no time… period.  It has all been given over, sold out, unavailable.

Instead of parking your child in front of a DVD, let him LISTEN to adult conversations.  Have him simply BE with you, next to you, within earshot of you, at your SAME dinner table WITH the guests.  The child will soon learn how to shape an interesting conversation, how to respond lovingly, and how to stick WITH a person emotionally, and all of this will help him mature at an astonishing rate.  Also, he will have enough reflection time to begin to learn how to think progressively…i.e. reach a conclusion…something denied the chronic dissipated TV watcher.  Some children don’t even know where the OFF button to their TV is LOCATED.  It has been on since they were born.

And finally the other real fear, for a conscientious parent, SHOULD be the altered realities children are escorted into via the screen—where evil is called good and good evil, where children dip down into fantasy worlds whose principles are in direct conflict with Scripture.  They encounter creatures and activities that are nowhere found in reality, which give rise to fears, paranoia, anxieties and bad dreams that children were never meant to have.

These parallel realities are in the same camp with divination and witchcraft, and in fact may have been formed there. In the old days, children read stories about things that could happen in their own life with their own dog.  Something different is going on today.  These are invitations into parallel realities.  Children are escorted there swiftly through overpowering visuals and pounding, driving action.  The addiction is life-altering at profound levels not understood immediately.  All we knew was that we “needed” the convenience of the visual babysitter.  Our need will become their addiction.

Even Christian films may have problems, not the least of which is dragging a child’s formative brain through the cartoon or buffoon renderings of Biblical characters and even God himself which then, ever after, relentlessly come to his mind each and every time he wants to pray.  Hours and hours of Christian DVDs straddle our children with having to go through a thickly layered visual interface to get to the real deal, the real spiritual realm.  It is no gift.

I’m so radical about this issue, I’d say allow no exposure to TV or Internet until a child is ten years old (when he has the ability to distinguish between the abstract and the concrete)...and even after that, to limit it.  Let the child have a fighting chance to have a real childhood, unmolested by visual garbage, Joseph’s fictitious or real? coat of many colors, Noah’s fictitious or real? ark, frantic pie-throwing, car-chasing, and stabbings without number.  Replace all this entertainment with real life and real challenges…encouraging your children to make something of themselves.  Reclaim those hours for high purposes…the more hours the better.  Achieving greatness begins the moment a child is born.  Hours are investments in one sort of capital or another.  You hold the keys. 

Home Management Tip:  Diffuse the huge
All of us have things in our lives that we wish we would make ourselves do and simply can’t get the old body to cooperate with.  We foot-drag terribly…worse than our children do.  We know we need to exercise consistently or pray more or daily make a big huge salad to improve our heath, or tackle arranging those family pictures, or clean the closets.  We make high resolves that never happen.

With any discipline or any overwhelming project that we know we SHOULD conquer, the pattern for most of us is to psyche ourselves to hit it hard.  We succeed on the first day, but that is usually followed by a corresponding crash for the rest of the week or month or year!

How ‘bout trying the opposite approach?!  Why not try incremental conquerings?  For example: exercise just five minutes, but do it ALL this week.  Or just do three push-ups while standing up, pushing off a wall…but do it every day, all this week.  Mark it on the calendar…reward yourself at the end of the sixth day with something you never get to do much of, like… read for ten minutes or… hide in a closet and completely finish one thought of your own, or something phenomenal like that.  Then next week up it to ten minutes EVERY day.  Mark that on the calendar.  Grow a discipline like the tortoise did, rather than opt for the crash and burn approach of the hare.

In putting yourself under new management to acquire this new habit, you have to engage in a kind of sequential suicide by dropping EVERYTHING to just go do it.  You can kind of even rev yourself up by doing war hoops like those bobsled teams do in the Olympics before they all jump into the narrow box to shoot down fifty stories in a minute.  Try leading with your body, short-circuiting the slower rational planning section of your brain…just plop your feet out of the front door to go for your walk once a day.  Ask “why?” only when you are out on the road with a half a mile already behind ya!  Or reach out your hands to sort the closet and drag your brain and sluggish emotions along AFTER your actions.

Just take one little menacing area, one little area of guilt, one “dive and cover” topic, and apply yourself to it for five minutes.  Break through inertia with creeping baby steps.  Coach yourself with a little activity in that direction, followed by a lot of lavish praise.  “Way ta go…did you see THAT…I actually made a dent in the thing!!!!!!!!!”

By the way, here’s a suggestion about family picture albums.  Forget it.  Just slide those mountains of pictures into album sleeves as soon as they are printed.  Pencil in the dates on the back of the pictures before they go into the sleeves—and call it quits.  I know moms who have shoeboxes full of pictures that never get sorted, because they are waiting to do the million dollar work-up of the best family album ever.  Or, you could assign the job to your children and take what you get!

For some huge jobs, the best strategy is just not to care! Resist being the hare OR the tortoise; instead, go sit in your favorite chair and read to your child or enjoy a good book yourself.  There is nothing in the Ten Commandments that says you HAVE to do family albums, polish silverware, or train your children to speak Arabic!  If God didn’t require it, why should you?!  Often we tie ourselves up like Lazaruses with our own expectations.  Sometimes WE make life far more difficult than it needs to be.

Kitchen Tip:  Renee Ellison of HomeschoolHowTos.comAprons and pie crusts
(1.) Make yourself the world’s best apron.

If you want one, here it is!  This is an apron you can slosh on all over at the kitchen sink!  That means you can work fast and don’t have to be so careful.  And you can see your pretty clothes through it.  Hang it on a hook in the kitchen where you can quickly grab it.  You’ll LOVE this apron.  I have several cloth aprons, but always grab this see-through vinyl one instead.  I wear it nearly constantly while in the kitchen.

54 inch medium clear plastic vinyl comes on large rolls in the fabric department at Wal-Mart.  Measure your favorite apron and go get some of that vinyl to match that measurement.  Cut an apron out of it, attaching fabric only for a neck strap and waist ties out of fabric.  When you sew the neck and waist ties to it, first cut a 2 by 2 inch scrap of vinyl and fold that over the apron’s edges right at the spots where you’ll attach the fabric, and stitch through all three layers of vinyl to really secure the ties.

(2.) Use your leftover vinyl scraps to make the tool for producing the world’s best-looking pie crusts.
Out of your leftover scraps of this vinyl, cut two 13 inch circles to use for rolling out pie crusts.  Draw around a plate…if the plate is only 12 inches, measure out an inch all around the edge.  Roll your pie crusts out between these two pieces of vinyl each and every time you make a pie, and your crusts will come out splendidly thin!  Roll your dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge.  Peel off the top layer of vinyl and plop the crust in your pie pan, then peel off the second layer, gently loosening it evenly all around the edges with your finger first.  Your counter, hands and rolling pin all stay clean.

Pie crust recipe:

2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C grapeseed oil (or any cooking oil)
1/2 C rice milk or (other milk)

Mix in a small bowl.  Stir with a metal dinner fork until the ball of dough chases your fork around the bowl.  You’ll think at first it is too wet, but keep stirring for a minute.  You want your dough to be pliable, but not sticky.  (If it is too sticky, add a touch more flour; if it is too stiff, add a touch more milk).  But it should come out just right!  Let it sit for 10 minutes before rolling it out.  This lets the flour thoroughly absorb the oil and milk, making it far easier to deal with.

Divide dough in half.  Roll out between your vinyl circles.  Makes 2.  If dough spreads/rolls out beyond the edges tuck it back in between the layers, and re-finger press it through the vinyl.  Make it perfectly round at about 12 and 1/2 inches.

Sewing Tip:  Attitude is everything
Ripping out is part of the forward process of sewing.  You have to make your peace with ripping out.  Edison found 800 ways that didn’t work before he discovered the thing that DID work to invent his light bulb.  Do you think he ever again had to go through the 799?  Do you think anyone he ever TAUGHT had to go through the 799?  He firmly understood the process.  To become an expert at anything means tolerating all of the trial and error, going at the task again and again…sticking with the one thing until it is mastered, then going on to the more difficult level.  Would you rather have Edison for your tailor or a McDonald’s cashier?  Effort SHOWS.  Effort counts.  Effort over the long haul results in something very pleasing.  Ripping out is PROGRESS.  Just ask Rembrandt or Bach.

With sewing, you have to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.  Smell the roses; FEEL the fabric; enjoy the colors; enjoy the process of gaining a skill and growing a new competency.  Enjoy the tweaking.  What else in life can you tweak without squawks from the entire family?  This could be part of your private world, as well as serving your family with the results.  Keep it stress-free.  Avoid ever putting yourself under a deadline. Have your children wear something ELSE they already have, if time runs short.  Refuse to be panicked about a skill YOU took on.  One older seamstress who had learned to relax and be content with the whole process once told me: “A good needle and thread are far cheaper than a psychiatrist’s bill!”

Marriage Tip:  A hard look at temptation
Temptation is not sin.  Rolling it around in one’s mind, savoring it, sucking on it like hard candy IS.  Loss of control over marital temptations is wrecking havoc in homes around the world, Christian and non-Christian alike.  Far from showing resistance to temptation like the Pilgrims and Puritans did, the modern church is filled with moths (people) who dance near the flame and think nothing of it.  This prevalent looseness with regard to temptations to adultery or even mental adultery is the result of two fundamental misunderstandings: 

one: of the nature of the guy/gal who is the current temptation for you or your spouse.

and two, what temptation really is designed to do, and the degree of strength necessary to throw it off.

Ever have the experience of cutting through a bright, gorgeous, shiny apple, and finding it all brown, mealy, and rotten at the center?  That is a picture of the insides of the entire human race, and of every man/woman who could potentially be a temptation to you or your spouse.  (Hence the need for a savior, by the way.)  Margaret Thatcher said: “Civilization is a thin veneer.”  In other words, if you push anyone’s buttons far enough you will find a self-absorbed beast at the core.  In the heat of a temptation, don’t forget this.

Every movie star, news announcer, hero of a romantic novel, yes, even your pastor, your business associate, your friend…all have some decay at their core.  A complete stranger may be dressed up in a nice suit as he stands on Main Street.  As your car whizzes by, the sight of him might unexpectedly cause you to catch your breath…or your spouse may catch his at the sight of a nicely dressed woman.  But just remember, that nicely suited fellow may also cheat on his clients, drink too much, and have out-of-control spending habits.  A man might have polish and pluck in public, but his business affairs be in shambles.  Another might be sentimentally satisfying with roses and poetry but looks at himself in the mirror too much.  There might be three women in the audience who know, independent of each other, that that TV evangelist has a real problem with women.  All is not gold that glitters.  Mankind’s preoccupation with self is total, whether he’s a man or a woman.  In the heat of a temptation, don’t forget this.

Keep in mind that (in addition to the rotten core) every potentially tempting man has a warehouse full of idiosyncrasies that people close to him must cope with(just as your current spouse has).  You may not know it, but your spouse copes with idiosyncrasies in YOU, too!  One talks too much: another doesn’t talk enough.  One goes to bed with cod liver oil creams and white gloves to preserve his hands for violin performances; another goes to bed with his ski boots on to increase his muscle strength.  One studies too much; another RELATES too much.  One is too perfectionistic; another is too scattered in his thoughts.  One has sleep apnea…another snores or spits.  In the heat of a temptation, don’t forget this.

Finally, keep in mind that temptations are not cute little will-of-the-wisp suggestions, puffs of smoke, toys.  They are designed by a vicious, devouring enemy of your soul…who is an expert both at 1) packaging, and 2) knowing the soft spots in human armor.  Make no mistake: having practiced for centuries, he is a bull’s-eye warrior.  All temptations are mincingly, progressively and relentlessly offered to you with only one end in mind…to take you down, shipwreck you and leave you crashed at the side of the road of life.  In the heat of a temptation, don’t forget this.

So, when a temptation hits, here is your ammunition:
Be alarmed, instantly.  Counter the first thought with Scripture, just like your Messiah did.  Guns and bullets don’t work here.  Shout and yell Scriptures if you must.  Speedily see to it that you gain victory over it mentally and spiritually.

Remember that this new temptation of a guy is basically a scoundrel at the core, just like the rest of us; he is no better than your current spouse, or YOU.  In his own temptations, the Lord never lost sight of the true nature of his tempter (the ultimate scoundrel) working through human agents.

Resist long and hard.  Have you sweat blood yet, resisting ANY temptation?  If not, you can resist some more.

If need be, take drastic action: change churches, go home a different route, stop going to THAT grocery store, or resign from the committee.  End or minimize all contact.  Determine to shorten the conversations to functional ones.  Avoid the lingering in the hallway or after the game.

Have a hefty respect for the STRENGTH of a temptation.  You may find yourself no match for it.  There are places in the heart that are so extremely complex they can be beyond understanding, and maybe even a smidgeon beyond managing.  Every human being has the potential to lose it.  Escape…don’t hang around to test your mettle.  You may find that your wings are clipped.

Immediately move TOWARD your SPOUSE with some definite, specific, loving ACTION.  Increase your expression of your love for your current difficult spouse.  (They all are difficult, as are YOU!)  If you’ll do this, you’ll find that mangy temptation tucks its tail between its legs, blushes, and scurries away.  Do it over and over, if you must.  Erosion is the name of the enemy’s game.

Temptation is designed to be tempting, or it wouldn’t be temptation!  Develop some moth savvy and don’t fly so near those flames.  Don’t come out singed and think you’re doin’ great.  One slip could wreck your family tree.

Devotions:  Holy children
Strive to raise a holy child, not just an academic or talented child.  Wean him off from you onto his Creator at every turn in the road.  Teach him how to depend upon God, sing to God, cry out to God, love God.  Teach him to read his OWN Bible, write down his OWN verse, pray his OWN prayer.  Long to place your child in better arms than yours…just like Hannah did with her Samuel.

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