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Marriage by Divine intent

Sunday, 28. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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Our initial view of marriage is that of a perfect person (me) loving an impossible other person (him)!  What makes it hilarious is that that’s the viewpoint from BOTH sides.  But that IS, in fact, what the situation REALLY was with God and His Israel: a perfect God attempting to love a very slippery bride.  He did it by throwing all of His weight into it (as it were).  He ended up keeping BOTH sides of the covenant.  He settled into a posture of beaming a steady, relentless white-heat love upon His harlot, come what may.  And when that didn’t work, He ascended into messier modalities: He sacrificed His own bloodiness, gave His gizzard, His gut-level everything, to get the point across withOUT words.  And in the end King David said: “Thy gentleness has made me great” (Psalm 18:35, repeated verbatim for good measure in 2 Samuel 22:36).

So, what is marriage?  It’s a lesson in love... in the making of love each and every day.  After giving it everything He had HIMSELF, God then turned around and gave US each a shot at it.  “Now YOU try it.”  He, in effect said, “I’ll allow you to think that you are perfect, at least initially, and I’ll give you your own project of ONE spouse to practice on.  You only get one, and you’ve got to make a success of it with THIS one.  Let’s see the depth of YOUR ability to love.  What are YOU made of?  To what lengths will YOU go?  How well will YOU do?”  After His stunning concert grand piano performance, He then gives us our own piano to tinker upon.  It is THEN that the light goes on and we realize the imponderable act of redemption.

For more on this topic, order Renee’s book, Growing Marriage—and listen to Kevin Swanson’s interview of Renee on Generations Radio.

Navigating the curriculum jungle without TEARS for mama

Thursday, 25. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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Starting point: Remind yourself that you can basically teach a child from ANY book.  You can use virtually ANYTHING… from anywhere… and people HAVE throughout history… so start off with heart rest… breathe deeply and relax.

If daddy is out of work, or even if finances are tight for other reasons, the cheapest curriculum on the planet is Wal-Mart’s super workbooks for preschoolers through 3rd grade (about $10.00 each).  If a family HAD to use them through third grade, the total cost would be $30 for three years.  Not bad smile

If you use these materials even for just trips and car travel, chose the super-workbooks, not the supplemental smaller books.  The ones to pick say Grade One, Grade Two, etc.  The artwork is super-colorful, which drags the child through print with emotional upbeatness.  AND the artwork is NOT taken or identified with Disney or Sesame Street… it is UNIQUE artwork that is not associated with any Hollywood movies.  Thumbs up on THAT!

I’ve started several financially-strapped families on these, and they work fine.  I have the moms rip up the super workbooks and put each section in a file folder.  Doing this enables the mom to be able to bring out one page at a time from each section and it lays FLAT on the table where the child can write or draw neatly on them without the heavy bulk of pages flopping all over the place.  They proceed to do pages from each section every day.  If you DO go this route, be sure to supplement with tons of reading by mama to offset the barren content… to teach the child’s soul.

Downside of Wal-Mart’s books:  They are Godless—making no mention of Him anywhere.  Over time, this teaches the child that knowledge can be secular and he/she can still survive.  You as a parent only have one shot to get a thorough saturation in the Scriptures and create a lifetime hunger for God, so if you use the Wal-Mart books, be sure that you have a generous session EACH and EVERY DAY in the Bible, with your child(ren).  Talking about verses, memorizing verses, writing verses… hearing Bible stories as you read to them, etc., and teaching them to pray SIGNIFICANTLY, not just about the cat.  Augment with our Character Traits Coloring Book and Songs and they’ll fight less and honor you more.

For some wonderfully God-centered wholesome beginning materials, find yourself a set of the timeless, godly McGuffey Readers.

Here are some cautions about textbook curriculums from kindergarten on up. First, beware of any program that has a teacher’s manual.  Any curriculum that requires mama to do ANY teacher preparation the night before… even figuring out what page numbers to cover tomorrow, will dive-bomb.  We’ve seen it all across the country.  To survive teaching multiple little children over the long haul and not go stark raving crazy, have time to wash your hair, AND fix dinner for hubby, you have to have a curriculum that teaches itself.  A curriculum with any required teacher’s manual is a NO-NO, if you want to reduce your own personal daily stress levels.

People buy these teacher-manual-curricula by the droves, spending 1,000’s of dollars, and the very next year come to our booth at homeschool conventions secretly in tears that NOTHING is happening at home in schooling because mama can’t find the time, nor the discipline, nor the energy to even figure out what her children are supposed to do with these textbooks.  In most cases we’ve found that you cannot have a mother-dependent curriculum and survive.  With American distractions, neighbors, media, and full time OUTSIDE additional job commitments for hubby, taking hubby OUT of the home all day, the entire LOAD falls on mama.

Second, beware of a curriculum that makes no mention of God.  Exert caution about using any curriculum that doesn’t have God on every page during the elementary years.  There are literally tons of secular programs that will “educate” children—but outside of a moral context.  With godless education every parent risks producing a “brilliant murderer” using these programs.  All bets are off if you haven’t saturated your children with the penetrating knowledge that they live under the lifetime gaze and love of their Creator and are ultimately responsible to Him.  Knowledge is not the ultimate game in town; holiness is.  The Almighty One will soon revisit the Earth.  We must get our children ready to meet Him.  We are living in the slice in history where the warfare will be the fiercest; we must plant seed WISELY in our children.  Read Psalm 1 AGAIN in light of educating your children smile  Eye-opening.  This is my main beef with programs that use the Classical Approach.  The mom will burn herself out, with no holiness in her children to show for it.

“Drill and Kill” and other depressing reputations
CHILDREN are grumpy when it comes to using many of the curriculums.  We hear (and have observed with neighbors over several years) about textbook-company programs that are “drill and kill”.  They are too much, and they are too tedious.  You can get the same education without such a heavy BORING package.  The mom CAN use these materials, if she has to, but lighten them up by using only the portions that are vital.  We steer people away from them.  They cost a fortune and succeed in making children dislike learning immensely.  You want the exact opposite: to create lifetime lovers of learning.

If you want to know what we DO recommend for curriculum and why, after watching 25 years of curriculum experiments with thousands of families and observing the OUTCOMES of their now 18+ year-olds, we’ll email you our blurb on that.  Just ask.

Keep in mind that providing an education for your child is ONLY an education, it is not a god!  We still have to LIVE a real life around the edges smile, which with multiple children is utterly demanding in and of itself… with NOTHING even added!  Abraham Lincoln lived his real life splitting rails in the day, and did his book-learnin’ sprawled in front of the fireplace at night with NO CURRICULUM… and he turned out quite well!

Nowadays, having a superior or ultimate education can keep one chasing rainbows… and costing you a fortune.  It keeps the mama endlessly churned up and anxious with the questions: “Did I pick the right books for this year?  Did I leave anything out”?  This could all so easily be avoided with an easily administered consecutive curriculum that the child can carry himself or herself.  Every child just needs a basic solid education.  Education is not utopia.  A child goes on to live an entire ADULT life with his/her own continuing SELF-EDUCATION, through vigorous reading, at whatever level the individual craves… and THAT is where the profundities of thought start sparking and never finish.

For now, we have to get life’s conceptual alphabet in them by the easiest and fastest way possible… and allow mama time to read a book of her OWN… and smile at her children, without being tormented that she didn’t get the War of 1812 covered today… because it is already getting covered FOR her by the right curriculum WITHOUT her. smile

So now we’re back to that question of which curriculum gets the job done but is LEAST TAXING to mama?  Check out our complete list of reasons to choose ACE in that downloadable article on our website.

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Combating mama discouragement

Saturday, 13. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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One of the great tools the enemy uses is relentless erosion of us through discouragement.  In particular, he is a master at attacking our valueMuch of what we do that is good here: our perseverance in our faith in Him, our faithfulness in parenting, our loving endurance with others, etc., we will not see the FULL results of until the Great Day.  Presently, we see mostly only our shortcomings.  Who we really amount to is largely hidden from us now.

Life is tough. A great part of our life is breaking down our high school expectations of what we thought life would be like.  C. S. Lewis has a marvelous quote about that: “If we were expecting life to be a palace it is a great disappointment, but if it was meant to be a reformatory, it isn’t half bad!”

Since the only thing we ever have full control over is ourselves, not others, we can make life a game of a “personal improve-a-thon”! Such overcoming thinking can turn life into a great adventure!  What can I bring to this atmosphere that has gone sour?  What can I do to bring the spirit of the Almighty Creator into this vexing moment?  What can I do to love our Heavenly Father more ardently?  Yippee!  Another day to work at conquering my thought-life… riveting it upon Scripture all day.  (If you get thrown into prison:) What can I do to make my inmates happier with my one banana today?  What can I do to influence my neighbor?  What can I do to increase my domestic skills?  (I personally love that last thought… it has propelled me through no end of obstacles and contrary patches.)

Remember, too, that in regard to children, psychologists say that it only takes ONE validating parent for the child to turn out with equilibrium.  One parent may be good at one area, and the other “out to lunch” and vice versa… depending upon the issue.

We simply cannot see ourselves as we really are.  In your case, if you could see yourself as others see you…you are a remarkable person… simply remarkable.

Be inspired by Susannah Wesley who had 19 children

Monday, 08. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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Susannah Wesley was the 25th child.  She then had 19 children of her own.  John Wesley was the 15th; Charles was the 17th.  These two men sparked the Great AWAKENING.  On the day each of her children turned five, she took them apart and in private taught them the whole alphabet in one day.  Then the next day she proceeded to teach them to learn to read, using ONLY the book of Genesis.  She went word by word.  When John died he left the world two silver spoons, a teapot, a worn cloak and THE METHODIST CHURCH…all over the globe. That reformation kept the British Empire from experiencing its own devastating repeat of the French Revolution.

Make Up, Make Out, and Make Do!: marshalling marital harmony

Friday, 05. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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Make Up:
A good marriage is a waltz, not a courtroom.  The object is not to win, but to dance.  Life is simply too short to waste it fighting with your mate.  Stuffing “it” isn’t an answer, either; you’ll just explode later.  Both fighting and stuffing produce stress, not just emotionally but also at the cellular level, resulting in disease, trauma, and construction of veritable brick walls.  Say what you really feel all along the way, but after each such time, quickly return to your cheerful self to BE the kind of lover you desire your mate to be.  Gladly take turns modeling what real marital love is supposed to be.  Woo your mate for a lifetime.  Keep short accounts.  Don’t let the sun go down on disgruntlement.  Make up…NOW.  Do it.

Make Out:
One reason the marriage relationship is unique is that one man and one woman have given themselves (including their bodies) to the other – ‘til death do they part.  A healthy marriage includes countless times of coming together, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically.

Physical touch does what no verbal language can ever do.  In fact, it can wonderfully shut down and short circuit your left brain “legalese” entirely.  Your brain will sheepishly slip into “who-cares mode”.  A good hug can end a fight; ‘tis a miracle on demand; make liberal use of it.  Regular pressing, hugging, touching, joyful mauling promote a sense of profound belonging, communicate value, and sustain the marital relationship with good will through thick and thin.  Especially during the thin.

Make Do:
Commitment is the #1 cure for marriage ills.  Since it is often not feasible to change your spouse, learn how to “make do” with what IS.  Adapt.  Carve out a happy existence for yourself around the edges with what IS possible in your current circumstances.  Focus upon what YOU can improve of YOU.  This can turn a feeling of hopelessness into something positive and proactive regarding something you CAN affect and change.

Another aspect of “making do” in marriage is to stay out of all debt.  Lower your standard of living so that you do not add financial stress to your relationship.  Debt is chaos on wheels, wreaking havoc on countless marriages.  Debt is a root cause of many divorces.  It is sheer terror.  Keep your marriage out of this ditch, no matter what gyrations you have to go through to accomplish it.  How?

Start by living beneath your means…WAY beneath your means.  Live in a tent for awhile if you have to.  If you are jobless or between jobs, don’t despise the lowly hour.  Consider every waking hour a small economic unit: if you don’t put SOMETHING in the bank (even earnings that are well below the so-called minimum wage), you will lose the economic POTENTIAL of that hour forever… you’ll lose TIME building a solid economic foundation so that tomorrow won’t look like today.  IN ADDITION, you must also begin developing MULTIPLE income streams, either through entrepreneurial ideas of your own (ideas that PAY AS THEY GO), or while working additional odd jobs in off hours as you can get them.

View debt as cancer to the marriage.  Get out of it now.  The deeper in debt you are, the more radical your actions and decisions have to be.

For further reading on this topic, order the following from us:

  • 7 Womanly Secrets to Marital Harmony
    How to Resolve Marital Conflicts Happily
    How to Wrench Your Family out of Financial Catastrophe
    10 Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Who Got Free of House Debt
    Money in Your Pocket

  • Scrub out the garbage from the insides of your body; you’ll be glad you did.

    Thursday, 04. August 2011 by Renee Ellison

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    I love the Young Living 5-day cleanse because it is so gentle!!!  While you do this moderate “fast”, you don’t feel like you are starving and because the oils give BACK to you at the same time they are cleansing you, supplying you with extra oxygen, you don’t sag in energy.  Because you swallow the oil pill in conjunction with the nutrient fiber mix (that comes in the cleanse kit) you don’t have that gaunt feeling of starving.  The fiber makes you feel full and content right after you eat it.  If you want this wonderful kit, email us and we can walk you through how to obtain it.

    Junk comes out in the mornings.  No WONDER people feel sick hauling all that crude around.  Health is truly a game of scrubbing out the inside and then nutrient loading, with fresh and raw fruit and veggie juices afterwards every day as frequently as possible, regardless of how else you are generally eating.  Yesterday I had a green drink of fresh BASIL from the garden; that gave me wahoo energy!

    While you’re doing this cleanse, pump something FABULOUS into your body every hour.  Set the timer.  Spirulina, lemon water, juiced parsley, juiced cilantro, etc.  Cilantro takes out heavy metals AND radiation.  If it’s GREEN, it’s a go for your body!

    Filed Under: Nutrition tips

    A quiet lethal sabotage of children that people in the Bible never faced

    Thursday, 28. July 2011 by Renee Ellison

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    While believing parents are having wonderful Scripturally-based discussions in their living rooms, the children (whom they have farmed off to the bedrooms to get them out of the way and quiet) are being robbed by the media and electronics.  The Devil is totally content with whatever the adults are doing, so long as those adult preoccupations allow HIM free access to their children.  Make no mistake, he is gleefully in the bedroom/rec room/family room stealing your child.

    Some college students these days cannot even track their professors’ questions.  Their brains are so fried from 18 years of media-mush to digest the questions, let alone answer them.  That’s the brain damage.  We haven’t even gotten to the CONTENT of what they watch.  The spiritual damage is, of course, far worse.

    Recent surveys report that we are losing over 85% of the next generation of the faith.  Something is terribly wrong.

    The solution: keep your children WITH you

    , just like Abraham did…yes, to hear the vast majority of your discussions.  They can play quietly at your feet or even romp around the room with all the MOVEMENT they want; they just can’t talk or be noisy while adults are trying to communicate meaningfully.  Children can be kept NEAR YOU at all out-of-the-home social gatherings as well… under your constant wise surveillance and unequaled maturity.  Parents have done this for 5,900 years.  It CAN be done, contrary to the last generation thinking that would be an impossibility in their own case.  Any children so trained will continue in the faith… having not been brainwashed by dumbed-down religious films, rock music, or by the “air-waves” of secular culture, by having listened, instead, to thousands of mature discussions about their faith.

    A child’s SPIRIT is alive from birth.  The young spirit will often pick up impressions and influences at a deep level that is far beyond what the mind is yet capable of.  The spirit is trained by what it is absorbing at all times.  Be vigilant.  You cannot redo these years.  What kind of water is the child routinely swimming in, in his fishbowl?  The dank and foul, or water that is refreshed daily and hourly?

    To read more on this topic, order the quick e-book, TV Watching out of Control: Hidden problems of television addiction for adults and children, exposed.  An eye opener – a must read for the health of your family!

    Teaching children how to think

    Monday, 25. July 2011 by Renee Ellison

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    When you really consider it, no curriculum in itself teaches a child to think!  Textbook curriculums are involved with one thing… giving a child a “conceptual alphabet” only.  San Francisco is located here; a molecule looks like this; we write a “g” this way; we divide this way, etc.  Much of education, at even its finest levels, is getting a lay of the land of what is.  It is in the middle of the night that we take that “life-alphabet” and have our “aha moments.”  Edison had many of those…not taught by any teacher…but attentively and lovingly listened to, and prodded forth by his mother.

    Two ways to encourage a child to think, academically:
    ONE:  Reading and discussing good literature–in the evenings.  If you need help with what that would be, download Melanie’s reading list: ‘tis a list of the choicest literature at each level.  She hunted long and hard for those titles and did not include any titles that weren’t absolutely stellar after reading them and scrutinizing them.  Get godly books from the get-go.

    However, just a side note here: literature alone will never substitute for skill development.  Countless mothers who rely on a literature-based program during the day as their core curriculum feel guilty that they may have skipped something vital.  They are right to be concerned.  Such an approach results in an academically lopsided child who is at sea with skills—can’t multiply, can’t spell, hasn’t a clue about grammar, all of which our forefathers regarded as rudimentary to a basic education.  Check out the McGuffey readers; talk about rigorous!  The ACE curriculum will solve this problem.)

    TWO:  Another thing that grows a child’s ability to think is a mother’s thought-provoking ongoing questions to her child throughout the day.  Not yes/no questions, but just a bit “out of reach” questions.  “How could Jamie have treated her sister better?  Why do you suppose God made roots under trees?  How do you feel about that?” etc.  It is the mother who teaches the child to think.  Get our Humpty Dumpty questions booklet to help you fashion some very exciting zinger questions.  You’ll be right up there with Mary Poppins in their minds when you routinely ask them these kinds of questions, calling forth worlds out of their own minds!

    Should our children take the traditional college route… or not?

    Sunday, 10. July 2011 by Renee Ellison

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    “Wipe out their faith.”  This is the hidden agenda at most colleges and universities today, from sun-up to sun-down, in the unsupervised dorms and in the decadent classrooms.  College sabotages minds AND morality.  “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the wicked [ungodly liberal professors] nor stands in the way of sinners [immoral peers] nor sits in the seat of scoffers [or lies down in their bedrooms in the dorms].” (Psalm 1).  If this is blessed, then to DO the opposite must be not be blessed?  Christian colleges, included?

    The financial cost..and the ethics of what we are financing:

    The price tag for college is enormous these days.  We know people who are graduating with $120,000 worth of DEBT.  That slugs a young person in the stomach for a loooooooooonnnnngg time.

    Even if we can afford tuition costs, analyze VERY carefully WHAT it is that we are funding with our college money.  Can we justify it at the Judgment… the great bar of God?  How did we steward the money for His kingdom?  Examine it objectively.  Would we willingly PAY for someone to go down the street, a block away, to spend hours and hours in a brothel, where unmarried couples are coming in and out the front door 24/7 and shacking up in beds…even in their own room where there roommates see what they are doing?  Do MARRIED couples watch each other in bed, in our own houses?  This is how far out it is: to allow our children to WATCH the real stuff of debauchery…not occasionally, but all the time!  It is likely to be found on practically every floor of every dorm, Christian or not.

    Would we PAY for someone to come into our homes to train our children AGAINST the very GOD that we love…insist that the academics mock the Bible and hate God?  This is what we fund in behalf of our own children…and never is it more brutal than in the modern college.

    Would we pay to ensure that our children hobnob with sexually immoral persons, day in and day out?  Would we place our youth into an environment where they interact and rub shoulders with such persons every day in the cafeterias and in the classrooms, etc.?  How long would the frog cook in this pot without becoming one of them?  Would the Puritans have been appalled?  Would they have spent THEIR money for this for their offspring?

    Academics:
    Make no mistake, college isn’t necessary for the academics, which anyone may master from using any textbook and tutor, without the anti-God, humanistic packaging.  The brainwashing is hammered into students purposefully, by satanic design, relentlessly, ongoingly, throughout ALL MATTERS in academia.  Uprooting the presuppositions.  Tirelessly hacking away at the core, until the institution turns out an atheist at graduation.  Sufficient reprogramming is accomplished to last a lifetime.  “Job done!” says Satan.

    Yesterday I walked along a country lane and cried out to God about how much I hated so many of my OWN college ungodly courses… being forced to read vile filth in English classes, being forced to study the Upanishads (Indian Hindu documents about worshipping demons), evolution in biology, ungodly liberal ways to teach and train children in my education courses (which I could see would never work), and revisionist history, which was a tract for feminism.  It was bad then (4 decades ago); it is unconscionable now.  I renounced it all and told God that I AGREED with his hatred of vain philosophies.  All of them are strongholds to get us to “do life” without God.

    Take the word COLLEGE out of it.  Take away the ivy-clad brick and mortar, and the pretense that something SIGNIFICANTLY IMPORTANT justifies immersing our children in the cesspool.  THEN would we do it?  If it were happening without “academics”, down the block, in the open air, for other reasons?  Or would we move away, wanting to get away from such happenings?  The brick and mortar college BUILDINGS blindside us; they persuade us that something of eternal holy intellectual value is happening behind those doors.  Too often, it is not.

    Morals:
    A college president at Berkley once quipped: “We provide sports for the alumni, parking for the faculty, and sex for the students.”

    And let’s not forget the alcohol…oh, the alcohol.  Yesterday I repented of even being NEAR the throw-up in the elevators (at a conservative school).  College kids’ incessant drinking starts the life long alcoholism among a sizeable portion of today’s population.  It gets its head of steam in college, even among the upright.  What the devil missed in the upbringing, he polishes off in college.

    The primary issue regarding college is: what ENVIRONMENT will our college-age children’s souls be in as they are yet forming?  The traditional college experience is a tsunami.  Even the best of swimmers go under when the waves get high enough.  The influence of evil on campuses is profound.  This is even more devastating than the financial cost of a college education.

    Would the Hebrews have allowed their children to be educated in Egypt’s colleges?  “Come out from her, be ye separate.”  Only AFTER we obey does He show us the exciting path which we cannot see ahead of time.  When Abraham left the pagan land of his fathers, he did NOT know where he was going.

    Alternatives to college:
    Do I want to PAY to risk that my child winds up godless?  Is there a creative alternative?  Our culture RUNS to get under slavery, both in schooling and in the corporate world.  For the believer there is often a thin thread of alternatives that can free us from it ALL, if prayed through.  No one said it would be easy to pick a different route.  Apprenticeships, perhaps? ...short term ones, one following another?  Or doing CollegePlus!, while ALSO attending adult-level symposiums and three-day seminars on tons of topics for short-term, pleasantly-controlled social stimulation, too?  Conferences swell up all over the country, offering thrilling short spurts on all sorts of topics.  Maybe you could be spending far less money, for more hand-picked exciting results?—and developing a resume that is so unusual, your child is picked above others in the future work force.

    Start by recognizing that education is not the great contest of life.  Living a life for His glory IS.  Having a satisfyingly full life can be had without formal education, as long as one continues to self-educate.  Often the lure of college is the greater financial earning power a degree might facilitate—but many corporate jobs become so demanding one loses one’s home relationships, through divorce or rebellious offspring.  Earning can happen in hundreds of other ways.  So, too, can self-expression and fulfillment, without the external and often brutal corporate stress.

    Why not aim for lifetime FINANCIAL solvency BEFORE/apart from college?  Why not use that same college money to buy real estate free and clear at the beginning of our children’s adult lives?  They can ALWAYS get education through night classes, online classes, etc., on TOP of that solid fiscal foundation.  Owning one’s home debt-free can free one even from the NEED to have a career with all of its inordinate pressures.  It frees one up to travel the world on one’s OWN terms, for example, to take ONE coveted topic/weekend/week from a specially picked college professor followed by flying to another college to gain education over another topic with a different professor, following after isolated brilliant professors with a hand-crafted way to do that.  One doesn’t need an entire semester; much can be obtained from books and then a special shorter time could be spent with a professor.  Even highly rated colleges and universities these days have a lot of tenured professors who are dead wood; they don’t MERIT sitting under for long weeks, and it’s not always apparent ahead of time, which professors are the dead wood.

    The children of Colin and Nancy Campbell (of Above Rubies) are successful, WITHOUT COLLEGE.  Their sons are adept at earning money to support large families.  One is a tremendously successful entrepreneur who is irritated that others aren’t (to the same degree as he is)!!! WITHOUT COLLEGE.  And others join these ranks.  There is a movement against college out there amongst conservative believers that God is BLESSING beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.  We just returned from a Family Week in Canada where we observed MANY young people who have chosen not to go to college.  They are bright and vigorous, and are absorbed with all kinds of wonderful variety as they pursue other paths.

    Wouldn’t it be like God to prove Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him (2 Chronicles 16:9)?  He can make our young people profoundly successful or influential in OTHER WAYS, far ABOVE the achievements of their college counterparts, both financially and in the establishment of strong godly families rather than leaving a trail of serial divorces.  (Food for thought: to force young men to wait for marriage an entire decade past when their hormones are raging, while they commit educational idolatry, as we’ve done the past two generations, can result in immorality galore, virtually wrecking their REAL lives…the lives they face AFTER college…the more important life that goes on for a half a century.)

    Closing thoughts about the college decision:
    The world our children are facing is simply not the world you and I grew up in.  It is in chaos.  Our economy is crashing and it will affect the future job market.  Colleges are even now spinning out of control with THEIR debts.  The availability of jobs for college graduates will diminish more and more in the future.  The WISE foreseeth the evil and plan DIFFERENTLY.  Basic LIFE skills will be needed more and more if our young men and women are to survive these new challenges.  And no one can put a lid on how much self education and enlargement can go on for a lifetime of continuous deep reading on one’s own.

    Nothing in college prepares our youth for marriage and a family.  Running a family requires skills that were taken for granted in the 1800s.  Cooking classes/apprenticeships and training in sewing, tailoring, and clothing alterations are a must for EVERY young woman.  Many women feel totally inadequate in both areas for the thirty years immediately following their marriages where those skills are needed EVERY DAY in the real world of family.  Far more women marry than EVER have careers.  The college-educated young woman who marries, typically faces a nightmare of just fixing breakfast.  Likewise, young men need money-making skill development, not general-education debt, as they move into building their own families…and perhaps building their own debt free house.

    These are tough days and decisions for ALL parents.  All of us have never lived through these extremely Noah-like times before.  Everyone’s story will be different.  Nonetheless, lines are being drawn between two very different worlds.  The chaos of worldliness is bringing clarity to our view of the choices.  The college experiment has been done; it has run its course; we see the results.  Oh, the EXCITING possibilities for playing this chapter differently…darting here and there for the FINEST of educations, while maintaining holiness!!!  As we take the road less traveled…

    Why victimization doesn’t answer anything

    Sunday, 29. May 2011 by Renee Ellison

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    Viewing all of life’s woes as a victim doesn’t get a person very far.  When C. S. Lewis said that “Christians benefit from their suffering but non-Christians WASTE their suffering”, that is not all he said in that statement.  He implied that ALL people suffer, and that suffering IS.

    Our adolescent view of life was that life should be an existence of unbridled happiness and unmitigated self.  But somewhere along the line, that rosy view that crashed.  We had to recalibrate.  What IS life anyway?  C. S. Lewis also said, (loosely updated) that if “we view life as a five-star hotel we’ll be disappointed.  If we view it as a quick trip through the ghetto, any little positive thing that happens to us is a bonus!”

    Somewhere in the past eons of time, God must have had a flicker of a thought that suffering might be good for His creation and His people.  From the evidence, He apparently fanned the flicker into a flame.  Even the created order currently GROANS in eager expectation (Romans 8:28-23) for something different.  The mountains and the hills suffer; every human being suffers.  Humans suffer physically and relationally.  No one escapes it.  Apparently bouts of suffering sanctify and kosher us AND the rocks!

    There are two responses to suffering: One is to view it through the eyes of victimization.  The other is to handle it with gratefulness.

    When we view ourselves as victimized, we try to get relief by mentally shifting the focus off from our own emotional mismanagements and responsibilities to those around us.  Our coping strategy is to privately (and often not so privately) attack two entities:

  • we grow irritated with others
  • and we blame God.

  • When we blame others for our current sufferings, we find it impossible to separate our sufferings from the vague foggy notion that somehow others CAUSED our suffering and therefore are responsible to get us out of it.  We fail to separate our sufferings from attachment to people, or from a mature understanding of the purpose of socialization: companionship, appreciation, a gentle knowing of one another, a shared humanity, a selflessness toward others rather than a grabbing for ourselves.  In fact, we find (much to our surprise) that it is in learning to love that we get the ultimate relief from ourselves.  Selfless love stands in stark contrast to clobbering the beloved for our own ends—which makes us ever more miserable as others fail to perform for us just exactly as our shifting and engulfing demands would like.

    Instead, when we are feeling victimized we want others to OWN our problems.  We want to straddle them with OUR lives.  We do this as a cathartic.  When we are irritated with others over our own woes we forget that they suffer, too.  It is a selective amnesia.  We forget that their world is as big to them as ours is to us.  Do we really believe that people were created as venting stations for ourselves?  We forget that relationships are fragile.  If our goal is to catch butterflies to trap them in our jars, we shall have to be satisfied with butterflies stripped of their beauty…or dead butterflies…or no butterflies at all.

    We forget how tenuous all of our close associates COULD be, and that closeness is a fragile gift.  Our collected friends and family COULD be part of a DISTANT 7-billion “people-throng” and not be interested in our lives at all.  All of THOSE other people are at least an arm’s length outside of our control: we couldn’t control THEM if we WANTED to—or blame them—or grow irritated by their behaviors.  But for those closer in, we think it is somehow our RIGHT to demand of them relief for ourselves.

    This is a misunderstanding of the reasons why people are in our lives.  Relating to others helps us experience the self-sacrifice of LOVE.  The objective is not to wrest from others fullness for ourselves.  If that happens, it is a plus, but it is no guarantee.  It has been said that “people care more about their own headache than if you die.”  All genuine “companionship-relationship” is aroused by our love, not by our demands, nor by our leaning upon others to bail us out.  When we show irritation with others, that is a sure sign of a social mis-calibration.

    As for blaming God, it doesn’t get us much further. What we are, in effect, really saying by resorting to that thought is that “I could write a BETTER story for myself.”  As a parent, what kind of a better story do we think our four-year old would write for himself?

    Suffering produces endurance. All trials, even five-minute ones, seem too long.  When suffering hits, we all look for escapes.  Some long for the ultimate escape… that it would come earlier than it does.  We are all shackled by impatience.

    To handle suffering with gratefulness means we change our posture and embrace real life with all its vicissitudes with the expectation that we shall grow in some meaningful way by the relinquishment.  We allow others to be others.  We humbly acknowledge that we do not know the whole story; we are not privy to its eternal workings, behind the scenes.  Attempting to “command” the length and the amount of the suffering becomes meaningless.

    Oddly, strangely and slowly, if we are believers we come to understand that praising God IN THE TRIAL renews us.  The Scriptures indicate that we can be quite far into the fire and still come out smelling like a rose, as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Proverbs 24:16: “Though the righteous fall seven times…but [loosely translated] they rebound!”  If you get under the umbrella of praise, however momentary, one finds it a sure place of abiding relief.  Trust will be rewarded.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, KJV).  Believe it, and it mitigates the suffering.  Suffering is inevitable.  It comes to all mankind.  When we examine the lives of those who suffer WELL, we find that gratefulness was their route of choice; it is a kind of “way out”.  It takes the experience and puts it beyond just coping.

    Suffering often escorts us to a corner in life where an entirely new vista opens up, if we’ll let it.  Suffering often is the very highway of our most intimate personal direction.  And certainly suffering is the sure door to increased fellowship with our Creator.  A deep believer of old once said he “never knew of anyone who became spiritually mature without it.”

    Filed Under: Spiritual tips