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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

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.

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

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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Motherhood Tips 8

Monday, 01. March 2010 by Renee Ellison

Forward this link to a dear mother or two who never had a punch-out-time-card to clock out and end her hours.  Send it to as many mothers as you can who all work 24/7 at an impossible job description, and yet somehow know it will all be worth it!

Six tips:

Parenting Tip
Home Management Tip
Kitchen Tip
Sewing Tip

Parenting Tip:  Semantic atmosphere
A mom’s ongoing running commentary is as vital to the success and atmosphere of the home as the very air that the family breathes.  It is spiritual oxygen to the home, even if they live in a dark, dank basement in shanty town in a third world country.  A mother can make a veritable heaven of any home, simply by the choice of her words.  For a few short years, what she says, IS!  She shapes reality for the entire family via her tongue.

The children look up into her mature face to know how to view nearly EVERYTHING—even a thunderstorm.  If you bundle a child up, and go out into the storm with joy, you’ll shape your child’s view of storms for the rest of his/her life.  Just sit in a chair during a lightning storm with a huge umbrella over the both of you, hugging each other tightly,  and say to the child “Isn’t this FUN?!  (smooch) “Oooooh, did you see THAT one?!” (lightning).  “Here comes another fantastic crack, snarl, whip of a sound (smooch)...are ya ready? ...this is gonna be exciting!”  (smooch) “Whee!...Did you feel that thunderbolt under our chair?!  Are you feeling the wind in your face yet?!”  (smooch, smooch).  Then move on to storms of a different nature.

For a great while, you interpret life to them AS IT HAPPENS.  The children both SEE the event AND HEAR your running commentary.  The children watch you for how to interpret setbacks and hardships, how to interpret and handle difficult relationships, what spin to put on most every happening.  Your own daily off-the- cuff-editorials end up being far more influential than your children’s textbooks.  Your running commentary is teaching on the backstroke, but more formative than anything deliberate, calculated or practiced.  Most parents are oblivious to these lessons that they teach.

Yes, a loving mother can put a positive spin on absolutely everything: sub-zero weather, an out of sorts spouse, poverty, handicaps, chicken pox, or a broken chair.  I know of a mother who literally told her child they were going to have a chicken pox party the minute she saw one appear…she fixed popcorn, read stories, sang songs, counted the chicken pox, gave wonderful candlelight baths, rubbed soothing healthy lotions on, and three days later when the child said, “Mom, I don’t want to do a chicken pox party, anymore,” the worst had already past!

When a chair breaks a cheery mom can say, “Oh goodie, let’s turn the chair upside down and learn how to be fix-it people…it is fascinating to see how things are made, or function, and apply our brightest mind to figure out how to fix them!”  My father-in-law LOVES to fix things; we all gather around and WATCH him tinker (while he softly whistles), because he makes it so much fun to CONQUER things.

The world you create with your tongue builds a child’s heart, perspectives, appetites, and attitudes.  It fortifies him with courage, ennobles him with purpose, and spurs him on with aspirations.  Semantic atmosphere can tear a child down or emotionally resurrect him.  It is hemoglobin for the mind and heart.  What is said in the day swirls in and through a child’s psyche even while he sleeps.

You have the world by the tail for a few short years.  Are you the shrew in the grocery store, or an angel from heaven?  Shakespeare said, even of just the mere SOUND of a woman’s voice: “Her voice was ever soft and low…an excellent thing in a woman!”  Watch the quality, tone, and sound of your every word, as if you’re pouring concrete for the foundation of a huge castle.  And then be conscious of choosing the finest crystal and gold for your actual words.  Never forget that you are building castles in the air, and an irreversible childhood on the ground.  God gave you permission to do it.  And you’ll never again have such a carte blanche chance to do it for anybody, ever again.

Home Management Tip:  Upgrade later
Conquer your homes systems/functions at the lowest expedient levels first.  Just concentrate on getting your entire household to function SMOOTHLY.  Reward yourself with the thought that you can always UPGRADE later.  If you don’t have dressers, use cardboard boxes; if you don’t have cardboard boxes, use sacks.  If you don’t have front and back door mats, use cardboard.  If you don’t have enough dish towels, tear up an old bath towel.  If you don’t have good books for your children and can’t afford them, buy a used old encyclopedia set at the thrift store for $5…and have them read THAT for awhile.  If your young children don’t have the right clothes for all occasions, take huge seams up the backs of older people’s used clothes.  If you don’t have gorgeous art for your home, hang up beautiful towels or sheets.  Get your home FEELING like a home and functioning like a home on SOME level from the get-go.  Even if you live in a van or a tent, ORGANIZE it.  Have hooks and hangers for everything; attach things underneath the van or tent, out the back of the van or tent, on the roof of the van or tent.

If you don’t have a guest room, figure out some way to slide the foot of one bed under another bed, or put a bed up near the ceiling, if you have to.  Put hooks on the wall behind every door, if the closets are too stuffed.  Put L brackets on long boards to make shelves, high up, one foot from the ceiling down all your hallways, if you need to.

Anticipate every need, every event.  What will you need to make it go SMOOTHLY?  Use your free time to conquer your home at deeper and deeper levels, at more efficient levels BEFORE taking more strolls down the malls or making social phone calls.

Learn to LOVE your home and being AT home.  Learn to prefer it!  Learn to love to MANAGE your home.  Learn how much fun it is to make it just exactly right.  Arrange it so that NOTHING could possibly happen in your home that would ever throw you for a loop, logistically.  Pre-think everything.  It is YOUR home.  Take hold of it.  Remember the joyful slogan: “I can always upgrade later!”

Kitchen Tip:  Anti-oxidant chocolate gorp  Combine the following and enjoy!
+  Lindt’s 90% Cocoa Chocolate (bitterer than “all-get-out” by itself!)  Unadulterated chocolate [this brand is probably borderline, but it IS high in cacao and IS affordable, on the shelves at Wal-Mart] is “through the stratosphere” in “good for ya” antioxidants.
+  Raisins (sweetens the chocolate to acceptable levels).
+  Tamari roasted almonds (or any other roasted nuts, or raw nuts).
+  Optional additional enrichments: any other dried fruit, dried apples, bananas, etc.

Sewing Tip:  Priorities: Keep from spinning out of control
Remember that if YOU don’t have the time or the inclination to learn to sew, make sure that your daughter(s) learn.  All you need is ONE in the family!  In conquering all home skills, remember to move from strength (order) to strength (order), not chaos to chaos.

1.  Begin by mending and repairing everything in yours and every one else’s closet.  Repair any socks that have holes in them, by slipping an old light bulb into the toe of the sock and then hand-sewing across the hole with an up and down stitch catching the edges of the hole in all directions.  The light bulb gives you a secure backing while you work.

2.  Then move to alterations.  Ask of every outfit, “Why don’t I wear this?”  Identify the problem by verbalizing it aloud; that will move it from gray matter in your brain to an actual specific issue with the garment.  Then work at solving that issue by making an alteration or getting rid of the garment.  Reality check: it is worthless if it is always just hanging there.

3.  THEN and only then, look at trying an additional project.  But even with that, ask yourself with each project, is this WORTH it?  Do I have a solid foundation of garments first?  Make sure all the females in your household have one very basic neutral colored skirt and the fellows a basic pair of neutral pants.  With seven blouses/shirts…there is a full wardrobe, right out of the shoot!

4.  Since purchasing the right sized pattern is such a nightmare, try taking apart a blouse or skirt you already own and LIKE and make additional ones from that SURE pattern.  Then sew your original back up again.  Or make up the pattern without taking your original garment apart.  Google how to do this.

5.  If/when you DO try a pattern for the first time, obtain a good basic classic pattern that you think you will use again and again, and make it up in some cheap fabric first.  Pencil in alterations on your tissue pattern before cutting into nicer fabric.  Throw away your cheap pre-tested garment.  You might think this is a waste of time, but it will actually SAVE you time and money and help you to avoid mistakes.  You need to conquer a basic pattern thoroughly and then keep it.  You can change it in the future by using different fabrics and different accessories, trim, buttons, etc.  It is simply the best use of your time to conquer a few outfits WELL, before branching out into other projects.  This principle is the same one we’ve discussed for cooking: it is good to work at conquering seven basic down-home evening meals before engaging in endless culinary creativity.

Marriage Tip:  A recipe for happiness
Focus on becoming your husband’s fairytale wife; for the great majority of the time, ignore your own clamorings.  Frequently say “down boy” to your own internal uprisings.  Be the wife every man wishes he had.  It will be hard for your husband to resist true enduring love, expressed through thick and thin, even if, at times, he is a rascal.  He knows at some deep level that he got a treasure for a wife…and in your old age he’ll be eating out of your hand.

I saw my mom, after 50+ years of marriage, wrap my frail dad up in a blanket on his death bed and rock him back and forth like a baby with her own sure arms.  Sitting at the foot of the bed, I thought, “WOW…now THAT is lifetime commitment.”  I sobbed all the way home, thinking about what I had just observed.

Devotions:  Prayer moves celestial furniture
When you move a chair in your living room, you are engaged in “causality.”  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  Prayer changes things, even if you can’t see it.  It matters that you engage in these heavenly remodels.  Many saints throughout the ages, finally convinced of this, set out to conquer themselves in this regard, bent on installing this habit in what remained of their lives.  (Self-management is the hardest of kingdoms to conquer.)  All of them reported, in some insightful, articulate way, that it is an uphill journey from Drudgery, through Discipline, to unimagined, unmitigated Delight!  Aha…

(for the previous seven motherhood tips, see the blogs on this Homeschoolhowtos.com site)

Motherhood Tips 7

Wednesday, 24. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

Forward the link to this blog to some dear mother who never had a course in college about how to be a good mother and never read a book entitled How To Be a Perfect Mom

.  Send it to a mother who will “sort of get the hang of it” by the time it is all over!  Motherhood is a steep learning curve.  Tips help!

Parenting Tip: Can you love your child too much?

It is absolutely impossible to over-love a child!  It would be like saying of the Heavenly Father, “his love doesn’t endure forever”, and “he didn’t keep his covenant of love with his people for very long”.  (NOT in 2 Chronicles 6:14!)

Last week we looked at Larry Crabb’s insightful statement that every human being has two basic needs: 1) “to matter”  and 2) “to be loved.”  We already looked at the “to matter” part, discussing how important it is to identify, early on, your child’s natural wiring, skills and abilities.  Fanning that flame is vital to letting the child know that he has real significance in the big wide world.

This week, we now look at making your child “feel loved”.  We’re talking about parenting with a mature love, here.  It IS possible to SPOIL your child by giving him too much materialism too early, by setting no limits and boundaries on his behavior, or by responding to his foot-stomping demands.  In these cases, withholding loving feelings and actions might be a deeper love, if it is needed to teach the child responsibility, or thwarts his self-absorption.  Real love aims to lead the child to higher ground.

We’re talking about a wise mature, ten steps ahead of them kind of love.  This love prays for his child.  This love anticipates and goes ahead of the child laying out broader and broader wholesome opportunities for the child’s own personal expansion.  But also, this sort of love can be felt.  A child so loved registers over and over again in his own small emotional accounting book that he has once again experienced real caring from his parents.  This is a love that perhaps would:

  • Occasionally stop and help your child hunt for something that is lost.
  • Look in his eyes as he talks with you, and listen to him attentively.
  • Smile warmly at him …OFTEN…as in “all day”, even soon again after he has irritated you.
  • Ask him, later, if he was able to figure out something to his satisfaction.
  • Ask adolescents feeling questions, “How did that make you feel?” and “Do you want to talk about that?”
  • Sing WITH a little one, and sing TO him at bedtime.
  • Read to him, especially Bible stories ON HIS LEVEL, character building stories and scores of missionary biographies.  Almost nothing beats reading together for emotional warmth…the parent’s droning voice coupled with the safe and secure side by side body touch is almost unparalleled as a vehicle for loving a child.  So this kind of love would do massive amounts of this in the early years…MASSIVE amounts.
  • Take daily walks with him.  Occasionally join in hikes, sports, and playing checkers, chess, Scrabble, fictionary, Password, etc.
  • Include him in some part of your current project, with a little companion project, right next to you.  Involve him in YOUR work as much as possible, throughout the day.
  • Pay him for extra jobs, to give him worth.  The Bible says the workman is WORTHY of his hire.  It affirms his dignity.
  • Not use him as your slave.  Make sure that your requests are not excessive.  As he grows older limit these requests to what would be appropriate to ask of a spouse or another adult…otherwise the child will feel “kept”, trapped under you constant demands and want to squirm to get away from you at the youngest age possible.
  • Not micromanage him in his own little world of choices and desires.  Don’t overly rule him, in minutia, exasperating him.
  • Be his first PAYING customer in every childhood business, be it a lemonade-stand, car washing, or harvesting apples.
  • Talk about him POSITIVELY, out loud, within his hearing, in front of others…and never, never, never saying things like “He is our problem child in this area”  or “He has problems with…”
  • Help him with some little further enabling to make him MORE successful with his own little project.
  • Every once in a while, color in a coloring book page together with him.  I have no idea WHY children enjoy doing this with a parent, but they seem to love it!
  • Let your children teach YOU something from their music lessons, or teach you ANYTHING.  Let them “lord it over you” in some innocent, fun way (maybe including tying up daddy with ropes—but make sure mom is un-tied, in case things get out of hand!).
  • Put love notes on their pillows, mirrors and in their food.
  • Surprise your little girls by “tea and crumpets” just once in their childhood.  (Make them dress up and stay in their rooms until you have it all ready for them.)  Surprise your boys with go-carts or bumper cars of some sort, or arrange for them to scramble up in huge tractor trailers, or super tall machinery, or go for a ride in someone’s private plane the next time they take it out for a spin.  Or arrange for both your boys and girls to watch a veterinarian do surgery.  You get the point: be conscious of filling their childhood with memories.

  • None of us will be perfect parents, nor did we HAVE perfect parents.  But look back in your own childhood at what your parents DID do right and emulate that part.  Look there for clues.  Ask further, of yourself, what did some other adult do to you, as a child, that made you feel really loved? Your grandparents?  Your aunts and uncles?  A kind neighborhood gentleman or lady?  Your own friends?  Recall what made you feel good and what currently MAKES you feel good, even now.  Do all those big things to YOUR own child, sometime.  And do the little things every day.  Fill up his love bank, and he’ll love his parents back and go on to become a great friend of many others.  He will have learned how to love, by experiencing it himself.  Keep that account skimpy and he’ll flock to the approval of peers or the strange man hanging out at the corner lamp post.

    Home Management Tip: Linen enhancement

    Once we met a woman who told us her career was working in Linen Enhancement. Having never heard of such a career, we probed further.  She laughed and said that she did laundry for the hotel we were in!

    So, how can we enhance those linens…manage THAT department better?

    RE: bedding, work toward having two sets of sheets for each bed, even if you have to start with thrift store ones.  Since your children sleep in pajamas, you only NEED to change their sheets every OTHER week, changing their pillow cases weekly.

    When you DO change sheets, try to make it a habit to re-make the beds with the clean set right away, when your energy levels are highest.  If you delay to put the clean set on, often it gets put off til bedtime when everyone is far more cranky and have way less energy to face it.  Later in the day, after you’ve finished the laundry, put your freshly laundered set of sheets back in the linen closet.  This ensures that you are always rotating your sheets, not wearing out one set more than another.

    When thinking about your sheet purchases try to color coordinate the sheets with the size of bed, and designate different shelves, in your linen closet, marked for each size bed.  Sheets that have some blue in them might be for the single beds, the cream colored ones for the double beds, etc. that way you don’t have to unfold every sheet to figure out which bed it is for.

    Airing out beds every morning is a good idea.  Toxins are eliminated every night, through respiration as we sleep,  so in the morning throw back the covers clear to the bottom of the bed, air the room out with fresh air, and make the beds up after breakfast.  Have your children learn to air out their jammies, too, before stuffing them back in a drawer all wadded up.  They can be taught to lay them over a chair or the bed near the window, neatly,  til after breakfast.

    Kitchen Tip: Coping with grease

    Whenever you have to clean up a greasy pan, it gums up your pipes, lines your sink with an oily film, and if you have to debone any meat, it makes you have to wash your hands about six times that day to thoroughly get rid of it off your skin. You’ll end that problem forever, if you’ll do two things.

    One: Whenever deboning a turkey or chicken use those cheap, very thin, see through vinyl surgical gloves!  Purchase the latex free 100 count package, so that you always have them “on hand!” Because you now aren’t worried about the grease on your hands anymore, you can really attack that bird getting off every scrap !  The money you save in gaining more meat will pay for the gloves! And, not surprisingly, you’ll discover that you’ll finish the job in half the time!

    Two: Immediately, take the bird out of the pan and set aside to debone later, pour the grease out of the pan, into a see-through glass jar, using a spatula to get it all.  Then use a tissue to wipe off both your spatula and bottom of your pan, before tossing your pan into your sudsy dishwater.  Add one or two Tablespoons of white vinegar to your water…let pan soak and go debone your bird.  The vinegar will cut the tiny bit of grease that is left in your pan and help cut it off your sink and pipes as well.  (By the way, wipe off your peanut butter knives with a Kleenex, too, before washing them.  It will save the other dishes from a greasy film, save your pipes, and make your total dishwater less oily.)

    Put your jar of meat juice/fat/grease into your refrigerator with a lid on it or saucer over it.  Wait to have your gravy TOMORROW.  By that time all the fat will have hardened to the top, which you now scrape off into the trash can, leaving perfectly greaseless, healthy yummy meat juice to use with your leftover meat as gravy or to use as soup stock.  If you simply must have gravy on the first day that you cook your meat, use Imagine’s Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup for your gravy.  This method of managing grease is a gift to your health AND your kitchen pipes.

    Return to your pan—it will now be a pleasure to wash up.

    Sewing Tip: Sew higher!

    A nice high surface will save you from endless back pain, while working on cutting out fabric, and/or pinning your work to prepare each section of your project for the machine. You can buy inexpensive, plastic heavy duty bed leg risers, but use them underneath the legs of your kitchen or dining room table, instead.  I lift up one end of the table, and shove them under with my foot, and then go around and lift up the other end and do the same thing.  To take them off, I kick them out from underneath, as I again lift first one end of the table and then the other.

    And/or elevate your ironing board up higher, to make IT into a high table, by sliding a six inch high box under each leg.  Choose a large-surfaced strong box made of cardboard, tupperware or sterlite, to give a sufficient base to your ironing board legs so they don’t fall off.  The instantaneous added height is wonderful to work on, bringing your pinning/measuring/cutting jobs up closer to your sight, allowing you to stand up straight.

    Marriage Tip:  The grass is not greener

    We know a lady in our city who has been remarried at least four times, that we can count…it may be five or six.  She is now in her 60’s, and seasoned.  With a dry wit, she is forever telling crazy stories about husband number one, or three, or?  The other day, after one of those stories, my husband asked her what she had learned through all of these relationships about marriage that she could tell others.  She responded, looking over the top of her glasses, with words to the effect of… “stick with the first one and work out your problems with THAT one.  You only exchange one set of problems for another, and you take your OWN problems with you!” 

    So rumor has it, “there ain’t no grass any greener than in your own back yard.” 

    Devotions: Divine markings

    Teach your children to write and underline in their Bibles!  You can be the example, by underlining in yours, too.  Teach them to treat their Bible like a life training handbook, underlining favorite verses, which they can find again QUICKLY, when they want to show them to others.

    In the beginning, not only read to your children from storybook Bibles, but choose Bibles for them to finger, hold and read on their own, with larger print, and lots of pictures to prime the pump.  You’re trying to help establish a lifetime HABIT in your child, here.  So whet the appetite with bigger and easier Bibles at first, before they advance to harder versions. 

    What is the point of possessing a gold-leafed Bible and a brass heart.  Chewing the Bible all up, and dog-earing it, will put the gold in yours and their hearts!  In concentration camps, believers even aggressively ripped up Bibles and gave each other ONE page to live on!!!  A heavily worn and torn Bible is a beautiful Bible.

    This is a book that is alright to write in sideways and upside down!  Both you and the children can add stars, exclamation points, boxes, and arrows!  When that Bible falls apart, go to the thrift store and get another one.  My current used Bible cost one dollar.  Yet I go for gold in it like a black faced miner.  Teach them to hunt for the little nuggets.  Blah, blah, blah…NUGGET, BINGO, underline, ...blah, blah, blah, NUGGET, BINGO, underline!!!

    Motherhood Tips 6

    Thursday, 18. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here are six wifely coping strategies:


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

    Motherhood Tips 5

    Thursday, 11. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

    Four simple examples:


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Motherhood Tips 4

    Thursday, 04. February 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


      Then you practice what obedience feels like in the flesh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Motherhood Tips 3

    Thursday, 28. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Motherhood Tips 2

    Thursday, 21. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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