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Motherhood Tips 2

Thursday, 21. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motherhood Tips 1

Thursday, 14. January 2010 by Renee Ellison

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

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

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

Parenting Tip: Absolute surrender and lavish love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping your adolescent successfully navigate emerging hormonal passions

Thursday, 14. January 2010 by Renee Ellison


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Pitting adolescents against themselves

    Tuesday, 05. January 2010 by Renee Ellison


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How to cut the hair of a boy or a man

    Friday, 06. November 2009 by Renee Ellison

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

    Delegation or dumping?  A mother’s proper role

    Friday, 06. November 2009 by Renee Ellison


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

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

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

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

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

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

    The excellencies of pursuing manual labor

    Friday, 16. October 2009 by Renee Ellison


    Yeshua was a carpenter.  By that choice of a career, He baptized all manual labor with the fire of a hidden splendor.  Carpentry, meal-making, mechanical engineering, fixing broken things, sewing, gardening, cleaning/sorting are all creative acts, bringing into existence what was not there before.  Manual labor IMPROVES things, gracing our humble lot in life with progress, whether it be building the very walls that tower around and bring warmth to our social relationships, or placing a well-cooked meal in front of a visiting needy neighbor.  We both SEE these practical changes and FEEL them.  A well-ordered room that was just recently in chaos, a new door sawed and hammered through the wall giving easier access to the next room, give us profound emotional satisfaction.

    For years now, the culture has worshipped the high brow professional jobs, along with middle managers and corporate presidents, with envy and jealousy, and has rewarded it with outlandish financial indulgence that often seems disproportionate to the actual sweat equity involved.  But, despite the money, when these jobs are examined more closely they often turn out to be not so great after all.

    People trapped in these jobs now may have cash, but no TIME to enjoy it with, and often their relational lives are in shambles, due to their preferring (or succumbing to the pull of) the relentless demands of the job.  Long-term, they find that the external expectations and regulations and paperwork have become suffocating.  The logistics of actually doing the job—sandwiched in between hundreds of workers both below and above—begin to tax their nerves irreversibly as they grow older.  Having no lid on the time REQUIRED to do one’s profession, whether it be piloting the midnight run of the international airlines or drawing up legal papers to present in court for the next URGENT case, all can become a nightmarish slavery.  Stress begins to eat away at the substance and core of a man’s life.  And some men in their middle forties, trapped in them, have chosen to finally walk out of them, by choosing another way.  In hindsight we may have mistakenly thought that there was more intellectual content in a “brain job” than there actually was.

    In his new book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, Matthew B. Crawford describes just such a liberating discovery.  He discovered later in his own life that manual labor (entrepreneurial endeavors) can be a glory!  The short old fable called “Acres of Diamonds” is another such tale.  In it, a couple leaves home in search of diamonds (corporate prestigious jobs?) only to return home empty-handed, where they discover them in their own back yard (the joys of rolling up their sleeves in simpler, entrepreneurial pursuits?).

    The author of the Soulcraft book describes how he earned a Ph.D. in psychology, but after years and years of the dry academic life, he gave it up for fixing motorcycles in his own garage!  He describes how we have wrongly thought, as a modern culture, that “if the work is dirty, it must be stupid.”  Conversely, history shows “Where there is building, there is debris!”

    Crawford discovered the joys of diagnosing his own challenges and then accomplishing them, having control of the entire process from start to finish, if even in addressing the needs of one broken motorcycle.  By regaining control over his own outcomes, he found life became enormously satisfying to him.  The sense of control over an honest work-life became tremendously rewarding.  The spirit of self-reliance in an abundance of additional areas returned to him.  Rather than constantly needing the aid of an expert, a specialist to maneuver all of life’s demands…he began to enjoy figuring it out himself.  While our culture marches inexorably in the other direction, where

    having fewer occasions to be responsible is preferred, he quietly tinkers to the beat of a different drummer.  Our teenagers, by the scores, having bought the lie even further—being blindly raised in it—have grown to have fewer and fewer expectations to be responsible

    .  Instead of bringing the freedoms they had hoped for, it has brought boredom, dullness and stupor.  To fill the void, they go watch another movie, or surf the internet.  They imagine life is progressing, but they are only engaged in doing figure 8’s.

    In contrast to this mental inertia, the hours a teenager spends under the careful eye of an adult mentor, learning to take control of his own future, cultivates and refines skills he needs to artfully and aggressively take dominion over all his future personal realm of family and business.  For guys, purposefully gaining the skills to build one’s own future home debt-free by hand, for example, and for gals the ability to serve a well-seasoned pot of soup rather than dull mush to the hungry, and then to play Chopin when her work is done (thereby gaining an outstanding reputation for being a refined and capable woman) ought to become passions…worth beating it out of bed every morning to learn MORE.  Instead, too often in too many homes nowadays the mental grit and determination and tenacity and hours and hours of EXPERIENCE spent in gaining a skill are lost in the pillows of the couch.

    Crawford concludes with the injunction to cast a doubtful eye on our society’s current conclusions and realize that “There is happiness in your hands!”  Where have we heard that before?!

  • “but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12, KJV)

    Filed Under: Home management tips

    Should homeschooling moms panic over discovering that their children have different learning styles?

    Sunday, 27. September 2009 by Renee Ellison

    Thousands of homeschooling mothers who have attended workshops on “discovering your child’s learning style” or who have read some popular new educational books about this, have left that conference or shut that book wide-eyed and panicked about the implications of this concept and all the work and time and expense it will entail.  They begin an absorbing search for the perfect tailor-made curriculum for each subject, DIFFERENT for each child.  Years later, however, we find many of these same moms in tears, and the children no better educated than before.  After arduous hunting, moms wearily soon find out that there is a dearth of availability of such “differing learning style” materials…once they’ve run through the phonics options for teaching kindergarteners.  Many of the expensive materials they DID find and buy are now sitting unopened in the corner of the living room.  Sadly, they discover that these materials are just too overwhelming, demanding too much of mom to even implement.  The size and scope of the teacher preparation required for such an optimal approach has simply burned mom out on teaching at all.

    Several decades ago, when I was still a public school teacher, research began to emerge over this topic of discovering that children have different learning styles.  This information made many teachers happy because all of a sudden it explained why Johnny couldn’t read while Susie COULD, given the same lesson.  In large classrooms where children get very little of a total percentage of a teacher’s attention, this was helpful information.  In many schools it resulted in instituting pull-out programs to teach struggling children, using more targeted materials and approaches for those problem cases.  It is interesting to note that in every case, however, an overlooked success factor was the greatly reduced class sizes.  Most all of these special programs had a teacher/pupil ratio of five to one or less.

    For clarification purposes, “different learning styles” just means that some children are largely auditory learners (they can pick up most information accurately by just hearing it), some are visual (they must SEE the materials), and some are predominantly tactile (they learn best by touching).  All children learn most optimally when all three styles are employed in each lesson, because whatever is experienced with the most sensory input will stick with the learner more powerfully than what is learned with just one sense.  This is only an ideal, however; it is nearly impossible to achieve over the long haul.

    The power of one-to-one tutoring, however, that was simply impractical and way too expensive to implement in public schools, IS now available in virtually every homeschooling home.  It is my experience that one-on-one attention CAN yield nearly the same results, without the frenzy of finding and buying perfect different learning style materials for every subject for every child.

    I HAVE recommended (and still DO recommend)—even in the face of this research—that a sequential step-by-step progressive line-upon-line individualized curriculum will yield the same results at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the frenzy to homeschooling parents.  The reason?  The power of tutoring.  Side by side, the parent and child can learn about pyramids without also having to build them under the kitchen table and sing about them, all of which consumes a disproportionate amount of time, as in oceans of downright wasted time, for the single fact learned.

    Parents think they are educating as creatively and powerfully as possible when they are thoroughly covering one topic, by doing a unit-study of the Renaissance, for example, by providing hands-on materials, expensive materials, supposedly perfect materials.  They add to this, their own personal adult sweat equity to deliver the subject on a silver platter for their child at that one moment.  But what they fail to see is the other 16,000 concepts over 12 years, six subjects a day, with four concepts per subject (pace), that fall through the cracks while they overemphasize and EXPERIENCE one topic.

    Obsessing about perfectionism in one topic, in many cases because the parent himself happens to want to learn that topic along WITH the child, because she missed learning it at the far more appropriate time in her own childhood, leaves their present child under-trained, slanted in his or her skills and perceptions, and wastes a phenomenal amount of time.  Sometimes this becomes even an escape for the information-hungry-mom from other more drudging domestic duties to keep the family fully functioning and the hubby happy.  This untimely, inappropriate priority causes untold daily stress on the entire family…to say nothing of burning out the mama.

    What beginning homeschooling parents, by the droves, don’t realize is that your child can learn far faster than you can teach.  You simply can’t prepare all this information in bite-sized and comprehensive enough pieces to be as effective as a thorough individualized curriculum can.

    Having said all this, not all curriculums are equal.  Some sequential programs are nothing but dry bones.  Fortunately, there is ONE that isn’t.  It is the exact opposite of all the boring dead curriculums we were pushed and pulled through in our own educations.  The difference?  This one has God on every page!  After all, education is ultimately HIS-story…history.  A growing, caring relationship with God waltzes the learner through the beautifully illustrated, up-to-date material time and time again.  I’ve seen children literally click their heels and cheer with excitement when they were finishing one level of ACE and receiving the next level.  This individualized, engaging curriculum is five-star, state-of-the-art- excellent…the top of the pile!

    In addition to yielding standardized test scores to be proud of, ACE gives a general education that is comprehensive enough, and spiritual training that is thorough enough, to eventually release your child as a refined adult into the big wide world.  And, as if that weren’t enough, the children carry the load of their OWN education, going at their own pace and correcting their own work IMMEDIATELY, rather than continually waiting on the often preoccupied and unavailable and overtaxed parents to do it for them.

    We’ve found that ACE is simply the most effective way to conquer education for children the world over.  ‘Tis now taught to over 1 million children in over 135 countries.  We say, “Let ACE be your child’s tutor and you be their cheerleader!”  It is my strong seasoned advice that you not waste your time reinventing the educational wheel, achieving much less desirable outcomes.  Such experiments have been tried before with miserable results in countless families now over the past two decades.

    Children can easily master all academics by tried and true sequential baby steps.  It has been my experience in over 35 years in the field of education that daily sequential discipline will yield results that are superior to academics taught only by sporadic passion and novelty, regardless of how superior that moment or two managed to be.  If you still want (and have the energy) to, go ahead and teach your passion subjects in ADDITION or on top of a SURE curriculum.  ACE is your horse to ride to go the distance.  It’ll still have your children habitually working and progressing on the days when you are totally out of it.  And if you’re human, that’s a lot of days.  Get ACE and stick with it; I think you’ll be very happy with the results.

    Pay more attention to your children

    Sunday, 09. August 2009 by Renee Ellison

    Pay more attention to your children

    NOTHING can be more rewarding to a mother (except making her hubby very, very happy!) in all the world than raising your children.  Real success is success with one’s closest family relationships…the Bible got it right in Titus 2.

    Just like a true athlete works at shaving his minutes, a true mother works at refining her children at ever progressively deeper levels.  It takes humor, good will, soft touch, grooming boot-camp,  spanking touch, politeness boot-camp, applause, no nonsense firmness, socialization boot-camp, warm affirmations,  smiles, talks…talks…talks…subduing their flesh, letting up and then returning to keep the pressure on, challenging them to subdue it some MORE, followed by wild “YOU DID IT!!!!”’s.  And in and through it all, sticking them to the Lord with super-glue.

    If there is one thing I want to go down to my grave as having said in this life, it is: “Pay attention to your children, and then pay attention to them SOME MORE !!!”  They last forever.  There is no re-doing it.  If a mother invests in her children, in the end, her buttons will pop right off her chest.  There is simply no laurel like it.  But if the children grow up to be an embarrassment to the parents, the parents will go down to their graves in sorrow, with wounds that never heal, no matter what else they accomplish in life.  What parents cannot see in the beginning is that there is only a TINY window to accomplish all of this.  It goes like paper in a fire.  Every day counts.

    I’m worked up by what I see to the contrary on every trip to town!  A young boy “helped” me in the hardware store this morning, underpants showing four inches at waist, singing a pop song so loudly he couldn’t concentrate on making accurate measurements on a board I was having him cut, grinned sheepishly while telling me how he failed shop in school, referred to his step-dad, (bingo…I thought) carelessly mis-measured and mis-cut, just like he knew he would.  And he felt like a total failure.

    So I hid his flop from the manager (in the next aisle over), and we began again while I worked WITH HIM, (Yeshua’s main discipling technique) every step of the way…“Let’s make it work anyway!  Perhaps we could put it at this angle,  here, I’ll hold the end, let’s measure this way, no, get the end of your tape OVER the edge,” etc. and then WILDLY praised him at the end…probably a first in his life.  Being MADE to do something right and then lavishly praised.  He walked away sooooo happy and “oh-fiddle-‘twas nothin’—shy!”  Childhood is made up of 1,000’s of these imprints…either one way or ‘tother.

    A waltz with plastic (an editorial on the use of credit cards)

    Sunday, 28. June 2009 by Renee Ellison


    Credit cards waltz many Americans straight into surrealism.  Taking another spin around the room in the arms of plastic, with sweet nothings being whispered in our ears, we whirl deeper and deeper into the night.  But the “financial-folly-of-a-dance” ends in the morning.  By the rude light of day we see the tables turned upside down; we hold only empty bottles and toys and begin to feel the headache.

    In the old days, before plastic was invented and cut into sturdy little 2x3 inch rectangles, we had to FEEL real money, and we counted out DIFFERENT amounts for each purchase: one dollar, two dollars, three dollars.  At the checkout stand, people used to observe the size of the pile of cash required for each and every item they bought.  And AFTER a purchase, if there was any left, they put a DIMINISHED stash of cash back into their pocket…realizing that what remained was thinner, littler, and lighter.  They felt the transfer of stored sweat equity in actual greenbacks and clinking change.

    But today, regardless of whether we buy a large expensive car or a small cheap loaf of bread, we put the SAME SIZED piece of plastic back into our wallet after the purchase; nothing is diminished in the palm of our hand.  We see no loss; we feel no loss.  This new financial modus operundus has led many of us straight into un-reality.  We know that reality still exists out there somewhere, but it is veiled and far away.  What we now feel is only the waltz, the beat of the music in the air.  The faster we spin, the higher we fly, until we don’t feel the tug of even the law of gravity anymore…financial gravity.  We have disconnected with natural laws.

    Many think that we cross the line into surrealism when our credit card debt-load reaches $5,000, or $10,000 or $15,000, or whenever all hope of EVER paying it back seems past.  But the reality is that we crossed it with our first small purchase when we didn’t have the actual cash in the bank to back it up and we KNEW it, but did it anyway.  That is where we crossed the line.  Thousands cross this line every day.  It is a kind of financial mini-stroke, a trial run at financial suicide.  A shot of morphine.

    By the way, what COULD persons do if they ever DO reach such a point of needing money when they have none?  They could do what people have done for centuries.  Stop purchasing!!!  Stop the financial hemorrhaging.  Don’t keep digging the same hole deeper.  Leave the grocery store, leave the gas station; instead, walk, bike, catch a ride with a neighbor.  Go out immediately and earn something.  Earn pocket change for just today, and then do it again tomorrow, until you can get a larger, more permanent job, based on your conscientious regard for the responsibilities of the small temporary job you completed today.  You then use this small job to get a quote, a referral, a recommendation for the future.  Go mow someone’s lawn, make a loaf of bread and sell it, or fix something for someone, babysit someone’s child, look after an elderly person, fix them dinner, wash their car, clean their house, or yard.  Do grunt work.  Clean someone’s “something” that they don’t want to have to clean themself.  Work at some little job for UNDER the going rate.  Do what makes you the most marketable immediately.  You can think about a more long range solution WHILE you work at SOMETHING to put food on the table right now.

    Be exceptionally clean and well groomed.  You never get a second chance to impress a future employer, whether they hire you for a day, or a week, or a year.  Demonstrate by your LOOKS that you COULD care about someone ELSE’S details.  Poverty and elbow grease aren’t mutually exclusive.  Wash dishes in a restaurant.  Get a paper route, or fill in on a mail delivery route.  Take the lowest job of the low.  There is always room at the bottom of any potential work project.  And if you do it well, you’ll soon climb the ladder, within hours, even!!!

    Just several short decades ago, even if a person’s own mother died, if they didn’t have the money to take the train home for the funeral, they didn’t go.  Period.  There was no WAY to waltz across that line of reality.  It was not possible.  No cash, no purchases.  For this reason, some of the Pilgrims daily rationed themselves with only 3 kernels of corn during the toughest moments of that first harsh winter.  They viscerally FELT the lack of vital resources, and it caused them to use their fleeting vital energy to find a way to reverse that reality so that it wouldn’t hit again tomorrow.  Money or the lack thereof defines a large part of our reality.  It tells us what we can and cannot do.  If one chooses to leave the path of financial solvency, finding it too narrow, one quickly ends up in the jungle, NOT on a larger path as one imagines.

    Fiscal reality is not a bad thing.  It is a sure parameter around existence from its inception.  Earning money is a motivator for all mankind.  History has revealed the wisdom of it.  Without needing to buy bread by the sweat of one’s brow, one would choose not to sweat.  Most all of the great art and literature contributions made during the Renaissance were produced in response to a commission!  The artist had to eat, so he wrote the book, or painted the church’s ceiling, to get money for his living expenses.  Think of the art the world would have missed, had there not been the necessity of producing it.

    Realistically, there are only two avenues to wealth.  Only two.  Spend less. And earn more.  That’s it.  That’s the secret formula in its entire splendor.  It is no great mystery.  The challenge of fiscal reality will always be to mobilize oneself WITHIN this construct, not seek to hunt for a different road.

    Spend less.  Put pencil to paper… greenbacks in envelopes…record daily purchases/receipts/expenses in a financial log-book before you go to bed EVERY night, until you fully master yourself again in this area.  Even Ben Franklin did this.  He was carrying his own financial weight by the time he was 24 and then—by multiplying those efforts/successes through hiring others—by age 42 (the very same numbers flipped) he was CONTRIBUTING to the needs of the WORLD.

    Become AWARE of EVERY purchase.  Rather than purchase in surrealism, totally oblivious to what you are ACTUALLY doing, wake up.  Take 48 hours to think before making ANY purchase that isn’t previously WRITTEN down, whether it is for groceries, medicine, projects, seemingly needed travel, clothes, etc.  Put it ALL down on paper.  Applying pencil to paper is the fastest route to control your income and outgo.

    Earn MORE. One way to do this is to layer those income streams.  Do more than one job.  Pick up smaller jobs around the edges, and stay relentlessly steady at it until you return to total solvency.  Mobilize the entire family as a fiscal machine, if need be.  The Pilgrims did it. There is no other way.  Foreigners who come to our country do it, even now.  The entire family sleeps in the back of the storefront on the floor and works its way up from there.  Don’t stop when you are finally out of trouble – stop only when there is EXCESS in your wallet.  Savings is the goal, not just survival.

    One may wistfully stand on the shore and WANT or even TRY another way to cross the Atlantic Ocean, be it by roller skating, hot air ballooning, or swimming, but only two ways will ACTUALLY, surely get you there.  It’s only possible to fly or take a boat.  We will not make it if we attempt to walk on water.  So it is with money.  Determine to grab yourself out of the current financial surreal world.  Live for the morning, and begin to feel financial gravity again as you return to fiscal sure-footedness.  If you’re in trouble in this area, the first step is to cut up the plastic and stop the waltz.

    Filed Under: Home management tips