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Response to the current “Tiny House” discussion

Thursday, 19. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


Everyone, simply everyone, has to conquer the housing issue in their life.  The sooner we homeschooling parents can ground our high schoolers with this immutable reality, the better.  Housing is like gravity: the need for it doesn’t go away even if we attempt to wish it away, or try to avoid facing it indefinitely.  Having an early strong financial goal of conquering this fixed need in our lives will help clobber the temptation to spend money on trivia (a tendency that can go on for several decades), or to waste money on rent, and will help to marshal our stray hours into a compelling purpose to get this “over with”.  Unbeknownst to most of the public discussion on this topic, it can be gotten “over with”—if we play our early years wisely.

Just the other day there was an article in World Net Daily that said, “How an emerging adult spends the first ten LABOR years of their lives will determine the rest of their lives.”  Conquering the housing/land problem early in life gives a person freedoms down the road that are unimaginable to him when he is still youngWhere we conquer obtaining this housing/land package is always important, but it’s not the most important thing initially; one can always swap/rent/improve/sell/trade up that starter position.  It is when one doesn’t work at building the starter nest-egg—that is what can sink someone into mortgage debt for the rest of life.  The root of the word mortgage is morgue—i.e. death.  A mortgage is an agreement with death.  The vast majority of our culture makes this covenant with death, which many often enter cavalierly as they eagerly sign their first mortgage, not realizing the full extent of what they are doing.

Now some thoughts regarding the current public discussion about tiny houses:
The sheer number of books and YouTube videos touting the glories of a tiny house indicate that the trend is mushrooming.  The Tiny House movement may be an over-reaction to our culture’s run-away materialism, and is certainly nothing new. The elderly have been downsizing for decades.  Let’s examine more closely what it belies.  Is it not evidence perhaps that the capacity to live is shrinking?  One simply doesn’t need more spacious housing if one’s productivity is slowing down, if one’s engagements are falling off, if one’s social life is drying up (visitors come less often), and/or if “taking dominion” over life’s possibilities and family building is not the goal.  Young adults could go about it the other way—building a large metal shed and then tucking a warm livable space into a corner of it—so that there is no limit on one’s endeavors.  In a warehouse, expansion possibilities exist from the get-go; there is no ceiling upon who one can become and what one can do.  Entrepreneurialism is fast becoming a smarter option than lifetime-debtor-slavery to colleges.  The excitement in living is to actually DO something.  To actually do anything, and to be home-centric in doing it—loving your own environment instead of living like a vagabond all over town—one needs space.

A tiny house works great for a single person who largely conducts business somewhere else and only needs a YMCA or youth hostel-type cot for the night.  The minute you put two people in such an arrangement, however—let alone one’s first squalling baby—all bets are off for its long range workability.  Tight living quarters will eventually (if not on the first day) create more stress for two humans—though flocks of animals seem to be able to handle it okay.

Therefore, might we be starting off the discussion about housing on the weaker end of the stick?  Let’s face it: a person can live in anythingIs not the more significant consideration the land on which the home rests?  This is something it seems we’ve forgotten, but something the pioneers heading west totally grasped.  We might need to re-discover this in our modern lives.  “If I can just get me a plot of land” was the insatiable appetite of the young in the early days of the development of any country.

One could build the most fabulous tiny house imaginable, but if the land issue wasn’t settled beforehand, perplexities will assertively present themselves the day after it is finished as to where to set it.  Here is the problem: if a person lives on someone else’s land (ostensibly for “free”) they’ll trade financial woes for relational woes.  Sure-shootin’.  They’ll walk around under constant guilt/anxiety about the hour when the relationship may go south—the love tires, grows weary, impatient, the landlords suddenly change, or the landlord’s plans change (e.g. he just lost HIS job, has to move to take care of HIS parents), and any number of unforeseeable variables.  Anxieties without number can begin to mount about all of the surrounding housing/living details: parked cars, the condition of the grounds immediately around the tiny house, the volume of the music, the use of drugs and alcohol, and whose responsibility it is to shovel the snow or repair the broken fence.  The responsibility fog/load gets murky in a hurry.  When one’s living situation hinges on the benevolence of someone else (one’s garage “free-land-lord”, or “free” driveway benefactor) one’s anxieties don’t go away.  Such a person trades mortgage anxieties for interpersonal anxieties and finds that he still is not free.

To be truly free, one could restructure the discussion to look for the land first.  Secure the plot, first, even if it is on the backside of a remote village.  And while beginning the search, look for one thing in particular—a good supply of good clean water.  Is its source secure?  Is the well or the supply infrastructure already secure?  Don’t settle for the hope of having water, or the maybe of having a future water infrastructure “coming to the area”.  Is the water polluted?  How polluted?  Before you plop down your first nickel, be sure of your water situation (and, additionally, make sure that the land is not built over a mine-shaft, a uranium deposit or an area where an oil rig may show up and start drilling).  In other words, don’t mince questions over what is underneath the land.  Nothing, however, is as important as the water issue.  Under an EMP attack, surely nothing else matters as much.  So disregard the gorgeous housing magazines and keep your head on.  You can’t drink a view.

Then build your tiny house—erect your tent—buy your RV; you can upgrade through the years.  By the way, in most cases, the only difference between an RV and your tiny house is looks, mobility (a tiny house is not intended for frequent movement, whereas an RV could move to a different slot each night) and the depth of your passion to control the configuration of the layout.  Die to your perfectionisms and you can save yourself a chapter of having to become a construction manager—a career/field most people know nothing about, will spend inordinate hours brooding over, and still wind up with mistakes and oops common to newbies in any field—to say nothing of having to wear a hammer on your belt for double the time you had planned upon.

The truly winning strategy to be financially free for a lifetime, in terms of your housing?  Start with where—and then, downstream, think through your what.  For more on this topic, read our 10 Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Who Got Free of House Debt and Sure Financial Steps for Beginners.

Picture source (and for more information): Cozy Tiny House.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The socialization dilemma

Saturday, 14. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


The question:

A customer wrote:

“At present I have an 8 year old boy who loves to go out and play around with some neighbor 11 year old boys who are not the worst but they go to school and love fighting and robber games, which we have as a rule not encouraged in our home. He is then acting up inside the home, and starting to display the beginnings of a sour attitude. He has always been a very gentle and sensitive child who responded well to discipline. I’m wondering how I can display the sort of words and smiles you mention here when really I’m worried about him - what have I done wrong? What can I do about him? It doesn’t help that we are labeled “exclusive” at our church because we homeschool, and we don’t come from Christian homes and have no support from either friends or family. The pressure is beginning to tell on us and our kids look as though they were wishing they could just do the stuff everyone else is doing. We have fun with our kids working together, reading and listening to missionary stories, going on walks and kayaks together. But it seems the world is pushing in on is so hard and we might lose the battle already. We also have two daughters aged 5 and 2. How can we display all the love we long to when we are having these pressures and worries?”

Some answers:
My friend Eileen, who has a large family with a spread of ages, nailed it with the “communication key”.  That is the top concept.  She wrote:

“We drive two hours to and from shabbat almost every week and we still come against bad influences.  The only thing that I find that helps is intense time before… giving instruction on what is expected behavior, and after… going through all that they experienced and discussing what was pleasing to Abba and what wasn’t.  We also have to immediately deal with things they have seen or heard when they are around others.  For example, families who don’t believe in discipline, is this right or wrong, what does Abba say?  The more evil we come against, the more time we must put in to counteract. More Bible memory and more cuddle time to increase a loving attitude toward mommy and daddy.”

I would add three things more, as well…

Continually point out to them cases of where bad influences and poor personal choices turned out poorly for the unwise person. Appeal to their own self-interest and their own future protection, sparing them grief, for their own future betterment.  Let them know that you want them “to ride on the heights of the earth” for their sakes, because you and the Lord view them as so valuable in His kingdom.  This has a different “feel” than “thou shalt nots.”  This is a “let’s run with champions” feel.

Also, at some strategic moments one can almost appear cavalier, as a parent, about telling them that it is for their sake and not yours.  You could make these sorts of statements: “I’ve already made my choices; this is your life, and only you will live with the results.”  Or, “We don’t want you to have the emotional pain so and so lives with, or the practical fallout and negative effects, or to suffer backtracking in this area.”  This heightens their anxiety, when they see you “checking out.”  Don’t over-use this tactic, but it is good sometimes.  It is just one more tool in your parental belt to wield when the moment is right.

Minimize the amount of worldly input into your children’s lives. Certainly there should be none at all in your home—and there should be shortened exposures outside of the home.  Have other children into your home, and almost never have your children in other people’s homes unless you are there, as well.

Go deeper with siblings. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s birth family did this to the max, as did Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s.  We can encourage our children to dote on younger siblings more and to adore older siblings more; this will prepare them to one day be able to extend additional kindnesses to one’s spouse.  There are inexhaustible possibilities for expressions of love within the family that most secular families know little about.  This extends the child’s patience with relating, and takes him into an understanding of “empathy.”  It moves children deeper into realizing the differences of others’ brains and wiring, and brings them into relational surprises of the good sort, as well as shaping in them the grace of loving endurance.  Because eventually there are hard patches of loving any human—a spouse, a child or a disintegrating elderly person under our care for months or years far past our patience—and for teaching them how to cope with a host of differing and difficult personality types in every direction in one’s larger life.

It is only an American concept that we can choose our friends infinitely and only waltz with those who delight us—and to dump them, on a whim, when they don’t.  Having 600 Facebook friends is the antithesis of loving in the “daily round of duty” with a few.  The hard work of love is exactly that—hard work—but what it wonderfully yields, what we ultimately come to understand, is that love is never about the object of our love, but about growing our own capacity to live out His infinite love in our own spheres.  It was not the beauty of us, or any other alluring attributes from us, that coaxed the Almighty into loving us; it was sheer divine grit.  That was infinite “God-ness.”

Entrepreneurialism vs. entitlement

Wednesday, 11. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


Our society has raised a generation of entitlement thinkers.  Children want something for nothing, and they grow into adults who want something for nothing.  In the American ghetto, sadly, we now have three generations who have sat around their family dinner table talking about their welfare checks.  Meanwhile, quietly, immigrants both now and from yesteryear rolled up their sleeves and got to work and worked themselves out of the American ghetto in one generation.  The immigrants slept on the floor in the back of their shops and now own the buildings that house those same shops…while their American counterparts continued a life of poverty and grew their entitlement mentality.

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychologist who worked in the ghettos of the U.K., says that often “poverty is what we carry around between our two ears.”  It breeds itself in our thought life.  See his eye-opening book: Life at the Bottom.

As a nation, we are “hand-out-foolish.”  Think of how our country could be improved if we required commensurate work for every welfare check we handed out.  We could say as a nation, “Yes, you can have money: there will always be money for the individual who will give us work in exchange.”  How ‘bout that for a policy?!

Recipients of government benefits could improve our country’s roads, spotlessly clean bathrooms in all of our government buildings, plant trees, pick up trash along roads, pick weeds, do maintenance repairs on old equipment, etc, etc.

Here is the problem.  Entitlement programs work until you run out of taxpayers.  Then you have a disaster on your hands.

A few years ago, outraged college students took over their college president’s office because they wanted future students of The Cooper Union to continue receiving a free education.  The impasse lasted 65 days.  The institution was over-extended and in debt by $17 million through a series of poor decisions.  The ideology was unsustainable in the real world.  Free means someone hidden is footing the bill.  Nothing is ever free.  The president and the professors should have walked off their jobs, turned the lights out, and left the students with the bills, but they didn’t, because their own entitlement mentality got the best of them (the president thought there was nothing unconscionable about receiving a salary of nearly $800,000 and getting free use of an elegant townhome in New York).  Their fragile inflated salaries, fabricated out of cotton candy dynamics, were at stake.  While the fountain of illusion still flowed they wanted to be there to fill up their jugs.  And so the impasse remained an impasse.

By the way, US college student loan debt has surpassed a trillion dollars.  To put that into graspable terms: if a business started at the time of the birth of Christ, and was open every day since, and accrued debt at the rate of one million dollars per day, it would be 700 years from now before that business would have a debt of one trillion dollars.

Whatever happened to the biblical mandate, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”?  Squeeze our current ideology, thoroughly wring it out for all its worth, and eventually we’ll be plunged back into the 19th century.  Someone has to work to make the raw materials, ship the raw materials, make them into salable products, retail them, etc.  If we lie down on the job anywhere along the line (as we’ve now done in our society) we’ll derail for good.

The root of this entitlement problem is that most youth (and much of the adult general population) of today have never run a business.  Start with entrepreneurial training of your children and you can turn this ship around, at least for your family.  It begins with the lemonade stand.  Teach your children that they never get to keep the whole dollar.  They have to work to get the dollar to begin with, but then they have to pay for their supplies before they walk home with profits.  Tell them before they set up the stand that you will be asking for money out of their profits to replenish your supplies—that they will be paying you for the paper cups, the sugar, and the lemons.  Teach them what economies are all about by encouraging them to have realistic experiences with small businesses of their own.  Then compliment them, inspire them, give them enlarging tips and opportunities, and you’ll have done your part to grow some business muscle in our nation.

Entitlement or entrepreneurialism?  Take your pick and live with your outcomes.  For a further impassioned discussion of this matter listen to Renee’s half-hour radio program on Sunday, 2/15/15 at 10:00 RMST on Messianic Lamb Radio or return to this site to hear the archived program at any time afterwards.

Filed Under: Home management tips

‘Tis NEVER too late to parent BETTER

Sunday, 08. February 2015 by Renee Ellison


If you are only just now seeing the big picture of raising godly seed, and a higher standard of parenting, do not despair about the years before now, that were not so well spent.  It is only the Enemy that tells us we are too late to really parent well.  It is never too late to bond well with our children and make a huge impact upon their lives.  Never too late.  You can begin afresh this very minute.

If you feel that the past has been a complete wash, start by focusing on what is most important: your own personal repentance and biblical imprinting on your children.  In prayer, tell God that you are sorry for your own misplaced priorities, that you didn’t “get it” about what a high calling this was and that now you want to make better decisions with your time and need His help.  Cry out to God for a turnaround in your own habits.  Trying to replace destructive habits without divine help is almost impossible.  Repentance opens up the heart to the working of the Holy Spirit—it grants Him permission to help you. 

On a practical level, replace the inferior habit (be it long phone calls, romance novels, TV shows, the idolatry of spectator sports, excess shopping, personal projects, or perhaps over-indulging a friend or relative to the harm of your own children who look to you but can’t find you because you are always preoccupied with someone beyond your immediate family) with a better habit that entices you.  If you can think of nothing else, replace all time-eaters /-wasters with family exercise.  This will start to turn your huge “ship of state” around in the waters.  Do it for 28 days straight and it will become a new, better habit.  Even if it is just a long robust family walk around the neighborhood, do it every day.  (Work up to three miles.)  This gives you bonding time with your precious children—positive emotional time not spent around chores or academics—and clears out the mental cobwebs for academic work when you get home.  Plus, it gets all of you into better shape.

Also, start massively imprinting your young children with the Bible by reading to them from Arthur Maxwell’s 10-volume The Bible Story and his set of Bedtime Stories.  Never skip a night.  Make this a non-negotiable.  We heard of one family who repeated this over and over for eight years; their children turned out phenomenally godly and holy.  This will serve as a third parent in its divine imprinting of your child.  It’s a great use of that special hour before bedtime.

Start there.  Then make to-do charts for each child and make them highly visible on a wall or door near you.  Delegate lots and lots of household chores so that you can keep your eye on the big picture of what each member of your family is doing, instead of you being down scrubbing that floor.  Have as many children as possible help you cook.  Don’t you be working in the kitchen while your children are hanging from the chandeliers.  Make them work with you.  Keep the speech upbeat and happy.  Pump the atmosphere with joy.  You want to give them joyful memories.  Was the greater bulk of the family atmosphere joy or harshness?  They’ll carry this impression with them for the rest of their lives, just like you do from your own childhood.

If you’ve completely lost control of the organization of your home, send your children and hubby away to your relatives for three days (if at all possible) and you stay home to get command of the organization of your house.  Work until you drop—‘til every muscle twitches—getting your house exactly the way you want it.

To recover lagging ineffective discipline with your children, start by saying the appropriate phrases and making loving comments with your own happy, cheerful voice.  If Johnnie is mean to Mary, you say the words Johnnie should have said—and be done with it.  For example, “Mary, I wouldn’t want to frustrate you.  I’m sorry, you’re my precious sister with whom I will rule angels in the next life.”  Then leave the room.  Johnnie will, no doubt, be left standing there with his mouth open.

Yadidahdidah—your objective is for your children to begin to feel a different energy in the home.  You, the mom, can be the example.  If the children are rude to your husband, run to him and throw your arms around him and say, “You are the best hubby and father a woman could want.  OHHHHHHH how I love you.”  Thus you indirectly correct your children by your own amazing loving example.  Start there.

The great surprise of homeschooling is that it not only conforms our children to His image, but conforms us (the parents) to His image, as well. Yup, homeschooling, done in the fear of the Almighty and by His grace, purifies two generations at once.

Tips for improving the functionality of your home

Sunday, 25. January 2015 by Renee Ellison


Here are tips for tweaking your home accessories to enhance your ability to work and teach more easily.  Make your home and its objects serve you, rather than you serving them.

Lap boards:
It’s handy to have a few stiff lap boards (12x12”) to use underneath each child’s work, while sitting on the couch with mama.  We just jerk the covers of old large children’s books from the thrift store to use for these stiff boards.  Reinforce the corners with a piece of duct tape to keep them from fraying.

Slant boards for kids:
Setting these on the study table lifts the child’s work up at a slant which makes it easier to read.

Card table and booster seat:
With a smaller child, use a booster seat and a grownup’s card table.  Mama scoots the light card table up to the child as tightly as it needs to be for the child’s easy arm movement.  This is far easier than attempting to move the already seated child up to the tablet.  Mama sits at the card table with her child for good tight focused learning.

Because a homeschooling mom is often working in the kitchen at the same time that she is schooling—double-whamming her time—let’s look at two ideas for the kitchen, too.

Kitchen trash can-ease:
Have two open trash cans in the kitchen, making it easy to toss trash in quickly without having to constantly open lower cupboard doors or mess with removing or tilting trash can lids.  The ideal size is 15x14x8.5”.  Why is that ideal?  Because standard grocery store checkout bags fit in these containers, saving you from having to purchase bags, and they are light enough for the children to carry to empty often (this teaches them responsibility at an early age) and to notice when it needs emptying, because it’s not hidden.

Set these two receptacles side by side on the edge between the kitchen and the adjacent work/dining/study room.  One of these cans is used primarily for kitchen garbage, the other for homeschooling paper trash and craft trash.  The secret bonus?  Both are available for either use, at all times.

“Easy-on-your-back” work surfaces:
Create three work levels in your kitchen.  One level is the height of a 5-gallon plastic bucket (actually use a 5-gallon bucket for that level, with its lid on; it will be 17” high).  Use this level to set your trashcan upon when in use to peel carrots or potatoes so that the peels fall right into the trash can; this eliminates the step of scooping peelings from the sink and it ensures that the peelings make it into the trash because it is right underneath you (impossible to miss).

The next level is achieved by using a little cart with wheels, ideally 26” high.  Place your blender upon this level.  This enables you to look down into your blender when you’re stuffing it with produce, and it allows your arm to fully extend downward when you’re hand-mixing a bowl of batter, for example—far easier and more restful on your arm than stirring with your arm bent at higher levels.

Your final work surface height is your normal kitchen counter, measuring something like 35”.  You’ll love transferring from surface to surface, depending upon the need at hand.

Any improvement that saves wear and tear on mama is worth it—especially when it uses something you already have or that you can find inexpensively, like these suggestions.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Remember the unborn—tomorrow, too

Thursday, 22. January 2015 by Renee Ellison


The nation’s pro-life remembrance day has past—but the problem has not passed.  [picture: fetus at 14 weeks]

More babies will be slaughtered today, and even more tomorrow.  Even though we pride ourselves on living in a civilized nation, we are as barbaric in this regard as the pagans who slaughtered their children for the pagan god Molech.  We are still passing our nation’s children through the fire.

The habit of making rationalizations is all about supplying reasons for what our spirit knows is wrong to do.  As a result of our insistence upon rationalizations, we have become a nation that swims in irrationalities.  We are so messed up in our logic that we have convinced ourselves that abortion—killing babies—is actually a good thing to do.  Why, then, do girls come out of Planned Parenthood, looking pale and sober, if this is so good?  Where is all that supposed joy?  I’ve not seen any of them leave the act with a smile on their face.  They mistakenly believed that death would produce life for them—or at least freedoms.  Instead, they traded their babies for life-time emotional baggage and subsequent haunting hours they never dreamed of.

When has slaughter (in these magnitudes of numbers, let alone one) ever been a good thing?   56 million have been killed since the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision made abortion legal in the US, 42 years ago today.  Pharaoh slaughtered the young on the birthing stool.  Herod enlarged his slaughtering to include 2-year olds and younger.  This was not a good thing, historically, nor is it now.  There was weeping and wailing, then.  There is grief, heartache, relentless guilt and shame, now.

When we tamper with God’s divine order and creation we unwittingly create horrific unbalances.  Over the past several decades China has slaughtered their baby girls.  Look, now, at the imbalance it has created.  How is this a good thing?  Now they have millions of frustrated men who can’t find wives, channeling their testosterone into joining the ranks of the military.  What does a nation do with several million unmarried men?  Do we not see the formation of Revelation’s army, perhaps?  The testosterone will be used somewhere.

When we abort our nation’s babies, we defeat even our own selfish ends.  When Satan kills the baby, he takes with it all the full-blown fruit of what that person would have contributed to our own welfare and happiness as a nation.  All the things that that person would have invented or discovered or contributed are now gone from us—these potentials by the millions benefit us not at all, die with the fetus.  Even our tax base gets destroyed, so that now the elderly outnumber the young and the shrinking emerging work force cannot sustain us.  These are alarming dynamics.  We encounter economic fiasco by destroying the needed ranks of the next generation.  We do not even reproduce ourselves, and so we as a people shrink.

How is it a good thing for an ob-gyn doctor to slaughter a baby in one room and rush to the aid of saving a baby of the same age in the next room?  Huh?  What are we thinking?  Getting a college education, without an unwanted pregnancy, has become an idol to us—an idol worth murdering for.  We must complete the degree, but not the child?  Huh?  What has happened to us?

In the last analysis, the problem is not a childbirth problem; it is an unbridled irresponsible sex problem.  We refuse to take the moral high ground in this debate and admit that we are working on the wrong end of the problem. Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage always was and always will be the only real solution to this problem. A child belongs with committed parents.  A child is ultimately an emerging adult and needs a context in which to become as refined as possible for a chance at life, liberty and happiness—the same chance his mother had.

So, what tools can you use in this raging debate to help restore sanity on this topic, when caught in our nation’s debate about the unborn child?  Learn to supply rational reasons from Scripture and hard science, whenever you encounter this topic with individuals.  Here are some of the best arguments you can share.

Tools for logical debate:

Scientific tools:

Since the debate hinges entirely upon whether or not the fetus is fully human, ask your opponent to name the hour the baby becomes a human.  Let him (or her) pick the hour.  Then once he has planted his pole on that issue, according to his own whims, ask him: “What then was the baby five minutes before?  Also, what scientific chemical upset happened at that moment he chose to ascribe human qualities to, to make it so?  Is this cataclysmic collusion of supposed chemical activity verifiable under a microscope?

Next, ask your opponent what other animal or anything in all of nature changes its chromosome structure to shift from one thing to another at any time in all of its development?  You can’t name one.  A baby fetus sports 23 chromosomes; 22 sets are the same for both sexes—the 23rd set determines the gender of the child.  When did (or do) those chromosomes change from the moment of conception onwards?  The answer?  Never!

SLED is an acronym for your final strong debate points.  Nothing else is allowed life, i.e. spared from death, merely because of its S-ize, L-evel of development, E-nvironmental changes (living on the outside of the womb as a premie) or D-egree of dependency.  These are simply non-issues when it comes to whether a thing should live or not live.  [For more on this acronym coined by Stephen Schwarz, see http://www.caseforlife.com ]

Biblical tools:
The Bible gives us two outstanding tools to show that it was never God’s intent for us to view the fetus as anything other than a baby. 

One: Psalm 139 makes it clear that we were knit in our mother’s womb as a human being from the get-go.

And two: When Mary, the mother of Yeshua, visited Elizabeth, Yeshua was only recently conceived, perhaps the size of a pin by that point.  Yet the strength of his personhood was felt by John the Baptist who leaped in his mother Elizabeth’s womb at his presence, (himself being only six months old).  Yeshua was fully the Son of God and the Son of Man at conception.

The hour of our rationalizations has ended.  Judgment is leveled at us.  It is (and will continue to be) severe and irreversible.  Labor to withhold the scalpel in all of your discussions on the point.  Rescue the perishing.  It is a biblical command: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter (Proverbs 24:11).

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Instant simple one-minute speeches

Wednesday, 14. January 2015 by Renee Ellison


Teach your children how to give quick-and-simple one-minute speeches.  Get ready for some super family fun with this idea.  Your little ones can do this, too.  Have a child stand on a stool and say a speech on any topic for one minute, out of his head.  These are even what are known as extemporaneous speeches—as are included in some speech tournaments.

The child draws a topic (which you have put in there) out of a hat and talks on it.  The stool is everything.  Via the stool the child is all of a sudden on stage and everyone is looking up at him.  He instantly feels super important.  The stool makes it—gets the child up out of the crowd.  The stool becomes the smallest most effective instant stage in the world.

‘Tis hilarious!  You may find yourselves rolling on the floor with laughter in the beginning.  Later (much later) you begin to refine their speech-making ability, teaching them how not to roll on the sides of their feet, fiddle with their hair, yank on their shirt, fidget, or say “um” too much, etc.  Order Learn to Speak with Ease for help conquering all that.

As a result of doing this over and over, children grow in their ability to think on their feet and to talk rapidly on whatever topic is handed to them in all kinds of social settings.

Start with easy topics like:
“how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”

...and proceed to more difficult topics like:
“Compare and contrast David and Goliath.  How are they alike?  How are they different?”
“Why should a person read the Bible?”

Have everyone in the family take a whirl at it, even the four -year-old and even Mom and Dad.  ‘Tis great after-dinner entertainment.  A sibling keeps track of the time with a stopwatch, sand timer, clock or cell phone, and rings a dinger to stop the speaker when the time is up.  Have the timekeeper hold up five fingers for a five-second-warning when the time has almost run out.

Get ready for some splendid unusually creative fun.  You may be amazed at what your child expresses.

Map attack!

Sunday, 11. January 2015 by Renee Ellison


Here’s a two-year old who knows the world map!  She’s got it DOWN, baby!  (Suggestion: press mute ‘til you get past the foul ad at the beginnin.)

After watching the adorable little video clip of “Lilly: The World Map Master”—the two-year old who knows the locations of even the remotest and smallest of countries “whiz-bang”—and your children are now thoroughly inspired to gain such a grasp of the world themselves, proceed like this:

They all stand in front of the map—have them clasp their hands above their heads, arms outstretched—and say this little poem to learn directions while they swing their arms in those directions, like an elephant’s trunk.  Everyone says it together:

When facing a map
Directions are a snap—
North is way up high [trunk points to ceiling]
South is cold and low [drop trunk low]
East is to my right [trunk swings to right]
and west is opposite, you know [trunk swings to left]

Then go around once more, hands still clasped, arms outstretched, making a clockwise circle:

Now onto teaching the equator:
Draw a strong permanent wide red line all the way across the center of the map at the equator.  The children step up to the map and tap it twice (like it is a hot potato) and say: “Equator—hot! hot!”

Then progress over the next few days with learning the seven continents; they all begin with “A” but one!
America (North)
America (South)
Australia [together with Oceania]

Have them point to and saw them until they can do it rapidly with no help.

Next, draw a line on the floor—or masking tape a line there, far away from the map—and line the children up by twos and have them run in teams of two to the map and slam into the wall, pointing to the country you name.  See who can get there first.  Children absolutely love this game.

Then proceed to the four major oceans:
Southern (the waters surrounding Antarctica)

Then proceed to the major rivers:
Thames (London)
Yangtze (China)
Seine (France)

Then proceed to more and more countries until the entire map is eventually known.  Tis a great after-dinner lively fun/learning family game.

Constructing your home’s “Wall of Education”

Friday, 02. January 2015 by Renee Ellison


You’ve heard of the halls of education?  Well, here now, we’ll be constructing the wall of education smile : a wall dedicated only to home schooling materials.  Nothing else is allowed to even be set there.

Assemble it simply with long boards and cinderblocks.  Create a headspace of about 12 inches between shelves and build it only about 3 to 3.5 feet high.  This whole structure is totally portable; you can move it whenever you have to.

Now this is what you put in, on and above it:

In it:
Set each of your Sterlite™ box totes into a cubby hole assigned to each child with his name labeled on that shelf.  He is always to return his box exactly there.  Nothing else is to be kept in these cubby holes or totes—only immediate academic materials and their current reading book and bible.  Underneath each tote, slid directly under the tote spine-side facing out.  (This tilts their totes slightly upward and inward—an added plus.  In these notebooks will go all artwork and writings.  No free floating papers in their totes!

On it:
• The clean long surface on the top of the bookcase which ends up being about waist height—will now be filled in with this stuff:
• A box of the EXTRA paces, that they aren’t currently working on—all labeled according to subject and grade levels with taller stiffer paper between each section.
• A three-hole punch
• A box of scratch paper
• Spare pencils, colored pencils, scissors, tape and markers.
• And multiple approved recreational reading books, with bookends (covered bricks hold them nicely).

Above it:
• A large flat paper map of the world
• A large clock
• A large wall non-gloss calendar that can be easily written on
• A schooling chart (made of 1/2 inch graph paper) with all of the children’s names down the left side and all the topics across the top—a red marker tied to a long string and nailed next to it to mark off their work as they do it each day.  This frees mom up from keeping track of it all.  All she has to do is look at the large chart and presto she knows what each child has done and not done.
Zoom-Type• Little yellow art book (ask me about that)

(optional—but a really good idea, as described in an earlier post—a visible progress board (just a section of that wall…no actual board) dedicated to Mom and/or Dad’s progress on their big projects.  You put up Post-it notes directly on the wall of what is left to do—one item per Post-it note—written in large print with a marker—(no pen or pencil—can’t see such writing a foot away)—when you get an idea, or remember another next step that you’d forgotten, you write it down and post it up there—all future steps are written out up there—then as each step is accomplished it is taken off the wall and put at the bottom of the wall—so that you can see the stack grow at the bottom of all you accomplished.  This is a simple, marvelous, easy tracking system.)

A piano keyboard set nearby that has headsets—sparing the mama and papa from hearing beginning practicing by the younger set.  A practice chart directly above it with all the children’s names on it, and what they are to practice next.

Voilá—more academic organization than you ever dreamed—now in place—you’ve got your “horse to ride” sitting right in the stall—and YOU DID IT!

Filed Under: Home management tips

15 power tips for organizing your home

Friday, 26. December 2014 by Renee Ellison


Organizing your home deeply and thoroughly has some hidden pluses for your emotions. Decluttering and arranging helps clarify you.  As you do it, you discover where your subliminal goals are headed: “There’s no time for [this] or [that]”, or “I’ve lost interest in this or that”.  The action of organizing takes people who are struggling with depression, out of that depression in a hurry.  Gaining order in your home makes you feel on top of things (instead of under them), and moves your life forward, positioning your past where it should be—in your past—defined and drastically pared down.  Further, you just plain feel happier sitting down in the midst of a very organized home, tickled every time you open a drawer or a cupboard.  An organized environment is invigorating.  Your entire family feels its effects.

To accomplish this, a person must say no to other activities for a brief while to provide more time to do it.  We all make time only by prioritizing time.  Action clobbers negative emotions.  Motion creates e-motion.  Here’s how to start that motion:

1.  To conquer that overwhelmed feeling, just move in that direction.  Take a baby step.  Sort and organize some little corner, or some little box of something, and you’ll find you take off like a rocket.  Unfortunately, that overwhelmed feeling may remain an obstacle each time you start.  Overcome it by applying the same strategy tomorrow: just “go”, move, vamoose, and soon you’ll have a trail of finished organization—in your wake—behind you.  Even 15 minutes of “organization attack” a day will work wonders in your home.

2.  Visual clarity is the goal of all organizing.  You must be able to see everything at a moment’s glance.  No more rummaging for anything.  For example, according to this line of thinking, you don’t want to stack t-shirts, you want to roll them so that you see the spine of all the colors at once.  You don’t want to put cans of food behind other cans of food, you want to make risers for cans so that you see all three rows at once.  You don’t want to stuff scarves or belts into a drawer, you want to perhaps clip them on a hanger so that you remove one hanger and see them all at once, or roll them.

3.  Files are most often just stand up trash.  Purge your files.  Label well the ones that survive.

4.  Label all boxers and containers on the end that you see first, as you approach.  Label everything.  When labeling glass jars, get a large roll of white electrician’s tape to use as the base of all of your labels.  Put a piece of this down first, on your glass.  Then attach your lettered label on top, making it slightly shorter than the white electrician’s tape, or write right on the electrician’s tape with a black marker.  Cover it with a shorter piece of scotch tape, too, to keep your writing from smudging off.  Then whenever you want to change the label you pull off the electrician’s tape and it all comes right off easily—no time wasted picking and poking off an old paper label.  For cardboard boxes you can attach 2 strips of electrician’s tape about five and 1/2 inches apart. Then scotch tape your 3X5 card label on top of that; that way when you go to pull off your label it doesn’t pull off a patch of cardboard box with it.  The scotch tape that you have on both ends of your card is only attached to the top of the electrician’s tape.  Or just use 3X5 cards and don’t care if they pull off a patch of cardboard smile .

5.  Overcome reaching obstacles.  If you have to move things to get at things, put things that are seldom needed in those areas, or re-hang a door (of a room, fridge, or cupboard) to open in the opposite direction if that would make access more convenient.

6.  We use 20 percent of our stuff 80 percent of the time.  Therefore, put hot things in hot spots.  This one tip alone will revolutionize your home.  Store your most used stuff efficiently, within optimal reach.

7.  Think about your containers.  Corral your stuff into pleasant looking containers.  Records boxes (no larger than one cubic foot) are the best.  They are inexpensive at only $2.00 a box—cheaper than most plastic containers by far.  The lids are super easy to take off and on.  And the uniformity of how they look all stacked up or spread throughout the house makes you feel neat and organized.  This is far better than an assortment of random cardboard grocery store boxes with four-flap lids; those look messy and are a pain to open and close.  Then proceed to little containers within containers—all labeled.  Little containers in all drawers and cupboards will organize things beautifully.  Under the bathroom sink, use the space on both sides of the drain pipe by using narrow containers lifted up higher than your front containers.  To achieve this, put your “to-be-used-containers” on top of other “not-to-be-used” containers turned upside down, as stands for the top container.  You can also use bricks or narrow cardboard boxes or old plastic storage containers for these unseen risers.

8.  Obtain more instant space.  You can purchase plastic bed risers to put under the legs of each bed, thereby obtaining instant increased space to organize into, there, as well as install a ceiling shelf around the top of a room in your house or down a hallway—these fit neatly over your door jambs and provide enough space to tuck scores of additional records boxes up there.  Use shelf boards that are 12 inches deep.

8.  Put like things together.

9.  Purge books that you will never read again or that are easily obtained from libraries.  Purge old college textbooks and notes.  Purge jars and unneeded dishware.

10.  Use only plastic hangers in your closets, for a uniform neat look.  Pitch the wire ones.  Put containers in the bottom and top of your closet so that you can see everything at a glance.  Obtain a little two-step folding ladder to use to retrieve all your high-up storage.

11.  Re-think your outfits.  Don’t have 13 outfits that all say the same thing.  Make your outfits different enough to merit keeping those clothes.  Think only 8 (maximum) nice (well thought-through from head to toe) outfits for “public”; having 8 (instead of 7) puts you ahead one day each week in your rotation so that no one ever sees the same outfit for 8 weeks (two months) if you attend the same gathering/meeting every week.  (Perspective: when George Mueller clothed 10,000 orphans he had only three outfits for each child: their Sabbath outfit, one to wear, and one to wash during the week.)

12.  In with the new; out with the old. When one new thing enters the home, one old thing has to go—whether it be a purse, a magazine, shoes, a serving dish, etc.

13.  Mat both the outside and inside of both your front and back doors.  The more dirt that is trapped in these mats, the less dirt there will be on the floor.

14.  Use command hooks anywhere you need to hang things for easy retrieval—i.e. extension cords, bag of clothes pins, etc.  These are super easy to apply.

15.  Pack your cupboards with more food staples—food that is stable, that is good for you, and that you like to eat.  Food is only going to get more expensive and more difficult to find.

In conclusion, remember that the goal of organization is visual clarity.

Filed Under: Home management tips