Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pressing toward the Mark or Sitting on a Pedestal?

About 15 years ago, I recall looking through a certain magazine with my Mom. At the time, it was the rave among conservative, christian women; and everywhere we went the ladies were buzzing over the woman who published it.

After perusing a few copies, Mamica asked my opinion; and I answered honestly, "I'm afraid for that woman."

Surprise filled Mom's eyes, but I continued, "the way so many ladies are setting her up on a pedestal only leaves room for a fall." The magazine itself wasn't bad, but something bothered me about it. Something I couldn't quite verbalize. 

Sadly, about a year later, this lady announced she was leaving her husband-- for her editor.

We all know that our culture is celebrity-oriented, but why does this trickle so much into the church? Even the best preachers are just men, and they struggle with sin just like the rest of us. While I would never condone what this woman did, it grieved me to see the way others were following her so adamently. And many were devastated when she fell.

The arm of flesh WILL fail you

Likewise, I have no desire to set myself up as being superior to anyone. While I do have some strong convictions in the area of child-training, I am still a sinful individual, with personal biases. And my children are living examples of total depravity. So, if you're coming to this blog looking for someone who's "got it all figured out" then you're in the wrong place! Prepare to be disappointed. I merely desire to use this forum to organize my thoughts and generate great discussions on these topics. But every day, I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said,

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect...
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Is this your desire too? Maybe we can travel this way together...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Boot Camp for Life

Last night, I had a dream. Incredibly, I found myself boarding a bus that was headed, of all places, for Boot Camp. Me? In the Army? Right.

As I descended the bus, there was no angry drill-sergeant yelling in my face. Instead, a well-dressed officer in high heels greeted me kindly and thanked me for enlisting. Then she began a tour of the facility.

My barracks were quite comfortable, with a lovely view of the park. My "footlocker" had been exchanged for a gorgeous, Victorian-style vanity. And my tour-guide assured me that I would be able to wear anything I desired.

Could this really be the dreadful "Boot Camp" of which I've heard horror stories my whole life?

Next, I was taken to the Mess Hall, only they called it some fancy Italian name that I can't remember. It was Buffet Heaven! Anything you could desire or imagine was available-- for free!

Six weeks passed. Six weeks of pampering and rest. The pretty officer informed me that now that we were such good friends, I could graduate and move on. Shucks! If Boot Camp was this good, what must real service be like?

Happily, I packed my luggage and joined my regiment at Fort Bliss. (What a delightful sounding place!) But stepping from the bus into the blazing Texas sun, I received the shock of my life! Here were soldiers dressed in camouflage; standing to attention when an officer walked by, cadence marching, and horrors! doing push-ups!

I tried to scramble back onto the bus. This wasn't what I was expecting! Rough hands pulled me back, as the bus sped away. My head spun from the incredible heat, and sun spots darkened my vision. Sinking to the ground in desperation, I prayed silently, "Someone get me out of here!!!"

Then I awoke, and behold, it was a dream!

I'll leave the interpretation to the individual, but I have a question for you. Parents, do you really think you're doing your children any favors, by being their "buddy?" Or are you prepared to start training them...for life?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned at the Dinner Table

I am still working on the next installment of "Zorro Training," but thought you would enjoy reading this article until I can finish the other.

You've probably all heard of the book, "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten," Well, this article could be aptly titled, "Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned at the Dinner Table."

"Indeed, it is arguable that the lessons learned at the family table are more fundamental to the pursuit of Wisdom than those learned in the classroom. It is at meals that souls are nourished, as well as bodies. It is largely from eating with the family that helpful information is conveyed and the foundational lines of character are formed."

"In this setting, one gradually learns the art of the "inner check," as Irving Babbitt calls it. Restraint is in order. There are things that may not be done at table — and certain subjects never spoken of — and certain other things must be said or done at table."

How important is etiquette to your family? As a Mom, I sometimes get tired of the "broken-record" I become at the Dinner Table, but Scripture instructs us to teach our children at every given opportunity:
"...when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
(Deuteronomy 11:19)

Broken-records, keep up the good work! You are training children for life!

To read the entire article, click the link below:
Virtue Begins With a Spoon ~Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Zorro Training

About ten years ago I watched, "The Mask of Zorro" with my sisters. While I enjoyed some parts of it, I personally didn't think it held a candle to the old Black and White series with Guy Williams. But there was one part in particular that I will never forget and have often equated to child-training:

In this scene, the old Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) is training the new Zorro, (Antonio Banderas) who is little more than a bitter drunk with a sword. Taking him to his special cavern, Don Diego de la Vega puts his trainee through a series of rigorous lessons.

First, he introduces Alejandro to "The Ring." Resembling a large target painted on the cave floor, the ring starts with a six foot bulls-eye in the center and extends outward. The Master points to the bulls-eye and states simply, "That is your life. Nothing else exists."

Vehemently, the protege reminds his tutor of their arch-enemies, but Hopkins cracks his bullwhip and states quietly, with deadly force, "Nothing exists until I say it exists."

Zorro then explains that as Alejandro passes certain tests, a new ring will be added and his world will widen, until he is finally ready for the outside world.

After weeks of relentless training, a bath, and a haircut, the student that emerges from the cave is polished, refined, and disciplined. He is Zorro.

We could learn alot from this approach to training. But somehow, we seem to get it backwards. Instead of restricting our children when they're little and letting them go as they grow older; we give them great liberty when they're young and then, when they do not become the mature, responsible teenagers that we had expected, we begin to squeeze them with restrictions until there's nothing left for them to do, but rebel.

Raised in Conservative-Christian circles, I've seen this happen all too frequently. But I've also witnessed families that started off like Zorro: with great restrictions, whose children grew up to be responsible teenagers with many more freedoms. Teenagers that could be trusted.

It is imperative that we keep the future in mind while training little ones. An action or behavior may seem quite innocent or insignificant, until you stop to ponder what it will look like in 10 years. By then, it will be too late.

Next time, I'll discuss ways to implement "Zorro Training." Until then, can you think of how this could influence your family, our churches, or this culture? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Heavenly Genetics

Recently, my best friend gave birth to her first son. Soon, the usual comments began to pour in; "Wow, he looks just like his daddy!" And he does. Even his little expressions are very much paternal.

Then, as Baby Ben was being examined last week, someone got right in his face and exclaimed, "Joe, dude--you shrunk!"

Have you ever stopped to marvel at the complexity of DNA? How is it possible that these little ones can come out looking like miniature carbon-copies of their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, or grandparents?

Yet they do. Time and again, we observe these similarities. Somehow, it seems to surprise us, but it's so common!

Then I began to wonder about my Heavenly Father. Can people see Him, when they look at me? Do they know that I am a daughter of the King? Do I reflect His attributes to those around me? Or is there so much of my sinful nature evident that He is obscured by it?

I've had strangers on the street come up and ask where I go to church. I guess it's obvious that I'm "religious," but, as the hymn-writer says, do they see "Christ only- always, living in me."

The word "Christian" means, "little Christ." Just as Ben Wesley is a miniature of his daddy, so we are to be carbon-copies of our Lord and His heavenly genetics should shine through us daily.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:2)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is There a Skeleton in Your Closet?

Why is it so much easier to sweep things under the bed, shove them in a closet, or stuff them into a drawer?

The past few weeks, I have been consistently working with my girls in areas that have been sadly neglected. As a mother, it's easy to see a problem and dismiss it; lack of time and energy! But those skeletons in the closet never seem to go away by themselves. Then, when we do address them; it's monstrous!

I keep reminding myself, "It's going to get worse before it gets better." All these issues must be pulled out of their prospective hiding-places and attacked individually. It will take time, effort, and tears. But it will be worth it!

Today, I took all three of the girls shopping. When we returned to the car, I faced them, "Thank you, for your behavior in the store today. It makes me want to take you back."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Nation of Appeasement

Yesterday, while web-surfing, I came across an article about Parents Lying to their Children. Rather than condemn such behavior, the author treated it like a joke; since all parents "do it." But, as disgusting as the article was, the comments below were even more appalling, as parents laughed about their wiles.

One mom "humorously" confessed that she often lies to her four-year-old, saying that a favorite (annoying) CD was left in Daddy's car. 

Most of the replies were in favor of this behavior. Only one person had the courage to tell this Mom that it's OK to say, "No, we're not going to listen to this right now." Then she reminded all the parents of the age-old truth; "You reap what you sow." How can you expect honesty from your children when you are not honest with them? And is it possible that we are more afraid of "hurting little feelings", than telling the truth?

Recently, at Walmart, I watched a man (you know; the obnoxious kind that know they're good-looking) as he bragged about how he stopped being his girl's daddy when she was three. He's her buddy now. Then, he reached out to caress the 8 or 9 year old in front of him. I was both amused and saddened to see her pull away snobbishly, rolling her eyes at her "buddy."

Parents, what is wrong! We've been commanded to train our children, (Prov 22:6) and to provide for them, (I Tim 5:8) but never are we ordered to be their buddies; or even to make them happy. Sadly, even the "church" has become brainwashed by an ungodly culture, as we forsake the truths of God's Word to cater to selfish children.

Somehow, in the past hundred years, our country has become a nation of appeasement: We care more about the feelings of a rapist than the innocent lives of his victims. Illegal aliens are granted rights and privileges that natural-born citizens must obtain through sweat and labor. And special-interest groups carry votes which the majority of Americans oppose.

The societal effects are evident. But where did this start?

As for my people,
children are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, they which lead thee
cause thee to err,
and destroy the way of thy paths.
(Isaiah 3:12)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mrs. Whatever You Say

Once upon a time, in the village of Kinderule, there lived a sweet and motherly lady, Mrs. Whatever You Say. When her eldest daughter, Ignorant Bliss, refused to go to school, the mother simply replied, "Whatever you say, dear."

When her son, Slothful, insisted on skipping his bath, the cheerful mother just bobbed her head nonchalantly, "Whatever you say, dear." And when Baby Defiance turned up her nose at her medicine, the indulgent Mommy responded, "Whatever you say, dear."

Frankly, there wasn't anything that Mrs. Whatever You Say made her children do. She loved them too much to stifle their "individuality". So they grew up Ignorant, Slothful, and Defiant. Without an education, Ignorant-Bliss never got a job. Because of laziness, Slothful never tried. And, for obvious reasons, Defiance couldn't keep one. So they all lived together in their mother's tiny house...unhappily ever after.


We can all read this story and mock Mrs. Whatever You Say, but how many of us buy into the notion that "Baby knows best?"

If they don't like their broccoli, then fix them something they will eat. If they want to spend the day watching cartoons--don't make them go outside. If they don't want to take a nap, don't make them. And, for goodness sake, don't ever say "no!" (Isn't that an oxymoron?)

The Biblical model is quite the opposite: "Train up a child in the way he should go" (Prov 22:6) The word "train" means to "manipulate into a desired course or shape." In fact, locomotives are now called trains, because they are compelled to follow a track that leads them a certain direction. So children are to be trained in the way they should go.

This applies to every area of life. Childhood is not just an innocent age before responsibility strikes. It is a time of training for life. It's boot camp. We've all heard the saying, "Boys will be boys," but the truth is; "Boys will be men," and "Girls will be women." They must be prepared!

What's the big deal about brocoli? Well, besides the undisputed health benefits--nothing. But teaching children that they don't have to eat what they're given is unfair. Life rarely gives us options, we have to learn thankfulness. That starts at the dinner table. And I wonder; How many cases of ADD, ADHD, or autism would we have in this country, if parents would be parents and control what their children do or don't consume? 

*For more tips on raising healthy eaters,
Check out my newest Squidoo lens:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ah, The Simple Life!

Ah, the simple life... if only it were more simple!

Honestly, I can't wait to be a senile granny, sitting in my rocking chair and informing everyone, who'll lend an ear, how I learned to cook on a wood-stove and sew on a treadle machine! But then, as decrepit as I already feel, they'll probably believe me!

My Mom calls our three and a half years with the Amish, our "wilderness experience." It was truly a time of testing, frustration, and learning to appreciate life.

I was ten when we moved to the community. Shortly after we arrived, my sister and I were given the job of mulching the cabbage; but in order to do that, we had to carry a hay bale across the driveway and into the vegetable patch. We struggled. We groaned. We sweated. But we could barely budge that bale of hay!

A couple boys happened along at that moment. The oldest one was my age, his younger brother was eight. "Please," we begged, "can you help us?"

Although "big brother" looked as if we'd lost our minds, "little brother" saw we were serious and, without a word, grabbed the hay bale with one hand, carried it across the driveway, and tossed it into the garden. Then he ran to catch up with "big brother".

Melody and I stared at each other and gawked at the fellows striding down the road. I don't think a red-caped action hero would have surprised us any more.

Before long, we were toughened too (at least she was). I'll never forget the sight of her driving a team of horses during hay season as the itchy, hot stuff piled high around her and I tossed pitchfork after pitchfork of the stuff-- until my arms felt like they were falling off.

Thankfully, I didn't have to do quite as many outdoor chores as my big sis. It was discovered that I enjoyed cooking, and Mom was quite eager to relinquish that task. But when you live in a tiny, converted pig nursery and your only means of cooking is an enormous, cast-iron wood stove-- then the phrase, "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen," takes on a whole new meaning!

Seeing our misery in such conditions, some of the men helped us level and cover a dirt-floor porch where we placed another stove for our "summer kitchen." Then, our table and chairs were moved onto the porch. We even had a sink, with continually-flowing spring water, for our dishes. This was great until Mom found a 6-foot King Snake in the silverware drawer!

When it came to farm life, the only thing that made us look legit was our short-haired collie, Ginger. After rescuing her on the side of the road, it became obvious that she was born for farm life...

One morning, as we were eating breakfast on our hard-packed, screen-less porch, someone glanced up and noticed the goats helping themselves to the strawberry patch. Jumping as one man, my entire family ran after the pesky critters, chasing them back into the pasture and attempting to mend the fence. Half an hour later, we all returned to our breakfast, only to discover that the chickens were making short work of the now-cold meal.

"Ginger, shoo!" That was the dog's cue. She knew it meant: "Get the feathered beasts away from the table!"

Dutifully, the collie complied, barking "ferociously" and charging at the fowl, who scattered in every direction. Then, obviously pleased with her work, Ginger sprang onto the table, snatched a pancake, and sailed to the ground, where she commenced to devour her prize!

Ah, the simple life!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Babies

A week ago today, my best friend gave birth to a little boy! As we were discussing feeding schedules and routines, I realized there were some important things I forgot to mention in my Squidoo lens on Postpartum Exhaustion. Last night, I updated the article, adding "Six Steps to a Sleeping Baby" and "Days and Nights Mixed Up?"

Please feel free to check it out and pass it on!

Here's an excerpt from my Squidoo page:


I realize the controversy surrounding this book, but having trained four babies on it, I just can't imagine life without Baby Wise!

The authors have a common-sense approach to training babies to sleep through the night, by establishing good patterns for feeding and sleeping. Anyone interested in getting a full night's sleep after baby comes, should definitely look into this!

After helping my friend establish a routine for her newborn, I was tickled when the Daddy commented, "Is that OUR baby? She's so...happy!"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wisdom to Those that Ask

During Friday's post, I really had no intention of discussing Christian Modesty, but was merely attacking my own lackadaisical attitude towards dressing habits; still, as I read the post comments, I realize the same applications can be made towards this rather sticky subject.

Some people, like the Pharisees, place all emphasis on the outward appearance. Their list of "Do's and Don'ts" is monumental, as they eye the rest of the world with a certain smugness, because they're not like "them."

So our culture takes it to the opposite extreme: It's only the inside that counts. Follow your heart. Do what "feels good" to you; and who cares what someone else thinks... Is there a balance?

What really matters anyway? The Inside? The Outside? Or have we just got it all Upside Down?

Personally, I went through a time of struggle with this, and if it wasn't for my Beloved, I honestly don't know how far I would have allowed bitterness to take me. I was sick of my own hypocrisy; and the desire to throw off everything I had been taught was so strong at times,- but thankfully my husband kept me in check.

I can't be someone else's conscience (I've got enough problems with my own!) but I can encourage you again through the words of Martin Luther. (Yes, it's my favorite quote!) As the bold monk stood before Emperor Charles V, he bravely declared, "Unless I am shown my error by the Scriptures and plain reason, I cannot recant..." then as all men stood breathless, he continued, "my conscience is captive to the Word of God, and to violate conscience is neither right, nor safe..."

So I ask: Is your conscience captive to the Word of God in this area; or are you worried about a fabricated, man-made list of Do's and Don'ts? Are you seeking to honor your husband and the Lord; or have you thrown caution to the wind- so you can follow what "feels good" at the moment? I don't have all the answers, but I know Someone Who does. If you're truly seeking to follow Him, then He will give wisdom to those that ask... (James 1:5)