Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flying Frantic - The Purse

As I fly frantically through another busy day, I'm blogging on my third area of organization to help the flight be on time with a lot less turbulence.  Day one I talked about the Purse Project.  Yesterday, I explained why my husband calls me The Bag Lady.

A mom's purse is a wonderful, horrible experience in hoarding, trauma preparation and "I told you someone would need it sometime".

My family loves to tease me about my "luggage" because my purses get bigger and heavier each year. But, they always know who to turn to when they need a chapstick, a fingernail clipper, a piece of floss, a nail file, a piece of paper, a pen, or money. I am even usually good for safety pins, a mini sewing kit, water and a healthy snack.

I won a prize at a baby shower for having the heaviest purse.

But, the scariest part of having a purse like mine, is actually having to stick your hand into it to find something.

I have always said, "The scariest place on earth is the bottom of a woman's purse." Part of it is true, part of it is scare tactics to keep my kids out of my purse.

This past year, to lessen the danger and fear in sticking my hand all the way to the bottom of my purse, while groping for that elusive nail file, I purchased clear zipper pouches. I can now find items instantly.  They also work great for going through airport security.

I use one for personal items,

and one for medicine type things.

The upside is, my purse is a mini-medicine cabinet. I am ready for anything.

The downside is the kids learn to rely on the purse for ALL their needs.

Because they know I have a small medicine cabinet, of course they will use the lone two bandages in my case instead of taking one from the box of 100 in their medicine cabinet. They will take the last two ibuprofen because it is closer to walk to the front hall closet for my purse than down the hallway to the medicine cabinet with the bottle of 500 ibuprofen.

Not only do they go into my clear case for my chapstick, they might leave it unzipped, along with the purse zipper, so that next time I heave my luggage onto my shoulder and run out the door, I WILL spill everything. Then, they will think I am such a NAG because they left two zippers open. Sheesh lousise.

Another obstacles in organization was eliminated when I bought a wallet with a lot of compartments. I have a place for coupons,  punch cards and receipts. 

I bought a separate organizer for business cards, a small hard snap case that keeps them crisp and unwrinkled.

All food items, gum, mints and snacks, are kept in the outside zippered pocket for easy access. 

The two end pockets are also used for things that need immediate access, one for my water bottle, one for my cell phone.

A few years ago, I started carrying a journal.  I love to write, and was done being frustrated by not having anything to write on.

The uncleanliness of public places led me to start carrying individually wrapped antibiotic wipes and a small sanitizer in my purse.

Once you figure out what your problems points in your purse are, find a solution that works for you. Some women, like me, want to be prepared for anything.  Some women find it less stressful to NOT have anything in their purse.

A purse shouldn't cause stress, it should relieve stress.

With a purse big enough to have spare room, I can throw in a book, a PURSE PROJECT, my mini computer and my camera.

Of course, the only stress my purse causes is from the weight. When I need to lighten the load, I can easily remove objects because they are in organized containers and I know exactly what I am leaving behind.

When I carried a diaper bag, it was stocked in clear pouches, as well, but my purse was teeny tiny and I just tucked it in the diaper bag. You want to be well prepared, but not overstocked.

When I was single and a new believer, I was thrilled to find Proverbs 31. A whole chapter dedicated to women!  One verse confused me.

Verse 17, "She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong."

I understood about diligence, perseverence, looking out for her family, but I just couldn't understand the strong arms.

Until I got married.  And had a family.  And had to start carrying everything... my purse.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flying Frantic - Tote Bags

This is the second in a series,
hoping to inspire some organizational processes into frantically busy lives.

My husband lovingly calls me
The Bag Lady.
Partly in jest of being an Ol' Bag,
but partly because I use a lot of  tote bags.

I am a mom,
I homeschool,
I teach Sunday School
and am involved in a homeschool co-op.
 I have discovered that instead of having one tote bag
that I would always forget to unpack or repack,  
it's easier to have one bag for each activity.

My co-op bag has

the binder I need with all the information in clear sheet protectors,

 and a zippered pouch filled with school supplies.
They are never leave this bag, except during coop. 

I can also throw in a book, a game to play or a purse project.  
Anything I need to bring, I slip it in during the week.

I have a church bag
Throughout the week, I fill it with things I need to bring to the church.
 A book to return to someone, sanitizers, tracts I ordered,
Sunday school treats, prizes or craft items.
On Sunday morning it eliminates the frantic rush,
helping us to get to church on time
in the Spirit.

My camera bag is also stocked.
The right pocket has personal items,
the front pocket paper items,
and left pocket camera supplies.
 I can leave the purse, throw my wallet in my camera bag,
 and I am ready to hike, sightsee or just stalk my children.

Even though it isn't a bag, this errand basket organizes my life.
When Woolworths went out of business,
I bought a stack of these beauties for $1 each.
They are some of my prize possessions.

I keep it by the door and add:
-returns that need to be made
-lone overdue library book found under the couch
-packages that need to be mailed

I even have a special Zune bag from Hawaii.
The bag orignally came with coffee,
but is perfect for my Zune and accesories.

Yes, I made the container for my ear phones
from a dental floss box.
Remove label, add a monkey sticker,
and it is a cute little thing ready to hold treasures.

During their younger years, each of our kids had a library bag. My husand mounted a peg shelf at their level, so they could always return their bag, with books in it, to the peg shelf. It kept books from being lost and  made it easier to return the books. A clear pocket on the outside would have been a great idea for the checkout slip.

When I am beginning to organize things to bring or send to someone, I begin a brown paper bag in the closet with their name printed in black, bold letters. As things are purchased, found or finished, they are put into the bag. If it is to be mailed, I might even pick out the box ahead of time and put that in the closet labeled. When it is full, it is mailed.

My youngest keeps a toy bag packed in the van. She is encouraged to keep a few toys, books, personal items, water bottle and maybe a snack. Living in a busy area, one accident on the highway and your commute home just got 29 minutes longer. Baseball season is here, and games can get long for the little ones.

Now that it is baseball season I have a baseball bag. Because it can be chilly, I keep a fleece blanket, extra hats and gloves, snacks and kleenex packed in an extra large tote bag.

Just for fun, I looked up bag in the Bible.

Didja' know David organized his five smooth stones  in a shepherd’s bag? 1 Samuel 17:40

The best use I found for a bag yet was in the book of Job.

Job 14:17
My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You cover my iniquity.

Another good reason for my hubby to call me
The Bag Lady.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flying Frantic - The Purse Project

Women FLY FRANTICALLY through life.
We generally feel there aren't enough hours in the day.
And if there were more hours,
we would just make our TO DO LISTS longer.

That's what we women do.
We write lotsa' things on the never-ending TO DO LIST,
and feel guilty about the ones we haven't crossed off.

Not only do I feel like I can't catch up,
I  know I'll never get ahead.

Some days, I feel like I am just
hooking-bobbing fleeting time.

So, I've learned to pray about my list,
and have the Lord guide me in what He wants me to do,
and give me strength and wisdom to accomplish much.
Somedays I don't even make that list.
I just listen.

 I've also learned that the more organized I am,
the more I can accomplish.
I spend less time looking for things and
less time preparing,
while flying through life.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something,
so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
A.A. Milne

through organizing projects
that have all helped in the challenging area of
getting out of the house,
with or without

The Purse Project
are projects that can be thrown in a purse
to fill up little wasted minutes in the car,
in waiting rooms or at kids'  lessons/practices.

Women rarely have a spare hour.

But, we all can find 15 minutes in a day.

I got the idea years ago,
from the only  Sewing With Nancy episode I watched.
It changed the way I view my sewing/craft/household projects.
She encouraged sewers to break up their projects into 15 minute increments.

These socks sat on my dryer for weeks, until I finally dealt with them. 
 After being worn and washed once,
the ruffles started unraveling.
Little girls really, really need white, ruffly socks.
It took five minutes to stuff my scissors, thread, needle and the socks
 in a ziploc bag and put it in my purse.

Both were mended by noon the next day.

My latest purse project began with this summer fabric.
 I have had it over six years.
That's as long as some of you have been married.
Some of you have sewn many quilts or dresses in that time.
I finally can confess,
I have been reduced to merely collecting fabric.
I rarely sew anymore.

One day I prewashed the fabric.
The next day I ironed it.

Don't these ants just make you want to have a picnic?

The next free time slot I used to cut out cloth napkins.
I counted squares to make it easier.

I put the napkins by my sewing machine,
which I now leave out,
and in between correcting school work,
I  stitched a napkin or two,
again using the squares as my guidelines.

They just need to be unraveled.

My stitched napkins, scissors and seam ripper were put in a ziploc,
and are taken with me on car trips, and to ball games.

It is slow, but I am making progress.
A lot more progress than I made in the first six years of owning the fabric!

Sometimes my purse project is a magazine I need to read.
I bring Post-it notes to mark pages of interest.

Other times I throw in a book or a curriculum catalogue.

The idea of The Purse Project
 is to accomplish,
not overwhelm.
It has to be something that you can reasonably get done,
in 15 minute increments.

We all have a purse (or diaper bag),
and we all have 15 minutes.

What project is currently in your purse,
or what would you like to toss in this week?

This blog will be linked to
Visit both blogs for some wonderful inspiration to jumpstart your week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MM Meditation - Outside the Camp

Today's devotional was written by my favorite preacher, my husband Scott.  This is a thought that has blessing his heart this past week, and I wanted to share the blessing.


Exodus 33:7
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp,
and called it the tabernacle of meeting.
And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD
went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.

God' presence was moved outside the camp because of sin as shown in Exodus 33:1-6. While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments, the impatient, unbelieving people were dancing naked before a golden calf in a man-made religion. As a result of God's judgment to the people, we read in Exodus 33:7 that if the people wanted the LORD, they had to leave the comforts of the town, the people and the world's ways to find Him.

God moved His presence.

Now, let's go to the New Testament for an intrepretation and application for us today.

Hebrews 13
11 For the bodies of those animals,
whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin,
are burned outside the camp.
12 Therefore Jesus also,
that He might sanctify the people with His own blood,
suffered outside the gate.
13 Therefore let us go forth to Him,
outside the camp,
 bearing His reproach.

The verse above in Hebrews teaches us that the Lord Jesus was crucified "outside the camp", or outside the city.  Verse 13 teaches us that if we are to have real fellowship and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, we too must go outside the camp bearing His reproach.

This gives us a beautiful picture of our Lord Jesus, who was crucified outside the camp and we are to go outside the worlds’ religion to seek the Lord Jesus for salvation,  bearing His reproach.
2 Timothy 3:12
 “And all that will live Godly, will suffer persecution."

What a beautiful interpretation we have in Hebrews 13:13 of Exodus 33:7. God, in His wisdom, has made every aspect of the Scriptures harmonize together beautifully.
Application:  Let's you and I go outside the camp, outside "the world's ways" to commune with the Lord Jesus, and suffer His reproach, that we might be like Him.  It's lonely at times to leave the comforts of the world, stand alone and rejected from family, and suffer persecution for being different than the world and professing Christendom.  But, let us stand strong in the Lord Jesus Christ, for He will help us and comfort in our times of need. 

A song that comes to mind:  "It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus . . . "

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Poddy Training Axe Murderers

After rehashing Blank Slate and  Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Girls, the final college theory I wanna revisit concerns poddy training. I have accomplished this six times and recently have been a life-coach via the cell-phone.

"Yea, Brookie, did you go poo-poo in the poddy? Gramma is so happy with you!"

"Brookie, do you wear big girl panties now? What a good girl!"

"Oh, did you accidentally pee on Mommy's floor three times today? "

I knew the tremendous impact of my life-coaching when she pooped in her poddy one day, then picked up her plastic cell phone. Her mommy heard her yelling from the bathroom, "Gamma? Poopy! Gamma? Poopy!"

Yes, not only did I poddy train my daughter, Jana, against all the advice I was given in college, I was so successful she actually knew how to poddy train her own daughter.

Neither of them are axe murderers. In fact, none of my six early-trained kids are.

You see, that was one of the comments made during a university college course. They were talking about the horrific impact of poddy training a child too early, too scheduled or too harshly. Early training, supposedly, could cause emotional problems and neuroses later in life. The professor actually used the term axe-murderer. I don't remember the exact context of the reference, but I thought maybe these theories might just be taking the problem a little too far.

He continued to lecture us, asking us to imagine how traumatic it could be to entice a little child to perform on the poddy, then you flush their prize down.

I didn't want to ask him what they thought you should do with the poo, I was mute with disbelief. Another boatload of money wasted on educational crap, and we all sat there, taking it in, not daring to question the authority. I knew they bronzed little baby shoes, but I was pretty sure you couldn’t send in a fecal specimen for preservation.

I wondered why just telling the truth would be so harmful to a child.

"This is poo-poo. It is icky. It has all the bad things your body doesn't need. When you poo-poo for Mommy, I will flush-flush and make it go away, where icky poo-poo needs to go."

I totally agree that any child training could be traumatic if you are angry, rude and violent, but I never understood or agreed with the criticism on poddy training too early or being too scheduled.

Training early means less money spent on diapers. (If you are green, this is earth friendly, less diapers in the landfill, or less water and soap needed to wash diapers.) If other society's train their infants from birth, I think we Americans can easily train before 2 years of age. With that said, it isn't a rule. Each Mom gets to choose when and how she wants to train. I think it is more about when Mom is ready than when the child is ready. But, the main point is that it isn't harmful to train them young if you train them with patience, love and kindness.

When I trained my girls at 18 around months, my boys at 2 years, I was often told I was trained, not my kid. I'm not sure what people meant, but if a child can warn you they have to poddy and go when put on the chair, I am pretty sure they're poddy trained.

Scheduling is needful because when you are training them, you need to catch them with full bladders and bowels. If you go into the bathroom often, eventually you will catch them at the right moment, and they'll do their business in the poddy. They learn the sensation of fullness and  the sensation of release. Eventually, you won't have to be as scheduled, they will learn to discern the sensations on their own. But, it is called poddy TRAINING because you are TRAINING them. Regular trips to the bathroom are kinda' necessary. The first day kids don't sit down on the poddy every time they need to go. The first few days you can pretty much guarantee they will pee and poo everywhere BUT the poddy.

Later, the routine of taking them to the bathroom often is necessary because children NEVER have to go to the bathroom if you ask them. They can be standing with their legs crossed, holding themselves, or doing the trying-to-make-my-pee-go-away dance, and if you ask if they have to go poddy, they will usually say NO. It's training. Training them first how to use the poddy is only the first step.  Training them to actually take themselves poddy when they need to go is the next step that can, unfortunately, take years.

I found it amazing, when looking up this theory the other day, to discover some of this early bad advice actually came from the government.  No comment.

Through the years of raising kids, my best advice has not come from books or from seminars or from people with initials after their names. My number one guidance has been the Bible. When subjects aren't covered there, like baby food and poddy training, I go to other moms. I go to older moms and younger moms and moms at the same stage. I glean from each of them and compile their advice for what works for me. Not all advice works, but gathering more than you need is useful. Eventually, something will work for you.

When looking for advice on poddy training, don't look for a highly educated person who has written books.  Look for a successful, experienced mom who has a wealth of information to share.

She'll be the mom with the kid in dry undies.

Friday, March 26, 2010

From the Outside Looking In

Once in awhile,
my family gets tired of being stalked
 wherever they go,
whatever they're doing,
whoever they're with,
and being blinded by my camera flash.

In retaliation they pick up my camera
and starting shooting me.

Sometimes my husband picks up the camera
just because he wants a picture of me.

This picture caught me off guard.

This is what people see when they look on in my life.
Slightly disorganized,
slightly frazzled,
always near children.
I love the kids part,
but would like to ditch the disorganized and frazzled part.

This picture also made me take action in my kitchen.
Kettles are now in the drawer of the stove.
I hung up  vintage red and white coffee pots  instead.
Knives are off the counter.
I threw away a few things,
 moved more things off the counters
and everything off the window sill.

Sometimes, something can be out of place
you don't even notice anymore.
You stare through it,
walk by it,
because it unintentionally
became a part of your life.

Until someone takes a picture,
from the outside,
looking in.

My kitchen is just like my life.
It is so easy to look in from the outside and know what's wrong.
It is much harder to be discerning in the midst of the fray.

We need friends who can look through the window of our heart,
and show us what needs to be
or just thrown out.

That's a true friend.
One who loves you enough
to tell you what they are really seeing,
when they take a closer peak inside.

Proverbs 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

My best friend is my husband, Scott.
We continually marvel at the goodness of the Lord
in giving us 24 years together so far,
to provoke one another to
love and good deeds.
Sometimes a little more provoking than good deeds,
but we are still growing.

I also have been blessed
to have several close sisters in the Lord 
that look through my heart window,
and clean house.

Do you have a friend like that?
Do you have someone who will speak the truth in love?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Girls

Yesterday, I talked about how the Blank Slate theory didn't pan out for me in real life.  Today, I am writiing about another theory I was taught in college.

I don't remember the cool name of the theory, but I was taught that boys behaved the way they do only because that is what they were taught.  They were taught to love cars, trucks, blocks, sticks and mud because those items were presented to them and it was expected that they play with them.

That also meant girls were only girls because they were taught to be girls. They were given dolls and dishes and dressed up in dresses, lace and ribbons.

Each gender was only responding in the way that was taught and expected of them.  Like the Blank Slate theory, everything was by nuture and not by nature.

I thought it sounded a bit odd.  My parents hadn't made a big deal about what toys we could play with.  My brothers were never discouraged from playing with my toys, and I wasn't forbidden to play with their toys.  We just played and shared.  There wasn't men's work and women's work, there was just work. But, my brothers turned out very differently from my sisters.
By reading the Bible and raising my own kids, I decided this theory was bunk, too.  I never taught my first daughter she HAD  to only play with dolls, she wanted to.  Our first Christmas together Scott  bought me a Cabbage Patch doll and I bought him a Stomper truck.  Jana grew up playing with both, but loved the doll. She played with the truck only occasionally when she could play with her Daddy, or if she put dolls in it.

I didn't teach her girls shouldn't get dirty when they played, she automatically hated dirty hands.  She would play outside, then come to the door fussing with her hands out, wanting to be wiped down before she would go back outside and play.

Three more times I was blessed with a baby daughter.  Three more times they showed preference for dolls over cars, dress-ups over legos, dishes over sticks and cleanliness over mud.

You guessed it.  My two sons intentionally looked for every puddle.  They couldn't jump enough or splash enough in the mud.  They were addicted to sticks and could  transform them into anything their active imagination could create. They instinctively knew how to make car noises, which are different from airplane noises. They loved tools, sports and anything dangerous or with moving parts.

I bought Cabbage Patch dolls for each of the kids when they were born.  My son had a homemade hockey uniform, complete with a little plastic hockey stick, a baseball uniform, cool very-boyish things.  He tolerated the doll on his bed for a few years while very young, but never really played with it.  He just wasn't interested.

My kids' toy preferences may not be enough to give credibility to my tossing out an accepted theory, but let's look at the adult model.  How different are you from your  husband?  Are those differences there just because you were each TAUGHT to behave a certain way? 


If that was true, then women long ago would have changed that. You don't have to be married very long before you realize the great differences between men and women.  After living with their husbands, they would have DEFINATELY and DESPERATELY taught their sons to be different.  I've tried this.  I have tried to tell my sons I am raising them for their future wives, but it just hasn't sunk in yet.  Yes, behavior can be learned and changed with effort, but you can't change the nature of their gender.

 It's been engrained in our hearts, minds and souls, from the beginning of human life on earth.

Adam and Eve were created differently.

Adam and Eve sinned differently.

Adam and Eve had different consequences for their sin.

We weren't taught to be different, we were created to be different, by a great and glorious God who knew it would be of our best interests to have a spouse that is so opposite and so able to complement us.

The other thing I don't appreciate about this theory, is that it is wrong for us to teach gender "stereotypes" to our children. 

I have adopted my parents' great theory in raising all kids capable and able.  All of our kids learn to cook, clean, sew, garden, use tools, budget their money, paint, babysit and take care of cars.  We want them all to be helpful and functional when we send them out into society.

But, I also have distinct ideas of how I want my sons to act.  I have distinct ideas of how I want my daughters to act. My distinct ideas are based on the Bible, with convictions I have gained through the years of reading what the Lord desires from men and women.  I am teaching behavior, yes, but only to enhance their natural differences.
I want to embrace, appreciate and glorify the beautiful way that the Lord created male and female as distinctly different genders.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Children Are A Blank Slate?!?!

I learned many interesting theories in my  university education courses.  I say interesting to be gracious, but I really mean ludicrous.  After sitting through an hour of Educational Psychology, I would walk out of the class wondering if the psychologists had raised any children of their own.  It seemed that they just peeped through big picture windows, watched other families and made up crazy ideas.  But, since I didn't have any children of my own at that point, I just filed away the information for future reference.

When I had children, I could say with experiential confidence, that I did not believe any of the theories I had learned in college.

Let's begin with the idea that all children are born a blank slate, and environment, parents, culture, and society write on that slate to create that individual.

Wickipedia says that "Tabula rasa (Latin: blank slate) is the epistemological thesis that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception.

Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favour the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behaviour and intelligence."

When my oldest daughter was about 18 months old,  Scott and I left her with a friend to go out to dinner alone.  We rarely left her, so were careful to choose this mother of many who also daycared in her home.   We were excited for her chance to be with other kids.

Imagine my horror to return to my precious little girl and find out she had scratched a daycare boy.  She had pinched his skin with her little fingernails and left a mark on his face.  I was told it was unprovoked and it wasn't an accident. She had reached out and mauled this poor little boy.

I was devastated.  She had never seen scratching.  She had never been scratched.  She hadn't seen it on TV, we didn't own one. She hadn't seen her Daddy and Mommy scratching each other. I still wasn't sure if she really had meant harm, or if she was just experimenting.  I kept observing.

This behavior continued.  Sometimes she took toys from other kids.  Sometimes she pushed.  Sometimes her hair was pulled.   Sometimes her toys were taken.  My friends and I were NOT teaching or showing this behavior by example.

A theory I hadn't really believed anyway could be tossed out the window.

I was not writing on her slate.

"Make sure you bite your friends."
"Take any toy you want to play with, even if you have to pull them over to take it out of their hands."
"If you don't get your way, scream, yell and hit people."
"If you want a treat and your Mommy says no, just steal it."
"If hitting doesn't work, try biting."

You know what?  All my kids were this way.  Each one was brought into this world so beautiful, so unmarred, so precious and wonderful, yet the moment they gained any mobility, it was for their advantage.

Before you knew it, I had six wonderful biters, hitters, stealers and hair-pullers.

Instead, I had to write on their slates.

Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

Matthew 7:12, "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them."

I had to teach them correct behavior and come up with deterrents, punishments and instruction when they failed.
These well-meaning psychology people won't accept that children are born with a sin nature.
Romans 3:2, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Early on show they show signs that their little hearts are selfish and self-centered.   Until they are old enough to put their own faith in Jesus Christ, it is our job, as parents, to train them, guide them, help them learn how to live with their body of weakness.  They each have great potential, talents, abilities and personalities that we are excited to see bursting from their precious little bodies.  But, all that can be tainted if they aren't taught to deal with their sin nature. 
How do I know the sin nature is true?  Because my children got it from me, a sinner saved by grace.
This was emphasized to be in a painful way the first time I slammed a cupboard door and Jana walked up behind me and slammed it in perfect imitation.  Except, I was crabby and she had an adorable little smile on her face, so pleased that she was able to perfectly mimic her mommy.


I do strongly believe that parenting affects our children, and I take my role as a Christian mother seriously. I know that environment, culture and society affect our children, so I am careful in what and who I allow them to be exposed to, to watch, to see and to  hear.

The psychologists are right  that influential writings are etched upon our children's slates.  They are just wrong by not accepting that they are sinners by nature and the writing that will change them for eternal good is etched into the tablet of their hearts by the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 3: 2-3, "... you are a letter of Christ ... written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts."

So, while we are correcting, instructing, guiding and helping our dear children, we are constantly pointing them to the Lord Jesus, using His beautiful Words of Life to mold and shape their hearts and minds.

We long for them to trust Him as their Savior, and write on their sin-stained slates,

"I Am A Sinner,
Saved By Grace."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How To Raise A Crook

The tract was printed years ago by
Faith, Prayer and Tract League out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

At $.20 per dozen, or $1 for 100,
the prices were inexpensive,
but the thoughts are priceless,
and timeless.

1.  Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants.  This way he will grow up to believe that the world owes him a living.

2.  When he picks up bad words, laugh at him.  It will encourage him to pick up "cuter" phrases that will blow the top off your head later.

3. Never give him any spiritual training.  Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him decide for himself.

4.  Avoid the use of the word "wrong."  It may devlope a guilt complex.  This will condition him to believe later when he is arrested for stealing a car that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5.  Pick up anything he leaves lying around - books, shoes, clothing.  Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing the responsibility onto others.

6.  Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on.  Be careful the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feed on garbage.

7.  Quarrel frequently in the presence of the children.  Then they won't be too shocked when the home is broken up. 

8.  Give the child all the spending money he wants.  Never let him earn his own.  Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9.  Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort.  See that every desire is gratified.  Denial may lead to harmful frustrations.

10.  Take his part against the neighbors, teachers, and policemen.  They are all prejudiced against your child.

11.  When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourselves by saying, "I never could do anything with him." 

12.  Prepare for a life of grief - you will have it.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
 and when he is old,
he will not depart from it. 
Proverbs 22:6

Even though this tract describes a parent who is completely negligent, we can still challenge our own parenting lives for areas where we have been

...a little too careless
...a little too tolerant
...a little too lenient
...or just unBiblical.

The beauty is, we can ask for wisdom, and it will be given.  It is a commodity the Lord is eager to bestow upon His people.  His requirement?  Ask in faith.

Using the Word of God as our rudder, we can course change at any given time. 

Sometimes the Scriptures will reveal a new destination, a new goal.

Sometimes we will be convicted about our errors.

Other times we just need the encouragement to finish well.  Just as our kids long for those words of praise for their accomplishments, so our hearts are longing for those words,  "Well done, good and faithful servant."

But daily, we go for strength and help in one of the hardest jobs on earth, raising precious souls for Him.

(This tract is still for sale,  although the prices are a little higher and the words slightly changed.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MM Meditation - Losses and Crosses

"You have made summer and winter." Psalm 74:17

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

My soul begin this wintry month with your God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind you that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure you that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with you in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to his Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in his dealings with His own well beloved Son.
Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon you just now it will be very painful to you: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it.

He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation:

He scatters the frost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy:

He casts forth His ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight.

He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore you cannot murmur.

 Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

 How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw near to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing. “
To rightly endure the losses and crosses of life, we first have to accept and understand that these are from the Lord for our benefit. To waver and doubt, like a wave tossed in the wind, will cause us to chafe under the yoke, and cause us to find a human way of escape, rather than give in to the Creator’s divine plan of conforming us to the image of His own Son.

Does He not promise that our losses will be restored?

Does He not promise that He shares the burden of the crosses?

In the midst of the winter storms of life, we must begin on a firm foundation of faith, trusting the losses and crosses to the One who first suffered loss, and who alone suffered on the Cross.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Laughter Doeth the Marriage Well

Not that 24 years makes me an expert, but I think I have learned a few things about marriage.

Laughter makes all things better.

Sometimes you have to laugh, or you would cry.

Marriage is hard because well, uh, because men are men and women are women.

I know,  that's deep.

We're different.  We think differently.  We act differently.  We find solutions to problems differently.  We define what's a problem differently.

The Lord certainly had a sense of humor, and of course, a sense of purpose, when he determined a man and a woman would marry and "the two shall become as one." 

Two completely different human beings have to  learn to live and act together in harmony for the good of their marriage, their immediate family and others around.

A high calling from the God Most High.

Yet, after 24 years of those struggles and trials that either make you crazy or crazy in love, we have become one of those couples who finish each other's sentences, say the same things at the same time, or utter a few words of direction and the other person knows what it means. 

Most of the time. And when that isn't working, laughter works.

I can joke about my husband's ears.  It is easier than getting angry.

I can joke about my husband's eyes.  It is easier than getting angry.

The reality is, it will only get worse, because we actually will begin losing our physical sight and hearing as we age.  I guess the older I get, the LOUDER I will have to laugh, making sure he is standing in front of me so he can read my lips in case he STILL can't hear me.

I have learned to accept him, as he has learned to accept me.  Since he doesn't blog, he doesn't have the occasion to tell you I RARELY remember to check the gas gauge  before I drive off - always a few minutes late. This behavior is unfathomable to him, but he has learned to accept this, laugh, and try to help keep the vehicles in gas and keep me on time. By his kind example, my children have also learned to look out for me in my areas of weakness, helping and reminding, and yes, sometimes laughing.

Some things that bother us about our spouse can change with time, with changes in habits and with gentle encouragements. But in reality, those things that irritate us, are probably the things that are doing the most good to make us more kind, more patient, more loving and more understanding as humans. 

Who would you rather go through life-changing moments with?  Someone who loves you or a stranger?  I would much rather have my husband point out something in my life.  He is saying it for my good, a stranger might be saying something out of annoyance or to avoid being affected by the consequences of my actions.

Laughter blows off steam in the same way anger does, but the release will have no guilt, no apology needed, and can bring about the relaxed attitude needed to find common ground and resolution in a situation.

It's not laughing in mockery.  It's not laughing at sin or a situation that is serious.  The laughter isn't in refusal to admit there's a problem, but it's a cheerful acceptance of the situation until the Lord gives wisdom for resolution.

If you are having marriage ills, try laughing. It's good  medicine.

Daddy Ears, Mommy Ears, God Ears

Daddy's hear-
*the bell on the ice cream truck
*a car that needs power steering fluid
*a car that needs to adjust their timing belt
*a 747 in the air
*his name after repeated for  the fourth time
*exactly what a wife is SAYING not FEELING

Mommy hears -
*the creak of a hinge to the cupboard that contains the snacks
*the click of a remote that is changing the tv away from the agreed station
*the whispered threat of an older kids to a younger kid
*the muffled scraping of the cookie jar lid being put back into place
*the untwisting of a cellophane candy wrapper, especially if it is after brushing teeth, but before bedtime
*the shaking of a piggy bank
*the opening of the fridge door
*the opening of any door, especially after bedtime
*the cry of a child during the night
*the whimper of a child during the night
*the sniffle of a child during the night
*the unusual breathing pattern of a child during the night
*the blinking eyes of a child awakened during the night

Kids hear-
*the untwisting of a cellophone candy wrapper, even if mom is hiding in the closet of her bedroom
*the jangle of change in a Daddy's pocket
*everything their friends say
*the ice cream truck
*the crinkle of dollar bills in Mommy's wallet
*everything Daddy says

If you're the kind of wife I am, you might chide (sounds better than nag, huh?) your hubby for not listening.

We chide the kids for not listening.
We long to have our voices heard.

Maybe that's why we blog.
Someone, somewhere, is listening.
(Technically, yes, reading, but it has the same result as real listening!)

The Lord has this same longing for people on earth to listen to Him.

Matthew 13:9, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

We all know there is a difference between letting the words enter the eardrum AND listening and engaging with the heart and mind.  The Lord knows the difference, too.

Sixteen times in the New Testament the He says,  "let him hear." 

He speaks through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 17:5, "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
He speaks through His Word, the Bible.

Luke 11:28, "But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

 He wants us to hear Him, but He is listening to us, as well.  This is what He wants to hear.

3 John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

We walk in the truth because we hear His voice.  We've come full circle.

Our longing for our husband and children to hear us should be a spiritual reminder of same desire the Lord has for us.

"Are you listening?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bad Parents, Bad Kids

I have learned this depressing little secret about parenting.  It was succinctly expressed in a comment after a blog on parenting.

"Bad Parents, Bad Kids."

The opposite thought is not as common.

When kids do something right, the world rarely gives the parent credit.

People rarely watch kids excel at sports and faun over the great genes the parents' donated to their success.

People rarely see an excellent musician and praise the parents for spending much time and money investing in lessons and instruments.

People rarely see a well-behaved child in public and praise their parents for doing such a good job.

People rarely see an academically gifted student and give their parents credit for helping with (nagging them to do) homework, providing educational experiences and providing opportunities to pursue their passions.

It's as if the child is completely responsible for their own successes, whether they are 5, 9 or 18.  Like evolution, it just happened.  They just catapulted to success because they are just really, really gifted, naturally polite and wonderful.

When impressive children are featured in the news, parents and their contributions to the success of their child are rarely mentioned.

But, see a kid go bad, and the world points all fingers at the parents.

New technology capabilities enable readers to post comments after news stories.  The comments break my heart. As soon as a young person is in trouble, the comments rage against the child's parents.

A few examples posted after a news article today,

"Its [sic] to [sic] bad that the parents of all those kids didnt [sic] do a better job of raiseing [sic] them. What kind of people are they? Mindless idots [sic] would be my first guess. Dont [sic] try and tell me the parents didn’t  know what was going on with their kids either. DUH!!"

"One can only imagine what this ****s parents are like. It makes me sick. If you are not able to care for your children, then give them to someone who will or stop having children."

Yes, I know there are some bad parents. I know ALL parents make mistakes they regret.  I know there are some parents who do teach their children to do illegal things, whether by their example or their instruction. This girl was charged with gang related murder.  I can believe her parents made serious mistakes, but I don't  think they taught her to murder.

But, this same condemnation is freely extended to parents of all types of bad behavior.  When a kid in the grocery store pitches a fit, it is assumed it is because the parent is a bad parent.  It may be the first tantrum and it may well be the last, but judgement is cast.

When a teenager gets into some of those troubles that teens do, it can be assumed it is because of the "bad" parents.

In a blog mentioned in the introduction,   a mother was boasting how great the teenage years were with her teen and that she didn't know what all the negative hype about teenagers was about. I was happy for her, but she had one very young teen who had only been in high school one year. She hadn't been fully faced with all the temptations and trials known to these troubled years. I grieved for this mom, because often when parents go into those teen years blind and proud, they are sideswiped with problems because they couldn't see them coming.  They missed the telltale signs because they were too busy patting themselves on the back.

It was after this blog I read the gut-jolting line,  "Bad Parents, Bad Kids."

I just can't agree with that philosophy. I have seen how time and time again the parents will raise all their children the same, yet one will choose to lead a life of ungodly rebellion, choosing to participate in sins their parents did not practice or promote.  I see people who were raised in ungodly, abusive homes who choose to accept Jesus Christ and become a new creature, forsaking those family sin patterns.

We have free will. Parents make choices. Kids make choices.

As Christian parents, we can't listen to those worldly voices and seek approval of the world for our parenting.  Our goal is to raise our kids with the Bible, showering them with the love, grace, mercy, instruction and wisdom the Lord has bestowed upon us.

When a child may have a truly "bad" parent, one that is not following the Bible, they still have the opportunity to grow up and choose to be different. They can choose to be "good" with the grace and strength from the Lord.  They cannot use their upbringing for an excuse to sin.  They can move out and move on.  (I don't say this lightly.)

When a child may have a "good" parent, one that chooses to follow the Bible, they still have the opportunity to grow up and choose to be different. They can choose to be "bad" and forsake the words of Life. But, they will  be help accountable for the knowledge they were given and the path they were offered.

As a parent, we are totally responsible to do the best job we have the capability of doing with every aspect - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Despite our attempts, we cannot guarantee that our children will choose to follow what they have been taught.  They might turn out better.  Then we give the Lord glory. They might turn out worse. Then, we search our hearts, confess any sin, and seek the Lord's wisdom to continue parenting in a way to win them back to Him.

It gets down to this.
We NEED to pray.

We need to choose to be godly, Biblical parents.  They need to choose to be godly, Biblical people.

Parents choosing Jesus.  Kids choosing Jesus.

That's really what  parenting is about.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer, Presence and Phone

Our human tendency can be to  pick up the phone, not fall to our knees, when we have struggles in life.  We need to talk to a girlfriend for much needed  affirmation, empathy, encouragement and sympathy. We need to hear that things are going to be OK.

Our daughters pick up on this tendency.  Their first imitations of Mommy are usually talking on the phone. One of our first baby rattles was a cute, plastic phone.

But, that can build a dependency that's not healthy if we don't go to the Lord first. Girlfriends are HUGELY important, especially  to spiritually  help bear our burdens, but we need to tell the Lord first. We need to tell Him, listen to Him, accept what is working out in our lives for His purposes and be at peace with it.

He alone can provide the comfort we truly need. If a friend promises it is going to work out, that could be just her wishful thinking, maybe her fingers are crossed behind her back. She can pray for you, even offer verses from the Lord, but the power comes not in heresay, but from your direct contact with the God of the Universe. He loves you.  He's your Father.  He wants to hear from you.

We don't want one of our hurting kids go to a sibling with their problems and say, "What would Mom say?"  You want them to come directly to you.  We NEED to hold them.  WE need to kiss away their owies.  We need to take care of their damaged physical bodies and their bleeding hearts.  We were created to do this.

Even more so does the Heavenly Father long for us to come directly to Him, and allow Him the privilege of loving and guiding our hearts, bodies and souls back into the track of peace, love and faith.  This is why He is the Creator.  This is what He does for the creation He made in His image.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4a, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our tribulation...."

A few encouragements on checking your heart condition during a trial.

1. Can you bless or praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? In the midst of your trials can you find something about Him to praise? If you can't, do not speak to anyone else. Stay in His presence. Admit you have nothing to praise Him for because of the weakness of your flesh. He knows your heart, He just wants you to open it to Him with honesty. We want the Lord's blessings, but we aren't willing to open and empty the vessel through which He desires to fill us. We empty ourselves with humility, confession and adoration.

2. Do you understand His mercy? The definition from the Greek gives this definition, "a heart of compassion ." He hasn't truly given us what we deserve. You may be thinking you don't deserve this trial, but be honest. We deserve worse. We deserve a separation from Him forever because of our sins against Him. We deserve Hell.

3. What comfort are you truly seeking? Do you need to be coddled? Do you need to have justification that you are right and that you shouldn't be in this situation? Or, do you want true comfort? Do you want to be drawn near to the Lord, exhorted and admonished concerning the truth of the matter at hand to be refreshed. 

We can comfort our children, while still reminding them the truth of the situation.

"I'm sorry you are sick honey, but we all get sick. Mommy would love to help make you feel better, but I can't make it go away."

"I'm sorry you hurt your knee, but Mommy has always warned you about going down the stairs in rollberblades."

4. When you have blessed the Lord, understanding His mercy and you have sought and received His comfort, it is to be passed on.

2 Corinthians 1:4b ....."that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

When your heart is intertwined with His, beating in obedience and love, then get off your knees.

Run to the phone.

You have some girlfriends to call.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Forget to Remember

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering things.

You can blame it on the fact that I have six kids,
 am on medication,
am aging,
 am busy,
or am a natural blonde.

There are a lot of reasons,
but not good excuses.

I need to remember things... my meds and my supplements.

My friend, RivkA, from Chemo and Coffee,
 put this quote on her blog a few weeks back.

Pill boxes do not help you remember to take your pills,
 they show you when you have forgotten to take them!

This was a good week. 
I've been working hard at making a routine and sticking to it.

You wonder why I take Scrabble tiles?
I wish I could say they help remember the names of things,
but that isn't it.
I never remember to take my Probiotic because it is in the fridge.
I put the tile in a slot, when I take the pill,
move it to the next day.
Problem solved.

I also forget simple things like checking my gas gauge.
I had to pick someone up from the airport and didn't remember,
until in the middle of congested traffic on the Interstate,
to check my gas status.
Very empty.
I should know better, I have been driving 27 years.
But, I always forget.

I forget my children's names.
They feel neglected when I call them by the wrong name.
Once, during a busy day of homeschooling,
they decided to take a stand.
They wore nametags for the entire day.

The Lord knows how forgetful we are.
He lovingly gave us many reminders in the Bible.

We are to remember His past gracious and miraculous dealings with people.
1 Chronicles 16:12
 His marvelous works which He has done,His wonders...
We are to remember His Words. 
Proverbs 4:5
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget,
 nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

We are to remember to live what we learn. 
Hebrews 13:16
But do not forget to do good and to share,
 for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

 We are to remember Jesus' victory over sin and death and hell.
2 Timothy 2:8
Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David,
was raised from the dead according to my gospel,

What are you trying to remember these days?