Writing and Home and Good Advice

May 6, 2020

I asked my daughter Rebekah  to join me on the balcony this morning.  “I need your advice,” I said (among the many rewards of homeschooling is wise children).  I made LaVazza in the French Press and brought her a San Pellegrino, then sat down with my journal. But before I, the Great Meeting Instigator, could present my thoughts, she began reading from 52 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know by Dave Adamson.

I wanted to talk about me.  Sigh.  Patience.  Wait, what was that?  About His mercies being new every morning?  The word is rachum.  I remembered why we were on the balcony.  Because not only was it morning, but it was a beautiful, shining, May morning.  A robin was worm hunting beneath us, and another one was pecking a bedroom window  for reasons unknown.  Perhaps he thought his reflection was a possible Mrs. Robin, and extremely attractive.  Perhaps, like me, he thought it was all about him.

Rebekah continued to read and I waited.  Quietly.  Surely I am smarter than that robin?  Finally, I talked.  “Shall I write fiction or non?”  What about this, and that, etc.?  Her answer brought a flirting, flittering thought from the back of my mind to the fore:  “Write what’s in your heart and hold nothing back.” 

What is in my heart?  Home.  Jesus and Home.  Home.

My fiction is about home, and my non-fiction as well.  Write both?  Then where to begin?  It’s Springtime.  Resurrection.  You don’t have to begin, merely resume with vigor.  The whole world’s all about singing a new song, and doing a new thing, and out with the old and in with the new.  And that’s marvelous.  Sometimes.

But sometimes it’s marvelous to go digging through all kinds of old stuff – barely begun stories and mostly finished manuscripts, journals, forgotten thoughts and notes, highlighted portions of old books from friends’ hearts.

They’re friends I’ve never met, but who wrote from their hearts unto mine, holding nothing back.  “Father, help me, direct me, anoint me, to write like that.  Even as you spoke to Rebekah’s heart and she passed it on to mine, speak to my heart so that I can pass it on to those who have home in their hearts.  Amen.”

That’s pretty much everyone.

Thanks for joining me.

P.S.  But what about that “hold nothing back” part?  Yikes.  That sounds quite messy.

You’re Not “Stuck” at Home. You’re Having the Time of Your Life, Homeschooling, That is!

Hello and welcome to all parents who are suddenly at home with their kids.  As a veteran homeschooler I have some thoughts, tips and downright excellent ideas for you.

  1.  Begin every day with “The P.J.’s of Power – a psalm, a proverb, Paul’s wisdom from something in the New Testament, and Prayer, and Praise, and then some of Jesus’ words.  If the kids are readers and awake (this is a lovely time for all of you to catch up on sleep by the way), instruct them to do the same, take notes, and let it all be done in P.J.’s!
  2. Make this something they truly enjoy, perhaps all around the table first thing, along with hot chocolate, and begin teaching table manners and conversation arts at the table.  Best of all, you are teaching them to love and enjoy God!
  3. Have all hands on deck for meals.  Rotate assignments for who is helping cook, setting the table, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors afterward, etc.
  4. Speaking of rotating assignments, one of my best ever ideas was my COD idea – Child of the Day.  It began first with who was going to pray at meals because when they all chimed in the food got cold before they finished.  They prayed for Grandpa’s cows, and the neighbor’s sick dog, and anything else they could think of.  So, it was Benjamin on Mondays, Hannah on Tuesdays, Rebekah Wednesdays, and Seth Thursdays.  Friday was my day and John got Saturdays and Sundays.
  5. Let things evolve, according to the needs of your family.  The COD evolved so that chores were added, along with privileges, per child, per day.  A favorite part of being the COD was getting to pick the bedtime story.
  6. Make the bedtime story non-negotiable, and make it a story that even the parents enjoy reading.  It’s a good time, if you’re in a cold climate, for a cup of warm milk (we used the neighbors’ goat milk gifts this way) with honey, which is relaxing and delicious (add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla if you like).
  7. Begin developing and promoting the idea of personal libraries, as you read books like Frog and Toad, Hattie Rabbit, Barnyard Dance, Goodnight Gorilla, and Thomas the Tank Engine.  Those are just some that still make me smile as I recall taking walks with thermoses of tea and a few cookies (which the kids LOVE helping to make).  If the kids are older choose Little House books, such as The Long Winter.  If you don’t have this book, order it!  It’s .99 plus shipping, and all of us living today should read about those who came before us, who built this country through hardship and hunger such as we’ve never experienced.
  8. Make memories every day.  We have a favorite memory of taking the red wagon, the two younger kids riding with the picnic basket and quilt, picking blackberries along the side of the road in rural Arkansas, and settling in the shade to read Timothy Tattercoat.  Books inspire.  This book actually planted the seed in our kids’ minds to one day live in Colorado, which is the setting for Timothy Tattercoat. As the kids grew they enjoyed Louis L’Amour books about miners in Colorado – be on the lookout for books and outings (we know all the best museums wherever we’ve been) that make learning History fun and fascinating and unforgettable!
  9. It’s OK to take all day.  Tea parties all the time, any time, by any name are a great use of an entire day.  Because after all, the best part of this whole home-with-the-kids thing is becoming truly acquainted with your children.  This is done quite effortlessly and beautifully over tea.  We had History teas, where we discussed whatever anyone wanted to discuss from History, which can lead all kinds of marvelous directions; there were geography teas (look at maps and talk about countries).  “Look, there’s France – what do know about France?”  Hmm, your humming mind ponders, shall we do a unit study on France?  Google “homeschool unit study ideas” and remember to tailor these ideas to suit yourself!
  10. “Maybe,” you might ponder, “We should do a unit study on our state, and do a field trip approach, right in our own backyards.  What are the herbs coming up this spring, and how can we use them?  Let’s make a plan to gather rosehips, mint, and whatever else will work, and make the best ever herbal tea.  Maybe we’ll learn a bit about home remedies.”
  11. Pray for anointing as a parent, and you will soon know that you are uniquely qualified to teach your children, and you will learn right along with them.  In my case, I believe I learned more than anyone.
  12. Have “Dreaming Times.”  When our four kids were small I had a great need for an hour of absolute peace and quiet in the afternoons.  I would go into my room with a book (John and I always taught by example that reading is a treat), and say, “Don’t say my name for one hour.  Play alone and dream and we’ll do something wonderful when we’re done.”  They would very quietly sneak into each other’s bedrooms and play, but they knew I meant business about an hour of peace and quiet.  Now be prepared to talk about, and respect, their dreams.  And your own!
  13. Have a plan, but be ready to switch gears.  If after Dream Time you meant to go grocery shopping, but they’ve had a dream of building a fort and starting a “John Wayne Club” (yes, this was a thing), the groceries can wait.  Building and creating should always trump spending money.  This is where you can get creative with what’s in the pantry, and play happy music to accompany the beautiful sounds of children at play.  Let them see and hear you happy, as you sing and dance.
  14. Teach them good personal and homekeeping habits.  They can make their beds each morning and brush their teeth, before the “privileges” of outside play, or getting to learn something new about a Founding Father, or mixing and using their own finger paints, etc.  They can brush their teeth and pick up the living room (baskets for everything work well) before they get their bedtime story.
  15. You are the fearless leader, and part of that is meaning business and making House Rules.  These rules are for your sanity, and to make your children popular with others.  Ours were things like NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE, NO YELLING AND SCREAMING IN THE HOUSE, RESPECT OTHERS’ PROPERTY, RESPECT OTHERS. PERIOD.  Then there was a written and publicly posted list of table manners:  No phone answering during meals, no gross or negative conversation subjects during meals, etc.
  16. Read and re-read daily scriptures on the Tongue from Proverbs, and let your kids see you forget the scriptures entirely, mess up, repent both to God and to them.  This practicing of what you preach, learning and growing as you go, will be a marvelous example, and will draw their hearts to you, and to God.  This will also help your marriage flourish, which is the very kindest thing you can do for your kids – the most important education you can give them (please pardon me for causing you pain if you’re a single parent – these rules still apply, and I wish I’d known them when I was a single parent!).
  17. Consider the power of your example as you make the most of this unexpected situation, as you show them love by sacrificing your normal routine and getting to truly know your child, and yourself.  Remember that your child is unique in all the world, indeed in all the history of the world, and that you have been given the gift of unexpected time together.  To love.
  18. Be sure they know that you see this time with them, this family time, as a marvelous treat, a wonderful blessing.  Tell them this.
  19. Don’t try to cram too much into your days.  Seek a lifestyle of His unforced rhythms of grace.
  20. Keep it simple, and remember, “A little child will lead you.”  But you must lead first.  And you must first be led.  By Him.  Amen.

What Homeschoolers Need Most is What We All Need Most

There are so many excellent resources for homeschooling parents, but how to choose?  So many opportunities, but which ones to forgo?  This is a big deal, and it must be done right!  Right?

Know your child via time with your child’s Maker.  You MUST pray for and receive the wisdom of God for each child.  Individually.  You have birthed an individual, unique in all the world, indeed, in all the history of the world.  One of your many excellent reasons for homeschooling is to train this child up into the fullness and wonder of that uniqueness.

So, get to know your child.  This, dear parent, is a lifelong process, and you are called to it.  As a parent, we partner with God to create and give and nurture life.  It is a lovely process of discovery, and today is the day to begin!

Seek God’s face and His grace.  Ask Him and He will answer.  My experience homeschooling taught me that He really likes to get involved in this marvelous escapade!  He wants you to know Him, and He wants to reveal the heart of your child unto you.  Blessed, so blessed are you.

What do we all need?  To know and to be known.  Give yourself and your child a gift so far beyond curriculum, field trips, and co-op activities.  Give yourself up to the wonderful journey of getting to know God, who will reveal to you yourself, and the heart of your child as well.

OK!  Yay!

Swiss Family Robinson, John and Rebekah Parker, and Pastor Mark Williams

What do the above listed books/folks have in common?  They’ll all be featured on the Homefront Show in less than two hours!!!   http://www.1360am.co is where you want to go at 2:00 PM Mountain Time today.  That’s 2:00 Friday, January 26.

John and I will discuss what makes a good book and using books for family unity, and Rebekah will share an almost unbelievable story of forgiveness which will put our petty grievances in perspective.

I have more treats, such as the bizarre behavior that coexists with a “not my fault” mentality, and Pastor Mark Williams talking about honor, and how giving honor honors the giver.

Lots of good, inspiring, uplifting words today, including words about the power of words both for building and for destruction.  So contact anyone who needs a lift today, and just say this:

2:00 PM Mountain Time, 1360am.co.

Thanks for being with us!

Bev

Promised Booklist

Last week on The Homefront Show I mentioned a conversation with three of my children wherein we answered the question, “What five books do you think everyone should read?”  On the show I shared what we came up with (more than five each, sorry, but certainly less than an exhaustive list of our favorites) and promised to post the list, along with author’s names (which I didn’t share on the show).

So here goes, in the order, more or less, the titles were called out (with a few added I’ve since recalled and couldn’t possibly leave out, such as Little Joe Otter, The Capricorn Stone, and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Little Joe Otter by Thornton W. Burgess

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Bible

Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

William Tell by Friedrich Schiller

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblatt

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour

Daddy Longlegs by Jean Webster

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

All Sackett books by Louis L’Amour

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Mutiny on the Bounty by William Bligh

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Capricorn Stone by Madeleine Brent

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge

Guns Up by Johnnie M. Clark

Medications by Marcus Aurelius

 

So, there you have it.  Maybe you can give yourself the Christmas gift of one of these great books.  Wanna great laugh with a book you can’t put down?  Daddy Longlegs and the sequel, Dear Enemy are unbeatable.  I read both of them aloud as we traveled a few years ago, and EVERYONE in the car begged for more each time I stopped for a rest.

Happy Reading to You!

And . . . REMEMBER TO TUNE IN TOMORROW, DECEMBER 15 AT 2:00 MOUNTAIN TO WWW.1360AM.CO FOR THE HOMEFRONT SHOW!

 

 

OPEN THE DOOR TO PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE AND MOVIE STAR HOMESCHOOLERS COMING RIGHT UP ON THE HOME FRONT SHOW – 2:00 MTN

It’s so great when a plan comes together.  When I awoke this morning/last night? at 1:45 a.m. I didn’t know what today’s show was about.  But just a bit of prayer (and because I went to bed after John prayed with me about it) I knew!  Perseverance and patience.

And everything I listened to, read, and experienced told me I was right on track – Dave Ramsey in Entreleaders, Sheila Walsh’s joy infusions (Rebekah will be sharing from that on the show today), The Home School Mom’s Devotional Bible, Harriet Beecher Stowe, two sermons I caught in the middle of the night, and just the beautiful, wonderful Word of God – patience, perseverance, power.  They go together, so let’s get together on the show today and celebrate!

Also, I have a special giveaway today – a book by a famous movie star/homeschooling couple, who are also the stars of “Let There Be Light”!

Go to:  http://www.1360am.co at 2:00 Mountain Time, and Thanks!

 

Home School Help for Me!

I’m enjoying a book called  The Rhythm of Family by Amanda and Stephen Soule.  As I was reading Amanda’s writings about canning and crafting and all sort of creative and beautiful activities, I was comparing my efforts of past years, when my kids were young.

And I found myself weighed in the balance and found wanting – can you relate? Could we all just stop doing that?  I stopped myself with a positive “yeah, but . . .”

Yeah, but my kids made a hammock in the top of a tall oak tree, forts in the woods, ships on the creek, trains in the garage. They made up and wrote stories about the local rabbit family and buried and hunted treasure, caught and lost crawdads and lizards, and slew as well as drew great dragons.

They loved and were loved by an oddity of a dog. He seemed odd to us, that is, but to him his behavior was absolutely normal.  I’ll share more about this dog in a moment, but back to my kids’ having a childhood – maybe they didn’t live on the ocean in Maine and maybe their mom wasn’t the craft queen of the universe.  But she made them homemade fingerpaints when it was raining, and turned grape juice into popsicles when it was hot, and they know how to make artisan breads, and what a snake smells like when you get too close while you’re picking blackberries.

They still remember reading Timothy Tattercoat on a quilt in the shade with a thermos of iced tea and peanut butter on saltines. And through Timothy, a desire was instilled in their hearts to live where he lived, in the mountains of Colorado.

I mentioned our old dog, Buster, who died by the way, chasing a car, and as we told the kids – he died instantly as his head connected with a fast-moving fender, and it was probably painless.

Buster was better at chasing cows – they and he knew who and what he was.

We were walking in the country a long way from home one day and we came upon a pasture full of cows, in the corner farthest fro m the road. Buster went across the pasture, herded those cows to the opposite end of the field and they did exactly as he bade them. He was the boss of these big and theretofore unknown cows.

Not so Chihuahuas. There was a lady who walked her three chihuahuas past our house every day.  Benjamin, age 7 then, called her Mrs. Chawalla.  I guess Buster thought her dogs were giant rabies-infested rats – he was terrified and hid under the back porch and cried every day when they went by.

As for snakes, he would step on or over them and not even see them. Amazing.  But when it came to doing what he was created to do, he meant business.  He knew who he was.  He was a cowdog.  An Australian Shepherd.

We come to know who we are when we grasp that great truth that we are created in the image of God, who is Love, and we are therefore, when being our true selves, LOVE.

Which means – aha! – that I can rejoice in and admire the strengths and successes of other moms, and perhaps even emulate them in some areas; I can look back with appreciation for what I did right and ABSOLUTELY forget about what I might have done differently; and I can do a great service to my kids now, whatever their ages, by modeling the rest and contentment that comes from knowing who and Whose I am.

What a way to live!

Courtesy Begins at Home

heart-in-gate” . . . there is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained as in the home. There are no hearts that hunger so for the expressions of affection as the hearts of which we are most sure.  There is no love that so needs its daily bread as the love that is strongest and holiest.  There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved.”  – Rev. J. R. Miller, D.D. in Home-Making

Rude and disrespectful children were not taught at home the example of kindness and consideration.  They were not shown by their parents the value of respecting the hearts of others.

From the time our kids were small we praised them for their kindnesses to others, and actively taught them how to bring light to the lives of others via small kindnesses.  And it began at home.

“Your sister is a gift from God, one that you will always have.  When you’re a very old man and have a sad day you will call her and tell her your troubles and she will pray for you and tell you she loves you,” we told the boys more than once.

“Some girls don’t have brothers,” I remember telling one of the girls.  “Your brother will grow up to be a good, strong, kind man just like your dad, and he will always care about you and always help you and always love you.”

And so forth.  And then, we would tell them to spend just a little time alone to pray (it’s never too early to teach a child to take their burdens to Jesus) and later they were required to give each other hugs and say, “I love you.”

To this day we have four kids who love each other and show it.  They are kind and courteous almost all of the time.  And if they slip up we are quick to check them.  As I said to our oldest son not long ago, “You will never have a truer friend, you will never know a more quality person, than your brother.  He’s a 17-year-old male right now, and if you’ll think back to when you were a 17-year-old male . . .”

He got the point:  Courtesy begins at home.

“The tenderer the love and the truer, the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart.” –  Rev. J. R. Miller, D.D. in Home-Making

The Stupid Question: What About Socialization?

child in hat and glasses

“Precisely.”

That’s what to say when you’re asked this most aggravating and ignorant of questions about why your child isn’t being institutionalized.

“But aren’t you concerned about socialization?”

“Yes.  That’s one of the reasons we homeschool.”

Total confusion on their part.

Patient sigh on yours.

“First of all, we aren’t socialists.  We don’t believe the state knows best.  We don’t believe the state owns us or our children.”

“Secondly, we don’t think hanging out all day long (mostly sitting) with ignorant little kids who look, talk, dress, and are in more ways than not, exactly alike, is proper socialization. ”

“In fact, we think it’s extremely unnatural, unhealthy, and stifling.”

Oh, and we’re too nice to say so, but it’s your kids and grandkids (it’s mostly old fools who come after us on this)  who won’t look us in the eyes when we attempt to converse with them, who mutter or don’t answer at all, who display an alarming dearth of original thought and logic if they do venture an opinion, not our poor little homeschooled “hicks.”

We have always gotten compliments on our kids – on their ability to converse with people of all ages, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and races; on their friendliness, kindness, respect, and their obvious enjoyment of life and each other.

Seth and RebekahBenjamin and Hannahall four kids

Yes, you can search and find kids like ours, and they may even be kids who are public-schooled.  Don’t know, haven’t seen that very much.  But why go to the trouble?  Why not just homeschool?

Yes, your kids will miss out if you homeschool.  They’ll miss out on being bullied or becoming bullies, on easy access to drugs, sex, alcohol and porn.  They won’t learn about being one of the “in crowd” or being “cool” and “popular.”  In short, they won’t be social monstrosities, with mountain-tall egos, or “nerds” who hate school.  And if you have even the smallest of success, you will raise individuals who miss out on becoming followers.

You, too, will miss out if you homeschool your children.  You’ll miss them turning into hellions during their teen years.  You’ll miss them losing respect for you and your beliefs, and you’ll miss becoming an embarrassment to their social little arses.

If you homeschool, you’ll miss out on being politically correct and socially acceptable.  And yes, you’ll have to deal with the stupid question.  I’ve given you a few answers, and here are a couple more:  “Who and what successes qualify you to judge me?”, and, “So, what hole do you live in (speaking of socialization) so that you don’t know the abysmal failure public education in America has been proven to be, no matter how you measure it.”

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “no matter how you measure it.”  Because if your goal is turning out good little robots who lose their sense of personal worth, individual creative prowess, and dare I say, common sense and kindness, then maybe public school is a roaring success.

Go ahead, in the name of socialization, steal your child’s childhood.  Take away his time to play, invent, create, read, read, read, commune with God and nature, and grow into the person God intended, so that he can change the world.

little girl with flower

Look around you.  Do we need even one more just-like-everybody-else person?  Your child is unique in all the world, in all the history of the world.  It will take a huge and concerted effort to make her just like everyone else – socialized.  In fact, you can’t do it alone.  You’ll need all the help you can get to stamp out all that originality and wonder.  Hooray, there’s public education in America!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just say “Yes” to the Idea of Home Schooling Your Child

A young girl reading the current events in a newspaper; isolated on white background.

          People worry about bad things that might happen to their kids in public school – kids getting fat due to unhealthy food, kids being bullied, kids getting shot.  But they don’t seem to worry about the certainties:  Their kids will be institutionalized, and taught that they are nothing, less than nothing, in fact. 
 sad child
          A few years back we took a trip to visit a famous museum, where I was appalled at the exhibit “proving” that we are all products of nothing more than “oxygen pollution.”  Yes, there are worse things than being highly developed apes.  One can have affection and regard for an ape.  But to be nothing more than pollution?  You can try all the self-esteem training in the world, but it won’t take over deeply-embedded programming such as this.
          The truth is that every one of us is unique in all the world, uniquely qualified to do something marvelous for God and man.  This is the goal of education:  the love and adventure of learning of who our Maker is, why He made us, and the equipping for the task.
  child at beach with mom's shoes
          Pastor Keith Moore recently said, “We need to be delivered from this desperate need for others’ approval.”  I submit to you that we got that mentality in public school.  We learned to follow the crowd, to strive for the grade, to fit in and be “cool” in public school. 
          Yes, of course all this happens in most private schools as well, but many private schools are Christian, and therefore do not denigrate the child with anti-Creation messages.  However, there is one way to be certain your child is taught the intrinsic value of every human, and that is to believe it yourself and teach it at home. 
file0001668013836
          Oh, you’re doing that?  Once in a while. And you think you can counter that pervasive message from “educators” just fine.  And how about the influences of children whose parents have failed to teach them kindness and respect?
          We recently visited friends whose pre-schooled child talked back to her mom and it was like listening to a rebelling teenager.  I was so grieved.  A child that age should be over the moon in love with her mommy.
mom and baby
          So what do I suggest?  Home schooing.  Of course. 
          Before you start your tired mantra:  I can’t, I couldn’t, I’m not qualified, I have to work, I’m a single parent, my kids drive me nuts . . . Just stop for a second.  Consider the idea.  What if you could?  What if you at least prayed about it?  What if it’s true that where there’s a will there’s a way? 
 father and child
          You may not be qualified, but it’s probably not for the reasons you think.  I once read about a woman who decided against home schooling and was glad she did when she saw her kindergartner standing in line.  She knew that had she home schooled ,her daughter would never have learned this “skill.”
          When our kids were young teens we enrolled them in Karate.  When the instructor told the class to line up our kids just stood there.  John laughed and I rolled my eyes.  Hannah later said she knew what a line was, but she just thought she should be first and everyone should get behind her.  How’s that for a different perspective?
girlinswing
          Back to the woman who thinks standing in line is an important life skill.  This woman is not smart enough to home school.  But you are, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog.  If you potty trained that child and taught her to talk and how to tie her shoes, you can teach her to love learning and be a life-long performer in the dance of life. 
dancing girl