Real Men

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I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.

If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”

I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”

“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.

“Kind,” said Seth.  “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.

I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be:  kind and stalwart. 

And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.

18 Years Young

file4671308346759 Eighteen years old.  A graduate!  Old enough to join the Army and shoot people.  Old enough for Mom and Dad to send out into the world so that they can get on with their own lives.  Old, I say!

Wrong.  Who, at eighteen, knows how to handle the adult world with skill and wisdom?  What child, at eighteen, isn’t in as much need of prayer and guidance as ever?

Don’t be in a rush to push that child out of the nest.  Make the nest more welcoming and comfortable than ever.  Be sure your child knows, in spite of all the world’s voices, that you are perfectly fine with God’s timing, be it leaving at eighteen or twenty-eight.

Dr. James Dobson calls eighteen to twenty-eight the “critical decade” — that time of decisions and choices which shape the rest of life.  I, for one, made some really dumb mistakes at eighteen years young, and could have used some uncompromising guidance, some Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom and timing.  And the world I faced was much friendlier and less threatening and dark than what today’s kids face.

Shall we get off the world’s (and the Military’s) timetable, and have a little rhythm and grace?  Our son, Benjamin, always knew he wanted to join the Army, but he waited a bit, leaving home at 19, and turning 20 before he was in Basic Training.  During his final months at home he got in shape physically, and grew mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  There is a lot of maturing between eighteen and twenty, and we believe it’s made all the difference for him.

Be prepared to ignore other people’s nosy questions and opinions.  My daughter Hannah (www.thewarmjournal.com) hasn’t yet decided where or when or if she’s going to college.  The hardest part, she says, is ignoring the judgement and disapproval of other people.  A good life lesson right there:  Other people’s opinions don’t matter.  What matters is what Hannah is seeking:   God’s opinion.  “Until I know where God wants me to go, I’m not going anywhere,” she says.

And then, amazingly, she wanted to know if I and her dad were OK with her “sticking around a little while.”  Was she serious?  “Your dad is fine if you never leave, but I think you should leave in the next decade or so,” I answered.  She liked that answer.

A warm and cozy nest is the best kind to leave.  We want our children to set out in God’s timing, all flags flying high.  Eighteen or twenty-eight, or whenever they’re ready.

We can either properly launch our children, all systems go, into an outer space life adventure, or we can push them out of the nest prematurely, and watch in agony as they falter and crash, often with severely damaged wings.

Remember, it’s 18 years young, not 18 years old.

P.S.  If you’re grieving because this has already happened to your child, turn up the prayer!  God is the God of restoration.  I have long claimed the scripture, Joel 2:25, and called on God to restore what the locust has eaten in the lives of my loved ones, and myself.  Again and again, I have seen Him bring healing and restoration.

Family First?

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Or last?

One of the many beauties of home education is that family comes first, naturally.  The fruits of that, provided grace is in place, are unlimited, and this was brought home to me recently when I read an article about eliminating negative people (especially those who hinder living in faith and love) from our lives.

I respect the author of this article, and gave serious thought to her words.  Was I not eliminating such people out of fear of conflict, or perhaps because I’m too nice?  Were they truly a hindrance?  There was no question that these people are difficult and tiring, but were they really a problem?  A spiritual roadblock?

No.  And here’s why:  My family keeps me strong, on track.  We pray with and for each other, and with and for others, every single day.  When I am brought down by someone or something and make my fall evident with frustration and negativity, someone in my family will do as I’ve asked them to do:  Don’t let me get away with it!

We learned from Pastor Keith Moore’s example to say, in response to negativity (anything contrary to scripture), “If you say so.”

Aaaargh!  It makes us wanna box someone’s ears (I’ve been reading too much Georgette Heyer, if there’s any such thing as too much Georgette Heyer ).  But, instead, we take deep breaths, roll our eyes, wrinkle our noses as though at a very unpleasant odor, and change our words.

Example:

Me: I’m sick to death of his crap and I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind.”

Brat Child of Mine with Snarky Grin:  “If you say so.”

Me:  Really deep breath, mutterings, stomps, yeah-buts, etc.  Another deep breath.  “I am taking his nonsense as an unconscious cry for help, and I’m not giving him a piece of my mind because obviously I can’t spare it, and I’m going to stop and pray for him right now.  Will you, dearest child, agree with me in prayer?”

I just strengthened myself, lightened the load of the child who has to listen to MY crap, and prayed myself right out of Satan’s way of thinking and doing, and changed things for the person I prayed for.  Rather than a piece of my mind, he got a piece of God’s love.  Amen!

 

Home Comforts

Room in a historical Bohemian village

Whether or not you homeschool, your children are watching and learning your attitude about homemaking.  If you’re like most moms, things get a bit messy at times, especially in our minds!  We need a bit of decluttering, a little refurbishing, direction, and refreshment.  I give you the beyond-anything book, Home Comforts.

Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson, is one of my two favorite books on making home a haven (the other is Alexandra Stoddard’s Creating a Beautiful Home). Cheryl (she is a friend even though we’ve never met) has done her homework. A former attorney, she’s very diligent and disciplined, and has the intelligence required to make a good job of homemaking.

As this book is over 800 pages long, and covers anything and everything you can think of, I can’t begin to do it justice here. But as an example here’s a quote from the chapter on home cooking: “Good meals at home satisfy emotional hunger as real as hunger in the belly, and nothing else does so in the same way.”

Cheryl goes on to discuss how and why not to use cookbooks–I am vindicated! I believe a recipe is only someone else’s creation, certainly nothing written in stone. Of course, if Julia Child wrote it I will pay attention. But someone telling me to make pumpkin cake without salt, or that you don’t need all those walnuts in your oatmeal raisin cookies? I don’t think so.

As usual, I am loving the sound of my own horn tooting, and it’s time to get back to the marvelous book at hand. Home Comforts covers anything and everything you might ever want to know about homemaking.  You will be sorry when you’ve turned the last page, and if you’re like me, determined to read it again.

And to share it with others, especially family.

Do you want to excel at the high and highly rewarding calling of homemaking?  This book, so aptly named, will inspire and gladden your heart, and perhaps best of all, it will convince you that what you do at home truly matters.

It’s “Raising Mannerly Children,” Not, “Ignoring Aggravating Miniature Terrorists”

Note:   This picture was taken Mother’s Day, 2015, but I am pairing it with an article written in 2010, as I consider it worth repeating.

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The Importance of RAISING MANNERLY CHILDREN cannot be overemphasized. Manners are, in essence, simply the thoughtful consideration of the needs and wants of others.

The Golden Rule is so named because if you learn it, all else of value follows.

And if you don’t . . .

A life of misery–for you, your child, your child’s spouse and children and coworkers, neighbors–is what’s in store if you don’t teach your children manners.

Or, let’s look at it another way: Teach your children to think of others and they will naturally have manners.

This is an ongoing task (see the article’s end for how to begin with ease and quick results), but the rewards are commensurate with the effort.

Seth, (a 10-year-old), has an excess of energy, and sometimes tears through the house like a dervish. Recently he raced past the girls and me, who were having a pleasant conversation, yelling and brushing against us.

It was time for conscious parenting. Time to heed that little voice in my head that said, “Stop what you’re doing, stop having a nice chat with your girls, and deal with this.” So I stopped.

IT’S MY JOB.

Not fun, but necessary. I will not be the mother of a hellion, who thinks the conversations and happiness of others beneath his time and consideration.

Yes, we all know someone like this. An adult. Not a pretty picture.

Remember: If you don’t care enough to teach your child to be kind and considerate, who will?

But how?  Where to begin?  An excellent place to start is with Munro Leaf’s books, those loved and still remembered by my kids–Manners Can Be Fun, How to Behave and Why, and How to Speak Politely and Why.

Fun, funny, great illustrations, and effective:  Munro Leaf.

Beautiful Outlaw – A Book for all Reasons

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One of the many beauties of home education is the time to read, and to share great books.  When I bought John Eldredge’s Beautiful Outlaw for my son Benjamin, I wasn’t worried about his not reading it.  Even if he didn’t read it, someone at our house would.  This I knew from experience.

Not only did Benjamin read the book, and quote from it often, he urged me to read it.  I don’t think I’m unique in liking to pick my own books, and being somewhat resistant when people insist I read something.  But since Benjamin is not the insistent sort, and because I know John Eldredge can be trusted, I picked up the book.

I would breeze through it, job done.  Wrong.  I savored this book–reading a bit and smiling and stopping to consider.  As I neared the book’s end, I slowed down.  I didn’t want this journey with John Eldredge and Jesus to end.

What a privilege to, if you will, have a conversation with a free thinker.  A radically Christian radical.

When a book speaks to an 18-year-old young man as well as to his mother, there’s something going on.  When I love a book, yet can’t quite bring myself to part with it, there’s something going on.  And when a book changes and clarifies my thinking in a way that electrifies my joy in Christ, well, I just have to rave.