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Family Life -

Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

Positive Parenting 3-6-5

I am very blessed to be a guest author at Positive Parenting 3-6-5 today where I wrote about our Thanksgiving traditions. Pop on over and check it out.

While you’re there…

Look around the site. Donna of Positive Parenting 3-6-5 is a Christian homeschooling mother of seven. She has three daughters serving their Lord on the mission field. She also has boys at home as young as 11 that she is schooling.

Donna’s site is an encouragement to parents at any point in the parenting process, whether awaiting a first child or nurturing grandchildren. She offers Godly wisdom and practical advice to establish strong family bonds and nurture a very real Christian faith within your family. She never speaks down to you, but always makes you believe you really can raise Godly, Christ-centered, family-lovin’ children in this godless, self-centered age, because, you know what, you really can. It takes conscientious effort and an eternal perspective, but you can do it, and Donna can help you.

I admire Donna immensely. She is a mentor and a blessing. Check her out!

(Techno-me is unable to figure out how to link this image to Donna’s site, so just click here to get to Positive Parenting 3-6-5. Perfectionist-me apologizes for Techno-me’s inadequacies. )

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Clearing the Queue

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
~Psalm 90:12

We subscribe to Netflix. (I know. Who cares, right? Stick with me.) For a “low, low fee” we receive a DVD in the mail. We watch it, send it back and receive another one. Good movie. Good popcorn. Good company. Not quite enough room on the couch. No movies to stock at home. Good times.

We also can instantly watch thousands of other programs, simply by adding them to our instant queue and clicking “play.” It’s really, really simple.

For a long time, I liked adding things to our queue. When everyone else was in bed at night, I would sit at my computer and add “things” (carefully selected “things,” of course) to the queue. I’d rate what we’d seen so the automated powers that be at the Netflix headquarters could, in their ultimate techno-wisdom, suggest more things that I’d love! I’d look through their suggestions and add those to my queue. Never mind that they were often wrong. I kept doing it! My queue was up to 386 shows–wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting shows. Yup…386 of ‘em.

Why? Because I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want to miss the great special on Roman architecture when we study the Ancient Romans…in six months. I didn’t want to miss the eye-opening documentary on the children of World War II when we study the twentieth century…in two years. I didn’t want to miss that great chick flick that I would never watch because I never watched chick flicks. In fact, I never watched any flicks in my queue.

On the rare occasion I sat down to watch something, I spent the entire time sifting through the 386 shows in my queue and never, ever, ever watched any of them.

Put on your listening ears. It’s life application time.

My life queue, much like my Netflix queue, had gotten too long. I spent all my time researching what we would do, organizing what we would do, planning what we would do, dreaming about all the things we would someday do, getting other people’s opinions on what we should do. They were all wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things. I didn’t want to miss any of them. I spent whatever time I had left over sifting through my life queue for something to fit into that precious bit of remaining time. I was busy, I was exhausted, but I wasn’t actually accomplishing anything.

I was so afraid I would miss something, that I was missing out on my own life.

Did you catch that?

I was missing out on my own life.

I don’t remember a time in my adult life when I had not struggled with the heavy chain that my life queue had become. Projects were started and not finished, children were disappointed by one more “we ran out of time,” friends were neglected, my husband had a cookie drought. I was involved in everything, but truly involved in nothing. Even when I completely cut out my out-of-house activities, my want-to-dos took over.

It was my husband who finally helped me understand this debilitating obsession with not wanting to miss anything, thereby missing everything. Yes, it hurt. Yes, I cried. Yes, I did something about it.

I lugged six enormous bags of magazines to the library, magazines full of wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things that I would never do. I filled two garbage bags with catalogs full of wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things I would never buy. (Don’t nag me about recycling. Being nagged is not currently in my life queue.) I emptied filing cabinets, boxes and binders–all highly organized, all full of wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things that I had not looked at since the time I organized them. (I didn’t recycle those either!) I threw away countless notebooks full of wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things I need to know to be healthy and productive, and it was the most empowering and productive thing I ever did with those notebooks.

I purged wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things from the stack of piano music that we would never play, and left the music we love. I ceased my ongoing search for wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things to add to our homeschooling queue, because what we’re doing already is good enough. I took the grocery savings book I’m writing, which, by the way, is full of wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things about feeding your family for less, and I filed it away for a day when my queue has room. I closed my email account so I did not have to deal with the 15,000 emails that poured in while we were traveling through the States this summer, emails that may or may not be filled with wonderful, interesting, educational, quality, uplifting things. And I purged my Netflix queue.

Then I sat down and watched a show. The whole thing.

The purge continues.

The GirlsI’m giving the boot to lonely socks, because, let’s face it, they ain’t never (and I mean AIN’T and NEVER) going to be anything but lonely socks. I’m bidding a joyful adieu to those horrible based-on-the-movie Disney books I can barely tolerate reading. I’m getting rid of every self-help book I can lay my hands on, and finishing my read through the Bible. I’m saying farewell to the curtains that never got put up, the art supplies that never got used, the curriculum nobody likes, and the patterns and material that remind me how much I did not get done when my bigger girls were small.

But it’s not about the stuff. It’s about the mindset. Most importantly, I am purging my mind of the things in the world that tell me I’m not good enough because I feed my children macaroni and cheese from a box on Tuesdays, because they’re not studying Latin in third grade, because I’m not involved in a single organization, because I haven’t sent Christmas cards in four years, because I don’t know what herbs will cure the croup, because I’ve made only $500 over the past five years, because my thighs jiggle, and because, by golly, I still wear my favorite cardigan from the 90s…the early 90s. I’m purging unrealistic expectations, negative opinions about our family and our God-directed choices, legalistic (but not Biblically supported) mandates, and unhealthy comparisons.

FamilyI am standing taller, smiling more, and getting things finished. My family is having fresh smoothies every morning because I don’t spend an hour sifting through the daily 250 emails. I am more patient. I have time to kiss my babies, kiss my husband, pet the dog, and kiss my husband again. I can see my desk, find my dictionary, and my phone is always charged…and that’s a really big deal for me.

Best of all, whenever a new idea, a new plan, a new curriculum, or a new “thing” pops into my life, I just pop it right back out with no regrets. There’s nothing out there worth missing what God has given me right here.

And I will restore to you the years the locust hath eaten.
~Joel 2:25

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Adam and . . . Who?

A few of the gems I collect when I really pay attention to the unintentional comedians in my midst, God’s little gifts of laughter:

What I found when I opened the pantry door.

From a then four-year-old Hannah paging through our now-worn story Bible:

“Look Mommy! It’s a picture of Adam and Evil.”

From Elijah, apparently quite fed up with beans lately:

“There’s nothing that I hate in this food. Cool!”

From my then three-year-old Marissa trying to call her aunt in Wisconsin and getting the phone answerer:

“Mommy, the washing machine is talking to me.”

From my nine-year-old Elisabeth, the philosophical one:

Me: What is discord?

Elisabeth: Unplugging cords.

A conversation among many after a trail ride in Bryce Canyon:

“I’m glad we got to ride horses instead of the plodding mules.”

“Plotting mules? What were they plotting?”

“World domination.”

“I doubt mules would really want to take over the world.”

“It could happen.”

“Nah. They’re too slow.”

From a superhero:

Elijah: Are there any bad guys here?

Me: Nope.

Elijah: Good, ’cause I don’t want to have to fight anyone.

Emily watching the luge:

“If I were in the Olympics, I would throw up.”

Children with goals:

Elisabeth (9 years): “When I grow up I’m going to go through all the corn mazes I can find.”

Hannah: (13 years): I wanna be an old lady when I grow up, ‘cuz old ladies rock!

Elisabeth: Oooo, I want to be an old lady, too, so I can sit in a rocking chair and knit.

My son, eating my food:

“Mommy, I think you really need to get your OWN pancake.”

Elijah, naturally:

“Mommy, there’s chocolate spilled on the table. Should I taste it off?”

Elijah at the chess table for an hour:

“I’m playing chess. The knight is throwing all the bad guys in the lava. I call him Superman.”

I stayed up far too late listening to my then six-year-old Emily read me her entire journal. She ended with a reminder and a warning:

“Remember, Mommy, you’re not supposed to read my journal.”

Whispered by a confused Elijah when visiting a church with a cross hanging behind the altar. The Jesus carving on the cross looked remarkably like the David from his David and Goliath action figures:

“I didn’t know David died on the cross, too.”

And I leave you with these words of encouragement from my husband:

“Just remember, the best is already behind you.”

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Best Friends

It is wonderful when your best friend is in all your classes, tags along on every family road trip, shares a room with you every night, and totally understands your frustrations with your little brother.

Sisters, best friends, family, a gift.


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The Real Name

Becca Boo at the Piano

Becca Boo at the Piano

It occured to me recently that I rarely call my children by their carefully selected birth names. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the pudding in this case is my son:

Me: Boy, do you know what the baby’s real name is?

Boy: Becca Boo’s real name?

Me: Yes.

Boy: I know Becca Boo’s bear name. Becca Boo’s bear name is Boo Boo Bear.

Me: Yes, but what’s her real name.

Boy: Oh, Becca Boo’s real name is Sweetie Pie.

This same boy, when asked to spell his own name, recites “B-O-Y Boy.” He’ll even sign it. I think perhaps I will write his real name on the inside of his jacket in case he gets lost. Better yet, I’ll keep them all safe at home.

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Charm, Beauty, and a Future Man

October 2009 142The sun warms them. They play, as small children do, in an imaginary world bigger than their own, inspired by the lure of the few simple objects in front of them. I love how children–some–can make a world out of a stone, a stick, a small beetle passing by. I pity those who cannot.

I watch closely, knowing human nature, noticing the trend, wanting the truth. I am right.

Bored with her own, she takes his toy. He asks for it back, nicely, as trained. She says no and that it’s hers. He asks for it back, not so nicely, training slipping. She sits on it, her stare daring him. He screams, training gone. I’ve seen this before, throughout the afternoon. It’s what comes next I wonder about–the knowing.

Her mother: “Well, he sure is emotional.” She and her husband exchange looks, their parenting skills once again proving superior. The knowing I seek is not there.

I want to tell her. I want to say that her angelic baby has been pushing him and testing him and trying him and manipulating him. I want to tell her that he is a fallible human being, a man-to-be, yet in the making. I want to assure her that we are aware of his weakness and are training. I want to tell her a lot of things, not the least of which is the danger growing in the heart of her daughter.

But I don’t.

“My son,” I confess, “needs a little more training.” An understated truth.

I rise to go to him. The movement startles the angelic girl, who hastily shoves the toy back at my boy, now sobbing, over-reacting, broken over the treachery of a pretty girl. She looks at me, faux-innocence on her face. I look back, knowing on mine.

“Come, Elijah.”

I take his hand and we go, he not wanting to because he is (sniff) havin’ (whimper) fun (sob).

There is more training to do. Training in how to respond when the nice does not work, training in Christ-like behavior, training in letting go, especially when life is not fair.

There is much more training to do. Training in what–and Whom– to look for in the heart of a woman.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

My daughters know it, recite it, try (though fail, as does their mother) to emulate it. Now he, not yet four, must know it too.

Lord, grant eyes that see where my children need Your guidance, wisdom to lead them to Your Word, and a strong jaw to bite my tongue in a blind world. Make me–despite all–an example to my children. Give my children Godly friends, and prepare for them Godly spouses with hearts directed toward You. Perhaps strangers to us now, prepare their hearts and ours in Your ways. Guard hearts, guide footsteps, and let all feel Your arms holding us close. In Christ, Amen, let it be so.

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Always Prepared

Marissa and Rebecca

Marissa and Rebecca

Ma, you should keep dental floss in your purse. That way, if you’re falling off a cliff, you can tie it to a tree and pull yourself back up.

Me: Hmm. Good point. It might also be useful if something gets caught in my teeth.

Marissa: That, too.

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