Homemaking, Motherhood

Ruins and the Wrong House

church ruinsIt is New Year’s Eve, and I am ready for all my Christmas Decorations to come down.  I love the greenery and the lights, and especially the crèche.  But the clutter.  The dust.  I am ready for a clean house.  I asked my sons to carry up the Christmas boxes from the basement with the intention of refilling them with the over-enjoyed decor. With the boxes now lying in ready, I can almost smell the crisp-clean air of a newly de-Christmas-treed, un-greeneried, freshly vacuumed house.  I am ready for it.

The book of Haggai warns me not to dwell on the festive holiday adornment nor the glorious lack of holiday adornment.  The house I must dwell on is Jesus.  He is the temple that should draw my gaze.  He is where my satisfaction must lie. He deserves my first attentions.

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Books, Education, Family, Homeschooling, Motherhood

Ten Things to Include in Your Child’s Education, pt. 2

child helping child

This is the second of a two-part blog on things to teach your child outside of their general academic education.  The first part to this article can be found here.

Let’s pick up where we left off at number six.

6.  Teach your children to call people Mr., Mrs. and Miss

Not everyone may agree, but addressing adults as Mr., Mrs. or Miss is important.  Titles establish age boundaries and conveys respect.  A child addressing someone as Mr. or Mrs. communicates to an adult “I acknowledge that you are older than me (i.e. you are not my peer or buddy). Because you are older than me (and probably wiser) you deserve my respect.”

We require our kids to address anyone in a position of authority as Miss/Mrs./Mr. unless the adult being addressed specifically requests for our children to call them by their first name.  My husband and I make this (sometimes awkward) formality easier for our children by doing the same thing ourselves that we expected of them.  If someone is a generation or two older we often refer to them as Mr. or Mrs., unless they instruct us otherwise.

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Education, Family, Fatherhood, Homeschooling, Motherhood, Parenting

Ten Things To Include In Your Child’s Education, pt. 1

child helping childWhether our children attend a public school, private school, or a home school, their education must include more than just academics.  As parents we need to teach our children “life” skills.  While having book smarts is good, having humility and integrity is better. Here are ten things to teach our children that aren’t academic.  To keep from being too long, this will be the first of two posts, covering 5 suggestions each.

1.  Teach them how to answer the phone and take a message.

With the household phone becoming a thing of the past, this skill is becoming trickier to teach, but children still need to know how to answer a regular phone or a cell phone when needed.  Teaching them simple phrases such as “Hello, this is Mommy’s phone; this is Julie speaking” enables children to practice phone courtesy and interaction with adults.  I have a friend who has taught her children to answer the phone like this:  “Hello, Smith residence. This is Mary speaking, how may I help you?”  Now that’s how you answer a phone!

Good phone skills should also include learning how to take a message.  Teach your child to write down the caller’s name, phone number and reason for the call.  By doing this they will learn responsibility and gain confidence talking to someone over the phone.

2.  Teach them how to call someone on the phone.

This obviously has many of the same benefits as #1:  Calling other people teaches children to be more comfortable conversing with adults they have never met. It also teaches them how to speak politely and appropriately when they make a phone call.  Children may be taught to say something like, “Hello Mr./Mrs. Smith.  This is Bobby Jones.  Is Jason available to come to the phone?”  If Jason is not available then they could respond with, “Then would you please let him know I called?” And then finish with a “Thank you very much.”

Often, before making a phone call, we would sit down with our child and role-play the potential conversation.  That way, when our child made the actual phone call they felt a little more comfortable with what to expect.

We occasionally asked our children to call businesses for information, such as their operating hours.  Truth be told, they never really liked doing it; it definitely put them out of their comfort zone when they were young.  But living out of your comfort zone for short periods of time is not a bad thing.  It seemed to help our kids overcome their fears of talking to a stranger on the phone.

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Christianity, Family, Homeschooling, Motherhood, Parenting

The Arduous Struggle: or Prayer and Peeling Carrots

ElisabethElliot (older)I was thumbing though some old files and came across a little gem.  It was an article from the May, 1999 issue of The Gatekeeper, Elisabeth Elliot’s monthly newsletter. The article, written by Elisabeth, and titled, “Motherhood:  The Most Difficult and Rewarding Job” said this:

Mothers are always on call, expected to have all the answers and limitless energies. They’re supposed to do everything; it’s taken for granted.  How can you be and do everything expected of you?  What you need is an habitual sense of the presence of God. Think that Almighty God, who created the stars and keeps the seasons revolving in perfect rhythm, is there in your kitchen, in your bathroom, in the laundry room, in the grocery store.  Mothers, be prepared for an arduous struggle.  Your calling is impossible without prayer, the comfort and instruction of the Scriptures, and fellowship in your church.

If you’re feeling anxious, without peace, it just may be that you have not made time in your schedule for study in the Scriptures and prayer.  It is essential, no matter what you have to forgo, no matter which people in the church you’re going to have to say no to, no matter how crowded  your schedule may be at home, you must somehow, but the grace of God, make time to read your Bible and pray.

God knows you can’t always be thinking of Him.  You have to put your mind on what you’re doing.  You have to concentrate on that recipe.  You have to study those homeschool geometry lessons that you forgot so many years ago.  You have to concentrate on measuring out that medicine for the sick child or making up the grocery lists and menus for the next week.  This means that you must concentrate in your quiet time as well.  Then learn to turn back to God throughout the day.

Try looking up to the Lord with a hundred little looks of love during the day.  Every now and then lift up your eyes, lift up your heart, and remember that Christ is in you.  He dwells in you.  He gives you the gift of grace.  (Don’t forget grace – you need it!  We need it every hour of every day, every minute of every hour.)  Learn to pray while you’re peeling the carrots, driving the car or cleaning the house.

Remind yourself that the materials of your work and play and all of your daily life are hallowed by the presence of Christ, by the presence of His infinity in the midst of your finiteness.  Remember that Christ is present even in the weak and the mean and the ugly.  In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it for Me.”

Our thoughts and desires need to be more referred to Him, determined by Him.  We need to ask for wisdom in mind, holiness in will, and a mind and a will made one with Christ.  Living in his presence – in your kitchen and in your laundry room; loving, which means to will the good of another, not allowing any hardship or sacrifice to deter us from helping them; and looking  for His best.

To this I say, Amen.

Family, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Parenting

Even God, the Perfect Father, Doesn’t Have Perfect Kids!

the_prodigal_son_You may know the story of the Prodigal Son.  It’s a familiar parable.  You can find it in Luke 15 of the New Testament.

The focus of the Prodigal Son story often centers around the wayward younger son (i.e. The Prodigal) who demands his share of his father’s inheritance and leaves home to go spend it on wine and women.  Eventually, the son returns home, broken and contrite, and his father welcomes him back with open arms.

Prodigal Son by Charlie Mackesy

But wait!  There’s more to this story!

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Motherhood, Parenting

Visiting Home

susanna wesley

Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.

Christina Georgina Rossetti



I love Susanna Wesley; the woman was incredible.

She had nineteen – count ’em, nineteen – children.

Ten of which survived into adulthood.  Two of which grew to become the renowned theologian John Wesley and the famous hymn composer Charles Wesley.  Despite the certain chaos from so many children buzzing about, Susanna committed herself to spending daily time in prayer with God.

How did she do it?

She flipped her apron over her head.

Her children knew, when that apron was up, they could not bother Momma for she was spending time with God.

A few  years ago I heard someone on the radio say that prayer was “visiting home”.  I thought about what that statement meant for a long time.  It forever changed the way I viewed prayer.

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Christianity, Motherhood, Parenting

The Weaver

woven clothIn 1976 Corrie Ten Boom (WWII concentration camp survivor and author of The Hiding Place)  spoke at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.  Elisabeth Elliot (wife of murdered missionary Jim Elliot) and their daughter Valerie attended the lecture*.

Later that week Corrie invited Elisabeth and her daughter to join her for tea at the house where Corrie was staying. They enthusiastically accepted.  Over piping hot cups of tea Elisabeth asked Corrie more about her life in the concentration camps and about her book,The Hiding Place.  She also asked Corrie a number of questions about God and suffering.  At one point in their conversation Corrie walked over to her suitcase and pulled out a piece of satin, showing Elisabeth and Valerie the tangled web of threads on the underneath side of the cloth. Corrie then recited for them the poem The Weaver  by Grant Colfax Tullar:

My life is but a weaving betwixt my Lord and me,

I do not choose the colors – He worketh steadily

Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern he has planned.

After she finished Corrie turned the cloth over revealing the beautiful and intricate pattern on the other side.

Moms, parenting can be challenging.  It can be difficult.  It can be devastating.

Do not lose heart.

God said, “Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

He is the El Shaddai, “the God who is Enough.” And He weaves your life into a beautiful pattern.

(*Story of Corrie Ten Boom and Elisabeth Elliot taken from The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter,  March/April 1998.)