Saturday, December 21, 2013

One of the world's best adventure writers gets his inspiration from the Bible...

"The book that most influenced me was the New Testament, and in particular the Gospel of Matthew. I believe it would startle and move any one if they could make a certain effort of imagination and read it freshly like a book, not droningly and dully... Anyone would then be able to see in it those truths which we are all courteously supposed to know and all modestly refrain from applying." - ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My homeschooling mentor...

... is Charlotte Mason. In the 1800s she established a biblically-based teacher training school in the Lake District of England. Need I say more? (Why do I like everything that comes out of the Lake District?) Her books are the kind where you read one sentence and chew on it for a week. So, I'm only on page 16 of Home Education. But her relevance for today caused me to laugh out loud:

[on the faults of a dry, mechanical education]:
Many a little girl, especially, leaves the home schoolroom with a distaste for all manner of learning, an aversion to mental effort, which lasts her lifetime, and that is why she grows up to read little but trashy novels, and to talk all day about her clothes.

I'm so thankful that because I was homeschooled, this was not my fate.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Three Best Books for Parents

I've been thinking about getting back to blogging about books. My lifelong dream of owning a bookstore has to start small, and this blog has sort of been lagging of late... so maybe I need to get back to the business of telling you what I've been reading and why, and what I think of what I've been reading.

These three titles have come to mind, not because I've read them recently, but because they've influenced my thinking about parenting in a major way. And, I've been thinking about parenting a lot recently, not just because I'm surrounded by children at home, at work, and at church; but also because I've never seen such an epidemic of people wanting babies so desperately but not having a clue what to do with them afterwards.

Here are three of my favorites that deal with three areas of childrearing. If I could, I would hand them to every parent I know, although some of them are obviously more relevant in specific age groups.

1. Education. Nothing quite revolutionized my thinking about homeschooling until I read Susan Schaeffer MacCaulay's For the Children's Sake. Also recommended is everything Charlotte Mason ever wrote and the blog called Ordo Amoris where Cindy Rollins posts regularly.

2. Family life
If Edith Schaeffer were alive today I think I would ask her to come to tea. And then I would take notes! Thankfully, although she is no longer with us, she did leave us her books. What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer is about how I want my family to be. How I want people to feel when they walk in my door, and the atmosphere I want my children to be raised in. Don't mind the dated cover. Buy a copy anyway.

3. Parenting in a digital age
Oh my goodness, every parent needs to know what to do about this. I haven't read anything quite so eye-opening as Talking Back to Facebook by James P. Steyer. When it comes to limiting media, limiting screen time, and not allowing certain things to be watched, this book is a great starting place and it's applicable for all ages. Although it is not written from a Christian viewpoint, yet it is all relevant. This has helped us more than anything to educate our children about digital responsibility. It has helped us set screen limits, limits on social media, and we even used their media contract for Jessie and us to sign before she got her own facebook page. THIS IS IMPORTANT, PARENTS!!

Endnote: If there's a common thread though all of these, and if you're looking for one place to start today, it's this: Turn of your screens and spend time with your children doing something creative, educational, spiritual, or just plain fun. Don't let media raise your children. Eat dinner together today!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I can think but I can't cook... random kid quotes for August

Last night I made supper, which is kind-of out of the ordinary (Tim's the cook). Tim was not feeling well and also came home late, so I thought I would cook chicken and dumplings to surprise him. I can never get the recipe quite right. Either the chicken is tender and the dumplings are tough, or vice versa. Needless to say, the kids were amazed that I was cooking. Apparently they were hesitant about the food quality.

At supper, David prayed, "Lord, please help Daddy get better, and the food, too."

This morning, TJ tried an experiment on me involving math patterns, countries, and animals. It started, "Pick a number from 1 - 5" and involved various steps of multiplication, choosing letters, etc.
Apparently a huge percentage of people guess predictable answers making it easy to work your magic by guessing their answer.

TJ tried it on me twice to no avail. He couldn't guess what I was thinking.

"TJ, you might as well stop," said Jessie. "Mommy just has an irregular mind."

Mommy's brain skills: 1  Mommy's cooking skills: 0

Monday, June 24, 2013


"As Christians, we are not only to know the right world view, the world view that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that world view so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can to the extent of our individual and collective ability." - Francis Schaeffer, in How Should We Then Live?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My other son is funny too.

Okay, enough about David. I'm sure you want to hear about TJ instead. T.J. is 12, he's a musical genius. He's also very serious about the Bible, so his comedy is not biblical (unlike David). He has a few quirks, though. One of them is this:

Whenever we are preparing to take a long trip by car, the day before we leave, TJ makes a phone call.

He doesn't actually dial anyone, but he does pick up the phone. He then proceeds to have a lengthy, serious conversation with a man called "Dan".

Remember, TJ is TWELVE YEARS OLD. And he's serious about these phone calls. He makes them before EVERY TRIP. It doesn't matter who is listening. Sometimes we're in the room, sometimes we're in another room (usually laughing so hard we have to stuff pillows in our faces). He picks up the phone, and paces around the kitchen while he talks.

The conversation goes something like this:

"Hello, Dan?

Hey man. Yes, I'd like to reserve a seat please.

[slight pause]

I'd like the back seat, driver's side.


Yes. yes. Okay, thanks. That would be great.

7:30 in the morning, yes.


Do you need my credit card number?

Oh, no charge? That's great, thanks.

7:30 tomorrow, thanks."

He then hangs up the phone, writes "reserved" on a piece of paper, and goes to the van and puts it on his seat. He comes in the house, completely serious, like nothing has really happened. Usually he gets a volley of questions from his brother, sister or parents.

David [8]: "Why do you get to sit wherever you want to?"

TJ: "I made a reservation."

David: "Why can't I sit there?"

TJ: "You didn't make a reservation."

Jessie: "TJ, you can't just call and make a reservation and sit wherever you want to."

TJ: "Yes I can, I have a confirmation number."

Jessie: "Who did you call, really?"

TJ: "I called Dan."

David: "Who is Dan?"

Mommy: "Yeah, who do you call, TJ?"

TJ: "I call the Reservation Service and I talk to Dan."

Tim: "Who is Dan?"

TJ [totally straight-faced]: "I don't know much about him really. I'm not his friend on Facebook or anything. Come to think of it, I don't even know his last name. I just call him to make reservations."

Mom: "Why doesn't he charge? How do you pay him."

TJ: "I pay him with leftover snacks from the van."

Mom: "Let me get this straight. You call Dan the Van Man and he gives you a reservation for a seat and all you pay him with is snacks?"

TJ: "Yep. And whatever you do, don't put this on Facebook."

hee hee hee.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

David tells us about King Herod's worms

Once again, David reinterprets the Bible for us during our morning devotions. When should I stop his foolishness? Maybe when he gets older, it won't be so cute?

So, we're reading the story in Acts chapter 12 where Herod is persecuting the church. He has just killed James, put Peter in prison, and now he is about to address the people. David was supposed to narrate the part where Herod gives a great speech, then the people call him a god, he is struck down by an angel, eaten by worms and dies. David says:

D: "Herod does bad things.
He says bad words.
Then the angel struck him down.

Me: "It wasn't earthworms. It was probably worms that eat meat, like maggots."

D: "Oh. What are maggots?"

M: "Fly larvae. Go on. What did Herod say that was bad?"

D: "That he was a king?"

M: "He was a king. But he gave a great speech and the people called him more than a king, and it was bad. What did they call him?"

D: "The Pulp?" [Pope]

M: No.

D: "Oh yeah, they said he was a god. And then the worms came out of the ground with guitars and ate him up."

M: "Yes, they said he was a god and he didn't deny it..... wait, I don't remember anything about guitars."

D: "Did I say guitars? I meant they came up out of the ground holding little knives and forks."

M: Okay. David, what lesson can we learn from this story?"

D: "When people say you are a god, you should tell them you are not a god. Stay away from worms. And don't even let two little flies into your house."

Jessie and TJ are snickering. And once again I think, at least they will always remember Acts chapter 12!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Morning Devotions Fail

Okay, so my children are not always the Bible scholars that you think they are. They DO say lots of great stuff, and we DO talk about the Bible a lot, and sometimes their insights blow me away.

Sometimes, like this morning, it just ends up in pure silliness. At the risk of blasphemy, I'll let you in on this morning's Bible time.

We're reading the story of the resurrection and ascension from Luke 24. David's turn came to narrate back to me a portion of the scripture. He choose to "re-tell" the passage about the resurrection.

With a snow hat on his head, he sat politely on the couch, but what came out of his mouth was not what I was expecting:

"So, some people came to the tomb looking for Jesus because they had spices for Him.

When they got inside, they couldn't find Him!

But there was a brilliant light all over the place so they ran back outside to see where the light was coming from! And then they saw an angel and the angel said to them:

"What are YOU doing here? GO AWAY! He's not here, but you can leave a message!"

So they ran back to get their phones, and when they found them they called Jesus and said, "Where are you? We have spices for you!"

[So at this point I'm trying to stop David and get him back on track, but he continues despite my objections, and really really fast he says.....]

"So Jesus went up to heaven and as soon as He gets there He hears the phone ringing and He picks it up and hears, 'JESUS where are you? WE HAVE YOUR SPICES!!"

So Jesus has to come down and get the spices and then go back to Heaven."

..... and I'm sitting there with my mouth open like, "What?"


Friday, January 25, 2013

Answers to a teenager's complaint

Several years ago, a "Dear Abby" article was written in answer to a teenager's complaint about "having nothing to do." I'm not typically a Dear Abby reader (isn't she dead?), but this old clipping fell out of a book of my grandmother's... and I love it, not because it's true (although harsh), but also because it sounds like my grandmother, and therefore it is common, good sense. 

An Open Letter to a Teenager
by Doris Burville of Olympia, WA

Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teenager, 'What can we do? Where can we go?' The answer is, go home!

Hang the storm windows, paint the wood work. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.

Help the minister, priest or rabbi, the Red Cross, and Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons.

And then when you are through - and not too tired - read a book.

Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities. The world does not owe you a living. You owe the world something. You owe it your time and energy and your talents so that no one will ever be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.

In plain, simple words, grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like an adult.

You're supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years. They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure. But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego, instead of common sense, dominates your personality, thinking and requests.

In heaven's name, grow up and go home!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Parables according to TJ

Our morning Bible reading today was Luke 18. Every day the kids have to narrate a portion of Scripture back to me (they re-tell the story in their own words, and then explain the gospel or implications of the gospel in the passage). TJ chose this portion:

"Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, 'Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'"

I learned my lesson that it is better to let children tell us about children, because TJ's insight was better than anything I could have ever lectured at them. Here's what he said:

TJ: "They were bringing children to Him so that He could touch them, and that means to lay his hands on them and bless them and pray for them. And first of all, I think it's really cool that they were even bringing infants to Him. And He said that you have to receive the kingdom of God like a child, not like an adult."

Me: "What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God like a child?"

TJ: "The kingdom of God is like a gift. And this is the difference between when a kid gets a gift and when an adult gets a gift. It's like Christmas. As soon as a kid gets a present, they want to open it and play with it right then. They ask someone to help them open it and then they start playing and don't think about anything else.

When an adult gets a present, they don't play with it right away. They look at it, but then they take it upstairs and play with it or use it later. Like, if David gets a toy car, he opens it and starts playing with it right under the Christmas tree. But if you get a software program for your computer, you don't put it in and try using it right away.

Kids know how to get right into stuff. They jump in and play. They don't think about how much the gift cost. They don't want to inspect it. They just want to get into it. Adults look at the thing and want to figure it out first. But it's not for figuring out or for thinking about. You just have to get in there and use the thing. Adults will even try to find the price by looking under the Sharpie marked-out place [I laughed out loud at this point!!!]. Kids don't care about that. Adults think they have to understand things first. But you just have to jump in."

I've never heard the Scripture this way, but it makes complete sense to me. How often have we seen adults who have to figure out things first before they accept things, even things that are just meant to be received like a gift. When we are not looking through the lens of the gospel, we try to figure out how much the kingdom of God costs so that we can feel like we deserve it or we can afford it. Kids are not worried about that kind of thing. They don't try to figure things out first before they jump in.

How many times have we tried to interpret this passage by saying, "This means that you have to humble, trusting, and open like a child to enter the kingdom of God." But even in that, we are trying to interpret this Scripture through the wrong lens. Jesus doesn't say we are trying to ENTER the kingdom of God. He says we are supposed to RECEIVE it. (It's the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom). What if the lesson is more about how we are to receive it than to figure out how to enter it? And what if we asked kids to tell us how to do that rather than ask adults to interpret it? I'm sure the answer would be as simple and profound as TJ's: "Adults think they have to understand things first. But you just have to jump in."