Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Beloved Proverbs 31 Woman...

This is my distillation of the qualities referred to in every woman's favorite passage of the Scripture. She...

works with her hands
is discerning in her choice of materials to work with
is eager to work, not begrudging her time and effort
is willing to go the extra mile to get good food at a good price
is an early riser
provides meals and clothes and cares well for her family
invests wisely and is effective at business
isn't half-hearted or sluggish in her approach to her work
keeps herself physically fit
isn't above menial tasks
is skilled at domestic tasks
generous and hospitable
contributes to her family's income with her skills
speaks wisely
is a good teacher
isn't idle
is prepared for the future


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Verse 33

As churning milk produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife.

(Anyone want to try that middle line and let me know if it works?)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kelley's Island

I like islands, I used to like camping, but boy, am I getting tired of getting rained on!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Verse 28

Like a city whose walls are broken down
is a man who lacks self-control.


The world is a dangerous place today... or is it? Either my memory deceives me, or I used to bicycle, roller skate, even occasionally skateboard, and I didn't even own a helmet.

I went to playgrounds with metal slides, and boy, did they get hot on a sunny day! I have no recollection of squishy mulch beds under the playground equipment. Sometimes it was grass, usually it was just packed dirt, occasionally cement.

I was probably an adult before I ever wore a seatbelt. Having the heart of an explorer from a young age, I used to regularly roam the neighborhood, creekbed, woods, even restaurants alone from the time I was in early elementary school.

I was definitely an adult before I ever tried anything other than white bread!

Am I writing all this to say that my parents were neglectful? Absolutely not. I imagine that most people 'of a certain age' would have a similar tale to tell. (Can you imagine how much the poor kid who wore helmet and pads like they do now while skating would have been teased when we were young????)

I'm writing this because I've noticed an astonishingly inverse curve between the protection we give our kids' bodies and the protection we give their hearts and minds. As surely as the parents of yesterday wouldn't have felt it necessary to 'protect' their kids from all the above-mentioned 'hazards,' so they would never have dreamed of allowing their kids to watch, listen to, and play today's popular tv shows, music, and video games.

I take the opposite approach, though I'm perhaps a little more protective than my parents were, especially about my kids roaming alone at a young age. Probably because parents have allowed their kids to wallow in filth from the time they're in elementary school, there seems to be more creeps out there.

But, we own a trampoline, and not only does it not have a net, the springs aren't covered! (I figure they'll be safer in the long run if they learn to be cautious about the danger, instead of being totally protected from any possibility of injury.)

My daughter rides a scooter with no protective equipment at all.

However, one of the reason I was so vague about the mental, emotional, and spiritual dangers of tv, music and games is that my kids are as protected from that stuff as much as your average roller skater is with a helmet, shin pads, elbow pads, little glovelike hand protectors, etc. etc.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Who's training your children?

One of the most clung-to verses in the Bible is in today's chapter of Proverbs...

Verse 6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (From memory, so perhaps not exactly perfect.)

It's often claimed as a 'promise' from God. But is it really a promise? It's in the book of Proverbs, which are wise sayings, and generally, but not exhaustively true. For example, while gray hair often indicates wisdom, it's certainly not universal! And the righteous GENERALLY, but not ALWAYS leave an inheritance... etc. etc.

So we can't blame God for breaking His promise when children grow up in Christian homes and then turn away from God as adults.

However, even if it were a promise, how are most kids in Christian homes trained, anway? Let's see.... at least 35 hours a week in public schools, being trained by peers and government educators. Add to that another ten or so being trained by television/movies, and perhaps another five (note that I'm fairly conservative with my numbers here to give us the benefit of the doubt) listening to secualar music. That comes to 50 hours a week being trained in the ways they shouldn't go!

Trained in the way they should go? Well..... maybe two hours on Sunday, and two more on Wednesday (although the peer interaction often causes this time to be of VERY questionable value!) What about time reading the Bible, praying, discussing life from a godly perspective with their parents? How does that stack up to the 50 hours a week being trained from an ungodly perspective?

So, back to Proverbs... With training like that, it's no wonder that the percent of our kids walking with God as adults is so low, and only by God's grace that it's as high as it is.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Roller Coasters

I went to Geauga Lake again this weekend -- this time with my family. Fortunately, I've been a fan of roller coasters for over 30 years, so I don't mind going two weekends in a row. Fortunately, my husband and kids also like them, so we had a good time. But, for the first time in my life, I've found a roller coaster I don't like.

I've been trying to understand why, and I'll TRY to explain. The ride is called the X-Flight, and its gimmick is the position riders are in. After getting in and being strapped down, the seats lay back so the riders are on their backs, going head first, kind of backwards. Then, as the cars start up the hill, they're almost sitting up again, due to the angle of the track.

It's going down the hill, and most of the rest of the ride that caused me a problem. The track flips over so that the rider is now hanging, face-down, with no support other than the restraints that have you buckled in. Now, I know in my head that those restraints must be trustworthy, but I couldn't make myself trust them and just enjoy the ride.

Every other coaster I've been on, most of your weight, for most of the ride, was supported by the steel car you were sitting in or on. If I ever try it again, I'm going to pay a LOT more attention to the restraints so I can either decide I trust them or not ride....

Proverb of the Day

Verse 23

He who guards his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself from calamity.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Warning: Politics

Don't read this if you don't like political commentary that uses the L-word, but this is what I was thinking about this morning -- in the shower no less! I worry about me sometimes...

Taking into account the differing levels of ethics in individuals, it still seems clear that liberals are both more willing to cheat to win elections, and more likely to be sore losers about it. So, as I scrubbed diligently between my toes this morning (or not!) I was pondering why this seems to be the case. I think it is less a reflection on their character than on their values.

Let me explain. A conservative (at least by more modern standards, and I'm not going into the whole paleo-, neo-, classical mess) believes in less government and more freedom and responsibility of the individual. In terms of elections, this has two effects. First, conservatives want more power to rest with the people and so are more likely to accept their choice. Second, and perhaps more importantly, government is overall a less important construct to conservatives.

Now, consider liberals. Liberals believe that the answers to human problems and difficulties is best or at least most likely to be provided by governments. For governments to truly take care of people the way they need to be taken care of, governments should have more power and people must give up some of their liberties. (The Patriot Act is an interesting twist on this drama -- more comment about it at the end.)

So compared to conservatives, liberals as a whole are more prepared to take an 'end justifies the means' approach to elections because the 'end' -- the power of government -- is seen as so much more important by them. Secondly, they're less willing to accept the decisions of voters with equanimity because they have less faith in the abilities of individuals to make proper choices without the guidance of people who've devoted their lives to studying such choices.

The Patriot Act is an odd issue. The Democrats are saying it gives too much power to the goverment and the Republicans are saying the government needs to take away certain individual liberties so it can take care of us. So how do we reconcile that with what I've written above? First, I was speaking of liberals and conservatives, not Repubs and Dems. It can be argued that the two parties in Washington today consist of liberals (GOP) and hyper-liberals or socialists (Dems.) There are some conservatives who have painfully gone against their party in opposing the Patriot Act because of their principles.

However, out of the myriad of activities our government engages in, national defense is one of the few which is actually authorized by the Constitution. Therefore conservatives, who have great respect for the document as it was originally written and legally amended, are inclined to accept the exercise of governmental authority related to defense issues.

But why on earth would the Democrats oppose something that gives the government more authority? Go back to the 'sore loser' issue. They've never accepted the voters' choice to elect Bush, and therefore they've opposed him every time they thought they could get away with it.

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 18, verse 17

The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him.

Disappointment (sort of)

I heard back from one of the two publishers I sent a proposal to... The sample chapters are 'not strong enough.' If I get a similar response from the second place, I'll do some serious rewriting and perhaps even pay for some editorial advice from someplace like Writer's Edge.

But despite the title of this entry, I'm not terribly bothered by it. As anyone who has ever looked at this more than once or twice can tell, I'm a real devotee of Proverbs. I especially love chapter 16, and find great peace in the first verse, which says something like, 'In his heart a man plans his steps, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.' I'm going to assume that goes for the reply of the keyboard as well, and truly, if my Lord doesn't want this thing published, or doesn't want it published yet, neither do I.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 15:20

A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.

Trusting Christ

If salvation is trusting Christ for what happens after we die, recognizing that we have no hope and no help apart from his all-sufficient grace, then perhaps sanctification is trusting Christ for what happens before we die. Might spiritual maturity, then, consist in dependence, in trusting Christ as our all-sufficient and gracious Lord?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Herding Cats

Saturday I took five 13 year old girls from church to Geauga Lake, a medium-sized amusement park near our house. It actually went quite well, until it was time to leave... that's when it became herding cats.

I felt quite bad about it, as I was almost half an hour late returning the girls to church where their parents were waiting.

I'd forgotten something about 13 year old girls, though. They RUN from roller coaster to roller coaster.... pant, pant, huff, huff as I chase along after them trying to keep up!

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 14, verse 15

A simple man believes anything,
but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

Civil War Re-enactment

We visited Hale Farm and Village yesterday -- it's a historical village set in 1861. They were having an annual Civil War battle reenactment so we decided to go see. My daughter, of course, was more interested in the weaving and spinning display. Even though she's quite old enough to understand it wasn't real, she didn't like the 'soldiers' fall down like they'd been shot.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Verse 19

When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Bagless Vacuum

Ok, when I first heard of these, I thought they sounded neat. No more going store to store trying to find discontinued bags for vacuums more than two years old!

BUT.... I've discovered that what it boils down to is this. Instead of quickly and easily pulling a bag out once or twice a year, I have to take the thing apart, dump it, clean a filter, and try not to strangle on the dust once or twice a MONTH!

Never again....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Proverb of the Day

Chapter 9, verse 10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Homeschool Objections

The most common response I get from other mothers of school aged kids is, "That's great, but I could never do it." The most frequently offered reason for not being able to do it is, "My kid(s) won't listen to me."

Homeschooling isn't just about education. It may not even be primarily about education, although a great education is usually a by-product. One of the things it IS about is teaching your children to listen and respect their parents, their family's values, and especially the Word of God more than they respect peers and unbelieving adults.

It's about Romans 12:2 - 'Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'

And if a child doesn't listen his parents, that's all the more reason to bring him home and train him in godliness and respect for parental authority. It's better than taking the chance that he won't listen to you during his teen years, when the stakes are so much higher!

(Another frequently mentioned reason is inadequacy on the part of mom -- as one thoroughly inadequate mom, I can say that homeschooling becomes a wonderful and terrible adventure of trusting and leaning on God's grace day by day. I've gone from struggling with consistency in daily time with God, to eagerly seeking the grace I need each day.)

I may do more blogs on this, but what I really need to do is add a homeschooling page to my website!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hudson River Valley

I just got back from my cousin's wedding in Cold Spring, NY. (Congratulations, Fred and Keri!)

I've always loved paintings I've seen by the 'Hudson River school' of painters, though the only one I can name is Thomas Cole. What a beautiful part of the world!

You can see small prints of some of the art here:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Goals for my kids, part 2

So, after all that, what are my goals for my kids?

I mentioned #1: that they love and serve God with all their hearts (implying salvation, of course.)
I think #2 would be that they live wisely and well.
#3: That they are instrumental in building the Kingdom of God.

Last, or perhaps combining all the others, that they someday stand before the Lord, and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Proverb of the Day

Verse 7

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Are we a nation of rich fools?

In Luke chapter 12, Jesus said...

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.... The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop... He said "...I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones." ... But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you." This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God... Seek his kingdom... Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven... From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.

Wow! Those are some tough words! So why am I still sitting here in my air-conditioned 2350 square feet (I think) house, surrounded by possessions?

Because I'm trying to reconcile those words with these:
- Proverbs 31 - clearly the wise woman makes sure her family is provided for adequately.
- Proverbs 13:22 - A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children...
- 1 Timothy 5:8 - If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

So what do we do with these? Clearly, one can't sell everything, especially as a parent with children to provide for. I think the answer is to try to live with less in every way you can tolerate, remembering that what each person can tolerate is different, and don't judge each other.

For example, one might live with heat and ac settings more uncomfortable than others in order to save money and increase their giving, while another who can't take the heat forgoes the latest fashions. If we stop looking at our money as our own, and actively look for ways to have less and spend less so we can give more, I believe the Lord will help and direct us, and bless us (not necessarily with more money, unless we're truly faithful at giving more, or perhaps as a test, but with more of Himself, which is greater by far.)

Proverb of the Day

Proverbs 2:12

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Goals for my kids

I imagine all parents have 'goals' for their kids' lives. It's a good idea to spend some time thinking hard about what those goals are, and then check to see how well your parenting matches up to them.

For example, my absolute, #1 goal for Tim and Becky is that they grow up to love and serve God wholeheartedly. Is this more important to me than whether or not they have a good job? Yes, without a doubt. But do I communicate that to them?

For example, if time is limited and a choice has to be made between daily devotional time and finishing schoolwork, do I encourage my child to blow off the Bible and do their schoolwork instead? What message does that send to them about what's most important?

We as Americans are so focused on academic (leading to professional) success, and unfortunately, our children are going to pay the spiritual price for that if we're not careful. Let's remember what Jesus said about rich men, heaven and the eye of a needle!

I want to encourage my children to be and do their best, but I want them to know that I'd rather they be godly, faithful garbage-collectors (or insert lowly job of choice) than a president, doctor, lawyer, rich business owners, etc.