Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Ears, One Mouth, Part I

I have been thinking about the power of our words and the skill of listening lately. I want to share some of my thoughts on our words and speech with you in this post and follow up with another one on the skill of listening.

As a person who struggles with sins of the mouth, I have found the book of Proverbs to be a true light and gentle humbler. One thing I repeatedly read about and am convicted of, is my sin in gossiping. Proverbs 26:20 states, "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." I know I have fanned the flame of gossip by crossing the thin line of pure conversation into gossip. It makes me just sick to think of the harm my tongue has done when I speak of others business in an inappropriate manner. I am also ashamed to say that I have not learned the art of not listening to gossip. I say this is an art because I think as women we really have to practice shutting down and directing conversations that are not pure. I so desire to train my ears and mouth and mind to really evaluate what is being said, heard and thought of so as not to gossip. As I venture into more pure conversation I am learning that the line is a little fuzzy and it is best to just stay away from it. One tiny morsel of gossip leads to much more! If I have ever gossipped with you, please accept my apology and feel free to encourage me in conversation not to even start over that thin gray line into gossip.

As women we tend to want to discuss everything. But Proverbs 10:19 admonishes us that, "Where words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." I had my eyes opened to a potential sin in Nancy Wilsons book, The Fruit of Her Hands. She advises that women never seek counsel about their husbands without the husbands approval. Her reasoning is that if you have an issue with him that requires counsel you need to include him in that process. She also advises that if their is a terrible sin that needs addressing and admonishment the church pastors are the only ones in authority to help. Our sisters, girlfriends and mama's are in no position to offer biblical authority. I love this point. As I have tried to honor Pete by asking his permission before seeking counsel, I have grown in respect and love for him. I am trying to encourage others to seek approval on counsel also. Our husbands are uniquely designed by God to lead and solve issues. As soon as we give them the chance to, they will be able to offer us counsel that will be blessed by God. One reason it is blessed, is simply because it is following God's order and design.

So we've seen how our words affect each other as sisters and our husbands, I would be sorely missing something if I didn't address the impact on our children. Our children from birth can sense mom's voice, her tone and what she is feeling. The way we speak to them will directly impact the way they speak to others. I confess that I struggle with yelling. Not angry yelling just loud talking. Every time I catch myself I think of this verse, Proverbs 7:11-12, "She is loud and defiant (the woman folly), her feet never stay at home; 12 now in the streets, now in the squares at every corner she lurks." What a women of folly I am to run around yelling at my children. I do several harmful things, I train my children to only come when I am yelling, I attract attention from those around me and I am drawing attention to myself, not Christ. Now I never yell to intentionally do any of those things, but without a little restraint I cause harm. This harm is all the more obvious when I have 3 little girls yelling at each other and hear the harshness in their words. There are so many ways as parents that we just speak without thinking and pass on poor habits. Our tone of voice should reflect our creator. In Proverbs 31 King Lemuels mother is encouraging him to find a wife of noble character, "she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" Proverbs 31:26. Somehow I don't think the woman she is talking about is yelling! We need to train appropriate voices and model them.

Our children also hear much of what we say. If we are on the phone with someone and start talking about a third party, guess who hears? If we are at the park and talking with someone thinking jr is not listening, guess again. We should all be wise about what we say whether our children are present or not. But a little extra vigilance when they are around is important. Do not assume they can't understand what you are saying about their Grandma to someone else. Our children learn how to speak respectfully or disrespectfully by our example. If you want them to love, honor and cherish others you must also.

I am a little exhausted after writing this. I feel so convicted by these thoughts and feel like I have a mountain to move in the way of my words. But, with the Bible as my guide and the Lords grace I know that I can change the habits I have allowed to grow over the years. My prayer is that God would so bless those efforts that my girls learn at a young age to speak in a kind, gentle and respectful way. What more motivation would a mama need?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

From Voddie Baucham's Truth in Love Blog

The Yellow Prison Bus and the Future of American Healthcare
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Conservatives are up-in-arms over the Democratic healthcare scheme. From town hall meetings, to talk radio, to the internet, the voice of the people is being heard. However, I am not at all convinced that the voice of the people will ultimately make a difference in the long run. My pessimism has less to do with the sinister motives of those seeking to take over the healthcare system. On the contrary, my pessimism stems from the hypocrisy of those shouting down their representatives and claiming to be “fed up”.
While I’m sure these folks mean well, I wonder about the sincerity of their opposition in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of them (between eighty and eighty-five percent) have already accepted everything they claim to abhor about the healthcare plan. Some have already exposed this irony as it relates to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (full disclosure: I’ve opted out of Social Security and am proud to say that I am not anticipating one thin dime from the American government in my old age). However, I’m not talking about these long existing socialist programs, I’m talking about the #1 socialist welfare program in America, the public school system!
There are striking similarities between government-run education and the government-run healthcare bill currently under consideration in Congress. And it is precisely these similarities that will eventually cause the American people to lay down and take whatever the government gives them, and eventually be willing to fight and die for them. Remember, there was public outrage over government education (and Social Security) as well when it was first proposed (see the quotes here). However, nearly one hundred and fifty years later the overwhelming majority of Americans gladly put their children on the yellow prison bus every day (yes, they are the same type of busses used to transport prisoners).
One of the mantras we hear repeatedly these days is, “we don’t want socialism.” While that sounds good (and conservative, and constitutional, and patriotic, etc.), it rings hollow when you consider the overwhelming majority of the people leading the charge have their children in what amounts to socialized education. What’s the difference? If you’re really against government-run, socialized programs, yank your kid off the yellow prison bus and just say no.
Another catchphrase I’ve heard a lot lately is, “this is a violation of the Tenth Amendment.” Again, this is wonderful rhetoric. I love the Constitution of the United States; especially the Tenth Amendment which protects the rights of States and individuals from overreaches by the Federal Government. The amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Ironically, one of the “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States” is education! That’s right, the Federal Government has absolutely no Constitutional right to involve itself in education. The Department of Education is as unconstitutional as government-run healthcare. However, few of the people shouting at these town hall meetings (or reporting on it on conservative talk radio and the internet) would stand up and call for the immediate abolishment of the D.O.E. (or any of the other federal departments that exist in clear violation of the tenth amendment).
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the current uproar is the fact that people who put their children on the yellow prison bus and send them to the school designated by the State (at an age chosen by the State, on a date determined by the State, for a term mandated by the State) have the audacity to point their fingers and say, “I don’t want the government picking my doctor!” This is absolute folly. If we were serious about the moral and constitutional authority of this claim there would not be a single congressman or senator in Washington who opposed school choice as none of them would be able to win an election. However, Americans are glad to elect officials who continue to rob them of their freedom in this most basic, fundamental aspect of their lives; the education of their children.
How many times have we heard someone retort, “do you want the people who run the Post Office to run your healthcare?” The answer of course is a resounding no! Whether you call it “the public option,” or something else, conservatives do not want the government to run their healthcare (see here). However, how is it that we trust those same people to run our child’s education? How is this any different? And this is not just a liberal democrat thing; George Bush was the one who gave us “No Child Left Behind.” This was a monument to socialistic, government-run, unconstitutional mis-education. This was a massive overreach by the Federal Government that met little or no opposition (see one rare example here). Where were the town hall protests? Where were the flag-waving, gun-toting protestors? Where was the political right? Instead, all we heard was, “accountability is a good thing.” Never mind the Constitution.
Then there are the people who “don’t want their money to pay for abortions or sex change operations.” This one has president Obama on the defensive. Conservative Christians are especially animated over this aspect of the bill. Suddenly, the silent Christian majority is offended at the prospect of the federal government taking their money and using it for immoral purposes. This coming from people who send their children to government schools with Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, semi-pornographic sex-ed classes, and Gramscian, neo-Marxist, neo-Darwinian curriculum. How can we complain about our tax dollars going to fund abortions and sex change operations if we gladly offer up our children to taxpayer-funded dens of iniquity one hundred and eighty days a year? This is the height of hypocrisy.
We will have taxpayer funded healthcare. The Democrats have offered the full monty, now the Republicans will “dial it back” a bit and claim victory (i.e., we can come up with something just for for those people who don’t have healthcare, make sure illegal immigrants don’t have access, and save Billions, if not Trillions of dollars). The result will be a slightly less socialistic system (for now) that the American people will accept gladly after seeing the beast in it’s full fury. And eventually, the furor will die down and the town hall meetings a generation from now will treat socialistic government healthcare the same way we treat socialistic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and government education today.
If you want to know what type of government-run healthcare system Americans will be willing to settle for in the next generation, just walk outside tomorrow morning and watch the yellow prison busses take the next generation of Americans to the taxpayer-funded, government-run, indoctrination center to which they are assigned and ask yourself this question: Are they learning anything today that will give them an aversion to a government takeover of healthcare? Then ask yourself another question: If their parents do teach them to oppose socialism, read and follow the Constitution, cherish freedom of choice, shun government intervention and hold government accountable for ethical use of their tax dollars, how long will it be before they’re standing at the corner waiting on the yellow prison bus and think to themselves, “Hey, if mom and dad really believe these things... why am I standing here?”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family Mealtime

One of our favorite times of the day is mealtime. I love this time most because we all work together, sit down together and talk together. This time can be a wonderful time of family unity or a tortured time of fighting and complaining! We've experienced both at our house and by far prefer the time of unity and joy over the frustration of arguing and complaining. As is often the case with little ones meal time can be difficult, but, the good news is it doesn't have to be.

We start training and teaching good manners in infancy. When baby is nursing if she tries to bite or pull on mom, I give a firm command, "no, no, bite or pull." As the baby progress's to food we do not allow the child to make mealtime a game. If they start throwing things and trying the pick up game we admonish them again with a simple command, "no, no throw." We also teach sign language as soon as we start solids with our infants. Much sooner than an infant can speak they can communicate. Their ability to speak develops slower than their ability to make signs. Simple signs like please, thank you, more and all done are a great tool for your little one to let you know what they need. You can find the signs for these on line or ask me.

The next stage in childhood seems to be the most difficult to train and deal with at meal time. The toddler years. Our first child seemed to need a lot of training during this time, but, as we have had more children it seems to get easier and easier. It must be from the good example and habits our older children and family have learned. So I would encourage you to really train and work with the first one as they will set the tone at the table for siblings to follow. We have always required that children eat what is put before them. Our explanation is that God provided the food, daddy worked hard for it, mama took time to buy, prepare and cook it, we must always be thankful for what we have. Complaining, making faces, or arguing about our food does not show a heart of contentment or thankfulness. The other item we have tried to impress upon our children is that we live in a blessed and rich country. Our cupboards have never been bare and we have a bounty of nutritious food available. Some ways we have tried to drive this home is by talking about a boy we sponsor in Nairobi, Kenya. He does not have the privilege of abundant food. We recently packaged food for children in third world countries and tasted it too. This was a great eye opener for our two older girls. As they realized that what we cook is delicious compared to the meager fare some children rely on for nutrition. It was also a great way to encourage the girls to serve others.

In the past when we were having a real problem with the children complaining at mealtime, constantly asking for snacks and using poor manners my husband came home one day and decided that we needed, "The Lebens Family Rules for Eating!" I have to say this was such a blessing to me. First, I understood exactly what his expectations were and could submit to and bless him and second I no longer had gray area in our food and manner rules. Our family rules are fairly simple. You will eat 3 meals and 3 optional snacks a day. Mom decides when to serve each of these and you need not ask constantly or there will be no snack. At our mealtimes the rules are you eat all of what is put on your plate if you would like more or dessert. We try and be very realistic with the portions we give the girls so that they are easily able to achieve this, and also get proper nutrition. I can say now that this has been our habit for a couple of years we really don't have many food issues. The biggest one is probably complaining at which our response and encouragement to the children is, "if you are not asked for your opinion, do not give it." Another way we've seen the children develop healthy attitudes is by having them help with the meal planning and preparing. Something happens when they make a food, they want to try it! As often as I can I try and recruit the children to help and explain to them the cooking techniques we are using and nutritional information of the food we are making.

Another area we work on is eating out and with others. There have been a few times when I have been horrified to hear what my little one has to say about the food being served them at someone else's house. That has been enough motivation to train and prepare our girls for the times when they are served something they are unfamiliar with or don't care for. This has really been fairly easy after we implemented our family rules. As they are use to trying a bite of everything it makes trying new foods easier. We try to coach the girls before eating out either at a restaurant or a friends house to eat what is placed before them, and simply say, "just a little please or no thank you," if they are offered food they don't care for or are unsure of. On the other hand we also encourage them to use ladylike manners and not over indulge or overly focus on the fabulous dessert. This is still in the works as they are still little ladies who need training and patience.

There is such a large variety of food available to us and such an abundance it is hard to keep this in balance. But, hopefully with our good habits and manners we can create a good model for our children to follow. We still work diligently on good manners at the table and good attitudes for food. Our hope is our children are prepared to dine with others comfortably, to cook for a family and to take proper care of their bodies. As we look at our culture we can see that the idea of maintaining a healthy body and proper manners has really diminished. It is important to our family that we enjoy eating with our children and aren't disgusted by their poor habits. We can teach them to either learn good habits with some encouragement and training and bless others in the future by their pleasantness to be around; or we can leave them to themselves and watch their health decline and see them make others uncomfortable around their sloppy habits. This is an easy choice for our family. I hope it is for yours too.

The point here is not to have the same "rules" as the Lebens Family. But, to really consider what your families goals are for your children and what the principle is in your home. Too much of what we do is just getting by and not giving thought to it. Let's think through what our future men and women will need and prepare for it now!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Consider the Constitution Party

I wanted to post this to bring attention to this party as there are more options than just democratic and republican parties. They have a good thing going check out there web-site.

Consider Supporting the Constitution Party!!
Dear Friend of the Constitution Party,
Unemployment is causing real duress. Frustration levels are high. Thousands are turning out for "tea parties." Democrat and Republican politicians home on vacation are, much to their surprise, being shouted down by their informed and fed-up constituents.
The American people are rejecting the socialist agenda offered by President Obama, and they are also leaving the Republican Party in droves because its policies have been an abysmal failure.
Sounds like a great opportunity for the Constitution Party, doesn’t it?
It is, but only if we can let more Americans know the Constitution Party solution exists.
We continue to suffer from a near total media blackout. It is only with your generous financial support that I am able to bypass traditional media and get our message out through radio interviews, the mail and over the internet.
Your contribution is needed immediately so we can tell a disgruntled American electorate about the Constitution Party. We have reached a tipping point in America! Frankly, I’ve never seen a climate where so many people – Democrats, Republicans and independents – are so fed-up with both major parties. They are paying attention and they don’t like what they see - debt, mismanagement, corruption, a power grab for bigger, more intrusive government and major attempt to erode the fundamental rights our Constitution was designed to secure.
They don’t like Obama’s insanely expensive health care plan, and they certainly want to know why elected officials won’t even be participating in it, but will have their own elite health insurance programs.
They see too many Democrats and Republicans holding what amount to lifetime positions in DC and who have too much personal gain at stake to have any interest in returning our country to limited, constitutional government. We are getting more requests than ever for information about the Constitution Party.
I need your help to get our message out to the many people who are fed up with politics as usual in DC but don’t know about the Constitution Party. Click here now to donate.
Americans are finally becoming aware that their liberty and culture are being subverted. Meanwhile, their elected officials are enriching themselves at taxpayers’ expense, laughing all the way to the bank as they leave Congress only to move to lobbying and banking jobs, or to political appointments.
You and I know the Constitution Party is the political answer. We will run candidates for office who are committed to the tried and true principles of constitutionally-based government – Life, Liberty, and Limited Government.
But if people have never heard of the Constitution Party, how can they support our candidates, contribute, or volunteer?
It is urgently necessary that you donate as generously as you possibly can by clicking here!
The Constitution Party has been hit hard by the economic down-turn at a time when we urgently need the funding in place to reach the many Americans who are finally ready to listen to the Constitution Party solution.
Some of you are able to invest thousands of dollars into this most important of efforts for our Country, and if you are able to do that I ask you to seriously consider making such a contribution now. Your contribution will help us reach thousands of people during this important crossroads in our history.
No amount is too small -- every dollar will help now -- but TRY to double your usual amount if you can. Please help us win back government of, by and for the American people by making a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or more to the Constitution Party National
We truly need your help now, if we are to take advantage of this historic opportunity.
Thank you for giving as generously as you possibly can, today, for the future of America by clicking here.
Yours for liberty, James N. ClymerNational Chairman

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Healthy on a Budget

I get so frustrated when I read articles that talk about eating healthy on a budget and they offer no real savings. I thought I would share a few of the ways we try and eat healthy on a very modest budget. We spend only $100 a week to feed and provide necessities for 5 people and a baby. Believe it or not it can be done! Here are some nutritious and cheap foods and the ways we have found to use them.

Breakfast Foods:
  • Oatmeal, we use a lot of this at our house. It is quick and easy to make. We like to make it with pure maple syrup (only affordable because my hubby makes it :), cinnamon, flax seeds and butter, on occasion I will add frozen blueberries. We also make pumpkin oatmeal with milk, canned pumpkin, maple syrup and pie spices. Pumpkin is cheapest in the fall, we usually stock up then. Oatmeal is best priced at Aldi. We've been getting ground flax seeds at a store called U-Bake next to Aldi in Savage. You can get a big container of cinnamon at Sam's club for a huge savings over the little bottles from the store.
  • Cereal. Our goal is to always purchase cereal for under 10 cents/ounce. You can get regular granola, frosted shredded wheat and raisin bran all from Aldi for that price. These are still highly processed so we keep our cereal consumption to 1-2 days/wk.
  • Muffins, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. I have a recipe for ww baking mix that makes these quick and easy to make. Baking Mix: 3/4c baking powder, 1C wheat germ, 3/4c sugar (use sucanat if possible), 1T cream of tartar, 3T salt (always use sea salt), 5lbs whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour makes this even more light and tasty). Mix all together and store in freezer 6mos. or fridge 3mos. To make pancakes take 1 egg, 1c milk, 1T oil and 2C mix. Stir together and fry. For biscuits take 3 1/2c mix and cut in 1 stick butter. Mix in 1 1/2 c milk until just blended. Drop on a greased pan and bake 425 for 12-15min. Use this in place of all of the dry ingredients in quick bread and muffin recipes.
  • Eggs and toast. You can get really good quality eggs for under $2.75/dz. We usually purchase these at Rainbow or Walmart for the best prices. This is a very nutritious protein for not a lot of money. Try the omega-3 kind for a nutrient boost.


  • Whole Wheat tortilla's. We use a lot of these! Natural peanut butter, honey, banana's and mini choco chips are a treat for the kids. We also do sandwich style wraps with nitrate free meat (Target's Archer Farms brand is the tastiest and cheapest), cheese (either bought from Sam's and shredded at home or slices from Aldi), vegetable's and dressing. One way I introduced new raw vegies to our girls was to cut up several vegies and put them on a tray for the children to pick at least two to put in their wraps. Quesodilla's are another delicious option. We like to put beans of all kinds on a buttered tortilla face down in a fry pan and top with cheese then dip in salsa and sour cream. Adding left over light meat is tasty too. We get our re-fried beans at Aldi and ww tortilla's at Sam's or the regular grocery store. We also do hot dog wraps with nitrate free hot dogs, re-fried beans spread on tortilla and cheddar cheese. Roll up and dip in ketchup.
  • Tuna is another staple at our house we like it as a melt sandwich, in a pasta salad or as a tuna salad sandwich. Simply add some fruit and cut up vegies for a meal. Tuna is best priced at Aldi.
  • On occasion we do a box of mac n cheese. 35 cents a box at Aldi.
  • Eggs are another good lunch. We make eggs in a hole often. Take a piece of bread butter both sides cut out a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter. Put in fry pan add egg in middle with salt and pepper and cook to desired doneness on both sides.


  • Corn Tortillas (from Aldi) are super inexpensive and tasty. We like to do taco's with warmed tortilla's. We also make our own taco seasoning mix to save. Mexican Seasoning Mix: 1/4c dried onion flakes, 1/2c chili powder, 1.5T Salt, 1.5T cornstarch, 1T cumin, 1T garlic powder, 1T crushed red pepper (less for less spice), 2t beef-flavored bouillon granules (or chicken), 1.5t dried oregano, 1.5t cilantro leaves. Mix all together and use 2T and 1C water per lb. of meat. Breakfast burritos for dinner are a favorite at our house. We use nitrate free Jennie-O breakfast, scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa and sour cream to top and warmed corn tortilla's. For a snack you can drizzle honey and cinnamon on a corn tortilla and put in a hot oven until crispy.
  • Tuna hotdish.
  • Pizza's. We make pizza sauce from a can of tomato sauce (Aldi). Pour in small pan with a bit of olive oil and Italian seasonings like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary etc. Then we either make pizza dough, use pita's to make individual pizza's, or ww hoagies cut in half from Sam's to make french bread pizza. Using a big block of mozzarella from Sam's and shredding it yourself to freeze really makes this affordable. There is pepperoni available nitrate free and nitrate free Italian turkey sausage from Jennie-O we like to use.
  • We also like pizza pasta, the recipe is from Cathy Langlois. You take a box of penne pasta (we use ww from Aldi), cook it. Then layer it with 1/2 pasta, 1/2 bottle spaghetti sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layer and bake 350 for 30-40 min until bubbly.
  • Soup is great dollar stretcher. Sometimes I will puree a vegetable soup and put some alphabet pasta in it to make it more palatable for the children. Always keep your chicken and turkey bones to make soup.
  • Roast chicken is so simple and delicious. Take a whole chicken, thawed and cleaned rub with olive oil and seasonings like salt, pepper, summer savory, thyme, rosemary etc. Stuff with some aromatics (onions, lemons, limes, oranges) and put some potatoes, onions, carrots and celery tossed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper around it. Bake at 400 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours. Check to make sure temp is 180 degrees and it's done. If you have leftovers (we almost never do this is so good) you can make a soup out of the vegies and leftover meat.
  • Fried Brown Rice. Fry up vegies and meat of your choice, scramble some eggs with it. Add cooked brown rice and season with soy sauce.
  • Beans are always a great filler and economical. We do a lot of Mexican dishes with beans like nachos', beef enchilada's, burritos and chille verde. Let me know if you want bean recipes I am happy to share.
  • Chicken pot pie is a simple meal to have ready on to make on the pantry shelf. You can make a ww pie crust (I have a simple recipe if you want it), keep a couple of cans of veg-all (we use the Aldi kind), a can of chicken meat, and a can of cream of chicken.


  • fresh fruit and vegies
  • ants on a log (celery and either peanut butter or cream cheese with raisins on top)
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • crackers and cheese
  • chips and salsa

A word about what we avoid. We try and avoid sodium nitrate/nitrite which is a meat preservative and has shown to be carcinogenic in tests. If you look you can find meat without it and not much more of a cost. We also avoid food coloring, corn syrup and refined sugar. I try and do the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time we eat great and choose healthy foods, but, 10% of the time I try not to worry about the cookie at church or the occasional splurge on sugar cereal or the hot dog they order when we are out. As long as we are serving nutritious meals the majority of the time I don't believe a splurge here and there will harm. I think not splurging harms more and makes our family feel restricted which does not lend to a healthy attitude about food.

In my next post I will address eating complaints and issues with our families and some ways we handle them. Until then I hope you find a new way to try some healthy foods and enjoy them!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tickles and Fancies

Our girls love Fancy Nancy. They have her books, dress up like her, try and talk like her, and love to acquire Fancy Nancy things. They also have a Grammy who loves to shower them with all things Fancy Nancy. Does Fancy Nancy ever pose a problem in our house? Not yet! The potential is strong that it someday could. As we have seen entertainment go from a little fun to sinful very quickly. It is a battle in our culture and home to be vigilant in the area of pure and appropriate entertainment. I want to share with you some of the ups and downs that entertainment brings in our house.

One area I have struggled with is time. When the children are little, it is so tempting to allow them to be entertained so that I can get something done! As they grow, that temptation can turn into wanting a vegetable to teach them about the Bible on a video. The thing I need to remember here is that God has charged me with the role of teacher and to disciple my children (Deut. 6, Pr. 22:6). No amount of videos, music or Sunday school can take the place of mom and dad teaching their children the Lord's truths. I have realized that if entertainment is taking up my little one's time, there isn't enough left over for me to teach them all that I believe the Lord wants me to. Don't let entertainment, secular or christian, steal precious time. Our complacency in letting their ears be tickled and eyes mesmerized causes us to miss moments where we could really gain their heart and shape it for the Lord.

I've noticed a couple of things regularly happen when we have a little too much entertainment in our lives. My children will begin to show an attitude of entitlement, believing they deserve to watch this or that, or deserve to do what everyone else is doing. This is a great opportunity to get back on track and point them to the truth, we deserve the worst, but, because of Jesus we get the best. Don't waste this opportunity and give into an attitude of selfishness. Never, I repeat never, allow a child who thinks they deserve to be dazzled by entertainment to get what they want. It is a gift to have the freedom, finances, eyes and ears to enjoy, we must address the heart of this situation or face a future with an adult who crumbles in hard times because they expect everything to be fun.

Here are a few of the ways we balance movies, tv, computer and video games.

  • Story telling. Our children love it when we make up funny stories with a moral or about them. It is also great fun for them to story tell about whatever they can dream up. This can get very interesting and help kids to think out of the box.

  • We like to do family game night. We get out the board games and team up with a little one who can't read yet and play for a short time.

  • We have started to do family debates, usually around the dinner table. We will give the children one side of an issue to debate or let them choose sometimes. Here are some ideas: who should decide bedtime parent's or kids, what is better ice cream or candy, which is easier to play football or baseball.

  • We turn on classical music and imagine either a story, play or ballet to go with it and describe it for everyone else or act it out. This is a great thing to do on car rides. Our girls love coming up with silly stories. Now they almost always associate music with a feeling or with something that is happening in it. This is a great game to develop listening and creativity.

  • Describe things together. The other night at dinner Pete had everyone use a different word to describe our peas. Great for developing brainstorming in little ones.

  • We'll do memorization or guessing games. 20 q's, telephone etc.

The list here could go on and on, hopefully this will help you start some alternative forms of entertainment at your house. For the little ones you need to keep these games to a short duration and for the older ones you need to make it increasingly interesting and challenging as "baby" games will be a real drag.

As we grow more and more desensitized to the razzle and dazzle around us because of the shear volume of entertainment available let's not forget the goal- children who are on fire and alive for the Lord. There should be room in their hearts for the Lord first. My prayer for myself and you as well is that you will examine the heart behind the request for a little entertainment and righteously direct it. Let's seize each opportunity we can to pass the baton on so we raise up a generation that can stand for our Saviour and King!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ladies Like Country Boys

As I was listening to the radio in our truck today I heard a verse in a song that said, "ladies like country boys." This set my mind in motion, thinking of the ways I have experienced this truth. It also made me think of the ways I would like for my daughter's to experience it. As I think it is a beautiful compliment to have a lady with a hard working, tough man.

I confess I am a lady in training still. Growing up I heard, girls can do whatever boys can, I watched television a plenty depicting women as loud and abrasive with low morals. I am still trying to figure out what a true lady is. According to the bible a lady of the Lord has these qualities; she is a helpmeet to man (Gen. 2:18), she works diligently, is trustworthy, takes care of the poor and needy, takes care of herself and her dress (Pr. 31), loves her husband and children, is self-controlled, pure, kind and submissive (Titus 2).

What I have figured out is what a real man is. I have had the privilege to be a wife to a real man. He can fix anything, is strong and brave and above all he can lead through any situation with a calm demeanor. He is not afraid of hard work and puts needs before wants. Although we have never lived in the country he is a "country boy." When I think of the men who work on farms and in the country I think of men who are hard working and labor for what they have. I can honestly say my husband fits that picture! I can also attest to the attractiveness and loveliness of a man who works tirelessly.

Will there be any "country boys" or "ladies" in the next generation? I certainly hope there will be "country boys" that grow into Godly, strong men for my girls. I hope there are boys being raised and trained in the ways of God and that they are learning to work hard, be tough and persevere through trials. I like to think that there are still boys being boys out there, wrestling and competing to be the best physically, mentally and intellectually. Boys who push themselves to be more like men each day. Boys who are practicing being men.

What about ladies? Will there be any in the next generation? I am doing what I can to help my girls to be ladies. Encouraging kind, gentle voices that leave room for men. Practicing taking care of home and family. Dressing in a way that glorifies God. Living life joyfully and following a man. This is no small feet in today's culture. Learning to submit to authority and respect men is seen as weak. On the contrary these little girls that play dolls, help to clean and cook, love their daddy's and respect them are anything but weak. They are girls that will make some "country boy" real happy and know his hard work is worth it. They are girls that will raise up happy, content, God fearing families. And that is nothing to look down on or suppress but to rejoice over.
So I guess my question is this; Are we raising ladies and country boys? Or has our culture convinced you that an androgynous society of weak metro sexual men and masculine leading women is acceptable? I know I want to raise ladies and take the challenge very seriously. No women will ever be content trying to live in man's role nor will any man ever be a successful and fulfilled women. Let's get back to the roles that God designed for us to live in and stop apologizing for being what we were created to be. Let's stop trying to make our little girls into tough little men and our little boys into whiny little girls. Require those girls to respect daddy, require those boys to not fuss and be strong. They will thank you when they grow to have a marriage and life made in heaven because it is within God's design.