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Well, fine ladies and gents, I’ve decided a few things about blogging.  And in doing so, I have some new and exciting things to share.  🙂

*I’ve decided to largely leave the world of Facebook.  It feels over-crowded and I never know if I’m posting too frequently and annoying my Facebook friends.  This’ll free up some much-desired time and focus on my blog, where I can post as frequently as I want!  My plan is to blog at least once a week about revelations during times with my Father, a gardening journal, thoughts, feelings, struggles, and questions on being a keeper of the home, and anything else I darn well want to put in it!  I am SO EXCITED about this decision, even if I’m the only one who ever reads it!

*I’m taking my blogging business to blogger, where I can actually earn a few pennies if anyone decides to click on the ads framing my blog, whereas no money is earned here on WordPress.  Every little bit helps, right?

SO…. my new blog address iswww.riddlelove.blogger.com!

I hope to see you there. 🙂  I don’t plan on deleting this blog.  I’ll leave it the way it is and begin a new chapter of blogging on the new and improved one.

So, with this, I say, “Farewell, WordPress!  Thank you for allowing me to get my feet wet in this thing that’s called blogging.  It’s been real.”

Hundreds of titles for this post were swimming in my head.  Even more topics.  A hint of dread was quickly brushed off like the cobwebs that would be resting on this blog if it were tangible as I wondered if I still remembered how to write.  Needless to say, it’s been a while, eh?  Something to the tune of four months, I believe.  It might as well have been four years, what with all the changes that have taken place during the great blogging silence.  I could write many pages documenting all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, but I’m going to write about something that’s particularly of focus: the power of encouragement.

I must admit, though I crave it as much as the normal human being, I really lack in dishing it out.  Somehow, if I give some, maybe I won’t have any for myself?  As if it’s going to run out, or something.  I’m realizing something spectacular.  Kingdom fruits never run out.  They seem to multiply more rapidly when given out.  We’ve entered this new culture where one of it’s many strengths is encouragement.  Wow, has it been a culture shock for Jer and I!  It’s brought some major exposure to a bit of unhealth, for sure.  As much as I despise comparison and know of it’s evils, it’s still in there.  I realize it when I see a picture of most everyone on earth vacationing and having the time of their lives while I’m home alone on day 24 of 28 of being a single parent.  Just as I’m about to post something kiddingly-sarcastic, comparing their good time to my alleged lonely misery to get some sympathy, I read the comments from other friends, “I’m so happy for you!”  “That looks so fun!”  “That’s awesome!”  I stop.  Wow.  Those guys are being so nice and encouraging and they’re not on vacation, either.  Some of them are even actual single parents, not temporary ones like me.

Encouragement brings freedom and allows beauty to flow.  I’m telling you, people here are encouragement dealers!  I’ve decided I want to not only be a user, but a dealer, too.  Oh, the high you get when someone says, “Your hair looks so cute!”  Whatever!  I know that seems so shallow, but seriously, you know how good it feels!  “That color is good on you.”  “Awesome new song!” “I love the way you take pictures!”

Being delighted in is the most amazing thing.  More and more, I’m grasping the sheer joy and freedom that comes, knowing that my Father delights in me.  Instead of starting my devotions in shame, thinking of how I don’t spend enough of my day in concentrated devotion, how I blew it when I yelled at one, or all, of my kids an hour ago, and all the other reasons for Daddy to say, “Bad girl,” to me, I am reminded that He delights in me.  How I am redeemed in Him.  How all that other stuff is a dead me coming back to haunt me (yeah, I like Kris Vallotton’s imagery), but He wants to bring the real me more and more to life because He loves who I am dearly.  Oh, what a feeling!  Oh, how I want to parent like this more and more!  My kids need to know that I delight in them so much!  I am starting to shower them more with encouragement, and wow, I’m seeing more and more of their beautiful, true selves and less and less of their bickering, whiney behavior coming out.

Encouragement is powerful and life-transforming.  When I feel loved, delighted in, and encouraged, I feel safe and free to be who I really am.  It’s ridiculous to think that I always had all of that in Him, but I was looking for it solely in people (which seems to come hand-in-hand when you have the fear of man like I did).  I desire so much to be that to everyone around me.  I really do love you.  I don’t talk behind your back and criticize you after I smile and flatter you to your face.  I delight in who you are.  You are beautiful.  That color really looks good on you.  I love your new hair cut.  Those jeans are hot!  I love hearing you sing.  That is an awesome work of art.  And, Jer’s and my favorite new way to encourage in this culture, “COME ON!”  Ahhh, that felt so good.  Wouldn’t you know it?  There’s even freedom and joy when you give encouragement!  I’m addicted!  This new chapter of life will be one saturated in encouragement!  Oh, the life that’s about to flow!

Practically speaking, blogging is the most illogical activity considering the current situations closing in.  There are major transitions our family is undergoing that require a lot of effort in a little bit of time.  I look forward to sharing with you these exciting goings-on, but that’s for another time.  So much is required, but I am experiencing a moment of quiet, and while I allow my ruptured eardrum to heal (stillness is the name of the game), my heart is burning within me and I’m about to spill it all out.   It’s one of those times where I see things so clearly, I’m only hoping I can clearly communicate.  I would very much appreciate your balancing input.

After reading Luke 12 this morning, I experienced a great amount of fear and joy.  Joy that the end really is near.  Jesus really is coming back, and if not in my lifetime, it could be in my children’s lifetime.  What am I doing to prepare them for His glorious coming?  At risk of sounding like a crazy preacher, the Fear of the Lord descended upon me.  He really is coming back.  Really.

I’ve personally observed pockets of Christians who seem to be embracing this reality and are going after that “pearl of great price.”  Nothing seems to be more important than readying themselves, their families, and others for Jesus’ second coming.  These people are not a people wallowing in doom and gloom, but are a people of hope, joy, freedom, and love.  They are secure in their salvation and their joy comes from relationship with Him and the promise of a perfect eternity together, no matter what temporary hardships meet them on this earth.  But they are not in denial of the current state of this world and are active partners with their Redeemer to bring about even more redemption to the world.  They do not passively sit, waiting for the world to go to pot and feeling any effort to bring about change would be futile.  They recognize the battleground is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil spiritual forces at work, and they do most of the warring on their knees.  This is my tribe.  I want to align myself with these people.

I’ve also been in the camp of Christians who truly want to be about the Kingdom, but seem to have a hard time really living it out.  They’re pretty content with the way things are, they don’t feel things are in that dire of a situation to be all that active and “extreme,” and are just trying to be good people.  There isn’t much joy, but there is confusion.

As Christians, we know what’s good and what is sinful, according to the Bible.  Or at least we should.  We know getting drunk, gossip, sexual immorality, selfishness, greed, and even gluttony is wrong.  We try not to drink too much, be too selfish, and we have internet firewalls that catch most of the bad stuff, but hey, we’re not fully redeemed yet, and stuff is going to slip by, right?  I don’t think these people are trying to be lazy Christians, I think they just might not be “interpreting the present time,” amongst other issues like Biblical illiteracy.

The fact of the matter is this: Jesus is coming back.  Yeah, most Christians are saying, “No duh, I know, I read the Bible.  What a cliche thing to say.  He’s been ‘coming back’ for over 2,000 years.”  He might not come back in our lifetime, but He might in our children’s, or the generation after that, or after that, or after that.  What are we doing to prepare them?  How are we modeling this readiness?  How are we spreading the word so more can be saved?

 Sure, there is tension on this side of the New Testament.  We are redeemed, but can still sin.  But are we using this tension as an excuse, or are we moving forward in our redemption and speaking and acting in our freedom from sin and death?  I know we are saved by grace and not works (thank the Lord), but I am also familiar with the sobering parable of the sheep and the goats.  The time is here!  There is no time for dabbling with the devil.  Or have we forgotten what the devil looks like and what our Savior is capable of doing in our lives?  With Jesus, our addictions, brokenness, and sicknesses can be healed.

I know I’m not saying anything new, yet not much seems to be changing.  This is all coming from one who has been redeemed from the fear of man, the fear of death, the fear of pain and discomfort, and lots and lots of fear, and who has been forgiven of gossip, slander, selfishness, and lying.  Yet physically I’m currently struggling with sickness, knowing God could redeem my health, too.  There’s that tension. I know the gate is narrow, but I want as many of us as possible to get through it.  It is time to really examine our lives, priorities, and thoughts.  He is coming, and that will be a glorious day for some and a damned day for others.  What will it be for you and your children and their children?
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Have you ever had one of those seasons where it feels like your mind has been suddenly flooded with thoughts, concerns, and ideas, but when you consider the hours there are in a day and the limited years you have left on this earth that there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do it all and then you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do or where to start and you get dizzy and you suddenly want to zone out to something mindless?  Let me catch my breath for a minute…  Ok, I’m better now, thanks.  Well, that’s where I’ve been for the past few days.

After experiencing the aforementioned mess of thoughts and feelings, I finally attained the wherewithal to stop and cry out to my Heavenly Father for HELP!!!!  Lord, what am I supposed to do with all this?  I feel these issues filling my thoughts and emotions are all so important!  I have a newfound interest in politics, economics, and ethical issues, and old-found interests in health, spiritual formation and discipline, parenting, family life, gardening, survival skills, natural childbirth, dancing, acting, writing, reading…  the list goes on.  I’ve been blessed with four amazing children, and want to raise them well.  How, Lord, can I be a good steward with my family and not ignore all you’ve placed in my heart?  “Do few things and do them well” are words I live by, but these aren’t a “few things!”

Suddenly it dawned on me (dare I say… the Lord did spaketh unto me?).  Maybe some of these interests aren’t what I should devote my life to.  Maybe… just maybe… I’m supposed to explore a little into each of these interests and expose my findings to spark a fire in those around me, namely my children?  

My son is fascinated with germs and body function.  When I took him to the ER to stitch up his little facial gash last month, he never cried once as I expected him to do.  Instead, he was irresistibly drawn to everything in the examining room and interested in the procedure of how the doctors mended him.  He wanted to see it all, and I took pictures for him so he could later observe what was going on.  He said it was one of his favorite nights!  I am enthralled with alternative medicine, and would love to take courses to further my education, but can’t find the time.  Maybe Levi and I will connect on this issue and he’ll be the one to go into the profession.

Bekah, my oldest, is rather talented in the fine arts.  I always wanted to go Broadway, but decided (after a quick dabbling in the entertainment department at Disneyland) that I’d rather have a family.  Perhaps putting on little plays with her and drawing together will turn into more than just playtime as she matures.

Suddenly, I am understanding more about “quiver-filling.”  I am referring to Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a heritage from the

LORD,

the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame

when he speaks with his enemies in

the gate.

Well, we currently have four children I love dearly, but I have more than four ideas and plenty of love for more, and that’s not including my husband’s interests and love.  Maybe we need to have a little discussion about how many little arrows we’re meant to acquire…

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This fourth chapter in Hints on Child Training hit a tender nerve in me.  In this chapter, Trumbull exhorts parents to critically look at, but especially get outside input on their children’s most prominent shortcomings so as to know what to focus on while training them.  To be uncomfortably honest, I have yet to get up the nerve to ask even my parents (who would be the gentlest of responders that I know of) to help  me out with this (but I plan to this week, I promise).  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s the “mamma bear” instinct in me that rises up anytime anyone says anything remotely negative about my kids.  I know my children have their faults just like anyone else but I don’t want to hear about them from someone besides my husband (and sometimes not even from him, if I’m honest).  I’ve had a pretty tactless remark said to me about one my children, and I had to control myself before I flew off the handle and I wanted to disregard what was spouted out because it was said in such a heartless way, but Trumbull states:

The unfriendly criticisms of neighbors, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults.  Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.

Humph.  I know my children “through and through.”  They’re practically perfect in every way.  So there.  But… maybe there are some imperfections somewhere in there.  Maybe their shortcomings are a little clouded by my adoration of them.  Maybe… maybe I could consider some outsider input.  Maybe I should try and sieve through that tactless remark about my child and see if didn’t actually come from nowhere.  Maybe this “insight” can allow me to see what I couldn’t see on my own and help me to lovingly train my child in becoming a more Christlike person.

He closes this hard-for-me-to-swallow chapter, stating:

Parents need help from others, from personal friends whom they can trust to speak with impartiality and kindness, or from the teachers of their children, in the beginning of a proper estimate and understanding of their children’s characteristics and needs.  The parent who does not realize this truth, and act on it, will never do as well as might be done for his or her child.  God has given the responsibility of the training of that child to the parent; but He has also laid on that parent the duty of learning, by the aid of all proper means, what are the child’s requirements, and how to meet them.

I love how he flat out states it is our responsibility as parents to train our children.  Not the school’s, not the Sunday school’s, not the youth group’s or marshal arts class’s, but our responsibility.  I also appreciate how he rounds it out by reminding us parents it is our job to educate ourselves to be the most quality parents we can be.  Many have gone before us.  There’s much to learn.  So much is out there at our disposal, we just have to make the choice to pursue further educating and informing ourselves for the sake of our children as our God-given responsibility.

This is my challenge for the week, and I challenge you to do it, too.  Ask a kind and trusted friend to help you see your children’s weakness so you may better parent them.  Also, look for a good parenting book that is like-minded in your convictions to help sharpen your parenting skills.  Might I suggest a certain book?

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children

Scope and Limitations of Child Training

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In chapter three of “Hints on Child Training,” Trumbull really starts to reveal the weight of responsibilities we, as parents, are privileged to carry as we raise our children.

First, he clarifies that we can train a child in the way s/he can go to his/her fullest extent, but we can’t train a child according to another’s capabilities.  We must keep in mind that some children are hindered with specific limitations that others might not have to struggle through, like blindness, learning disabilities, or physical limitations. However, Trumbull states, “the range is wide within the limitations of possible results from the training process.”

He continues:

A nervous temperament, cannot, it is true, be trained into a phlegmatic one or a phlegmatic temperament be trained into a nervous one; but a child who is quick and impulsive can be trained into moderation and carefulness of speech and of action, while a child who is sluggish and inactive can be trained rapidity of movement and to energy of endeavor….

The sure limitations of a child’s possibilities of training are obvious to a parent.  If one of the physical senses be lacking to the child, no training will restore that sense, although wise training will enable the child to overcome many of the difficulties that meet him as a consequence of his native lack…

In other words, if the child be grievously deformed or defective at birth, or by some early casualty, there is an inevitable limitation accordingly to the possibilities of his training.  But if a child be in possession of an ordinary measure of faculties and capacity, his training will decide the manner and method and extent and the use of his God-given powers.

It is, therefore, largely a child’s training that settles the question whether a child is graceful or awkward in his personal movements… whether he is faithful in his studies, or is neglectful of them…  In all these things his course indicates what his training has been; or it suggests the training that he needed, but has missed.

These are incredibly sobering points.  I think he’s placing the responsibility we, as parents have always held but sometimes never knew it.  Our society makes it easy for us to relinquish our role as trainer to our children in the name of “self expression,” and “phases.”  We don’t stop our children from throwing fits because we don’t want them to “stuff their emotions,” so we leave them alone to their own out-of-control demise and ignore them until they’re “over it” (or until the next time they hit another wave of intense emotion they don’t know how to handle), just as the parenting books say to do.  Instead, the temper tantrum was an ideal time to lovingly intervene and guide the child through their emotions while informing and enforcing what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.  If we leave them to their own devices and let them sort it out for themselves never having guided them through a similar situation, their growth will be tragically stunted.

We, as parents, must reclaim our role in our children’s lives.  Despite what we are fed through the airwaves and this culture, we hold a lot of control over our children.  We also love them more than anyone but the Lord.  We must marry our love for them and desire for them to thrive with necessary discipline and training that will accomplish a rich, strong, influential life for them.  “TRAIN a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (Emphasis added.)

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children
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I feel the need to throw a disclaimer out.  Upon first reading this book, I wrestled with lots of feelings.  After waves of indigence, bits of anger, and hints of offense, I mostly felt ashamed and disqualified as a parent.  But after all the fighting, I realized what he wrote was a very hard-to-swallow truth.  Trumbull does dish it out quite forthrightly, but it was my own insecurities getting in the way of a potentially life-changing experience.  I don’t claim to have it all together in the least, but I do pray that through this book and some “discussion” with y’all that I might grow and mature in my “child training.”

Continuing into chapter two of “Hints on Child Training,” (if you want to read the first post, click here), Trumbull dives right into it:

It is the mistake of many parents to suppose that their chief duty is in loving and counseling their children, rather than in loving and training them; that they are faithfully to show their children what they ought to do, rather than to make them do it.  The training power of the parent is, as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for granted that because their children are by nature very timid and retiring, or very bold or forward; very extravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclined to express even a dutiful sense of gratitude and trust; reckless in their generosity, or pitiably selfish; disposed to overstudy, or given wholly to play; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other, trait or quality or characteristic — therefore those children must remain so; unless, indeed, they outgrow their faults or are induced by wise counsel and loving entreaty to overcome them…

…Every child is in a sense a partially developed, an imperfectly formed child.  There are no absolutely perfect children in this world.  All of them need restraining in some things and stimulating in others.  And every imperfect child can be helped toward a symmetrical character by wise Christian training.  Every home should be an institution for the treatment of imperfectly developed children.  Every father and every mother should be a skilled physician in charge of such an institution.  There are glorious possibilities in this direction; and there are weighty responsibilities, also.

 

Keep in mind this book was written in 1890.  The words “institution” and “treatment” were not how they’re viewed today.  It sounds like such a sterile, rigid environment he’s suggesting to raise children in, but he really isn’t.  Lots of warmth flood into the next chapters, but do continue to keep in mind that this book was penned over 100 years ago, and certain words have taken on new meanings and vibes sense then.

This chapter helped me realize I fall prey to this “hands tied” attitude of parenting all the time.  My daughter would be bossing a group of kids around at a play date or something, and I would just sit back and chuckle, “What can I say?  She’s a leader.  Hopefully she’ll grow out of this bossy phase someday.”  But really, it was my job to get involved in that situation right then and there and lovingly train her how to behave appropriately with her friends.  Perhaps she is a leader, but no one will want to follow her if her parents never hone her skills.  Besides, I’d rather the correction be coming from me than a child or someone else who doesn’t love her as much and know her as well as I do.
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I am cringing a bit as I look at this title.  Yet I’m keeping it.  All you who are constantly around young children understand.  What’s cheesy to grown-ups translates into wit and fun for children, and when you’re in that zone, you’re in it; it’s hard to escape even when your conversation is with an older audience.  Thanks for understanding.  😉

My friend Nicole has been a huge resource to me when it comes to parenting and family.  She hits gold mine after gold mine.  She recommended a book that, true to her record, has become a much valued treasure in our family library.  It is called Hints on Child Training, by H. Clay Trumbull.  The forward for this most recent edition (the book was written over 100 years ago) was written by a man who my husband and I, and both sets of our parents, greatly respect, Gregg Harris.  

Although I believe reading this book would sizably enhance anyone’s interaction with children, even if you haven’t read this book, please join in this discussion.  Let’s go through this book, chapter by chapter, and share thoughts, opinions, and experiences that might be of encouragement in the adventure in parenting, grandparenting, uncling, aunting, and childcaring.

Chapter 1:  Child Training, What is it?

The term “training,” like the term “teaching,” is used in various senses; hence it is liable to be differently understood by different persons, when applied to a single department of a parent’s duties in the bringing up of his children.  Indeed, the terms “training” and “teaching” are often used interchangeably, as covering the entire process of a child’s education…

Child training includes the directing and controlling and shaping of a child’s feelings and thoughts and words and ways in every sphere of his life-course, from his birth to the close of his childhood.  And that this is no unimportant part of a child’s upbringing, no intelligent mind will venture to question.

As you can already see, this book is a bit counter-culture.  The last statement probably raised a few red flags in some people.  Controlling a child’s feelings?   Now don’t jump ship just yet.  Although this sounds like it might be endorsing a dictator-style parenting, if you know me, you know I would never align myself with such thoughts.  We’re starting at chapter one, and much will be explained in the following chapters.  But for now, what are your thoughts on “child training?”  Do you think we have even been given that type of control over our children’s feelings?  If so, how do we help them navigate those waters of emotions and how to express them?  Trust me, the topic of conversation will get more and more interesting, but this will be a good place to start so we can get a feel where each of us is coming from in our parenting/child training methods.
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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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