Thursday, February 28, 2008

Get the Most for your food dollar...

According to an AARP Magazine article by Melissa Gothardt and other sources I've seen, supermarkets feature categorical sales trends, which run in about 12 week cycles. Ms. Gothardt suggest that you study these sales cycles.

This has four implications, as far as I can see: 1) If you shop only for what you need during a certain week, you are likely to save money on only 3 out of 15 major food categories, says Terri Gault, whose web site is If, however, you scan weekly circulars and find sales on certain food categories, you can save money by loading up on that week's sale items. The next week, buy more of that week's sale items, and so forth, until you have run through a 12 week cycle. (Of course, you will need to replenish some fresh items, whether they are on sale or not.)

2) Obviously, you can save money by planning your weekly menus around the sale category of the week.

3) You should consider whether or not you really want to stockpile more than a 12 week supply of any one food item. After all, the item will likely be on sale in another 12 weeks, anyway.

Here are the cons of buying more than a 12 week supply of an item: Buying more than a 12 week supply can overload a small storage area. Also, if you buy too much of one item, you may not really use it within its freshness date. For example, you could have great intentions of using up a six month's supply of macaroni, but your menu needs may change, and you could end up losing money by wasting some of the macaroni. Also, certain items do not keep as well as others, and if you stockpile too large an amount, you may lose some to spoilage. There is a slight chance that the next cycle's sale price could be better than the sale price this week.

Here are the pros: If you have a huge storage area, you can afford more space for an item. So, it will not crowd your cooking or living areas to buy a larger supply. If food prices are rising rapidly, especially with regard to a particular food category, the next sale on a particular item may not be as good as the one that is in front of you now. If you live in a rural area, especially an area where inclement weather could prevent shopping trips into town, laying in supplies for an entire season may make sense.

At any rate, don't buy mindlessly. Think it through.

4) According to Ms. Gothardt, grocery stores fall into two basic categories. The first are EDLP's, which stand for everyday low prices, and which you probably have already identified as offering the best deals in your area. The second are "high-low's", which have a reputation for being expensive.

If you keep abreast of sales cycles, you can actually save more money at high-low's than the every day low price stores. That is because when they do place items on sale, their prices dip lower than the stores that offer generally reasonable prices all around.

Of course, if you visit the high-low store, you should stick to items in that week's sale category if you want to save money. Otherwise, you could cancel your savings by picking up a few over-priced items, as well.


Boiling sewing patterns in the Limberlost...Does anyone know why?

On her site, Charming the Birds from the Trees, Emma invited readers to submit books and movies which depict positive feminine heroines. I noticed that "A Girl of the Limberlost" was on the list, and I decided to check it out of the library. The book was authored by Gene Stratton-Porter, who was a writer and naturalist, in 1909.

I'm sure lots of you know this book, as it seems to have been beloved by many generations or readers. If you have read this or any of the other novels in the series, please share your thoughts with us.

Also, I have a question, as there is a reference in the book which puzzles me: The main character, Eleanora, is a country student who attends a high school in town. Her mother was widowed at the time Eleanora was born, and, in her grief, she has closed her heart against her own daughter. Thus, she neglects to outfit Eleanora for school properly, and a neighboring couple -- Wesley and Margaret -- step in to help the girl.

In the process, Margaret obtains a dress pattern from town in order to make Eleanora some passably stylish frocks. Once she brings the pattern home, she boils it for some time. Does anyone know why she did this? Were patterns of the day printed on stiff fabric, or something? Wouldn't boiling the pattern wash away any markings and other instructions? I think there's something about sewing at the turn of the 20th century that I'm missing.

The overall tone of the book is wholesome, and the character is delightful. I'm enjoying it very much. However, I'd recommend that a parent read it first before giving it to children and young teens. There are some allusions to some tough subjects, such as marital infidelity, alcoholism, death, and the potential harm that might befall a young girl wandering in a forest alone. These allusions are not graphic, but only you can decide if your child is mature enough to handle them.

And, that brings up my second question: If you've read the book, what do you think about this?


Monday, February 25, 2008

Quieting colicky infants and soothing temper tantrums...

Dr. Harvey Karp is receiving a lot of attention for his advice about dealing with infants and toddlers these days. Since I have not read his books, I cannot personally critique them. Nor, do I know enough about Dr. Karp's theories to do a true analysis. Perhaps, some of you are more familiar with his work and can share your thoughts with us. In the meantime, this post is based on reading an interview with Dr. Karp and some articles which review his works and quote him.

If I do understand his underlying theories, I'm not sure that I'm wild about them. However, some of his practical suggestions sound helpful. In my opinion, this is probably because he has brought together in one book some time-tested suggestions that parents have used for centuries.

Dr. Karp apparently believe that human infants are born about three months too soon. He cites as evidence the fact that many animals are born with more survival skills than human babies are. It seems that he believes that in order to keep infants happy, we must recreate what they are missing by not maturing further in the womb.

If he does, in fact, believe this, I don't look at a human baby's need for comfort in the same way that he does. I don't believe that God made a mistake when he determined that a human mother's gestation period is about nine months.

I do believe that human infants need a lot of comforting and physical touch from their parents during the first three or four months. However, I don't see this as a substitute for the womb, but the beginning of human communication and relationship. Human infants are endowed with a spirit and are born with the capacity to know God and to form deep, complex, and lifelong relationships with others. It makes sense to me that intense parental nurturing in the first few months of life starts a child on the road to relationships.

Emerging from the womb at nine months gives a baby the chance to be held in his mother's arms and to suckle at her breast, precious experiences that lingering in the womb cannot offer. Plus, the first three or four months of a child's life are something of an apprenticeship for the mother as well, because she learns to love and care for her dependent baby in a profound way.

So, let's glance at Dr. Karp's parenting suggestions -- as least, as I understand them to be. Dr. Karp studied societies where infants seldom cried, and he made note of their parenting practices. Here are some in a nutshell:

Dr. Karp advises that you swaddle your baby by wrapping him tightly in a soft blanket with the arms at the sides to stop the child from flailing his arms and legs. In centuries past, this was a common practice among many cultures, and you read of swaddling in the Bible.

As my children came along, the theory was that children should not be swaddled, as it was thought the moving the arms and legs about was a natural part of a child's development. It was thought that the child needed freedom of movement in order to learn how to control his appendages. However, when my first child was having trouble settling down, an older mother showed me how to swaddle her in a blanket and my baby immediately became contented and peaceful. I quickly yielded modern theory to the wisdom of the ages! My approach -- as an ordinary mom and as a non-exert -- would be to swaddle the child when the child needs soothing or calming, but to allow the baby some other times to move arms and legs freely.

Dr. Karp advised holding your baby in the side or stomach position. Today, the theory is that the back is the safest position for sleeping. Dr. Karp advises that you don't let the baby sleep on his stomach or side, but that you do hold the baby on his side or on his stomach when trying to calm him. I think most parents have that one figured out. How many times have we seen a mother gently lay her baby across her knees and softly pat his back.

Dr. Karp says shush your baby. Again, I think we all do this one instinctively. Shushing or white noise helps a baby feel comfortable. Saying shush into a child's ear simulates the sound he heard in the womb, according to Dr. Karp, and I do think that does make some sense. On the other hand, I know many adults who use white noise in order to sleep well, too. At any rate, we all try to soothe children by saying in whatever version our native language is something like, "Hush now. It's okay. Shh, now. Shush."

Additionally, there are other ways to make white noise. Being near a running dryer worked for my children.

Dr. Karp says swing your baby. He says to move baby in a rhythmic jiggling motion that moves to a swinging motion as the baby calms down. He cautions that you should never shake a baby. Again, parents usually do this instinctively, but I would reiterate to be gentle, gentle, gentle! No shaking! Also, when my children were little, I got a lot of use out of a baby swing.

A friend of mine, who is studying occupational therapy, relates that certain chemicals that promote a sense of well-being are released with the movement of swinging. Babies, older children, and even adults can benefit from a few minutes of swinging every day. Soothing touch also release chemicals that promote a sense of well-being. I don't know if Dr.Karp covers that or not, but I do think it's interesting.

Dr. Karp says to let your baby suckle. Provide breast, pacifier or a clean finger. Again, there's nothing new here, but it does reinforce the idea of nurturing your child.

While these may not seem like earth-shattering innovations, being reminded of them can help a first time mother. You'll probably find that if you combine these five things in whatever amounts work for you, you'll be able to soothe your fussy baby. The best way to learn how to do these things, I've found, is to watch experienced mothers or grandmothers handle babies. If you do regularly practice these things, and the baby does not respond, it's time to talk to your doctor.

Regarding toddlers, Dr. Karp has a suggestion for dealing with tantrums . If the toddler is going on and on, saying, "I want cookie. I want cookie. I want cookie now, " kneel down until you are at the child's level. Indicate that you understand, using simple language. Say something like, "I know. You want cookie. You want cookie now." Once your child has calmed down, you can say something like, "It is not time for a cookie. You may have a cookie after lunch."

Dr. Karp's reasoning for mirroring a toddler's own language this way, I think, is that toddlers still use simple language and, thus, understand simple language. Sometimes, a toddler will become frustrated that he cannot make his needs known or fearful that his parent has not understood his need.

All people respond better when they feel they have been heard. Even with adults, if someone makes an emotional statement and you feel just a wee bit defensive, it's helpful not to overreact. Instead, you can mirror their sentence back to them to make sure you understand how they feel and to let them know that you are listening. Then, you can calmly state your point of view.

Since toddlers use simple, repetitive phrases, much as an over-excited adult might, use that language when mirroring a child's thoughts back to him. Also, when giving directions to a toddler, stick to simple phrases.

Perhaps, Dr. Karp does have a valid point that parents too often try to reason with a child on an adult level. This can frustrate a toddler, who is just beginning to develop mastery in communication skills.

To a toddler, whose experience of life is limited, a small disappointment might loom in his mind as a real crisis, the kind of crisis that brings out emotional language, tears, and anger. A child does need his parent to listen to his childish troubles with a spirit of compassion; remembering that we, too, take our daily needs to our loving Heavenly Father. Mirroring his speech, as Dr. Karp suggests, could be one way to put that into practice.

My own thoughts would be that in addition to this, do not reward the child by giving into his wants when he is in the middle of throwing a fit. I suspect toddlers are more sophisticated than we give them credit for, despite their immature language skills. Toddlers can manipulate parents by throwing tantrums. Their first tantrums are probably caused by emotional frustration. However, somewhere along the way, toddlers can make the connection that if they throw enough fits, they'll get their way --at least some of the time. At that point, tantrums become a habit.

There will be times when you just have to say, "No," and mean it, whether or not your child understands your reasoning and whether or not he feels as if you understand him. Additionally, you may need to apply some appropriate discipline. In the process, the child may benefit from working out some negative emotions. This is an important part of development. Learning how to manage one's personal reactions to life is important for a child.

Proverbs 16:32 says, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Having said all of that, I do think it sounds as if the the five soothing techniques Dr. Karp recommends, plus the re-stating of a toddler's request in simple language, can be effective parenting tools. Try them and see if they work for you.

Has anyone read Dr. Karp's books? If so, what did you think of them?


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fashion 2008 -- Colors

Would you like some idea of what colors and textures of material will be fashionable this spring, summer, and fall? If so, check out these sites:

The Color Association of the United States
The Color Association of the United States lists spring and summer colors for youth, women, men, and interiors. I found this link posted on this blog: Thoughts from a Color Analyst which I recommend for anyone wanting to figure out how to make color work for you.

Pantone Fall 2008 report
Actually, Pantone projects colors for spring and summer, as well, which you can access from the home page.

This article is someone's digest of the Fall 2008 Pantone report

Want to give your blog a fashion update, as well? Check out this article.

I did an earlier post about this same subject back in the fall, but now that 2008 is actually well underway, I think the fashion forecast is clearer -- for me, anyway.

If you really want to be on the cutting edge, check out what's on the horizon for 2009!
I've barely moved into this millennium fashion wise, but, oh, those designers are already thinking way ahead!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Online Finishing School for Ladies

As readers of Charming the Birds From the Trees and The Merry Rose Know, last summer Emma and I had the privilege of hostessing the Online Finishing School for Ladies. Emma posted about a show she had seen about British girls who were treated to courses in one of Britain's top finishing schools. Several of us who read Emma's post thought it would be fun to have the opportunity to learn about the subjects offered in such an establishment.

"There are so many talented bloggers that we all read -- bloggers with expertise in areas that make for lovely living and a polished education. Why couldn't we all teach each other the same skills you might acquire if you enrolled in an expensive school for the finishing of young ladies?"

Thus, our online school was born. We made a list of things we might learn in a finishing school, and we invited various bloggers to contribute posts, each one writing about a certain topic. Each "teacher" originally posted these on her own blog, and readers were also able to comment and add their insights as well.

For convenience sake, I am slowly pulling all of these posts together onto one site. So, I just wanted to let you know that I have made some new updates to this page. Please check it out.

Also, please visit the individual blogs of our contributing authors. At their sites, you will find a wealth of information.

As soon as I have all of the old posts archived on this site, we might invite new bloggers for a second round of "The Finishing School."

Also, after I've loaded in all of the various posts from all of the various bloggers, I may need to reorganize them. If you do a series on a regular blog, your most recent post is the last one written on the topic. You have to drop down to the first post's date and "read backwards" if you know what I mean. That's how I've been posting on the online site. I may change that, however, as these posts have already been written, and it is possible to do them in chronological order. I'm still experimenting with the best way to organize this site, so please bear with me. In the meantime, know that if you visit this site, you'll enjoy some lovely and informative reading.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Helping Your Child to Become More Perceptive...

We've been talking about children in general and highly perceptive children in particular. No matter where a child starts life in this regard, we can help them develop and channel perceptive abilities. Here are some practical ideas. (I'm assuming that you're already reading to and with your children and that you are showing an interest in their outside schoolwork or teaching them at home.)

1) Teach your children scriptural precepts.
2) Talk with them about spiritual things throughout the day, not in a self-righteous or preachy way, but in connection with events that arise.
3) Notice with them the bigger picture of how beautiful nature is, as well as the many intricate details found in nature.
5) Direct their attention to the details in something beautiful and man made, such as a quilt or a homemade chair or a piece of art in a museum.
6) Play any of the variety of games called "Concentration", which help train memory and observation. One easy version is placing several pairs of matching cards face down, in random order. One person starts and turns over one card. Then he turns over another. If he picks a matched pair, he gets to keep that pair. If the pair is not a match, he turns them both face down again. As the game progresses and more cards have been exposed, observant players will remember which cards are where. So, if a player flips over one card, he may remember exactly where it's match is. The person who collects the most pairs wins. There are lots and lots of simple and inexpensive games that develop observation and memory, so try new ones from time to time.
7) Place well-thought out limits with regard to TV, computer use, computer games, etc. These things can be good, provided the subject matter is wholesome. In fact, wholesome computer games (there are a few) can train eye and hand coordination as well as teach other material. But, over-reliance on them teaches a child to be entertained rather than to entertain himself. Too much use can dull concentration and diminish a child's perception of the real world.
8) For very young children: Find or draw a chart with lots of stick figure faces with different kinds of expressions. Ask the child to decide if the face looks happy, sad, angry, etc. Ask him how he knows. Ask him what the happy person might be thinking, etc. As he gets older, watch to see if he absorbs social skills naturally or if he needs help recognizing social cues. Teach him basic manners, which are based on being perceptive of how to be considerate to others.
9) Consider whether your child understands how to organize time, space, and materials according to what is appropriate for his or her age level. If he struggles with this, consider what the problem might be. For example, a nine-year-old can be pretty good at cleaning his or her room. But, if you send the child in there to clean the room and he or she doesn't get the job done, ask yourself why. Is he getting distracted with other things? Is he overwhelmed with the task? Is there some laziness there? Is he a big-picture kind of person, and is it hard for him to notice details, such as an item that's out of place? Deal with the child according to what you think the problem is. Ask the child, "What steps do you need to take to clean your room?" On an index card, write out the various steps you both come up with. "Look for toys on the floor and put them away." "Make bed". "Straighten my desk." "Dust furniture", etc. Set a reasonable time for the task to be completed and ask the child to check off the steps as he works through them. When a child struggles with managing time, space, and materials, chances are that laziness and a lack of discipline are involved in there somewhere, and those must be dealt with. All children have to learn at some point to finish tasks in a timely and efficient manner and to choose responsibility over goofing off. (Some of us adults have to work on this, as well). But, don't just write off that as being the whole story with your child. He or she probably does need your help to develop his powers of perception in this area. With armed with the proper skills, he or she will probably find more satisfaction in a job well done.
10) Involve children in helping others. As is appropriate for their age, take them along with you when you help others. A very young child may not be ready to handle some serious situations. But, he or she can go with you when you deliver food to someone who is temporarily ill or the mother of a brand new baby. Or, he can help you make a card for the new person in the neighborhood, etc. Involve your children in preparing for birthday celebrations, parties, etc. All of this trains them to be perceptive of other people's needs.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Teaching Children about God's Wisdom...

It's important to teach your child the difference between God's wisdom and man's (the world's) wisdom. We've been looking at highly perceptive children in the past few articles, but this is a subject for all parents and all children.

Children are by nature curious and absorb knowledge from many sources, even sources of which we may not be aware. In fact, you could even think of it as part of a child's job to learn all that he needs to learn in order to grow up to be a happy, faithful, functioning adult.

The Bible commends a thirst for God's wisdom. However, it warns us against being influenced by the world's ways of thinking.

There are many scriptures that help us identify the difference between God's wisdom and the world's wisdom. These also outline the blessings of the former and the unhappy consequences of the latter. As parents, it's good for us to study and meditate about this, both for our own sake and in order to help our children. James 3:13-18 and I Corinthians 1:18-23 are two passages that give us a lot of help in choosing God's wisdom over the world's mindset. Comparing Proverbs with Ecclesiastes is another helpful study. Another idea is to read the Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes, and consider how these words stand the world's wisdom on end.

Generally, the world's wisdom places self at the center of life, while God's wisdom focuses on loving and trusting God and loving others. For example, two people can study and write about astronomy. One recognizes and is in awe of God's glory as revealed in his works. Another looks at the wonders of stars, galaxies, and the like and does not see that Someone has created them. He assumes man is the highest intelligence in the universe.

Of course, it is possible for each of these authors to write about this subject objectively, by merely presenting scientific observations. It is more likely, however, that the viewpoint of a speaker will shine through in his or her words. This is true of an author, a teacher, a reporter, or even a child's best friend. Sometimes, this viewpoint is very subtle, but it can have its effect nonetheless.

Even religious matter -- even that which uses some scriptures -- can appeal to man's wisdom rather than God's. In Matthew 16, we read that Peter once got mixed up in that regard. When, in his ignorance and his love, he tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross, the Lord said to him, "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

I think it's interesting that the Bereans were commended for examining the Scriptures so thoroughly to see if what Paul was teaching them was true. Even though Paul was clearly an apostle and even though the Bereans were eager to hear his message, they still ran it through the filter of God's word. Acts 17:10-12. God's word serves as a guide to help us recognize truth.

Of course, we don't need to be paranoid about everything our child hears or sees. There are books and media messages out there that don't promote a certain world view, either unintentionally or intentionally. And, some things are a matter of personal conviction. Romans Chapters 12-14. Neither should we be lax, however. It is a fact that we are all bombarded by the world's message everyday, and we must choose whether or not we will listen to it or to God.

It's good to talk often with children often about their view of life and about the things they are learning and reading. This gives us a chance to help them sort out true wisdom from false. Our goal is to give them the tools to discern for themselves.


Training Your Child to Exercise Self-Control of the Mind and Attitude ...

Here are some practical ideas for teaching children to have emotional stability. We've been talking about the highly perceptive child, but most of these would apply to all children.

1) Listen, listen, listen to your child. This can be challenging with the highly perceptive child because a) They will ask you so many questions it will make your head spin and b) They may talk a LOT. You may, at some point, need to address the child's tendency to talk too much or at inappropriate times. Even so, it's important to listen, listen, listen!
2) If your child's imagination tends towards worry, help him visualize what it means to cast his anxieties on the Lord. One way might be to help the child draw pictures of or write down his worry on a piece of paper. Pray about these worries. Attach the paper to a helium balloon. Let the balloon float away. Another method is the worry box. If your child expresses a worry about something, pray about it right then. At bedtime, help your child write down the worry on a slip of paper. Pray about it again. Put it in the worry box. Say, "Now, you can let go of the worry and fall peacefully asleep." Once in a while, go through the box yourself. Pull out any worries that are no longer a concern. Leave longterm worries, such as an ill grandparent, in the box. Then, sit down with your child. Ask him how many of the worries you selected really happened. Chances are, most of them did not come to pass. If a worry did happen, ask the child how the Lord got him through it. Throw the worries you've discussed in the trash. If you do a worry box, it's a good idea to also keep a blessing box. Write down a blessing every night and put it in the box. Sit down from time to time and talk about the blessings. Then, put them back in the box. Those you want to keep!
3) Celebrate a highly perceptive child's powers of imagination, but teach him to direct it in positive ways. If, for example, his imagination runs toward worry or negativity, help him imagine positive outcomes to a solution. Or, if the child's imagination runs to unwholesome things, turn his attention to wholesome reading material and activities.
4) Protect your child's childhood. All children today are vulnerable to being rushed out of childhood too quickly. This is doubly so for the highly perceptive child. If a child's high level of perception means that he is gifted or advanced, he will have a tremendous drive to develop his God-given gifts. In order to thrive, he does need to grow at his own advanced rate.
This means that your highly perceptive child may progress quickly through school or home school curriculum. He or she may participate in activities, such as classes or sports, with people who are much older than he is. He may have advanced conversational abilities, and the fact that he sounds older than he is may lead you and others to forget his true age. The fact is, however, that he is still a child.
Give your child the advanced stimulation that he needs. However, don't allow yourself or anyone else to treat him as a mini-adult. Guard his childlike faith and humility. Allow for playtime. Provide opportunities for him to interact with siblings and other peers in age. Play and have fun with him yourself. If he has trouble relating to peers in age, teach him social skills that will help.
5) Don't be shocked if your child acts super-mature one moment and has a moment of total immaturity the next. Your highly perceptive child may function on several levels at once, from being advanced in some areas and a normal child in other areas or even falling behind average in some other ways. Recognize that he will have different needs at different times.
6) Teach your child to base his sense of security on the fact that the Lord is a loving and wise God and not on his own performance or what his peers think of him. Since highly perceptive children either perform at a more advanced level than their peers or fall behind their peers - due to learning difficulties -- you can be sure this will be an issue for them. By the same token, don't let your own sense of security be rocked by how well or how poorly your child performs. It's wonderful and right to rejoice in a child's gifts, and it's normal to show concern for a child's struggles. However, it's healthy for our child if we keep this in balance. Also, teach your child how to rejoice with others when they do well. If he can find joy in the success of others, he won't be threatened or insecure if others outdo his performance at any given time.
7) Teach your child from an early age that the motivation for doing our best is to love and glorify the Lord. This helps both the under-achiever and the perfectionist. Let your child know that it is a good thing to have high standards. However, teach your child the difference between doing something whole-heartedly and obsessing over the process. For more ideas, check out this article. Parenting the perfectionist child
8) Emphasize training in character. It's important that your child develop whatever academic gifts or other talents that God has given him. However, this must not be done at the expense of building overall character. While a highly perceptive child may have unique gifts and unique struggles, this does not exempt him from the need to overcome faults and develop virtues. It's one thing to understand the particular struggles that come with being a highly perceptive child; it's quite another to allow those to be excuses for bad behavior. Here's one example: Your highly perceptive child may become so engrossed in projects that it's difficult for him to turn his focus elsewhere. Don't let that be an excuse for rudely ignoring others or for being neglectful of chores. Softly place your hand on the child's shoulder or say his name gently. Give him a moment to collect himself and tune in to what you are saying to him. Tell him that you understand he is excited about _____, but now it is time to do ______. Give him a time when he can get back to his original project and follow through. Do not allow him to whine or complain.
9) Teach your child that strong emotions within and conflicts or shyness with others can be worked through in righteous and healthy ways. Help the child recognize that painful feelings and challenging situations are a fact of life, and that these things eventually pass. Acknowledge that discipline and self-discipline aren't always pleasant in the moment, but show him the benefits. Tell him that you have confidence that he will overcome whatever problem you're addressing at the moment. As you train him in character, let him practice by working through some things on his own.
10) Understand that your highly perceptive child may feel odd or different when he looks at his peers. The reality is that he is developing at a different rate than many of his peers. He might really be a little out of step with his peers. Added to that is the fact that because children and teens are limited in experience, they are prone to think that they are the only ones who experience certain feelings or struggles, when in fact, they are probably experiencing things that are common to us all. Teach your child that we each have our unique gifts and our own struggles, but we all have common ground somewhere. Help him avoid pride. This may manifest itself as the child thinking more highly of himself than he ought to or as looking down on others who are less perceptive in some areas. It may also manifest itself as a sense of insecurity, extreme shyness, or self-rejection. The truly humble person is generally at ease, because he is not always preoccupied with analyzing himself or comparing himself to others. He trusts the Lord's work in his life -- whatever that may be.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teaching Children Emotional Stability,
Especially With Regard to Highly Perceptive Children...

All children need training in cultivating peaceful spirits and in learning how to let their emotions be their servants, rather than their rulers. Highly perceptive children need a little extra attention in this area.

For one thing, the highly perceptive child sometimes develops intellectually before he develops maturity of emotion. Thus, he takes in a tremendous amount of information, but he may not be able to process it all wisely unless his parents help him.

Also, the highly perceptive child is likely to tune into adult conversations and the news. Thus, he may overhear and worry about some topic that another child might not give a second thought.

Unless a mother listens carefully to clues from the child, she may have no idea that her young child is conscious of, much less worried about, something that was discussed by adults. I remember that when my children were toddlers in the eighties, the subject of AIDs was constantly in the news. I didn't think that we were exposing our children to much news until my preschool age child said, "Mommy, if I got hurt and someone had to give me blood, I might get AIDS."

Similarly, highly perceptive children often have great imaginations. If their imagination turns toward the negative, they can think of all kinds of frightening outcomes to a particular situation. Needless to say, this tempts a child to worry.

Highly perceptive children may feel a lot of pressure to live up to everyone's high expectations for their performance. This can create a sense of unease, especially if they fear that they may not measure up in the end.

Highly perceptive children often place high expectations on themselves, and they can become frustrated with themselves when the actual work of their hands does not match the vision they have in their minds. This is the artist who never can be happy with how a painting turns out, no matter how beautiful others think the painting might be, or the pianist who never thinks he gave a great performance despite thundering applause from the audience.

Also, by definition, highly perceptive people are in tune with a lot of sensory input from the world around them. This can be overwhelming. There is also possible evidence that a genetic disposition for forms of depression are found with genes that have to do with artistic achievements, especially in the field of writing. Studies that trace the family trees of a number of famous writers turn up a large number of family members with traits of manic-depression. Since this has been widely publicized, artists often falsely fear that if they seek treatment for an emotional illness, they will lose their talent.

Finally, the highly perceptive child may be more in tune with our culture. Going back to the late 1700's and early 1800's, many people began to value the person with great sensibility. That's just another way of saying a person who is highly perceptive or responsive with regard to something, such as emotions or nature or art. The person who possessed sensibility was considered to be more in tune with truth and beauty than the average person. People began to measure life according to their own personal experiences and perceptions. Revealed or inspired truth ceased to be as highly esteemed as it once was. People who admired sensibility feared being ordinary people with ordinary lives, and they considered themselves to be superior to people with less feeling. They sought to imbue every moment with emotional meaning.

In this climate, depression, hypochondria, anxiety, and moodiness were almost seen as virtues, for it was thought that they indicated a refined and sensitive mind. The novels of the day reflect this ideal, for they abound with brooding heroes and overwrought heroines. Many authors of the day -- such as the poet Lord Byron -- gave birth to the stereotype of the sensitive, bohemian artist.

Sense and Sensibility and many other of Jane Austen's works lampoon the cult of sensibility. Austen's work highlights the conflict in her day between this line of thought and a cultural backlash, which championed more classic virtues of stability, good sense, and principled character.

Today, prominent segments of our culture still value feeling and individual experience over objective truth and, likewise, emotional drama over stability. In the same vein, lots of people still devalue revealed and inspired knowledge. Many either believe that this material world is all that exists or they make up their own vision of spiritual matters based on what they feel in their hearts. Our culture is largely blind to real truths that exist beyond man's limited powers of perception and scientific measurement.

Our culture's entertainment features the anti-hero, who is merely a darker version of the nineteenth century's brooding hero. The anti-hero is the person of sensibility who has become disillusioned with life. He is opposed to authority. He is often a loner and is frequently self-destructive. He is moody and unstable and often troubled by something in his past.

Children, particularly sensitive children, may be influenced to imitate these cultural images. However, while a skeptical, troubled, and brooding hero may make for interesting fiction, such emotional drama is not so fun when it is played out in real life.

As we've seen, there is just a grain of truth in the idea that people who are highly perceptive also tend to be intensely emotional. Feeling things deeply can be very positive. But, must the highly perceptive child live at the whim of his own emotions and perceptions? No. Must creativity and perceptiveness be accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional distress? Of course not.

The wise parent seeks to guide the child in combining his wonderful gifts of perception and sensibility with the stability that comes from "sense". The child who is trained to be self-controlled in mind and character will accomplish more with his gifts of perception than will the child who cannot rule himself.

Just how can parents do parents nurture a child's creativity while, at the same time, training the child to be stable or sensible in thought and character? Tomorrow, we'll kick around some ideas.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Parenting the Highly Perceptive Child...Part I defines perceptive as "having or showing keenness of insight, understanding, or intuition". In my layman's treatment of this topic, I propose that all children are perceptive. Because life is fresh and new to children, they pay lots of attention to everything that's going on around them. They are generally less encumbered by preconceived notions than adults are, and, consequently. they sometimes see things that even adults miss.

However, some children are exceptionally perceptive -- above and beyond their peers -- from an early age. Others may be of generally average perception, but show an unusual degree of perception in one or two aspects of life.

There are different types of perception. Some young children may be intellectually perceptive. Others may be drawn to a particular field of the arts or sciences. (My parents-in-law took my husband to a carnival when he was three years old. He was not interested in riding any of the children's rides. Instead, he wanted them to let him watch how the gears worked. Guess what he grew up to be? Mr. Engineer.) Others might be able to discern body language or have great empathy for what others are feeling. Still others might be intrigued with spiritual matters at a young age.

Some children have a wonderful way with animals; others are good with younger children; still others are very perceptive about details in nature.

In my layman's perspective, perceptiveness does not always depend on a high I.Q. Nor, is it a guarantee of academic success. In fact, high perception can co-exist with learning problems. Also, a highly perceptive child may also have a different learning style than another child might, and a general one-size-fits-all teaching method may not work for that child.

In some cases, the highly perceptive child is simply developing more quickly in some areas than his peers. As the peers catch up, the gap will close. This can be hard for the child who has always received attention for being "advanced". For this reason and others, gifted or highly perceptive children need to learn that their sense of security does not come from their performance.

Highly perceptive children might fall into one or more categories drawn by educators and psychologists. Two differing examples of how a highly perceptive child might be categorized are "highly sensitive" and "gifted". If a child is categorized by professionals as having a high level of perception, parents should be aware that there are many resources available to help them parent their child wisely.

Since I'm not a professional, it's not my intent to look at this as an educator or psychologist might. I'm simply offering a mother's perspective based on having been a child and a parent, as well as being around many families with children.

What defines a highly perceptive child? Again, I'm no professional, but I do think the following traits might apply:

1) Tuning into adult conversations from an early age; developing a large vocabulary early in life; thinking about topics that are advanced for a child's age; may overhear adult conversation or the news and worry about issues that children are not yet ready to handle emotionally; may develop intellectually at an early age yet lack the spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity to deal with their gift without lots of guidance; may or may not have a hard time relating to peers.
2) From an early age, being in tune with another person's expressions, tone of voice, and body language; being able from a young age to have true empathy for another person; being able to imagine from a young age what it would be like to be in another person's situation.
3) Being overly sensitive from an early age with regard to one's own feelings and emotions; being easily offended or hurt; over-analyzing own actions and character; measuring self against unrealistic expectations and becoming frustrated with his or her own shortcomings. This is basically the same perceptive talent as mentioned in #2, except that the child's focus is inward rather than outward. This child has great potential to become empathetic and kind, as well as humbly aware of his own feelings and character. However, he will need help to avoid being self-centered.
4) From an early age displaying passionate convictions; passionate feelings; intense concern for what is fair or just; intense drive toward some objective; often dreams of an altruistic career, such as being a missionary or desiring to be a doctor in a third world country. This child has tremendous potential for leadership, but may be tempted toward pride, irritability and self-righteousness around those who do not have the same level of passion that he does.
5) Wants to know the "whys" of life; has a hard time being motivated to do something unless he can understand the purpose. This can have its blessings. A child with this gift will not necessarily do something just because that's the way it's always been done; he is not afraid to try a new and, perhaps, better way. Thus, he can be very innovative. On the other hand, this can have its challenges. There are many times in life when we all need to accept direction without knowing all of the "whys" behind it.
6) Always thinking, daydreaming about ideas or inventions or ideas for writing and art, getting lost in books or projects, may need help from parents to "come back to reality" when it's time to interact with other people or when it's time to set a project aside and do a certain task. This type of highly perceptive child may be like the stereotype of the "absent-minded professor" -- highly intelligent, but not always practical. This child may a poor organizer of personal space, time, money and stuff. Now, sometimes, these traits reflect an undisciplined character and do not indicate that a child has a high level of perception. For that reason, parents may mislabel the deep thinker in the family as being simply lazy, without realizing his positive traits. While this may not be the most helpful approach, there is a grain of truth in it: The deep thinker will need to acquire personal discipline in order to function in life. The deep thinker is the person who is highly perceptive about ideas. Deep thinkers grasp the big concepts in life.
7) Conversely, an unusually advanced organizer of personal space, time, money, and stuff; may be inflexible, though, and may have a hard time dealing with changes in routine. This is the person who is highly perceptive to details. (We need both idea people and detail people -- The trick is to help each category make the most of strengths and overcome weaknesses.)
8) Can have "meltdowns" when sensory overload becomes too much for child; ultra sensitive to touch, taste, sound, etc. May actually feel physical pain when exposed to levels of noise, touch, etc., that most other people find to be acceptable or even pleasurable. In addition to some biological tendency toward sensitivity, I wonder if the intense pace, noise, and media bombardment of modern society might be a factor here.
9) Bored when not challenged; learns quickly and becomes restless with needless repetition of lesson material; has a higher than normal attention span for his age when interested in something; appears to have a low attention span when he is not challenged by the material at hand.
10) From a young age able to see more than one point of view; perceives the complexities of life; understands there is more than one approach to solving a problem; figures out creative uses for common objects; great, great quality, but the negative manifestation of it may be so in tune with different points of view that can't come to his own conviction.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

And the Award Goes to...

Sandi was kind enough to give my little blog an award for excellence.

However, with this happy award comes the responsibility to tag 10 more people with an award for excellence. With all of the wonderful blogs out there, it's hard to choose just ten. And, I'm always afraid I will leave some great blogger out. Also, some of the excellent blogs I read have a following, and people already know those are fabulous.

Plus, I wander all over the home and family and craft corner of the blog-o-sphere without leaving a bread crumb trail to find my way back. So, I know I've visited some excellent little niches out there and haven't a clue how to get in touch with them again.

And, I hope everyone understands that just because I cite a blog as being excellent, that doesn't mean that I endorse everything written by the author.

Am I making this way too complicated, or what? :)

Anyhow, I'm on a mission to find ten excellent blogs that are either new to me or that I haven't mentioned on my own site lately and to which I will pass on this award:

Here goes:

1) Rebekah's sewing diary
How about some sewing inspiration?
2) Allisons in Afghanistan
living out their faith, loving those in need
3) A Thing for Roses
(I know y'all are shocked that I would include a blog by a person who has a thing for roses -- mostly pink roses -- and all things pretty. Not!!)
4. Pink Roses
More pink! More Roses!
5) A Tour of my Garden
Real Roses! Alas, this blog is no longer being updated, but I have to attribute some degree of excellence to anyone who has 420 rose bushes in their backyard!
6. Sundrenched Moments
Ok, I did mention this one recently. But, I'm enjoying the blog's creative and domestic inspiration.
7 Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
More sewing inspiration
8.) Stiches and Seams
sewing again
9) Southern Somedays
A fellow G.R.I.T.S.
10) The Paris Apartment
eye candy for those of us who love French style



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine Musings...Married Love

Mrs. Fussypants beat the Merry Rose in posting about the subject I wanted to discuss today. My alter ego just wasn't fast enough to out-type Alli's.

But, no matter. Great minds think alike, and it's well known that the Merry Rose and Mrs. Fussypants are great minds, at least in their own legends. Besides, this is a subject that we wives need to continually keep in focus, and I was planning to approach it from a different avenue, anyway.

I've been asked to do a five to ten minute talk about romance at a woman's coffee at our church this Saturday morning. It's part of a class for married women about physical intimacy in marriage.

Well, I'm only supposed to speak for a short time about this subject, but I'm spending a lot more time than that studying it, praying about it, and pondering it. You know how it is when you teach something. You convict yourself!

My overall thoughts are running in the direction of some of my earlier posts about how essential it is to be happy. Specifically, I have noticed among my younger married friends that many of them have a mindset that something always needs "fixin'" in their marriages.

Many decide the best way to "fix things" is through 1) nagging and preaching at every opportunity 2) refusing to be happy until the husband shapes up 3) taking control or manipulating to get a desired end, instead of trusting the Lord (Think of Sarah and that whole unhappy Hagar/Ishmael incident. Perhaps, some of the strife in the world today traces back to that decision.) and, as is on the minds of both Mrs. Fussypants and the Merryrose at the moment, 4) asking a husband to have a "deep talk" every moment he turns around.

Now, there are times to have deep talks, and, sometimes, we wives will need to be the ones to initiate them. But, if we overdo this, we can wear our husbands out.

Women and girls grow up analyzing and talking about relationships face to face. I remember parties and double dates and other events in late high school and college. My friends and I would have a pre-event conversation: "Who are you going with? What are you going to wear? Who is Sally going with?" At the event itself, we'd go to the ladies room en masse, where we would discuss whether everyone was having a good time. Then, after it was over, we'd call each other on the phone and discuss how things went. I'm not advocating the American dating system as I experienced it. My point is, though, that girls are inclined to talk and talk about relationships.

Do you think the boys had so many long conversations about a dance or a date? Nah. Guys bond by doing stuff. My son loves a good conversation. But, he also drops his fiancee off at her place after they attend an event, and he goes off to play a game of basketball with his guy friends.

Now, from our point of view, it's helpful if a husband tunes in to our feminine need to talk. My dear hubby accepts that I have a greater need for relationship talk (any kind of talk, really) than he does. I love it that he makes plenty of time to listen to me, though I know that sometimes he'd have personally chosen to do something else -- anything else.

On our part as wives, though, we need to see it from our hubby's vantage point. If you want to have deep, heart-to-heart communication with your hubby, but he's not a great talker, here are a few suggestions:

1) Listen, listen, listen! Hubbies do talk, just sometimes not on our preconceived time table or about our pet subjects. My hubby does like to share with me what's going on in his life, particularly in his work, some of which goes over my head as he performs mysterious doings with satellites and computers and field monitors and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. Whether I understand the technical details or not, sharing his thoughts with me is a great gift. But, I sometimes stomp on that gift by interrupting him to talk about me, me, and me. Fortunately, my hubby is outgoing, and he recovers when I mess up in that area. But, a shyer, quieter man might decide it's not worth the effort to make conversation if his wife doesn't hear him out. Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak...James 1:17

2) Do fun things with your husband. He'll open up to you as you enjoy something together. And, you'll both benefit.

3) Be honest about problems, but don't be problem-centered. Every morning, we wake up to a day full of blessings and trials. The question is, which will be we focus on? It's good to be open and talk about difficulties, but that should not be the running theme of our conversations.

4) My husband tells me that a good deal of a man's satisfaction in marriage comes from being able to make his wife happy. Now, no person can completely make another person happy. But, a loving husband does feel a great responsibility to care for his wife's needs. If we aren't grateful for the good things about our husbands and if we continually remind him of his failings, we can make him feel like a total failure. When that happens, he may clam up in conversation, and he may also quit trying to be the husband he wants to be. If you are grateful for the ways he does take care of you, he'll be inspired to even greater things.

5) There's a reason why Paul said, "Let your conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt." A timely and gentle warning from a wife can be the salt that helps preserve a husband's or a friend's soul. But, the salt should be the seasoning on a plate of grace. None of us would relish sitting down to a plate of only salt.

I've applied these principles to husbands. But, actually, we all are freer to be open when we 1) feel heard by our family and friends and 2) receive a lot of encouragement along with whatever life-giving, well-timed correction we may need to hear.


Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Merry Monday!

Time for some positive news:

Twins in womb save mom's life by dislodging tumor. Upon cancer diagnosis, mother given option of aborting her babies in order to get treatment for herself. She declined. Her in-utero twins actually saved her life. Read how this happened.

81 year old doorman wins award - says his secret to his 46 years of success in his job is that he loes people.

14 year old boy saves woman from icy waters.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

60's fashion inspiration poll:

Here are the winners, in order: Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, June Cleaver, Aunt Bea, and Doris Day.

It's no wonder that Grace Kelly won. In her day, she was thought to be the epitome of classic beauty.

I'm glad to see that good old Aunt Bea got some votes -- even more than Doris Day!

Now, let's talk about sewing...

Experts say that there's been a huge revival in sewing. All of the blogs devoted to sewing and handiwork or that talk about these subjects in conjunction with other topics would bear that out. But, at the same time, lots of fabric stores are closing and chains are dropping their fabric departments. What's up with that?

Take the poll in my sidebar. Also, feel free to post comments that give us more information. Do you bring in income by sewing, either full time or part time? Do you sew clothing for yourself or family members? Do you sew home decor projects? Are you talented enough to design your own fashions or alter patterns to achieve your own special look? Do you hate sewing? Do you wish you knew how to sew?

Give us the scoop!


Drawing of sewing notions by Lisa, Country Clipart

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More Thoughts on Hubbies and Romance...

I was talking with my dh today about the subject of romance. He reminded me that it awakens romantic feelings in him when I am happy.

I reflected on how true it is. I can think of times when I thought I looked a mess, but I was cheerful and we were having fun, and it really attracted my husband. On the other times, there have been some times when I inadvertently squelched romance by indulging in negative attitudes.

I think most men are attracted to warm smiles, bright eyes, sunny ways, and a joyful attitude. This truth extends even beyond romance. I think we need people in our lives whose attitude is generally faithful, calm, and encouraging.

That's not to say that we must always be happy-go-lucky. Nor, should we try to act as if we have it all under control all of the time. As we go through life, we will face real problems, real trials, and real temptations. If we care about others, we will also weep with those who are in heartbreaking situations. We want to keep that tender-hearted side that is able to mourn when mourning is appropriate.

In fact, facing and overcoming hardship together can bond the hearts of a husband and wife deeply. The key is to maintain faith and hope in suffering, rather than giving way to despair.

However, some women -- myself at times -- allow ourselves to be needlessly burdened. We fret, or we fume, or we allow discontent to creep into our lives, and we forget to count our blessings.

Other joy and romance killers are holding on to past wrongs, allowing oneself to become cynical or bitter, nagging, and focusing on the faults of others. It also hurts our husbands when we become so bogged down with the daily things of life that we completely lose our childlike sense of play.

Some women have an easier time maintaining a cheerful outlook than others do. Sometimes, this is a matter of inborn temperament; sometimes a result of past experiences; sometimes a result of current hardships; sometimes even a result of physical pain. No matter where we are on this scale, however, we can make progress toward a more joyful attitude. Paul was a man who suffered greatly, yet he showed us by his example how to be joyful in suffering.

Proverbs 5 talks to men about sexual purity. In it, it admonishes them to "Rejoice in the wife of your youth, as a loving hind and a graceful doe; Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love."

Even though this was written to men and asks them to regard us this way by faith, I aspire to really be more and more the kind of wife my husband can rejoice in. A side benefit is that having this attitude is a positive example for our children, as well. And, just as the chorus in the Song of Songs rejoiced the love of the husband and wife, other people also benefit when they see in us a joyful love for our husbands.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Teaching Your Children How to Study the Bible.

As your children grow, one of your goals should be to prepare them to study the Bible on their own. This is essential if they are to develop and maintain their own faith and convictions.

It's helpful, as is appropriate for your child's age, to pass along some basic information about the Bible, as well as some instructions about how to apply its truth to the child's life. In this article, I will outline just a few things I humbly think are important for a child to learn.

A. Teach your child the purpose and layout of the Old and New Testaments (Old and New Covenants).

The Old Testament is composed of the writings that God gave to the nation of Israel. Naturally, the Hebrews did not have these books (scrolls, actually) all bound together in one volume, as we do today. Nor, did they refer to them as the Old Testament, since the New Testament had not yet come. In several instances, Jesus referred to the Jewish scriptures as "the law and the prophets," which was a way to indicate the Hebrew canon.

The Old Testament begins with the creation and fall of man and looks forward to the coming of the Messiah. One of its many great themes is God's continual faithfulness, love, and concern for man, despite man's repeated unfaithfulness to God. Another important theme is God's holiness, man's sinfulness and his inadequacy to atone for his own sin, and the promise that God, himself, would provide the perfect sacrifice -- the Lamb of God -- in order to reconcile people to himself.

We are not under the Old Testament today, especially with regard to the OT system of worship. We have a new covenant. See Hebrews 9:1-20. However, it is still vital for us to study the Old Testament. Here are just a few reasons why: 1) It teaches timeless truths about God and about man. It also instructs us in righteousness. 2) Many teachings of Jesus and the apostles refer to scriptures and stories in the Old Testament. Studying the OT helps us understand these NT references. 3) Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets, and studying the OT helps us understand what this means and how He accomplished that. 5) We can learn much from the examples of the men and women whose lives are recorded in the OT. 6) Seeing how OT prophecies are fulfilled in the NT builds faith. Also, it builds faith to see God's Sovereign work in the entire sweep of Biblical history, from Genesis to Revelation.

Romans has this to say about the Old Testament:
"For whatever things were written before were written for our
learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the
Scriptures might have hope. (Ro 15:4)"
The books in today's old Testament are grouped in a certain way. This grouping is not necessarily in chronological order.

The first five books are called the books of the law or the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses. Though there is some history contained in these books, it also outlines the law of Moses -- hence the reference to them as law.

After the books of the law come several books of history. After that, are books of wisdom, written in the form of poetry. After that come the prophets.

If your child understands this basic grouping, he or she will be better able to find his or her way around the Old Covenant.

The New Testament begins with the four gospels or accounts of Jesus' life. Each was written to a slightly different audience and each has certain themes that it pulls from Jesus' life and teachings. For example, Matthew was probably written to people who had a Jewish background, and it focuses on Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
Next comes the Acts of the Apostles. This book describes Jesus' ascension, the coming of the church on the day of Pentecost, and the spread of the church. In the first two chapters, Peter and the other apostles speak by the power and instruction of the Holy Spirit. Peter preaches the first sermon explaining God's offer of redemption through Jesus Christ and how to be saved. His audience was Jews of all nations, who had gathered in Jerusalem for the observance of Pentecost. In Acts 10, we see a similar happening: As Jesus promised, the gospel was offered first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. God demonstrates to Peter through a vision and other signs that the time has now come to open the door of salvation through Jesus to the Gentiles. Thus, Peter also preaches the first sermon to Gentiles, teaching them about Jesus. Acts also tells about the conversion and travels of Paul, whom the Lord chose to be an apostle among the Gentiles.
After Acts are placed the letters from the apostles instructing the various churches. The letters were generally read aloud in the churches to whom they were written and, at least on one occasion, two churches swapped the letters they received. (See Colossians 4:16) The essential letters have been preserved for us today, providing us access to teaching from the apostles.
The last book in the New Testament is Revelation, which uses apocalyptic language to encourage Christians who were under persecution and to describe future events.

Again, if your child understands this basic grouping, he will know where to look for certain topics in the NT.

B. Teach your child how to identify the context of a passage. The Scriptures were spoken to all of us. God's word is eternal, living, and active, and, thus, the Bible applies to us as much as it did to the first hearers. However, in order to use God's word correctly in our own lives, it helps to know the following items: To whom was this passage originally spoken or written? Why was it spoken or written to that person or that group? Teach your child to look for clues in the text. Then, teach your child how to use that information to better apply the scripture to his or her own life.

For example, Romans 1:7 tells us this letter was written to the saints in Rome. Romans 1:1-15 shows us that Paul was the author, and we know from other passages in the NT that, as an apostle, he spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter 1 of Romans, Paul reminds his readers of his Jewish background, but also notes that he is called to be an apostle to the Gentiles.

The first three chapters of Romans give us a window into what was happening in the church in Rome when Paul sent them the letter. The Christians with Jewish backgrounds and the Christians with Gentile backgrounds needed instructions about how to worship together as God's family. Each group was tempted to take pride in their own heritage and to look down on the other group. This was a particular temptation for Jewish Christians, who had been taught God's law from infancy -- well before they learned about Jesus. They took undue pride in being God's chosen people, a choice God made by grace in order to bring Christ into the world. They looked down on the Gentiles, who came to Jesus from a background of pagan idolatry. God's wisdom in choosing Paul through whom to speak this letter is clear; who better than Paul, who was a Jew of Jews and also an apostle to the Gentiles, to help the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians appreciate each other?

How would we apply the book of Romans to our lives today? Well, one thing we can learn is how Christians of different ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds should love each other. Another thing we can learn is to be humbly dependent on Christ, rather than to place our confidence in our religious upbringing or our religious heritage. Of course, there are many other things to be learned from Romans, and there are wonderful passages you could easily apply even if you didn't understand the underlying theme. But, knowing that Paul was addressing a specific problem helps us better understand the letter's overall message and how the book fits together.

Here's another example: Revelation 3:19-20 has often been cited as instruction for the lost about how to be saved. However, the text tells us that this verse was not addressed to unbelievers in need of salvation. It was written to the lukewarm church in the city of Laodicea, admonishing the church to repent. See Revelation 3:14-18, Revelation 1:11. It's important that Christians understand that this passage is for those who have already come to faith in Christ, for it teaches believers not to let their faith become tepid -- something that is all too easy to do in our day. It also holds out the promise to the church or the individual saint who has become lukewarm that Christ is ever ready to renew a warm and close fellowship when we repent.

Now, it's not bad to read this passage of scripture with unbelievers, as it does teach us something about Christ's heart for his bride -- the church. But, this passage is not intended to explain to someone how to become a Christian. For that, an unbeliever needs instruction from scriptures that do deal specifically with the gospel and with conversion.

C. Some other good things to explore with your child: How does this passage of scripture fit in with other scriptures in the Bible that deal with the same topic? (Since God cannot contradict himself, you can often figure out the meaning of a verse by comparing it to other verses about the same subject.) Does this passage contain a direct command? Is this a promise of God? Is this an example from which I can learn? How does this passage help me know God better?

D. Teach your child the order of the books in the Bible. There is a little song to help children remember the order of the NT and one to help them remember the order of the OT, and you can find them both on the net, I'm sure. In the grand scheme of things, it's not essential that your child have this down pat. After all, we do have indexes in the front of written Bibles, as well as Bible search programs on the Internet. And, as a child reads more and more, he'll naturally pick up on which books are where. However, it's good to be able to find a passage quickly when you need it, and memorizing the order of the books does help with that.

E. Remember, the goal isn't just intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures, though it is important to love God with all of our mind. See John 5:24-42. Inspire your child to know, love, and trust the Lord through his study of the Scriptures. Also inspire your child to put the Scriptures into practice by loving others the way Jesus loved us.

F. Similarly, teach your child to trust God even if he comes across a passage that may be puzzling to him at first. If you know and trust someone, and he or she says something you don't quite understand, you don't worry about it. You trust the person's heart enough to be at peace until things are made clear. If we have this much faith in our fallible loved ones, how much more should we trust God, who is perfect! If a child develops this kind of faith, he won't be shaken when faced with his own questions or with questions from skeptical peers. He will be able to trust in the Lord and lean not on his own understanding.

Well, as I said, this is pretty basic stuff. So, you may be already acquainted with these principles. However, it's good to review these things with children who are old enough to understand them.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Blogger Book Club

At the Blogger Book Club
we're up to Chapter Six in the book, "Thrift in the Household."
In this chapter, the author makes the case that the biggest resource a homemaker must manage is her own health and strength. She suggests that the homemaker not be too fanatical about getting every bit of dirt out of the house, as, after all, we are exposed to dirt outdoors every day. She also suggests that the housewife take on only those tasks that are essential and that she can perform. Much of what we do around the house, she says, we do for what others will think of how pretty our house is and not because it is really essential.

Of the woman who always feels as if she has too much to do, the author writes, "Rest will do her more good than any medicine and help more to keep her well, and the housemother should rest some part of every day as soon as she is conscious of weariness; even fifteen minutes' relaxation will do her good, and after it she will go on with renewed energy." P. 98

That's sort of ironic for me, today, as I am battling a respiratory bug that's going around, and I was kicking myself for taking a long nap this morning. I also sat down to read the thrift book for a few moments, because I'm not finding the strength right now to be up and vacuuming, as I long to do. I promised to be at a dinner meeting tonight, and I volunteered to bring a dish, as well. But, now, I'm considering whether it's wise for me to go out tonight. I hate to miss anything else though, as I stayed home from church sick yesterday. So, you can see that I needed to read this quote today!

Here's another quote that Hadias asked us to consider:

“Do the duty that lies nearest," but be sure it is a duty. You can recognize a duty because it is something that makes you and your family physically well, that develops them spiritually and morally, and does not take from you more than you are able to give. Your first duty is to make yourself so lovely that your family want to be with you. Nothing is worth while to you or them that does not help you to be dear to them. P.100

I agree, but up to a point. Yes, it is a great duty to keep a lovely disposition so that the family will enjoy the home. It is easier to do this if you choose a simple home life, rather than chasing after too many things at once.

Proverbs says better a dry crust, with peace, than a house full of feasting with strife. And, Jesus encouraged Martha to choose the one thing that was needed, rather than to become distracted and anxious over many things.

I do think the author's point is well taken that you must think through your reserves of time and energy and choose only those activities which move you toward your lifetime goal. Hobbies and activities and household projects are great, but you can't do every single one that strikes your fancy -- at least not all in one season. I've found that out the hard way. LOL.

However, our ultimate rest has to be in Christ and not in our ability to schedule. Our faith and service to the Lord, new babies, family needs, special events like weddings, etc., do not always present themselves according to our timetable. I think that's where the home manager needs to stay flexible. I think, also, that there will be times when even the best home manager -- the woman who has taken care to choose her activities wisely -- will encounter times of physical and emotional fatigue. Streamlining your life so that you have more time and strength, yet remaining flexible to the Lord's plans for your days and weeks and years, is an admirable goal.

Doing the duty that is nearest is a great way to get unstuck if you feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, you need to plan ahead and do those duties that yield longterm results. But, if, in the moment, you're not sure what to do next, it's always good to pray, "What would be beneficial right now," and dive into that. From there, you'll generally know what to do next, and so on.

Here's another interesting quote:

Of all the wastes about the household this is the one irreparable, and as the housewife is wasting it she seems to think she is doing something very commendable. She will save her pennies and waste her life by overwork and lack of sleep, and in the end she spends all she has tried to accumulate, in the vain effort to be well again. P. 91

I agree that it can be a false economy to spend valuable health and strength in order to save money. This is a dilemma that I often think about as I make choices.

For example, I am going to make my living room drapes, because that was the only way I could afford ones in the material and colors that I need. A seamstress wanted around $500 to make one panel in my desired material! I would need 4 panels in all, so that would take me way out of my project budget.

I found some in a similar style in the Country Curtains catalog, and I considered buying them, as they were so much more reasonably priced. However, the material really wouldn't have suited my color scheme, So, I ended up buying the material I really want. I was able to get a great price for it at a place called The Fabric House. I will save money by sewing my own curtains.

Now, I am not the world's most experienced seamstress, so I will have to invest more time than an advanced seamstress would in order to turn out a quality product. If the regular seamstress has to measure twice and cut once, I have to measure four times and cut once. LOL. And, I think my motto should be, "As you sew, so you shall rip~smile~," meaning that I may have to re-do some seams.

If I had been able to find some ready-made for a reasonable price, I might have spent more in terms of total dollars. But, I would have saved considerable time, and I would have been assured of good quality.

As it is, I will end up with exactly what I want, and I will acquire more sewing experience in the process. I hope that I can do a passably good job on them.

There are trade-offs in everything, I guess. Sometimes, it pays to choose time and energy over money, and, sometimes, it's the other way around.


It's time for Merry Monday:

Here's a story about a cat and a dog who each saved their masters' lives:
Cat and Dog of the Year.

If you work with a great attitude, something great might happen to you.

What will you be doing when you are 88 years old? Will you be teaching ballet?

And, you knows what you may be doing when you reach 100. Find out how a woman who has lived at least a century is training to carry the Olympic torch.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Be my valentine...Husbands and Romance...Part II

Some practicals:

1) Read Song of Songs, Esther, the book of Ruth, and other passages in the Bible that inspire you to be loving and romantic toward your husband.
2) Understand and express appreciation for your husband's romantic "language". For example, your husband may think he's being romantic when he keeps your car running safely, for your protection. Another example is this: Last summer, my husband heard me say, "I miss having a cat in our house", and he hunted for just the kitten he thought would delight me. That was every bit as romantic as when he brings me flowers.
3) Speak your husband's romantic language. My husband can take or leave romantic candles on the table or in the bedroom. If we light them, it's more for me. My husband finds it romantic when I anticipate and meet his needs for domestic order. He really is the man for whom Flylady's admonition was spoken: "Nothing says love like providing your family with clean underwear." He also finds it romantic when we go new places together. My husband goes out of his way to speak my romantic language, so I want to do the same for him.
4) Have occasional conversations, in which you discuss what each of you finds to be romantic. Don't try to have a serious talk about this every time he turns around. A man generally doesn't appreciate over-analyzing a relationship. He does, however, appreciate your giving him a gentle, yet straightforward, suggestion about what really does make you feel loved. He wants to learn how to speak your romantic language. He also appreciates your efforts to understand what makes him feel romantic. Understand that you and your husband will both mature through the decades, so what each of you find romantic at one stage of marriage may differ from what you find romantic later on. So, keep learning about each other through the years.
5) Appreciate your husband's noble, masculine nature, and dress and act in a way that honors your own noble, feminine nature. When it comes to romance, opposites both attract each other and complement each other. A man rises to his best for a womanly wife, and a wife rises to her best for a masculine and gentlemanly man. Of course, you are friends. You also share a household and a room. You may be parents together. You may work alongside each other in some endeavor. But, along with all of that, you are still a man and a woman who are in love with each other. If you remember that as you interact together, you'll each feel more confident, and you'll have a happy romance!


Be my Valentine...Husbands and Romance...Part I

Because we women are generally love things like scented candles and pink roses, we tend to think of women as being the more romantic sex. It's my observation as an old married woman, a married woman who is just-past-the-first-flush-of-youth, that men can be as romantic in heart as women, if not more so.

If the romance in a marriage suffers, a husband may feel it even more keenly than his wife. This is particularly true if the wife treats her husband with indifference, because she allows something else to take precedence over her marriage.

If men are so romantic, you ask, then why do so many women complain that their husbands are oafs in that department? Well, one problem is that a man and a woman view romance through different eyes. The things that sweep a woman off her feet may not be the same things that make her man's heart beat faster. A husband's attempts to express romance according to his own notions may fall flat with his wife, and vice versa.

Another disconnect is that men -- particularly young men -- are visually oriented and often have a higher physical drive than women do. Men can endure a lot of emotional pain if their physical needs are being met. Some wives wrongly deduce from this that sex is all their husbands care about. They do not understand the emptiness a man feels if his wife engages in sex out of duty, without enveloping her husband in respect and warm affection.

Still another difficulty is that both a man and a woman can get caught up in this life -- even with good things -- and take each other for granted. Men, especially, romance women in order to win their hearts and their hands in marriage. Once the honeymoon has ended, however, they may so count on the faithfulness of their wives that they turn their energies to other adventures. They may be especially driven to build a career.

In the mind of a man, it's a high compliment to a wife if he can rely on her faithful support as he conquers the adventures of life. Since women think a little differently than men do, she may have no clue how much he values her. She may long for him to express his feelings as he did when they were courting.

If a man gets his priorities out of order, he may become businesslike in manner and fail to treat his wife with tenderness. Since women equate tenderness with romance, the wife naturally will feel that something is lacking in his love for her. The husband, on the other hand, may not realize he is being insensitive, and, when it finally registers with him that he has hurt her feelings, he may heartily regret it.

Even if a husband is somewhat oblivious to his wife's needs, the wife should remember this: We are far more likely to bring out our husband's romantic side through gentle communication than through demanding that he meet our needs.

Perhaps this is one reason why the Bible is full of admonitions for men to treat their wives with tenderness and consideration and for wives to treat their husbands with respect. Setting an atmosphere in which both spouses are thoughtful and courteous to each other allows romance to flourish.

Finally, some wives (and husbands, too) enter marriage with unrealistic expectations. Women may expect that every day will be just like it was when they were engaged, before responsibilities came along. Or, they may want their husbands to always look and act like the heroes in romance novels or romantic movies. Some women may be disappointed to find that romance takes communication, prayer, and attention.

Marriage is a romantic relationship, but it is also a practical one, as well. We all know that it's important to keep the flame of romance burning for a lifetime. Yet, a husband and wife may wonder just how to do that when the wife's current perfume is Eau de Baby-Spit-Up and the husband needs to fix that leaking faucet and both are staring at a stack of unexpected medical bills.

The good news is that romance can not only last for a last time, it can become richer and deeper as the years go by. I say this after 27 years of marriage to a wonderful man.

One sweet memory from my teenage years is the time we dropped by the farm belonging to an older relative of father's and her husband. My father's relative was in the house, but her husband was somewhere out and about on the land. She welcomed us graciously. Shortly afterwards, the old man came in, carrying a bunch of lovely wildflowers. He had been so taken with the lovely day that he had set out to surprise his beloved with a bouquet of summer blossoms. This couple was neither young nor beautiful, but they were an example of romance.

It's often in older couples -- at least in the couples who invested their youth in the right things -- that you observe the loveliest expressions of tenderness. Planting seeds of love in the early and middle years of your marriage will yield a rich relationship in the latter years of life. Plus, it sets a great example for your children.

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be", as the poet says.