Tag Archives: parenting

 

At first, I was a bit frustrated with A Love that Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar: the beginning is mostly a recap of what has happened on their TV series (which I have seen) with a few–very few–details that had not been mentioned in that outlet.  It was the in-depth look at how the Duggars approach discipline, Bible study, family time, and general encouragement from Michelle that I found most inspiring.  I won’t go into all of the details because most people fall into the I-love-everything-about-the-Duggars camp or I-can’t-stand-the-Duggars-and-don’t-care camp.

Interestingly, the only thing that had every really struck me as “funny” about the Duggars was using actions to memorize Bible verses.  I don’t know why, but I had this proud notion in my head that I was above that…even though I was not memorizing ANY Scripture!  I have since started using that method and we are half way through memorizing the Sermon on the Mount!  So, when I cut myself a little humble pie I got some Bible knowledge to go with it, which is a win in the end.

 

Here were a few inspiring poems Michelle shared in the book:

Continue On!

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life. She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother. She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference.

At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it?” she often wondered. “Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her Heavenly Father speak to her heart. “You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be. Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. But I notice. Most of what you give is done with out remuneration. But I AM your reward.

“Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love. Your children are precious to Me. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for Me. What you invest in them is an offering to Me.

“You may never be in the public spotlight. But your obedience shines as a bright light before Me.

“CONTINUE ON.

“Remember you are My servant. Do all to please Me.”

~Roy Lessin~

I cannot remember if it is the one above or below that Michelle wrote she has hanging where she can see it often…I wouldn’t be surprised if it were both!

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper–not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn cleanliness–not godliness.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh. Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window. Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk. Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love is present through the trials. Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive. Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood. Love is the key that opens salvation’s message to a child’s heart.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child. As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

But probably the most striking piece to me was one I forgot to mark so cannot quote exactly, but I have certainly internalized it: Jesus charged me to make disciples; he did not charge me to make friends.  Michelle Duggar points out that when we are seeking the approval of others we might compromise ourselves, but if our goal is to share Christ with them, how can we steer wrong?  What a testimony…and so true.  I think it was the most profound statement (for me) in the entire book.

Definitely will have to pick up a copy for reference someday…especially since it has to be back to the library soon!

Abomination & Barbie Dolls

Sherri Early of Semicolon wrote recently on her blog about the need for light and darkness in novels, particularly as this pertains to Christian literature: how dark is “too dark”?  Can Christian books make mention of occult things, sinful things, dark things while still edifying?

While I love Amish/plain living romances, sometimes I feel like something more…meaty, if you will, but I haven’t had much luck finding Christian fiction that isn’t clunky, one-dimensional, or underdeveloped (my budget has me strapped to the library, so that may be part of my problem).

So I approached Abomination by Colleen Coble with some trepidation; I haven’t read a thriller in quite some time and never one labeled as Christian.  I worried I might have found a clunker.

I was wrong.

Abomination opens with a woman who has been attacked and stabbed but cannot remember how it happened, where she is, who she is, or why the little girl in the back seat calls her mama.  From other characters’ POVs, we learn that the amnesia-ridden woman is being hunted by a serial killer, plus her worried ex-husband (who happens to be the police officer investigating the serial killer).

Twists and turns abound, and I gasped when I learned who the killer was…not who I was expecting, which is always a nice surprise.

{There were a few unfortunate bits, mostly editing: the main character’s true identity is given away too soon because of a typo, sentences that don’t work, wonky speech patterns, repetitive word choice…but that might be the OCD editor in me.}

The balance of light and dark was quite good; perfect, actually for a dreamer like me.  When I was younger, I got so wrapped up in The Face on the Milk Carton that I worried I might have been stolen from my real parents, even though I look just like my mother, I talk just like my mother, I act just like my mother, and I probably even chew gum just like my mother.  So, I have a history of allowing the story to take me in too much.

But that didn’t happen this time around; I had a moment in the dark of my home where I thought of Gideon, the serial killer in Abomination, but then my thoughts turned to Christ.  It was like he said, “Hey, that’s just a story…aren’t I bigger than a story?”  And He is.

So maybe I’ve grown up or maybe Colleen Coble hit the right balance of dark and light; I’ll let you read it and decide.

Also, I devoured a book a few weeks ago called Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.  I wish I had it in front of me so that I could talk about it better, but if you have a young daughter, it’s worth the read.  It’s also worth asking the questions the book raises, like how does princess play affect our daughters?  Is Snow White really a good role model if her single greatest quality is her looks–I mean, what else does the girl do?

Orenstein looks at girlhood critically with all sorts of facts and statistics, but she also approaches the subject from a mom’s perspective, thinking of and writing about her own little girl.  At times the book is terrifying, as I don’t want to think of Pookie being marketed to constantly with pink or pressured to look “hot” when she reaches third grade or spend her teen years confused by the world’s message that she should looking desirable is good but feeling desire is bad.

The book is secular, so Orenstein and I disagreed on certain things (sex before marriage as an example), but it was a fascinating look into the marketing machine and the new world of girl in today’s society.  Again, a must-read for parents of young girls.

Well, could those titles have been any more different?!

I also found myself relating to a lot of Orenstein’s theses, thinking, “That’s exactly what happened to me…that’s how I felt/thought/acted.”

Simplicity Parenting

Subtitle: “Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids”

And that sounded good to me.  As I read, I realized that I already knew (and planned to do) a lot of these things, but the affirmation was terrific.  Our society presses for–as the author says–“More! Faster! Earlier!” it is difficult to fight the tide and choose less.  Less scheduling, less events, less stress, less hovering.

If you’re looking for affirmation that you, too, can jump from the bandwagon of hyperparenting and overscheduling, I highly recommend this book…though the prose is choppy and commas are waaaaaaay overused, which slowed me down and annoyed me, so beware of that.  Still, the content is worth a bit of struggle.

And now, I’ll let some of my favorite bits speak for themselves (starting with one I shared in my last post) :

“Books offer such delight and satisfaction to children, conjuring magical worlds and bringing the wonder of our own right into their hands.  How could it be possible to have ‘too many’ of such good things?
It is a bit easier to imagine the ‘too much of a good thing’ principle with books when our children have entered the ‘series’ section of the library or bookstore.  A child is racing through ‘Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series!’ in a rush to pull ahead of their friend is not reading so much as consuming  When a desire for the next thing is at the heart of an experience, we’re involved in an addiction, not a connection” (87, emphasis mine).

“That’s it!  Enrichment.  As parents, we’ve discovered fertilizer.  And we’re applying it by the ton to childhood” (138).  This comes after a description of a girl doing handstands, playing a blade of grass like a kazoo, daydreaming about the ice cream truck…moments and hours and lazy days that kids need rather than constant “enrichment” through classes, clubs, and sports.  These things can be good, but when they push out the unstructured joy of childhood, they can be damaging: “Too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves” (138).

“After all, as a society we parents have signed on to be our children’s lifelong ‘entertainment committees.’  We’re unpaid performers, that’s for sure, but performers nonetheless.  And we take it seriously.  As such, we’re accustomed to seeing our children’s boredom as a personal failure.  A break in the festivities…and we are liable to jump up and dance.  No wonder we’re exhausted” (143).

“Physicians are accustomed to being ‘on call,’ but now we all are: twenty-four hours a day…So when our cellphone rings just as we’re trying to squeeze onto the off-ramp…physiologically we go from moderate to a hyperarousal state quite quickly.  And we have a hard time returning to a calm state.  Sorry to say, this is a symptom of high stress.  We could all use more ‘moments of Sabbath’ built into our lives” (147, emphasis mine).

“When we allow this ‘on-demand’ mentality to color our children’s perspectives and schedules, then they lose the gift of anticipation…Do you remember yearning for summer?  Literally counting down the days?  When you back off the treadmill loop of planned activities, you make room for pauses, you make time for anticipation and reflection” (149).

“We often bathe our children in words.  By keeping a running commentary on everything they do, we mean to assure them that we’re noticing. Yet the more we’re talking, the less we are really noticing” (185, emphasis mine).

“In a noisy world, quiet attentiveness speaks louder than words, and it gives a child more space for their own thoughts and feelings to develop” (187).

“When you act to limit what you don’t want for your family, you clarify what you really do need, what is important to you.  Your values clarify.  Simplification is a path of self-definition for the family” (215, bold emphasis mine).

Our Christian faith defines our core values (worship of Christ, loving our neighbors, etc.), but we choose smaller things as a family.  After reading this book, I plan to simplify Pookie’s toys a bit further (at least taking some out of rotation for a while), be more consistent with our daily routines, try to give her more independent play time (though as we’re weaning she’s rather clingy), and keep the TV off while she’s awake.

Here’s a question: Have you wanted to simplify in your home?  Have you taken any steps to do so?  I’d love to hear about it!