Monday, November 9, 2015

What If This One Thing Could Save Your Marriage?

If affection could sanctify your marriage and maybe even save it, would you give it?

Affection is needed in your marriage.  It’s the glue.  It’s the duct tape that weathers every weather, whether you’re the giver or the receiver.  It’s the tall drink of water after a 100 burpee workout. 

Dictionary Definition of Affection: (noun) fond attachment, devotion, or love.

But get this!  It comes from the root word, “affect,” which is a verb and verbs call for action.

Dictionary Definition of Affect: (verb) to act on; produce an effect or change in; to impress the mind or move the feeling of.

Putting aside W.H. Auden’s use of H E double hockey sticks in the prior couplet, and his rather stereotypical life style of male, 1950’s Playwrights, his very quotable quote from The More Loving One is incredibly beautiful and biblical and needs to be framed in burlap with old mason jars full of antique eyeglasses placed beside it.

That’s just said just right.

As with all love poetry, he ripped it off from Paul’s love chapter in First Corinthians 13…

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs.”

Where in the Christmas pudding did we get the idea that the giving and taking of affection involved math?  Keeping a record is the very act of equationing and graphing and summifying which is math.  Keeping a record is why I hated my statistics class in college (Failed it.  Took it again. Nailed it.)  The whole unaffectionate notion that we are keeping a running tally of how he has affected us so far that day in that way or in that issue must now affect how affectionate you chose to be in return?  

That’s love math.  Love math is an affection-killer.  Love math is a marriage-killer.  If the losing of love math could sanctify(meaning to purify and make free from sin), or maybe even save your marriage, would you give it?  Would you whole-heartedly set aside your equations and affect him with your affection? 

You are already broken?  Dear sister, every time Jesus gives you a call to obey Him, He is speaking to your future.  All He says to your past is, “go and sin no more.”  Every time you open your Bible it is to remind you that His plan is to give you a FUTURE AND A HOPE. 

Step into this new day with no brain calculator running your love math receipt.  You know all those times you’ve handed the love math receipt to your husband?  Those days are gone. 

Am I speaking too metaphorically?  I’m sorry.  I read a lot of poetry.  This all means love and give and affect him and lift his head and don’t grow weary of doing good and never give only so he will give back and don’t give like a martyr and love him and love him and love him and pour and pour and run over the affection. 

Affect his day with your affection.  Be the more loving one and don’t mind at all when you are.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rachel Cook Likes This Book

I must convince you in one paragraph to read this book.

  The concept of this story was envisioned by a librarian and helped along by her niece who is a children's author and is about a female writer who has just endured almost a decade of wartime who then goes to a small island outside of the main island of England to collect more wartime stories of the not-so-long-ago German-occupied territory of Guernsey during WWII.  Do you understand how many layers of perfection that run on sentence just took you through?  A woman who is surrounded by stories can not help but overflow with this perfect story.  A woman who writes for children can not help but add such warmth and cleverness to this story.  A woman who endures almost a decade of constant bombing raids can not help but go after the perfect healing of writing down her fellow counterman's stories.  Every word is perfection.  Every horrible happening, every clever little bantering joke, every description of bomb raid and pie making was perfection.  It is perfectly told through a series of letters that make me want to throw away my laptop and sole communicate with cream-colored, monogrammed-embossed stationary.   I'll never be the same again.  

Have I convinced you?

(Disclaimer: It is secular so review before handing it to children.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Birthday Blog So Read It

Thank you for all the texts, messages, party emojis, phone calls, Skype calls, nods of approval, sweet whisperings (those were from my husband) and over all celebratory atmosphere that you filled my day with.  I'm sure you all want to know how I pull all this awesome off.  I'll tell you since most of you are my juniors now and you have to listen to old people.

I strive for perfectly effortless.

Like this happy lady. 

But when it comes down to it I really feel like life requires a great deal of effort and I end up looking like this guy.

My real birthday happened when I was 14 which only makes me 19 so take that mathematics! No longer am I a slave to perfection or the heavy burdens of this world that cause contorting of the face.  I am a child of God.  If anyone or anything tells you that you can reach heaven by following rules and getting as close to perfection as possible than they are wrong.  You will quickly end up like ugly face guy.

It's all because of this.

Come to Jesus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

THE SEQUEL: Kids Argue and Parents' Ears Bleed

  About 5 years ago Diana Krall came to the Hanford Fox Theater.  I didn't care about the $50 for the ticket. I was going and I was going to love it.  I went.  I loved it.  I love jazz and I love love love jazz piano.  I just couldn't believe how good she was.  I wanted to be able to do that.  I already had a sultry  smooth high alto voice (gained from lack of sleep not cigarettes like other jazz singers) and all I needed to do was learn to make my fingers dance around on the piano.  I bought Alfred's Adult Piano course and sat down before my children's keyboard.  I placed my fingers on the C chord and let loose.

  I sucked.  I really sucked.  It sounded horrible.  It sounded horrible for not just one day but every day for days and days and days.  It was how Diana Krall must have sounded when she was 6 months old.


  I keep expecting my children to wake up one day and not argue.  I expect them to be able to Diana Krall their words into this beautiful jazz arrangement where the drums combine with the upright bass and the piano answers back in a perfect cascade of musical genius but most days they are just hitting each other over the head with their upright bass and drum set.  Most days the music they do make sounds like me trying to play "Jingle Bells" on our dusty old keyboard.  

  It has taken me close to ten years of parenting to figure out that it is going to take them their ENTIRE LIVES to figure out how to communicate in love with the people they live with every day.  You know how i figured it out?  I'm married to someone I need to communicate with every single day and it has taken us years and years to practice and perfect that and we still don't have it down perfectly.  And we're grown ups.  And then I had another epiphany right after the first epiphany...that's called a double epiphany.

  Teaching my children to communicate is exactly like pre-pre-marital counseling.  I mean exactly.  The communication counsel I give them is almost word-for-word what most communication chapters in marriage books say.  I am bold enough to declare right here and right now that if you are willing to put in the time to pre-pre-marital counsel them now, I dare say there are some future spouses out there that will give you many thanks.  

  I know I said all that and now you expect the formula but that's not how loving communication works.  It's not a science, it's a musical...I mean music.  One of the first pieces of advice that a music teacher gives to a student is listen to the greats.  Tune your ear to what great music sounds like.  Music will then be caught not just taught.  If you are a bad example of loving communication then that is what will be caught in your home.  Maybe the following checklist is something that you need to ask the Lord to change in your life.  I keep it in the front of my brain when I'm communicating with my husband.  The entire Bible is our manual on loving communication but if I had to narrow it down to the passages that I read out loud to my kids while they glare at each other after a fight it would be James 3, I Corinthians 13, and Philippians 2.  There's a deeper need for a specific type of communication with the people you live with every day.  Without it your home is not a peaceful home at all.  I keep it in the front of my brain when I'm communicating with my husband.  I'm going to keep this checklist super simple and to the point. I'm not smart enough to make it fancy anyway.

  •   Think the best of people's words.  If he says, "I don't want to play that right now," don't translate that in your mind to "I don't ever want to play your games because you're stupid and your ideas are stupid and I have better ideas and we're going to do my ideas every time because they're better."  That's called an Intentions Translator and no one should allow them in their brain.  Don't change the meaning of people's words.
  •   It is better to be kind than to be right.  I reiterate...IT IS BETTER TO BE KIND THAN TO BE RIGHT.
  •   Just because their opinion is different doesn't mean they are wrong or trying to be contrary.  They just have a different opinion.  
  • When someone is telling you about how you hurt their feelings or how something is annoying them, listen with no rebuttal-preparing going on in your brain.  It doesn't matter that the same thing doesn't hurt or annoy you.  It is better to be kind than to be right.
  • If the communication is not constructive then shut your face until it is.
  • NEVER speak in absolutes.  It's straight lying with your ugly mouth.
  • Not being easily offended shows maturity.  Letting stuff go quickly shows maturity.  You want to be babies forever?  Grow up and don't be so sensitive.  
  • Being kind is better than being right.
    Communication is never going away.  I tell my kids they will be doing two things every day of their life so they might as well learn to do them efficiently....chores and communicating.  I know.  I'm such a dream-killer.

  They've got to figure out how to live with people that drive them crazy.  I'm sure I'll blog about this again in a month because we'll never be done working on it.  Now you'll have to excuse me, I hear raised voices.

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Year Anniversary Home Educating Reflections

It was then I said…
Everyone has there own learning styles?  What be that?  I have but one and that is “Get your work done or so help me.”

It is now I say…
Great Scott!  Even I have my own unique learning style therefore each one of my kids do as well.  Let’s seek them out and revel in their glory.  Let us dive in and help them to blossom into productive study habits so that when they're in college and they don’t have me to set the microwave timer on them, they will still be able to get their work done.  Yes, let’s do that!

It was then I said…
I only know that you’re learning anything and understanding everything if we do loads of never-ending work pages.  Fill in the blank, child, or so help me!

It is now I say…
No, you fool!  That does not prove they understand how to spell just because they took two hours to copy twenty spelling words down.  That does not prove they are adding sums in their heads like nobody’s business just because they took three hours to do one page of triple digit addition problems.  Busy work does not prove understanding the work.  I reiterate, busy work does not understanding prove.

It was then I said…
Read stacks of award-winning, heart-stirring, laugh-inducing books.

It is now I say…
I am so glad I read stacks of award-winning, heart-stirring, laugh-inducing books.  We hug and kiss each wonderful paper bound tale after we finish it and wish that it never had a last chapter.  If feels so good to be right.

It was then I said…
Read the Word of God to them every single day.  It is profitable for all things.

It is now I say…
You mean on those days that I’m yelling, begging, pleading that they stop the ugly shenanigans, I could have started our day with God’s Word and invited the Holy Spirit to be a part of it and maybe God’s Word and the Holy Spirit would have whispered in their hearts to cut it out and my yelling was maybe interrupting the whispers?  Oh for crying out loud.

It was then I said…
They are kids.  They wiggle.  They have energy.  They are monkey children.  At least they are doing it in good fun.

It is now I say…
True but must they be monkeys all twelve hours that they are not asleep?  Must they be monkeys during devotionals?  Must they be monkeys during math homework?  Must they be monkeys during co-op classes?  Must they be monkeys during children’s worship?  Must they be monkeys at 7am?  I say nay and I say it emphatically.  But alas, I myself am a monkey.  They are basically being raised by Carol Burnett.  I kid you not.  I have to set the timer on all five of us so that we can focus on a task without jokes or wisecracks or getting up and re enacting the historical scene with a spontaneous musical number.  We can make it for about 7 minutes so far.  We started at about 3 minutes.  If I can un-monkey us for 10 minutes straight, it will be a go-get-ice-cream-and-celebrate kind of day.

It was then I said…
I shan’t reward you or bribe you for work completed.  You must learn for learning is good and I shall not have you grow up to be a hobo.

It is now I say…
What would you like after you get this done?  You shall have it up to half my kingdom.  Yes, I bribe my kids.  Judge me or whatever.

It was then I said…
It is only proper and good to sit downeth in the morning and complete all school until we are done or dead, whichever comes first.

It is now I say…
I haven’t the foggiest idea when we’ll do what today but please get out of my face until I’ve had two cups of coffee.  But for those who’ve asked, here is my ideal daily schedule (I said IDEAL.  This happens about 20% of my dog gone life)

8:30am: Kids have a light snack and I have coffee.  They go to their beds and read a chapter in the Bible and a chapter in their reading book.  My non-reader looks at picture books.  I have my devotional in my room "by myself."

9:30am: Kids join me and we read a short Bible passage and talk about how this is what God would like us to do but praise the Lord for grace when we fail.  There is no bondage in Jesus Christ!

11:30am: Brunch (we are fancy).  I put on Visual Latin and IEW (that’s the writing program we use) videos while we cook.  This is also when I prepare dinner, which is the best change to my schedule I’ve ever made.  The kids also get their house chores done during this time.

2:30pm: We fold laundry or stretch on floor while working on Classical Conversations memory work.  I let the kids act out the history sentence songs because they have Rees blood in them and they can’t help it.

4:00pm: The girl goes to ballet and the boys take turns on the computer with Teaching Textbooks math.  The girl gets it done lickety-split before or after ballet.

6:30pm: We eat dinner and they run around the yard like crazy monkeys.  I usually read our read-aloud to them while they eat but I have been increasingly relying on audiobooks in the car.

7:30pm: The kids get ready for bed and then we all sit on the floor in front of the whiteboard and work on Spell To Read and Write curriculum. 

8:30pm: They go to bed and my husband and I sit around and talk about our hopes and dreams or maybe we work on our Netflix addiction.

It was then I said…
Are they really learning?

It is now I say…
Why, yes, they are.

It was then I said…
I’m going to be so good at this.

It is now I say…
Wow. I’m really good at this...on an ideal day.

It was then I said…
I’m raising a bunch of monkeys and they’re monkeys 24 hours a day.

It is now I say…
I’ve done it, I tell you!  We are un-monkeyed for 7 WHOLE MINUTES!

It was then I said…
Is all of this really worth it?

It is now I say…

Upon my last whir of coffee grounds…it truly is.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yeah, I met Katy Perry Once

A brand new Christian solo artist was hanging out in the lobby after the concert.  She had only sung one song to open for two other bands.  My friends and I were waiting for Tree 63 to sign our CDs when I noticed her standing by herself a couple of yards away, looking very awkward and ready to get the heck out of there.  I remembered that this was the same solo artist that had been at the Calvary youth camp with our church last winter.  There were hundreds of kids there at that youth camp so I had never bumped into her but my close friends had gone snowboarding with her during one of the free afternoons.  I walked over to her and said “hi” and “great job” and “have a nice whatever” and moved on with my life.  It was only right after this last Super Bowl, when my friend posted a picture of herself with this solo artist, that I realized that this Christian solo artist was the future Katy Perry.


I have not seen her movie she made about her rise to stardom which includes her choice to leave her Christian faith.  I have read several comments on how she blames it on being raised in legalism though I'm sure that is certainly not the complete reason.  I don’t know her full story.  I know it breaks my heart.  I know God is waiting with open arms and complete forgiveness when she does come home to Him.  I know her parents must grieve for her.  I know my heart would grieve if one of my own children walked away from Jesus.

I think the rest of this post is going to make it sound like every Christian kid that walks away from their faith does it because their parents strangled them with legalism.  That is not what I’m meaning.  Christian kids leave their faith for billions of different reasons.  I, for one, do not want my kids to walk away because of legalism.  It would tare me to pieces.  My following thoughts are just from a perspective that sees the trend, the natural inclination, the desperate things we do to keep our kids from drugs, sex, and alcohol.  I see the desperate thought that if we add this rule and that rule onto the Gospel of grace, maybe our kids will be too scared to death to walk away from Jesus.  If I tell my kids that fire and brimstone await those who wear short shorts and listen to Katy Perry then maybe they will be more inclined to listen to me.  You guys...parents really shouldn’t lie to their kids.

We get fire confused with water.  You put your hand in fire and really bad things happen.  There are many sins that God has outlined in the Bible that you just must not do.  You do those and you are playing with fire.  They will cause pain, destruction and maybe even death.  God can always heal and bring you back from them.  There is always forgiveness but fire leaves scars that you may have for the rest of your life.  Then there’s water which is much like our Christian liberties or preferences.  You put your hand in water and you'll be just fine.  Even more so if you add soap.  Our wear this, listen to that, watch this, hang out with them, and be a part of that.  It’s water.  Some of us find that water too murky and some say it's clear and fresh.  That water over there is rushing too fast but for others it’s just fine.  This water is too hot.  This water is too cold.  This water is just right but somebody drank it all up.  This water is full of tadpoles.  Some people like tadpoles.  It’s water.  God didn’t call it fire in the Bible and neither should you.  God tells you exactly what sexual immorality is.  It’s fire.  God did not tell you exactly what bands not to listen to.  It’s water.  You seek the Lord and dip your big toe in to test it out.  Go find another lake if that lake doesn’t float your boat.  It breaks my heart when parents lie and say that God calls that thing fire when it is just water.  Don’t use legalistic lies to keep your kids on the straight and narrow.  Don’t add to the Gospel.  I keep reading Galatians 5 over and over again these last couple of weeks.  We have no yoke of bondage, Christians!  We are free indeed!  Do not enslave your children in legalism thinking it will help save them from walking away in the future.  

I tell my daughter (This really hasn’t come up with my boys yet. They think Legos, Avengers, and sitting on each other is what shapes all life choices.) at the end of almost every reason-why-I-don’t-think-this-is-good-for-you conversation: This is my choice for you.  If you have a friend that gets to do this you should not look down on her in any way.  It’s just a preference.  It’s not written into the Gospel.  If you think you are holier than her because you don’t do that it is called being self-righteous and it is wrong.  It is legalism.  It’s what the Pharisees did and you remember how displeased Jesus was with them?  Go about your merry way and don’t think you’re better than anyone nor anybody. 

I pray so hard that this settles deeply into her soul.  

When she says something like, “I’m glad you don’t work.  It’s so sad when kids can’t be with their moms.”  I do not say, “Yeah, why would moms even do that?!”  I do say, “You know honey, I am glad God has provided a way for me to stay home with you guys but you need to be careful how you think about that.  Moms that work love their kids just as much as I love you.  I am not a holier person because I stay home.  It’s just what God has called me to do.  I’m not holier than them.”

When I say, ”I know that’s a popular style but I really think your legs are too long for it to look very modest on a ten-year-old girl,” I also almost always finish with, “You might see that style a lot on your friends.  Do not tell your friends that your mom doesn’t let you wear that.  I kind of think it sounds self-righteous.  Just say something friendly.”  (Hey now.  Maybe you think that all tweens and teens will only complain about their family’s rules but I know plenty that will go the other direction and be self-righteous about them.)

The self-righteous declarations that come out of your mouth have a huge impact on how holy your children think they are compared to others.  Keep your words peaceful and quiet and out of other people’s business.  You judge other folks' water preferences out loud in your home and boy oh boy will your kids do the same.

I see all those lovely fruits of the spirit listed at the end of Galatians 5 and not one of them says “never listened to songs that didn’t mention God” or “never once wore a skirt above my knees.”  

"Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control"…that’s what I see listed and that's what I want to see in my kids. 

Guys, I agree with Paul and Galatians 5.  

Let fire be fire and water be water.  The Bible tells me so.  I’m praying for you, sweet Katy Perry.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Teaching Your Child to be Teachable

I command you to read this entire chapter of Proverbs before you hear anything that I have to say.  It will remind us that our children do need to listen to us.  They do need to be teachable.  The Bible tells me so.

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is like the shining sun,[a]
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Your child is often learning something new and/or something they dislike.  Whether it’s a new or old school assignment, a new or old chore, a new or old character lesson.  Whatever it might be, you are trying to teach it and they are not getting it or they think they get it and would rather you stop telling them that they don’t have it. 

How do you teach a child to be teachable?  How do you prepare and soften a young heart to be open and humble enough to learn and be challenged and corrected so that his heart is a growing beautiful garden of LOVING TO LEARN and choosing to be a HUMBLE LEARNER.  How do you teach them to be open to learning and mastering something new?  What is the formula to keep the door of their hearts wide open to the challenges of being the HUMBLE LEARNER?  To being the one that that doesn’t get it yet but is willing to start with the baby steps.

It’s frustrating to be the kid that is constantly being trained in something new.  But it is an absolutly normal, necessary part of childhood.  I’ve been racking my brain for the perfect analogy and then I hit a wall…just kidding.  The analogy IS a wall.

When your child is learning a new thing it is always going to be like a wall for them to climb over.  Have you ever been on a mud run?  Or possibly stood on the sidelines and laughed and pointed at people in a mud run?  It seems the perfect analogy for what your child’s brain is going through when they are learning something new.  They’re running along enjoying the wide open space to “run with it” but then they hit a wall…

They can’t go under it.
They can’t walk through it.
They can’t run around it (unless they’re cheaters and nobody’s trying to raise cheaters).

They have to flex they’re muscles and climb over it.

But what if they sit down, lean their forhead against the wall, and cry?

What if they start and re start climbing the wall and they can’t seem to make any progress?

What if they refuse to even consider climbing the wall and they do cheat and run around or they just quit the whole race?

It breaks my heart to see children, of any age show such disinterest in climbing learning walls.  Such indifference at trying something new.  Either because they
A.   Don’t think they’d be interested in it.
B.  Don’t think they’d be good at it.
C.  It would require to much work.

How to fix this? Darn it!  How?

When you condition their heart to set aside feelings of indifference, feelings of insecurity, feelings of frustration, you are condtioning that heart to LEARN.  You are turning flimsy feelings into flexing muscles of learning.  When you are teaching your child to not take it personally when anybody is asking them to do something that they aren’t good at yet, you are creating a moldable, teachable heart.  When they think they already know everything, yet you stop them and teach them to accept correction from someone else, you are giving them a humble, kind spirit that humankind is going to be graced with wherever they go. 

Getting over that wall matters.  It’s a big deal.

You need to use your own judgement on how high to make the wall, in what style of coaching they would best learn, in when to rest for a minute and then try again, and in what the appropriate reward would be after they get over the wall.  My kids are different from your kids and my parenting style is different from your style.  But get over that wall!  It matters.  One of my kids responds best to standing there with a stop watch and me yelling “Ready, set, go!” while my other kid responds best if I google the scientific proof that learning this would be advantagious for him.  My girl just wants my company so I just stand on the other side and yell, “Hurry up, so we can go watch a musical.”  But they all need to get over the wall.  It matters.

When he’s 12 months old, you are teaching him to pick up toys and put them in his little toy box.  That’s just a little wall but it matters.  When he’s 5 and you’re teaching him his letters, don’t let his feelings rule the process.  Help him over the wall.  When she’s 7 and can’t stand doing dishes, tell her she’s going to be doing dishes for the rest of her life so get it done lickity-split.  It matters! 

It’s sooooooooooooo hard though.  Half of the time I’m totally into coaching my child over the wall but when they sit down and cry, I often want to sit down and cry right next to them and then go eat ice cream.  But I don’t want my child to be that closed off, unteachable child when he is grown.  I have to make the effort NOW to mold his heart to be teachable.  

In walks the power of prayer.  In walks the days and hours and weeks of coaching our kids over learning walls.  It’s all about winning their hearts for the Lord and away from themselves.  That’s really what you should tell people who ask you what you do for a living. 

Oh you know…just sitting around…WINNING MY CHILD’S HEART FOR THE LORD and coaching them over LEARNING WALLS.  GOSH.
Go for it.  Make them climb that wall and watch them run with it.

This matters so much.  Soft hearts and willing minds can do great things for the Lord.  Get out their and teach some hearts to be teachable.