Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Freedom to Make Mistakes" (Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel)

Dear friends,

So yeah, it's been well over two years since I started this Reflections on Grace Based Parenting series based on Tim Kimmel's book, and a year and a half since the last post on it. Now it's finally time to finish up so I can pass along the book to one of my daughters who is expecting her first baby this spring.  I already gave a copy to her older sister, who has two little boys already.  It’s funny to be well into the grandparenting years while still parenting young ones of my own at home.

The final two chapters are “The Freedom to Make Mistakes” and “Evening Grace.”   Trust me, in 26 years of mothering, I’ve made a boatload of mistakes!  So glad for grace to change and move on! Here are some of the quotes from these chapters which are most helpful to me:

“Parents who embrace grace make their homes a safe place for average kids to develop into extraordinary people.  In these types of homes, weaknesses and inadequacies aren’t a big deal.  These families are overseen by shrewd mothers and fathers who see their children’s fragile features as opportunities for God’s power to shine through them.  They also know that giving their children a safe place to work through their vulnerabilities keeps these shortomcings from getting in the way of their true greatness.”

“If anything, grace should motivate you to a higher holiness.  Grace-based homes aren’t places where family members assume they can say whatever they want, see whatever they want, hear whatever they want, taste or drink whatever they want, or touch whatever they want.  That’s not grace.  That’s someone wanting to live his or her own life with no regard for what God has said or what He thinks.  But when grace is in place, there is clearly a different attitude toward sin in homes without grace…. People who walk by faith are far more capable of developing a godly and righteous lifestyle because they are finding their power for living in their personal relationship with the Lord.”

“It’s not that grace-based homes don’t take their children’s sin seriously.  Nor is it that grace-based homes circumvent consequenceds.  It isn’t even that grace-based homes do nothing to protect their children from attacks and temptations that threaten them from outside.  They do all these things, but not for the same reasons.  Grace-based homes aren’t trusting in the moral safety of their home or the spiritual environment they’ve created to empower their children to resist sin…. Bottom line: Grace-based families realize that their children will struggle with sin.  They consider it an honor to be used by God to show their children how to find true forgiveness in Christ.  They are not intimidated by the dialogue that brings the discussion of sin to light.  In fact, they are grateful to be able to come alongside their children with an unconditional love during some of their toughest hours.”

“A grace response to your children’s sin is to avoid condemnation.  You can evaluate their wrong actions, discuss their negative effects, and even voice the pain and disappointment that you have experienced as a result of it.  But you don’t want to condemn.  Condemnation corners them and doesn’t offer much hope.  Condemnation attacks their character rather than addresses their behavior.  When you condemn, it causes a reflex within them to defend themselves.  Often your condemnation oes little more than to make a bad situation far worse.”

“Providing consequences for sin is a loving form of grace.  It says, “I love you too much to let you continue in this pattern and grow up to be bad.” Meting out fair and consistent consequences for their negative actions tells children there is a mature and decent parent overseeing their lives.  Letting them get away with sin says just the opposite.  It tells them they have an immature parent who is more concerned about their comfort than with their children’s dignity.”

“You have been singled out to do a favor for God.  He is asking you to be His representative to a small but vital part of the next generation.  He needs someone to be His voice, His arms, and His heart. He chose you.”

I’m glad I read these chapters tonight.  They are good reminders for me.  A lot has happened in our family since I started the series.  There have been some really tough circumstances and hard decisions, as well as some positive progress and sweet memories.  Looking back and looking forward, I know that I need to be more consistently proactive in my mothering to help my kids deal with the complexities of life.  I have swung the pendulum from severe to lax, and need to find my middle rhythm in grace.

I sat down with my five younger kids for about 15 minutes this evening – nothing long and drawn out. I read to them Ephesians 2:1-10 (grace of course!) and then chatted for a little bit about asking God to help us grow spiritually so that we want to do the right thing from the heart.  We also talked about some of the ways we need to pull it together as a family in the areas of responsibility around the house.  I tried to keep our family meeting light and sweet, and I think I got through to them at least a little bit!   We need to do this more often.  I’ll also give them a detailed list of reasonable expectations about chores, meals, use of electronics, etc.  I’ll tweak it based on this evening’s discussion and give it to them soon.  They did get to choose the days they wanted to do dishes.  A little choice goes a long way toward cooperation.

How about you?  How do you embrace grace in your home? I’d love to see your comments.  If you’re a blogger or you’ve found something good about parenting on the Internet, feel free to link related posts!

My previous posts in this Reflections on Grace Based Parenting series are:

You might also like these related posts:
    Virginia Knowles

      Sunday, December 15, 2013

      The Proper Pressure

      My friend Patty called yesterday.  "Do you want some bagels and flat bread?  I just got a whole bunch on clearance at the bakery outlet!"  Ever thoughtful, this old friend of mine!  She's been on Cru ministry staff, along with her husband, for most of her adult life. I've known her for nearly 20 years, and she's always been so full of grace and generosity.  I hadn't seen her in a while, but we keep in touch by e-mail and Facebook.

      So Patty stopped by, and knowing she didn't come just to drop off some bread, I suggested we take a long stroll around my neighborhood and catch up in person.  Unfortunately, while we were gone, her tire went flat in my driveway. Completely unruffled, she opened her trunk, pulled out her little electric air pump, and plugged it into the car's lighter.  PSSSSH!   Little by little the tire regained its roundness.  Slow going, but "Slow and steady wins the race!" as the tortoise well knew. I thought that pump was really nifty and told her I'd have to get one since they're only about $25.  

      As we continued to talk, Patty hit the off button and pulled out the pump nozzle.  But the tire was still pretty flat! She smiled.  She'd had a bright idea that I didn't know about.  Yep, that's right.  She wanted me to learn how to pump up a tire from start to finish. Not just watch her, but DO it myself!  So I did.  Check the PSI number on the tire to find the proper air pressure so I wouldn't over-inflate it.  Put the nozzle on the tire and flip the clamp lever.  Plug it in to the car.  Flip the on switch. Watch the dial until it reaches the PSI.  Turn it off and take the nozzle off the tire.  The whole works.  I am now an empowered woman.  

      Patty explained to me that since her husband is very often out of the country on mission trips, she's had to learn to do a lot of things for herself.  It keeps her from getting too frazzled.  Because we're both philosophical chicks, we started musing about the metaphor of the tire pump and the PSI number.  How do we find the proper pressure in our lives?  Without air in our tires, we can't roll, but when does the pressure get too much and threaten a blow out?  When are we taking on more than we can handle?  When do we need to learn to back off and let it go?  Or conversely, when do we need more air, more pressure?  When do we need to step it up and take charge and make it happen?  Good questions!  

      For Patty, this means there are certain ministry settings where she does not thrive.  She knows what she can do and what she can't.  It means finding emotional support from others when things get a bit much.  It means accepting herself for who she is, rather than comparing to others who seem to have it all together. It means being resourceful, and finding ways to do practical things by herself and for herself. 

      In my own life, I find myself stressing about things I can't control while overlooking other problems that I should at least try to solve.  I have to know when to walk by and when to dig in.  I have to set boundaries and form reasonable expectations for myself and others. And I've had to learn to do a lot of things for myself rather than expecting others to do them for me.  I visit a Christian counselor.  I have a wonderful, supportive church and friends and family who check in on me and pray for me.  I read a variety of blogs that help me both think and do things that will improve life at home and at work.  I write in my journal or call a friend.  I tackle a mess or close a door.  I set goals and make a To Do list to motivate myself to action.  At age 50, I don't have all the pep I did when I first met Patty, but slow and steady wins the race, right?

      How about you?  How do you find the proper pressure in your life?  What is your part to play, and what is not?

      You might also like to read these related posts: 
      Grace and peace,
      Virginia Knowles

      This post may be linked at these blogs:

    • Still Saturday
    • The Sunday Community
    • Raising Homemakers on Wednesday
    • Whole-Hearted Home on Wednesday
    • Wise Woman Link Up on Wednesday
    • Walking Redeemed on Wednesday


      Friday, November 29, 2013

      Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh - Selected Quotes

      Dear friends,

      It's the day after Thanksgiving, and maybe, like me, you're feeling tired and scattered and a wee bit overwhelmed.  Or maybe not.

      It's been that year of loss and transition for me and sometimes that all scrunches up in one spot.  I've been trying to clean house, get out my warmer clothes, run my errands (yes, a teeny bit of Black Friday shopping at the craft store with my younger kids), do paperwork, take a long nap, ride my hormone swings, and still process my emotions about a bazillion different things while surrounded by the daily chaos of lots of kids who do not value solitude as much as I do.  So honestly, I am no where near being "in the holiday spirit" at the moment. I was thinking today that I needed to sit quietly and ponder about what I want out of life for myself and my family, especially in this next month of what could become Christmas Craziness.  When I pulled in to the driveway after a last minute trip to the post office, I decided to sit for a few moments in the solitude of my van.  I found one of my journals wedged down between the seat and my supply box.  It's usually one I use just for sermon notes, but at a doctor's appointment last year I jotted down some quotes from a classic book.  It's a bit of a scrawl, but I'm amazed I was able to write as legibly as I did, because I had a broken hand at the time.

      The book is Gift from the Sea, written in 1955 by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The gifted author of over 10 books, she had gone through so much transition and loss herself.  She was the wife of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the mother of five who had suffered the tragic kidnapping and death of her toddler son.  In this book, probably her most well-known, she draws lessons from different kinds of sea shells she finds on the beach.

      From her chapter on the channeled whelk, she writes of living "in grace" with an inner harmony... "For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel.  The pattern of our lives is essentially circular.  We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider's web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes.  How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives.  How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living.  How desirable and how distant is the ideal of the contemplative, artist, or saint - the inner inviolable core, the single eye."

      In her chapter on the moon shell, she writes of the need for regular solitude: "The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.  But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of the whole web of human relationships... And woman today is still searching. We are aware of our hunger and needs, but still ignorant of what will satisfy them.  With our garnered free time, we  are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them.  With our pitchers, we attempt sometimes to water a field, not a garden.  We throw ourselves indiscriminately into committees and causes.  Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distractions... Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day -like writing a poem, or saying a prayer.  What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive."

      722440: A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to LiveAnd so I am in my bedroom, behind a locked and re-locked door, trying to find a small wedge of solitude and refill my soul with peace and inspired creative focus. Before I emerge again, I'm going to sit in my soft chair, eat a protein bar, read a chapter of A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live by Emily Freeman (which I saw mentioned on so many blogs that I like that I finally drove to the nearest bookstore to get my hands on my own copy), and putter around artfully arranging something or other in a continuation of what I shared last week in One Day: A Little Beauty and Order in My Home.  I am feeling a little better now, but I think I'll go to bed early tonight.

      There is much more in the book, but that is enough for now.  You will find another quote from Gift from the Sea here: On Clouds, Hands, Oysters and Messy Humanity.

      If the idea of solitude and quietness and focus intrigues you, you may also like these posts:

      Grace and peace,
      Virginia Knowles

      This post may be linked at these blogs:

    • Still Saturday
    • The Sunday Community


      Tuesday, November 19, 2013

      One Day: A Little Beauty and Order in My Home

      Dear friends,

      It's been over a month since I posted on either this Come, Weary Moms blog or Virginia's Life, Such As It Is.  The only blog I've kept up with at all is Watch the Shepherd because of my weekly hymn series and an unexpected post on troubling issues in the home schooling movement, which has had nearly 3,800 pages visits in the last 16 days. Yikes!

      Frankly, I'm sometimes a very Weary Mom and there's not as much time to write. It's a busy life raising several kids, homemaking, and teaching three days a week in a private Christian school...  Well, enough said there.  All in all, I think I'm doing pretty well. For the most part, I love what I do, and I do what I love.  So it's a good kind of tired.

      Monday is my "breathing easier day" since my grading and lesson planning are done over the weekend, and I'm off school for the day.  Not that I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs!  Usually, Monday is a mix of housework, errands, appointments, and a bit of writing if I'm lucky.  This particular Monday was one for pursuing "a little beauty and order."  I'm trying to make my home a haven and keep it that way.  I do a little here and a lot there, and sometimes a major breakthrough push, but never quite catch up. Yes, my kids do help out with the housework, but does it really have to be this difficult to enforce little things like not eating in the living room or computer room?  And will I ever get the laundry and paperwork and books completely under control?  Yeah, I've been purging, purging, purging the clutter.  I took out a huge pile of books yesterday to donate to the library book store.   However, even with all of the puttering around, I think I've decided that with six of my kids still living here, I'll just have to hold my breath and wait a decade until they're all grown and gone before I can keep my house consistently clean. :-)  

      Anyway, Monday....

      After I drove my youngest two to school, I transplanted about two dozen golden poppy seedlings into a patch next to our front walkway.  (This is Florida, folks!)  When I was a little girl in northern California, I grew poppies and pansies and all manner of other floral lovelies with my sweet mother.  One of my ways of honoring and remembering her is gardening.  I hope they thrive and that the kids don't step on them.  They're so small, they are hard to see! I'll be writing a post on gardening soon, too.

      This past weekend, I found two very attractive books on homemaking in the discount bin at the grocery store.  I know I could probably have found the same information on-line, and I actually do most of my reading on the web, but sometimes it's nice to have a real book in my hands, all there in one spot.  Can I get an amen?  I am also inspired by visiting my daughter's apartment and seeing how simple and attractive she's keeping it.  (It helps that she just moved in and doesn't have much stuff yet, but she's been shopping IKEA and it all looks lovely so far!  She said it seems like she's buying kitchen stuff as if she had 10 kids.)

      I also found another favorite volume, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, that I bought at my fav used bookstore a while back.  I didn't get too far into any of them before I had to get up and try out few of the ideas.  You know, put it into practice!

      I read about foyers.  Fascinating, right?  Two of the books had wonderful pictures of entry ways, and some featured wooden benches.  I've been wanting to switch things up in my front hallway lately, and I happened to have a beautiful bench buried in the storage room under laundry baskets.  Here we go!  Socks and shoes underneath, and backpacks off to the side.  Sure, I wish I could convince my kids to take them all the way to their bedrooms, but hey, I'm willing to compromise a little if the backpacks actually make it into their designated corner by the door.

      In order to put the bench there, I had to move a tall narrow table from that spot.  I knew what I'd do with it, though.  I'm always running out of flat space when I'm writing lesson plans and doing my grading.  I like to lay out my books and papers, and not perch them on my lap or squeeze them onto my desk with my computer.  So, as you can see in the photo below, I placed it perpendicular to my desk as an extra wing. (It's a bit longer than what shows in the photo.)  I like!  While I was at it, I took the time to reorganize my desk, get rid of a lot of extraneous papers, put my medicines back in the cabinet, and pin up a few new fancies on my bulletin board.

      I also took the time to read through a basket of sympathy and birthday cards that thoughtful family and friends sent in the past few months.  So sweet!  I came across a few that my mother had sent to me before she passed away.  Sigh.  I'll treasure them all.  I mounted two of the Mary Engelbreit cards on the front of my supply cabinet.

      This is the little raised shelf area in the right hand corner of my desk, with containers for hair brushes, pens, pencils and scissors.  The little butterfly dish holds sugar-free hard candies.  The doily hangs down and camouflages all of the electrical cords (for charging my computer, iPod, and phone) tucked under the shelf.

      I left the house after lunch to go visit my counselor, who is helping me sort through my life, including strategizing how to more effectively thrive in my duties in and out of the home. (For the record, she says, "Don't ever stop writing!  Make time for it!")  On the way home, before I picked up kids from school, I stopped into an interior design store, Kim Coe Designs.  I didn't buy anything, just enjoyed the beauty as an inspiration to my homemaking efforts.  They're all decked out for Christmas, of course!  These light-up snowmen in a basket were tempting, but I'll just wait until I get all of my holiday decorations out in two weeks to see what I already have.  I do like a little something new each year, but it's not like I need anything right now.  Anyway, I'm trying to simplify! (I did buy a pair of Christmas salt and pepper shakers on clearance at Walgreens later!)

      For dinner, I had a big package of boneless skinless chicken breasts in the fridge.  I cut them into smaller pieces, and baked half of them with barbecue sauce and the other half with rotisserie seasoning and red potatoes, adding some crunchy onion topping near the end.  Yummy scrumptious!  My family appreciates the two flavor options.  

      The rest of the evening?  Shopping, putting away laundry, cleaning up some more, and chatting with my very lively and affectionate kids.  

      I didn't get everything on my list done yesterday, but as I often say, "Well enough!" Today's another day!  (And it was!  Today I did a lot of paperwork after I got up, then drove kids to school / bus stop, made lunches for one son and me, taught three classes at school, took two kids to appointments and then went to the science night at their school.  The three of us ate fast food (gasp!) and the rest had leftover chicken for dinner.  Now I have some grading to do for tomorrow.  Another full day, different than yesterday, but just as good!)

      Other related organizing and decorating posts you might enjoy...

      What does your daily or weekly life rhythm look like?  Leave a comment for me!

      Virginia Knowles

      Sunday, October 6, 2013

      Welcome to Autumn 2013!

      I love to decorate for autumn,
      even though here in central Florida 
      we don't have many 
      beautiful colored leaves.
      I like my autumn pretties 
      to be up for a full two months
      before I start decking the halls
      for Christmas in early December.

      I mostly used what I had, 
      but added in some new-to-me items.

      Let's start with the flowers above.
      The plastic stem of my fake flowers 
      looked a little funny in a clear vase,
      so I filled the vase with autumn potpourri.
      I used the leftover potpourri
      in a crystal bowl from my mom's house,
      with a candle in the middle.
      The potpourri was $1 per bag 
      at Dollar General.

      Like the crystal bowl,
      the outdoor flag below
      is also from my mother.
      After she passed away this summer,
      I picked out what I wanted to take home.
      She had all of her off-season
      garden flags hanging neatly
      in her basement storage room.
      I love cardinals just like she did.

      My older daughters 
      made this wall hanging
      for my 50th birthday last month.
      Isn't it pretty?
      Burlap on a frame,
      with my initial painted on,
      then bordered in embroidery,
      and flourished with silk flowers.
      Very nice!

      When it comes to things I buy,
      thrift is the name of the game here.
      The cornucopia came from 
      Salvation Army for $1.99.

       The candle holder below was $3
      at another local thrift store.
      It came with the two red thingies,
      and a brown one in the middle
      which I replaced with the votive candle.

      A bookcase in the dining room 
      (which doubles as our library)
      features decorations that 
      camouflage other items
      that I need accessible 
      but don't want to see.
      The white ceramic dish 
      holds facial tissues.
      I stash a supply of 
      hair brushes, combs, and such 
      in the long basket underneath 
      the garland of silk leaves,

      My son taught me how to light candles 
      by first lighting a piece of dry spaghetti,
      and then using it to reach where 
      lighter or match can't go.
      I originally lit the red candle on the right,
      then moved it elsewhere.
      Leaving it next to books and under a shelf
      could have started a fire. Safety first!

      Finally, since it is autumn,
      I'm wearing scarves!
      This one was a birthday gift 
      from my friend Donna.
      I'm not too skilled with fashion,
      but this method is easy-peasy.
      Fold the scarf in half
      and lay it around your shoulders.
      Take the two loose ends and draw them
      through the loop on the other side,
      then tighten.

      Speaking of fashion,
      it was also time to buy a new purse.
      At Walmart, I debated between two.
      The plaid one is definitely autumn!
      However, I decided on the burgundy,
      since it will work for the Christmas season, too.
      There is something to be said for versatility.

      I actually put out a lot more decorations
      than you see in this blog post.
      These are just my "new" items or
      ones I used a different way.
      I have two more complete autumn posts:

      Virginia Knowles

      P.S. This time last year I was visiting family in Maryland with my oldest daughter and my two grandsons.  That's a true autumn! Take a peek at my pics!


      Monday, September 2, 2013

      Hypothetical (Big Words)

      Dear fellow mommies,

      Did you ever have one of Those Shopping Trips?

      Your kids bicker in the van and then decide to continue their Simmering Spat on into the produce aisle with subtle pinches and scowling looks when your back is turned.

      You haven't been in the store for five minutes, and they are quietly yet subversively plotting the Overthrow of Your Sanity.

      So you do the only Peaceable Yet Powerful thing you know to do. You leave the bag of peaches in the cart, and walk out with one child by the hand, trusting the others to follow closely behind. They do. They know you mean business.

      You drive them home and leave them in the care of Another Adult, an older sister, say. It's for their own good. You know that. They don't. You are suddenly the Worst Mommy Ever.  

      Then you drive back to Walmart, pick up the bag of peaches, and shop the aisles in peace, trying not to feel Guilty for Enjoying Yourself. You even buy yourself an impromptu present, a fuzzy soft blanket with a big bear on it. You are Mama Bear, after all, wanting the best for your cubs, ready to protect them, yet sometimes feeling a little growly yourself and trying not to roar.

      You drive home, cranking up the music. You are tired, and not looking forward to Dealing with Cranky Children when you get home. You pray for grace.

      When you pull into your driveway, the Most Offending Child comes bounding out to the van, apologizes for being an idiot at the store, and grabs two bags of groceries to bring inside. The Other Offending Child is already fast asleep in bed. You now believe in miracles.

      So has this ever happened to you?


      Me neither!

      This was hypothetical, of course! Hypothetical. Really.

      Sweet peace and sweet peaches,
      Virginia Knowles

      P.S. #1: The sliced peach photo was edited with Picasa using the Ortonish feature.

      P.S. #2: If you like the idea of gentle parenting, please check out my post, Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, which has a lot of links on the topic. 

      P.S. #3: This post is the third in my rather random Big Words series, the most recent of which, the sentimental Sacramental, was only posted a few hours ago. 

      Sacramental (Big Words)

      These tangible memories of my mother
      are not just sentimental.
      To me, they are almost sacramental:
      symbolic of her essence and  
      powerfully binding, in a good way.

      It started simply as a place to display the bird figurines I brought home after my mother passed away in July.  I cleared the top shelf of one of my bedroom book cases and arranged to my heart's content.

      Then the sympathy cards...

      Then blanket made by church members 
      while she was in the 
      hospital those long weeks.

      And her sewing box, 
      which may also have been
      my Grandma Hess's sewing box.

       Next, the vintage books.
      I only brought several home this time,
      but I had more from previous trips,
      as well as a shelf full of my father's.

      Many of the vintage books are inscribed
      with the beautifully handwritten names
      of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

      I added their photos to the shelves today...

      Charles and Mary Graves Hess
      with two of their children

      Coray and Olive Ransom

      My great-grandmother Olive Wrislar Ransom 
      and my grandmother Dorothy Ransom Hess

      This pocket watch,
      found in the sewing basket,
      is etched with the initials OEW.
      That would be Olive's.

      From Mom's kitchen to mine,
      the star shaped baking molds
      which I've been using,
      this time for blueberry muffins.

       And the mini-heart tins I gave her years ago...

      And finally, in other places around the house,
      the stained glass pieces,
      all gifts from my mother...

      The mirror, a college graduation present,
      which I rehung today.

      The rainbow dove, a first anniversary present
      to match a window in the fellowship hall 
      of the church where we were married

      Nativity scene

      The camellia and magnolia stained glass

      There is more,
      like her clothes and necklaces I've been wearing,
      but that is enough to show for now.

      As the months go by, I will rearrange again,
      put things away from this makeshift shrine.
      But I will never forget.

      Her real legacy 

      was her love.

      My mother, Mary Graves Hess Quarrier
      and my grandmother, Dorothy Ransom Hess,
      in July 2013

      Tributes to my Mom:

      Strength in Hymn

      (all related to Mom)

      This post is the second in my new Big Words series.  The first: Sanctuary.

      Grace and peace,

      Virginia Knowles