The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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Recent Reading and Brothers and Sisters

I have been reading this summer.

World Magazine

www.challies.com

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies

Nothing in my Hand I Bring by Ray Galea

All really good, fyi.

Today I read this post: http://philipnation.net/2014/08/5-things-you-can-do-for-the-christians-in-iraq/

I tend to read about persecuted Christians, pray for them, and then move on, thinking that there is nothing I can do, but this article points out things we can do to help them. On Sunday night at our church, we prayed for our Iraqi brothers and sisters, being reminded from Hebrews 13:3. to “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

Will you read the article above, and remember them too?

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Six Strategic Gift Ideas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the day with some good friends, and enjoyed celebrating and thanking God for our many, many undeserved blessings over the past year.

And now it is almost December! I mentioned last year, when talking about PG’s Christmas presents, that I don’t want our Christmases to be all about stuff. However, I do appreciate meaningful gifts, and I have 6 strategic gift ideas for you. I love all these things, and have been blessed by being gifted with two of them in the last 2 months.

  1. SEEDS CDs. I mentioned these before, but I really do love them, and my sister-in-law randomly sent us a first of October gift with all the ones we didn’t have. They’re in the car, so whenever PG and I go anywhere we listen to them, and I’ve basically had verses stuck in my head the past couple of months. Each is a pack of two, so you can give one away or split with someone, and if you buy the seven pack, the CDs are only $5 each.                                                                                                                                              
  2. Verse Wall art. I was wanting to make one of these signs like on the Between You and Me Etsy Shop for the last year, and a differently sister-in-law randomly decided it would be a good graduation/housewarming/birthday gift for us, which was awesome, especially because I had no idea when I would get around to it. ( I think she may have looked on my Pinterest Boards, because seriously this and the above were the perfect gifts for me, and I didn’t even request them!) We had to do some serious warp control after it arrived, because going from Georgia to Rhode Island was a crazy weather difference, but after some steaming and re-drying it is looking good. Plus the Etsy owner was willing to re-make it if we couldn’t fix the warp. Talk about great customer service!1-IMG_7608
  3. Gourmet foods. If you’re giving a gift to someone who avoids splurging on their groceries, this is a great gift. Summer sausages, fancy cheeses and crackers, chocolate, gourmet teas or coffees, nuts, etc. will really be considered a treat.
  4. Photo gifts. For the past few years, I’ve gotten us a package of family photos and a package of PG photos at Target, Sears, Olan Mills, etc. and distributed them to family members.  All the grandparents are happy, and it is really cheap. This year, my package of PG’s photos was $7.99 at Target. (Go online for coupons.) It had enough pictures for us, two sets of grandparents, two sets of great-grandparents, two great-great grandparents, and wallets for all the aunts and uncles. I am waiting until the new baby comes to get family pictures. TSH’s parents request a photo calendar every year with pictures of all their children and grandchildren, so those duties get rotated around. I do not recommend the blanket photo gifts however, as one year, TSH’s parents were given a giant blanket with a huge picture of them on it. It was kind of hilarious, especially because they were wearing the same clothes as in the picture, but I don’t think they figured out where to use it. TSH’s Dad, who has recently gotten into the Ebay business, says he will sell it to the highest bidder…
  5. The Light Has Come advent book. For something novel and fun for kids, this book is super cool. The author, who happens to be one of my friends, cut out elaborate paper snowflakes with symbols that tell the story of the gospel. Each page has a list of symbols to find, as well as corresponding Bible passages to read during the advent season. You can check it all out on his website.

6. A homemade quilt or other homemade blanket. I did actually make something by hand for one of my sis-in-laws this year, but I am getting to the point where I am ready to pay someone else to make stuff for me to give, and the winter is a great time to give a quilt as a gift! Katherine at the Rhymes with Smile etsy shop is the girl who taught me to quilt, I have seen and used her quilts in her house, and my daughter has a quilt made by her, so I can attest that her quilts are beautiful. And her prices cannot be beat. Honestly, it can be hard to make your own quilt for these prices, and the blogger Crazy Mom quilts recently listed some of hers for sale at 10 times the price. Crazy! Although, I admit, they are pretty fun.

Let me know if you have any other great gift ideas. I am almost done shopping this year—my nesting instinct was apparently to get everyone’s Christmas presents bought and wrapped before December—so I just need to pick up some stocking stuffers at the last minute.


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Book Review: Respectable Sins

I have at least finished one of the books from my summer reading list, and it was a good one! (I finished the one about rotary cutting also, but I’m guessing fewer people care about that one.)

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

Summary:

Chapters 1-3 discusses the way Christians are called to be “set apart,” to “act in a manner befitting of a Christ-follower,”  but both the world and Christians have stopped considering sin as sin– as serious, dangerous, and malignant evil against God. It specifically targets sins acceptable within the church.

Chapters 4-6 talk about the remedy for sins being the gospel, our need for reliance on the Holy Spirit, and specific directions for dealing with sins. The next 14 chapters are on specific sins. I don’t want to list all the sins, both to keep you intrigued, and because he expands on several beyond what might be your first definition. The final chapter is a last exhortation to humble yourself (to the point of even asking someone close to you what sins from the list they think you struggle with), and confessing, repenting, and fighting the sins.

Pros:

This paragraph is something of a list of bullets, but oh well. This book is universally applicable in the sins it talks about. With each sin, Bridges gives specific ideas on combating that particular sin. He also is faithful in stressing the gospel—that all our righteousness before God is from Christ’s work, and our good deeds are by God’s grace. I appreciated the research he did in developing and paring down his list of tolerated sins, and I identified with his personal experiences with several of them. He’s an older guy from a conservative background, but he clearly has battled sin seriously his whole life, and he does a good job tackling Biblical sins while not imposing his personal convictions on everyone.

Cons:

The way the book is written (six chapters before the actual description of the sins) makes you want to skip to the sins right away. I actually can’t remember ever finishing the sixth chapter, because I got too impatient. Please don’t totally negate my review now, haha!

This isn’t a negative of the book itself, and the author tries to stress NOT doing this, but it’s the only thing I could think of. It’s easy to read quickly through this book and agree with what Bridges says, and not reflect on your own culpability and repent of your sin. However, even a cursory read will make you more aware when you commit the respectable sins and remind you that they ARE sin, not just personality quirks, etc.

Overall:

I thought this was a great book, and I’d recommend it to every Christian and non-Christians curious about Christianity. If you are a Christian, it will encourage you to take even the common sins seriously, and remind you of the good news of the gospel. If you’re not a Christian, and you want an overview of the gospel and the way Christians are supposed to live, this is a good book to read. I myself may try to review it every year or two because it hits on sins I don’t take as seriously, but need to.

Let me know if you read it!


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Book Review: Simplicity Parenting

(This is one of the parenting books recommending by a reader and friend after my last spell of parenting book reviews. Also, we’re working on finding a place to live up here in New England, so blog posts may be sporadic in the next month, just to forewarn you.)

Simplicity Parenting:Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne, M. Ed.

Summary: Payne is a child psychologist with experience working with children in war-torn countries and noticed symptoms similar to that of PTSD in kids from well-to-do areas of England (commonly diagnosed as ADD and other disorders). He concluded that the lack of simplicity in their lives was stressing them out, and went about helping parents to simplify the child’s life in four areas which he says resulted in noticeable improvement.

The four areas he addresses are “Environment,” “Rhythms,” “Schedules,” and “Filtering Out the Adult world.”

Simplifying the environment involved paring down toys, books, and clothes to the more basic, and keeping scents and lighting as natural as possible.

Establishing rhythm in your day gave the child more predictability, potentially connection with you, and “pressure valves” throughout the day. He especially liked family mealtimes and bedtime stories.

Simplifying schedules meant not overscheduling, but making sure kids have plenty of free time to come up with their own activities and learn creativity. Payne also appreciated the idea of a day or even moments of Sabbath–quiet, restful family time.

Filtering out the adult world involved keeping the television and internet off limits for kids under seven. [Interestingly, this was also what another secular psychologist recommended in a different book I read.] It involves limiting what you say around your kids to that that is “true, kind, and necessary,” and not discussing adult concerns (including crime, environmental concerns [he had one example of a kid stressed about global warming], or workplace negatives).

Pros: I felt like this book echoed a lot of Biblical principles that secular psychology had found to work–go figure. (E.g. Being content with what you have [Phil 4:11], Sabbath rest, thinking on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely…[Phil 4:8]) I also could see how simplifying in the way the book suggested made the parents’ lives more restful (as opposed to adding things to do), and the principles espoused help toward my goal of being strategic with money, because you basically are cutting down on things that require spending lots of money.

Cons: I didn’t agree with this guy’s idea that kids shouldn’t be “racing through ‘Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series'” because well, I was one of those kids who really liked to read books, including series books, and I still don’t see anything wrong with it. I also was not going to do his suggestion to have a specific type of dinner for each day of the week, such as Soup Sunday. Not my thing.

Overall: I really liked this book. I felt it described the way I want my home to feel–A place of peace rather than hectic stress. TSH and I generally have sought to simplify in the first three areas already, but the place we felt like we needed more work was “filtering out the adult world.” not just from our kid’s life, but from ours as well, haha :).


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The Reading List

We’re starting to pack for our upcoming move, and, because we’re going to be in temporary housing for a month without projects to do, I set aside some books to read. The rest are getting packed and stored. Here’s what’s on the list:

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Rotary cutting: Basics and Beyond. Speedy Cutting Techniques…  I am all about improving my speed in projects.

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The City of God by St. Augustine. A classic, which I probably should have read a long time ago. Rescued from my Uncle Bob’s library before any estate sale. Hmm. Just now while taking the picture I realized this says “Vol II.” and I don’t have Volume I, unfortunately. May need to hunt that down at the library.

The Standard Book of Sewing by Drucella Lowrie.  Since I mostly make projects off online tutorials, I figure I could benefit by learning some basics. I think I got this and the rotary cutting book as hand-me-downs from a friend.

The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Postmodern World by Arthur W. Hunt III. I really have no idea what this one is about, but it was highly recommended by my mom, and I picked it up from her at Christmas.

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges. Also from my mom’s library, this one promises to be convicting.

Have you read any of these? What are you planning to read this summer?


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Book Review: Going Public

This is seriously the last parenting book I am going to review for a long while, because I need to move on to something else.  I had wanted to read this book for a while, though, and it did not disappoint!

The title of Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David and Kelli Pritchard sounds like it would be a book giving reasons to put your child in public education, but it actually is more about parenting in the context of public school. In fact, when someone asked the Pritchards what advice they had for people deciding where to school their child, the Pritchard’s advice was to pray about it and ask God what He wants you to do.

That said, here’s the summary:

The first three chapters look at the public school system and the Bible’s words on schooling, and encourage parents that what they do at home with their kids should be far more of an influence than anything that happens in school, and that the public school can be a good system for helping your kids learn, both academically and spiritually. It’s basically both a defense of their decision to put their children (all eight!) in public school, as well as an encouragement to other Christian parents with children in public school.

The next three chapters go through the three most important things to teach your children, especially for them to succeed spiritually, academically, and emotionally in a public environment. First, teach them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. As one example of a way to be intentional in this, the Pritchards required their kids to be up at 6:30 every school day when they, as a family, read five chapters of Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs. Secondly, teach your children to obey you, not only because this is obeying God, but also because obeying their authority will enable them to do well in school and open opportunities. Finally, teach them to have self control. The Pritchard’s consider this far more important than the culture’s idea of self-esteem, and a necessity if you want your child to make responsible and right decisions when no authority is around.

The next eight chapters give advice to parents on getting involved in the public school, caring and ministering to the people in it, handling difficult situations, having a stay-at-home parent/relative, and addressing issues in which the public school teaching does not line up with the Bible’s teaching.

Pros: This book had a ton of valuable advice for parents, regardless of what type of schooling they decide on for their kids. At some point, your children will need to learn how to honor God in a secular world, and you need to prepare them for that. Also, no matter what form of schooling you use, you need to care for the world, having compassion on them like Christ did, and teach and model that to your children. The Pritchards definitely examplified this. Also, I felt like their advice was manageable–as in, if I just need to worry about teaching my child the three important things, I do not get overwhelmed, I can focus on those.

Cons: Honestly, the only thing I can remember disagreeing with from this book was the Pritchards’ idea about college being super important. (Especially when their kids majored in things that do not help people get jobs in this current era.)  I did wonder sometimes how they did as much as they did, but then, It was 20 years of kids in school condensed into one book.

Conclusion: I definitely recommend this book! TSH and I haven’t ruled out any type of schooling for our kids, but regardless, we want to teach them to honor God and share Christ’s love with the world, and this book gave lots of good ideas on how to do that.

What are some things you want to be intentional to teach your children?


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Double Book Summary and Review

We have officially entered the stage of child discipline in this household. Because I am very intimidated by this, I read three books on it, and now I am an expert ;).  Just kidding. Here’s the breakdown on two of the books. (The third was “Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, and it is 500 pages long–making it hard to do a brief summary.) In the interest of length, I’m going to stay broad, and not use quotes or pick out individual sentences. If you want to read those kind of reviews, check out the reviews on Amazon (which is where the pictures come from, fyi).

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp

Summary:

The book is divided into two parts.  The first part of the book gives overarching principles.

It points out the parent’s responsibility in teaching the child and pointing him or her toward God. It has you evaluate your goals in raising your children (e.g. to be happy, well-behaved, pray the sinner’s prayer, get a good education, etc. ) and see how they align with the Bible’s teaching. It points out that even if you tell your child that what is most important is to love and honor God, they pick up on casual things you say and do that teach them your real beliefs.

Another chapter walks through different methods of discipline, identifying them as either unBiblical or Biblical.  Tripp’s three methods of discipline he considers Biblical are communication, spanking, and appealing to conscience. Communication can be listening to understand, encouragement, warning, reproof, correction, instruction, or prayer.

The second section of the book has training objectives and procedures for ages 0-5, 5-12, and 13-18.

–Ages 0-5: Teach them obedience to your (and God’s) authority. Be consistent while giving them permission to appeal.Build the foundation of your relationship with them by being a good example of obedience to God and pointing them to God through discipline.

–Ages 5-12: Teach character. Evaluate their relationships to God themselves and others. Address the attitudes of the heart as you see it in their behavior, and appeal to their conscience when you address them like Jesus did.

–Ages 13+: Teach fear of the Lord, adherence to parental instruction, disassociation from the wicked. Your use of authority goes down while your use of influence goes up, so keep interactions positive, not protecting them from the consequences of bad choices, but always pointing back to the cross and hope. and don’t nit-pick, but address overarching problems.

Pros: This book has a lot of practical ideas. I also liked that it focuses on addressing the child’s heart issues, not just teaching their behavior to conform to some social norm.  Finally, it puts a big emphasis on building a good parent-child relationship, and being able to point to the Bible for the expectations you have and enforce with your child.

Cons: Tripp describes spanking as about the only Biblically acceptable form of discipline outside of communication, although he thinks this is acceptable only from parents, and doesn’t seem to use it at all with older children. So if this is the case, how would you discipline foster children? or students? Also, on page 180, he says that he doesn’t discipline for lying if the child doesn’t admit he lies after appealing to conscience (it’s unclear if this is with proven lies, or just suspected). He thinks it’s better to have the child growing up knowing you will believe him, than to discipline and break that relationship. I can see this to a point (I do remember a time in junior high I was telling the truth about something and a teacher told me I was lying. It did tick me off.), but I also think you could let your child become a pathological liar this way.

Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Summary: This book focuses on the communication and appealing to conscience aspects of discipline that distinguish Christians from non-Christians, that is, how to point your child to the gospel. It is pretty nichy, in that it’s definitely from a Reformed Baptist perspective, and it doesn’t spend much time address general discipline or much discipline for little children. The chapters cover the roles of law and grace, look at “goodness,” point out God’s ultimate role in changing kids’ hearts, and give examples of how to look to the gospel in many different parenting situations.

Pros: This book is a good reminder of God’s grace to us all the time. It constantly points parents to look to Jesus, as well as encourages parents to point their kids to Jesus and not just train them to be “good” kids. I appreciated the reminder.

Cons: First, due to the nichi-ness of the perspective, this isn’t a good book to recommend to just anyone. (Definitely not Mormons, who get called out in the first chapter. Ahem.) I’m from roughly the same perspective as the authors, and even I winced at the way some things were said and disagreed theologically with other lines.  Also, some of the examples of how you would point a kid to the gospel are really long; they’re pointed at either “Christian” kids or “non-Christian” kids; and they don’t make kids apologize if they aren’t truly sorry.  I think these might apply more when the kids are older, but I doubt it will help with young children.

Main conclusion after both books: They were both good books to read, even though you might not agree with everything the authors say.  I concluded that I need to pray for a lot more wisdom and trust God with the results. Who knew? 🙂 I realize that sounds like a cop-out, but there is no way every situation that may arise can be described in these books. The basic idea is to love your children, be consistent in discipline, and focus on their hearts and the gospel, not just on conforming behavior. Then ask God to help you apply that to various situations.

Do you have any books on discipline you’d recommend?