Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Your Spring Cleaning Personality

The Dreaded Spring Cleaning

Along about March I start getting e-newsletters from all my favorite homekeeping buddies regarding spring cleaning.
 I know they have good intentions. But, they don't know me. I am what is termed as a "relaxed homemaker." I realized I had this disorder (please, pardon the pun) about the same time I figured out I was also a "relaxed homeschooler." "Relaxed" is a vital part of my personality and is my modus operandi of survival. I refuse to let house work or school schedules determine my peace of mind or lack thereof.

Your Best Way

However, through home educating our children, I discovered each of us has a best way of getting things done. My way may not be the best way for you. I have found even difficult or mundane tasks may be tackled and conquered in a short period of time by first determining the personality of the player.

Show & Tell

For instance, our oldest child had no problem following orders. If it was clearly spelled out for him what to do next, he simply got down to it and got it out of the way. It was important, however, that he had all the tools necessary and had a good understanding of what was expected. 

If you are this type of person, your cleaning will go more smoothly if you have all the right tools for the job ready at hand. These tools, along with a cleaning schedule with clear instructions for how to go about it, are all you really need to motivate you to start. Knowing what to do next keeps you on course and, before you know it, your cleaning is done and you feel free to go on to more relaxing tasks.

Baby Steps

Our second child, on the other hand, would panic at the sight of a new workbook. It looked huge to him, insurmountable. He could not see how he could ever get it all done, so he avoided starting it at all. I found that, if I told him he only had to complete one page before leaving the table, he quickly got busy and was out the door. In a few minutes, I would call  him back in and give him another page to complete before allowing him to be free again. Once he got into it, however, he found he could do two, five, or even ten pages at a time without taking off. By that point, he would rather get it all done while he was already working on it and it was fresh in his mind than have to restart the task again after running about outdoors.

This type of personality is immobilized by the magnitude of the chore of spring cleaning. It's too much, too difficult, impossible! So, (this is me) you keep putting it off until it's summer. So, -- oh, well, -- you might as well wait until fall. Then, fall is gone, and winter sets in, and -- oh, well, -- you might as well wait until spring. And on it goes.

Therefore, the best way to get anything done is to take it in baby steps. Begin by assessing one room at a time, concentrating only on that room until it is done. It often helps to write out the steps and just do one step at a time. If you need to get out of the room for a few minutes, do it. Maybe set a timer for five minutes or half an hour, then go back to the room and complete the next step. Before you know it, you will find you can complete two or more steps at once without leaving the wreckage. Then, before you know it, it will be done.

Now, give yourself a gold star.

 gold star
Martha Stewart

Our third child, our daughter, has always been the Martha Stewart type: organized and self-motivated. She learned to read the year I was experiencing my fifth-year home school burnout, but I don't know how. Again, she's a self-starter. 

If you are naturally organized and have no problem getting your spring cleaning done, you don't need me. You should be writing your own blog! 

Spell It Out For Me

Our youngest, however, got bogged down with indecision. He was only a self-starter when he had it all written out what was expected of him. Then, he would grab the bull by the horns right away, conquer it quickly, and enjoy his freedom the rest of the day.

If this sounds like you, then you would do best to organize your action plan the night before, then get an early start the next morning. Marking off each task as it is accomplished will speed you on your way through to the end. Just be sure to have something fun and/or relaxing to do at the end of the To Do list. You will have deserved it.

What Cleaning Personality Are You?

So, did you see yourself in any of these four cleaning personalities? Perhaps you are none of these. Therefore, before you even think about spring cleaning, it might be wise to first evaluate what helps you to get things done. What difficult tasks have you accomplished, and how did you go about them? Applying those same strategies to your annual deep cleaning will be the key to actually getting it all done.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Correcting the Errors of False Nostalgia in Godly Homes

After reading the newly released "Pioneer Girl," Jennifer Grant in an article in Christianity Today online concludes:
And, so as delicious as it’s been to bask in feelings of (false) nostalgia about Laura Ingalls’s childhood, Pioneer Girl oddly emboldens me to face the brokenness of the present and no longer to pine for a time that, in fact, never actually was.[1]
I am afraid many ultra-conservative Christians are guilty of living their lives in a separatist fashion striving to create a world for their children based on false assumptions about how good it used to be in America. I was one of those, and I can tell you from experience it is better to "face the brokenness of the present" than to "pine for a time that...never actually was.

There is a false assumption that America was somehow more holy than it is today. Yet, the truth is we have only "sought out many inventions" for acting out what has always been in the hearts of all of mankind. Furthermore, not only do we have fewer restraints and more opportunities than our forefathers, we also live in a time when the Gospel influence is at a very low ebb.

Consequently, when we were rearing our children, we did all we could to protect them from the influences of "the world." While that is a sober responsibility of Christian parents, there must be some point at which our children will see the world they live in. Our job is to not only establish standards of holy living in our homes, but to also instruct our children in the right way to view those who do not adopt those standards.

First of all, our own children need to see themselves as being in no wise "better than they." (Romans 3:9) This is the greatest danger to our children's souls when striving to establish a godly home. They begin to see themselves as being somewhat in better standing with God than their "worldly" counterparts. If they are ever to come to Christ in reality, they must first see the sinfulness of their own hearts and how justly God must condemn them outside of Christ as He does those who are not reared in Christ-honoring homes. They must be taught that self-righteousness is as filthy in God's eyes as any sin of debauchery.

Consequently, how we parents react to those who are immodestly dressed or who are indulging in fleshly lusts can unfortunately be the very planting of the seeds of self-righteousness in the hearts of our children. Thus, if we want our children to have a right view of the world in which they live and a right view of their own souls, we must first have that right view in our own hearts. Compassion rather than condemnation must be what they hear from us, and pity for their souls the predominant emotion.

For instance, when a child notices a person who is being immodest, their natural reaction might be one of condemnation. But, a wise parent will respond with compassion that perhaps the person was not taught by loving parents to keep their bodies covered. Some parents could even share with the child that they used to dress that way before they knew Jesus.

It is a huge mistake to take a posture of offense against that person. Directing ourselves and our children to how Christ Himself responded to people who were acting in an ungodly manner should help us get a better perspective. Only those who are without sin may cast stones. (John 8:7) Loving compassion is a more profitable response both for our children and the world in which they must live and with which they must interact. It is imperative, therefore, that parents continually remind their children of their own need of Christ as well as those who live in the world around them.

The answer, therefore, is not to hide, but to THRIVE! We must let our lights shine even brighter to our lost and dying world. And I don't mean by appearing at Walmart in our "modest apparel." How can we be effective in sharing Christ when we are hidden out somewhere trembling in fear of "the world?" This is something we must all seriously consider.

[1] Jennifer Grant, "'Pioneer Girl' Laura Ingalls Wilder's Real Memoir Overturns Our False Nostalgia," Christianity Today, March 9, 2015, accessed March 18, 2015, http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2015/march/pioneer-girl-our-false-nostalgia-over-laura-ingalls-wilder.html?start=1.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Hope in the Home School Empty Nest

I was encouraged after reading the blog post "Is There Life After Homeschooling" on the Tea Time With Annie Kate blog. She tells about a woman she met who had gone through a terrible time of depression when her homeschooling abruptly ended when her children went to high school.

I am right there when it comes to the empty nest. We graduated our youngest in 2010, but our last one at home just got married in May of last year. I thought I would be useful in caring for my aging mother who moved in with us two years ago, but then she passed away a year ago last December, only making my empty nest more grievous.

Our beautiful children (youngest to oldest):
Andrew, Lydia, Sam, and Jonathan
So, here I am alone. It's been very hard. It doesn't help that three of our four children now live a thousand miles away. Thankfully, our oldest son and his family are close and attend our church. But the absence of people who were not only my family but also some of my dearest friends, has left a gaping hole in my heart. The quiet is deafening.

However, in my loneliness and grief, I have found the time to actually think about who I am and what I am made to do. I've been studying the concept of vocation these past few months, and it has given me a hope beyond what I have already accomplished.

Vocation is not necessarily what you do for money. It is more an expression of your God-given gifts and talents -- your own personal calling -- for the blessing of others.

Therefore, just because I home educated our children it doesn't mean that is my life's calling. For some, homeschooling may only be a conviction which leads them to invest their lives in education only for that time. For instance, the woman mentioned in the blog post I gave above who was excited to be free of the obligations of homeschooling in order to begin a crafting business is most likely called to do that work. She just didn't have the time to do it until her children were grown. There's nothing wrong with that. In this way, each must discern what her next contribution will be through discovering her calling.

Then, how does one discern her calling? It has been suggested to begin by trying to recall what you enjoyed doing when you were a small child, perhaps even before you went to grade school. My earliest memories are of writing books and being The Teacher over my younger siblings playing school.

I may conclude then that my calling runs along the lines of one who informs or teaches. I have always loved reading and learning and sharing what I've read and learned. Therefore, I hope to spend at least some portion of what life is left in me to doing something along those lines. Knowing my calling gives me hope and helps me not to wallow in self-pity.

If you are in the empty nest or heading into it, let me encourage you to begin to prayerfully contemplate your calling. As long as you are living, there is some contribution you can make to the Kingdom of Christ, both in your own family and among God's people.

We must not let this rich chapter of our lives go to waste for one moment in self-pity or despair. God is able to make all grace abound as we seek His face for the guidance in every step of our life's journey for the glory of God and for the good of others.

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~ Proverbs 3:6