Good job!

Yesterday I drove across a snowy mountain pass to get to Costco for supplies. It wasn’t overly hazardous, but I was still kind of tired and a little out of sorts by the time I got to shopping. And then…the nicest thing happened — twice. I was figuring out what type of paper towels I needed, when a young woman walked by and said, “Cool hair!” Wow. That was kind of great. With renewed energy, I grabbed my towels and headed over to peanut butter. All of a sudden, a young mom pushing a cartload of kids passed me in the aisle and said, “I love your hair.” Two compliments within 10 minutes! I floated through the rest of the store, and grinned my way out to the car, smiling at everyone. Pretty sure nothing could have messed up the rest of my day after that wonderful boost.

On the way home I was thinking about just how important those positive words can be. An unexpected compliment really can brighten your day. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be unexpected. Any sincere words of affirmation can feed your soul.
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That got me thinking about my son and what he had asked me just the day before: “Mommy, do you think I have a good voice?” This is a child who I can never talk into joining a choir, but who is constantly singing as he goes about his play and schoolwork. I told him honestly that, yes, I did think his voice was nice, and that he had probably inherited it from his late father, who had loved to sing in choirs. He didn’t respond, but I could see his smile in the rearview mirror, as well as some new thoughts being turned over in his head.

When was the last time you complimented your child? I’m not of the camp that thinks we should lie or mindlessly compliment children in a way that cheapens the sentiment. I also try to stay away from things that are kind of subjective and peripheral — beauty, being smart, winning, etc. Instead, look for their qualities, areas of growth, or small accomplishments.

How about a kind word on a chore well done; on the fact that they are a good listener; that you appreciate the effort they put into their science project, even if it didn’t turn out just as planned; or even on something as simple as the fact that you noticed they’ve been remembering to chew with their mouth closed? Tiny, tiny things, yet so important.

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in what our kids are doing wrong. That may be especially true as homeschoolers, since we feel like everything they do reflects on us. Or, maybe we’re just trying to make it through the day with our sanity. Whatever the reason, tiny compliments that feed their soul can easily be forgotten.

Here are a couple of quotes that jump out at me:

“The best compliment to a child … is the feeling you give him that he has been set free to make his own inquiries, to come to conclusions that are right for him, whether or not they coincide with your own.” ~Alistair Cooke

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Teresa

Take a second right now to think of something you appreciate about your child, and determine to pass on that little gem sometime today. Watch their eyes light up, and enjoy the feeling of warmth that spreads in your heart.

“And fathers, provoke not your children, but nourish them in the instruction and admonition of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4 YLT.

Living Water

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“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I (Jesus) give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13 – 14

Our family has a favorite pizza place called Valentino’s, which we love to visit whenever we are in the city where it’s located. The only problem with Valentino’s pizza is that about two or three hours after eating it, a driving thirst sets in that can only be quenched by glass upon glass of water. We call it “post-pizza thirst.”

There are no substitutes for quenching the post pizza thirst. Not pop. Not milk. Not even Gatorade. Just water. Pure, cool, refreshing water. No matter how hard you may guzzle, any imposter of water will end up leaving you thirsty and longing for true refreshment.

In John, chapter 4, when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, he was really asking her to think about a thirst for righteousness and for a desire to quench that thirst with the living water of eternal life that He had come to offer. If you haven’t read the whole story, you may want to do that. As I’ve read it, I’ve had to ask myself about spiritual thirst. Am I truly thirsty for eternal life? Am I as uncomfortable from the thirst of needing the Living Water of God’s Word as I am when needing a drink after Valentino’s pizza? And when I am spiritually thirsty, do I always reach for living water, or do I sometimes attempt to quench my thirst with substitutes?

As a health habit, it’s become common knowledge that we should drink eight glasses of water per day, right? It took a while for me to get used to drinking that much water, but I know I feel better when I do, so I’ve made a habit of it. Maybe you have too. But how many trips do we make per day to the Living Water that flows so abundantly from our heavenly Father?

Well, one way to keep spiritually refreshed is through Scripture memorization. We know that memorization of any kind requires repetition. So, how about choosing a Scripture such as the one featured above, and every time you go for a drink of water from the tap or from a bottle or from the frig or even the drinking fountain at work or school, take that time to also drink from the fountain of heaven. Here’s how:

1.Write down the Scripture to be memorized

2. Keep it in your pocket or by the sink or wherever you get your water during the day

3. When you fill your glass with water, repeat the Scripture to yourself

4. Think about the words and ask God, even if just silently in your mind, to quench your spiritual thirst. If you don’t feel a spiritual thirst, ask for it. The quencher is worth it!

5. Repeat this for as many days as it takes to learn the Scripture. Then move on to another one.

You will find that drinking at the spring of Scripture will bring you new life. You will be satisfied, but never water-logged!

A Few Thoughts about Standardized Tests

Ruckus following a scent.

I get my big dog time at my friends’ house. Two bloodhounds and a mastiff drooling and breathing doggy breath and beating their tails against you and I don’t have to feed or clean up after them. It works to fill that part of me that loves dogs. I’ve shared a bit about bloodhounds before and how we help them with their training for search and rescue. The newest bloodhound happens to be related to one of the top show dogs for the bloodhound breed.

I was thinking about how judges know a good example of a particular breed in the show ring. Judges have to learn the standards for that breed. They understand what the proportions should be for length of legs, length and shape of the tail, facial structure, sometimes details like the coloration, and so on. The breeders know the standards and the judges know the standards. But what if a judge tested the bloodhound by the standards of a toy poodle? That would be crazy! The standards wouldn’t match up at all.

What about standards for education? We have standardized tests which give teachers a guide to see how the student is doing. If the teachers know what standards are being tested, then the test is helpful. But sometimes homeschooling doesn’t match up with the public school standards for a specific subject at a specific grade level. For example, history is a very broad subject and sometimes is taught chronologically. A bit difficult to cover the history of the United States that matches standardized testing each year.

Last year, while giving my boys their standardized tests, I was pushing down that ever present enemy of fear. How will they do, when I really don’t teach reference materials and there is a whole section on it? Will they totally fail? You know the usual self-doubt many homeschooling moms experience at times. I also felt almost angry that my boys were really being tested unfairly. The test wasn’t a fair test for what they had worked on for the year. My standards and the test’s standards were different.

As Christians, we have standards. And as Adventists we have even more standards. We judge ourselves and others by those standards. However, sometimes our standards are different. We have standards on how to keep the Sabbath, what to eat, what to wear, what to read and so on. The problem is, all of us have variations of those standards. Isn’t that the foundation for judgmental remarks, whether helpful or hurtful?

Jesus was given “standard”-ized tests. He didn’t enforce the hand washing rituals. He let his disciples “harvest” wheat on the Sabbath. He hung out with sinners and tax collectors. He healed people on the Sabbath. He did not live up to the standards of the religious leaders. He lived by the standards of love and mercy. Thankfully, Jesus took the test and offers us his perfect test score when we ask forgiveness and accept his righteousness. He lived up to the standards God tests.

Just Do It vs. Go With The Flow

Today we look at the last of the four paired temperament distinctions: Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P). First, though, rid your mind of any idea that the chosen words in any way mean that J’s are more judgmental or that P’s are more perceptive. It might be more helpful to think of the J’s as generally seeking closure, and the P’s as keeping their options open.

The U.S. population of J’s and P’s is about half and half. And, because this temperament style often has to do with how we handle time, it can be one of the most frustrating to find yourself with a style in opposition to spouse or kids.

Here are some key words or phrases to look for when deciding where your child falls.

Judging:
It’s settled
Do it in order
Ready on time
Neat and orderly
More likely to organize the neighbor kids for an activity
Possibly more self-confident

Perceiving:
What are my choices
Do it my way
Sooner or later
Jumbled mess
More likely to have to be reminded of chores and to get dressed
Possibly tentative in speech

The J — child or adult — tends to enjoy schedules, lists, having things decided and settled on, and doing things in the tried and true manner. The P family member is more comfortable remaining flexible, taking things as they come, keeping their options open, and adapting as they go. The J person often feels that they are doing things the right way, and more responsibly than the P. In contrast, the P feels that the J can make hasty decisions, and does not fully explore all options. You can easily see the possibilities for conflict if half of your family is J, and half of your family is P!

I believe P and J can be changeable as we age and mature. I used to test exactly in the middle and tended more toward J, but now am much more comfortable in the land of P. Micah seemed to be a chip off the old block at first, but has gradually become more J as he ages. That middle ground can be confusing, though. One one hand, he can't remember nearly any request for action, and has to repeatedly ask for direction. In total opposition, he is absolutely driven to get his schoolwork done first thing in the morning, usually before I awake, forcing me (because I really TRY to be organized) to plan out his week's school work in advance. Who knows what the next few years will bring, but we love each other, and so try our best to understand each other. (And yes, I believe you should encourage children to be just as understanding of their parents as we are of them.)

I believe P and J can change somewhat as we age and mature. I used to test exactly in the middle and tended more toward J, but now am much more comfortable in the land of P. Micah seemed to be a chip off the old block at first, but has gradually become more J as he ages. That middle ground can be confusing, though. On one hand, he can’t remember nearly any request for action, and has to repeatedly ask for direction. In total opposition, he is absolutely driven to get his schoolwork done first thing in the morning, usually before I awake, forcing me (because I really do TRY to be organized) to plan out his week’s school work in advance. Who knows what the next few years will bring, but we love each other, and so try our best to understand each other. And yes, I definitely believe you should teach your children about temperaments, and encourage them to be just as understanding of us as we are of them!

Remember, too, that there is a whole spectrum. Some children are easy to guess right away. The child who needs to know the whole schedule for the day ahead of time, who is more frustrated by you calling an end to play earlier than expected, who likes to have a designated place in their room for each toy — that child is likely more Judging. The go-with-the-flow child who can’t recall what you asked him to do, and may seem indifferent to your schedule — that child is likely Perceiving. However, many of us and our children fall into that sort of grey area. We may have a preference for either J or P, but are able to operate in both zones when needed. Families whose members are closer to the middle will probably be able to avoid some types of conflict.

If you find yourself or your child hovering near the middle, another tip I use to figure out the stronger preference is how questions are asked. J’s are more directive; P’s are more suggestive. Do you demand, “What time is it?” or do you ask, “Could you tell me what time it is?” Does your child tell the other kids, “Let’s go play outside!” or does he ask, “Would you like to go play?” Are you or your child one of the first to offer a suggestion? Or, do you wait to see what the others suggest, and then chime in?

You may also see your child’s preference molding and changing a bit as they mature. My own son came out of the womb with such a flexible and easy-going nature that it was nearly a shock when more structured tendencies started to show up. Currently, his blend is a bit of a mystery to me (as indicated in the picture above), so I strive to be flexible in my expectations.

So, what are the implications of J and P on your homeschooling? If your child is particularly strong in one direction or the other, it may mean that you can assist them to flourish with a more structured schedule…or with a flexible window of opportunity in which to finish their work. You might need to bring them more fully into your semester planning, or you might be able to change plans on a whim without an upset. It may also mean that you allow a couple more reminders for the P child, without assuming that they are deliberately ignoring you; and that you show understanding to the J child when they need to finish something “right now” before they can move on.

Looking at well-known Bible characters, we can surmise which were likely J or P from their stories. Spontaneous Peter, the run-on-a-whim prodigal son, opportunistic Rebekah — all likely Perceiving. Noah the planner, do-it-this-way Paul, Deborah the guardian — all likely Judging.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established,” Proverbs 16:3 ESV.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7 ESV.

Material based on “Please Understand Me,” by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.

The Legacy

As a child I was very close to my half German, non practicing Catholic grandfather. I spent many school holidays staying with my grandparents’ house and my mind is filled with treasured memories of happy times. He built a cubby house for my cousin, Michael and I to play in and he supplied us with cups and saucers and household items to furnish it. He filled the house up with an aroma of deletable scents as I hovered over him as he cooked in the kitchen, his skills from the days of owning a restaurant by the wharves, were still apparent. He played pool and snooker with me on his large billiard table, teaching me all he thought I should know. Then we sat together in comfort and watched the professionals play on television. He had fought in World War II against Japan in the dense jungles of hot and humid Papua New Guinea. Being born in 1903 meant he was well over the age of conscription when the war broke out. Fighting against his mother’s own country men in Europe wasn’t a decision he was to make, however with Australia being threatened by the Japanese and the presence of the enemy submarines on our beautiful coastlines, he made a choice. He chose to fight for the freedom of his children, and for the freedom of his yet to be born grandchildren, of whom  I was one of them. My love for him was deep and my appreciation for the gift of freedom his sacrifice gave to me will be present always in my heart. My grandfather died at 81, when I was 19 years of age. I sobbed my way through the funeral, as I gazed at the wooden coffin draped with an Australian flag. “The Last Post” was mournfully played on a solo trumpet and my grandfather was gone, my mind a myriad of coloured memories of happiness.

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The years passed and I married the love of my life and we filled our home with the joy and laughter of three precious and beautiful daughters. I missed my grandfather so much. I cherished the life of my aging grandmother even more, until one day, she too, sadly passed away. It was then and only then I discovered that many years previous, my grandfather had saved something small and something special for his great grandchildren, which included my three girls. He had saved a collection of round fifty cent Australian coins, one for each of his great grandchildren, who at the time of his death were mostly still unborn. These had never been bequeathed to the great grandchildren, as one by one of them had been born. Instead they had remained with my grandmother until her death brought to light the collection of coins and who they were to be given to.

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On February 14, 1966 Australia introduced decimal currency. Up until that time we had had an evolving history of currency based on the old British Sterling System of pounds, shillings and pence. We now had dollars and cents and the new coinage was based on bronze and silver. The largest denomination coin produced was the ‘round silver fifty’. The Royal Australian mint in 1966 rolled out over 36 million ‘round silver fifties’, thus the coins are not rare. One side had the embossed impression of our Queen Elizabeth II, with the Australian coat of arms on the reverse side. The coins were struck in 80% silver and with the rising cost of silver the Australian government was soon losing money on it’s coin production. Within a year the manufacture ceased as the coins became much more valuable than fifty cents. Eventually, after the withdrawal of minting the ‘round silver fifties’, the Royal Australian mint, in 1969, started producing a twelve sided fifty cent coin made from copper and nickel, a coin we still have today.

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My girls, many years after the death of their great grandfather, whom they had never known or met received a legacy from him. They each received a silver, round fifty cent coin. They received their gift from a man who had thought of them long before they were born. A man who wished to give to them a special treasure. As a Christian I often wonder about the legacy I have been given. In my hands I hold a Bible. Its pages filled with English words that come to me through the hardship, the self sacrifice, the time, the energy, the thoughtful care and even of the life and freedom itself of those who have gone before me. My Bible is a legacy of many who desired to bequeath to me the Word of the Living God. Do I treasure it? Do I recognise it’s true value? Do I open it’s pages in wonder and delight at the priceless Words of Life before me? I pick up my Bible and wonder at it’s hidden treasures of wealth and I thank God for those who went before me, who kept the Word of God for me, that I may read and live. Will I cherish my bible and with joy spend time reading it each day as  did those who have gone before me, and who  gave so much that I may be able to read it today?

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John Wycliffe translating the bible by hand into English in the 1380’s

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One of Wycliffe’s original Bibles

Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Matt 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”