Wednesday, September 29, 2010


 My 9 year old and I have been reading about the early explorers. For some reason, this was a personally interesting period for me when I was in fourth grade. I always remembered the names and what they discovered- John Cabot, Sir Francis Drake, Amerigo Vespucci, Ponce de Leon. I've decided that the retainment is simple: not only are saying the names fun, but by nature, I am an explorer. The kids watched me one night last week, binoculars in hand, trampling through the heavy, wet grass in the field trying to get a good view of Jupiter.

Today we wandered from the textbook and read a book that I have had here for many years, Discovery of the Americas by Betsy and Giulio Maestro. (you know, the whole if mom feels like having fish for dinner we have fish for dinner thing) Significant attention is given to Ferdinand Magellan, who is attributed the honor of sailing around the world. Thing is, he never made it. He was ambushed in the Phillipines. So close to the finish line! Yet, 1 ship (after 5 at the start) and 18 men (after 250 at the start and their leader gone), they continued on. A lesser known man (to us), Juan Sebastian del Cano, sailed and with "the remaining crew were determined to complete the journey for their dead leader."

This whole ordeal took 3 years. It was hellish. Storms (hurricane season, unknown to them at the time), disease, death, hunger, thirst.. all overtook these men. Sure, there was wealth in their minds and the honor of bringing back to Spain their great feat and discoveries (such as present-day the Strait of Magellan). Yet, there was also a mindset to explore and discover. And Magellan, like Columbus and others, never knew the proportion of their sacrifice. In Magellan's case, his voyage caused the world to understand for the first time, how big the world was.

Two things strike me here. One being, the loyalty of del Cano and the remaining crew to carry the torch for Magellan. Lots to ponder about there.

Secondly, the sacrifices of men and women throughout history is incredibly inspiring. Chartering unknown territory, pioneering new ideas, continuing to blaze the trails our predecessors walked, takes some courage, vision, and an understanding of the bigger picture. Some, for personal gain. Yet most, for the benefit of others.

There are those named individuals who are known by all who get credit for their accomplishments and that is well deserved. The mother who lives on a rural road or a busy suburban street, who is sacrificing in ways unknown to the onlooker, for the benefit of her children and even more, the benefit of a society, is known by God. And she may never see what she has done. Her children may never "rise up and call her blessed". She may die before that happens and never see the promises that she clung to. Mothers are the unnamed who are routinely sowing their precious seed and believing there will be fruit. There will be. She may not ever see it's fulfillment. Nor does she know that her sacrifices join with many others that perhaps will preserve what little there is left of a society who lives self-governing lives, loving God and neighbor, and living peaceably as much as possible.

The scripture says, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. We have not sailed across the Atlantic amidst the fury of wind and waves. We have not suffered disease, sickness, nakedness, or famine without recourse. And it is less common today to lose a husband at sea or bury our dead children in makeshift graves. We have not suffered greatly for the benefit of another or a whole society.

We are tired when we have piles of laundry. We complain when we haven't been out of the house in a week. We wish for a better stove or more room in our house or new furniture. All saying, don't I deserve?

Some of us do lead lives untouched by severe difficulty. If you are one that falls in that group, by all means you should enjoy! Yet, keep in mind that there are others who are living below you in many ways. They, too, have blessings bestowed upon them but may carry within them their sacrifice or losses. In these instances, a cup of water is wonderfully appreciated.

Either way, mothers everywhere are heroes. Keep seeing the bigger picture and give yourself wholly to it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

You may see it. You may not. Either way, you have to be okay with it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lori Calabrese Review of the Golden Pathway by Donna McDine

Lori Calabrese Writes!: Would you risk an escape to freedom? "Many children learn about Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad, but how many stop to really think about the severity of a time cloude..."


My 9 year old was doing Bible Lifepac 402 this morning and I read with him about worry in Matthew 6. It's where Jesus was explaining how He feeds the birds and clothes the flowers and how much more He cares for us. And I thought, "Oh yeah.." as if I had remembered hearing that one time. Of course, like any mom would do, I expounded upon this truth helping my son to understand God's continual care and concern for us. And as I was speaking to him...I was speaking to me.

You know, it never will end don't you? You will never "arrive". In fact, I have been a mother for 29 years and I am less confident in me and more in God's ability. 

We live in a very productive oriented and driven society. If you don't have something in the works then you are not interesting or even successful. If you are not on some committee, volunteering in your church, bringing in a paycheck, taking a class.. you will get some raised eyebrows. 

I've grown up. I've discovered that if I try to make my square pegs fit in a round hole it's gonna hurt someone. So I stopped. Now, I take the solid you-can-go-to-the-bank with it truths and what-my-family-is- all about and lay the foundation of my home with that. From there, the building may not look like someone (or a lot of someones) house. I can no longer parrot status quo because it's regurgitating someone else's life experiences. The Apostle Paul pretty much addressed that tendency a few times. Wc can't and shouldn't compare too many notes with the unnecessary stuff that serves little purpose than to stress us (like moms and kids) out. 

Since God has created variety (one resource states that 800,000 insects have been discovered and it is believed that over 1 million have yet to be discovered!) we can surmise there will be variety in our families. If we fall prey to comparing and then set out to copy model someone else we will be miserable. 

So, don't worry. Placing undue emphasis on producing will drive you and your family into the ground. It's okay to do the same thing over and over again everyday. 

Now for the post:

I address the culture alot because a mom's job is to watch for the influences which affect their children. If Jesus were teaching this perhaps He would say something like, "doesn't nature itself speak of this?" The animal kingdom (except for those unfeeling reptiles!) reveals how the mother watches and protects at all cost (personal sacrifice). She also teaches and knows when to push the fledglings out of the nest (grow up). So, how much more do human mothers have the ability to be a mother? It's okay to watch out for your kids.

With the crazy amount of choices in television viewing, internet, social networking, video games, music, trends, and ideologies there's alot out there vying for our children's attention, time, affections, and loyalty. Constant vigil is utmost in the culture we live in today. And if the culture threatens to destroy the foundation we're building upon we have to refuse it. And you will decide what will or will not be and how much. That is your job. Because the culture is like the air. It's all around us. We cannot help but be in the middle of it. And if left unattended, the culture can and will speak loudly, forming and shaping your child's mind and views. 

Personally, I do not wish to create a 1950's atmosphere. Nor do I want to be the Little House on the Prairie, howbeit those time periods have endearing attributes. I am not opposed to culture, just the parts that are in direct opposition to timeless truths to live by and distract from creating the best atmosphere for maturing.

Almost daily, it's like I pull out a sword to combat the shallow, tantalizing, unstable parts of culture that come along. A statement made on television- slice! and truth is spoken. A self centered behavior- slice! and truth is spoken. The desire for entertainment to reduce boredom- slice! and truth is spoken. Honestly this is more tiring than making meals, changing diapers, laundry and homeschooling. Because the meal is eaten and the bottom is dry and the clothes are put away and the lessons are done. But resisting the culture may fall on a hardened heart or a deaf ear and the fruit may not be seen for years. Years! But if you believe in your truths you will continue despite. That's what faith is. And you find that you cannot possibly be solely responsible for this great feat. You learn that God has a part, too. Way bigger than ours.

Example: I never like to hear "I'm bored". My kids either will find something to do or else I will give them work to do or they will hear about the colonial days. This is resisting the culture that dazzles them with instant gratification.

When our children are young it is a more controlled atmosphere. But get ready. Your little brood is going to grow up. And while many will not give into the term "terrible twos" or "teenager", you can fool yourself but reality is there are changes going on during those years. And when they come you will find a huge transition in your life. Like labor, you will get through it! Your physical demands will turn to mental and emotional as the "I'm sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside" may just show itself very vividly, requiring lots of seemingly endless listening and discussions.  

Example: (8 years ago) "Mom, I bought a car on Ebay". WHAT?!?

But I wouldn't have done that. Either would his father. What gives?

What gives is that they have to grow up. And it won't necessarily look like you planned. Or what you taught. Or what you modeled. 

And in time, you worry less because it's not all up to you.

And in time, you have more peace because it's not all up to you.

And in time, you become more joyful because you have peace in knowing it's not all up to you.

And in time, you are more settled with who you are and who your children are.

And I hope you get this way before I did.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I had the privilege of listening to  Robert Andrews, who wrote The Family: God's Weapon for Victory speak at my church on Sunday morning.

He said something in his sermon that, once again, defies the culture. He explained that he never once heard his father say, "I love you".

But what came next may surprise you.

He continued to say, but I knew my father loved me.

How? In other ways. Such as the way he saw his dad's face light up when he saw his son.

You know, maybe that's all that some kids will get from a parent. Is it enough?

Since the early 70's or thereabouts, there came an explosion in our culture of a focus on self. Suddenly, we had rights and you better not infringe upon them! Self awareness led to self improvement and self esteem. Books, seminars, talk shows, magazines, television shows all got on board while everyone's personal lives were laid bare as people grappled with their insecurities. And often, the blame was placed on the mother or father.

Interestingly, the same proponents of empowering "self" seem to have not included the ability perhaps to continue this empowerment in the area of not allowing the past to have power over them. All this power is really cowardice. Empowerment really creates a big ego that is self centered and even selfish.

Mr. Andrews is in his early 70's and as many of his generation, is not hindered by the "new" ways of doing things. They see through it and thank God they do. Many of us have not lived to see what men and women of the 70+ generation has seen and their wisdom is valuable. They lived without all the bells and whistles and they survived.

So, here is a man who is not living as a victim because his father never uttered the words, "I love you". Here is a man who chose not to hold it against his father, nor did he choose to live with what the "self" culture almost always ends up with: self pity. I believe Mr. Andrews chose to honor and respect his father and mother like many of his generation understood before the radical anti-everything 60's came along and changed the culture and thus changed our thinking. With it has brought unprecedented rebellion and defiance against parents and authority. The lack of respect is glaring. It's not just "oh you're old fashioned", but down right cynicism, mocking, and devaluation.

We cannot allow the culture to form our children's minds. It is unstable and changeable as the trends wash upon our minds like the shoreline ebbs and flows. It is hard work to resist the current. While I am not trying to relive the 50's. I do want my kids to be relevant, Yet. I have to continue to find that fine line of sowing what is truth, everlasting, and ultimately, eternal. I can only hope and pray that those seeds find good soil in their hearts and take root.

to be continued...

Monday, September 20, 2010

walk this way.

Every family has particular values they live by. Whether recognized as such, values are based on a sense of right and wrong. Because definitions of right and wrong can vary, I have found the Bible to be utmost in my life...a book that hasn't been written in the last 150 years as some newer religions and their books claim.

There are absolutes contrary to what our culture says. And those absolutes may not necessarily give us the results in our lifetime. Sometimes, it will play out years after we are gone, in our children and grandchildren's lives and in our nation. That said, we cannot deter from values simply because "it didn't work for me". We, as so many of our predecessors have done, must think beyond ourselves and today.

While values are outlined clearly in the scripture (and by the way, the sense of right and wrong is written on our hearts - just look at the guilt on a 2 year old's face when he smacks his brother!), we will find variety in our families.

Yesterday, while shopping, I heard an elderly husband and wife talking: "I'm following this young man to the garden center", he told his wife with a tell-tale North Jersey accent. The wife "snapped" back but not really. I grew up in a suburb of NYC and I smiled since it brought me back. She was just talking the way that culture talks. To someone listening it may sound like they are being rude to each other but I knew it wasn't the case.

Variety is okay. Don't try to be someone you are not.

Secondly, if you don't teach values to your children I guarantee someone else will. We cannot assume that the "professionals" will do it. By that I mean teachers, counselors, coaches, other parents... you get the gist. God has given your children to you for a reason. You are the right mom.

I am almost 54 and have a 17, 15, and 9 year old at home. I thank God He has given me the ability to be very conscientious about my role as a mother. Because my kids are homeschooled, they are with me 24/7. Daily, I am still guiding and directing words and actions. This is way more difficult than teaching academics. It involves continual application in their chores, their relationships and their time.

I can tell you that by 7pm I am exhausted! But if not me, than who?

Keep in mind that 100 years ago and more that the "professionals" were not around. As a culture we have given up so much of our role and authority to others. The more we are influenced by our culture the more you will believe this. I am not suggesting we live as hermits. I am suggesting that as we entrust our children to others that we are careful to be involved with our oversight. In the background perhaps, but watching over our children.

As we grow in understanding we will grow in wisdom. Wisdom is the kind of thing that brings balance. It executes understanding with grace and yet, "nails" it. It's the thing that tells us to be a mother bear but how to be a wise mother bear. Our role doesn't give us the right to overprotect our kids to the point that they never grow up (think yelling at the ref from the stand or the school teacher).

Consider what your family values are and make them utmost in your responsibilities. You can provide a nice house, nice clothes, and healthy meals for your children. Yet, if values are nearly absent in our daily lives, it will hurt our kids more than if they had values without all the nice things.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

KID Find

I read this book to my 9 year old. It's beautifully written and illustrated. Written in 1940, the author, Robert Lawson, tells the story of his forefathers.

Front cover

Monday, September 13, 2010

love your children.

There is a scripture in the Bible in the book of Titus, chapter 2, that tells the older women to teach the younger women to love their children.

At first glance, this seems like an oxymoron. There is a bond between mother and child unlike any relationship in the world. No matter if you live in Mongolia or Manhattan, a mother's love is incredible.

So why would God address this?

It's pretty simple if you know the Bible. It's because God's love is not the same as our love. We have conditions. He does not.

Throughout the years of mothering there will be endless opportunities for sacrifice. The demands are unknown until you hold your newborn. Then, let the games begin! Sleepless nights, sore nipples and/or nightly feedings..the list goes on. Yet, the joy and fulfillment our children bring far outweigh the work.

We all have various tolerance levels. For instance, I like to teach so homeschool was a good fit for me. However, my strength and ability did hit the proverbial brick wall and that is when we find there is more to give that we either want or have within us. This is where loving your children comes in. As outlined in the scripture, love is not just a feeling. It is an action that is based on a choice to do whatever it takes. And since experience is on the side of older women, this is why God instructs us to teach the younger women.

There have and will continue to be plenty of opportunities for sacrifice. It's one thing to have to get up for 2 and 4am feedings. It's another thing to be drained mentally and emotionally for difficult situations involving your children that are not yet resolved or watching them make choices and decisions that you do not agree with.

When a mother realizes that her life is in service to her family, she is willing to take on the instruction to love her children (and husband, as Titus 2 says). In today's world with it's empowered women who have sat under the tutelage of feminism, mothers have to decide which path they will take.

I don't know about you, but I have to give it all I've got and then some. We aren't always going to see the results right away nor will we see it in our lifetime. We instruct our children for them, but we also instruct them for the whole of society, a nation, and the world.

There is a sense of deep fulfillment, one that I find cannot be tampered with when we live our lives based on principles and values that are timeless and based on truth. While I have seen me give it all only to find the results were sorrowful, I still have within me the fulfillment of having done all.

Moms, loving your child is hugging and laughing and cuddling. But it also is loving them no matter what.

And that, is God's love.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

let the games begin!

School is in session here and we've gradually made the transition to full steam ahead this week. That means no mercy in a few areas!

Academics are not the real job of homeschooling. Building character is. Any wise crack can sit down and do a math lesson and get an A+.  My goal is to help shape words, actions, and behavior based on timeless tried and true methods that are wrapped up in the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.

And let me say that your's truly can't just talk the talk but I have to walk the walk. Modeling it is everything.

Moms who's children attend public school have work to do, too. Sometimes I imagine it's more than mine. They have to battle so much more with their children being influenced 7 hours a day with people you don't know. It seems that the maintenance of preserving your values is a continual effort.

Either way, being a mom is hard work. For me, I have found my strength in my faith since the Bible has a lot to say about being a parent. It gives instruction that helps immensely and gives me the reason to get up every morning.

Stay the course!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

resisting the culture.

We are products of our environments. There is no doubt that our home life shapes us but I believe more so, our culture does the shaping if we let it. The generation who has children who's lives have been shaped by the 60's, a time of major social changes, has seen unprecedented changes. For the young person, the music was a powerful influence. The Viet Nam war era lended itself in bringing about a generation that was rebellious at every turn and their "make love not war" mantra, along with resisting "the establishment", vyed for young minds. You put a bunch of 13 - 17 year olds together in school for 7 hours a day for half a year for 6 years, you are going to have a powerful group emerging with the energy to be a powerful force.

Add to that the feminist movement, you've got a nuclear weapon.

I do not like to hear an adult child lash out at their mother or father. By now, I expect the adult child has lived long enough, or had a few children of his or her own, that the maturing process very naturally takes place. Eyes are opened to what life is all about and the realization sets in that their parents were not so stupid after all. Usually this happens in the mid twenties or thereabouts when the adult chlld is on their own. It's normal for teenagers to be self centered, selfish, rebellious, etc.  since they are growing up and the transition can be difficult. Yet, that should be outgrown as time goes on. If the demands are still there well into adulthood, then something isn't right.

Now, we can go in many different directions as we lead our lives.. what we will use as our compass. And just like there may be a handful of ways to tackle a building's foundation, there are many ways to lay the foundation of our lives. There are tried and true principles that are used in a building's foundation that are not varied much since it is extremely important that the foundation is sure and solid. Same with our lives. What kind of foundation do we lay?

The "culture" has been alive and well since the beginning of time; Sodom and Gomorrah, Rome, etc. And to the degree that we allow our culture to shape our lives, that is to the degree that we "may" have wandered from tried and true principles of a firm foundation. And like Jesus said, the man who builds his house on sand, when the storm comes, the house will fall.

We all weather storms. That's one thing that rich and poor, young and old, famous or unknown.. all have in common. None of the categories matter when you are in the storm. 'Cuz even the rich's money will someday run out, the young still grow weary, the famous cannot use their fame to carry them through. Only one thing matters: the foundation.

The feminist movement was and is huge. At it's worse, it is vicious. And to the degree that a woman has allowed herself to be influenced by it, that is the degree of viciousness. And a huge part of the viciousness is I see men cowering in the corner, fearful of "the woman scorned", giving into her every whim.

See, there are some things that are lesser on the scale of how it will hurt one personally or in a larger sense, a society. Feminism has caused an upheaval of great proportions affecting the backbone of society: the family. A mother working outside the home; away from the home for 40 hours a week.. is going to have a negative impact on the family and society. It has to. But the culture formed and shaped the woman as television became a huge part of our lives. Women who were watching the talk shows and buying the women's magazines and listening to how she deserves a break and I Am Woman Hear Me Roar and Harper Valley PTA traded their power for raising a family for a career.

This was also the self-esteem movement. Suddenly, people everywhere were finding out that they had low self-esteem and the "professionals" started blaming our parents. And this.. THIS.. is one thing that I cannot stand. It is a weak and feeble attempt for someone to pass the blame onto someone else instead of growing up, owning up, and being a man or woman. UNLESS A CHILD HAS BEEN LOCKED IN A ROOM, TORTURED, OR SEXUALLY MOLESTED OR RAPED BY THEIR MOTHER OR FATHER, THEN NO ADULT CHILD HAS ANY BUSINESS BLAMING A MOTHER OR FATHER FOR ANYTHING !!!! And if an adult child can forgive of these crimes against him or her, how much more can one forgive so much less?

Can you tell how strongly I feel about this??

It is the adult child's responsibility to grow up. And the self-help books, the therapists, the NONSENSE that has caused people to live a life of licking their wounds and throwing up any and every problem they have in their parents faces should GROW UP.

The 60's on upward has produced generations of whiney, bratty, selfish adults. I cannot imagine what these adults would be like if they were on the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic with their parents... or walking along side a covered wagon heading West after burying baby brother or Mom along the way... the list goes on.

How dare a parent be mocked, swore at, told to shut up, and more? Nine times out of ten it's not because the parent did something so horribly wrong.. and even then, there are those of us who have forgiven and not held it against them. It's because of the adult child's choices. Period. And God has given us all the ability to learn, understand, and apply wisdom to our lives. We have a choice to choose what kind of foundation we lay and which path we will take on our journey. We have a choice to be wise or foolish.

God says to honor your father and mother. This doesn't mean there isn't discussion about situations that have occurred that have brought pain to a parent or child. Yet, oftentimes, some things do not get resolved and one has to know how to move on. God sees all things and one day He will wipe away our tears the Bible says. But for now, you can talk to God about it all and He is the one who brings comfort and healing to our souls.

The first commandment with promise: that it will be well with you. That tells me that this is big stuff and what we have treated lightly has much more power than we know.