The Monster Within

"'When you're a monster,' she thought, 'you are thanked and praised for not behaving like a monster. She would like to restrain from cruelty and receive no admiration for it.'"---Katsa, from Graceling, pg. 136.

I believe we are all born in sin. We start young. As kids, we're certain we "have" to have that new toy or we're hungry RIGHT NOW. It doesn't always occur to us that perhaps that toy is too expensive or maybe we have to wait a half an hour to eat lunch, but we're fairly certain, oftentimes, we will die if we don't have it. As kids, we can tend to be selfish and mean, to get what we want. I am not saying, based on the title of this blog, we are monsters. I am just saying we're each one of us prone to sin. We can act like monsters. Some people act like monsters their whole lives because their tendencies and wishes over-rule what they or others need. The quote above is from a book I just read (and enjoyed a lot for the most part) where the main two characters are gifted, or graced, with a talent or ability. Katsa has, or so she thought at the time, the grace of fighting. And her uncle, the king of a middle kingdom, was witness to it and is using her to hurt people. She no longer wants to be used by him, and she wants to do the right thing. So, she started a council where there are people throughout the seven kingdoms that will help her, help others. When she is praised for being helpful to someone, she sort of growls and is wondering why she can't just do good, which is the right thing to do anyway, and there be no praise? Just acceptance. But her reputation for being a 'lady killer' over-rides people's judgement. And perhaps they feel praising her for her new-founded kindness, will drive that behavior in?
I sort of see this kind of behavior in the public school system, in the way they discipline the students. Let's say Freddie, a 2nd grader, has the reputation for being the troubled kid. He acts out and disrupts the class. He gets punished. But if he has a good day and does what he's supposed to do in the first place, he is given positive attention to reinforce good behavior. I have no qualms about this; after all, in this day and age, what's a teacher to do? But, that said, shouldn't that child already be paying attention in class and not disrupting it? Is telling him he's not acting like a bad boy kind of a 'duh?' given, that he shouldn't be acting like a bad boy? Kind of what Katsa is saying here.
She goes on to say, later:"She knew her [own] nature. She would recognize it if she came face to face with it....A monster that refused, sometimes, to behave like a monster. When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?"---Katsa, Graceling, pg.137.

I believe we are sinners until we die. We're saved by His Grace, and when we accept Him and what He did for us, we're forgiven. But we will always have the tendency to sin. There will be, for as long as we live on this earth, the temptation and foolishness in us that makes us do what we do for ourselves that is not right. Thank God for His Grace, indeed! We might always have the monster within, but with a prayer and asking for forgiveness, we can be saved! When we're not acting like our monster, hopefully we're acting in His love.

What do you think? When does your monster make it's appearance(s)?
My two-headed monster feeds on anger and impatience, how about yours?


Learn By Mistakes, or Learn To Make Them?

"Sometimes the best way to convince someone that he is wrong is to let him have his way." –Red O’Donnell
I have learned that having a teenager and ....girls, that arguing often gets nowhere fast. I have also learned, more specifically, that allowing my kids to make choices they might regret helps them learn. Teenagers and....girls in general.... oftentimes like to give lip.They want you to know they can have control and it's useless to argue. For instance, my youngest daughter,aged 7, is
hard-headed and found oftentimes more than not,in a "hissy" over those small minute things most others might find a way of ignoring. Her bed may not be made right if her sister does it, so she throws a fit. But also, she could be in a mood where she doesn't want to make the bed herself. There are times that arguing or sending her to her room until it's made to her liking doesn't do a thing. She's stubborn and will hold out for as long as she can. Letting her cry it out helps some but if she's in a particular mood,she will calm down just long enough to come convince me why she's right, and it could very well start all over. This is where I have learned to let her sleep on a messy, toy-covered bed that night and let her wake up with aches and marks on her face a toy made. I have become surprised when she makes her bed happily that morning after breakfast. So Red definitely has something there, especially pertaining to the discipline of children. They learn their choices might be wrong by letting them go ahead and make them. But do we keep on letting them make the same one, over and over again, not realizing their fault? When is it time to step in and 'say enough is enough,' even for, or especially for, those hard-headed ones?

"Our blunders mostly come from letting our wishes interpret our duties." ~Author Unknown
Our mistakes are often more than not the result of our wishes over-riding our responsibilities. And those responsibilities can reach to something like keeping to a diet or, and---this is my area of many an error----ducking out of what I should be doing (household chores, errands, etc..,) and playing on the computer instead. That being said, I have learned, also as a parent, that letting my older daughter eat something she is slightly allergic to because she wishes to, is better than being strict and saying, "no,no,no" all the time. She often learns her blunder was not worth the while the next morning, experiencing the side-effects of that food. We had just learned of these allergies a couple of months ago. Knowing she was already highly sensitive to food coloring, she was able to easily stop ingesting it without complaint. But when her newer allergies were discovered via a blood test, she was pretty saddened by it. We removed those things from her regular diet, not knowing most of the side-effects yet. But, if there was something at a friends' house she wanted real badly, instead of telling her flat-out 'no' (since it wasn't a deathly allergy), I allowed her to make the choice. I gave her the power to say, 'will it be worth it?' to herself. Sometimes to her, it is. Other times, it certainly is not, and regrets it immensely. Throwing up for several hours is not fun. She now happily refrains from eating that food that causes so much distress. Sometimes, our wishes supersede what we ought to really do. No, she should not eat those foods that give her trouble. It's not good for her, and her body is telling her it's a bad thing. Her responsibility will be to make sure she's healthy, and that those choices she might make based on her wishes alone will get her into trouble. And this lesson can most certainly expand out to other wishes and other choices over responsibility. I certainly hope it does. She is learning very fast about the allergies and is happily making the right choices. It did help that we found a local health store with more options. But all in all, this outlook has made it a much easier to deal with restrictions. Of course,if her allergies were much more severe, such as causing death or serious illnesses, we'd have not gone in that direction. But thank God Almighty they were not and we had room to learn, in not such a hard way.
I suppose I better get to practicing 'what I preach'. So, off I get from the computer to focus on those responsibilites called my children. Ha! :)
Please, feel free to respond! I've love to get feedback! Happy day to you!

Ephesians 5:15-17 "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."


Do We Need To Be Cruel To Be Kind, Mr. Lowe?

"The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief." ~William Shakespeare,Othello
In the song, Cruel To Be Kind, Nick Lowe, (and band) is at his wits' end with his friends and the people around him....he's sick of them being mean and stomping on his heart. So he answers with, in the right measure, we should be cruel to them, to show we love them. Should we treat them with the same respect so that they know how it feels and thus, learn a valuable life lesson? Or do people respond better to kindness in turn? William Shakespeare, in Othella, as quoted above, said that when we smile at the thief, we steal from them. I think that his meaning is this (and I am pretty sure, for most, this is obvious) : that giving to someone kindness when they take away (anything, fill in the blank), robs them of the satisfaction they may have been hoping for [in our possibly negative response Mr. Lowe would have perhaps given].
But what if our kindness back isn't for our satisfaction, but theirs? How do you think that would work?
Well, consider this: "Jesus said, 'Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you'” (Matt. 5:44).
If we took the time to consider what that other person may be going through, given perhaps their reasons for being short, mean, cruel, etc. to you, might we show grace? And if we pray for them that God lead them out of their despair, would that not serve them well?

I really struggle with this. I don't always respond back happily to those who make it a bad day, week, month,....for me. In fact, I have a temper, and I react in full-fledged victim-mode a lot. But in my heart, I know how I need to act. I realize my attitude towards people does not show His Love, which I profess. And that does a disgrace. It is also very dangerous to the souls lost. It does not serve people to be cruel back; they do not learn the lesson Mr. Lowe was thinking of; rather, if anything, it gives them ample reason to continue on their 'merry' way and be destructive in others' lives.
I am dealing with this, in fact, right now. No specifics. But I am having a difficult time getting over those minute details handed to me by someone in my life right now. I am allowing everything this person does or says to give me reason to walk away and never give them the satisfaction of "being in my life anymore." As if that's something they'd miss. It may or not be. But I know that allowing myself to think the way I have will only harden hearts. And that's the last thing I'd want. It comes too easily. Forgiving is hard, but it's right.
'Love Thy Enemy As Thyself.' I am sure I can be the enemy in this situation, in this person's life. Dang, that'd stink.
I am gonna work on those smiles instead. :)


The Revamp

Ok so obviously I have been a very absent blogger. If it were a class, I'd have failed. Big time. My idea is to get myself back into the writing habit. So I figured I'd start by revamping it.
I love quotes and thinking about what the author is saying. And I like to oftentimes, comment on them or use them to make a point. So in some way or other, in each of my blogs from here on out, you will find a quote. I'd love for your interpretations, your thoughts, your comments. Help me get this going and flowing. They might be about schooling (homeschooling or public), they might be from a favorite book, they may even be controversial (one side or the other on the political spectrum). And of course, if you find a quote you'd like for me to blog about, send it my way, either in a comment, in an email, or on my facebook page. I'd love to give it a go. I might have to read and re-read it...maybe even research it. But I will try as soon as possible to give a response.
I started this revamping by renaming it and giving it a quote description. But I am not so sure I like it...not sure if it's bold enough. So if you have any ideas to make it jump out, please let me know! I do however, want to use the quote I have as the description if I can....or any C.S. Lewis quote that qualifies.
Thanks so much for taking a gander. I hope to be "seeing" you on here!



Tuesday's Edition of Children's Classics

Children's Classics So, some of you may have noticed I theme a lot of my posts around books, and it's oftentimes because I enjoy reading another blog about books, called We're Reading Into Everything (WRIE), but it's also because, well, I LOVE books, and I am convinced I was born with my nose in a book(instead of the dr. slapping me on the tush to get a reaction, he had to surgically remove my nose from the yellow pages of my copy of Good Night, Moon ;) ). Speaking of my childhood, I've been thinking of the classics I used to love to read, handing off (I hope) that same love to my own children. A classic book, by tradition, was "one written in ancient Greece or ancient Rome." But that has changed and can now include other literature or art: "any pre-1900 book still in print as a classic, or titles that is [a] hundred years or older and still in print, and many books are classed as modern classics because of their contemporary significance or perceived future significance."
[Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_book ."]

Jennifer Donovan from WRIE has challenged other bloggers to post today (a) book(s) that fit into this category. I went beyond the one and listed my top five (my bad!). There's a group of chapter books that I consider "classics," for readers in the 8-12 age group, that deserve mentioning;and so, that I will do. A couple of them are older, and then there are some newer ones not quite a century year-old. There's a small pile of books I am reading as an adult now or have planned to read, that I never got around to as a child.
So, on with the "show," top-five style(one being the best). I wanted to list more, more of ones given the honorable John Newbery Medal, like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle [1959-1960](consider it an honorable mention), but there's entirely too many out there, and I just have too much to say about the top five I have (remember: I have a big mouth! ;) ). I hope other bloggers share my love for the same books and list what I could not.

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House On The Prairie [1932-1940's] series was given to me as a boxed set, as a little girl, from my grandmother. I loved watching the television show in syndication, and I always enjoyed pretending to live pioneer-style; my grandmother was very much a reader herself, and she was in tune with my likes and dislikes. She poured the love of books all over me, maple syrup style. ;) Anyway, I loved these books. They were sincere, they were historical, and they gave me a sense of the accomplishment we had as a nation, in that the illnesses that plagued Laura's family and friends in that time, no longer sent us into peril. For that, it gave me a reason, as a little girl, to be thankful for things I had. And to me, that's always a good lesson learned.

2. Nancy Drew [1930-1970's] Mysteries, by Caroline Keene. I was very much, from the beginning, a lover of mysteries. I enjoyed a good murder plot (even at the ripe age of 8) and again, it was my grandmother's doing. She set me on this path when she read me some "Jack The Ripper" cases and good ol' Sherlock Holmes sleuthing tales. I read the Nancy Drew books, three or four at a time, on a weekly basis, off my grandmother's shelves. Nancy was a sweet, courageous, smart, and strong-minded young girl/woman who did everything imagineable within her community: she volunteered her time and she had she a lot of friends and authority figures helping her out when she needed them. She was usually very unwelcomed when she started prying into the lives of those who were not honest in their endeavors and who were obviously very crooked. Nancy sleuthed very well, and I enjoyed reading how she was going to get out of a pickle and solve a case the police could not, for whatever reasons, detect themselves. The ND series are classics because Nancy is every little girls heroine with spunk and brains, and, because, they've been around since the early-to-mid-twentieth century. And despite that fact, or because of it, they always felt very modern to me.

3. Charlotte's Web[1952] by E.B. White is a Newbury Medal-winning story about adventurous talking animals, and what kid doesn't like talking animals, who act out human emotions and display qualities we have when it comes to friendship and loyalty? It tells a tale of a spider becoming heroic, despite her nasty habit of killing and sucking the blood out of insects("...I eat anything that gets caught in my web. I have to live, don't I?"), and her ability to sacrifice her life to help save her friend, the pig, Wilbur. While it brings on the tears, it also reminds young children that it's not about being popular, but about how a loyal friend can make you feel alive. It clarifies what children, today especially, need to learn about how to treat each other, and in my book, that's a very important lesson to learn.

4. Anne of Green Gables [1908-1939]by L.M. Montgomery is one series I picked up as an adult; fairly recently, in fact. I had picked up the first one for my older daughter to read, but realized she was then, at age 6, not ready for it. So I read it myself and thoroughly enjoyed it: so much so, I ordered the next three from Amazon and read through them quickly. I consider this series a sort-of Canadien version of LHOTP. Obviously, the story line is different and that also of the characters, but the at-home feeling they give you, as if you know the character personally right away, is that much like what Laura makes you feel when she first introduces her young self and her family. Anne is an orphan who makes up a lot of things in her mind to make her not-so-lovely life much more manageable. Because of her wild temperament and imagination, Anne finds(thinks) she's very hard to love, and thus, to adopt. And it's only by "accident," that she gets pulled from her orphanage and taken to an older couple, only they are really ready for a boy to help on the farm, not a helpless girl! But they were wrong, and she was wrong: she's very lovable, very helpful, and she becomes a happy, well-balanced girl: they take her in and raise her while she gives them great joy and amusement in the midst of the trouble she often finds herself in. This series makes you laugh, cry, and imagine. And it gives a child hope. I have yet to finish the complete series, but hopefully, when my daughters become as happy with them as I have, we can finish them together.

5. Swiss Family Robinson[1812], by Johann David Wyss, is a work-in-progress for me right now, but so far, I am seriously wondering why I never read it as a child? I picked it up earlier this summer in hopes of reading it and involving my children. Just last week, I took it off my shelf and began reading it, to get the feel for it. Least to say, I have become so engrossed in it, that I have not yet started reading it aloud to my children. I know, my bad. I want to, and I plan to. And then I will bring out the movie and reminisce of how I watched it as a child, not realizing then, that it was a book first. And, to me, that is a tragedy. I don't want my children to get the idea that Hollywood always comes up with these great screenplays out of the blue, but instead, I want them to know that, much of the time, they are derived from great classics like this one. What I like about this book, is that while in fear and wonder for this family's future, I am also learning about things I never knew. There are Science lessons, Historical lessons, and life-lessons one can only REALLY learn by living them out, but also, the reader becomes engaged in the adventures this family has to endure and wants to know how they come to the conclusions that they do. A pastor and his wife, and four sons, do everything they have to do to survive a shipwreck. They hunt, they build, they garden, they share. And they pray. I really like that about the book, too. All of their faith is wound up in this book and it is strengthened, not weakened, by this struggle for survival. Also, it's funny. They find animals and train them, and the boys make mistakes that give the family time to breath and escape the harshness of thier island, by laughing. And while I still am reading this great classic, I think I've witnessed enough of it to enter it into this category. If you and your children are in need of a late-summer adventure before returning to school, or even to dive in while in school (it's a good before-bed story,too!), then pick this up!

I hope to be able to continue this list in the future, for a bigger reading age group, and for this one, too.
A last thought: if you don't like watching beach volleyball or wrestling this Olympic Season, pick up a classic! If not for you, then for your witnessing children! :)


Speaking of books,....

I just found a new Christian, thriller author I like. Alot. I was getting tired of reading authors like King or Dean Koontz, as they were getting too raunchy and vulgar for me. I like a good thriller or scary book, but not if it distracts me from the true story at hand.Mary Higgins Clark is pretty good, as she stays clean and even while telling of the romance that results from fear or heartache, her stories still sometimes leave me feeling empty, especially since I tend to read these books in a 24-Hr. period. That can be both a good thing and bad thing: good in that it's THAT good to read through, bad in that I just spent $8 or more and then it's gone.
So, while in B&N and looking in the "religious" section, Dh said he heard of an author by the name of Ted Dekker, who was supposed to be pretty good. So I found some of his. Thre3, House, and The Saint are the first three that I've read; it turns out, I thoroughly enjoyed them as well! Dekker brings a cool aspect to a thriller: not just the psychological aspect that makes someone do crazy, horrible things, but the Spiritual aspect, too, that drives us human beings towards evil. We walk a thin line between good and evil every day, and sometimes, we slip and fall, making horrible choices; other times, we make a special effort to do good for people and remove ourselves from the mirror that we like to look at all too often (in other words, being selfish). When we've allowed ourselves grace for making those mistakes instead of asking for it from Him, we become numb to the direct (and indirect) correlation(s) between evil, and it's consequences; and that's where Spiritual Warfare becomes part of us and we've become not just Spirtitually disfunctional, but Psychologically as well (i.e., what the world tells us is right and wrong). Dekker haunts us with some good thoughts after coming away from his books: he gives us food for thought and a good reason to pray, not just for ourselves, but most importantly, for others. And I, as a faulted human being, forget to do that sometimes.
I recommend Dekker to those of you who, like me, enjoy a good thriller but are hungry for that "something else" that King, Koontz or Higgins-Clark doesn't and can't bring. I think Dekker was given this gift and he uses it to reach people. And that's a good thing!