An Object Lesson from the Rear View Mirror

Last night, my brave husband decided to teach me to drive a *standard transmission using his nice shiny black Mazda 3.

(Honestly, I much prefer a motorcycle. The gear-shifting pattern is more intuitive to me.)

While I didn’t cause any traffic accidents, I did have a few moments where I felt like I wasn’t sure what to do next – how to choose the correct gear from neutral when coasting around a corner, for example.

I also stalled at a green light. Behind me was a silver car whose driver was communicating their lack of patience by revving the engine. I started the car and made a second attempt. As I was getting ready to take off, I noticed in the rear view that car was trying to go around me – and there wasn’t much room for this. It made me nervous. I pulled my foot off the clutch too fast and stalled the car again.

My husband calmly reached up and turned the rear view mirror so that I couldn’t see the car behind me. I was able to start the car and take off. Once we got going, he straightened the mirror.

As I was crossing through the intersection, the driver behind me decided that I was too slow in the takeoff and he gunned his engine and zoomed around me before the nose of my car passed under the light. Given that there was on-coming traffic and I would have been stuck in the middle if someone would have hit him as they blindly came over the crest of the hill, it was a little frightening.

This morning, as I was thinking about this incident – which happened in the span of a minute or less! – it underscored for me how difficult it is to focus on the task at hand when we are concerned about people who are watching. Fear of man is quite a stumbling block!

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Proverbs 29:24-26
He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the LORD.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

*The first time I attempted to drive a standard transmission was my Dad’s boxy white Chevy Blazer, complete with custom Navy blue pinstripes, he purchased from my uncle.

On the FIRST day he officially owned the Blazer, which, prior to this moment, had never missed an oil change, tune-up or wax job, my dad asked me to “start the car for him” – something I had always done with our Suburban.

The shiny Blazer was parked in first gear. While I was told to “press down on the clutch” when I switched on the ignition, I didn’t realize that I practically had to STAND on it in order to get it to fully engage.

The truck bucked violently and repeatedly crashed into our cinder-block apartment. Dad came running outside, sort of shaking his fists and flailing his arms at the same time, while he screamed bewildered nonsense.

The second time I attempted, my dad was actually IN the car with me, and we took the now-damaged Blazer out on some Indiana back roads. Ahead of me, lighted cross arms went down to block a frequently-used railroad track. Dad had me drive around them.

I recall the exchange went something like,

Me: “I can’t stop in time!”
Dad: “Weave through the cross arms!”
Me: “What if I stall on the tracks?”
Dad: “Then the train will hit us and we’ll die!”

Obviously, we’re both still alive on this crazy planet.

Since then, my friend Elly once allowed me to spin her car around in a K-Mart parking lot, but other than that, sans the Eliminator, my uncoordinated self has stuck to automatic transmissions.

Random Resources

Mechanical Stuff:

How Stuff Works: Manual Transmission
How Motorcycles Work

Mental Stuff:

When People Are Big and God is Small

Parents Come In Pairs

I’m reading the Husband-Coached Childbirth for my Teacher Training Class. (Lots of homework due, so little time!)

The book is excellent for anyone who is preparing to give birth or who has an interest in the topic of natural birth.

Here’s a memorable quote from chapter 7, “The Coach’s Training Rules”:

“Parents come in pairs. If you think the only task you have as a parent is to get your wife pregnant, you’re going to be like the farmer who thinks all there is to farming is planting seeds. You will harvest only the weeds of resentment to your passivity. You are poorly prepared for parenthood and have yet to recognize your responsibilities….

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but don’t kid yourself, the hand that rocks the cradle still rules the world, and always will. Motherly women and fatherly men acting as wholesome symbols of strength and righteousness in a family setting of mutual love and respect continue to be essential to progress in any civilization.

The reaction your wife has to her pregnancy and the birth of your child will reflect on the relationship between mother and child forever after. Will she look upon childbearing as a horrifying ordeal that ruined her figure and seared her soul? … Or, will she joyfully share with you even the little nuisances involved and thank you for getting her pregnant and bless her God for the privilege of being a woman and of giving birth?…

You are going to live with this woman “until death do us part.” How rich, full and meaningful that life will be is very much dependent upon your ability as a participant in parenthood.
This does not exclude but takes precedence over the golf games, pool hall, poker game, CD player, computer, etc. Lets get on with it.”

(Preach it, brother!) :)

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

From Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk, a weekly column:

“Last month, the House amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to expand the government’s ability to monitor our private communications. This measure, if it becomes law, will result in more warrantless government surveillance of innocent American citizens.

Though some opponents claimed that the only controversial part of this legislation was its grant of immunity to telecommunications companies, there is much more to be wary of in the bill. In the House version, Title II, Section 801, extends immunity from prosecution of civil legal action to people and companies including any provider of an electronic communication service, any provider of a remote computing service, “any other communication service provider who has access to wire or electronic communications,” any “parent, subsidiary, affiliate, successor, or assignee” of such company, any “officer, employee, or agent” of any such company, and any “landlord, custodian, or other person who may be authorized or required to furnish assistance.” The Senate version goes even further by granting retroactive immunity to such entities that may have broken the law in the past.

The new FISA bill allows the federal government to compel many more types of companies and individuals to grant the government access to our communications without a warrant. The provisions in the legislation designed to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance are full of loopholes and ambiguities. There is no blanket prohibition against listening in on all American citizens without a warrant.
Continue reading “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”

Psalm 139

This Psalm is one of my favorites. I go back to it often and apply it to many situations and aspects of life.

Today, I am thinking especially of verse 16, as two family friends are struggling to live and as there is an online friend whose sister in Brazil just caught a potentially fatal virus from a mosquito bite and is not doing well.

How comforting it is to remember, especially when those whom we love are ill, that it is the Lord who determines the length of one’s days and not the doctors.

Something to think about – how does remembering this affect the way that we respond when someone is ill? Personally? To the person whom is sick? To those whom we are comforting?

Psalm 139

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day
Darkness and light are alike to You.
13For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand
When I awake, I am still with You.
19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Help From Readers? Emotional Five Year Old Daughter

My father once told me that people are like pendulums. If they are even-keeled, they will swing a little to the left and a little to the right. They more passionate and exuberant they “swing”, the pendulum swings back equally as angry/depressed.

My daughter is a perfect example of the latter. She is way hyper-cheerful OR dramatically crying into her pillow or making death threats towards her brothers.

This afternoon, out of the blue, Tab was a WRECK. She was crying because she no longer liked the black-lace overlay on her bright pink “princess” (fancy Easter dress way on sale, couldn’t pass it up for dress up!) dress. In the middle of talking about that, she said she was hungry. She was ANGRY (stomping, yelling) because I ate the last piece of spaghetti pie (in all fairness, we split it for lunch and she ate the larger of the portions). So, I prepared a glass of chocolate milk for her. Still mad that I had eaten what was my lunch, she pouted, cried and refused to say “thank you”. I gently talked to her about having anger and discontentment in her heart. (She does understand these things… little twerp constantly points out these characteristics when she sees them in others… and then we talk about grace, mercy and overlooking!) She agreed but would not confess them to God.

I sent her to her room for a nap and prayed that the Holy Spirit would work in her heart.

She did not sleep, but she went from sobbing (and not getting attention for it) to contemplating.

Thirty minutes later, she came down a new little girl and said she was ready to talk to God. We prayed and she readily sought the Lord’s forgiveness. She asked for the milk, and said thank you. A free Highlights Hidden Picture puzzle with stickers came in the mail today. I let her do that for fun.

To avoid exasperating her, and creating a situation where she is overwhelmed and tempted to sin, I do try to keep her fed (she is strong, and sturdily built), hydrated and rested the best I can. I try to avoid exasperating her with school work, as she is five years old and does 2nd grade work – very bright! This is not to say that I walk on eggshells with her, it’s just that she tends to be more sensitive to physical discomfort than some of my other children.

I do think I handled it okay today (goal of seeking forgiveness and changed attitude was achieved), but I’m wondering if there are specific things I can do to more head off such mood attacks before they get out of hand?

Any particular soothing or thought provoking phrases that would diffuse a tense situation?

Any encouragement for me from moms who have been through this? Particularly, how to keep the trust/confidence/friendship as a little girl with this personality hits adolescence?

And yes, I do believe in using the rod as outlined in Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

Thank you for taking the time to respond!!

If I can ever be of encouragement to you, please let me know!

Much love,

Review: The Young Peacemaker

This is from The Homeschool Lounge:

Some of you may have some experience with this, and (while that hurts me to think you’ve lived with it) I need a little help from those who have had some real success!

For those who have had a child who could fire up and respond in anger quickly, I’d love to know more about some of the Godly responses and tools that helped you through it.

Please consider this is a boy about the age of 7. He can become easily frustrated, and it builds rapidly. Sometimes we don’t see it coming, and even when we do, I often say or do the wrong thing.


Thanks in advance!

Hugs to you, Jennifer!

After experiencing similar anger/tattling/conflict/fighting problems, I decided to incorporate The Young Peacemaker into our day by doing a page or two each morning for our devotional segment of school.

Studying the topic of peacemaking preemptively, instead of only talking about it when there is an anger outburst, has made a huge difference in the atmosphere of our home by reducing the number of kid-conflicts. Reducing, not erasing! :) We still have at few each day! But, because the foundation has been laid, they are easier to work through than before.

My seven, five, four, and three year old are doing a fantastic job of memorizing the verses for each chapter (we do about a chapter a week).

If you put good things in your heart, good things will come out of your heart. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

There is even a resource page dedicated to using The Young Peacemaker as part of homeschooling.

I hope this helps. I certainly have learned a lot from doing The Young Peacemaker with my kids – and I’m a moderator at! It certainly gave me a new perspective when training my children vs. talking to adults about the same topic!

Much love,

From Peacemakers:

The Young Peacemaker is a powerful system that parents and teachers can use to teach children how to prevent and resolve conflict in a constructive and biblically faithful manner.

The system emphasizes principles of confession, forgiveness, communication, and character development, and uses realistic stories, practical applications, role plays, and stimulating activities.

Although the material is designed for 3rd through 7th grades, it has been successfully used with preschool and high school students.

The lessons in The Young Peacemaker may be summarized in Twelve Key Principles for Young Peacemakers:

1. Conflict is a slippery slope.
2. Conflict starts in the heart.
3. Choices have consequences.
4. Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices.
5. The blame game makes conflict worse.
6. Conflict is an opportunity.
7. The Five A’s can resolve conflict.
8. Forgiveness is a choice.
9. It is never too late to start doing what’s right.
10. Think before you speak.
11. Respectful communication is more likely to be heard.
12. A respectful appeal can prevent conflict.

The Slippery Slope

The Young Peacemaker uses a simplified version of the Slippery Slope to help children understand the various responses to conflict.

The slope is divided into three zones:

  • The Escape Zone: Deny, Blame Game, and Run Away
  • The Attack Zone: Put Downs, Gossip, Fight
  • The Work-It-Out Zone: Overlook, Talk-It-Out, and Get Help

  • The Five A’s of Confession

    Children, like adults, can learn to confess their wrongs in a way that demonstrates that they are taking full responsibility for their contribution to a conflict.

  • Admit what you did wrong.
  • Apologize for how your choice affected the other person.
  • Accept the consequences.
  • Ask for forgiveness.
  • Alter your choice in the future.

  • Four Promises of Forgiveness

    Children can learn to forgive one another in a way that models the forgiveness they have received from God through the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • I promise I will think good thoughts about you and do good for you.
  • I promise I will not bring up this situation and use it against you.
  • I promise I will not talk to others about what you did.
  • I promise I will be friends with you again.
  • These promises may be summarized in a poem that is so easy a four-year old can memorize it:

    Good thought
    Hurt you not
    Gossip never
    Friends forever