Family Favorites… Book List

My letter on Summer Reading sparked the idea to ask my kids what their favorite books were that they would recommend to others. Some are their books that they chose at the store with their own money. Others are books they have chosen from our “assigned Summer Reading.” I didn’t edit the list to communicate what I thought was important, but left the lists exactly as they wrote them, to leave the purity of the child’s desire there, instead of inserting this homeschooling mom’s heart. Though the ages listed are their current ages, some of these “favorites” were read in their younger years.

J.R. (age 11):

Christine (age 13)

Nate (age 16)

Casey (age 19)

I asked my kids for permission to use their names (or if they preferred that I leave their list anonymous), and they all said, “yes,” except one, who clarified:

“You have my permission to use my name in conjunction with all of the aforementioned information, along with any other information that may be prevalent to the purpose of the article, under the condition that I am properly referred to and quoted under all standard blog and MLA guidelines and format.”

..just in case you wondered. 🙂

Since my husband, Chris Brady, is an author along with our close friend and business partner, Orrin Woodward, I didn’t want to miss the chance to plug some of their books which would be great for summer reading, or homeschool curriculum or family book discussions. Here are a few of my favorites from our family’s discussions:

I have one last list to mention! I recently came across the reading list for the Torrey Honors Institute within BIOLA University. Any child or adult could benefit from reading this list of books! Check it out here.

Read well to lead well,

Terri

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Summer Reading is Like Underwear

My active four-year-old son decided it was easier to change pants later than use the toilet when it called. I can remember stressing out about it, writing in my prayer journal, and reading books to see what I was doing wrong. I finally came to the realization, that he would figure it out before he started driving a car, (or we wouldn’t give him the keys) so I needed to relax and let him get it right at his own speed!

This same child had issues with material. It all itched, or felt uncomfortable. It was hard to keep him in PJ’s, since he liked the freedom of his birthday suit. (This was strange to me that he didn’t mind wet pants while riding a bike for hours, but hated wearing the “wrong material” shirt to bed.)  Once at a public park, I noticed a little too much “information” poking out the back of his pants, plumber-style, and realized he wasn’t even wearing underwear! Since this had happened more than once that week, I finally said, “Bud!! What is up with the no-underwear thing?! Do you EVER wear underwear?”

“Yes. On Fridays,” he said.

That was his reply. What?! Why?! Who told you that you could do that? And the rest of the “W” questions came to mind, but not one did I ask. I simply explained that we wear underwear. Every day. Including Fridays!

In our house, we wanted reading to be like underwear: a part of every-day-life!
We love to take the summer off of school schedules, but that doesn’t mean the summer off of Summer Reading 1learning.  Summer reading bends well to allowing the freedom of choice: no homeschool curriculum to follow; no test for which to study; simply reading! Chris and I enjoy our summer reading assignments for our kids so much, that we are almost insulted when their teachers (our older kids go to a Christian high school while the younger ones homeschool) assign “summer reading”. We like it when we get to choose topics!

WHY summer reading?

Reasons for summer reading:

  1. Habits made when they are “off school” as children could plant seeds for habits they create when they are “off school” more permanently as adults.
  2. Silently reading during the summer is a time when they are not fighting with each other. (not that my kids would ever do that…)
  3. The content of the books can be targeted specifically per child, not necessarily what Summer Reading 5an entire class or curriculum demands.
  4. Topics they didn’t understand during the year may be expounded upon for better understanding. (OK, I have never done this, but it sounded so good in the list of reasons, I decided to include it anyway.)
  5. Fictional books that would never make the school list make for a fun time reading – which subconsciously improves writing, and increases the pleasure of reading.
  6. Vacation travel time turns into reading time instead of screen time.
  7. It gives moms and dads time to read. 😊 Why not pop some popcorn and sit with books instead of a movie?
  8. Reading looks more fun in a hammock or next to the campfire, than when it is squished between homework assignments at the table, giving it a better light for the future.
  9. One hour/day completes four books in a month of the average adult reader. Three or four books for a summer is doable even if the child has a summer job or wants lots of outdoor playtime.
  10. Sometimes our entire family reads the same book, making for nice conversation at the dinner table when everyone knows the topic. (Like “Gifted Hands” by Ben Carson or “Toughen Up” by Claude Hamilton.)

HOW to do summer reading?

The specifics are not important, because I know you can figure it out for your family, but Summer REading 3in general, Chris picks out a stack of books for each child, and hands it to them before the school year ends. If they are not done with “summer reading” by August 1st, it becomes their priority before they can go outside. (Note: everybody has always been done by August 1st, so we have never had to exercise this.) As usual, screen time would totally take away from reading time, so it is a plus that video games and television are extremely limited in our house, regardless of the season. We do not assign a time or daily reading, or it would turn into feeling like homework. We do not pay them to read or it might turn into a job. We do not make it extremely challenging, or it would feel like the stack is just too huge. It is a combination of pleasure reading with thought-provoking content, but truly all habit-forming, so once they learn to read, they can read to learn anything for the rest of their lives. They of course can also read books we haven’t assigned as “summer reading,” but the idea of assigning three or four is to expand upon what they already know they like.

My dream is that as they grow up and leave the house, they would write home and ask dad what his summer reading assignment would be… but I may just be dreaming.

What to read?

I thought you might ask, so I found pictures of their stacks from a few years ago – and those are shown in the margins above. Come back tomorrow for a letter with a list of their favorites. I even have my own stack going, though mine does not only exist in the summer! A parent’s love [or hate] of reading will be contagious, whether we want it to influence them or not; my example carries further than my words, so my reading stack is almost as important as theirs. Summer Reading 6

In addition to picking art-stories for our little artist and sports biographies for our sports-enthusiasts, we introduce the kids to some sailing stories or historical fiction to increase the breadth of their reading and topics for conversation. Faith-based non-fiction is an important aspect as well. Summer reading can be kind of the catch-all to throw in what we want to make sure they catch before they leave the house as adults. So how long do they have to read? …until they “get” to read. Summer reading is just one more way to remind them that reading is a good thing – and not one from which we need a break.

Happy reading-every-day, including Fridays… and summers!

Terri

(cartoon featured image by Christine Brady)

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Without Rain (Things in my Head…now)

Lindsey,

Hi! I just wanted to give you my year’s story:)

I think you know that eight years ago I had a life-threatening brain tumor. My kids were only toddlers, and the surgery was extremely rough, but truly went better than anyone had predicted. I recovered completely without paralysis, but they were unable to get “clear boundaries” because of the tumor’s proximity to a main vein in the brain.

At the 5-year mark, a doctor told me my chances were much less of recurrence, and I could come every 2-3 years. (-which was nice because MRI’s are expensive!) My husband said, “no.” He didn’t see why we wouldn’t check it every year. I think his exact words were, “I have more money and only one wife: you need to go every year.”

So last January I went for my annual scan, and for the first time in 7 years, they called me back that they had found something and I needed to have it rescanned.

The rescan eight weeks later showed more definition, and what looked like growth so they sent me to Duke Neuro-Oncology within a few weeks. The specialist called it a meningioma (same name as last time) and said that growth was questionable but that it was so small (“blueberry” size) he wanted me to wait until this January and then we would decide radiation or surgery.

I’ll skip recording here all of my emotions of screaming Nooooo!! We can just say I didn’t peacefully and joyfully say, “well, to God be the glory!” …at least not at first. I prayed – and asked a few sweet friends to pray – that I would “let go of this basket,” the same as Moses’ mother did, but sometimes I would reel it back in as though attached with fishing line. Every little headache seemed to say I was headed down an old familiar brain tumor path, and I tried to talk myself into thinking it was “all in my head” (pun intended).  Every travel I planned, or commitment I made for this spring was weighed down, wondering if I would be able to follow through with it.  Yet I knew I was as good as dead if I decided to stop living while I waited for the next test.  I had to accept it one day at a time.

“My daily bread…” was something Jesus taught us to ask. (Matt 6:11) As I awaited the long, drawn-out period, I often thought how He didn’t say monthly bread or even weekly bread; He said DAILY bread – so I tried to be satisfied with His daily promises and stop asking for the month or year of provisions to be satisfying.

I made some health changes in hopes I was doing my best to either avoid surgery, or ready my body to endure it.

Last week, my husband and I had the appointment with the Duke Neuro-oncologist. He gave us the great news that the scan showed it was STILL a blueberry; he is not worried about it and thought it might even only be scar tissue. He told me he didn’t need to see me for THREE years!!

I praise God for this fantastic news!! Though I didn’t feel like telling everyone along the way, (some roller coasters are better ridden alone) now I feel like shouting it from the mountaintop!!

While I bask in the joy of answered prayers, and realize the floating feeling of lifted weight I hadn’t realized I was carrying in the “back of my mind,” (pun intended) I found it interesting that I want to shout about THIS one. Yet, I didn’t write blogs about the skin biopsies that came back normal, annual exams that didn’t cause concern or the colds I didn’t get. I am so extra-ecstatic this time, because the “last time” had been a bad diagnosis. “Last time” had been a fast-growing, life-threatening tumor that would likely cause seizures at any moment.  “Last time” the tumor was resting on the main vein, in the area of the nerves for my mouth and eating through a bone used for hearing! “Last time” had led to urgent surgery within two weeks followed by months out of my mom-of-the-home position. Argh! “Last time’s”  stormy season had taken everything I had to dance in the rain. And because of that rain, I GREATLY appreciate the sun I have been given in this great news.

In other words, I guess the rainy days in life remind us of the value in the sun.

  • Ask anyone who has had cancer in the past how much they celebrate the clear scans of remission.
    • Ask anyone who has almost lost a loved one how much more they are drawn to that same person now that the storm is done.
      • Ask anyone who has ever lived without a meal how much they appreciate every morsel today.

Ask anyone who fully depended on daily bread, how grateful they are when the sun comes up!

The rain makes us notice the sun…and appreciate it even more.  I hope it makes us tell God thank you even more as well!

If you are in the storm right now,

…like the person in front of me at the doctor, who was scheduling his next chemotherapy, while his wife and dad watched on…

…like the person behind me in the check-out line of the doctor, who was already paralyzed with an obvious head-surgery scar and sat patiently waiting in her wheelchair…

I am praying for you.

I pray you feel the God who calms the winds and waves right there with you, as He carries you to bright skies ahead.

Thanks for dancing in the sun with me.

Terri

 

Morning by morning, new mercies I see.

Lamentations 3:22-23 King James Version (KJV): 22 It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

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Messy Memory Making with Friends

I felt horrible. I couldn’t believe I had done it to them.

I love Christmas cards! They are still up on my bulletin boards now, because the bulletin boards were put on the wall just for that purpose. The cards will likely remain there until replaced next year!

I love the photos – particularly the photos of my friends. (Come on, people! Don’t chicken out from the camera and make your kids get in front of it! I like to see YOU! 🙂 ) I love the plain cards; I love the fancy ones. I love the cards from family, from best friends and from “strangers” whom we met only once overseas in years past.

I actually even enjoy most “Christmas update letters,” because I care what is going on in people’s lives; but I admittedly often wait until after the new year to read some of them.  I have friends who collect the cards in a basket and spend the year taking one card out each day at dinnertime and praying for the family who sent it. Sorry we have never gotten that organized, but I love the idea!

My love for receiving those cards is probably why I felt so horrible about what I did.

I ditched a friend. Hear me out: I have over five thousand contacts in my phone. I know…crazy! I started an electronic address book back in the 90’s (1890’s it feels like!) with my “Palm Pilot,” and have electronically transferred the book with each new device and update. It is my “Roledex” from the 1870’s with a new twist. I never see a reason to delete anyone – because who knows if our paths could cross?

Rather than going through 5,000 contacts to send cards to less than 10% every year, I finally made a Christmas card list of people I think might “want” one. But last year, I noticed a name was missing. (Sorry if your name was missing too! I didn’t mean it!) Since the list was from the year before, it meant that the Kirk and Cassie Birtles family had not received a card from me.

I texted my good friend Cassie: “Did I send you a Christmas card last year?”

“I don’t think so,” she replied.

What? I didn’t send her a card and she didn’t even seem to mind?! She is so kindly unpresumptuous.

That January, her husband let the cat out of the bag in a humorous way. He had me laughing out loud. Apparently, when our card didn’t arrive, they had assumed I had not sent out cards. But when Kirk and Cassie went to a friend’s house, there was the Brady Christmas card prominently displayed, so they deduced that their friend must have ranked more highly with the Bradys than the Birtles did!

Then they went to Kirk’s sister’s house (whom we had befriended through Kirk)- and there was the Brady Christmas card. The story kept getting deeper when they went to Kirk’s parents’ house (whom we befriended through Kirk and his sister) and there, on their fridge, prominently displayed were the Brady kids and parents, wishing all of the other Birtleses a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! All of the Birtleses…except Kirk and Cassie. They were left with a blank fridge. 🙂

Apparently, it happened for two years before I noticed that their name had inadvertently been eliminated from my list of cards.

WHAT A MESS!

I felt horrible.

BradyBunch1It reminded me of what great friends the Birtles truly are:

  • They gave me the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best intentions on my part.
  • They didn’t discuss it behind my back and hope I got the message. (Well – maybe they did and I don’t know, since I wasn’t behind my back.)
  • They didn’t remove me from their Christmas card list; I still got their wishes to have a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” because their wishes for me told me about their heart, not as payback for my own.

I told them I was so sorry, and made sure their address was on my list! I checked it twice! But then, I decided to try to make it up to them- and make them laugh too.

Fun Friends

I went through my files and found one of our Christmas cards from every year…as long as I have been sending them – since around 1897 🙂 . I wanted to make sure the Birtles family knew they were loved.

I copied each card, put them in separate envelopes and started sending Version 3 them daily at the beginning of December. “Merry Christmas and Happy 1998!” was the first message they received. Next was 1999, 2000 and so on, all the way to “I hope your 2016 is blessed!” in this year’s card.

BradyBunch2

2013

However, the company I used to make the cards for this year, Nations Photo Lab, made a mistake on my cards. When I brought the mistake to their attention, their customer service was amazing, and they immediately sent out a new box of Brady Christmas cards…which meant that I had literally hundreds of extra Christmas cards (the mistakes), so I thought it was well worth the postage to send the ENTIRE BOX of HUNDREDS of Brady Christmas cards to the Birtleses for their amusement.

I giggled all eighteen times I walked to my North Carolina mailbox- and hoped they were having as much fun at the Michigan end. Haha!!

Just to top it off, I sent a text around January 4th. to Kirk and Cassie:  Did you get a Christmas card from us this year?????”; I wanted to be sure they weren’t forgotten. 🙂

They replied to my text, “Who is this?”

Haha!

Then, yesterday, the season of Joy was wrapped with a beautiful bow when a package arrived from Michigan. B Pkg

The Birtleses had sweetly modge-podged all of my Christmas cards onto a twenty-four inch letter “B”!!! Yay! It looks beautiful in my house – as if I planned for someone to creatively display all of my past Christmas cards!

Version 2

Version 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter (age 12) immediately asked when she saw the artwork, “Does this mean they used all of the cards we sent, so now they don’t have any pictures of us in their house?”

Bahaha! Maybe we need to send some more!

SUCH. GREAT. FRIENDS!

I like to say:

“Imperfect moments make perfect memories.”

But maybe in this case, it is better said, “Messy moments make magnificent friends.

If it hadn’t started so messy – with my accidental deletion of their name – it never would have ended so memorable! So if you are in the middle of a “mess”…just wait! There may be magnificence in the making!

God bless you and your messy-memory-making with FRIENDS,

Terri

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted; but an enemy multiplies kisses.” –Proverbs 27:6

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I Miss When They…

Dear Lindsey,

“Class of 2015.”

That seemed like “Jetsons” time of the future when I first heard that my child would be in the “Class of 2015”. But like the “Party of 1999,” it came and went. My son left for college Monday and we are down to five seats at the dinner table. Sniff. Sniff.

For those of you who had babies in 2015, your child will be somewhere around the class of 2033. I almost named this letter, “To the mothers of the class of 2033.”  Doesn’t that sound SO much in the future?!! It is. But I want to tell you, like so many mothers before me told me, it will be here sooner than you think!

I could pontificate for hours on that alone, but I thought instead I would just throw out some random thoughts about having young kids. I had it listed as “Ten Notes to Young Moms,” but the number kept changing, so I am just leaving it as is: unsolicited advice:

(If you are an “old mother” like me, feel free to attach comments below with your “unsolicited advice to young mothers”!)

  • Be silly. You will miss the silly days! Push the grocery cart and make “Vrooming” sounds while your kids “drive” and almost crash into the lettuce! Make hungry monster sounds while the sock monster gobbles up those little feet, getting them dressed for the day. Have the goose in your pocket (your hand in the shape of a goose’s beak) “goose” them up the stairs when it’s time for PJ’s. Let your little princess do your hair, or your prince carry your suitcase. You may look silly to everybody except the ones who matter. You will be amazed how a little “vrooming” takes away your own stress in life. I miss that!
  • Be happy. Kids’ peace comes from your peace. Our mouths can feed our minds. Make your mouth speak happy thoughts to your mind and to your kids’ minds. It seems like happiness would be easy when surrounded by youth, but alas, the enemy seems to thrive by stealing smiles from moms. Happiness is a choice – Make it!

Video: Excitement of bringing home baby #3 (Christine) and the “toddler buzz” about it!

  • Slow down. Life gets so busy. I know you want them to excel in all areas. I know you want them to be geniuses. I know you want them to play instruments, do sports, become leaders. Don’t sacrifice their childhood on the altar of your goalsetting. There will be time. I promise. There will be time when they are so busy, you will be the one wishing to slow down. Enjoy their youth and allow them to get serious about things when they are the ones driving it. I miss lying in the front yard looking at clouds and pretending they are animals.
  • Blow bubbles. I used to be afraid that some moment would slip by and I would miss my chance to teach something important. I didn’t want to miss a teachable moment. I think my pendulum swung too far. Some moments are meant for just soaking in. Stop and blow bubbles. I miss that.
  • Don’t be so embarrassed; other people love your imperfect kids! When I drove to my friend’s house, whom I hadn’t seen in a year, her toddlers, age 3 and 4 greeted me in the driveway. The older stopped abruptly when I opened my car door, and said in a disgusted tone, “You don’t look like Mr. Brady!”

Oh my! My heart laughed! How I missed having toddlers! I missed the times when they got the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” reversed! I missed their fresh look on old things! Your toddlers (when behaving) do not need an apology! You may be surprised what a blessing they are to those who no longer have toddlers! Let them bless!

  • If you want to relate to your teenagers, relate to your toddlers. Relationships aren’t made overnight, though one night can break them. Out-of-control teens can grow from seeds of out-of-control toddlers. Enemy teens grow from seeds of ignored toddlers. Spend time with them doing what they love.

photo: Casey’s yearbook page this past year:

  • Be eternally focused. It is easy to get mixed up in the exhaustion of daily diapers, meals and activities and forget what really matters. Pray aloud when an ambulance goes by with lights on. Do your kids know you trust God to get through your day? Do they know you are a sinner in need of a Savior? (My kids are still shocked at that one! haha!) Do you show them the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc Gal 5:22) because you love the Lord, or because a purple dinosaur said that they were neat for a family? Ask them often what they are thankful for – and live in a way that shows them how thankful you are.
  • Make “me” time a priority. What you are full of is what comes out if you are squeezed! Like putting your oxygen mask on before attempting to assist your children, be sure you have your “me” time. Without working out, or reading my Bible, I am full of stuff that I wouldn’t want to “squeeze” on anybody! So I have had to make it a priority in my day!
  • Be careful with “me” time. I tread on this lightly, but “me” time is addicting. Some think pedicures are a right; a toddler-less hair appointment is a given; a girls’-night-out is part of some unwritten contract. They are not.

Motherhood is a selfless act of living, and often it means many “me times” are given up for a season, because priorities shift. But don’t grow weary (Gal 6:9-10), the season will pass.

I remember when my second child was two-years-old and we had a gym membership. At home, my husband and I had decided we would be a reading family, and rarely allowed our kids to watch movies or television.  Now with my “me” time, I was enjoying trying to get back into pre-baby shape, spending time daily at the gym, since childcare was “free”. Oh the joy of a one-hour class and the subsequent kid-free shower and blow-dry!! However, the “free childcare” was zombie transformation.  My kids sat like zombies in front of the gym’s television, showing whatever brainless cartoon happened to be on for the hour of my class, while the worker sat behind them, busy on her phone. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the price of giving up these precious morning hours with my kids. I ended up changing my mid-morning “me” time to make it (super) early morning “me” time at the gym (so kids would be in bed – not brainless in front of the TV), but oh my what a blessing! By the time the kids were ready for their day, I was ready for my kids! And they weren’t cartoon zombies!

  • Love your spouse. Maybe this should have been first on the list, since it comes as the first priority above the kids. Kids feel security when they see security between Mom and Dad. I have heard moms say, “I would jump in front of a speeding bus to save my kids! That’s how much I love them.” I am glad you are willing to let yourself die to save them by jumping in front of a moving vehicle, but you are more likely to be called to “let yourself die” by dying to self in interaction with your husband…to save your kids. Stop being your husband’s opponent. Stop thinking bad thoughts about him. Stop dreaming of a perfect man who doesn’t live in your house. You want to save your kids? Then be sure you are doing your best to save your marriage.* Talk positively about their dad behind his back! Tell them about your real-live superhero! Sit next to him at the table or at church. Don’t let the kids get between you in seating or in life. Have date nights and make it a big deal to the kids that you are going out with their dad! But it shouldn’t take a date night to create a happily-ever-after in the bedroom. Make a great marriage. Their future marriages depend on yours.
  • Tell/Show your kids you love them.  Kids hear “I love you” when you tell others that you love your kids. Talk positively about your kids to others in front of them and behind their backs! I am not saying you should brag, but stop the complaining! If someone compliments them, say, “thank you.” Or “She has been working at that,” or something that encourages your child to continue the good behavior. Resist the urge to block the compliment with negative that will shout louder than the positive, like, “She has good manners for you, but I wish she would treat her brother that way!”  You may think you are being humble, but your kids are taking the chinks in their armor because of your words.
  • Teach them to love and respect parents and siblings. You are raising future spouses. I recently had to stop my ten-year-old, riding on his older brother’s shoulders, from trying to rip his sister’s head off while they were playing “chicken fights” in the pool. “But Mom!” my daughter contested from her perch on her other older brother’s shoulders, “Why did you stop him?! I like it!”

Easy answer: “Because I am raising a future husband, and that is not how he should treat his future wife.”

  • Put your phone down. (and be sure they do too.) I know it is a fight. I fight
    Casey Brady - graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    Casey Brady – graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    myself on it. But you will never regret having screens off!

  • Date them. Without distraction. My kids have enjoyed the Mom dates. OK, maybe it was just the donuts they enjoyed, but I like to think they enjoyed the conversation and fun one-on-one games at the donut shop. Intimacy of one-on-one conversation is important to any relationship, but especially when children are in a house full of kids who are usually splitting the mom time! I have heard that kids spell love, “T-I-M-E.” It is amazing how a little one-on-one always improves a toddler’s behavior.
  • Enjoy the season (and know the next season will be great too!) In the words of Dr. Robert Smith Jr, “Don’t waste Chapter 8 because you are too focused on chapter 9.” God planned every season of motherhood with a purpose. Even potty-training! Even colicky babies! My 4th baby was such a cryer; I often worried I would wish his babyhood away, because I was so anxious for the crying to stop. I almost looked so much at “Chapter 9” that I missed out on “Chapter 8” with him – and my other kids.
  • Remember, “This too shall pass.” I remember times when I thought I would never make it through the day, much less through their toddlerhood, or childhood. It seemed like I would never be able to stop the car, and get out without waiting for someone to find the shoe that they had miraculously lost in the 3 minute drive to the store. I thought I would never make it through a meal without cleaning up a spill (or four!), or finish a phone call without having to cut it short because of some escalating calamity. But it is passing all too quickly. Now I beg my kids to go to the store with me. I definitely never imagined THAT when they were young! haha!…

 

I wonder if I could get them all to ride in the cart and say, “vroom!” now??!

Casey at college this past Monday:

IMG_9572

In 2033, you will look back and think, “Wow. It went so fast!” just like all the rest of the “old” mothers. If you look back and say, “I miss when they…,” more than “I wish I had…,”  I think you did it right.

In love,

Terri Brady

  • *  When I talk about “saving your kids by saving your marriage,” my heart breaks for those who are in the midst of the struggle. I feel like it is torturous on so many – especially those who are divorced due to unrepentant infidelity or abuse – my heart and prayers go out to you. May God guide you through and make your kids strong in Him! But for those who are truly just not “dying to self,” and instead battling the things I mention, my statement remains. I pray you have guidance and courage to die to self to save your marriage. God is bigger than the struggle!

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Disposing of my Disposition (Personalities Through the Lens of Me)

Dear Lindsey,

The personality differences have always amused me. I have read many personality plusmarriage books, not because our marriage seems in need, but because I want to be all my husband needs ( 🙂 ). Although I have favorites, (What Did You Expect?, Love and Respect and Becoming the Woman of His Dreams) no books have done so much for my role in my marriage as Personality Plus (Florence Littauer). I could say that this book rivals for top position in all of my parenting books as well. Why? Because my own personality had blinded me, creating a distorted view heading for relational disaster…in most relationships. And don’t marriage and parenting rank as the most important relationships I have?

Though I highly recommend you read the book to get the full extent of how to work well with the personalities surrounding you, the brief summary of characteristics is this:

If we took a set group of people and played Twenty Questions with only yes/no answers, the population would fall into two groups: those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. (Left and Right side of the diagram below.)

Those two groups can then be divided again into two groups: Introverted (enjoying being alone) and extroverted (comes alive in a group of people), shown as the top and bottom of the diagram. I am on the line between these two…depending on how much chocolate and/or sunshine I have had. 🙂

Slide1

Of those four created quadrants, there are four personalities:

“Melancholy” is the task-oriented introvert.

  • Strengths: detail-oriented, self-disciplined, can be musicians.
  • Weaknesses: None. (just kidding – I am a Melancholy, and like to think I am perfect!) A Melancholy’s weaknesses are that tasks often get more attention than people’s needs. Can be obsessive-compulsive and inflexible.
  • Motto: “Anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly!”

NOTE: I think it is funny that I wrote about Melancholy first. AND I put it in the top left quadrant – the premier place. I assume it is how we are: we put our own personality in the limelight and then adjust the rest around us!

“Choleric” is the task-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: self-driven, gains followers quickly, gets the job done.
  • Weaknesses: Can run over people while “getting the job done.” Can be bossy.
  • Motto: “Get it done…NOW! And Hurry!”

“Phlegmatic” is the people-oriented introvert.

In other words: he or she loves and adores people, but doesn’t need to be in the limelight at all.

  • Strengths: Gets along with everyone, great team player, easy to be with, flexible
  • Weaknesses: Can be lazy, un-dependable or have difficulty making decisions.
  • Motto: “Yes. Unless you prefer no, then no. Why is everybody going so fast?”

“Sanguine” is the people-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: A blast to be around! Creative genius! Caring
  • Weaknesses: Loses keys…to the car, to the job, to life. He or she may battle with dishonesty and lack of integrity – when facts are fudged, because frankly, it just makes the story better.
  • Motto: “Wooooo hoooooo!!!!!!!!”

images

Of course, even with four groups of personalities, there are unlimited variations. I am mostly melancholy with a lot of sanguine – which means I am split between exact opposite quadrants. One book said I was “dysfunctional.” I always knew I was a “misfit toy”! However, it was the way God made me – and I will do my best with my “dysfunctionality”!

The first time I read the book, it was about ME.  Therefore, I:

  1. Took offense that someone thought I deserved a label.
  2. Recognized a little of myself somewhere in it, and decided maybe the label fit.
  3. Was entertained by how much they knew me.

The second time I read looking for traits of family and coworkers. I realized my mother’s sanguine side is what made her invite the entire church over for lunch…with no notice except that she thought of the idea that day.  Phlegmatic was the friend of my son (since opposites attract!) who wouldn’t tell me whether he wanted mustard or ketchup on his hotdog and instead looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

The third time I read the books I had a goal to diminish my weaknesses and magnify the strengths in those around me. It became a game. Have fun with it! The purpose of the book is not to label someone into a box, but to learn how to best deal with people who are naturally in their own box. If I notice the only people I get along with are Phlegmatics (who get along with everybody!), then I may have a problem! If I realize that I only admire people who fall into the same quadrant as myself, then I better work to expand myself to see strengths in other quadrants! The Bible says we should go into all the world…not “make everybody come into my world.” Don’t read to find out who you are, but read to find out who you can be! I became a better wife and mother when I learned how to not only identify and diminish my weaknesses but truly appreciate the strengths of my husband and kids!

Personality Clashes

How did knowing personalities help my marriage?

I noticed that according to the book, a weakness of my Melancholy personality is that I can be oversensitive, or assume things are about me. (Really? There’s something not about me?! ) Someone can say, “The sky is blue,” and a hyper-melancholy will take insult because she has brown eyes, so the person is obviously saying that he doesn’t like her brown eyes. OK, I exaggerate, but you get the point.

Isn’t it funny that God would marry a Melancholy like myself with a images-1Choleric? Watch the weaknesses line up: If a Choleric “runs over people” and a Melancholy “takes offense at small bumps” I was feeling dead on a highway under a steam roller. How’s that for a marriage?

After studying personalities, I started noticing the phenomenon.

I was cooking one day, obviously, stirring a pot on the stove, when my husband accessed the drawer on the other side of the stove to get out a spoon. He cut in front of me, bumped me backwards, so I obviously had to stop stirring, and he retrieved his spoon, never saying anything, or acknowledging me, and left.

The old me would have been hurt. “He did it on purpose to disrespect me. He obviously thinks cooking is not as important as whatever he is doing. He obviously doesn’t value me. (Aside: ‘Obviously’ was one of my favorite observational words back then, but I learned that “obvious” is not so obvious with other personalities. My common sense was not common – just “mine”!) Maybe I should let him be on his own for dinner tomorrow night, since he obviously doesn’t honor the role of cook?!”

Having the value of these personality books fresh in my arsenal, I said to my husband, “I know you didn’t do that on purpose to hurt me.”

He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.  There was a LONG silent pause while I could see the gears in his brain turning, not sure if those were fighting words or what my intentions were.  Then he gulped and said quietly, “Did what?”

It still makes me laugh. I would have been so offended – assigning motives and planning my next chess move, but the personality delineations explained he wasn’t even playing the game! He was just…getting a spoon…in a choleric way! Ha ha!

A melancholy might have begged the cook’s pardon before reaching to get the properly-sized spoon for the meal.

A sanguine might have bounded in, telling a story, grabbed a fork and come back for the spoon later – if she remembered why she needed a spoon.

A phlegmatic might have sat until the soup was cold before ever implying that he actually would have preferred to have a spoon.

A Choleric took the spoon.

In parenting, I have often realized how my interpretation was making me want to reprimand a child – when there was nothing wrong in his/her heart – only a difference in his/her personality. My sanguine daughter, for example, can drive me crazy with her messy room and lost articles. However, when I recognize her strengths – like the ability to make great art out of junk, or ability to LIGHT UP anybody’s world with her smile – it makes a lost sweater here and there nothing in comparison. Therefore, we have focused on her learning ways to remember where she took off her sweater (to one day help her find her car keys) or how to meet expectations of a clean room without dimming her bright light of a personality that has an amazing effect on our whole house!

At one point I even noticed that I had been using the personality terms in a negative way! UGH!! My kids made me realize it when the Sanguine said to her brother in a fight, “You are SO CHOLERIC!!” Bahaha! I am sure she picked that up from me! No personality is wrong – despite how my “perfect Melancholy” wants to make it seem that way. They are just different…the way God intended!!

When my oldest son was in high school, he complained about his vision, so I took him to the eye doctor for the first time. Of course, they immediately saw a solution in the form of glasses – and we ordered them. Within two weeks the glasses arrived, and I watched them transform his world into something I didn’t even know he was missing. He had never mentioned it. I remember almost crying feeling bad I had no idea that he couldn’t see. (I have never had glasses.) He put on the new specs and walked outside on that bright sunny day and exclaimed, “I CAN SEE!” In the car he asked, “Can we go back and watch every movie I have ever seen AGAIN, so I can really SEE them this time???”

That’s how I felt once I understood how my own personality was clouding my vision to see others. I wish I could go back and see, really SEE every person I had ever met, befriended, done business with, been in class with, or loved…because I feel like I could have made the relationship better.

Correct your vision utilizing personalities and you will see others through lenses for which God created them.

Blessings,

Terri Brady

Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

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Auto-correct Your “Self”

One letter certainly can have an impact on texting:

  • “We stayed in our couch for two weeks.”
    • (Although, there probably was a “couch” in the “coach,” of which she was speaking.)
  • “My dear previous friend…”
    • (Luckily, she was “precious” enough to see through that auto-correct.)
  • “Fool!”
    • (would have been more encouraging with the “C” in place of the “F” as I had intended!)
  • “My dead husband…”
    • (sent by a “dear” wife.)

I recently got a new iPhone 6. It amazes me how young kids automatically notice I got a new phone, whereas I am still trying to figure out what the difference is. One youngster in the back seat for our carpool said, “By the time my parents ever let me get a phone, it will probably be an iPhone 23 or something!!”

“Poo” thing! 🙂

Each time I get a new phone, it has to “learn” me. It is SO impressive that it can figure out what I mean to say and eventually say it for me the first time. However, my newest phone changes my name “Terri” into “Terrible” every time.

Dear iPhone, “Why ya gotta be so ruuuude?”

It also changes “love ya!” which seems to be a favorite closing of mine to “love yam!” I have nothing against the orange vegetable but I don’t think that detail is necessary in all of my texts.

Additionally, and perhaps the worst yet, is my last name, “Brady” which it transforms to “rash”.

I do not text my last name often – solely when I am introducing my phone number to someone new in my texting world, so I text, “This is Terri Brady.” Imagine getting a text from an unknown number, and it says, “This is terrible rash.”

Yep. That’s me.

I guess the phone’s algorithm works by assuming I want words that I have frequently used in the past. I cannot verify, but it seems like the word “Brady” should have been used more frequently in my texting than the word “rash.” I am beginning to suspect the programmers are playing a joke on me – like a new Revenge of the Nerds.

It strikes me that my name “Terri” and the word “terrible” are only three letters apart. However, my name “Terri” and the word, “terrific” are only three letters apart too!!!! So why doesn’t it substitute “terrific” instead? I mean, surely I have used that word more often in the past than “terrible,” right?! It should know by now!! Just when I finished that thought, I realized that signing my texts as a “terrific rash” is not any better.

The auto-correct function has added quite a bit of humor to our lives. I like that rose among the thorns. However, even the term “auto” correct puts a little truth into the way our lives tend to auto-correct. The term “auto-correct,” I assume is a shortened form of “automatically correct,” which is such a great idea at the start. However, when we look at the root, “auto,” it originates in the Greek word, “autos” meaning, “self.” When I look at “self,” and its sinful nature, I see why it is not the ideal aim! Truth be told, whether or not I texted “terrible” more often than “terrific,” I have definitely “automatically” thought “terrible” more often than “terrific” thousands of times!

For example, it is a beautiful day today here in North Carolina: 75 and sunny; yet I have had to “correct” myself to simply enjoy it and stop thinking about the cold front coming through tomorrow. Maybe I AM terrible!! If you have read other Letters here, you have seen my focusing on thorns instead of shade, or having to force a thank-you amidst the dead bird on the hockey table.

For example purposes, we could take this to the dungeon. Too often, I see people leading their lives as a terrible rash. They get gloomy about one thing and it feeds another and another until the sky is seen as the coming gray and the thorns overshadow any roses.

One such letter would summarize the thoughts:

Dear Me, IMG_4871_2

I can’t believe the debt

I feel like such a failure

I can’t do it anymore

I dream of material things

I don’t want to be married

anymore. Parenting is not for me

No one owns me

I can’t imagine there is a God

I feel like I am

defeated!

Nothing will

make a difference

Signed,

Me

 

That letter breaks my heart, because I know many people who could write those words right now. It is so true that the dark side works that way. The bad wolf in our thinking chinks away at our outside until we open the gate to our heart. Then, it feels virtually impossible to think any differently, and the thought that was sown yesterday reaps a belief that lives today. Terrible!

If you could have written that letter today, please know I am praying for you. I know there are brighter skies ahead, but I pray that you know that too. The heaviness of thoughts like those are too much to bear alone.  I think the Bible’s Psalms were probably written by people who could have written that above letter…and had to “correct their thinking.”  “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can [mere] man do to me?” –Psalm 56:3-4

There is good news though. Lord willing, we ARE able to correct our thinking: Auto-correct it. As Martin Lloyd Jones says in his book, Spiritual Depression, we need to “stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves!” I have noticed, that just like my phone’s algorithm starts to “learn” what I meant, so can my “self.” I can actually start forcing right thinking …and the saying or acting improves based on those thoughts.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Run the race, because you are going to lose.” It doesn’t say, “Set your mind on things below where you are.” It’s not, “Jesus died so others might wallow.”  NOOOO.

But the Bible does say:

  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)
  • Set your mind on things ABOVE. (Col 3:2)
  • Run the race as if to win. (1 Cor 9:24)
  • Jesus died that we might LIVE! (1Pet 2:24)

But it takes self-control to think the way we ought. It takes discipline to block the negative from getting into the gate.

Changing the word from “terrible” to “terrific” requires purposefully deleting some things and then purposefully adding some others. And so does life.

What if we auto-corrected that letter above? Write the second half and make sure they never separate again*.

IMG_4871

Dear Me,

I can’t believe the debt I can now get rid of.

I feel like God created me for a purpose and if there’s

such a failure in my path, I can learn and get better.

I can’t do it anymore without telling others so they can improve too.

I dream of helping others.

material things don’t control me; I control them.

I don’t want to be married to my debt or my job

anymore. Parenting is not for me to leave my kids for others to raise.

No one owns me except my Creator!

I can’t imagine there is a God who loves me THIS MUCH!

I feel like I am not able to be

defeated!

Nothing will stop me, because I have self-control to

make a difference in my life and the lives I touch.

Signed, with full-hearted belief,

Me

 

Don’t grow weary in well-doing, my friend. There is too much ABOVE waiting on us!

Love yam! YOU!

Terrible Rash Terri Brady 🙂

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” –Romans 8:6

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” –Deuteronomy 31:8 

 * I must give credit for the note idea to “Max” who wrote his newlywed wife “Stefanie” a two-part note like this. I found it cleverly humorous, but the online versions included controversial topics unworthy of my linking. Last names were not included in the posts.

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Electronics Addiction: Another Leading Cause of “Busyness”

Dear Lindsey,

It is astounding that the same tools that multiply efficiency of time can steal it in equal magnitude.  I would say that life would be better if electricity were never used, but wouldn’t that make me a hypocrite as I type on my word-processor and you read on your computer?

Kevin DeYoung, in his book,  Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, lists several diagnoses causing busyness:

  • Trying to look good, instead of actually doing good. (and its close cousins: pride, Unknownpeople pleasing and perfectionism),
  • Trying to do more than what God expects me to do.
  • Not setting priorities…even in serving others.
  • “Kinderarchy”:  Freaking out about my kids.
  • Being addicted to technology.
  • Not resting enough.

Electronics Addiction

My last letter talked about overparenting and freaking out about my kids, but this one is more about freaking out over me….being addicted to technology.

Yes, I could say that the kids are the ones with the electronics problem. I took six teenagers for ten hours in a car last month, and I think I could count on my fingers the number of words they said to each other….with their mouths, anyway. It seems we are raising a silent generation – as their thumbs type the words (even while sitting next to each other in a car!) that we once verbalized.  I find it ironic though, that every time I want to say, “Put the phone down,” (which is an acceptable request in our house – any time) I have to stop myself from using my own phone first.

gadget-addictionDo I really think I am so “needed” that I cannot go a few hours without seeing if someone needs me on my phone? Do I think my children cannot survive minutes of my errand-running without having me on an electronic leash, able to be tugged at their beck and call?

Gone are the neighborly days in which I grew up, since neighbors are not as “used.”  When my brother, Tim, hit a baseball in the backyard that rearranged my brother Mike’s nose to be firmly planted into his eye, the neighbor (“my second mother,” we called her) came running with a role of paper towels before the injured one had even stopped running (and screaming). Those kind of neighborly bonding moments are gone! Why is it that broken noses in backyard baseball seem so much healthier than Snap Chat, video games and DISH? 🙂

When email first began its trend, I remember putting a tag at the end of my emails, “I check email on Friday afternoons only, so please be patient in awaiting a reply.”

WHAT?!

How did that ever work? Now, it seems perfectly legitimate for a coach to email a change in my kids’ 5:30 practice at 4:30!  Everyone assumes you are on the leash!  I had fourteen emails today, regarding soccer alone. Heaven forbid my family’s biannual dentist appointments come around, because – since I am the secretary and personal chauffeur of my four children – I get ten emails (two per child, and myself) reminding me, outside of the five identical texts and five automated phone calls… all to tell me about one appointment I had already put into my calendar six months prior – when the appointment was booked.  You’d think they are afraid that my family is so “busy,” we will forget the appointment!  And sometimes, we do.

Unknown-2My brain has become so accustomed to the fast pace of multi-tasking, that I can hardly sit for sixty seconds at a red light, without habitually grabbing my phone to check the few buzzes I missed since the last light. I mean, really: if I accidentally leave the house without my phone, I am shocked at how many times I reach for it (and notice only because it is not there). The old days of talking to the lady behind me in line have diminished into a world of looking at the top of her head, while she does the Smart Phone Slouch, as if sending approval for me to assume the same stance.

It has been proven that endorphins are released and produce a “high” when the phone buzzes or computer indicates, “You’ve got mail!”  It makes a subliminal desire for the same high if we go minutes without getting it.  (That must be why I miss my phone if I am without it for a nano-second.)

Last week, a baby whined in her car seat in a waiting room images-2where I sat. The mom typed away on her phone to who-knows-who while the little cry got a little more forceful.  I chuckled to myself, while I checked my own phone to see if my father in Colorado had taken his turn on Words with Friends. It is striking how a phone can eliminate the 1600 miles between my father and me… and yet distance the mom from her baby in the same room!

“We are now more wired than ever. Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the study participants reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of [some] users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation.” (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/when-technology-addiction-takes-over-your-life)

It’s no wonder I feel so BUSY!

I would like to say I am going to commit to go back in time, and start square dancing in the barn with neighbors! Haha! I would first have to buy a barn and introduce myself to my neighbors – who might run from me if I were talking about square dancing!

Really, my goal is to utilize electronics to run life, not let electronics’ use run my life.

I want to keep electronics as tools I control – not the other way around, despite how difficult that is to actually live.

Unknown-3Maybe people who have the “phone basket” by the front door have good family dinners? Maybe those people who take forever to get back to me on email or text are actually living with the people in their house, and I should applaud it? Maybe it’s ok if my kid doesn’t have his own email to check at age seven?  After all, once the message-checking begins, it doesn’t end…forever!

“I had to apologize to God today, because I turned on my phone before reading my Bible,” a friend sharpened me as iron sharpens iron when she made this passing statement. How many times have quiet times, exercise, or my kids’ smiles been missed when I thought I needed to check “just one more thing” online?  I lightly enjoy Twitter and Facebook: I love hearing who had a baby, finding a tribute in memory of my friend, Jackie Lewis,  or seeing how many “liked” or “re-tweeted” my son’s April Fool’s joke on me. But the hourglass doesn’t stop dropping sand when I get distracted looking at the other threads completely unrelated to the priorities for my day!

images-3My husband has (brilliantly I might add) limited electronics’ use by our kids. It is easier to say “no” when they are four, than to try and backtrack on use when they are fourteen. If Google and Facebook limit the youngest age to be thirteen, it should at least flag more-conservative-than-the-Internet parents that maybe we should wait at least that long for them to get accounts.  (Besides, what is being taught when even parents use a fake birthdate to get their kid “around” the age rules?)  Really, our kids will have their own electronic leashes soon enough.  There is no right-of-passage back into childhood, so it is probably wise if parents choose to protect it.  Kids have the rest of their lives to live with the “electronic leash,” so there’s no harm in having “tween” years without its yoke!

We are affecting the next generation.

My 13-yr-old and I were discussing “maturity” and what it means, as I look for more symptoms of it in him. At one point, he answered, “It seems that ‘maturity’ means you check your phone more, and are more involved with emails.” He was serious in his observation of those “mature” older brothers and friends around him.

My daughter recently wrote an article for a magazine she created. Her random “creative writing,” had a point that was clear, especially since she (at age ten) is only on the outside of the electronic world, looking in.  Although I cannot say everyone can logistically apply her “one month” program, I thought it a fitting way to end this letter. (See her article, “Family Fun” below.)

Electronically your friend,

Terri

Romans 12:2:And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

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Family Fun

By Christine Brady

“Uh…a duck?” said Nate. The whole family laughed. Trivial Pursuit always had us giggling at the funny questions…and answers. Our family takes one month away from phones, iPods and computers. No e-mailing, texting or calling people…just family time. Nowadays, families need more time together…electronics are drawing them apart.

People who are always texting and e-mailing never really stop to look around them- to stare at the pretty clouds or to listen to the birds chirp sweetly.  My older brother got a FaceBook account and for a while, even he was distracted from the beautiful weather! Without phones and iPods, you would really appreciate the world around you.

Family time is very important. We learn to laugh, have fun, and we can forget bad things.  I think our family is the happiest of all when they take a month away from phones, iPods, computers and video games. For instance once I had a HORRIBLE ear infection that lasted from March to July.  July was our Un-plugged month, and I got distracted from my ear infection. Instead of hurting, my ear infection DISAPPEARED!!!! Family time is definitely important.

Families need more time together, and happier memories to look back at. I am encouraging YOU to take a month off electronics, as a test and see what happens. Do you want YOUR family laughing together? Simply take out electronics for a while! Trivial Pursuit is on its way…and so is lot of family fun!