Homeschooling Missing Ingredients (Mistakes I’ve Made)

Dear Lindsey

The coupons began as a spontaneous purchase at Walgreens, although I haven’t seen them there lately, so we have made our own. One coupon says, “Your choice of restaurant the next time we eat out.” Another says, “Multiply your snacks by two today,” and a very memorable one said, “You make the snack, whatever you want, and Mom has to eat a bite.”

Hmm.  Why do I do these things? I was nervous when they decided to redeem that coupon!

Fortunately, my children were nice (nicer than I probably would have been to my own Brady Bakersmother when I was their age! LOL!) and decided that they would try to make peanut butter icing, knowing my love for peanut butter. The problem was that this 6 and 7-yr-old could not find a recipe, so they just guessed. They were so excited working together. I walked through the kitchen and saw my Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter as if this were a professional production. I tried to stay out of sight, but I enjoyed their whispers from a distance.

“No, no, no! I don’t think there’s baking powder in frosting!” I heard J.R. say, “I’m pretty sure there’s vanilla, though.”

“It looks like peanut butter mush!” they cackled and then hushed each other so I wouldn’t hear their surprise.

“Mmm, it’s good mush,” Christine said, and I pictured her eyes sparkling as she took her taste-test finger out of her mouth.

“What’s that white stuff in frosting?” she asked.  “I think that’s what’s missing.”

“Oh yeah!! Shortening!” he yelled, and I heard his motions climbing the counter to get to the cupboard behind the prep sink.

I cringed from my office, wondering what kind of sick mind I had the day I thought that coupon was a good one to offer. Why didn’t I say DAD had to taste it?!

“Oh Mom–my!” they sang in a doorbell-toned duet. “It’s ready for you to taste!” and the giggles filled the room.

I rounded the corner to see the powdered sugar box empty, with clear handprints in its dust all over the island. Measuring spoons were out, though I wondered what they had measured, since they didn’t have a recipe. I did not see reptiles or worms present, so I thought it must be safe for eating. With all the courage I could muster, I took the spatula from JR’s hand, where it had been preloaded with peanut butter icing, and took a lick.

“Not bad!” I said, and they squealed with pride.

So cute!

I happened to have some ooey gooey chocolate cookies left over from Christmas in the freezer, so we thawed them and sandwiched the icing between two cookies. Delicious! Really!recipe

When I began homeschooling, I think I wanted a recipe to follow, but yet I LOVED being able to cater the learning to each individual child! I went with what I knew, and then added some things and subtracted some things. And I still do today! But just like in Christine and JR’s recipe, there are certain things I want to keep out. (By the way, that’s the real recipe they invented to the right. Use with caution! 🙂 )

Some Homeschooling Mistakes Along the Way

Although I love lists, this one is not my favorite: my list of mistakes. (And it is longer than could be captured on any blog and still growing!)  However, I am grateful I learned from some of these…at least once so far, anyway.

  1. Bringing school home:  When I admitted to a dear friend, Sham Palomaki, that I never felt like I was completing a school day right, she said sweetly, “It sounds like maybe you are bringing school home instead of homeschooling.”  I immediately knew what she meant, and I was guilty as charged! I had a chalkboard on the wall, and even had a 1950’s school desk I found at a garage sale! I was “teacher” during school hours, and “Mom” some time later. School wasn’t done until that little book said it was done.  Missing ingredient: Home.
  2. Routine Rut: Routine is great! We start at the same time (approximately) each day. We do subjects in the same order (although for the first year, I wrote the subjects down on popsicle sticks and allowed him to rearrange the sticks daily). But routine can lead to ruts of “unfun” hours end on end. Too often, I have become a slave master, cracking a whip, worried about the time and when summer break (for me!) would begin. I had an agenda and it needed to be met. Similar to “putting the home in school,” I realized I needed to flex. We made family sandwiches (with mom on the bottom, of course – thanks, Marcia Robinson, for that idea), learned multiplication of 7’s using football guys, added recess, put in a field trip or special lecture series by Dad (since he is at home during the day), and my older two keep telling my younger two that we used to have “math substitute” once a week. (Shhh. Those two are doing fine with math every day!)  Missing Ingredient: Laughter
  3. Keeping up with Joneses: We know that comparison is the root of unhappiness, and I really didn’t think I could be that way. I mean, my kids are the best kids on earth, so how could comparing with any others ever lead to unhappiness? Well, when someone says, “We accidentally hit an opossum in our car last night, so we decided to scoop it up and take it home for science dissection,” I realized “I am completely unworthy to ever be called a homeschool mom.” (LOL, Thanks, Wendy Lukonen, my hero!)  “Keeping up with the Joneses” does two things: 1.  It makes me feel like I should be doing something different in homeschooling. 2. Any moment I take thinking about “what I should have done” takes away a time where I could be encouraging another precious homeschool mom for doing her great job. I decided that Mrs. Jones was chosen to homeschool her kids. I am called to homeschool mine; no comparison allowed.  Missing ingredient: contentment
  4. Low Expectations for my kids: I watched Casey’s math test “grades” dwindle. I was never much for keeping grades. Grades seemed to be for communicating between teacher and parents how well a student was performing. I never bothered. Instead, I looked for mastery. If he missed problems, he had to re-do them until he could do them well. Red pen? Optional.  One day, I realized Casey was not getting 100% of his problems correct…ever. Knowing my kid, I realized he was capable, and completely unmotivated. Why would he care? I had no expectation for him to meet. The above “coupon” program was instituted to encourage 100% on the first try of a math assessment (test). It was amazing how as soon as there was incentive, he checked and doublechecked his work before turning it in. He had never known that I expected 100%, because I had communicated otherwise. I soon recognized other areas of my low expectations: excellence of chores, cleanliness of rooms, good attitude, edification of siblings, etc. Ugh! Writing this reminds me of how much I still need to do!  Missing ingredient: great expectations.
  5. Too Many Activities: Just because opportunity knocks, doesn’t mean we have to answer it. We could go to a co-op all day Thursdays, play homeschool soccer on Friday mornings, go to homeschool art class on Monday afternoons; don’t forget library story hour next door – it’s so convenient it’s the same day and free! And shouldn’t Christine get homeschool gymnastics on Wednesday afternoons, since her brothers’ soccer dominates our evenings? Oh, and that worldview class at church seems too good to be true! But let’s not forget the “normal” evening activities of church choirs, music lessons and Awanas (Scripture memory). Not to mention that I went to Bible Study Fellowship one morning/week for 8 years. Wow. Some years, my kids did so much school in the car that I called them “Road Scholars” :).  Missing ingredient: school.
  6. Hungering for Encouragement: It can be a lonely world for homeschool moms. There is no one to say, “Your kids are awesome; here’s an ‘A’.” Or “I think your child should be invited to this honors class.”  I must admit that there were many times when I would hear of awards given or school rankings of similarly aged public school neighbors and I would think, “I wish my kid got noticed.”  I am embarrassed to say that I even sent the standardized test scores to the grandparents the first year of homeschool – just wishing someone would say, “You are doing a good job. Maybe you are not messing them up after all.”  I know Col 3:23 says to do all for the glory of God, not man, so why does this desire creep back into me so often? Can’t I get just a little glory for me? Just a little glory for my kids? Ha! Do I really forget WHO is in charge of my homeschool?  I have had to go back to that original list of “why homeschool” so many times. One of the reasons I homeschool was not, “So I can be recognized that I did a good job.” It was not, “So my child can get accolades from his peers.” But the biggest reason was so my child will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Missing Ingredient: Eternal focus
  7. Being Puffed Up: Too often on this journey, pride has reared its ugly head. It is difficult when taking a stand and walking against the crowd in any direction not to feel a bit of excitement when your way works! But the only way that happens is because God is at work. There were times I think I was homeschooling to “prove a point” instead of “do what was right.” When the “I’ll show them,” negative attitude wins over the “I’ll serve the Lord” attitude, the fall awaits. 1 Samuel 2:3 says, “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, 
and by him deeds are weighed.”  This showed most clearly when we debated on sending our oldest son to high school. We had various reasons that looked like this particular Christian school could be a good opportunity for Casey: more Godly men leading as examples; competitive sports; Christian friends, etc. Casey asked us not to send him. My heart ached to have him (and frankly his good example) at home all day. Through prayer, we realized that we really felt it was the right thing to do for him and his wellbeing. Dark voices began echoing in my head, “But your identity is a homeschool mom of four! Everyone is going to know you “failed”! You’re quitting! You must not have really believed what you set out to prove!” and on and on. Chris actively wanted Casey to go to high school, but left the decision to me after his input. I analyzed five different ways of homeschooling through high school. I resisted the change in all of my normal ways – coming up with my plan B, C and D. But one morning, in silent prayer (amazing how many realizations happen on that porch while the birds sing in my ear), I realized that it was meant to be. As a friend, Ann Winters, says, “God is always on Plan A. Always.”  I called the school and arranged a tour. The following fall, I sat in the bleachers watching him play high school soccer as the only starting freshman, and a man came over to me and said, “Casey is the answer to my prayers for a friend for my son.” I could hardly choke words out in reply. My prayers had been answered as well. Missing Ingredient: humility to accept when God’s plan wasn’t my plan A.

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So when we add laughter to great expectations, humility with contentment, and some home along with school,  I suppose we end up with homeschool.  It sometimes looks like peanut butter mush, but sandwiched between two cookies of love, it is really delicious. Really!

I recently came across a blog where a man thanked his wife for homeschooling their children. He was celebrating her “retirement from teaching,” since their youngest was graduating from homeschool. What an encouragement for those of us on the journey!  A copy and link are pasted below.

God bless,

Terri Brady

——–

Praising a ‘Retired’ Home School Mom

By Marty Duren , CP Op-Ed Contributor
May 13, 2013|10:42 am

The homeschool teacher who taught my children is retiring after a stellar twenty-three year career.

In the next few days we will withdraw our youngest child from her homeschool, high-school program. She then will prepare for taking the GED test in the next few weeks. For Sonya, my wife, it ends a twenty-three year homeschool teaching career.

When we made the decision to start homeschooling our oldest daughter it was not because we heard a word from God. It was not because we thought Deuteronomy 6 applied to readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic. Nor was it because we were on an anti-public school tirade.

It was pretty simple. When our oldest daughter was 5 years old we lived in the country where I pastored a church. It was 10 miles each way to kindergarten. If we drove her to school we faced forty miles a day round-trips. If we put her on the bus she would board around 7:30 in the morning and return around 5:00 in the afternoon every day. That was not appealing. Each school bus, like the one she would ride, had kids from K-12. That was not appealing, either.

So, we decided to homeschool.

As is the case with most homeschool families, Mom carried most of the responsibility. After twenty-three years and three kids my wife has done at least 98% of the teaching, grading, record keeping, encouraging, reproving, threatening, laughing and crying. I probably threatened worse judgments but she did more of it.

She sought the best deals on curriculum every summer as well as determining what of our old curriculum we could sell. And, she determined what we had to keep for another child or two coming through.

She told me what math I had to do with which kid on what night. She oversaw so many science experiments we could not even count.

Some of them actually worked.

All three of our kids could read, because of her emphasis on phonics, before they started school. One, however, sandbagged all the way through first grade acting as if he did now how. It was only when she informed him he would need to repeat first grade Reading that he picked up a book and, to her amazement, started reading it to her. I feel certain a loud lecture soon followed.

She read aloud more books than anyone could count. Classics, modern stories, the Redwall series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, dozens of Agatha Christie mysteries. Thousands of pages, perhaps tens of thousands. Our youngest preferred to read than be read to. Finally Sonya would get two copies of the same book so they could alternately read aloud and follow along. To this day all our kids read, read widely and read much.

One thing instilled in our kids was a love of learning. I have heard more than one person say over the years they never picked up another book after college. Sonya never went to college but has picked up books ever since high school. She modeled learning, both biblical and the “schoolish” type, to our three. Education really should not be about reports and finishing courses, anyway. Education should be about creating the desire to learn and freeing the ability to do it.

We are not that home school family where each kid got a full-ride scholarship to Harvard while finding a cure for a major disease over the kitchen sink after successfully suing the government over the freedom of education. No, we had to evaluate every spring whether we would do it again in the fall. We also were not that family who went into the yard, picked a couple of dandelions and marked science off for the day. Sonya made sure there was structure. Field trips were planned judiciously. Going shopping did not count as economics. Well, not often…

Our middle child, and only boy, hated school (except for the reading part) and fought it every step of the way. He did not care for college either. But he is gainfully employed, promoted three times in a single year on his job. Our oldest got a scholarship and finished a philosophy degree at a state university. She helps run a coffee shop and thinks about the meaning of drinking coffee. Our youngest is in the choosing college phase. All three graduated at least a year early.

A local school principal once told me that, of all the homeschoolers she had ever seen, Sonya was the only one who did it right. It might have been hyperbole, but it was encouraging.

Sonya Duren passed up the choice to have a “career” so she could pour the best of herself into the three to whom God entrusted us. We forewent a lot of things to buy school supplies, books; VHS lecture tapes, DVDs and entire curriculum sets. Anything you see in the Bible about the rewards of sacrifice is embodied in her.

So, she “retires” this year with no pension, no admiring colleagues, no principal’s speech, no plaque, and no pension. She just retires having changed three lives. Not to mention my unending appreciation and admiration.

The column was first published on Marty Duren’s blog, Kingdom in the Midst.

Marty Duren is a former pastor, Christ follower, husband, father, writer, social media strategist and general provocateur who lives in Hermitage, TN. His blog, Kingdom in the Midst can be found at www.martyduren.com.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/praising-a-retired-home-school-mom-95754/#H52sld4DoQbdbJhX.99

Related Letters to Lindsey:

For Fun: The Guy Version of The Stranger’s Sketch

Dear Lindsey,

Did you see my post yesterday? You will not understand today’s post unless you saw yesterday’s so I encourage you to read it first here: The Stranger’s Sketch.

And then have fun analyzing the humor in someone’s parody of the same video “from a guy’s perspective” here:

The funny part of the video (the fact that some people see themselves as,… well, uh, perfect) does not have to be gender specific to men. (Although, the video-maker entitled it “guy’s perspective.”) There are different versions of self-portraits in both genders.

The overall point remains the same: it is not self-esteem, but God-esteem that matters in the bigger picture called life.

Related Posts (haha):

In fun,

Terri Brady

TTFish

Climb the Ladder

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died

My richest gain I count but lost

And pour contempt on all my pride.

I wrote the words to that old hymn from Isaac Watts in my journal, while I fought back internal emotional pain. I WANTED to pour contempt on all my pride, but it kept haunting its possessor.

Then I decided to really try to “survey the wondrous cross” and I went into a little daydream that morning in my quiet time, which I will never forget. It was a daydream that forced surrender of my heart, once again.

In the distance, I saw not one, but three crosses on the hill. A crowd of people surrounded the base. There was noise: people’s voices, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

I stared at the center cross as I walked closer, praying that I would stay focused on Him,

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

despite the distractions of this crazy surrounding world. I wanted to “be one” with other people as He was one with God, so that people would know why He came; yet I battled conflict in my heart. I wanted to survey that wondrous cross and leave the conflict behind.

I saw guards, Roman I assume, in costume as the movies had portrayed. Some spectators on the hill were on their knees, in a deep mourning wail. Others were shouting insults toward the cross. Others were simply walking away, not able to “survey” any longer.

I looked at His face. Jesus’ eyes were still open. He looked down on all of the people – the crying, the shouting and even the leaving and I remembered His words, “Forgive them; they know not what they do.”

What wondrous love is this that He could forgive even in agony?

Agony caused by lashes of a whip tied especially for breaking skin on His bare back while authorities held His flesh taut for maximum tearing.

Agony caused by friends, even His closest, who had deserted Him. One betrayed with a kiss, others with their departure or denial.

Agony caused by a crown of thorns forced onto His head to pierce the skin, while they mocked Him as a “king”.

Agony caused by taunting hours before, “If You are so great, why don’t you tell us who hit You?” as they struck his blindfolded face.

I imagined how He must have felt as people sang, “Hosanna!” at His coming to town, so grateful for His arrival; then in contradiction, people screamed, “Crucify Him!” just days later, treating Him like the criminals on the adjacent crosses.

How did He restrain from fighting back?” I wondered when I recalled his accusers bringing Him to Pontius Pilate, telling the lies that He had denounced taxes and that He was undermining the government. (Luke 23) He stayed focused on His message: He was the Son of God. When King Herod tried Him, Jesus never even spoke, as if wrestling with the pig wasn’t worth words. He was at peace with allowing God’s will to be done through Him. “Why can’t I do that?!” I wondered.

Crucifixion, a slow, lingering electric chair of the era was so cruel, so public, so naked. There was no way to “look good” even as the Son of God hanging on that wood. Nails pierced his hands and feet.

Three men died that day at Calvary. One on the cross next to Jesus jeered at Him, while the other, in full belief said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” That is when Jesus told the latter, “I tell you the truth: today you will be with me in paradise.”

I broke out of the dream and thought back onto myself. I could see me saying, “I’m kind of having a bad day here. My emotions are out of control; I’d really like some time on this cross where I don’t have to deal with you people.” Yet Christ had a message to relay: that heaven awaits; and it is waiting for anyone who believes – even in his last hour.

My daydreaming continued, and I found a ladder. I set it next to Jesus’ cross, and began to climb. I wanted to survey the Savior.

The sweat, mixed with blood, poured from His body. I recalled His “sweating blood” during a deep prayer just nights before, though His closest friends’ loyalty faded in sleep. I meditated on even Him, asking His heavenly Father for a change of The Plan, yet what He wanted was that God’s will be done.

The daydream paused as personal thoughts came in: That’s what I want!: God’s will be done. Yet so much conflict, how can it be?

In my daydream, my actions continued, I wanted to get closer, to talk to Jesus as He hung on that cross, looking down on the people. “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,” came to mind from another verse of the same hymn.

From His view I could see His accusers, and mine too. “He died for them, also,” I was reminded.

I leaned toward Him to whisper, bringing my lips close to His ear and tried to form words. Thoughts flooded my mind:

Jesus, SHE won’t return my phone call!”

“Jesus, I am so jealous that I didn’t get what I wanted.”

“Jesus, I have been WRONGED, and they are going to make me look bad.”

A smile came to my face, in self-laughter. What?! I would NEVER have been able to say that into His ear from atop the ladder! How petty! How selfish! He died for me, can I not live a moment for Him? After climbing that ladder to truly survey the wondrous cross the only thoughts that could come to mind were unsaid, choked back by tears:

“I am SO unworthy of this sacrifice.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Thank you.”

He glanced in my direction as if to answer my unspoken words, “I know. It’s why I came.”

As I snapped out of my daydream, tears flowed as I realized how petty my prayers had been that morning.

He gave His life for me; can’t I live a moment for Him?

When my pride gets in the way: I climb the ladder.

When I feel like I have been wronged: I climb that ladder.

When I am jealous, I climb the ladder.

If I am talking too much about myself, I need to climb that ladder.

If I am feeling perfect enough to start correcting others, I climb the ladder.

If I am more worried about the scrutiny of man than the scrutiny of God, I CLIMB THE LADDER.

Are my thoughts worthy of whispering in His ear from the top of the ladder?

Whisper in His ear about the parents who just lost children this week. He cares.

Pray to Him about the woman lost in the dark world of depression. He’s holding her.

Ask Him in His ear how best to be His testimony in this lost world and He would be relieved to know someone read His Words so they would outlast His agony.

I had “open heart surgery” that morning. I surrendered. His will be done.

He has the whole world in His hands, not my hands, and that is where it needs to stay.

I pray this holiday season that we may be ONE so the world will know that the Lord above sent Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 17:21): He humbled Himself to human birth – in a stable; He submitted to baptism – by another man; He washed filthy feet – of those lesser than He; He died a criminal’s death – alongside heathen, for God’s glory. May we follow His example to true humility; I am above nothing. Peace on earth comes into our hearts when we can rest in God’s will being done.

And if conflict arises, even if only inside of us, may we climb the ladder to rise above the offense, survey the cross, and take time to whisper in His ear, “Thank You.”

Pride/Ego Summary of Symptoms:

Beginning introduction: (Turkey Tastes Better Without Lily Pads.)

Other symptoms (and this list is probably endless):

  • refusing to forgive/bitterness
  • ranking people as more or less valuable than one another
  • talking down about others (close relative to talking about oneself)
  • resisting new information

With love,

Terri Brady

 

Small Enough to Be Used (Whose Baby is This?!)

The Bible says, “Humble yourself and you will be exalted.” I say, “Humble yourself, or God will do it for you!” Hee! Whether it was falling in the church parking lot last month, finding underwear on fire on my chandelier while I had visitors, or forgetting someone was coming to my house for lunch…that I cooked, these humbling experiences have all been reminders: I am not great.

Hudson Taylor, a 19th century missionary to China and one of the most profound Christian thinkers of all time had this to say about his life: “I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me.”

It’s sad to me how often I have wanted to look better than I really am.  That is the next symptom of an ego problem in this series of letters about pride:

Trying to Look Better than Reality Reveals or…being stingy with the “sorry”.

Let me illustrate: A “Polly Pocket” is like a Barbie who has been zapped by the Honey I Shrunk the Kids gun, and her shoes were more impossible than Barbie’s to find in the grass. The Cheerios and raisins that were supposed to have lasted through all four soccer games had also been dumped into the said grass within this first game. The double-stroller was loaded with activities and snacks for my younger two (age 2 and 1 at the time) so my older two could participate in a soccer tournament.

Cover of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

“I’ll take the baby and meet you at field 10,” Chris said, as he pushed the stroller along the sideline toward our second son’s game. I waited for the 9 yr-old to finish in the coach’s meeting, while I pretended to do a Seek and Find game from the Highlights’ Magazines of my youth, but it seemed impossible in this grass to find matching shoes for poor Polly.

I put the 2-yr-old on one hip, and the 9-yr-old and I walked between the fields, seeing “field 10” about four field-lengths over.

Thousands of people filled every soccer field’s sideline of this event.  The acreage spanned to allow for more than thirty simultaneous games, so I was grateful to only need to go a distance of four fields. I could see Chris, already a couple of fields-lengths ahead, struggling to move the stroller’s wheels through the wet grass. There was a game on my right and my left the entire walk, as spectators yelled for their kids in every direction, and I tried to squeeze between them.

Suddenly, the game on my right halted and the whistle blew. Three mothers went running onto the field. My heart sank; there must be a major injury. My mind raced, realizing I had never even seen ONE mother run onto the field, much less THREE! I watched with anticipation, wondering if someone was badly hurt, or if there would be a catfight. (You never know with us soccer moms. LOL!)

One of the mothers in the center of the field turned in the direction of the crowd, and said angrily, “WHOSE BABY IS THIS?!” as she held up a cute little 1-yr-old boy. To my horror, I realized it was MY 1-yr-old boy the stranger was now holding!!

I took a quick glance to see Chris still pushing a stroller a field away, not realizing his carrier was empty.

I forced up courage, and made my way through the sideline crowd to retrieve JR, and told the mean lady, “I know his mother.”

HAHA! Just kidding, I didn’t say that- but I bet I thought about it. How embarrassing! Not only did we lose a child, but we didn’t even know he was missing! Ugh!

I wish I had a video of HOW he got out of that stroller, because it is still a mystery to us! Thousands of people there and no one saw his escape? Wasn’t the stroller still moving? Did he fall, and then get back up and head for the field? Was he looking for me, or just chasing another soccer ball?

The questions all remain unanswered.

That feeling though…the one where I wanted to explain to everyone how faultless I was in the story…the one where my embarrassment actually slowed my legs from making the steps toward retrieving my own son…the feeling that I cared more about what those strangers thought of me than what God thought…the feeling that prevented me from saying, “Sorry!” which clearly should have been the first word out of my mouth, regardless of the fault assigned to their inconvenience…the feeling that I wanted to look better than actuality showed me to be…

That’s pride.

In my fun little “Brady classic,” it is amusing to think of the embarrassment in the situation. In reality, though, pride becomes a problem when we start worrying more about what man thinks than what God thinks. We start living a facade that we are great and never want anyone to think otherwise. We buy clothes we can’t afford, live in houses beyond our means and avoid the words, “I’m sorry,” because we’re afraid of how it “makes us look.”  We analyze fault to see if we believe ours weighs more than others involved, before we determine if we really have to apologize.

For me though, in real relationships with real people, there is nothing that “makes a person look better” than when he/she apologizes and truly means it. Sincere apologies represent quiet strength. When one admits wrong it clears air and allows others the confidence to admit their wrongs as well.  Stubbornness breeds stubbornness. As the song goes, “We all talk a different language when we’re talking in defense.”  Admitting wrong breeds comfort for those around you, removes their defenses and allows for more pure relationships.

May we be comfortable in being “small enough and weak enough” for God to use.

In love,

Terri Brady

Humble yourself before the Lord. (Don’t make Him get out His “Honey I shrunk the Kids” gun and bring us down to size!)

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Related Posts about Pride

That’s not the Right Seat!

Dear Lindsey,

When my son was four, he sat quietly at a table and dumped the pieces to a puzzle, spreading them out to begin. He said to me, “Mom, pretty soon you are going to hear a big ‘TAH DAH!’ but first… there’s going to be a lot of work!”

I wonder if that is what God thinks when we first recognize our desire to follow Him.

As I continued my walk in my journey of pride diagnosis, I came to the next symptom:

Wanting to Correct

I don’t believe the Bible mentions the “gift of reproach” as one of the spiritual gifts, but girl, I think I lived much of my life thinking I had it! Maybe it was growing up with three brothers (who certainly had a lot to learn from me. Tongue-in-cheek.) or being blessed with talents, A’s and no cavities, but somehow along the way, I developed a critical eye: a sign of pride.

How do I tell her she needs to dress differently?

I need to write the school about that teacher.

How can a deacon of the church let his child do THAT on Sunday?

Galatians 6:2-5 says that we should bear one another’s burdens and every man bear his own burden.

If I am thinking of ways to correct someone, I am hardly carrying their burden. In fact, every minute I think about correcting someone is a minute I have not spent worshipping the Lord, or improving myself.  I love the saying that if 80% of the problem is my husband’s (or friend’s or teammate’s) and 20% of the problem is my own, then I need to spend 100% of my time working on the 20% that is my own! Every minute spent on stressing “rules” to someone else is often a deterrent from allowing them the “relationship” with God.

(note: The Bible does talk about reproof (James 5:20 for example), and there is a proper time; this “pride” about which I am talking is not Biblical reproof. The recommended reading below clarifies the difference.)

Each morning before school, I try to read to my children from a devotional book.  The following story comes from A Wisdom Retreat (book 1), by Stephen Davey.   On Day 19, entitled The Aisle Seat, Davey best describes someone who chose to worship God instead of correcting His people:

————-

“Rebecca Pippert, in her fascinating book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World told the story of her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where she met Bill, one of the students on the campus where she served. He was a brilliant young man with messy hair and, as she recalls, he was perpetually shoeless. From outward appearances he was a little strange, but inwardly he was inquisitive and incredibly bright.

One day Bill decided to attend a middle-class church that was across the street from the campus. He walked into this church of well-dressed people in his tattered jeans, tee shirt, and, of course, barefooted.  In truth, this was the first time he’d ever been inside a church sanctuary.

People looked a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything as Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. The church was quite crowded that Sunday and as he came to the front pew he realized there were no seats left. So without any hesitation, he sat down on the carpet in the middle of the aisle, the same place he sat when his Christian friends invited him as they met for Bible study. He casually crossed his legs and waited for the service to begin.

The tension was palpable as people murmured, craning their necks to see the stranger in the aisle. Then one of the elderly deacons – a man who was well-respected in the church – began walking down the aisle toward the student. Rebecca’s friends who witnessed this scene told her that they whispered to each other, “Well, you can’t exactly blame him for scolding the guy…he is a disruption to the service!”

As the well-groomed deacon neared Bill, the church was deathly quiet. All eyes were glued front and center to see what would happen next. With some difficulty, the old man lowered himself to the floor and sat down next to Bill. He crossed his legs and shared his hymnal with the college-aged boy. The crowd was stunned.

That Sunday the deacon not only worshiped there on the floor, but he reminded the congregation how to worship.”

———–

C.S. Lewis says that the greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is …Christians. What?! “The greatest enemy of Christianity’s growth is [sinful] Christians.” (OK, I added a word.) Well of course we are!  I bet I stunted the growth with my very own lips at times, correcting people for things that didn’t even matter to Jesus himself. Prideful people take the light off of the Lord and put it onto themselves.

God doesn’t need me; I need God. Anytime that role is changed, my pride is in the way and those around me suffer.  (Aside:  PLEASE, if you have been hurt by one of these “special people with the gift of correcting,” look beyond them, and rise above to forgive. God has a bigger plan for you! Christians are not perfect (not even your spouse!), or they would not need a Savior Who is!)  May we follow that deacon’s example and worship God instead of working on His people in our hearts and actions today.

In love,

Terri Brady

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Recommended reading:

Instrument in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

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Wanna Talk about ME!

Dear Lindsey,

“Will I ever keep my mouth shut?!” I have thought after regretting an argument at an event

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

with friends.  The truth is, the problem was not my mouth, but my heart that was speaking. John Maxwell says pride is the reason for ALL conflict. The Bible says it comes before the fall. Pride develops through the way we view ourselves and will affect the number of relationship conflicts we have this Christmas season, and in life. In these next few letters, I hope to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, while we enjoy laughing (or gasping!) at stories of my prideful past, learn to diagnose an ego problem, and get to the HEART of the matter. “Peace on Earth,” begins with pride-under-construction, so let us aim for a Christ-full Christmas leading to Christ-full lives.

Kids say the darndest things! They tell the unmasked truth at times, like when my then 6-yr-old said, “Sometimes I feel like my friends aren’t listening to me. It’s like they are quiet when I talk, but they are only thinking of what they are going to say next.”

Toby Keith’s song makes me smile every time I hear it:  “Wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one, oh my me my!” In the song, he’s talking about a girl he is dating who talks so much about herself, he never gets a chance to say anything.

I really don’t even remember dating Toby Keith, but the song describes me (at least the “old me”) so well! I even had a “gramma down in Alabama!” (the song states).

“Pride” is defined as:  a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements (or children’s achievements or possessions), according to the dictionary. However, a Christian definition may be:  Full of self, and therefore no room in the vessel to be full of God.  Proverbs 11:2 says that with the humble comes wisdom. Too often, we walk around, so “unwise.”

Like a skirt accidentally tucked into nylons, revealing a woman’s undergarments for an entire wedding reception dance, pride is a sin that is evident to all those around, but seemingly hidden from the bearer.  I have heard that “EGO” stands for “Edging God Out,” but when I first was figuring out my own pride problem, I loved God, and really, I figured I loved God more than most did, so I was safe from any ego issues. Ha! There was that pride again.

Pride destroys teams.

Whether it’s a business team, a church team, a marriage or a family, pride is a cancer that will starve the body. However, a problem cannot be solved until it is properly defined, and a prideful person, it seems, cannot see his own sin. “That’s about others, because I don’t feel good about myself,” I can remember thinking EVERY time I heard the word.  This is where the reader is cautioned: we may be talking about YOU and you don’t know it! (Just kidding! We all know we are talking about the ones who would never read this letter!)  All I know is that I am talking about me. As I said in another letter, (Turkey Tastes Better without Lilypads) pride is an addiction from which I am always recovering.

I often hear people say that they have low self-esteem, and not high self-esteem, and so therefore this problem is not applicable to them. Ironically, when I collected the following symptoms of pride, and subsequently compared them to the symptoms of low self-esteem from the book, Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem (Rainey), I couldn’t believe the irony that many of the symptoms were identical.

“How is that possible?!” you may ask. “Aren’t low self-esteem and high self-esteem opposites?”

In the middle of each description is the answer: “self.”

Whether it is “low-self” or “high-self,” when we esteem ourselves as anything other than God-esteemed, we are doomed to live lives of conflict.

That leads me to the first symptom of pride: talking about yourself.

I can change ANY subject back to me, and I used to think it was quite a talent!  Imagine my conversations:

Her: “We moved here from Colorado.”

Me: “I have family in Colorado.”

Her: “My child is really struggling in math.”

Me: “Oh that’s funny; my son is acing math!”

Her: “I had such a rough day today.”

Me: “Oh I know; I hate Mondays.”

Blechhhhh.

I HATE to think of myself having these conversations. How much could the Lord have done through me if instead I had been interested in the others’ words? How the math student’s mom could have been encouraged by words about HER not ME! Maybe the “rough day” was looking for truly caring words: “I’m sorry to hear that! How can I help?” What if the one from Colorado was only wishing for someone to know that she was new to the area?

Pride. It leads to relationship conflict and edges God out.

So what now? What if as we read the symptoms through the next letters, we identify an issue with pride, what next? Don’t despair! God is bigger than the pride boogie man.  Identifying the problem is half of the solution.

Ironically, I feel VERY confident writing about pride but not qualified to write about humility – which is the only solution.  Reading CJ Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness gives the reader great perspective.

However, for this first symptom (talking too much about oneself) the practical answer is obvious:

  1. Talk less about yourself. Some will read this and think I am saying that we should NEVER talk about ourselves; however, it is truly a matter of the heart. Are we listening to others? Are we caring about others? Or are we pushing opinions, experiences and ourselves on others, trying to uplift ourselves?
  2. Pray. Well …maybe that should have been #1. Since pride seems to be the king of invisible sins (Invisible only to the beholder, visible to all others…), we must ask God to open our eyes to where we are blind.
  3. Think more of others than of yourself.  C. S. Lewis said, “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis

My husband says that a man doesn’t marry a woman for her body, her brains, or any other of “her” self. He says he marries her because of how she makes him feel.  It is the same in business relationships, friendships and marriages alike: In relationships, our goal should NOT then be to make others think highly of us, but our goal should be to make them think highly of themselves, or better yet, think highly of our God when they are around us.

The most important commandment is to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind; and the second one is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-40.  To truly love God, we will love His people. We will care about them, and listen to them.

May we use our ears twice as much as our mouths today!

“Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.” –James 1:19

God bless,
Terri Brady

Recommended reading: Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis Rainey

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