Laudable Linkage

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Here are noteworthy reads discovered this last week:

Reaching for the Light. A mom’s struggle to spend time with the Lord and four kids.

Why I Took My Six-year-old Son on an Overnight Trip. Thoughts on Scripture’s instruction, “Son, give me your heart.”

The Hardest Part of Mothering.

Youth Group or Frat House? HT to Out of the Ordinary. Wisdom about youth group activities that humiliate.

In Defense of Preachy Children’s Books. HT to Story Warren. “Kids want to be entertained and delighted. The first thing you can do is erase the words moral, teach, message, and lesson out of your vocabulary…keep authoritative figures, like parents, teachers, or older siblings, in the background. Lastly, never let the adults in the story tell what the main character should do. Remember, it is a sin to preach in fiction.” The author counters this advice with examples from beloved children’s classics, and I agree with her. There was something in me that rose up to meet and welcome moral instruction in stories. It can be overdone, of course. And there are times to let readers realize what the story is about rather than telling them directly. But, “Rather than detracting or distracting from the story, were these passages giving me the names of the lovely ideals I sensed in the characters I admired? Were they revealing to me an eternal, universal world of Courage, Sacrifice, Hope, Joy, Love that, unlike the long-ago and fairytale story-lands I longed to enter, was near at hand for me to dwell in? Could this be why didacticism, properly woven into story, does not ruin but elevates it?”

100 Summer Crafts and Activities for Kids, HT to Story Warren.

And a thought for the day, HT to Jody Hedlund re writing, but applicable to many areas:

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Laudable Linkage

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I usually go a couple of weeks or more between these, but had so many, I decided to go ahead and list them. These are all thought-provoking reads found in the last week or so.

Believing in the somehow.

God’s Work in Your Bible Reading. “The Bible was precious because it mediated a sight of God, and a relation to God, which are sweeter than any other experience. This was the spring of what Sweeney called ‘Edwards’s lifelong love affair with Scripture.'”

Rethinking Phil. 4:13. It’s for far more than positive thinking and winning ball games.

How many days would it take to read through the Bible? A friend and missionary tried reading straight through the Bible in a week and discussed it here, then followed up with Meditations on binge-reading the Bible afterward.

Friends your age are not enough. We need friends of all ages.

#NotMyPresident. I’ve been appalled at some of the reaction to the president-elect. Many of us weren’t happy with the last two elections, but we didn’t act like this. I don’t agree 100% with everything about Trump, but, as a Christian, I appreciated this perspective.

Why Kids Ask Why (and How to Respond Lovingly)

Want to raise successful boys? Children, especially boys, learn better when they have more opportunities to move around than the average school gives them.

Must Christian Homeschool? Well thought-out response from Rebekah.

More than slightly Christian novels. Yes! This resonated with me.

Writing tips from Charles Spurgeon, HT to Challies.

And finally, someone posted this on Facebook, and I found it adorable:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve shared noteworthy things discovered around the Web, so here goes:

Two Methods of Bible Study. Do you ever struggle with whether to read larger portions of the Bible or to camp out deeply in smaller passages? Both are needed, and this is the best explanation of the two methods I’ve seen.

The Value of Children. Love this. Great insight.

Afraid of the Unknown. Yes, I tend to be, and this was very helpful.

When My Work Is Marginalized, Unappreciated, or Belittled.

Today Is Not a DIY Project.

Laser Rays…and Moonbeams. Lovely piece on the power of words to tear down and build up, beautifully written.

His Wife, Not His Mother and Part 2: Practical Tips: Learning How To Be His Wife, Not His Mother.

Sexual Desire and the Single Girl (10 Tips For Purity)

How to Write Without Sounding Preachy.

Love this! Some nice film editing about what kids might be imagining in their play, HT to The Story Warren:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

I’m back with my periodic round-up of note-worthy reads discovered online in the last couple of weeks:

Called Out to Gather. Good discussion of the Biblical teaching about the church.

Spiritual Drafting and the Dangers of Christian Complacency. “We all benefit from observing other Christians and seeing how they live the Christian life. This is God’s grace to us, giving us men and women who are worthy of imitation, putting people in our lives who are stronger than we are spiritually. But having such strong believers in our lives is meant to drive us to imitate them, not to simply take advantage of their efforts. Their example is meant to spur us on to greater earnestness in our spiritual lives, greater discipline in our pursuit of holiness.”

When NOT Helping Hurts. A missionary wrestles with the dilemma of when help is actually needed and when it fosters dependency.

Three Things You Should Not Say to a Newlywed.

Lessons From Little People: Life at Child Speed. Some go forward at full-tilt, some like to stop and explore and ponder.

Evolution and a Universe as Young as Humanity.

Hermeneutical Fidelity – Key Bible Passages in the Same Sex Marriage Debate. Answers to revisionist interpretations concerning homosexuality.

Why N. D. Wilson Writes Scary Stories for Children. I’ve not read one of his books, but his philosophy here reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s quote that to withhold “the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil…would be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu and the atomic bomb. Since it is so likely they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

And I thought this was cute, especially how much the dog’s tail was wagging all the way through!

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to share with you some interesting things found around the internet. Perhaps you’ll find something of interest in the following:

3 Things to Tell Yourself When Others Prosper While You Suffer.

Thank God for Your Normal, Boring Life.

Grieving Over the Holidays – What You Need to Know.

14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible. Though some of this addressed to preachers, other parts of it are applicable to us all.

“Mama, What Does $*@#%! Mean?” Wise advice for how to handle those times when, no matter how protective you’ve been, your child overhears a bad word.

Why I Show Children Hospitality (Even Though I Am Not a Parent), HT to The Story Warren.

Please Don’t Be Intolerant. As Inigo Montoya says, I think many people use that word without knowing what it really means.

You keep using that word...

Why Readers Are Skipping Crucial Parts of Your Story.

The Most Instagrammed Location In Every State.

12 Ridiculously Warm Products For People Who Are Always Ridiculously Cold. I am usually warmer than everyone else, but I know people who are always cold and could use some of these.

There were so many more Write 31 Days series than I could possibly read, and I dipped in here and there with quite a few, but a few I kept up with almost daily were:

Tools to Memorize a Bible Chapter.

31 Days of Hope for Caregivers.

31 Glimpses Into the Unquiet Mind. A mother and daughter share the daughter’s journey with bipolar disorder and the long journey to diagnosis and treatment.

31 Uplifting Quote Graphics.

31 Ways to Snag a Literary Agent.

Happy Saturday!

Middle Child and Other Syndromes

My middle son like to tease about having “Middle Child Syndrome.” Recently he shared this:

Middle child

It’s true that there is such a thing as Middle Child Syndrome, with middle children feeling often overlooked between the oldest, who did everything first, and the youngest, who is new and cute and takes the focus off the middle one. But, really, each position has its problems and could have its own syndrome. I have always loved Erma Bombeck’s piece to each of her children and why she loved each one “best.”

The oldest is the guinea pig. Usually parents are most cautious with their firstborn because everything is new to them and they’re not sure what to do. That cautiousness usually rubs off on the child. Or, more rarely, I think, first-time parents are too sure of what to do and then have to find out the hard way that they’re not always right. Perhaps being surrounded by adults also usually makes him a little more serious and introvertish. He might have the biggest shock to his system when the next baby comes, compared to other children, because everything was his and only his before – his parents’ attention, every toy, piece of clothing, etc. Now it all has to be shared with a newcomer. The oldest also has a built-in set of responsibilities. He usually has to help mom and dad in various ways when another baby comes, has to watch them at times, has full-blown baby-sitting responsibilities when he’s older. Because the parents are usually just getting started and then having more children, money is tighter, so there may be fewer opportunities available. When the kids as a group get in trouble, he’s often held to a higher standard because he’s older and should have “known better.”

Middle children can indeed feel like they’ll never stand out because they’ll never be the first to walk, talk, etc. But their parents are usually a little more relaxed with them: the firstborn didn’t die from their mistakes, and they’ve learned that some of the things they worried about were not that big a deal after all. That in turn helps the child to be a little more relaxed. Middle children are usually more sociable and make friends more easily because they’ve been around other people near their age since birth. Middle children are said to be peacemakers: I didn’t see that in my own middle child growing up (or in my siblings, either), at least not with his brothers, but I do see it in him as an adult. Middle children have the advantage of seeing what’s involved when the oldest starts school, tries out for a sports team, starts piano lessons, etc., and that may work hand in hand with their more easygoing nature to make them less afraid to try new things.

Youngest children are accused of getting away with everything. If that is true because the parents are getting tired, distracted, and lax in their discipline, that is a definite problem. But often it just looks that way because the parents are even more relaxed, have more of a handle on what works and what doesn’t, what is concerning and what isn’t, etc. The youngest is usually even more sociable and makes friends easily, again, perhaps because he has always grown up with other people around. Youngest children may feel like they are never taken seriously, like their family will always see them as the baby. They may feel “picked on” by their older siblings. They may have unfinished baby books and the fewest baby pictures because the parents were busy with a growing family. They may get tired of hand-me-downs (or they may look forward to them: mine was delighted when his older brother game him a bunch of toys he had grown out of). The financial situation of the family can go two ways: if the older children have moved out on their own, there may be more money and therefore more stability and opportunities for the youngest. However, if older children are in college, etc., and the family has to care for grandparents, time and resources might be tighter for the youngest. I’ve felt bad for my youngest that he doesn’t remember a lot of the family trips and activities we participated in as a family because he was so young, and now, with his older brothers moved out and Great-Grandma moved in, there is not an opportunity for a family vacation in the sense of all of us going somewhere together. In his mind we “never” took a family vacation. But we have taken individual days to do fun things together in recent years. The parents of youngest children may be transitioning to empty-nest mindset while he is still there: my husband is the youngest of four, and when he was a teen-ager, he was often out for school or youth group functions or work during dinner time. His parents had gotten into the habit of eating dinner in front of the TV, and when he came home, they were distracted. He told me when we were first married that it meant a lot that I stopped and greeted him when he got home. The youngest also has parents who are older – which is better in some ways for their wisdom and life experience, but perhaps they might not be up for more physical pursuits. Siblings may be harder on them. They’re often not quite as sensitive as oldest kids because they’ve had to take a lot of flack from siblings as they grew up. I don’t mean not sensitive in a bad way, but in that they don’t get “crushed” when other kids say and do stupid things because they’re used to a certain amount of that from their own siblings. Youngest kids can feel loneliness as older siblings leave the nest – he may feel the most upheaval from the family constantly changing.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of birth order traits – there have been whole books and many articles written about them. These are just some thoughts that came to mind from my family’s experience. There are exceptions, of course, to every list of traits: in the articles I have read, no one list fits everyone in my family in its entirety (either my siblings or my own children).

The main thing I wanted to consider, though, is that God uses everything, even our place in our families and the good and bad parts of that experience, to shape us and to make us the kinds of vessels He wants us to be. Sometimes it’s even the very thing we most thought unfair or most felt we lacked that helps us focus on handling things differently with our own children. I am the oldest of six, and there were times I hated having to be “the responsible one.” Once when my mom called me her “built-in babysitter,” I wanted to stomp my foot and say, “I am NOT a baby-sitter! I am a daughter!” But I wasn’t allowed to do things like that. 🙂 As an adult, though, I am glad that sense of responsibility was forged into my character. Sure, I was overcautious and fairly tense, but God paired me with someone who is the youngest of four and much more relaxed. I didn’t even realize that about myself until after we had been married for a while, so I wouldn’t have thought to look for someone to offset that trait in me. I am thankful God did that for me. 🙂 And a cautious outlook is not entirely a bad thing, unless it’s paralyzing. Every trait has its good and bad sides. My more cautious nature has held me back sometimes but it has kept me out of trouble other times.

In the article The Secret Powers of Middle Children, the authors point out that “They achieve because of the way they’re being brought up. They develop strategies and skills that stand them in good stead as adults.” I didn’t agree with everything in the article, and not all of the traits mentioned are ones I have seen in my own child. But it was an interesting overview of middle children. Some of the very traits that middle (and oldest or youngest as well) children most disliked growing up go into making them the adults they become.

My own middle son was the first to spend an entire summer away from home, the first to travel to another country, the first to marry and have a child. I don’t know if any of those were done specifically in order to be the first at something or if they just happened that way – I think the latter. But I think it is an illustration that we don’t have to be bound by our birth order.

I chafed a bit at the article’s suggestion that middle children are “neglected” by parents. It may actually help them that they are not under the microscopic focus of parents like the oldest was. Personally, I was glad that I had some alone time with each child. My oldest was almost three when his brother was born, so I had those three years with him. Then when he went to school, I had a lot of alone time with my middle child until his younger brother was born when he was six. Then when my middle child went to school, I had a lot of alone time with the youngest. But I think even in families with more children than that or closer together than that, they strive to have some personal alone time with each one.

I also resented a bit the article’s assertion that “Middles have lower self-esteem than other birth orders because of their lack of uniqueness and attention at home.” We always felt that each child was unique and enjoyed finding the personality traits of each one, and, as I said above, strove to make sure each one had attention.

Another factor here, though, is that every parent will make mistakes, have blind spots, overlook or miss cues, etc. Even when parents strive to be the best, most attentive parents they can, they’re only human, and sinners as well.

But whatever our place in the order of our families, the type of families we have, the amount of parenting we did or didn’t have, and any other trait that went into our growing up – God uses all of it to develop in us traits we need. He can make up for any lack and pitfalls and help us to balance out in the areas we need to.