Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to share some interesting online reads with you. Here is my latest collection:

Behind on Bible Reading? Sometimes our Bible reading plans from January have fallen by the wayside by this time. This is some encouragement to pick back up where you left off: “The point of reading daily is to continuously stay in the Word so I might better know and worship the Lord, not to be legalistically bound to a calendar.”

5 Ways Porn Lies to You. Much of this is true for other sins as well.

God Is Much Greater Than Her Experience of Him.

It’s Not My Place to Judge.” What’s right and wrong with this sentiment.

Yes, You Can Please Your Heavenly Father.

God Will Open Doors For You to Serve.

Manoah’s Wife.

Blame Your Parents?

Parents, Take Time for the Tender Moments.

The Surprising Power of Little Things. HT to Challies.

No, “Saul the Persecutor” Did Not Become “Paul the Apostle.” I would have sworn this was wrong, until I read it.

When Should Christians Use Satire?

Solomon’s Twitter Guidelines.

No, Stay at Home Moms Do Not Waste Their Education, HT to Challies. I have felt this way but hadn’t put in into words quite like this. Very much agree that “Education is not just a synonym for job training” and “Education helps people do a better job at any task by helping them discover how to think, how to learn, and how to exercise the self-discipline necessary for achievement.”

A couple about missionaries:

5 Things Every Missionary Wants You to Know, HT to Kim.

Praying Biblically For Your Missionary: Clarity.

And a couple of funnies found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

 

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Laudable Linkage

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This is later in the day than I usually post these, but, looking at my list, I wanted to go ahead and post what I had instead of waiting for a week and having a longer list. If you’re like me, the more there are, the more I get kind of lost in them and lose interest in looking. I found these all thought-provoking in one way or another: perhaps you’ll see something of interest as well.

Irritability. HT to Challies. This one hit me right where it hurts. “Life is never lived in the sterile confines of a sinless, utopian laboratory well-removed from the Curse’s numerous provocations. This side of heaven, we are either about to be provoked, being provoked, just having been provoked, or some combination of the three. Everything inside and outside of us has the potential to provoke in one way or another.”

When They Walk Away, HT to Challies.

Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of Profanity

Synonyms For the Word of God. Have you ever wondered, especially in places like Psalm 119, what the difference was between a statute, testimony, precept, etc., or whether they were all just synonyms for God’s Word? This article explains the differences.

4 Things to Remember When Thinking About Curses in the Psalms, HT to Challies.

The Threat of Joy in Ministry – one time Jesus tells us not to rejoice.

Creating a Church Culture That Invites Children Into Worship.

Do Children Have a Financial Obligation Toward Parents?

The Craft and Courage of L. M. Montgomery. I was surprised to learn a few years ago that the author of Anne of Green Gables was not happy in her personal life, in contrast to many of her characters.  This was a good perspective.
My Oath of Office. Good no matter who is elected.

Frugal Grocery Shopping Strategy. I need to do better at this.

A couple about writing:

3 Simple Ways to Create Memorable Lead Characters

What Being an Editor Taught Me About Writing, HT to Challies.

And this is all too true these days:

free-speech

Have a great weekend!

Laudable Linkage

This is my first chance in a couple of weeks to share noteworthy reads discovered around the web in that time. Enjoy!

A Case For Christian Magnanimity.

The Hero of the Story Is Always God.

Why Doesn’t Our Faith Move Mountains?

The Providence of God in History.

5 Christian Cliches That Need to Die.

When Does Old Age Arrive? I’m facing a milestone birthday next year, and I found this very encouraging.

Mothers in the Church.

Learning to Let Go. “Even though a parent’s spiritual influence is so important, I was never meant to fill the place that only God can in my daughter’s life. He is a better teacher, protector, and guide than I can ever be.”

Which Expired Foods Are Okay to Eat.

And a few concerning the holiday season:

Evangelism, the Holidays, and My Atheist Grandpa.

5 Ways to Make the Holidays More Peaceful.

Navigating Family Tensions at the Holidays.

The Problem With Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs.

No wonder our pets get confused sometimes. 🙂

dog-under-tree

And finally, this brought a smile that I am sure my fellow Southerners will understand:

honey

Happy Saturday!

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Laudable Linkage

Here are some helpful reads discovered in the last couple of weeks:

God Actually Spoke to Me. Yes. God’s speaking to us through His Word is no less personal than His speaking to us orally.

Stubborn, Ceaseless Civil War, Part 1 and Part 2, from a former pastor about the battle with what the Bible calls our flesh.

Love and Marriage: The Narrowing.

10 Reasons Why You Should Underprogram Your Church.

How to Capture and Save Great Quotes, HT to Challies.

Never Underestimate the Value of a Power Edit.

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.

Strands of stray thoughts

Thanks for your responses to my query about whether ads were appearing here. It sounds like it’s not often. I really don’t want to have to move to a paid host – or really to move at all – so if they’re not bothersome or many, I think I’ll leave things as they are. Please do let me know if they become a nuisance or if you see anything objectionable.

I keep a list of possible topics to blog about as they occur to me so I won’t forget them, and then work on them later. I haven’t been in a malaise, exactly, with blogging this week, but as I’ve looked over those notes, so far I haven’t seen anything I wanted to develop, and I haven’t had anything burning on my heart to write about. I’m making progress in a few books but likely won’t finish any of them to discuss this week. So I’ve been getting some other things done around the house, and that’s been nice.

I’ve done some preliminary work on a possible writing project that I am excited about. If it comes to anything, I’ll let you know. 🙂

We had a very nice 4th of July, which I’ll say more about on Friday. Our neighbors used to host a major fireworks display but haven’t in the last few years since the last ones caught fire in four places in our yard. But this year some guests of neighbors started shooting off some pretty big ones, and, unfortunately, weren’t being very careful. Some fell over and shot down the street, some went off too close to the ground. They got too close to our cars and house at one point and my husband had to speak to them. I used to hate fireworks laws because we grew up with them and most people knew how to handle them safely, but since we can’t count on that any more, I’ve come to appreciate them. In our part of the county they are legal, however. I was very thankful that we’d had rain off and on that day and the week before. We have some dying trees that we’re going to have removed this fall, and they’re very dry, so if any stray sparks or fireworks debris had caught any of them, that could have been a disaster. But as it was everything was pretty well soaked, thank the Lord.

Pinterest used to be one of my favorite places on the web. I used to liken it to friends sitting around looking at magazines, telling each other, “Ooh, look at this!” But with the proliferation of “Picked for you” pins and “Promoted pins,” it’s not  cozy gathering of friends any more. Plus some of the “Promoted pins” (the ones paid for by businesses) have content that I don’t want to see. There is a little x beside them you can click on to hide the pin, but still, I really only want to see the pins of the people I chose to “follow.” If I want to search for recipe, craft, or decorating ideas, I know where and how to do that: I don’t want them to do it for me. One day I did start clicking on things and found a place on Pinterest to leave feedback, but I couldn’t tell you now how to find it. But there was a place to click on why you didn’t like Picked For You Pins and Promoted Pins (one of the reasons being only wanting to see pins from people you follow) and a place to leave a comment. There was a separate place for each (one for Picked For You Pins and one for Promoted Pins), so if you can find it and express your opinion as well, maybe there will be enough that they’ll go back to the way things used to be. I know they have to make money on the site some way, but the Promoted Pins are an annoying way to try to do it, in my opinion.

On to something more positive…

Our little grandson Timothy is about fifteen months old, and is such fun His little brain is developing so fast. It’s amazing to watch the wheels turning as he tries to figure things out. We have a TV cabinet that has glass doors, and my husband put some of those child safety locks on them. Timothy has tried pulling on the knob, turning it, and recently when he had his daddy’s keys, he tried poking them in the door to see if that would work. Cracked me up! Of course, one consequence of his curiosity and desire to explore and investigate things is that he’s figuring out how to get around some of our barricades, so he has had to start hearing the word “No.” He used to cry whenever he heard it, even though it wasn’t said loudly or sternly. But now he has lost a little bit of that sensitivity. It’s so hard when that clash of wills starts to crop up, but it’s a necessary thing to deal with, for their own safety and for planting the seeds of learning self-control. He’s pulling up with ease and side-stepping while holding on to furniture or pushing things, but hasn’t stepped out on his own yet. A couple of times he’s almost forgotten himself and done so. I don’t think it will be long!

Feeling the raindrops

Feeling the raindrops

I’ve been in something of a rut with dinners lately. Everything seems too involved or too hot to make. What are some of your favorite quick and simple summer dishes?

Hope your summer is going well so far. Can’t believe we’re through June and now a week into July already!

Laudable Linkage

Here are some thought-provoking reads from the past couple of weeks – maybe you’ll find one or two of interest:

My Father Killed My Mother. “How am I supposed to keep the command to honor my father when all I really know of him is that he hurts people to the point of shattering the very next command about murder?”

A Pastor’s Response to the Death of a Childhood Abuser.

What Missionaries Aren’t Telling You (And What They Need From You)

When Your Heart Isn’t In It. “Do you really think that avoiding worship will be the means by which your heart will changed, prepared to engage in worship?”

How Much of My Sinful Past Should I Share With My Children?

The Duggars and the Evil Outside, HT to my friend Ann. You may be getting tired of all the posts about their situation, and I have been mainly staying out of it since I don’t watch the show and only know what I’ve heard, but I thought this made an important point: We can try to shield children from all the evil “out there,” but we still have a sin nature in our own hearts that we have to learn how to deal with. Then just this morning I saw an article on an interview with Jill and Jessa Duggars that “The media coverage has been 1,000 times worse than the incident.

Korean Artist Beautifully Illustrates What Real Love Looks Like. These are sweet.

And, finally, I think I may have posted it before, but I saw it again recently and it still cracks me up: