Basics, Family, Friendship

War, Not Battles

Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle.

I encounter these seven words regularly. They have been attributed to Socrates, Plato, and Plutarch. Once I heard them attributed to current celebrity Maria Shriver. Some reciters imply the words are their own.

Research reveals the originator as Rev. John Watson, a Scottish minister and author, who used the pseudonym Ian MacLaren.

Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle

Ian MacLaren, Zion’s Herald, January 26, 1898

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world… we are moved to deal kindly with him…

Rev. John Watson, The Homely Virtues 1903

The sentiment is compelling. No wonder various forms of it have been repeated for over a century.

Along the way—as family and friends and even casual acquaintances shared their stories—I learned that most people are not fighting battles. They are fighting wars.

Have you recognized the fight for what it is?

Basics, Christmas, Parenting

Processing Moments

My husband and I attended a writers panel at the 2019 Boston Marathon Expo. Our goal was to hear our favorite runner, Meb Keflezighi, speak. However, another Olympian spoke the words I remembered most.

Marathoner Deena Kastor was asked, “What did you learn from writing your memoir, Let Your Mind Run?”

We move on and don’t process. Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Deena Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I immediately thought about my tendency to move on and how much—both good and bad—I had glossed over. Or ignored.

Along the way, I told myself I didn’t have time to slow down and process what was happening to me and around me. However, as soon as Denna said Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments, I knew she was speaking truth, and I wished I had been following her advice for years.

Any advice on processing this year’s Christmas moments?

Basics, Friendship

Transparency Makes a Difference

Transparency takes courage, but it changes everything. I vividly remember a homeschool prayer breakfast where I learned this truth.

After listening to a beloved supporter of our group encourage us in raising our children in accordance with Scripture, our leader asked for prayer requests. Usually, we shared about children struggling with reading or learning math facts, wisdom in ordering our day, last minute curriculum decisions, dealing with those who opposed our homeschooling, or husbands’ work schedules.

Our speaker jumped in first. She poured out her heart about a matter that was deeply troubling her. She listed her questions, her fears, and her doubts. As an older and wiser woman, she had just given us advice, but she was not afraid of being transparent. She understood she had no merit apart from Christ’s sacrifice. She was equal to us in needing and relying on the grace of God alone.

Our speaker’s transparency—and vulnerability—changed the direction of our meeting. We eagerly followed her example and openly talked about—and then prayed for—the concerns that were most heavy on our hearts. We were different when we left.

Has someone’s transparency helped you?

PS Thank you J’aime.

Basics, Homeschooling, Parenting

Rest Is Not Optional: Guest Blog

Along the way, I learned not to ignore taking a break when the children—and I especially—needed to rest.

Below is an excerpt from Beth Sterne’s website Put Off Procrastination. Put on Peace. Here

Some years ago our son entered the front door and saw me sitting on the sofa reading a book. He stopped immediately and said, “I want to see more of that around here!”

He knew the path of my feet should take me to rest along the way. And he knew I most often ignored that truth.

Since “rest” is “to cease work in order to relax or refresh oneself,” we see rest as self- serving. Let’s realize it means being a good steward of the heart, mind, and body God has given us to use on earth.

What are two “rest busters” that steal our refreshment?

Viewing activities as requirements instead of opportunities. We don’t have to participate in every educational, church, business, or social function.

Not setting boundaries. Sometimes, by taking on every project or fetching whatever is wanted, we’ve “taught” colleagues and family we don’t need rest.

If appropriate, we can say, “No, not now. These are Mom’s Minutes to be quiet.”

Basics, Book Recommendations

Guitar Notes By Mary Amato

It is obvious that some kids are dying inside. Their anger, sour attitudes, and sloppy work are testimony.

What I learned along the way was that the child who is kind, complaint, and hardworking might be experiencing his or her own internal death.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato beautifully portrays this dual reality. Tripp, a guitarist, and Lyla, a cellist, are dealing with very similar—yet, very different—painful circumstances. They are unable to communicate effectively with their caring parents.

One parent struggles to understand defiant behavior. The other has no clue that outward perfection hides intense pain.

If you have a tween or teen, I recommend you read Guitar Notes privately, and then, perhaps, with your child. It is a good conversation starter.

What methods do you have for discerning what is beneath the surface?