How the World’s Hatred of Babies May Affect you More Than Anything Else

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Jonathan Last, author of What to Expect When  No One’s Expecting, wrote America’s Baby Bust, one of the most insightful, educational pieces on the effects of a population that doesn’t value babies and life.

As a mom of a large family, I have, perhaps, a heightened awareness of the temperature of the culture’s and even my community’s  attitude toward children. Ironically, as large families are ostracized, babies are killed in the womb, and almost everyone clings to the idea that fertility is a highly personal decision, it yet remains one of the issues that most dramatically affects all of us. We are not autonomous on this one.  The world’s hatred of babies may affect you more than you know!

There are so many good points in this article. I’d love to know your thoughts!

“Once a country’s fertility rate falls consistently below replacement, its age profile begins to shift. You get more old people than young people. And eventually, as the bloated cohort of old people dies off, population begins to contract. This dual problem—a population that is disproportionately old and shrinking overall—has enormous economic, political and cultural consequences.

For two generations we’ve been lectured about the dangers of overpopulation. But the conventional wisdom on this issue is wrong, twice. First, global population growth is slowing to a halt and will begin to shrink within 60 years. Second, as the work of economists Esther Boserups and Julian Simon demonstrated, growing populations lead to increased innovation and conservation. Think about it: Since 1970, commodity prices have continued to fall and America’s environment has become much cleaner and more sustainable—even though our population has increased by more than 50%. Human ingenuity, it turns out, is the most precious resource….

There have been lots of changes in American life over the last 40 years that have nudged our fertility rate downward. High on the list is the idea that “happiness” is the lodestar of a life well-lived. If we’re going to reverse this decline, we’ll need to reintroduce into American culture the notion that human flourishing ranges wider and deeper than calculations of mere happiness.”

Jonathan Last, America’s Baby Bust

Your thoughts?

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Guide to Living Beautifully

guide to living beautifullyFor years, I have loved perusing Mrs. Dunwoody’s Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping. It’s charming, instructive, at times humorous, and delightfully nostalgic, reminding us of a time when life was less hurried and women made real, beautiful homes.

I read this list to my children this morning, and thought how much I would love to have this hanging on a wall. So I created just that–a beautiful, decorated copy you can find in my Etsy shop, download, print and frame!

Mrs. Dunwoody’s Guide to Living Beautifully

  • Realize that each new day is a gift from God.  Treat it as such.
  • Focus on life’s blessings, as this is continuously uplifting, and affects who you are as a person.
  • Develop a keen appreciation for the little luxuries in your daily life–the smell of coffee in the morning, the songbirds outside your window, a loved one’s crooked smile. Seek out these “blessings” and take time each day to notice and savor them. Pay attention to your life.
  • Create a home you love to live in.
  • Spend some time outdoors. Nature heals and replenishes the soul.
  • Do something kind for someone at least every week; aim for every day. Do a good deed anonymously. You will find, in time, that the more you give, the more is given back to you.
  • Everything in life is a choice. realize that as you live your life, each moment you are either adding to or taking from the quality of your life. You are either creating and enjoying, or dying and destroying. There is no “standing still,” for that is time wasted and therefore takes away from your life. The choice for your life is up to you.
  • Strive to become the best version of yourself.
  • To awaken mentally and become passionate about something, find the thing that moves your heart and stirs your soul. Persevere, for passion is a necessity for a beautiful life.
  • Create something, whether it is a family, a meal, a painting, or a daydream.
  • Never stop learning, through books, people, travel, and experiences.
  • Listen to and enjoy another’s company often.
  • Focus on your love of beauty. Treat yourself well. Use the fine china for your cup of tea.
  • Cultivate gratitude in all things and circumstances. Search for the good in all.
  • Speak only kind words.
  • Laugh every day.
  • Give continual thanks and praise to your Creator, and ask Him to guide your heart and soul.

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Are You Making the Biggest Parenting Mistake?

Are You Making the Biggest Parenting MistakeI think the biggest parenting mistake is at the heart of all our parenting woes: we try to raise good children and forget about raising wise adults.

Now the process may look similar in motion, in either case, but the parent just trying to make good kids is going to burn out, stay frustrated and exhausted by their short-sighted goal. And parenting in a constant state of frustration drastically impacts our children.

The other parent will be able to maneuver through those same frustrations with more grace because he has long-term vision.

It would be like trying to grow corn in a day. You can plow, plant and water, but you ain’t gettin’ corn today. Or this week. That’s frustrating if that’s what you had your mind set on. And when the weeds start to grow, the short-sighted farmer will give up before the farmer who keeps his eye on the long-term harvest of sweet, golden corn.

He knows patience and steady work is key if he wants to see long-term success.

Our children are born with a sin nature and we were put in their lives to nurture them in the Lord, slowly, patiently moving them toward a Savior who saves and sanctifies.

Where there are bad habits, attitudes, conflict or pride, those are the weeds of the fertile soil we’ve been given to carefully, diligently tend. I can tend with more stamina if I garden past today.

I have to move my gaze ahead and remember the harvest: I’m raising adults.

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Why Your Children Annoy You and Homemaking is Boring

Why your children annoy you and homemaking is boring

I think often about that woman in the Bible, the woman hanging out in Proverbs 31, the model for a godly woman. She does many things, wears many hats.

But one thing she does well, one thing is her priority: her home, husband and children. Her other pursuits fall around that.

“She looks well to the ways of her home, she is not idle…” Prov. 31:27

Somewhere along the way, a few generations back, the priority of homes, children and husbands took a backseat to promised fulfillment. Women became lured by the sirens of career, accolades and accomplishment, and the daily, hard, sleeve-rolling work became more mundane and distasteful in light of the exciting, interesting activity available. Women became distracted from their families because, quite frankly, family work is lackluster.

That was disconcerting enough.

But something looms dangerously familiar, now, even in homes where for a time, women had returned as stout, home-builders. I’m seeing it over the Internet, I’m hearing it from young mothers around me: “This job is hard. Too hard, in fact, and I don’t think I’m where I’m supposed to be. And Jesus would want me to be happy, so that settles it.”

We have an old problem with a new enemy.

And it may be far more complicated than my black and white conclusion, but I think an unsuspected enemy has played a huge role in luring women, again, from embracing, Proverbs 31-style, the duties of home and family.

(Hiding from tomatoes now…)

The Internet.

Don’t go crazy on me. I love the Internet. (Actually, it’s more of a love/hate.) I run a home business from the Internet. I’ve met new, wonderful friends from the Internet. I research, learn, collect educational tools and look up recipes on the Internet. I diagnose sickness, watch spectacular documentaries and use the thesaurus on the Internet. My daughter is learning to play guitar, for free, and my son runs an art business on the Internet. I shop, compare prices, saving gas and money, print business cards and keep in touch on the Internet. The Internet has opened up possibilities never before imagined and I’m so thankful for this tool!

But it’s lure is distracting us. See, the Internet is very exciting. There are fun Pinterest ideas that at least make me feel crafty. There are articles galore and blogs that help me grow. There are fabulous pictures, funny videos and of course, a whole community on Facebook where we not only get to keep up with everything that’s going on, but we get to project our goings-on onto other people, and for the first time, for some, feel validated, important.

The Internet is addictingly f.u.n.

And this excitement does something terrible: the same thing other distractions in history have done to our fore-mothers (Days of Lives, General Hospital–yeah, those were our mom’s escapes)–it makes our children, our husbands and our daily work boring, tedious and frustrating.  This excitement is why your children annoy you and homemaking is boring.

Because frankly, I’d rather surf the Internet than clean my floors. And while I’m surfing the Internet, that child who needs me? He becomes an irritation, not a ministry. “Just a minute.”  Or worse, the irritation in my voice when he simply asked a question. Yeah, you know.

If I’m feeling down, the Internet is there to take my mind off of it. And if I feel I’m failing at child-training, I can post stuff on Facebook that looks like I’m not, and for a moment, I might believe it.

I can escape. Be entertained. Forget. Put off. Avoid work. Wave my children away. Feed a vast cavern that yearns to be filled–but only contentment in Christ can really fill.

If this hurts, you’re not alone. The Lord is dealing deeply with me about how to use this incredible tool that has potential to absolutely destroy all I hold dear. And I’m thinking of my own children, and how what plagues one generation, tends to be heightened and become so familiar we don’t recognize the damage, in the next.

I want to enjoy the simplicity of my life, complete with the work I don’t like and the routine that is not Pinterest-worthy.

I want to be in tune with my children so that when they need me, I can answer with patience and readiness. I want to be ready to hear my husband when he comes home and show him I’m fully his.

I don’t want the pseudo-fulfillment of the Internet to convince me my life isn’t enough and my family is secondary.

I pray this for us all. And I challenge you older women: let’s get behind the younger mamas and cheer them on, help them stay the course and see the purpose in their prosaic lives.

(My thoughts on this subject have been newly inspired by a fabulous book, coming soon, entitled Present, by Keri Lamar. Watch for it!)

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Homeschooling Help: Education and The Skills That Matter

Homeschooling Help Education and The Skills That MatterMore money, more time and more effort toward federal education has had one result: less real, meaningful education and even failing standards by the system’s own measure. If you are thinking about homeschooling, I challenge you to dive into some research and see that it isn’t as difficult as you might think and that “school” doesn’t always equal education. Really, what have you got to lose?

And if you’re already homeschooling, congratulations! And relax. Education doesn’t always look exactly like we think it does. Remember, the classroom model isn’t very impressive. Even in research where test scores are high, experts are beginning to realize test scores have much less to do with what employers are looking for and what makes a successful person in the real world.

Here are some important think-outside-the-classroom things you should consider:

1. Refuse the notion that “earlier is better” when it comes to formal academics. There is so much research not only refuting the idea that a jump-start in formal academics benefits children, but we now know that it can actually have negative effects on their ability to learn and process information.

Children have a unique ability to process information and they need a load of tangible experiences in which to do it. Old fashion play is not just play; it’s an important, tactile form of education, preparing them for more abstract learning in the future and hindering them, if they don’t get enough of it.   Why Kids Can’t Think

2. Conversation, conversation, conversation. I’ve written over and over on this one, and it seems quite obvious, but conversation becomes more scarce as we immerse ourselves into the technological world. It takes deliberate effort to cultivate an atmosphere of extensive conversation in the home, but so much learning takes place through this one medium! Talk, listen and ask questions. Talk in the car, in the kitchen, around the table and throughout the day. Challenge thoughts and opinions by asking probing questions and even play “devil’s advocate” to help your children formulate solid reasoning and communication skills. To be able to give an answer, in and of itself, of what we believe and think and feel, is a rare but valuable asset.

3. Be convinced of the skills that matter most and hone those. Guess what the seven most desired universal job skills, according to Forbes are:

  • The art of communicating clearly and concisely
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Good writing ability
  • Getting along with others
  • Able to learn (re-engineering skills)
  • Computer skills

There’s no algebra, physics or chemistry in that list, though those skills might be helpful in specific, specialized areas, and yet most of us are far more concerned with developing those measurable facts over diving into these. We need to at least be spending as much time on what is recognized as the most important skills for success, don’t you think?

4. Give them experience. The Chinese Proverbs well states: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I’ll remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”

This is why the “play” I mentioned earlier is so important in the early years. Experience (tactile learning) creates the foundation for knowledge. But experience continues to be THE GREATEST teacher throughout life. Look for ways to let your child do things. And it can be simple. Cooking, planting a garden, making their own purchases, making phone calls, writing letters, dabbling with the computer, building a fire, changing a tire, using tools, yard maintenance, taking pictures…the list is endless.

We have found that teaching is a form of hands-on experience that is very beneficial. Even after six years of college, grammar never became so clear to me until I started teaching it. I’ve tried to remember this in our home education and have an older child teach a younger child some concept. The older child thinks it’s for the benefit of the younger, but it’s not so much.

5.  Nurture creativity and business skills. Once upon a time, we were such an entrepreneurially-minded people. But with the advent of forced, compulsory schooling, there was a mass, deliberate effort to change all that–to make a mostly docile, following society instead of risk-taking leaders. That effort literally changed the entire face of our culture. We need to resurrect some of that ingenuity again in our children instead of drugging it out of them. We need to teach our children the value of starting their own businesses, developing strategies for earning multiple streams of income, and breaking the notion that the only option in life is becoming an employee. I love Cameron Herold’s message on raising entrepreneurs.

Most kids get excited about making a dollar or two, so let them! Help them create a simple business plan (learning basic economics in the process in invaluable, something else we don’t teach enough). Let them feel, by experience, the relationship between an idea, developing the idea and turning it into a profit. They may hate it. It may solidify for them the fact that they DO want to be an employee and not deal with the challenges of owning a business. But give them the chance to know that.

Educate them–live life with them, let them explore, experience and expand their ideas. These things will transpose to invaluable assets no matter what they end up doing in life.

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3 of My Favorite Things–Entrepreneur Love, Handmade Gifts

I have lots of favorites. But today I wanted to share 3 of them with you!

I found Erin, at This One’s Mine Design on Etsy a year or so ago, and fell in love with her beautiful pottery as well as the friendly customer service to match. Her pieces are breath-taking, especially in person.

Recently, I ordered these beautiful essential oil diffuser necklaces and I. love. them.

And, Erin wants to offer Generation Cedar readers 20% off orders over $10! Just enter the code, GENCED20 when you shop with This One’s Mine Designs.

 

My daughter, Alexa, has opened her Etsy shop, Alexa Quinn Crafts, and is starting to fill it with adorable stone coasters. This one’s my favorite: (4/$15.00)

coaster-11

And my son, Ashton has created a new addition to his site: whimsy notecards. I am LOVING having these to send out for a quick note. (6/$9.99)

So if you’re in the mood to support an entrepreneur, take a look!

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