The Ones Who Make a Difference

I saw this recently and thought it made a good point. It’s from Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz. charliebrown2

You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them. Just read the post straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies .. Awards tarnish … Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money … or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most.

~ Charles Schultz


Islands of Calm

More than anything else, home should be peaceful. Children thrive in a place where they can hear the sound of their own thoughts and ideas and just be together with loved ones. This scene in the painting below (I found it at Homespun Wife, who found it somewhere else) shows that kind of quiet of contentment, without the scream of news or entertainment media telling everyone who they should be and what they should think.

I can’t stand television and radio anymore. My hearing loss is one reason. Before my newest hearing aids, it was getting to the point where I couldn’t hear it anyway over the incessant ringing. With my hearing aids, everything is borderline too loud, so the sound of radio and TV is jarring and shrill. I get tired of it almost immediately.

I like quiet where I can think and where I can write or read. When I showed Tom this image, he said, “I doubt that very many homes look like that anymore.” I think he’s right. But nothing prevents us from creating islands of calm and togetherness  in our homes. Give technology the boot evenings. Children love to draw or look at books if you give them the tools., and they love to show you what they are creating Just being together to talk is my favorite way to spend time with Tom, even when there are long pauses. In a world of insane hyperactivity and meaningless noise, it is a healing thing for all of us.

P.S. To the unknown painter of this, thank you. What a gift to people to be able to portray scenes of homey and lovely things that we can relate to. Contemporary and postmodern art fails to connect with the everyday person and is now reserved for elitists who claim to derive meaning from the incomprehensible and ugly.  They are welcome to it.  I’m grateful to those who use their artistic talents to create things that are meaningful and uplifting.  The need for that is greater than ever.


Two Little Girls

Our little girl and her baby niece. Only six years separate “Auntie Emmy” from our new granddaughter, Gianna Maria. But Emmy is enchanted with this tiny girl who entered our world two weeks ago. Our daughter is learning about nurturing and tenderness, two indispensable traits. Little Gianna is soaking it all in as she wakes up to the world.


Great Kitchens

kitchenmagI subscribe to a number of pages on Facebook, including Homespun Wife  and My Farmhouse Love. (If you are on Facebook you can see their pages by clicking on the links.) I like these pages, because they are a perpetual source of good thoughts and smiles with home and country scenes in paintings and photographs. The images remind me of all the blessings in life, regardless of what else is going on.

One page I like has photographs of country kitchens in farmhouses, which I love. The kitchens are gorgeous with the latest designs featuring all the beautiful ways you can have a kitchen designed with a country and farmhouse theme.

I have had many different kitchens in my lifetime, including some very small and shabby ones years ago. When I was a single parent with two little boys to raise, I lived in the upper unit of a 1920’s duplex. It was old and worn, but it was roomy and met our needs perfectly at the time. The kitchen still had the original sink, however. The landlord painted the old cupboards white and put in an inexpensive counter top for the small stretch of counter that was there. The linoleum was faded yellow, and it was old. My aged fridge that I bought from a sale at an apartment house and a gas stove were the only other features of that room. I put up a cheery, bright set of curtains, and that was about all I could do. But it’s funny, I have warm memories of that old kitchen.

That was where I made popcorn with my two little fellows in their pajamas,  chopped veggies for soup and cut up apples for their snacks. That’s where the old radiators hissed and clunked around, but kept the heat evenly warm on the coldest nights. We had all we needed, and we were cozy, and we had love.

For nine years, up until we moved this summer, Tom and I lived in a nice home, the only downside of which was a very small kitchen. It was something I overlooked when we bought the house, because several other things about the house distracted me at the time. Pans regularly fell out of the one cupboard I had for them, because they all had to go in there, stacked on top of each other. It was love’s labor lost trying to organize it. There wasn’t nearly enough cupboard and pantry space or floor space for a family our size. When the oven door was open, it was difficult to walk. I mentally complained every time pans came crashing out at my feet. It was a secret (albeit wry) joke to me, and I would think, “This kitchen is part of your sanctification process, Ingrid. Patience. Some day you’ll maybe have a better cupboard situation!”

When we moved this summer, the ONLY house we found in our small town that worked for us in our situation had one outstanding feature—a kitchen with a long length of counter top, an unusually large number of cabinets, TWO built-in pantries for groceries, and a built-in hutch in the dining room. As a bonus, the shelves even pull out! For a small ranch home, it was amazing and delightful. I have said “Thank you, Lord” many times since July and have smiled looking up, because of the small joke between the Lord and me. He knew what we needed, and He amazingly provided it. He made me wait a while, but, the smallest kitchen in America is a palace kitchen to the rest of the world. Perspective helps everything. I am very, very grateful.

In the end, though, it’s the people in the kitchen that make it a happy place…or not. You can have a gleaming magazine kitchen with all the mega, super, ultra counter tops and appliances, but if you don’t have loving people around you,, it’s not a very joyful place. (If you have both, you are doubly blessed! Enjoy!)

As a bonus, the floor space is big enough for my sweet grandsons to have their own little table when they come over to eat, and the smooth floor is great for hot wheels cars, also. Much fun to come in our kitchen, Lord willing, as baby Gianna joins the other two grandbabes. Thank you, Lord, for the people who make any room, be it fancy or shabby, a little bit of heaven. Thank you for love that makes it that way.

Here is just a part of my new kitchen. Room for Em’s Betta fish, the famous Princess Frilly, and my rooster cookie jar!




Meet Our Newest Family Member!

The arrival of our beautiful little granddaughter this morning,  born to our son, Samuel and his wife, Laura, is a lovely gift to all of us from the Lord. No matter how many children are born into the world and into our families, the miracle is ever new.

Welcome, Gianna Maria! You have fallen into a nest of love.


Dr. Leonard Sax: Parents Are Doing it Wrong

Credit: Leonard Sax

Sick of of tender little snowflake young adults who can’t manage their hurt feelings? Tired of basement-dwelling, launch failure kids, hands full of technology, but without motivation to work and sacrifice for long term goals? Tired of disrespect for authority of all kinds today and the lawless vulgarians on college campuses? Fed up with teachers being targeted by parents when they try to discipline feral students in their classrooms?

In a new book,  The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt our Kids when We Treat them Like Grown-Ups  (Basic Books), Dr. Leonard Sax puts his finger on the beginnings of all of this, the collapse of parenting in this country. Loss of any parental hierarchy with children is producing adults who are increasingly unprepared to face real life.

As a parent of six children, 5 of which are adults with one caboose of 6 years, I agree with Dr. Sax one hundred percent. As a babysitter of 16 many years ago, I watched as a young child sat in his booster chair at the table and made a fool of his dad. He didn’t want juicy in that cup, no, or that cup, noooooo! It had to be that cup with the smiley face. As the dad began pouring, the child decided he’d made a wrong choice and began pounding the table in rage. Daddy, utterly clueless, found yet another cup, which the child of 4 then hurled on the floor, juice and all.

I vowed in that moment that this was  not going to be my parental approach. Treating a child like a peer, asking rather than informing young children, is to send up a white flag of surrender to their whims. Good luck parents. You will need it to survive the carnage to come.

Sax’s  book is a desperately needed antidote to the toxic, child-centered advice being ladled out to young parents in advice columns and books today. Thanks, Dr. Sax, for pointing out what should be obvious. With the death of common sense in this country, it’s a clarion call back to sanity. Read an article on the book here.

Afternoon Chat

CocoaWithEmEmily was chilly after school one afternoon.  We had come in from the bitter cold wind, and with a -25 degree windchill, it felt awfully good to get in to the warmth of the house.

I made cocoa with marshmallows and poured it into our china cups just for fun. Then my little daughter and I sat and talked.

Conversation with children will take you around the world and back. Emily is especially good at bringing up random topics that keep your mind swirling. Flying fish are on her mind lately. Why do they fly, where do they fly, why do some fish have wings and not others? Then it was on to sea horses and bits and pieces she learned about  them on a children’s science program. After that, the subject was her intention to invent a vending machine that would shoot out fruit and vegetables instead of things that were bad for you. She said she had drawn a plan for it and asked if I would like to see it when her cocoa was finished.

Then the subject turned to table manners when her attempt to cool the cocoa shot melting marshmallows onto the tablecloth. The negative social aspects of slurping hot beverages and soup was next on the conversational docket.

Listening to her, I thought again of how much information is exchanged in the most casual of circumstances at home with a parent. It’s not formal teaching, but children are learning anyway. By watching and listening and weighing and asking, they are being formed as people.

The times I value most with my children are the talks we have had in the van or in the kitchen or at the table. You learn a lot about who they are as people just by listening to them, and you have the chance to shape their values, hopefully in a good way,  by being engaged with them in the simple act of conversation.

The subject turned to books as we have bookshelves in the dining room, living room and her bedroom. She hauls them off the shelf frequently and asks me to tell her what each book is about. My old edition of Heidi interests her with the beautiful drawings of the goats and the Alps.  That leads to questions about where the Alps are on the globe. This is how children learn, and it’s fascinating to watch.

roseatespoonbillEmily’s other passion is birds.  She has learned a lot about them from a large book we were given about the birds of North America. There is a button you can push to hear the call of each bird. Her favorite is the Roseate Spoonbill because of its gorgeous pink color and big wings. The book is a real treasury.

Birds and flying fish and sea horses and vending machines and manners. Such is the mind of a child, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. Conversation, I believe, is the primary learning tool for children, and the beauty of it is that you not only can convey knowledge, you help build a relationship of trust and love in the process.